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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Here's Why Target's Bathroom Policy Matters So Much

I get weary of the culture wars. It seems never-ending, doesn't it? There is always some new indignity to oppose or non-Christian position to resist. Things get worse when we look at the political support for-profit companies provide. There are so many that take a contrary stand to Christian ideals, if I were to boycott each one, it would be difficult to shop at all. Sometimes, I just want a pair of pants or cellular service or a hamburger. I don't want to have to figure out who's safe and who isn't.

That's why a recent blog post by Jaci Lambert caught my eye. Entitled "Target Bathrooms and the Straight, Conservative Preacher's Wife," Lambert argues Target has supported fairly liberal positions prior to implementing its transgender bathroom policy, the perverts and pedophiles won't care about Target's bathroom policies, it's therefore every parent's job to keep their kids safe in the bathroom, and transgender people are not the dangerous villains that they seem to be cast given these discussions, and such boycotts don't reflect Jesus to the outside world.1

Advocating for an Idea, not Just an Action

I appreciate Jaci's honesty and explanation. I think her points have validity, with the possible exception of the idea that pedophiles and perverts don't care. In the few months since this national conversation on bathrooms started there have already been reported problems of men inhabiting clothing store dressing rooms, in grocery store restrooms, and even in locker rooms where the activist tested Seattle's law by entering where underage girls were disrobing. Certainly it doesn't take much imagination to understand that such laws will embolden more perverts to attempt such entries if there's no threat of prosecution.

But, that's really beside the point. My concern with the blog post is it misses the bigger reason why this particular issue is so important. Yes, Christians will disagree with many stances Target takes. That shouldn't by itself be surprising or critical enough to yell "boycott!" Yes, parents must watch over their kids. Let's face it, many pedophiles are men looking to abuse young boys and holding to a traditional bathroom policy does absolutely nothing to address that danger. My concerns about safety are real, but they aren't the tipping point for me.

The biggest problem with the Target stance is it gives legitimacy to an idea that is both dangerous and abhorrent. That is, it legitimizes the idea that biology doesn't matter and every person's predilections are equally valid. It ignores the scientific data that gender dysphoria is a mental disorder that holds a high suicide rate, even after transitioning, and instead promotes the myth that gender can be whatever each individual wishes to define for him or herself. The policy ignores the discomfort of women who were raped or sexually assaulted that makes up 17.6% of the female population2 to accommodate 0.3% who identify as transgender3. In short, it says it's OK to ignore the truth for political correctness.

Some Ramifications So Far

It becomes easy to see how big the impact of the spread of these ideas is. Target's bathroom policy was announced on April 19, 2016. In less than one month from that announcement, President Obama's Department of Education issued what amounts to a threat to every public school in the country stating that all restrooms should be open to those who identify as whatever gender they please. I'm not saying that one caused the other, but the fact there was no immediate and overwhelming backlash to the Target policy made it easier on the DOE to do their dirty work.

Then there's the message such policies send to the larger culture. Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet believes that because homosexual marriage is now accepted in society, people should treat those who hold traditional views as they would Nazis:
The culture wars are over; they lost, we won…   For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That's mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line ("You lost, live with it") is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn't work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.)
This is what capitulation leads to. It changes the society and allows those who wish to bankrupt Christian businesses or jail government employees for exercising their right of conscience. Ultimately, it denies the intrinsic worth of the human body, upon which human dignity itself is based.

As I said, I'm not a big boycott guy, but ideas have consequences. When the ideas a corporation are promoting undermine the core of human dignity itself, I think those are values worth fighting for.


1. Lambert, Jaci. "Target Bathrooms and the Straight, Conservative Preacher's Wife." Ministry in the Mommyhood. Jaci Lambert, 26 Apr. 2016. Web. 20 May 2016. .
2. Tjaden, Patricia, and Nancy Thoennes. "Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey." PsycEXTRA Dataset. U.S. Department of Justice, Jan. 2006. Web. 20 May 2016.
3. Gates, Gary J. "How Many People Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender?" Los Angeles, CA: Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, 2011.

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