There is nothing new under the sun, our moral outrage notwithstanding. The same sins, the same moral dilemmas we face in 21st century America were present in the 1st-century Roman Empire. That’s what makes biblical Christianity so difficult.
I never intended to talk about this particular controversy publicly because political outrage is not my M.O. I hate it, I avoid contact with it, I am sickened by it.
But this past week, I’ve come to realize that we, my friends, have a glorious chance to be Rocking Ordinary by how we respond publicly and privately to current events. Changing the world — highlighting audacious, extraordinary grace — is what we are all about, and there’s no time like the present to walk out Christ-like attitudes before our family, our friends, and our community.
Because the entire world is watching. We have neighbors, unsaved friends, gay family members, business associates in the LGBT lifestyle that read what we write online and hear what we say in public and can read those signs in front of the stores. What kind of Christianity are we displaying?
The sad part is that most of the outrage is completely misguided. Instead of actually reading what Target actually said, many are sharing fear-mongering emails and shocking headlines to stir up comments and social-media likes.
But the facts are clear: nothing has changed. Target simply said out loud what is already true in most public restrooms in the nation: everyone voluntarily chooses which door to walk through.
(Seriously, did everyone think there was a pants inspection in the stalls?)
I simply said, several times this past week in several different ways, that we must remain calm and love on. Love, not hateful speech, is the defining mark of our faith (John 13:35). And you know what? I’ve lost friends over it. You may have too. The most divisive, radical, revolutionary action we can take in times like this is love. Loving words, loving actions, loving prayers while the Pharisees and Sadducees and chief priests and scribes condemn and throw stones.
Now, lest ye think I’m an all easy-believin’, let go and let God, soft on crime, head-in-the-sand Pollyanna, I can let your mind at ease: I know God’s standards are clear. Yes, we have the clear teachings of Scripture regarding marriage, adultery, fornication, and how to use the restroom (the latter is Deuteronomy 23:12-14, and notice it says nothing about who is or is not present during the act).
And furthermore, I’ve been practicing “safe bathroom habits” my entire life, thanks to a very conscientious mother: use the buddy system, supervise children, be aware of surroundings, favor one-seaters with a good lock, and most of all, “go at home.” I think I’ve passed on some great standards of safety and cleanliness with my children. This statement from Target won’t change my lifestyle one iota.
Finally, I can’t address this without pointing out, as a childhood abuse survivor, that the Target bathroom is not where the greatest threats hide. Our children are more at risk of harm from a friend or family member than from a trip to the grocery store. If we only teach them to lock the stall we are missing the entire point of abuse prevention. But I’m going to be honest with you, I do not for a minute believe that is what this controversy is about.
I also am aware that in Christ’s days on earth, homosexuality was rampant (I am deliberately choosing not to hyperlink to research to prove this point, but if you must know, Google will tell you). And the Son of Man did not mention it once. Not one condemnation, not one public stoning, not one call for a boycott.
Actually, He never called for a boycott over anything, which gives one food for thought.
[My husband wants to insert the question that if we boycott Target and Starbucks and every other secular company that is run by unregenerate, worldly people, then what do we use instead of …
- grocery stores (liquor, pornography, tobacco, abortifacients)
- gas (Muslims)
- internet and phone services (porn, gambling, human trafficing)
- sporting events (porn, liquor, human trafficking)
- denim (immorality, child labor)
- coffee (human trafficking and exploitation)
- banking (financial support of both human rights and exploitation)
- virtually every industry in this fallen world.
The problem with #boycotttarget is the blatant inconsistency it celebrates.]
Jesus did address immorality several times, however. In Matthew 19, He lovingly answers the Pharisee’s trick question on divorce, then explains marital love and commitment to His disciples in their follow-up question. In Matthew 15:19, immorality is listed with other sins that proceed from the heart — including evil thoughts and blasphemes — and that defile us all worse than our sinful actions. In Matthew 10:15, Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin, He says, is more tolerable than the rejection of the gospel.
Get that last point: it isn’t sexual deviance that damns us, but rejecting Christ.
I cannot find one time in all of the New Testament that sexual morality is preached before the world. If I’m wrong, please tell me. It appears that every time, Christ is speaking to his disciples or to the Pharisees (who of course considered themselves children of God) about issues of the heart as revealed in how they treated one another sexually. So much so that in Matthew 22:31, He declared that “the tax collectors and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”
Indeed, even Romans 1, that oft-quoted passage this week, was not written to the Roman Empire at large. It was, rather, written to the Church of Rome to demonstrate that we are all sinners without excuse (Romans 2:1).
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That means me.
So back to the question: What Would Jesus Do about Target?
Unfortunately, His bathroom habits aren’t recorded in the gospels. Nor where He bought his robe and sandals. His eating practices, however, are documented, because they did cause quite a stir.
- Mark 2:15-17 “He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners.”
- Matthew 9:10-13 “Many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.”
- Luke 5:29 “Levi made Him a great feast in his own house and there was a great company of tax collectors and of others that sad down with them.”
- Luke 7:36-39 “This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him, for she is a sinner.”
The Pharisees wanted nothing more than to see all God’s children and even Christ to completely remove themselves from the “sinners” of their day and to join them in declaring their moral superiority. But Christ’s message was different: “I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.”
Which side of this issue do we want to be on? The side of lovingly reaching out and declaring God’s love by not only what we say but also how we say it, or the side of self-righteousness?
My daughter and I were discussing this all the way to Tulsa this past weekend. Then when we arrived, we heard this preached:
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
I did nothing to deserve God’s love. But yet, He did redeem me by His grace. May God give us the bold conviction to walk out our love, our hope, our faith with meekness, kindness, and strength before the world online and IRL.
That, my friends, is Rocking Ordinary.
On a personal note: I have close friends and family members that disagree with me passionately. I love each of you and support your liberty to both disagree and to share your ideas. Please, whatever happens, don’t construe my writing here or anything I say as an attack on you. Even the ones who are angry at me, who have “unfriended” me, and who have publicly ridiculed me, I just love you and know we will one day hug again, whether on earth or in heaven. Let’s love one another as Christ loves us. Amen.
I’d love to keep in touch!
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