I made the weird-for-me decision to jump into a current-events argument feet first with my bold question “Would Jesus Shop at Target?” last week. But it took some courage, it took some research, and it took a lot of back-and-forth with my husband (who approved and even added to the original post). When it was all said and done, we felt it pretty much communicated how we view not only this topic but the gospel as a whole.
And most of our friends agreed. This was one of the most widely-read articles I’ve written in the past year, and the response publicly and privately was so encouraging. Mostly relief (I’m so glad I’m not the only one who believes that!) and gratitude (Thank you for sharing how to explain Christ’s example). And that was tremendously heartening. We are in good company [insert warm hugs here].
But not all agreed. Less than one percent of my readers (it looks like .8 percent or so?) expressed disagreement by unsubscribing from my blog or email list, unfriending or unfollowing me on social media, or emailing me their strong objections. One family friend will no longer have any contact with me or my children, to my sorrow. I can take it, because it’s not about me. I know what the Bible teaches on sin, and I know what the Bible teaches about love, grace, and the gospel. No one yet has answered my call to prove Christ called for public condemnation and boycotting of the rampant immorality in His day to counter the repeated examples of His frequent examples of interacting with, seeking out, and personally touching those trapped in sin for the sake of showing them His redeeming love. That’s all we’re saying.
There’s another issue, however. If we divorce our moral objections to relieving ourselves in the same room as other sinners, there’s safety to consider. I did mention bathroom safety, but some felt I didn’t take the threats seriously enough. I really appreciated this response from a new reader (whose comments I’m using with permission but have removed identifying information for her privacy):
I am new to your blog and so far I love it. I wanted to let you know a couple of things about myself so you can understand how much I appreciate the work you are doing. I have 3 kids. My oldest is about to turn 16, my daughter is 14 and my youngest is 12. We have only been homeschooling since November of 2013. We moved to another state in October 2014 and learning homeschool rules in a different state was a task in a half since I had just figured it out in my home state.
The article you wrote about Target touched my heart. I have lost friends and been ridiculed by my loved ones for how I believe. We now live in [redacted], and many of the people in the church we go to were so excited about the new religious law that was recently passed. It made me sad. I think to Matthew chapter 7 and Luke 5:27-32. I think that Jesus wants us to love one another, but hate the sin. It’s not my place to shame people for sin, we all sin. My job is to share and show the love of Christ. I would never treat someone badly because they are gay or transgender. Especially to do it in the name of God.
When the media started talking about Target’s position on bathrooms, it really bothered me at first. You see I am a survivor of sexual abuse. One by a family member that lasted for years and again by a person I hardly knew, and it happened twice by that person. It happened in a bathroom. My first thought wasn’t that a person was is gay or transgender is going to hurt my kids. My concern is that a pervert is going to use this acceptance of the opposite sex being in a bathroom as an opportunity to get to his targets. I fully support a unisex bathroom so that transgender people don’t feel uncomfortable going into a bathroom that they don’t feel they belong in. I have spoken with a few people in the LGBT community that actually say they feel more likely to be assaulted by a parent or someone who is not comfortable with them being in that bathroom with them, or their children. I am sure not all LGBT feel this way. My reasons for objecting to sharing a bathroom has nothing to do with religion, or with transgender people. It’s for the pedophiles who will use this for an opportunity.
Your article touched my heart because I didn’t know how to express how I am worried for children, but not because of religious beliefs or by being narrow minded. Seeing your article helped me realize my fight isn’t with Target, or any other retailers. I appreciate you writing so honestly on what has become such an attention getter from the media.
Jessica, I completely agree with you all over the place. I have LGBT family members and friends, and I was specifically thinking of them and praying for them while writing about this issue. I never want them to think I have stopped loving them and caring for them. I pray for each of them regularly.
I know it is hard, so very hard, to talk about sin and its devastating effects while remaining committed to loving those Christ died to save. There’s no way I can do it but on my face before God, begging Him to peel off more of my own sinful flesh and renew Himself yet more through me.
But I have to be honest with you, I feel safer at Target than at most other retailers. My local Target is bright, clean, and well-monitored. The dressing rooms have always been unisex, and I use them with the buddy-system when they are relatively uncrowded and employees are standing right there. I never use them when shopping alone.
And I just don’t use public restrooms unless it’s an emergency. I’ll hiss, “Hold it!” a dozen times to my children before letting them use a public restroom, and then at that point I’m thankful Target has a single-user, locked, large Family Bathroom. Seriously, how much more accomodating could they be?
I have always been afraid in public restrooms. This hasn’t changed that. I’m so glad some stores like Target have spent the money to accommodate moms like me who need their super-secure private place. Because pedophiles, kidnappers, rapists, and even parents looking for a place to beat their children will always be around. They are now, and they always have been.
But fear is not the defining characteristic of our Christian walk, any more than hate or prejudice.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:13-21
And my heart hurts for your hurt. You are right — secular stores aren’t the enemy. The destroyer of souls is. I’m so sorry you were attacked. It’s unconscionable. I pray that if your attacker has not been punished, that justice will be served. And I pray that God gives all of us wisdom to protect ourselves and our daughters and the grace to heal from the harms of others.
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your perspective.
Praying for you today, Jessica.
If you didn’t catch my thoughts on Target last week, please catch up with the conversation here. And please, I can’t say enough . . . 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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