I’m writing this for the girls in my student ministry, but with hope to encourage whomever it reaches:
I know it seems crazy. Our sense of safety and security while using restrooms and dressing rooms in one of our favorite stores has been compromised by recent decisions made by Target in the name of inclusivity. “Welcome[ing] transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity” instead of the gender God has created them to possess opens avenues for dangerous people (read: those who are predators, not those who identify as transgender) to pose as the opposite gender and potentially hurt or abuse others in public restrooms and fitting rooms.
In light of this,
Yes, I will make a personal choice to not frequent the bathrooms and fitting rooms of Target, simply as a safety precaution.
Yes, it is rather inconvenient.
Yes, I encourage you to do the same.
No, I am not angry, or boycotting Target or even surprised.
Why? That’s what I want to talk with you about.
Target has never stated or even pretended to have Christian values and morals at the foundation of their decisions as a company. They have always been a “secular” if you will, company. Why, then, are Christians surprised and angry when such a store holds to standards that are set in direct opposition to God’s ways (not to mention public safety)? Scripture makes it very clear that when we are children of darkness we walk in darkness (Ephesians 4:18-20) and when we are children of light we should choose to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:8). Those who are not of God, and the companies they run, are of the darkness. We shouldn’t expect them to look like those who are of the light. We wouldn’t expect an apple tree to produce oranges, and then rail at it when it failed our expectations. It just wouldn’t make sense. Sure, it’s much more comfortable when a company’s choices don’t step on our morality toes. But at their core, they are no different today than they were in the days, weeks and years before this decision.
Please don’t think I’m trying to silence you on this issue. Ephesians 5:11 calls us to “expose the unfruitful works of darkness.” If you feel so led, sign petitions, call Target, do what you must do to exercise the rights you hold as an American citizen to make your opinion heard. But this is what I request of you, because Scripture requires it of us:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”(Colossians 4:5-6) This means in social media posts, conversations among friends, and in your interaction with employees or management of Target.
Remember, we used to walk in the same darkness:
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”(Titus 3:3)
Until God stepped in and rescued us:
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Hear it again:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:1-10)
I’ll speak plainly here. It is utterly ridiculous to expect those who are in darkness to display the same characteristics of those who have been saved by the grace and mercy of God and are empowered to walk in light by the Holy Spirit. Not only is it ridiculous, but even if, EVEN IF we could convince them to abide by the principles of light, it is pointless in the face of eternity: they are still without hope and without God in the world. Like I said before, we may feel more comfortable purchasing products from Target when they seem to resemble our values, but that is a false comfort.
What then shall we do?
Believer, I encourage you: do not be surprised, but wake up and understand that the world needs the gospel of Jesus. Many people need to experience a life-changing relationship with the Creator and Savior of the world that leads them to repentance. YOU may be the one God uses to bring the good news to them. But how will that be possible if we are spewing ugliness and unkindness toward them? They currently have no choice but to live in the foolishness of a darkened understanding (Ephesians 4:18).
Have compassion toward them and love them in the same way that Jesus has loved you: bringing you freedom from sin. John 8:31-32 says “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Until they know the truth of Jesus Christ, they have no freedom from the darkness of sin.
Cultural shifts like this will happen more often and in more terrible and diverse ways as the day of the Lord approaches. I want you to know how to respond as a disciple of Jesus. You are welcome to buy your products from whomever you choose, you are welcome to find alternate restroom accommodations or take your clothes home to try on. But, I hope you will consider using these moments not as opportunities to bash companies or clamor about petty inconveniences, but as reminders to pray for those in our communities, country and the world and to look for ways to shine the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus into the darkness enslaving our culture.
Dear Christian, when this darkened world acts like the darkened world it is, please don’t be shocked or scandalized. Simply continue to be the light YOU are called to be in Christ Jesus.(Image from Target’s Website)
Update, 9:50am, 4/22- I am overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the conversation this post has started in the social media world. Thanks everyone, for engaging on this topic! I am grateful for those who have submitted comments on this post in the past few minutes. I want to honor your effort to make a comment by doing my best to respond to each of you in a timely manner. For this reason, I will be closing down comments temporarily until I can catch up. Thanks for understanding!