Target’s recent announcement welcoming transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity has heightened debates about the feelings of transgender citizens.
Many believe that such policies will promote a feeling of belonging among transgender individuals as well as widespread social change that reduces the negative effects of stigma on the health and well-being of this specific group of people.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Feelings do matter, but when we base decisions on feelings alone, the results can be devastating. For instance, pedophiles and drug addicts would feel better if they were accepted without question, but the personal and societal consequences of doing so would be tragic.
Transgender people comprise 0.3% of the U.S. population – roughly 700,000. Many of these individuals would likely “feel” at ease if they were accepted in the restrooms of their choice.
But what about the feelings of another specific group in the U.S. – the millions of women who have been molested, raped, or physically abused either as children or adults. Can you imagine the fear these women would feel when suddenly facing a man in a public restroom where there is a lack of security? Remember that any man would be able to enter the restroom based on his stated “feelings” with relation to gender.
So, is it compassionate to disregard the feelings of this much larger demographic of our society for the sake of a minuscule number of transgender individuals?
Admittedly, a person’s feelings aren’t validated or invalidated based on the number of people experiencing those same feelings. Feelings, however, are unreliable as a whole and should not steer our decisions and actions. As believers who are not strangers to the deceitfulness found within our own hearts, we are instructed to put on hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
I remember a heartbroken father who called one Saturday morning to speak with Dr. Frank Turek on his show, Cross Examined, on American Family Radio. The man’s anguish could be heard in his voice as he shared detail after detail about the painful struggles his transgender son had experienced over the years.
The communication between the two men, who had never met each other, was moving and informative. The inside story from the father’s perspective was heart-wrenching, to say the least. Without compromising his core beliefs or jumping to conclusions, Turek listened, questioned, empathized, and gently turned the father toward the Scriptures for nearly the full one-hour show.
I was reminded of the instructions in Philippians 2:3-6: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
We all tend to gravitate toward others who think and behave as we do. That way, we avoid challenges to our beliefs. But you and I owe it to God, others, and ourselves to “sanctify Christ as Lord in [our] hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us], yet with gentleness, and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15).
As sinners saved by grace, we know that we are to sympathize with others in their various weaknesses. And our love and consideration for others extend far beyond emotions to something reasonable and immovable – the truth revealed in the Word of God. A gospel that deals only with human needs, human feelings, and human problems leaves people with a manward focus of salvation ... instead of a Godward focus.