Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings

Probably by now everyone knows about the Presidential bathroom decree that makes Target’s position look like child’s play.

Following the Target decision I read numerous posts from moms sharing how they intended to navigate using the loo with their little people. The vast majority of what I read from Christian moms were urging a march-in-that-bathroom-and-teach-my-little-one-to-love-everybody-by-smiling-at-the-man-in-the-girls’-room kind of approach. Most were wanting to recognize the humanity and struggle of the man who sees himself as a woman. Some even scoffed and vehemently rejected the idea that this could heighten abuse, instead insisting that men who believe themselves to be women were nothing like child predators, and confusing the two was judgmental and un-Christian.

Here’s where I agree with that thinking: we should recognize the humanity of men who think they are women and are in the women’s restroom. Where I differ is how we do that.

Boiled down, the trans-fiasco is one giant feelings-fest. Feelings are the new Baal. We don’t find our way out of it by teaching our young children that the way to love a man who thinks he’s a woman is by ignoring reality in favor of feelings-only  love.

The thing is, you can smile at the trans person in the bathroom. You can hand him the paper towel in an effort to teach your daughter that you love everybody equally and treat everyone with respect. You can tell her that somehow you’re being Jesus to that man. But you’ll simply be teaching her that reality doesn’t matter, only feelings. Because the reality is, that man can’t tell your “Jesus smile” from an “I think being trans is awesome smile” and your paper towel passing didn’t further him along one iota in knowing the true Jesus.

If moms want to go all WWJD on the trans bathroom issue, then consider what Jesus did with the woman at the well whom he’d just met.

“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (John 4:16-18 ESV)

Jesus never played around with reality. He never substituted felt needs for actual ones. His compassion was a compassion based in reality.

You have to ask yourself, do you really believe that the wrath of God remains on all who do not honor God as God? Do you believe that God is the one behind our sex, our gender, our personhood? Do you believe that the man in the ladies’ room is currently in anguish and headed for deeper anguish that will last and last? Because that’s what sin is and that’s where sin leads, no matter how he or you or I feel about it.

And you have to ask yourself, have you met the Savior? Do you really believe that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation? Did he do it for you? Did he save you from anguish and sin? If that’s true, then how can you not believe it’s possible for the man in women’s bathroom? I cannot understand how ignoring reality is a strategy for loving people. Your motivation may be to love someone–to show them Jesus–and you may tell yourself that you’re not ignoring reality, you’re choosing to love in spite of it. But none of that is actually communicated without words and therefore it doesn’t matter how you feel about what you’re doing–it doesn’t translate as God’s love to the trans person.

Could it be that we aren’t really being sensitive to the feelings of the man in the ladies’ room or concerned with loving him at all? Could it be that we’re doing what makes US feel good? Smiling and going with the status quo, feeling like we’re so big and above it all. Are we any different from the trans person in our actions? We do what we feel is right and so do they.

Moms, the only thing that matters is what GOD says is right, how he defines reality.

Have you ever considered why it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance? It’s because we first were told about our sin. We first had to recognize an authority and reality that is over us. Only then did kindness look like kindness. Only then did it result in repentance. Without the first part, the kindness would have been cruel niceness, happily ushering us on our way, ignorant of the wrath that remained.

So I don’t think it’s loving to merely smile at the man who thinks he’s a woman in the bathroom. I think it’s unkind. I think, if you have a one-to-one encounter, it would be more loving to say something like, “I think you should be in the men’s room.”  And then explain why you think that, as difficult and long as that may take. As misunderstood as you may be. As much as it will FEEL hard. Do it with Gospel love coming out in words and actions.

Then there’s the issue of our children. Is it kind to your daughter to take her into a restroom where men are present? Again, reality matters. Men are bigger than women. Men are stronger than women. Men are different than women. To knowingly have your daughter use a bathroom stall next to a man (when other options are present) communicates that protecting her is not a priority, and it increases a negative sense of vulnerability. No young girl should be made to use the restroom with men present. Assuming that no trans person is a child abuser (which is a huge assumption that I don’t even make with people at church), the simple act of requiring her use the bathroom with men there is in and of itself a perversion.

So that brings us to the President’s decree over public school bathrooms. I wonder if the same moms who were going to march themselves and their daughters into Target’s ladies’ rooms with men present will be as keen on telling their daughters to march into the locker room with teenage boys present. Are your daughters valuable or not? Are they allowed the protection of their own bodies or not? Are you communicating that to them in reality or only with feelings?

I can relate to the enticement of feelings as the final authority. I can understand it because I’m a human with one million feelings just like you. And hurt feelings may be one of the most powerful forces on the planet. But there is a God who came to redeem us, along with all our broken, powerful feelings. He cares about you. He cares about your feelings. So much so that he won’t let them ruin your life by ruling your life. He’s the only one who can be trusted to rule.

27 thoughts on “Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings

  1. How do you know that the “man” in the women’s restrooms is even a man? Some women look masculine. Some men look feminine. Some cross dress. It’s not always as cut and dried as we’d like it to be, and what’s inside their pants is none of my business. What if you accidentally end up telling a masculine-looking woman that she needs to be in the men’s room? Won’t that really just be telling her that her outward appearance is not feminine enough for you — and who needs that? Where does God tell us we need to know the biological sex of everyone we use a facility with? Sure, reality is reality–but none of us are omniscient about reality, and I don’t believe God asks us to be.

    As a child I always went to the restroom with someone else, and it’s just as much a common-sense measure now as it was then. Maybe by the time it comes to it, my husband will be able to take his daughter into a restroom and watch over her even if I am not present, rather than leaving her to go alone for fear of someone flipping out on him.

    1. Hi Elle,
      Thanks for you comment. I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. I think the situation I suggested–of speaking out to a man in the girls’ room–would necessarily be one where it’s clear, not unclear (I think those situations exist). I offer it as an alternative to the idea that we just love on the man by passing the paper towel. Ideally none of this would be done in the restroom, but in a context where hospitality and deeper conversation could be offered. But this is the world God has given us to navigate, as sticky as it is sometimes.

  2. The truth is that transgender people have been using the stall next to you for years and it’s never been an issue — until a few Republican legislatures decided they needed a new group to target for discrimination. A transgender woman looks like a woman and a transgender man looks like a man, so unless you’re bent on examining peoples genitalia, you’ll never know who is transgender or not. Ironically, these bathroom bills would require transgender men who look like men, often bearded and muscular, to use the women’s room.
    Here’s a simple question, Abigail: Which bathroom should Caitlin Jenner use?

      1. Exactly–he is still a man who has said he is attracted to women, and is contemplating reverting back to a man.

      2. Excellent response Abigail …… and thank you so much for your well written thoughts. I believe this is well thought out and exactly what we need to hear.

    1. Are you not singling out Republicans as the only group of people who are against the situation discussed? As a Republican and a Christian I think it is unfair to label this as just a Republican issue and that just Republicans are guilty of discrimination. Your statement is discriminatory.
      There is a difference between discrimination and having an opinion
      . It is not for us to lay blame, but to act in a way that is worthy of of the Love of Jesus and hence set an example for those around us.
      Abigail: Your thoughts on this issue are the clearest I have read. I have searched for answers and understanding for weeks, trying to find the answer to how, as a Christian, should I behave should I face a scenario as you describe. Thank you for your wisdom.

  3. Writing this blog post must have taken enormous courage. As the LGBTQ continues to gain momentum, Bible-believing Christians will need courage to resist societal pressures to condone sin and stand for God’s Word.

  4. This is not about politics nor about sexuality, as it appears. It SEEMS to be about feelings, and on the surface, it definitely is. But not to The Establishment.
    What is going to happen when a school is threatened with losing its federal funding? (Remember, in this instance, you only need the perceived _threat_ of monetary loss to accomplish the goal, not any actual penalty.) Parents who are worried about losing funds – and all it will take is one or two – will call for the resignation of an administrator who says he will not allow transgender students to use any locker room or bathroom. He will be fired and replaced with an administrator who toes the party line. Now the entire country’s educational system will be full of those who will bow to the image of gold.
    And why might that be important?

  5. Thank you! This is the first blog post I’ve read on this topic that I can agree with. I do not understand the reasoning of people who think that sharing a bathroom with a person is equivalent with sharing the gospel. Are they really going to Target and waiting around in the bathroom to share the Gospel of Jesus with any transgendered person who may walk in? Is it really being a good witness to someone if you’re not witnessing to them at all?

  6. Excellent post. I’m afraid our society is being given over more and more to a debased mind, a blindness and loss of the ability to think rationally. May we shine.

  7. Thank goodness for some common sense. As the mother to 3 daughters, I fully agree with the author. I still go with my youngest, 15, to the restroom. Vulgarity, inappropriate conversations, and other situations frequently occur in these spaces, and my daughter shouldn’t have to navigate it alone.

  8. Too bad Gods aren’t a reality… 😳 And if you feel like they’re in fact a reality then have your religious establishment pay some taxes THEN maybe you can dictate the law of the land but your leaders are too greedy for that so stay calm and pray about it. 🙏🏻🙏🏽🙏🏿

  9. It seems that today, the worst heresy in the world is actually having something that you believe enough to tell other people about it. The world doesn’t care if you disagree with trans…all they care is that you keep your opinion to yourself. The world doesn’t care if you believe in Christ…just keep it to yourself. Don’t rock the boat. Well, Jesus rocked the boat (in a loving way), and as Christians, we need to do the same. Having the conversation that you mentioned – about why someone should use the other bathroom – is difficult to do, and breaks all the rules of what is ‘polite’ in modern society. But it is also the most loving, Christlike thing to do. Thank you for your thoughts.

      1. If we live in a world where we can’t have conversation about what we believe (faith-wise or other), then we’ve not really progressed as much as we’d like to think we have. That’s just my view though.

      2. LOL! Sure talk about it… The bathrooms’s the perfect place lol. (Whole lotta crap!!) It’s fine to have faith just don’t impose your beliefs into law or discrimination. Jesus don’t like that.

  10. Abigail,

    I appreciate this article. You are clearly an intelligent Christian woman and that is an encouragement to me as a young mother.

  11. The thing is this whole bathroom issue is a big beatup of ’emotional balckmail’ Regardless on what side of the fence you are on.

    There’s nature born women who look more masculine. Should they be banned from the women’s bathroom?

    There’s natural born women who enter the women’s bathroom dressed pretty much in all male clothes. Do they now have to use the men’s bathroom although they identify as female?

    What about women born who can have ceratin masculization of their genitalia like. C.A.H (Congential andrenal hyplasia). Do they now have to use the men’s bathroom? Although they usually identify as female

    What about natural born women born with socalled male XY chromosomes. Do they have to now use the mens bathroom. Although they usually identify as female and can be very feminine!

    And of course all those lesbian women who share the bathroom with straight women. Should they be banned from the womens bathroom. Just incase one of them might predate on a straight women!

    The fact of the matter is this if anyone straight/gay/transgender or intersexed predates or assaults someone in a bathroom/toilet IS BREAKING The LAW! AND Should be arrested!!! SO The whole thing is a total emotional beatup. And no that transwoman is generally speaking no more in danger of assaulting a person in that bathroom than any of the other people using it. AND besides that transwoman would quite often looks more out of place using the mens bathroom and more likely to be assaulted and attacked for using that bathroom. From those bigotted haters. AS that has happened!!!

    There are those religious righwing biggots who have threatened to beatup those Caitlyn Jenners out there if they use the women’s bathroom because their daughter supposedly uses that bathroom. While wanting to beat them up if they use the men’s bathroom because they’re an abomination and freaks in their eyes!

    Far from Christian charity love and kindness.

    And once again transwomen are generally speaking no more likely to predate on you in that bathroom than anyone else. BECAUSE they’re JUST using that bathroom just like the other people their are using it!!!

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