Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Christianity, Liberty, and the Transgender Community

Famous evangelist Pat Robertson recently made a surprising statement on his televangelist show, The 700 Club.  A viewer wrote to the show asking the Reverend for advice on how, as a Christian, to approach and refer to two of his employees who were transgender women.  Robertson’s response was highly unexpected, given his ultraconservative statements in years past, namely his concurrence with the late Reverend Jerry Falwell’s conjecture that the 9/11 attacks were God’s wrath on America for the collective sin of the gay community.

Said Robertson regarding his viewer’s transgender employees:

“I think there are men who are in a woman's body.  It's very rare. But it's true—or women that are in men's bodies—and that they want a sex change. That is a very permanent thing, believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated and when you have shot up with various kinds of hormones. It's a radical procedure. I don't think there's any sin associated with that. I don't condemn somebody for doing that.”

Reverend Pat Robertson
The viewer’s main question was whether it was wrong to refer to them as women, since it wasn’t their original physical gender.  He also mentioned what the Bible says about homosexuality, and followed up that he doesn’t know the medical history or the intentions of his employees (implying that he was unsure as to whether they were committing a sin or not).  Reverend Robertson told him “it’s not for you to decide or judge.”  To restate it in Constitutional conservative terms: “It’s none of your beeswax!”

I’ve got to join the folks who are giving Reverend Robertson a big thumbs up for his approach.  He never told the viewer that he was obligated to agree with his employees’ life choices, but rather that the lives and histories of these adults was not up to him to decide or judge.  It wasn’t the viewer’s place, just like it wouldn’t be the place of those two employees to cast judgments on him for his Christian beliefs.  His only place was to do business responsibly and live his own life according to Biblical principles, casting no judgments on his fellow human beings—only God has a right to judge us all.

This is a wonderful example of laissez-faire in microeconomics—one with a deeply personal and very human element.  We’re faced with an employer who has a need for certain labor or services, which he finds in these two transgender employees.  They probably come from different backgrounds, certainly different creeds.  The employer is a devout Christian who has turned to the Holy Bible for authority and to a pastor he trusts—Reverend Robertson—for further advice on the matter; his employees, on the other hand, are transgender, so it’s a reasonable bet that they’re not exactly Bible thumpers.  Nonetheless, they’ve come together in the marketplace to engage in very personal commerce: that of an employer-employee relationship.  They hold different views but they tolerate each other and work together to make the business thrive (which can only add to the individual prosperity of the employer and the two employees).

I also congratulate Reverend Robertson for taking a solid Christian stance on the matter (the fact that it’s also constitutionally conservative or even libertarian only makes it sweeter).  Essentially, he advocates a balance between the law and the love of God.  By remaining a Christian and living his personal life according to Biblical principles, the employer upholds the law of God as written throughout the Bible.  At the same time, by tolerating his transgender employees and compassionately treating them as fellow human beings, he embodies the love of God.  My own pastor, who always encourages the LGBT community to visit his church, says that God hates sin but loves the sinner, regardless of whether he’s heterosexual or homosexual.

Reverend Robertson seems to be taking on a new attitude in recent years, perhaps indicative of a changing worldview.  He will always be a Christian, but it’s often not enough to say that one’s worldview is only Christian.  There are people with Christian liberal worldviews, just like there are folks with Christian conservative worldviews, not to mention my own Christian libertarian worldview, and the abovementioned don’t even include the liberal, conservative, or anarchist leanings of atheists, agnostics, or people of other faiths.

The Reverend’s ideas on tolerating the transgender community are indicative of a change in the times.  Just last year, he expressed his opinion—on television—that marijuana should be legalized because the war on drugs is not working, and only hurting the people it purports to help.  Robertson opined, “I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance.  The whole thing is crazy.  We've said, ‘Well, we're conservatives, we're tough on crime.’ That's baloney.”

Many Christian conservatives were utterly shocked by those statements.  I wasn’t shocked, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Like Reverend Robertson, I’m of the opinion that the legalization of marijuana will in no way inhibit my liberty any more than the legalization of alcohol.  On the same coin, the legalization of drugs won’t stop me from having a personal relationship with God, nor does it prevent Ron and Rand Paul (who share the same opinion toward marijuana) from having their own relationships with the same God.

Frankly, I don’t understand the whole transgender thing.  I understand the theory behind it, but I’ll never fully understand why anyone would truly want to make such an irreversible change.  Nonetheless, it’s none of my business what another adult does that harms no one else.

I’m of the opinion that Christians ought to spend more time in contact and discussion with the LGBT community.  Many of them cling to leftism because the leftist ideology (modern liberalism) stresses social liberties with no consequences, whereas modern conservatism (neoconservatism) stresses all consequences and no social liberties.  As a libertarian, I’m convinced that libertarianism is the best political ideology that can accommodate the greatest number of people.

More importantly, as a Christian, I can see that many people in the LGBT community, especially the transgender community, are suffering from identity crisis.  I think they need to be reminded by their Christian fellow humans that they are human beings, fellow children of God, and that God loves them just as well.  I think many LGBT Americans would be willing to seriously reevaluate their negative attitudes toward Christianity and libertarianism if they knew that God’s elect and sovereign individuals did not judge them, but rather loved them unconditionally as fellow human beings.

Pope Francis
In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us the great commission to travel to the corners of the world and teach the Gospel to all people.  In light of this, I’m of the opinion that there’s a place for the gay community in the Church.  Just like God’s law demanded a change of lifestyles in all of us, to which we strive to conform, future LGBT converts will undergo a change of lifestyles as well.  Will they ever stop being “gay”?  I doubt it, but that doesn’t change the truth and the immense weight of John 3:16.  Just yesterday Pope Francis said, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?  You can't marginalize these people.”  Couldn’t have said better myself!

As a good citizen and a student of libertarian ideology, it’s my duty to share the pillars of libertarianism with any fellow person who’s interested in learning more.  As a Christian, it’s also my duty to share the Gospel with any fellow human being who’s willing to listen—regardless of age, race, creed, or sexual orientation.  Live and let live, and let live with gift of everlasting life that’s available to every one of us, if we only accept it.

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Pat Robertson image courtesy of Papparazzo Presents.  Marijuana image by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Pope Francis photo courtesy of Agencia Brasil.  All images were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

The Libertarian Reader is an excellent collection volume, beginning with a Bible chapter.

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