by John Ellis
Last week, President Trump revoked the transgender bathroom guidelines implemented by President Obama. With the guidelines, President Obama had instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. Withholding federal dollars was the big stick behind the guidelines. President Obama was clear; fall in line with the new sexual/gender mores or face the wrath of the federal government. Implemented less than a year after the Obergefell ruling by SCOTUS, President Obama’s transgender bathroom directive was an alarming signal to social conservatives that liberals had pushed the sexual revolution agenda’s pedal to the metal.
With his rescinding of the directive, President Trump has made it clear that he believes the issue should be left up to states and local municipalities. Thankfully, continuing to surprise this #NeverTrumper, President Trump continues to make it clear that the concerns/agenda of social conservatives are being heard and heeded by his administration.
Immediately following President Trump’s action, LGBT activists, the MSM, and liberals across the country began hyperbolically decrying the decision as a reversal of civil rights and a return to 1950’s America. On the other hand, social conservatives have lifted their voices in a loud chorus of “Amen.” Sadly, in what should be an obvious ideological contradiction, many professing Christians have aligned themselves with the first group while distancing themselves from the second group.
Many American evangelicals have unwittingly succumb to the secularist dogma that states religion should be partitioned off from the rest of life. As long as our Bible thumping can’t be heard outside of the walls of our homes and church buildings, religion is ok in the eyes of secularists. Although, they would prefer that we don’t force our religion on our kids; they’d much prefer it if we’d force their religion on our kids. In the ideal secular world, Bible thumbing is only done inside the privacy of our own head, if even there.
One of the ways in which secular dogma has affected American evangelicalism is in the compartmentalization of faith and life. Burrowing even further into this, many evangelicals in this country have embraced the platitude, “We shouldn’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians”
On one level, I agree. The Bible plainly teaches that, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Romans 3:10-12).” The book of Romans goes on to teach that all humans are sinners because all humans are born in Adam, the first father of all. So, yes, apart from the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus, sinners are going to act like, well, sinners. But that’s not the only meaning that’s delivered when the platitude is lofted into discussions.
When using the platitude, many professing Christians mean, “We shouldn’t ask non-Christians to obey our religion’s moral law because they are not a part of our religion.” By that, they mean that Christians should keep their ethics to themselves and leave non-Christians to pursue whatever ethical course they so choose; Christians are to segment their ethics away from their neighbors. I’m going to resist the urge to divine the motives behind that claim, and, instead, skip straight to the sentiment’s fallacy.
In a nutshell, it ignores God’s rightful claim over His creation. According to the first chapter of Genesis, Psalm 104:24, and a variety of other Bible passages, God created the universe ex nihilo. That, of course, includes humans. As the Creator of humans, God rightfully expects His creation to obey His law. What’s more, God has revealed His law, specifically in the Bible. Furthermore, we know from Romans 1:19-20 that all humans know God and His law, “Because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Make no mistake, knowledge of God means knowledge of His law, and knowledge of His law means knowledge of God.
Obeying God’s law, or, more specifically, the failure of humans to obey God’s law is in integral aspect of the Incarnation. The story of the Bible reveals that Adam failed to obey God’s law. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul works this theme out and explains, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12); furthermore, “by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners (Romans 5:19).”
The nature of humanity’s connection with and place in Adam is debated among theologians. How it’s specifically worked out is less important that the objective fact that Bible clearly states that all humans are sinners because all humans are born in Adam. Well, all humans except one, that is.
Robert Letham presents the joyful truth that “Whereas Adam failed the test, although everything was in his favor, Christ successfully faced it, despite the cards being stacked against him.” The writer of Hebrews offers this great comfort about Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).” Concluding his teaching on the headship of Adam versus the headship of the Second and Final Adam, Paul writes, “by the [Jesus’] obedience the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).” “Crucial to the work of Christ is his place as second Adam. He came to repair the damage caused by the first Adam.”
This glorious truth of Jesus’ perfect obedience means that if we are repenting of our sins and placing our faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are no longer seen by God the Father as law breakers. Instead, God sees us as being in Christ. If we are placing our faith in Jesus, we are given Jesus’ obedience and we know that “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus]. That is why it is through [Jesus] that we utter our Amen to God for his glory (2 Corinthians 1:20).” Being in Jesus through faith means that we are given God’s reward for perfect obedience of eternal life and communion with Him for all of eternity.
Those who break God’s law, however, are under God’s wrath and will suffer God’s wrath for all eternity unless they repent of their lawbreaking/sin and place their faith in Jesus. However, refusing to bow the knee in faith before Jesus doesn’t abrogate the demand for obedience to God’s law. Just because unrepentant sinners are going to be punished for all eternity under God’s just wrath isn’t justification for removing God’s law from the here and now. By way of simplification, this syllogism may be helpful:
Major Premise: All humans owe obedience to their Creator God. Minor Premise: Sinners are humans. Conclusion: Sinners owe obedience to their Creator God.
Professing Christians who claim that we shouldn’t expect non-Christians to adhere to God’s ethics must either demonstrate that all humans do not owe obedience to their Creator God, or that sinner are not humans. Going back on my earlier resistance to divining motives, my guess is that those professing Christians who reject that syllogism either reject God as revealed in God’s Word or they reject the Biblical anthropology that all humans are sinners (certain further conclusions can be drawn from that, but I’ll leave that to you the reader).
Anticipating the rejoinder that one can accept that syllogism without expecting non-Christians to obey God’s law, I ask this: how do we decide which of God’s laws should be obeyed by society? I mean, I’m assuming that those who offer the rejoinder would be appalled if we stopped expecting non-Christians to obey things like “don’t steal” and “don’t murder.”
To be clear, there is a difference between expecting adherence and forcing adherence. Discernment and wisdom are needed by our leaders, which is why it’s important to elect wise and discerning leaders. Some aberrant sexualities, pedophilia for example, demand that a just government use the heavy hand of secular law to protect the weak and vulnerable from actual physical, emotional, and spiritual harm in the here and now. Other aberrant sexualities, homosexuality for example, are sins that cannot be practically legislated. However, that fact doesn’t mean that governments should codify the acceptance of sinful behaviors. This is one of the reasons why conservative Christians decry the Obergefell Decision. Our government has codified as right and good an act that violates God’s immutable law.
Likewise, with his transgender bathroom mandate, President Obama put the federal government’s stamp of approval on a behavior that violates God’s law. On the other hand, President Trump’s reversal signals that, at least in this instance, his administration isn’t going to have a hand in condoning much less authorizing aberrant behaviors and lifestyles. Whether or not you like President Trump, believe him to be glaringly hypocritical, or oppose almost all of his other policies, if you are a Christian, by definition, you must applaud President Trump when he uses his position of power to prevent our society from promoting disobedience to God’s law. Whether they like it or not, their Creator God expects obedience from all humans, even those who reject Him. As God, that’s His right.
Soli Deo Gloria
 While I’m happy with President Trump’s actions, I’m not a fan of kicking the can down the road on this. I wish that President Trump and the GOP would do the hard work of codifying on the federal level school bathroom requirements that reflect God’s law.
 Make no mistake, secularism is most decidedly a religion.
 Not necessarily salvific knowledge, though.
 Robert Letham, The Work of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1993),76.
 Letham, The Work of Christ, 76.