So recently, as most of you will already know, Target Corp. changed their corporate bathroom policy to allow their customers to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender they identify with, rather than requiring them to use the restroom that corresponds to their biological gender.
This was unsurprisingly heralded by the mass media as a victory for LGBTQ rights, granting them a respite from the shame of using a restroom they did not mentally identify with. It was called a victory for the masses by several media outlets and had roughly the same effect on the non-liberal members of society as I would suspect crushing a hornet’s nest over their heads would have. They went bat crap crazy. Boycotts were called for, petitions were started, and it became the water cooler topic of choice as the goal was to potentially drive a massive rainbow-colored wedge between yourself and the person you were talking to.
I have sat back and watched for a few days to see how it all played out. I have had mixed feelings on this and have had my thoughts on the subject change several times. Here is a brief recap of the stages I went through on this:
- Upset – Target is choosing to make a massive percentage of their customer base upset by putting the desires of about 1.5% of Americans ahead of the other 98.5%. What sense does that make?
- Perplexed – From a business standpoint, why would Target do this? What are they hoping to gain through this? Why potentially turn off many millions of their customer to allow such a small amount choose what toilet to use? As a business man, it makes no sense. The benefit is far outweighed by the potential losses it could bring. I mean, there are other places to order your trendy lampshades from. There are certainly other places I can order a DVD or pick up some t-shirts. Why do it?
- Saddened – as a minister, this was upsetting because sin has so damaged our culture that these types of activities are becoming increasingly more commonplace and socially acceptable. Sin is becoming the norm and those who stand against sin are intolerant, hateful bigots. So sad.
- Concerned – Do I want my daughter using a restroom where there may be a man who has decided he identifies as a woman and therefore gets to share the restroom with my daughter? Isn’t that what the TV and the pundits online are telling me I should be concerned about? This is why it is wrong, right?
The above thought process and emotions only took a few moments to sift through; maybe a few minutes at most. Then I started to have other thoughts:
- Where were these people using the restroom before? Are they not just going in a different door to do the same thing?
- Those men who choose to identify as a woman and are now sharing a bathroom with my daughter WERE sharing a bathroom with my son the day before…. Why was I not upset about that? Why had that not scared me or even really crossed my mind?
- Why does this move by Target really surprise anyone? They were already one of the larger corporate advocates for gay and lesbian rights in our country. Is it any surprise that such a move would come from them? It shouldn’t. It actually lines up pretty well with their corporate culture.
- Why was it so quickly and widely reported in the media? The old saying “any news is good news” comes to mind. The more something is addressed and talked about, the more it is normalized. By making it such a public announcement and having it so widely discussed amongst the media outlets, it makes it front and center with everyone. Despite it doing something for such a small number of people, it is discussed by everyone. And I think that is on purpose. Conservatives and conservative media report the massive injustice and endangerment of millions of little girls across the nation from the army of perverted cross dressers that will now invade the ladies room of every Target in America. All day, every day they will be just waiting for someone to prey on, rape, and take pictures of. The liberal media gets to report on the ridiculous overreaction and foolishness of the conservatives and educate the populace on how benign the issue really is. They remind the people of the horrible injustice that was wrought on these people who believe themselves to be a different gender than they are. Then typical cultural and closet Christians emerge from their comfortable home deep within the sand dune they bury their head in and scream boycott at the top of their lungs because they think it is the only way they will be heard. This of course fuels the media machine from both sides of the issue and allows the news cycle to perpetuate for even longer.
Mission accomplished: The nation is further polarized against ourselves rather than against the forces that truly wish to tear us down.
Is a boycott of Target really the way to handle this as believers (or even conservative-minded citizens without a faith allegiance)? Or is this choice by millions of Americans, many of whom are self-described evangelical Christians, just making us look more and more culturally disconnected? Is it making much of Jesus? Or much of toilets? Are we warriors for Christ or marionettes on some media megalomaniac’s strings?
Let’s examine a few things. First, Target has ALWAYS been a company that supported LGBTQ policies and causes. Remember the last time conservatives got all bent about Target? It wasn’t that long ago that we claimed that the world was going to implode because they wanted to remove the boy and girl labeling from different aisles in the store’s toy department. Things seem to have held together, and all you conservatives that were going to boycott them over that kept on buying that Up and Up Fabric Softener, didn’t you? Now you want to boycott them over this? How long will it last this time? Until you need another Mossimo t-shirt for your weekend outing?
I think the thing that bugs me the most about this is that it is such a double standard? I mean really, we still go to Night of Joy at Disney World even though they have several gay pride days each year. We still watch TV even though more and more companies are putting homosexual couples in their commercials. You still have Cable or Satellite TV even though all those companies offer pornographic channels. We still stay in hotels that have pornographic channels on their closed-circuit TVs. Moreover, the people you are so terrified to have in the bathroom with your daughter today…. were in the men’s room with your son yesterday.
Why are you only upset about it when you are told to be?
Do I agree that this will give more bravado to the perverts who would stalk our children and wives? The ones who try to take photos of them or do other inappropriate things? Yes. Do I think that it increases the potential dangers there? Yes, but only by a very small percentage. If you are really concerned about it, there is a family restroom in every Target that I have been in, and you can use that one. It’s private and avoids the issue altogether. So from a practical standpoint, we can see that the boycott is kind of silly, foolish, and ultimately will not do much to affect them at all.
Now for another perspective:
Is boycotting Target the appropriate Christian response to this situation? I would say no it is not.
For one thing, if we were to boycott every company that opens itself up and welcomes in these people who’s lifestyles might be defined by some as progressive or alternative, our choices will become EXTREMELY limited very quickly. The primary outcome of this will be a further diminishing of our conservative voice as we become more of a fringe perspective rather than the one that dominated culture just 25 or 30 years ago. I am reminded of Matthew 5:16, which says that we are to let our light shine before all people, so that they might see how we live our life and ultimately give Glory to God (paraphrased). That verse says to let our light shine in front of everyone, not to avoid those who are still in the dark to protect ourselves.
Is a tit for tat Christian response to culture ever going to do anything but drive a wedge further into the schism between us? I would say no. And if we take serious our calling to go into the world as Christ commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20, then how can we try to withdraw from the very world he commanded us to go in to? You can ask for reasonable accommodations to be given for you and your family to use the restroom if you feel that it is important to do so. There is a family restroom that you can use and in the event of a changing room, you have a right to request that a Target employee ensure the security of your changing environment. Boycotting, however, serves no positive purpose and only makes us look more detached from the world as we sit in our pristine sanctuaries and hurl judgement on the world. Christians participating in this boycott are in essence saying that their dollars, and not Jesus, are going to change people and circumstances. That the power of their purse is more powerful than the life-changing reality of God’s redemptive work. Your boycott is sending a message alright, but it is a message of hate, vitriol, and fear, and it is directed at a group that is already hurting, struggling, and in need of Christ.
We can do better than this, people.
We can be better than this.