Category Archives: gender

Toleration and Moral Universals

Every family, community, nation, and civilization must find agreement of the moral norms that will govern life together. In three words, people must have some agreement on what will be prohibited (actions that are wrong, i.e., slavery in any form, abuse of children), what will be permitted (actions people debate about, but can live with the differences, i.e., peaceful diversity of religious and political affiliation), and what will be promoted (virtues for the common good, i.e., compassion, access and opportunity, justice).

Toleration at its historic best allows people of very different cultures to live next door to each other in peace. Problems arise however, when we confuse toleration with agreement or take the previously permissible and make it either prohibited or promoted.

We have a strange alliance among elites in the West. Pagan-secular progressives that reject historic Jewish and Christian influences and ideals are in an alliance with Islamic radicals: both hate the “traditional” West. The secular elites have a particular animus toward Christians, especially Catholic and Evangelical believers that affirm normal sexual morality and respect unborn life. Islamicists have a long-term aim of imposing their enlightened Islam and reconquering lands that used to be Muslim.

This mutual pact bears bitter fruit, with feminists rarely criticizing Islam’s systemic oppression of women and religious minorities. Hatred for all things Christian keeps progressives from seeing the clear threat of Islam for human liberty. The desire to upend all historic gender identities and sexual norms is subverting good science and fostering unneeded traumas.

This confusion overflows to the public square where progressives imply that practicing Christians are suspect as potential judges or candidates for appointed offices.

Serious Christians that share their faith, affirm moral norms and evangelize are labeled as intolerant, homophobic, Islamophobic or oppressive. Meanwhile, entire nations persecuting Christians are given a pass due to historic colonialism.

Is there a way forward? Yes, but only with serious debate in a civil environment. We must prohibit all oppression, permit a wide range of opinions and promote true toleration. This means living alongside one another even while we debate matters of eternal importance. Our future as a free society depends on such maturity. The alternative is anarchy leading to new forms of totalitarian micromanagement and oppression.

Human Identity Up for Grabs

When I was a university and seminary student in the 1970s and 1980s, radical feminists declared, “Gender is a social construction” as they advocated for reappraisal of male and female passions and roles. No one, even the most extreme, suggested that someone could choose their gender. Fast-forward to the 1990s and the LGBTQ movement is searching for genetic underpinnings for same-sex or bisexual attractions. Finding none, by the 2000s they declare that what used to be dysphoria (people feeling like a woman/man in a man’s/women’s body) is really an opportunity for transgender reassignment surgery or simply choosing a new identity.

Today, we are told that being “cisgender” (i.e. normal male or female identity and desire for intimacy with the opposite sex) is part of the “privilege” of “heteronormative oppression.” It is now cool and exotic to claim some form of unusual identity, especially if one can distance themselves from anything resembling a white male, who, by definition, is filled with “toxic masculinity.”

Added to gender confusion is racial identity, where anything other than White is OK, though Asian is now suspect because of some groups succeeding in the academy and economy. Whether it is Senator Warren creating a career out of a false identity with the Cherokee people or a former NAACP leader exposed as not Black enough, we are in a state of deep confusion and new tribalism that does not bode well for the common good.

We must return to the biblical vision espoused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. People should be evaluated by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Going deeper, we must reaffirm the biblical vision of a common humanity and male and female identity – without the historical oppression of class, gender, or race.

The Bible is brilliant in its profound simplicity. Here is the Creation order of Genesis 1:26-28 and 5:1-2:

  • We are created in God’s image
  • We have a job to do (care for and cultivate creation)
  • We carry out this vocation as a male or female
  • Male and female are both called “Adam” – which is the term for all humanity

For social cohesion, this means that every person I meet is made in God’s image and worthy of dignity and respect. Each person I meet is fashioned to bring good to our world, if given access and opportunity. Furthermore, each person (with rare genetic exceptions in a fallen world) is a male or female – equal and different. Cultural traditions are NOT neutral – they enhance or impair human flourishing.

The reasons for gender confusion are many and no one should be mistreated. This does not mean we should accept any and every set of behaviors as normal! And in the next essay we will examine the moral codes for flourishing neighborhoods and nations.

Next week: True Toleration and Moral Universals

True Toleration

Moral convictions do not mean the absence of compassion. True toleration helps neighbors of vastly different universes live peaceably together with love and respect. If I disagree with someone’s beliefs or behaviors, it is not narrow-mindedness or disrespect.

Can we all grow up a bit and stop labeling and libeling?

I believe unborn and newly-born children are human persons. That is a love for life, not a war on women.

I am a Christian; therefore, I disagree on some matters with my Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, or secular neighbors…who I will gladly work with to make our world a better place.
We have miles to go on gender equality and racial injustice. I do not need to hate myself or “shut up”, however. 

I think ethical free enterprise is better than centralized socialism. This does not mean I reject a safety net or concern for the environment. I want America to lead the world in hospitality for immigrants…and secure the borders and reform her policies.

As a minister, I will only consecrate heterosexual, monogamous marriages. That does not mean I will not be a good neighbor to adults that organize life differently. As an academic, I enjoy presenting all sides of important issues. Truth can stand the test of opposing arguments.

The moment we label and libel, we end the search for wisdom and reveal fear of “the other.”
We must want for all others the liberties that we enjoy.