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Gender Confusion

In Mark 10:16 Jesus says, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” Because our society rejects the authority of Scripture, it is utterly confused about how to identify people. World magazine reports on the consequences of this confusion:

At the end of 2015, two human rights commissions over 2,800 miles apart enacted new rules that could be precedent-setting for the gender battle across the nation, including giving people the right to use whichever locker rooms and bathrooms they choose.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued guidelines Dec. 21 to clarify what “constitutes gender identity and gender-expression discrimination” under the city’s 2002 Human Rights Law. The new policy addresses discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, and housing.

The guidelines offer several definitions that categorize people according to their self-defined sexual identity, including transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex. Instead of male or female, the identity of “cisgender” is offered as “an adjective denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex, i.e., someone who is not transgender.”

The rules list examples of what the commission considers discriminatory such as repeated failure to use an individual’s preferred name or pronoun. Employers, landlords and businesses serving the public cannot require employees, tenants, or customers to provide legal or medical proof of their gender or name before accommodating their requests.

“For example,” the rules state, “a covered entity may not refuse to call a transgender woman her preferred name, Jane, because her identification says that her first name is John.”

Employers are also forbidden from requiring different male and female dress codes and grooming standards. Companies with male and female uniforms must allow workers to pick which uniform they wear. In addition, companies’ healthcare benefits must now cover “transgender care” the commission considers “medically necessary” and “life-saving” such as hormone-replacement therapy, voice training, and surgery.

Finally, because requiring proof of transgender status is illegal, the rules effectively authorize anyone to utilize any single-sex program or facility of his or her choice, from battered women’s shelters to public locker rooms. For those who are uncomfortable with such an arrangement, the commission recommends companies provide single occupancy restrooms and private space for anyone who has privacy concerns.”

The commission can impose civil penalties up to $125,000 for violating the law and up to $250,000 for violations it considers “willful, wanton or malicious conduct.”

Meanwhile, as of Dec. 26, a new rule created by the Washington State Human Rights Commission requires buildings open to the public to allow transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify.

The Washington commission began considering the new policy in 2012. At that time, officials at Washington’s Evergreen State College declared the state’s nondiscrimination policy prevented the school from stopping a transgendered person from exposing male genitalia in the women’s locker room. Local high school students and swim team clubs with children ages 6-18 shared use of the facility with the college, Christian News Network reported.

According to a police report filed Sep. 2012, a 17-yearold girl reported a person sitting naked in the women’s sauna with exposed male genitalia. The girl’s swim coach investigated and found Colleen Francis sitting “with her legs open and her male genitalia showing.” Upon being asked to leave, Francis claimed discrimination, and school officials agreed.

The college eventually installed curtains in the locker room and announced any girls uncomfortable changing in front of the 45-year-old Francis should change behind them, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom. A local district attorney said the state would not enforce Washington’s indecent exposure statute to protect the girls because the law was “very vague in this area,” the police report noted.

“[The new rule] arguably creates a conflict with the state’s indecent exposure law, which otherwise prohibits exposing yourself to others while ‘knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.’ Or maybe women no longer have the right to be alarmed at the sight of a naked man in the women’s locker room,” blogged Joseph Backholm, executive director for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.

Some organizations in Washington are quickly falling in line with the state’s demands. The YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties promised immediate compliance. YMCA of Tacoma announced a plan to spend over $1 million to upgrade its locker rooms to “enhance privacy.” In both Washington and New York City, concerns abound over bathroom safety and privacy in wake of the transgender policies enacted last month by unelected officials.

In Washington, lawmakers are already drafting bills to counter the new rules, accusing the state of overstepping its authority when it circumvented the legislature on such a major policy change.

“My concern is the safety side,” Republican State Rep. Graham Hunt told The Washington Times. “There are folks who have come forward and reached out to me that have been taken advantage of, put into abusive situations because of somebody who’s been allowed access to private, intimate settings like locker rooms and bathrooms. I don’t really see privacy as a partisan issue.”1

Donald Trump’s Problematic Claim

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump emphatically claims that he is a Presbyterian. During a campaign appearance in Iowa he reportedly said, “Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian.” Mr. Trump makes this claim based on his upbringing in the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, New York—denominationally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). More recently Mr. Trump has been affiliated to some degree with the Marble Collegiate Church in New York. The Marble Collegiate Church is part of the Reformed Church in America. However, Mr. Trump admits that he is not an active member of the congregation, and he continues to identify himself as a Presbyterian. But there are serious problems with Mr. Trump’s claim to be a Presbyterian.

One problem with his claim is that he does not appear to be a member of any Presbyterian congregation. Some in the PC-USA, unhappy with some of Mr. Trump’s political positions, have called for him to be put on trial and possibly excommunicated from the denomination. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the denomination, explained that “church judicial action could not be taken against Trump because ‘there is no factual evidence that Mr. Trump currently holds membership in any local congregation.’” Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, one of the official creeds of the PC-USA, requires membership in the “visible” church—a local congregation. By forsaking membership in a local congregation, Mr. Trump removed himself from the church. He is no longer Presbyterian.

Another problem with Mr. Trump’s claim to be a Presbyterian is that he has made statements that demonstrate that he holds beliefs that are contrary to Presbyterian doctrine. Here is an excerpt from a recent interview of Mr. Trump by Jake Tapper that aired on CNN:

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you because one of the potential attack lines has to do with an answer you gave… months ago when you said that you’ve never asked God for forgiveness. Do you regret making that remark?

TRUMP: No, I have great relationship with God. I have great relationship with the evangelicals. In fact nationwide, I’m up by a lot—leading everybody. But I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try and do nothing that’s bad. I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think….

TAPPER: Always or just now?

TRUMP: I have a very great relationship with God and I have a very great relationship with evangelicals. And I think that’s why I’m doing so well with Iowa.

TAPPER: The life you have now when you say that you try to do good, that sounds very different from decades of tabloid media coverage in New York in which some of your wilder escapades were—

TRUMP: No, I’m talking about—I’m talking about over the last number of years.

TAPPER: OK.

TRUMP: You know—I mean, I’m leading a very good life. I try to lead a good life….

Mr. Trump’s theology is not Presbyterian. He does not claim that he has never sinned or done “bad” things. But he seems to be claiming that he is able to avoid sin for periods of time, achieving a sort of temporary state of perfection. And if he does sin, he does not see the need for forgiveness from God. This is contrary to Presbyterian doctrine, which teaches that in this life believers are never able to be sinless. The WCF states that the corrupt nature that was handed down to all mankind from Adam and Eve “during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated: and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin” (WCF, 6.5). The Heidelberg Catechism, which is also included in the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions, asks in Lord’s Day 44, “But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?” and answers, “No; but even the holiest of men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience.” And because believers continue to sin, both the WCF and the HC teach that it is necessary for believers to ask God daily for the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus Christ (WCF, 11.5; HC, LD 51).

Although members of the PC-USA strongly condemned Mr. Trump for some of his political positions, there is no evidence of a similar outcry against his theologically unsound statements. This is sad but unsurprising, since even the media describes the PC-USA as a “generally liberal Mainline Protestant denomination.” The denomination is more interested in taking political stances supporting “same-sex marriage, comprehensive immigration reform, and the Obama administration’s recent trade deal with Iran” than it is in teaching the truth that men are sinners who need daily forgiveness of sins. Politically, Mr. Trump and his former denomination are at odds with each other; but theologically they seem to have much in common—and in at least one respect Mr. Trump and the PC-USA stand together in perfect unity; neither is truly Presbyterian.


1 Sarah Padbury, “Boy and girl locker rooms going extinct on U.S. coasts,” World, Jan. 14, 2016, http://www.worldmag.com/2016/01/boy_and_girl_locker_rooms_going_extinct_in_ states_on_U_S_coasts.