Bathrooms: A Redundant Take
by Jonas Weaver
I didn’t want to write this. I really didn’t. Partly because it means reliving parts of growing up that are harmful, partly because it means saying what has been said before. But I have to, just to make some things clear.
Yesterday, Russell Moore published this startlingly simplistic blog post was pretty much immediately ripped to pieces by Twitter, especially progressive (queer) Christians. Rightfully so. What Russell Moore says in this piece trickles down through the denomination he is a part of. Moore is the head of the Ethics commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. A Convention that this church is a part of. The pastor of this church in Georgia spoke at a town hall meeting and said that this situation was perverse. This situation refers to the simple idea of letting people piss where they feel comfortable. Moore’s theology has been rightly criticized and questioned, though I doubt he will change a thing. What’s disturbing to me is that on my Facebook feed images like this have been shared:
What’s disturbing is that Moore’s theology masquerades as the loving side of biblical theology. His theology is predicated on the exact same assumptions as Kevin Swanson, Bill Jack, and others. The theology Bill Jack and Kevin Swanson share is one of violent behavior. Swanson advocates bringing back the death penalty for gay people (and presumably trans people). Bill Jack, on Swanson’s radio show, pretty much took time to rip on my college (Calvin College) for being LGBTQ friendly. I emailed him about that because for a while I considered him a mentor, a friend, a man I respected. I attended Worldview Academy (the religious organization he is affiliated with) for three years, I was on staff as an intern for a week, I thought he was a good man. Now I’m frightened by him. But I emailed him to correct some things and to make an appeal personally. I wrote (in part):
“…in response to your claim that Calvin College has drawn you closer to Jesus, who is this Jesus you say you worship? Show me this Jesus who winks at sin, excuses vile behavior and fails to call one to repentance. What truth and what beauty has Calvin taught you if it is outside of Scripture? In short, support your position from Scripture, not from feelings or from Calvin College statements, my young friend. I fear you are in danger of God’s wrath and God’s discipline.”
Bill recently, along with my former debate coach from Colorado, decided to propagate fear, hate and mocked the plight of trans individuals on Kevin Swanson’s radio show.
All this to say, I don’t intend to say what Jesus would or would not do. Nor am I interested in decrying this as not “real Christianity” because it is very much real Christianity. It is very clearly based on an interpretation of sacred texts of Christianity. It’s very explicitly their way of following Jesus. And it is violent and evil. I didn’t want to write this post because the religious right has been castigated a lot (most times deservedly, others times not) but this was too much.
Trans people are being threatened with violence, being threatened by men who want to protect their daughters from sexual violence by threatening to assault (even shoot) trans persons. The issue is that this theology trickles down through families, through people. Moore’s theology is two steps too close to Swanson’s for comfort. And extending grace is becoming impossible and frankly less and less lie a valid option.
If your theology resembles Moore’s or Swanson’s or Jack’s you are willfully participating in violent theology. And if you’re okay with being complicit in that I might not be able to have a conversation in good faith with you. Nor should you expect any queer person to have a conversation in good faith with you.
Christianity is and has been violent. It has also been good and beautiful. Choose which form of it you want to partake in, because I know which side I’m on and it’s with the trans girl who just wants to piss, it’s the trans guy who just wants to shower, and it’s with then-binary person who simply wants to change after a sporting event.
As stated, this post is redundant, has been state more clearly by better people. But these men (Swanson, Jack, Moore) have a readership, audience, and have influenced hundreds (thousands) of people. They have an impact on people, their theology has an impact on people. And it’s worth calling them out and naming what they’re saying as evil. Because it is evil. But this is redundant, won’t change anyone’s minds, but it needed to be said because I grew up around these people and their theology. I saw it wreck me, watched it wreck others, and I’ve seen it lead to throwing people to the margins and mockery.
To anyone still in speech and debate in Colorado with Steve Vaughn: get the hell out.
To anyone tied to Worldview Academy or Bill Jack: get the hell out
To anyone tied to Kevin Swanson or Moore: get the hell out.