In my wildest imagination I never dreamed we would live in culture where people protested the right to use a backroom that represents the gender they “identify” with, rather than the one into which they were born. While I have opinions on the subject, I always try to go to the Bible with the issue at hand, to see if perhaps I am missing something.
Please excuse the frank nature of this short study, but as one of my Sunday school teachers used to say, “It’s in there.” One of the best known examples of a bathroom visit is King Saul’s use of a cave to “relieve himself” (1 Samuel 23:3). This was during the time Saul was hunting down David. There is a famous moment when David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe while Saul was going to the bathroom. Later David repented for bringing disgrace to the Lord’s anointed king, even though Saul was trying to kill him, and David’s entourage criticized him for not killing Saul when he had the chance.
As a kid there were two references that always got a chuckle in our Junior Boys class. One was Elijah’s jab that the reason Baal couldn’t light the altar his pagan worshippers had built was because he had “gone aside” (1 Kings 18:27 NAS). Our teacher explained this likely referred to Baal going the bathroom. The second received the biggest laugh, and I do apologize in advance if it offends you. Remember, “It’s in there.” In 1 Kings 16:11 (KJV) and a few others places, men are defined as those that “pisseth against the wall.” If you are laughing right now you should be ashamed!
I’m kidding. Not about the Bible verses, but about how you should feel about it. So where does this leave us when it comes to whether we should allow people who identify with a gender other than the one into which they were born, and wish to use a bathroom designated and designed for another gender?
Well, we can’t say the Bible says you have to use the bathroom with the name of your gender on the door. I can also testify, as one who has been to a couple of third-world countries, designated bathrooms are a luxury that are outside of most people’s realm of experience.
So here is my take from the Bible. Consider it a discernment of scripture and not a direct, “Thus says the Lord
A bathroom visit was a private time. Saul found a cave. Even Baal was said to have “gone aside.” Who wants to see a pagan idol go to the bathroom? Ok, so maybe it would be a curiosity, but hopefully you see my point.
A bathroom visit was gender specific. The fact that men were described as those who “pisseth against the wall” tells us there was a specific experience identified with men that set them apart from women in this very private matter.
A bathroom visit was a safe event where people hoped they would not be disturbed or molested. This notion was a part of David’s shame over his decision to cut off a piece of Saul’s robe while he was indisposed.
I believe common sense and wisdom gives us reason to maintain a separation of the sexes in the use of bathroom space. Does this mean it is a sin to use a restroom that doesn’t fit our gender? Not under every circumstance. More than one husband or wife has stood guard outside of a bathroom that doesn’t match their spouses’ gender because time was short and someone was in the other bathroom. But even in this situation, basic decency leads one to make sure no one else is in the restroom, and also issue a warning of the unusual circumstances when someone else arrives.
Obviously, inappropriate things can happen, even when we follow traditional norms for bathroom use. But these things would be deemed abnormal and possibly considered punishable by law.
I know those who promote the abandonment of social norms see it as a way of respecting the uniqueness of individuals. Yet, I believe the greater respect comes in the form of not wanting to make someone else uncomfortable when they are merely trying to go to the bathroom in a location clearly designated for their gender.
As far as those who wish to prove traditional norms are wrong or bigoted by threatening to boycott areas of the country who wish to maintain them, I say they have every right to take their stand. I hope they don’t mind if I find a way to survive without the product they are selling, whether it be music or some other form of commerce.
Perhaps the time has come when we will all have to decide what we can live without in order to determine what we can live with.