When Jesus Needs the Facilities, What Will Jesus Do?

I've been thinking about the devious and devilish demagoguery of the North Carolina legislators and Governor who quickly passed House Bill 2 (HB2) on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, otherwise known as the Charlotte Bathroom Bill, or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act

HB2 bans transgender identified people from using a public bathroom provided for the gender in which they identify. And it bans cities and counties from loosening that restriction.

If a transgender male-identified person has a passport that says that he is a she, that person must go to the bathroom that has signage for women. And, visa versa.

Some states allow a transgender identified person to change their passport birth marker and some do not. Some allow the change only if a medical doctor certifies sex reassignment surgery.

What will happen if a person goes to the wrong bathroom? No one is quite sure yet, but one North Carolina legislator insists that local police arrest the person for indecent exposure.

I have no doubt that some well-meaning citizens will be ready with their iPhones to snap up pictures of their neighbor's genitalia and make the calls to the local PD. Many cisgender Americans are willing to take pictures of themselves in the nude or having sex in the nude, so it should be no problem for them to snap a few for God and country, right?

This bathroom bill is a legislative affront to human rights and dignity and what makes it worse for me is the timing. It happened in the middle of Holy Week which precedes Easter Sunday, the great feast day and apogee of the Christian liturgical year. On Easter Sunday Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The timing was chosen and the execution was spot on. People who identify as Christian show up at church more this week than any other time in the year. Pastors who want to sway their flocks into particular thinking and belief have a crowd.

I understand this power of influence which must be so carefully and prayerfully managed. I am a pastor. This week has always been precious to me and I am struggling with how I feel about the way in which some Christian identified leaders have used it to bring national attention to North Carolina's pride in hurting so many innocent people. I am sad and i am mad.

I am writing this on Easter Sunday and I've been thinking a lot about Resurrection. I've been thinking what would the gender-rule-bending, ACT UP Jesus I know do in response to this absurd travesty of terror that the North Carolina leadership has created?

The best illustrations are in the Hebrew scriptures when Jesus rebukes a fig tree for its failure to bear fruit and when he tosses over the tables of the temple money changers who had corrupted the purpose of the temple. These stories are told back to back. They are connected.

Followers of Jesus are supposed to bear fruit for the nourishment of the Body of Christ and maintain the house of Jesus as a house of prayer for all nations.

I love Jonathan Parnell's description of that day in Jesus' life. http://www.desiringgod.org/authors/jonathan-parnell

The meek and mild Jesus of progressive tolerance that so many of our contemporaries have come to prefer was nowhere to be found when he made a mess of the money-changers. There was nothing soft and tender on display when Jesus, in Jeremiah-like fashion, pronounced a resounding judgment on Israel....The context of Isaiah 56 tells us more. According to Isaiah's vision, eunuchs would keep God's covenant and foreigners would join themselves to him and the outcasts would be gathered with his people. But Jesus approached a temple pulsing with buying and selling. The court of the Gentiles, the place designed all along for foreigners to congregate, for the nations to seek the Lord, was overrun with opportunists trying to turn a profit. And the Jewish leaders had let this happen...In no uncertain terms, his rebuke fell on their worship.

How would the Jesus I know confront those in authority in North Carolina who have used Jesus' name to betray the trust of many of their citizens and residents, lied to them and stripped their state of its reputation of welcome?

I think I can imagine what Jesus would do.

And, I think we can do it, too.

We can commit our own act of Resurrection, the turning inside out and upside down of the dominant narrative of wrong-hearted religion, discriminating societal norms and the rest of the rot that Jesus attempted to put to death once and for all on the Cross.

Those of us who are not transgender identified can each choose a day next week to go to the bathroom with signage that is opposite our external presentation of gender.

We can repeat this simple act of Resurrection all over America every day upon the hour. The radical right insists that all of us conform to the binary, so let's take them seriously and show them that the whole point is that no one can judge one's gender identity except the person, regardless of the genitalia with which one was born. Let us make it clear that the central organizing principle of our lives is human dignity, not the anatomy between our legs.

This is an easy protest. Any of us can walk into a bathroom that supposedly represents the opposite gender of what the dominant narrative suggests.

If we want to be particularly bold, we can carry our birth certificates with us that marked us on day one. Perhaps we should enlarge these to poster size and wear them on our backs as witness or better yet on our fronts so selfies can give testimony.

If enough of us protest the egregious harm that places like North Carolina and 23 other states are attempting, perhaps we can stop this hateful onslaught once and for all.

Will someone have us thrown out? Sure. Will someone hiss their venom at us for daring to confront the absurdity of our bathroom wars while most of the world has no sanitation facilities at all? Yes.

So what?

I am particularly looking forward to my forays into Dairy Queen bathrooms in the rural South, my childhood home. I present reasonably effectively as a white, female, financially comfortable senior citizen.

I plan to choose to walk into the bathrooms designated for MEN, complete my bio break, exit, smile at the shocked faces of those waiting in line. And kindly say, I know. It's the bathroom for men.

I bet I will get all kinds of support. Some will assume I've made a mistake and gently suggest I've misread the sign. Some will assume I have dementia and just messed up. They will give me sad sympathetic looks. Some will object as if I've broken some law. It will create a wonderful moment for dialogue.

Another cool way I've thought of is to carry in paper print outs that say Washroom or Water Closet (very British) and tape them over the existing signage. Temporary and effective. Or use no description at all, just the paper covering the signs.

I want to do a quick video of the reactions of people. My favorite will be the irate person who goes immediately to management to find out which bathroom to use.

As if it matters--when you need to go.

If your activist soul doesn't feel like one of these potty protests, you can sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/dr-cindi-love-acpa-opposes-all-public-policies-and-laws-that-sanction-discrimination

Today I am thinking about Easter and Resurrection, celebrations so deeply and beautifully infused into my life experience, having been raised in an evangelical fundamentalist church in the south. These experiences are quite different for me now.

I now know that we make a mockery of the crucifixion with our cruel obsession with the gender binary. It only leads us to hurt, exclude and degrade other human beings and the Hebrew scriptures are replete with examples of Jesus healing, including and lifting up those who others rejected.

I think I know what Jesus will do when Jesus needs the facilities. And I plan to follow Jesus right through those same doors. I hope you will too.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28