Can “Trans Rights” and Religious Liberty Coexist?

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What happens when two “rights” clash? Christians have already seen the challenges when new demands for homosexual rights have collided with religious liberty. The new debates over transgender rights have added yet another layer to this complex balancing act.

Two leading Christian groups, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, have decided to take initiative to preserve religious liberty by striking a compromise. World magazine broke the story in December, quoting someone who sits on the boards of both organizations: “As Christian higher educators, we are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community.”

These evangelical groups have formally agreed that “sexual orientation and gender identity” should be protected classes in federal legislation and, in exchange for this “explicit support,” they are asking for federal legislation to explicitly protect First Amendment guarantees of free religious exercise when it clashes with these newly invented protections.

Yet conservative Christian observers consider this compromise a disaster. As Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, points out in his daily podcast The Briefing, the new “compromise” does not spell out what constitutes “unjust discrimination” and the federal government’s process for resolving disagreements. This new approach would give the government virtually unlimited power to limit Christian liberties and would do nothing to protect Christians in the marketplace, such as bakers, florists, and photographers, but only churches, nonprofits, and colleges. He called it “a well-intended wound to religious liberty.”

Christians strongly oppose hate, violence, and abuse, but that is not the concern here. The danger is granting a secular government, influenced by an antibiblical moral revolution, the power to promote this agenda and to decide how to balance it with older guarantees such as religious liberty.

These are moral issues. God created us male and female (Genesis 1:27) and designed marriage to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). We have no right to redefine what God has created.

Answers Magazine

March–April 2019

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