Amanda Barber

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Of Men and Toilets and Parental Responsibility

18 May 2016

Being married to a libertarian-leaning Republican member of the South Carolina House of Representatives has been an informative experience. As some of you may know, before I met Jonathon, I really hadn’t given politics much thought beyond the fact that I self-identified (sorry, I couldn’t help it) as very, very, VERY conservative. I am still conservative, but through the influence of my husband, one question has been at the top of my mind almost constantly these last four and a half months of married life. It is this: What is the role of government? More specifically, is it the government’s job to tell private business owners who they shall or shall not allow into their restrooms? A number of you will loudly proclaim that this is precisely the government’s job. Here’s another question: Is it the government’s job to tell private business owners who they shall or shall not bake a cake for? I suspect the same number of you will now disagree. But we’re dealing with the same larger issue (the role of government) only now we have an inconsistency. Before you beat me over the head with the “wedding cakes are totally different than innocent women and little girls stuck in the bathroom with a pervert” stick, please hear me out.

As my husband often says, the role of government is small, concise and to the point. The government’s job is to protect your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as outlined in the Constitution. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not the job of the government to provide your children’s education; your healthcare; your birth control; your food supply; your housing; your cell phone; religious training; vegan, paleo, or organic food options; your paid maternity leave; your gun; your sex change; money to bail you out if you default on your loan; or even bathroom facilities. All government is supposed to do is protect your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so you can go out and get all of that stuff yourself. Now, as a Christian, I have a pretty good idea which things on that list will allow for happiness and which things will lead to abject misery. However, it is still not the government’s job to protect you from the consequences of your choices.

Every act of government is, by default, an act of force. As my husband likes to say, “If you doubt that, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.” With that in mind, legislators need to be extremely careful and responsible when wielding that force, because with every act of force, you necessarily grow the government just a little bigger than it was before. When contemplating new legislation, Jonathon often asks, “Is what I am about to do, a proper use of government force?” Good or bad? Let me pose the question to you in another way: Is it a proper use of government force to prohibit a transgendered “woman” to use the lady’s restroom? If yes, then what makes it wrong for government to force businesses and schools to allow transgendered individuals to use the restroom of their choice?

I’ll put my thoughts before you plainly. It is not the government’s role to decide who goes into bathrooms or who stays out of them. It really doesn’t matter which political school of thought you approach this from. Both Republicans and Democrats have recently grown government by sticking their noses where they didn’t belong. Individual school districts are completely capable of hashing through these issues without the state or federal government getting involved. Businesses like Target have every right to decide what their bathroom policies are going to be. Their customers have every right to boycott and shop somewhere else just as other people have every right to boycott Hobby Lobby for refusing to provide certain contraceptives to their employees. But to force Target to change its policies and to force Hobby Lobby to provide those contraceptives…that’s crossing the line between legitimate and illegitimate government force.

“But!” you say, “The innocent children! This is a matter of protecting them from perverts who would take advantage of the transgender loop hole to get to vulnerable people and take advantage of them.”

That is possible, and I sympathize with your fears. I’m not yet a mother, but I can imagine how you must feel. And yet…how many little boys have been molested by adult men in public restrooms? Too many, I fear. But we aren’t in a hurry to pass legislation banning adult men from using the same restrooms as little boys. Or for that matter, banning adult women from using the same restrooms as little girls. The threat of danger is, I’m afraid, the same. So, it seems to me that the best possible solution is to accompany your young children to the restroom. Most parents are doing that anyway, these days. For grown women, I recommend a good pepper spray.

“But!” you say, “I can’t go with my kids to the bathroom at their school. What about the locker rooms? What if some teenage boy, hormones raging, decides to masquerade as transgender for a day for a good time?”

I can understand that concern, as well. As it is my brothers and sisters in Christ who are making their disapproval known the loudest, I’m going to speak specifically to you from here to the end. Why do you keep running to the government to fix a problem that’s well within your reach to solve by yourself? Here’s the thing. According to Barna, eighty-four percent of you are still sending your children to public schools, funded by the government with money the government takes from your paycheck. Understand that the government now has incredible leverage over you. It shouldn’t (but it does) send down edicts about who shall and shall not go into the bathroom with your daughters. You can’t really help that. But there is one thing you can help that I know you aren’t doing. You are still at liberty to pull your kids out of school and either homeschool them or pay their way at a private school.

“But!” you say, “That costs money! That means one of the parents will have to stay home with the kids. We won’t have two incomes! We may have to sell one of our cars, give up our swimming pool, buy clothes second-hand, get a house with cheaper payments, stop eating out so much, be reduced to beans and rice. In short, it’ll crimp our standard of living.”

To which I reply, yes. To be fair, some of you are already living frugally while you send your kids to public school. I applaud you. But if what you are saying is true, that a transgender student in your daughter’s bathroom represents a grave threat to her safety and well-being and you still won’t get her out of that environment no matter what the cost to you, then your cries of “boys in the girls’ bathroom!” fall on my deaf ears. To me, you aren’t being serious. You’re just making a lot of useless noise.

Now that I have completely alienated and angered both my liberal and conservative friends, it is time to close. There is more I could write on this topic, but much better thinkers have spilled gallons of ink on it already. If more thoughts occur to me or angry commenters demand answers to further questions, perhaps I’ll write a follow-up.

For now, I leave you with the best thought of all. Empires rise and fall, but God is still on His throne. It looks to me as if America is on the last half of it’s decline. But you know what? God doesn’t need America. Remember that in the muck and grime of many a fallen empire, His church has shown the brighter as it got dark.