There Can Be No Separation of Church and State

Can the “state” really be separated from the “church”?

We have all heard this now famous statement as a justification for any event in which a Christian who works within a secular government system or private sector business who uses their religious Faith as a means to justify their practices at the office.

But how can we ever expect this alleged divide to actually occur?

I want to first point out that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not exist in the U.S. Constitution. Many of those who throw it around like it has some sort of legal precedent are simply incorrect. In fact the phrase, written by Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists, was meant to further explain what the First Amendment says: “[the] Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, [or] impeding the free exercise of religion.”

The government cannot establish a religion, which is an obvious shot at the Church of England. The Constitution also protects against “impeding the free exercise of religion.” This is possibly the most important part, and is clearly the section of the clause that gets forgotten. The government cannot make a law that prohibits our religious practices. There can be no law that outlaws prayer.

Where the courts have parsed this argument over the past few decades, is that they separate Congressional “law” and public “policy.”

However, how can anyone expect that people of faith can simply leave our worldview at the door when we walk into a government building? That would be like telling an atheist that they MUST believe in God when they enter into a religious structure. It is absurd.

Religion is one of the foundational belief systems in any person of any faith. It informs our opinion on almost every subject from gender relations to abdication of power. The Bible instructs Christians to love everyone, including their enemies. Christians are to follow the laws of man, so long as they do not supersede the laws of God. Christians are to pay their taxes, not steal, lie, or murder people.

Those of us who obey God’s laws are some of the most trustworthy and decent citizens on the planet, regardless of the culture we are in. Those who do not are often vile and bitter individuals, and we should all take a moment to understand that a Christian person does not represent Christianity. People are not always consistent with their principles. Again, this would be like refusing to be a vegan because someone you know who refuses to eat animal products is also a liar or thief.

It would be like saying you are not an American because you’ve broken a speeding law (which I know you have—probably even today).

Being a Christian means that we are to meet the standard of perfection that God himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, put forth as an example. It is an impossible task, and Christians are aware of it.

That being said, in order to try and meet Christ-like standards, we sometimes act against social norms.

If Scripture is clear about certain sins, such as same sex relations or murder, then our principles dictate that we should love the homosexual or murderer, while not condoning their actions. For a Christian, it is a bedrock, fundamental principle that participating in a gay wedding is akin to participating in a murder, in a lie, in a robbery, etc. We become an accomplice.

I tend to use murder because it is such an extreme example of a sin, but it is something that is actually illegal. How about infidelity?

If your best friend came to you and asked you to help facilitate an affair, would that be unethical? Would it be unchristian? Of course. If someone were to come into a store you owned and explicitly told you that they were purchasing an item with the full intent of cheating on their spouse, would you have a right to tell them no? I think most of us would feel the conscious pricking desire to say no, and I would like to think that most of us would have the decency to not become an accomplice.

Would the government then be able to come fine you and FORCE you to sell the item?

I would argue that monogamy is actually more of a social construct than homosexuality. Human nature is to seek pleasure as often as possible. Evolutionary psychology would say that it is due to our need to perpetuate the species. History would say that pre-civilized sexual relations were rarely monogamous. Christianity would call this our “sin nature.” Regardless of title, the idea of infidelity is more natural than marriage.

So why would we have a problem with stopping a cheating husband, while not having a problem with celebrating a gay wedding?

Yet this is the society that has been created for us. Our reality is that it would be better assist in an extra-marital affair than to refuse to bake a wedding cake.

I believe that our principles should be what guides us. A Christian business owner should be able to say no to both of these cases. I also believe that someone who is anti-Christian should be able to say no to making a Christian item that may offend their own beliefs. Either way, the business owner should express their faith, whether it be faith in God or faith in humanism.

A religious person of any kind should have reasonable accommodations made for them, even if they work for the government. Just as a smoker gets several five minute breaks a day, a Muslim should be able to get their prayer time. Just as an atheist can choose to not advocate on behalf of a religious institution, a religious person should be able to choose to not participate in an event that goes against their belief.

It really is not that confusing, and should not be controversial by any means. The true separation of church and state is impossible, just as throwing off decades of parental socialization is impossible. The church guides many of us even more than parents and peers.

I understand that open expression of faith can make non-believers uncomfortable, but do unbelievers understand that their open expressions of fornication, smoking, drinking, drug use, etc. makes Christians feel uncomfortable? Do they understand that telling someone who fundamentally believes in something that informs every action that that foundation is not welcome once they walk through certain doors?

There can be no separation of church and state for the Christian, and that was never the intent of our Founders. The government, however, is constantly overstepping its bounds. Society needs good, honest, decent people in order to thrive. Society is also stopping many good, honest, decent people from being completely free to express themselves.

The Reality of Transgender Children

What would you do if your child was confused about their gender identity?

This was a question posed to a group of college students, and I found their responses to be quite interesting. Answers ranged from “I don’t know” to “I would love them no matter what,” which is quite refreshing. Some of the more compelling arguments were about the nature vs. nurture controversy that continues to rage in both biology and sociology.

The question becomes even more complex when the concept of “intersex” comes into the equation. For those who do not know, intersex is a hermaphroditic condition in which a baby is born with traces of both male and female genitalia and chromosomes.

In the past, doctors have taken it upon themselves to assign a sex to the baby through surgical procedures, but controversy has been brewing as many of these children grow up identifying with the opposite gender from what they were assigned. Most do not even know that they were intersex until later in life. A movement has been gaining traction that supports NOT going through with such a surgery and allowing the individual to make their own decisions later on in life—this is a position that I certainly find to be reasonable.

That being said, some non-intersex children have begun to show transgender patterns from a very early age. So the question, restated, is what would you do if your 8 year old boy decided to play with girl toys, grow their hair long, and wear dresses? We have fairly limited options.

  1. Would you ignore or steer them away from such behavior? For many people, this is a valid response. We take away Barbie and put GI Joe in their hands. We give them trucks and make them watch action movies. We buy them footballs and make sure they are wearing your team’s jersey. We believe it to be a phase, and something that we, as parents, can control. We have final say over the life of an 8 year old. If we can teach them math and science, then we can teach gender norms, right?

Except that there is a danger that our child will not pass out of the phase. In that case, we spent many of their formative years telling them that their interests are wrong. We tell them that we do not actually approve of, let alone appreciate who they are. We run the risk of creating a rift between us and our child that can have lasting repercussions.

  1. Would you totally buy into the lifestyle? This is another popular and valid response. We buy dresses, Barbies, and makeup for them. We let them watch My Little Pony and Tinkerbell. We tell them that we love them and give them free reign in their decisions. Some parents, and these are extreme cases, actually give their children hormones that will make their identities more permanent. We want our children to be happy, so we are fine with leaving them to their own devices, right?

Except that there is yet another danger that this actually IS a phase. For those parents who feed their kids hormones and prepare for gender reassignment surgery, there is the possibility that later in life those kids will regret the decisions they made as a child. There is also a risk that our children will be picked on, bullied, and shamed for going against the norm. Violence against trans teenagers, both external and self-inflicted, is an epidemic in the community. There is a real danger in embracing our differences.

This dilemma is even more complicated for Christian parents. We believe that God created us, yet we also believe that engaging in homosexual or transgender behavior is a sin. How could God create a boy who wants to be a girl? Did He make a mistake?

I would argue, and this is NOT going to be a popular view, that deviance such as this may be 1. An anomaly and/or 2. A mental disorder.

The percentage of transgendered Americans currently sits at about .3% of the population. When 99.7% of a population of ANYTHING conforms to a norm, then that minor population is, by definition, an anomaly. Trans is deviant.

Many mental problems happen by chromosomal imbalances in the womb, by some sort of trauma, or through socialization. Many of the LGBT people I know were sexually abused at some point in their lives.

Moreover, there are similar cases to that of transgender. Trans-able occurs when someone with a healthy body believes that they are handicapped. Some even go as far as to have their limbs severed in order to better fit with their own body image. Is that really any different than wanting to cut off a penis in order to conform to a gendered body identity?

If being transgender is a form of body dysmorphia, is it a form of child abuse to encourage it? Should we let it go untreated? We would step in if our child was anorexic, right?

I also find it interesting how similar the conversations about a transgender child are to conversations about a kid who is autistic or has Down’s Syndrome.

I am not comparing the two issues, only our responses to those issues.

I know several parents of special needs children. From the outside looking in, we ask ourselves what we would do if our child has special needs. We wonder if we could handle the difficulty of intensive special treatment and care of that child. Most special needs kids just want to be treated normally, but we know that other kids will not understand their condition. We know that other children can be mean and may even bully them.

However, if you ask ANY parent of a special needs child, they will tell you the same thing. They love their kids unconditionally, and often learn about themselves through dealing with their children.

So what would you do if your child was showing transgender traits?

If they were born intersex, they may only be trans based on the gender choices that YOU made for them at birth.

If they are just going through a phase, we must be cautious about the ramifications of our responses to their behavior. We may actually get in the way of a natural self-identification process that could lead to suicide.

If they are truly transgender, we may just have to love them unconditionally and hope for the best. However, our religious and traditional beliefs have been challenged and that creates massive cognitive dissonance.

What would you do?