|Tennessee has become the first state to explicitly ban drag shows in public places. Gov. Bill Lee signed the provision into law prohibiting “adult cabaret performances” that include “male or female impersonators” in areas where minors could watch. Similar laws have been introduced in at least fourteen other states.
However, Gov. Lee was criticized after a photo surfaced on Reddit that seems to be the governor wearing a dress from a 1977 Franklin High Yearbook.
A spokesman from the high school said the photo “appeared to be Lee” but noted there was no name under it. A spokesman for the governor responded: “The bill specifically protects children from obscene, sexualized entertainment, and any attempt to conflate this serious issue with lighthearted school traditions is dishonest and disrespectful to Tennessee families.”
In similar news, Texas state Rep. Nate Schatzline, a Republican, recently authored a bill that would restrict drag performances in the state. Then, according to NBC News, a video surfaced that appears to show him “skipping, running, and dancing in a park while donning a black sequined dress and a red eye mask.”
Schatzline, a first-term state representative and former pastor, responded: “Y’all really going crazy over me wearing a dress as a joke back in school for a theater project? Yah, that’s not a sexually explicit drag show…lol y’all will twist ANYTHING.”
If our faith does not change our lives
When we don’t like the message, our first instinct is to attack the messenger. This is called the “ad hominem” (“against the man”) fallacy: instead of addressing a person’s argument or position, we irrelevantly attack the person making the argument.
This reaction is so pervasive because it is so effective. At the very least, it distracts from the issue at hand. More often, it undermines the moral authority of the person making a moral argument and encourages their critics to justify rejecting their position.
Since this reaction is, in fact, illogical, I am tempted to dismiss those who employ it to reject biblical morality (such as the news in today’s Daily Article regarding gender and clothing; cf. Deuteronomy 22:5). But there’s more to the story.
A valid way to measure a truth claim is to ask if it does what it claims to do. In the case of Christianity, the Bible is clear: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As a result, if our faith does not change our lives, others have the right to question whether our faith will change their lives. “Do as I say, not as I do” was not welcome advice from our parents, much less from those who profess moral standards they claim to be superior to our own.
Why Satan divorces Sunday from Monday
Yesterday, we discussed our secularized culture’s euphemistic strategies for normalizing and advancing immorality. Abortion is “lifesaving” care (though only for a very tiny percentage of women whose pregnancies actually threaten their lives), sex change surgeries are “gender-affirming care,” and so on.
In addition, when we stand for biblical truth in contrast to the prevailing social norms, we can expect “ad hominem” arguments against us by the legion.
As a result, the more unpopular our argument, the more important our personal character.
The more we seek to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), the more we need to love the One whose truth we speak. The more intimate our relationship with Jesus, the more our words will align with our works and our lives will draw others to him (Matthew 5:16).
This is one reason our spiritual enemy tries so hard to divorce Sunday from Monday and the spiritual from the secular. If we try to practice what we preach without the transforming power of the Spirit, we will soon stop preaching and we will eventually stop practicing.
“We have a new Moses, God himself”
My purpose today is not to discourage you but to encourage you. Actually, it is to discourage you if you are trying to serve your Lord without surrendering each day to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Your life will inevitably contradict your message and God’s kingdom will suffer.
But it is to encourage you if you are depending intentionally on Jesus to manifest himself in and through you (cf. John 15:5). In that case, he promises, you will be able to stand boldly before your critics because your Lord will “give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:15).
To this end, let’s close with St. John Chrysostom’s (AD 347–407) reflection contrasting the miracles experienced by the Jews during their exodus with the miracles experienced by followers of Jesus: “The Israelites passed through the sea; you have passed from death to life. They were delivered from the Egyptians; you have been delivered from the powers of darkness. The Israelites were freed from slavery to a pagan people; you have been freed from the much greater slavery to sin.”
He continued: “The Lord was with them because of the favor he showed to Moses; now he is with us, but not simply because of your obedience. After Egypt they dwelt in desert places; after your departure you will dwell in heaven. Their great leader and commander was Moses; we have a new Moses, God himself, as our leader and commander.”
Who is your “leader and commander” today?