Outrage, Bathrooms, and Target Controversy

I think we can all agree that these are some crazy times. Seriously. It seems like everyone and their mother has been sucking down 40’s of crazy juice. Obama is instructing schools to let every person use whatever bathroom they please, Target is publicly parading it’s inclusive bathroom policies, and a whole lot of lines are being drawn in the sand.

As I scroll through the treacle that is my Facebook feed, I see a whole lotta outrage. Christians are furious over the Great Bathroom Debate of 2016, and are expressing their fury through boycotts, pledges, petitions, and memes.

It’s a lot of Target controversy.

And while I get the frustration, I would suggest that outrage is an unhelpful stance for us as Christians.

Several reasons for this.

The Futility Of Outrage

First and foremost, we have to realize that, as Christians, the truth we speak is unintelligible to the world. I think this is what John was getting at when he said:

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  (1 John 4:5-6 ESV)

The fundamental truth is that the world will not listen to us. When we speak God’s truth, it seems like absolute nonsense to the world. As if we’re spouting religious gibberish. God’s revealed truth is folly to the world.

The idea that God created gender, and that we are to live out the gender given to us by God, is crazy talk to a world that believes self-expression is the highest form of humanity.

Whoever is not from God does not listen to us. It doesn’t matter how loud we speak. It doesn’t matter how many petitions we sign or how often we call America to return to its Christian roots (looking at you Franklin Graham).

Being outraged at the world for not obeying the Bible is like being outraged at a blind man for not seeing. Outrage can’t heal physical or spiritual blindness.

[Tweet “Being outraged at the world is like being outraged at a blind man for not seeing. “]

(Admittedly, this analogy breaks down when you consider that, even though the world is blind, they are still morally culpable.)

All this yelling about the Target controversy is pretty futile in the big picture.

The Unhelpfulness Of Outrage

It is right and good to be grieved by the ungodliness of the world. It is appropriate to feel upset by rampant wickedness.

But the biblical reality is that outrage simply doesn’t produce the godly life God desires. Outrage never leads to righteousness.

That’s why James say, “…for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20)”.

Anger gets soundbites on Fox News. Outrage gets a lot of likes and shares and hearty backslapping. Fury can probably get you a regular column on The Blaze. But anger, outrage, and fury never produce righteousness.

Feeling angry may give you a sense of self-righteousness, but it won’t lead to true righteousness in others. It doesn’t produce godly sorrow or contrition. If anything, constant outrage is a great way to erect barriers between us and unbelievers.

Only God can produce repentance, and anger is not his tool of choice.

All this anger about the Target controversy isn’t creating godliness.

So How Do We Respond To The Target Controversy?

Wisdom, rather than fury, is the appropriate response to a hostile world. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus said, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

We need godly wisdom to know how to navigate the issues of gender which are being forcefully pressed on us. We need wisdom to know how to appropriately protect our children while still holding forth the gospel.

Retreat into communes is not an option. Pulling out of the world runs contrary to the free offer of the gospel. The gospel is inherently outward, which means that circling the wagons isn’t the solution.

Rather, we must wisely and winsomely hold forth both the gospel and God’s good plan for men and women.

As Russell Moore says:

…we must bear witness to the goodness of what it means to live as creatures, not as self-defining gods and goddesses.

And so we must ask God for the wisdom we so desperately need. We must pray for wisdom and insight so that we can be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Outrage feels so good, doesn’t it? It feels cathartic and powerful.

But outrage won’t accomplish anything. So let’s swap the outrage for wisdom.

Hey, I'm Stephen Altrogge. I'm a dad and published author. I've written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, ERLC, Church Leaders, Crosswalk, and many more outlets. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook .