On the morning of March 27, a transgender “man” named Audrey Hale shot her way into the Christian elementary school that employs my wife and educates my children. The rampage that followed left seven dead, including the shooter, and has been duly chronicled, interpreted, and mourned, both here in Nashville and across the nation.
Despite the fact that no one in my family was physically harmed, or perhaps because of it, I decided at first not to write about the massacre. What changed my mind was an unreported detail, confirmed privately by both the police and a church deacon in charge of the physical plant.
At some point during her spree, Hale went from the school to the (attached) neo-Gothic cathedral and fired seven bullets into a stained-glass figure of Adam, the first man, according to the Genesis narrative. A writer may try for a while to resist such a symbol, but, as the existence of this article proves, he is unlikely to prevail in the end.
Of course, I knew nothing about Hale or her motives on the Monday morning in question. Sitting in my office, working on God knows what, I received an email from my wife alerting me that an active shooter was in her building. As anyone would do under such circumstances, I rushed to my car and began driving in the direction of the Covenant School. Reports of an “active aggressor” were already trickling onto local radio broadcasts, and I learned from one of them that police were setting up a “reunification” center at a nearby Baptist church. Arriving there, I found a sanctuary already beginning to fill with distraught parents, grandparents, police officers, and clergy.
For at least an hour after my wife’s email, I did not know whether my family were alive or dead. (I don’t carry a cellphone but was eventually able to borrow my pastor’s.) For two hours after that, I could not see my wife and children with my own eyes, so agonizingly slow was the police-directed reunification process.
During that mind-focusing span, I acquired a series of insights that had previously been merely secondhand or theoretical. I learned that the ideology of psychotherapy has become so culturally ingrained that assembled parents were urged to “process” the day’s events even as those events remained ongoing. (In an irony worthy of Voltaire, the city-employed counselors stalking the aisles wore rainbow-flag lanyards.)
I learned that the same police force that had run toward gunfire only minutes earlier were utterly baffled by the problem of matching parents to surviving children.
Most important, I learned that my decades-long profession of faith had not been mere words. The believing reader will have a sense of what I mean. In that midnight hour, I had prayed as never before — prayed without ceasing — for my wife and children. Yet I knew with perfect certainty that, if dead, my family were with their Savior. With countless Christians down through the ages, I would repeat the words of Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In the days that followed, it would be tempting to exchange this peace for the grim solace of politics. Hadn’t Hale, a former Covenant School student (albeit nearly two decades earlier), chosen her victims for ideological reasons? Wouldn’t her “manifesto,” unreleased as of this writing but darkly alluded to by police, make plain her desire to kill Christians because of their faith? Pursuing these questions, I felt (and feel) a tension that is not just nearly but literally biblical in its resonances. Turn the other cheek. But: “If any provide not for his own, . . . he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
These directives are not irreconcilable. Indeed, a Christian in the public square must reconcile them daily, as must any Christian who advocates, protests, or votes. As an individual, I understood, I was called to forgive and could do so easily enough. (Hale was, after all, mentally ill, no matter the fashion of the moment.) Yet it was also newly evident that Christianity now stands opposed to a militant, virulent dogma that brooks no dissent and has in its sights a final victory over nature itself.
It is obviously not the case that transgenderism shot up the Covenant School, nor are transgender people collectively responsible for Hale’s crimes. Nevertheless, the transgender creed, rightly understood, is not just un- but anti-Christian. Having watched the American church abandon the field on marriage, I saw anew that transgenderism would, and must, be different.
It is not enough to say that transgender ideology and Christianity diverge in their attitudes toward the human person. Rather, the two belief systems are so radically incompatible that to embrace one is necessarily to deny the other. Embedded in the Genesis narrative is the idea that sex and gender are essential components of God’s planned creation. We are not our own and cannot, in the words of the theologian Owen Strachan, “make ourselves whatever we would wish to be.” In transgender doctrine, humans achieve ultimate fulfillment by bringing their bodies into alignment with subjective intuitions. Christianity, meanwhile, demands subjugation of the human will to Christ (though perhaps it is better to say that Christianity “promises” or “grants” as much).
Writing this essay, I have tried to put myself in Hale’s shoes, standing before the Creation window, rifle in hand. In the figure of Adam, she must have seen not only a masculinity she could never truly achieve but a vast and unshakable edifice, terrible in its power. Had she lived, she might have come to know its grace. Instead, she chose rebellion, envy, wrath. In clinging to one god, she explicitly scorned another.
Where the matter stands now is as clear as it has ever been, though to acknowledge as much and act properly requires a discernment for which the church has not, of late, been famous. To seek vengeance — to hate our enemies — is a grievous sin. But Christians can never again be silent about what is fast becoming a fundamental moral question of our time, second only to abortion in its cultural and spiritual ramifications.
Some readers will reject that comparison out of hand. I urge them to reconsider. Like abortion, transgenderism asks us to contemplate what may be done by adults to children. As abortion does, transgenderism attempts to remove bodily autonomy from an ethical plane and relocate it in the realm of pure desire. (I grant, of course, that abortion does this with far severer consequences.) Most significant, both issues oblige us to say who shall define reality. Is a fetus a living human being, as science, common sense, and the evidence of our eyes and ears attest? Can a woman become a man? In their deepest essence, the two questions are the same. Shall truth reign, or shall a lie?
It is for this reason, if no other, that the church can expect far greater secular support in the fight against transgender ideology than it received in the latter stages of the gay-marriage debate. Marriage revisionists achieved their victory in large part because the church could find no “worldly” vocabulary for its arguments. Consequently, opposition to gay marriage could be dismissed as so much theocratic gibberish. In the struggle over transgenderism, our adversaries will find it difficult to play the same card again, particularly if activists continue to overreach. Hale shot Adam, but she might just as easily have shot Galen, Darwin, or Mendel. If Holy Scripture speaks with quiet insistence on the subject, science fairly roars.
Yet even if our allies prove inconstant, the church is unlikely, as it has done in the marriage debate, to fall back on silent resistance. The stakes of transgenderism are simply too high. Look instead for Christians to grow increasingly confident if left to strive alone. Not every political dispute touches on the core of what it means to be human, to be created, and to bear the image of God. This one does.
———————————————————————————— Now I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home. As long as children or animals are NOT involved. That & PLEASE DON”T TELL ME ABOUT IT LATER!!! But the bottom line for me is that this “creature” was just plain EVIL. Grumpy