On March 27, Christians were targeted and six were killed at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian Church in America preschool through sixth grade elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. The murderer was a 28-year-old woman who claimed to be a man and attended the school as a child.
We grieve and pray for the families, teachers, students and church members affected by this evil shooting.
But later that same day, pop singer and actress Madonna Ciccone announced that she had added a Nashville stop to her The Celebration Tour in December, saying:
A portion of proceeds from the show will go to trans rights organizations.
In regard to the over 100 anti-LGBTQ+ bills currently before state legislatures, Madonna says, “The oppression of the LGBTQ+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane; it’s creating an unsafe environment; it makes America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of color.”
That’s right. In a cold-hearted, callous move, she’s not raising funds for the church, the school or the victims’ families, but for “trans rights organizations.”
In an article for Breakpoint, John Stonestreet and Timothy D. Padgett explain that responses to the shooting demonstrates how the cultural conversation has shifted about transgenderism:
Though school shootings are now a horrifyingly common aspect of American life, three details make this even more difficult to process. The killer was a woman, the target was a private Christian school, and the killer’s mental illness included identifying as a “he.” In light of these three factors, it seems plain enough that we’ve entered new territory in our cultural debate over transgenderism. …
It seems probable, even likely, that this place and these people were targeted because of their Christianity, corrupted by her own inner demons and perhaps the corrosive effects of transgender ideology. Even so, voices as diverse as the President’s Press Secretary, Madonna, and various media outlets have directed their sympathy toward the shooter and at least partial blame at her parents and the Christian community.
The core institutions of America now view Christianity as dangerous, with our beliefs about God’s design for marriage and sexuality leading directly to the deaths of LGBT-identified individuals. That’s the narrative, and politicians, pop stars and newscasters constantly repeat it.
Ciccone’s statement also shows that many are pointing fingers at the Tennessee General Assembly – and other state legislatures, for passing laws to protect children from gender ideology and medical experimentation.
Earlier this year, Tennessee passed a law banning drag shows in the presence of minors, along with a second law safeguarding minors from experimental and damaging medical procedures such as puberty blockers, hormones or surgeries to treat gender identity confusion.
In 2021, the state approved measures protecting girls sports from boys who claim to be female; preserving single-sex restrooms and locker rooms in schools; allowing parents to opt children out of LGBT-related curriculum; and requiring businesses to post signs if they allow either sex to use the same restrooms.
But for many on the left, all of this is seen as an attack on LGBT-identified individuals.
At The Briefing, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, focused on the pain of the grieving families, but he also noted the blame being placed on those who don’t accept transgender ideology, with people basically saying:
It’s not the new gender ideologies. It’s not the denial of the fact that a male is a male and a female is a female. It instead is a conservative society that is just not willing to go along with the program and instead is creating a context of hostility to LGBTQ people.
So how do Christians deal with the fact that the world is hostile to our faith and biblical beliefs about relationships, marriage and sexuality? Here are a few thoughts.
First, it’s helpful to recognize that this hostility is the new reality in the Western World. Over at First Things, Aaron M. Renn writes:
Society has come to have a negative view of Christianity. Being known as a Christian is a social negative, particularly in the elite domains of society. Christian morality is expressly repudiated and seen as a threat to the public good and the new public moral order. Subscribing to Christian moral views or violating the secular moral order brings negative consequences (his emphasis).
Second, Christians will have to hold fast to truth. When the world turns against us, it’s easy to question our beliefs – and even change them, as James R. Woods notes:
If we assume that winsomeness will gain a favorable hearing, when Christians consistently receive heated pushback, we will be tempted to think our convictions are the problem. If winsomeness is met with hostility, it is easy to wonder, “Are we in the wrong?” Thus the slide toward secular culture’s reasoning is greased.
We must realize it is no longer about how we oppose the spirit of the day but rather simply that we do.
When people react angrily toward your Christian beliefs, it isn’t because you didn’t share them kindly. Activists believe it is hate speech to speak against false ideologies, so you should be silenced. Likewise, it is harmful and wrong to even believe Christian truths about sexuality and marriage, so your religious freedom should be shut down.
Third, we must maintain love toward those who hate us. This is not easy, and it will take deep spiritual formation and a profound understanding of the Father’s heart of love toward sinners like us. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not there – yet.
Dallas Willard offers a “test for Christlike character: whether one spontaneously responds to one’s enemies with love.” Is love my first response to being harmed? Or hatred and anger?
Willard says this is how we assess our church communities, as well. Do we, as a group, love our enemies and pray for those who attack us and fellow believers, as Jesus commanded (Matt. 5:43-48)?
Finally, we pray, with faith and hope, that God will yet bring awakening and revival to our world.
Related articles and resources:
The Asbury Revival Spreads as People Hunger for the Presence of God, Transformed Lives
Good vs. Evil Inside American Schools
How to Help Your Kids Process Tragic News
Ideas for Church Outreach to Victims of Trauma and Tragedy
Tennessee and Mississippi Pass Bills to Protect Children from Harmful ‘Sex Change’ Procedures
Tennessee Passes Bill Banning Drag Shows in Presence of Minors
Photo from Twitter.