Boldness Series #3: Loving People Is Not Always Personal

Last week one of my adult sons forwarded to me and several others an excellent blog post by Tim Challies, entitled The Transgender Conversation You Need to Have With Your Family”. Challies reports the recent experience of a female friend who underwent a pat-down at airport security. Having requested someone of the same sex to perform the procedure she was surprised when it was apparent that the security personnel was obviously a biological male. The purpose of Challies’s article was to encourage parents to prepare their children for the realities they may be required to face in our quickly changing culture. Whatever your opinion is on pat-downs and/or transgenderism, the point is nonetheless well taken. But what struck me more than the pat-down story itself was the reference from more than one person on my son’s email exchange to the need to love the transgendered security person, in spite of our convictions on contemporary gender issues.

Yesterday I shared how disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean we automatically hate them. In fact, genuine love may demand disagreement, criticism, and even confrontation. While that discussion is relevant here, I want to bring out something else that is undermining the need to boldly speak God’s truth into today’s culture.

Love isn’t always about individuals. What happened to the friend in the above story is less about the role of the security person and more about the system that placed the friend into that undesirable situation. Yet the friend may feel they cannot express their displeasure because they may be regarded as being unloving. Even as readers of the incident, we think we need to assure ourselves and everyone else that we love the security person.

But why is love of the individual a concern here? We need to learn to separate issues from individuals. I understand why the security person would take my concern about this incident personally, but that’s a smokescreen to prevent us from dealing with the issue. Airport security policy like any other social policy is in place to ensure the public good. What undermines that isn’t our lack of love, but individuals insisting that the society must cater to their personal preferences. Genuine love includes being able to address issues like this without fearing the accusation of being unloving. I can express my concern over bad policy without intending ill to the individuals involved.

Being overly wrapped up in personal concern is not always appropriate. Certainly when dealing with social issues we should take the individuals involved into account, but getting too personal can distract us from providing the best solutions for everyone and prevent us from clearly and confidently saying what needs to be said.

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