Meet Byron “Tanner” Cross.
Mr. Cross has been reinstated as an elementary school physical education teacher in Loudoun County, Virginia. He had been suspended from his job at Leesburg Elementary School for speaking his mind about a proposed policy regarding gender and gender identity. The policy was aimed at requiring school staff to use students’ preferred pronouns.
Thankfully, Twelfth Circuit Judge James E. Plowman just ruled in favor of Mr. Cross and ordered the school district to restore his employment. Judge Plowman asserted that Loudoun County Public Schools had violated the teacher’s constitutional rights under the First Amendment.
What had landed Mr. Cross in so much hot water with the school district? Simply this: he refused to “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.” Once Mr. Cross made that comment in a public forum, the district tried to dump him like a hot potato. Never mind that the district had solicited public input on their proposed gender policy. The school district’s principle argument for ordering Mr. Cross to stay completely away from school property had been the “disruption” caused by Mr. Cross at the meeting where his comments were made.
Our nation’s latest round of “new” sexual orthodoxy carries with it a brutal demand for absolute adherence. Christ followers should expect to feel the brunt of this demand with greater and greater intensity. You and I should be praying for the God-given courage to stand for moral absolutes (even the notion of such is under widespread cultural attack). We should contend for the rule of law, unequivocally. No government ought to be allowed to compel any person to articulate things which that person does not believe. In many ways, this boils down to a matter of basic human dignity. You and I must never forget that we always live under a higher authority than that of the state.
Mr. Cross may have been disruptive, but his controversial speech has been deemed constitutionally protected. Furthermore, the judge held that it was in the public interest for Tanner Cross to keep his job. That’s good news for now, and it’s true, because that one job means that Americans still have the right to question public policy, and to speak against it based on their personal religious convictions.
Friends, trust me on this, as it has been proven time and time again: the best way to preserve religious liberty is to exercise it! Some disruptions are good ones, and sometimes our silence in the public square is a selfish betrayal of the common good.
And never forget the incredible power of LOVE in all that we say and do. Though the fierce opinions of a rebellious human race must never dictate our ethics, sexual or otherwise, the litmus test of whether we love our neighbors is whether we love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).