NEW YORK — A man who identifies as the “lead pastor” of a New York City congregation, who believes that in order for Christians to be loving and relevant in society they should accommodate those who identify as transgender, has proposed what he calls a “solution” that would eliminate male and female restrooms altogether.
Ryan Phipps leads Forefront Church in Manhattan, which is part of a dual-location assembly that also has several female co-leaders. According to the Forefront website, the “values of our church community are drawn out of the life Jesus embodied and our desire to emulate Him, so that Christ’s prayer of renewal ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’ may be a reality.”
On Friday, Phipps published a blog post on the website of the Convergence Initiative, “a collective of Post-Evangelical, Progressive Evangelical, Non-Denominational and Free-Church tradition churches, organizations, leaders and networks.”
“We stand against ideologies and systems of privilege that harm and diminish people based on gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, economic status, background, or citizenship,” the “about” section of the site reads.
In his post, Phipps proposes to eliminate male and female restrooms and instead have one “human” restroom. The stalls are separated by ceiling-to-floor walls, and include a personal sink and mirror, as opposed to placing them in a common area outside of the stalls.
“The bathroom interior features fully separated stalls, each equipped with their own toilet, sink, mirror, trashcan, hand dryer, and diaper changing station,” he outlines. “The bathroom exterior features a lounge and entertainment center, making the user feel more comfortable and safe knowing that other members of the public are always close.”
Phipps also proposes installing security cameras outside of the stalls so that the area can be under surveillance.
“Security cameras are installed so that people entering and exiting are under surveillance for safety purposes. The cameras are unable to surveil anything happening inside the stalls, allowing the user to have full privacy,” he writes.
“By making one bathroom that all people can use, available space is doubled by the elimination of the other gender-separated space. In addition, eliminating the sinks outside the stalls creates space for them inside each stall,” Phipps says.
Phipps asserts that the idea is reflective of Christianity and even points to Scripture to make his argument, citing 2 Corinthians 10:5, which reads, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Phipps suggests that the Scripture pertains to being inclusive and accommodating of those who identify as the opposite sex.
“Are you demolishing arguments and pretension that keep people from knowing God? Are you taking your thoughts captive to the way of Jesus, who didn’t turn people away, but who found a way to welcome them?” he writes.
“We mustn’t cling to antiquated ways of reasoning and separation that have long reached their time,” Phipps says. “We should think, dream, and pray about how we can be more ‘whole’ in our treatment of people.”
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary outlines that the Scripture’s command to cast down imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God refers to reasonings based upon “men’s own purpose and determination of living after their own pleasure … where the powers of darkness exalt themselves against Christ and us.”
“The three steps of the apostle’s spiritual warfare are: (1) It demolishes what is opposed to Christ; (2) It leads captive; (3) It brings into obedience to Christ (Ro 1:5; 16:26),” it explains. The ‘mental intents’ (‘thoughts’) are taken willing captives, and tender the voluntary obedience of faith to Christ the Conqueror.”
Phipps posted on Twitter Saturday to tout the readership of his post.
“My #Transgender bathroom post is being read 34.625 times per hour. Must have struck a nerve,” he wrote.