Saturday, April 16, 2016

Transgender Bathrooms and Paypal

Why I am going to stop using Paypal.

Recently, Paypal, an internet payment company that is related to the internet auction site, Ebay, made a decision to withdraw their plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina. (Link to Paypal's corporate release).They said their decision was based on a new law in North Carolina, which they claim denies people in the LGBT community equal rights, and therefore goes against their values. They were referring to a new law in North Carolina, HB2 which mandates that bathroom and changing facilities that are used by multiple people at a time, only be used by people of the same biological sex. (Link to the NC Bill).

This state bill was written in response to a Charlotte, North Carolina regulation that was going to allow anyone to use any bathroom or changing facility based upon their self identification rather than their biological sex. What this would have meant is that all businesses and public facilities would have been required to allow a biological man, who identified as a woman, or a biological woman who identified as a man to use whatever facility they wanted based on their own gender identity. 

The Charlotte regulation allowing transgender bathroom use was not the first of its kind in the county, but the state bill responding to it really is the first time a political entity has pushed back in a big way.

This situation has lead me to ask some questions about what my response should be as a citizen, a consumer, and as a Christian. Do I have any responsibilities to not do business with companies that are doing immoral things or that are promoting harmful policies? If so when do I make that decision, because every company is run by sinful humans and will at some point do something that I find wrong or that does not 100% agree with my point of view. 

Many of the companies whose products I use are run by people who have different values than I do as a conservative Christian, but I still use them. This blog will be posted on blogger, a Google site, Facebook, and Twitter. I am quite sure that all of them have executives who have a very different view of sexual morality than I do, but I am continuing to use them for the moment. 

In this case though I am going to stop using Ebay and Paypal because of their very public and political stance on an issue that I believe could lead to very harmful situations for innocent people, including innocent children. In their desire to support the gender identity of limited number individuals, they risk violating the privacy of the rest population. If we cannot have bodily privacy in bathroom and changing areas, then where can we expect to have them.

My rationale for making this decision is based on the public move by Paypal. Likewise, a few years ago, Mozilla fired their CEO, Brendan Eich, because he had given a donation to the Prop 8 campaign in California in support of traditional marriage. Like Paypal, Mozilla was making a public statement that traditional values are going to be actively opposed by the company. How can I continue to support a company that actively promotes harmful behavior or actively opposes my own worldview?

Now this is not an easy decision for me because I have been a regular of Paypal and Ebay for years because their products and sites have benefitted me. I have bought and sold products on Ebay recently and used Paypal as my primary payment method to both receive payment and to pay others. Therefore, this decision will have a cost for me, but I am hoping that though my actions and words (and other like me) it may also have a cost for Paypal, letting them know that they cannot actively support policies that directly contradict values of a number of their customers. 

In making this decision, I am not trying to say that anyone else must do as I do, but rather encouraging you to at least think about your morals and how you are interacting with the world around you.

I have included with following this post the letter that I sent to Paypal explaining my decision.

I encourage you to think deeply about your values and how they affect your life. Paypal executives are making decisions based on their values and so should we.

Paypal letter

To whom it may concern:

I have used Ebay and Paypal for a number of years now. I am not a huge user, but I have done consistent business and as the IT guy in my family I have also directed other people to use your business. For instance, I purchased and sold a number of items on Ebay with Paypal as my primary payment method. I have also used your credit card scanner in a small business and encouraged a family member to use it as well.

While Ebay with Paypal is not my primary internet way of shopping, I have used it a number of times for thousands of dollars over the years. In other words, while not a huge customer, I have been a regular customer.

Your recent decision to no longer locate your global center in North Carolina based on your corporate values makes me question whether I can still do business through you because of my values.

I read the text of North Carolina HB2 concerning use of bathroom and changing facilities and biological gender, and not only can I find nothing wrong with the bill, I can agree with its sentiments. The idea written into some laws and municipal codes that bathroom and changing room use should be determined by the beliefs / orientation of the individual rather than biology will and has lead to the violation of the rights of other individuals right to bodily privacy.

I have 4 kids, and the concept that they could be exposed to someone with opposite biological genitalia or may be forced into having their bodies exposed to someone of opposite genitalia based on the mindset of the other individual is repugnant to me. For me to knowingly allow such a thing would be tantamount to child abuse, and yet that is exactly what a new regulations will allow and encourage.

The North Carolina law was clearly written to protect the bodily privacy of individuals who might be exposed in a multiple use bathroom or changing room setting (go read the law). It does not apply to single use settings and it explicitly allows for making accommodations for individuals who may have differing gender identities while still protecting the rights of the majority of people who would be using a multiple use facility.

Therefore, for you to say your corporate values have lead you away from locating in North Caroline based at least partly on this law makes me question whether you have thought through the consequences of those values. In an attempt to accommodate the gender identity of the small minority you would trample the rights of the majority and risk exposing even young children to psychological harm.

Therefore, while I am not closing my account just yet, I am going to stop using it. Already in the past 2 days I have made the decision not to shop for something on Ebay and not to pay for something else with Paypal. Furthermore, I am actively looking for other options for when I need to make a sale. I am notifying my friends and family via social media of my decision and my rationale. Now maybe they will continue to use your business and maybe they won't, but it will at least be some bad publicity for your companies.

I do not wish to have to make this decision because I have benefited from your business, but just as you need to make decision based on your values, so do I. 

Good News

In last week's paper, you may have seen on the front page the good news that my daughter, Rebekah, won the Geography Bee at school. (Yes, I am a proud Daddy.)

 I am sure in this week's newspaper you can read about the good news of the Oakland - Craig Girls Basketball team winning the conference championship.

One of the differences between a small town paper and big newspapers or national news outlets is that they often include as much good news as bad news. Most of the time national news leads with the most sensational stories, which are often disasters,  shocking crimes or political candidates tearing one another down. If you spend all of your time on that type of news you can get depressed by all the bad news.

Christians are called to share the good news about Jesus, but often the news does not seem very good to others. Sometimes they look at our lives and do not see much joy, so they assume the news about Jesus must not be very good if His followers do not act like it. At other times, they assume the news from God is all about condemnation of their sin. People think church is all about judgment, and that they need to clean themselves up before they can come and be like the "holy" church goers.

Not all misperceptions of the gospel are the fault of Christians, but we can do things to make sure that the front page of our lives shows the good news about Jesus.

If you know Jesus, then the fruit of the Holy Spirit should be growing in you, so your friends and family should experience your growth in love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. People will be attracted to you and then to Jesus more if these qualities are present and growing. They see and feel God's love working through you toward them.

Furthermore, we can make the good news clear while still being honest about the bad news. The bad news is that people and the world are broken by sin. Therefore, we do need to repent for our sins because sin leads to pain, rather than true happiness and fulfillment. The good news is not that God ignores sin or takes it lightly, but rather that He forgives sin and desires to transform us into people who can live happy and fulfilled lives following Him. He does this through the work of Jesus on the cross, which makes forgiveness possible, and the work of the Holy Spirit that continues the redemption in our lives. The good news is then is all about what Jesus has done and is doing in us.

Christians, living out the gospel, can be honest about the problems of life, but can show people hope beyond the bad news to the wonderful news about Jesus. My encouragement to you is to make sure that you know the good news of Jesus, and that the front page of your life tells His story.

Win the Prize

Have you looked at the sports section yet? Did your team win? Are they moving up or down the rankings? I love sports, both as a spectator and as a participant. I like to compete and to win, because it feels like we (I) have accomplished something. I am finding though, that my 40 something body does not allow me to do as much, so now I participate vicariously through my kids and other kids in town. 

Do you ever think about winning at life? What would that even mean? The old saying goes, “That he who dies with the most toys wins,” but it is countered by the more meaningful phrase, “he who dies with the most toys, still dies.” One day your name may appear on the sports page as the winner, but some day it will appear among the obituaries.

The Apostle Paul also paid attention to sports and compared them to life, saying, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). He compared life to competing as an athlete, but he wanted to make sure he was competing for a prize that could not be taken away. Likewise, Jesus also said that we in this life could build up treasures for heaven (Matthew 6:20).

These imperishable prizes are not trophies, sports cars, 4-wheelers, boats, guns, or tractors (even green tractors!). All of these things are perishable prizes. Either they will go away or you will go away from them. So what kind of prize is really imperishable?

The only things that are going to survive beyond this life are people, so the only prizes that last beyond this life are our relationships, specifically our relationships with God, and other people who will be with God. Therefore, for us to compete for an imperishable prize we need to make sure we know God and are growing in relationship with Him. We come to know God by knowing who Jesus is, what He has done, and believing in Him for salvation. By focusing our life on growing our relationship with God we earn the eternal imperishable prize of a fantastic life with Him for eternity.

Along with that relationship, God wants us to have the prize of many, many eternal relationships. So the more we introduce people to Jesus, the more people will join us in eternity. The more time and energy we spend loving others and building them up, the more we are preparing for eternity. This life is a training room for eternity, and the more we spend time training for an imperishable prize, the more prepared for eternity we will be. Furthermore, by training hard for eternity, we actually get a prize in this life of deeper relationships here with God and others, which adds a richness and meaning to this life that cannot be found by seeking after any other prize.

Don't waste your life playing the wrong game and seeking the wrong prizes. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added to you!