President Joe Biden had barely taken the oath of office on Jan. 20 before he began signing executive orders and presidential memorandums, some of which should be deeply troubling to Christians.
The president signed a record number of orders, many of them reversing policies of the Trump administration on such issues as immigration, climate change and the coronavirus. Before the sun set on his first day in office, Biden had signed 17 executive orders, presidential memorandums and proclamations, and by Jan. 31, he had signed 39. No previous president signed nearly as many in such a short time span; the number of executive orders alone is more than his four most recent predecessors combined in the same period of their presidencies.
At least two of the orders are of particular concern to people of faith. One requires schools to allow biological males to compete against females in sports and opens up women’s restrooms and locker rooms to biological males. The other restores U.S. funding of abortions on foreign soil.
Funding foreign abortions
The Mexico City Policy, which denied U.S. funds to international organizations that provide abortion services, came into being under President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Under the policy, foreign non-governmental organizations that received American taxpayer funding had to certify that they did not “perform or actively promote abortions as a method of family planning.” Not only was this the morally right thing to do, it reflected the will of the people; a large majority of Americans oppose federal funding of abortions, whether in the U.S. or abroad.
Since then, every Democrat president — Clinton, Obama and Biden — has repealed the policy, and both Republican presidents — Bush and Trump — restored it.
Biden’s order rescinding the Mexico City Policy, under the disingenuous title “Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad,” states that the policy “made it harder for women to obtain necessary healthcare.” The order does nothing to protect women’s health. Abortion is not health care, not for the women seeking abortions, and certainly not for the children in their wombs, half of whom are female.
Biden’s order said the policy of the previous administration “imposes … onerous requirements on abortion providers.” On the contrary, the policy imposed no requirements on overseas abortion providers; the U.S. does not have such authority. The policy merely prevented American taxpayer funding of overseas abortion providers.
The order also said the Mexico City Policy “undermine[d] the United States’ efforts to advance gender equality globally” — an ironic assertion, since many abortions around the world are performed for sex selection, which disproportionately destroys females.
Many of Biden’s fellow Catholics condemned the order. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, “It is grievous that one of President Biden’s first official acts actively promotes the destruction of human lives.”
Nothing in Biden’s order references the children in the womb; it treats abortion as a medical procedure that affects only the pregnant women. But the preborn are still human beings, created by God in His image, each one unique. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13).
New transgender territory
If the Mexico City Policy tug-of-war is nothing new after 35 years, the transgender order is breaking new ground.
The “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” states: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
The innocuous-sounding statement has broad-reaching implications, recognized by both supporters, who celebrated it, and opponents, who fear it will destroy female sports in allowing biological males to compete against females. The order also threatens the privacy of females by allowing biological males into their restrooms and locker rooms.
Contrary to the assertion of transgender apologists, hormone therapy does not level the playing field, taking away any advantage a biological male has over females in sports. A British Journal of Sports medicine study found that men transitioning to female still have a biological advantage after a year on hormone therapy. Such studies are hardly needed to prove what has become obvious to anyone following the news: Transgender women are competing, winning and setting records in women’s athletics. This occurs in high school and college, as well as professional sports. And it could render women’s competition in the Olympics meaningless as the fastest, strongest and most skilled biological females, who have trained for years and would otherwise win competitions and set records, lose to trans females with the physical differences that come with a Y chromosome.
Women who have long fought for a place on the field and court through Title IX and other initiatives view this as a devastating setback that, if allowed to stand, will turn back the pages on women’s athletics.
Biden signed a companion executive order that reversed the Trump administration’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. The order not only allows those who have already transitioned to a different sex to serve but directs the Pentagon to establish “a process by which transgender service members may transition gender while serving.”
Biden’s order said a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, the condition of psychologically identifying as the opposite of one’s biological sex, is not a medically valid reason to exclude someone from military service or limit one’s access to medically necessary care. That care includes sex-change surgery, funded by taxpayers. Some have voiced concern that the policy will attract recruits who join for the express purpose of receiving gender-reassignment treatment at taxpayer expense.
Prior to the Trump ban, the Pentagon had already implemented a policy to provide hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery to active-duty service members when military doctors determined it was necessary to treat patients’ gender dysphoria. Biden’s order restores that policy.
God’s Word does not change to keep up with social fashion. In His earthly ministry, Jesus affirmed the creation of just two genders, male and female: “[Jesus said,] ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?’” (Matt. 19:4). There is no ambiguity, no one is created biologically one sex and psychologically the other.
Christians should approach the issue in love and humility, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1).
That won’t be easy in the current atmosphere. The implications of the president’s executive orders could be far-reaching, hampering the ability of faith-based schools and organizations, as well as military chaplains, to carry out their work. But they do not hinder God’s ability to act in and through His children.