A coalition of conservative groups called Privacy for All Students collected enough valid signatures to merit a full check of the signatures submitted, according to a random sampling by the secretary of state's office. County election officials have until Feb. 24 to review the signatures and determine whether the issue qualifies for the ballot.
The California legislature last year passed the law, which was signed by the governor and drew widespread criticism for its infringement on the rights of students who could be put at risk by sharing facilities with classmates of the opposite sex.
California's transgender law followed a similar "transgender rights" directive issued last year by the Massachusetts Department of Education.
The transgender developments, the recent ruling in favor of polygamy in Utah and the momentum gained by gay marriage advocates after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, indicate these are "strange new days in America at the start of 2014," culture commentator Owen Strachan said.
"We have all heard of song remixes. We are in the midst of a gender and sexuality remix in this country," Strachan, executive director of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, told Baptist Press. "Our society has essentially taken for granted that men and women belong to different genders."
To reverse this common consensus, Strachan said, is to question the basic realities of life.
"Things that are taught in Scripture and that we know from the witness of our conscience are being shaken to their very foundations," he said. "So the United States finds itself in the midst of a revolution on the issue of gender."
If gender distinctions are obliterated in American culture, then "God's intelligent design is obscured. More than that, it is judged wrong," Strachan said.
Gender distinctions "owe to the mind and will of God," Strachan said, so denying distinctions between the sexes is denying God's authority to rule over His creation.
"A culture that rebels against the commonsense reality of sexual distinctions is sending itself into a freefall from a moral standpoint," said Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky.
"Many of us take gender and sexuality for granted, and we assume that men and women are a little bit different but not that different. But in reality, though we share a great deal as image bearers and as human beings created in God's likeness, we are different," Strachan told BP. "Even the most basic biological and physiological differences between men and women point to our unique call as Christians.
"In other words, men and women recognize that our bodies are telling us something about the life we are to live, the roles we are to play and the way we think about the basic realities of our existence."
If America continues on this trajectory, Strachan said, the nation will position itself for civilizational disaster, including profoundly confusing future generations.
"If we collapse the distinctions between the sexes that owe to the mind of God and to His design, which we can observe with our senses, then we set our children up to not simply be confused about gender and sexuality but to wander into darkness and to miss the goodness of God's bodily design and physiological creation," Strachan warned.
While many Christians are tempted to wring their hands over the increasing reports of governments rejecting God's design for human flourishing, Strachan said Christians of all people have reason for optimism.
"The hope that Christians have is an infinite one because it's grounded in Almighty God, who holds all things in His hand," Strachan said. "Christians who rightly feel alarmed by these developments in California and in other places have to pause when they receive news like this and remember that they serve an awesome and all-powerful God.
"The narrative of America was written before the foundation of the earth. It is our hope and prayer as American Christians that God's common grace will preserve the moral fabric and ethical order of this country, and we should pray fervently toward that end, and we should act in whatever ways we can, including repeal of referenda," Strachan said.
In the midst of this moral revolution, believers must love their neighbors and preach the Gospel at all times, "using words and demonstrating its power by our lives," Strachan said. "We should also be realistic and recognize that our society is exerting great effort to abandon its moral and ethical framework of days past."
Christians can be sober and clear-eyed about modern realities, Strachan said, "yet at the same time work while the day is long to preserve our country."
"We do so not out of a desire to win a culture war but out of love for our neighbor and the Gospel-formed instinct to be salt and light wherever we are. That surely includes helping our neighbors to see that manhood and womanhood owe to the super-intelligence of the Creator and not to John Wayne and Queen Victoria," Strachan said.
In California, the coalition working to repeal the transgender restrooms law, which took effect Jan. 1, is on the right track, Strachan said, because "we live in a country where citizens participate actively in their government."
"It's a privilege that Americans enjoy that we can seek to repeal legislative decisions that are disastrous for our society like this one," Strachan said, adding that Californians should reject the legislature's action "out of a love for their community and their society."
What's happening in some of the nation's more liberal schools should remind evangelicals that "we cannot sit on our hands and assume that someone else will train our children to be godly men and women," Strachan said.
"We have for too long asked our pastors and Christian leaders only to instruct our boys and girls in what it means to be a man and a woman. This present challenge can become a real opportunity for followers of Christ to see in a fresh way that we are the ones who are called by God to teach our children who they are, who God has made them, why gender and sexuality matters, and what the consequences are if we stray from God's good plan," Strachan said.
"So this looks perilous to many of us, and this is not a good moment for our society, but clear-thinking Christians can seize this cultural moment and use it to lay out for their children God's good plan for men and women and how the Gospel shapes our embodied lives."
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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