The Empty Tomb vs. The Transgender Flag

David Schrock

Competing Religions Clash on Easter Weekend

He is Risen!

He is Risen, Indeed!

That is the refrain that our church repeated yesterday as we celebrated our Lord’s resurrection. And in fact, it is this truth that undergirds the whole ministry of Christ Over All. Because Jesus is raised from the dead and seated at God’s right hand, our Lord rules over heaven and earth. All things have been put under his feet. And on the earth, he is sending us with his Word and his Spirit to bring salvation and judgment to all creation.

While every Lord’s Day recalls the exaltation of Christ, there is something special about Easter Sunday, as churches from all traditions and denominations join together to say, “Jesus is not here, for he has risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6). Indeed, the universal testimony of the resurrection is a glorious reminder that the sin and suffering of the world is not the final word or the ultimate reality. Rather, as Christ died and rose again, so he offers forgiveness to those dead in sin and eternal life to those facing death.

The Contested Nature of Proclaiming Christ

Such good news is contested today. In fact, Joe Biden marked this Easter Sunday as a day to see transgender Americans.

Issuing a proclamation for Transgender Visibility, the White House Administration took aim at Resurrection Sunday. While offering platitudes to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as well as César Chávez, Biden’s support of Transgender Visibility reminds us how a nation shaped by Christian ideas has become a nation increasingly inhospitable to Christians.

While some have objected to criticizing the president, saying that March 31, 2024, was not a direct attack on Christians or Easter Sunday, we should know better. There are at least three reasons why such a defense of the president’s actions is untenable.

First, transgender visibility is not lacking today; it’s just the opposite. It is nearly impossible not to see the debauchery of Drag Queens and Trans advocacy in all areas of public life. And at the White House itself, the annual Easter Egg tradition has eliminated any religious symbols. So, it seems that what is lacking today is not trans visibility, but Christian visibility. And yet, our president proclaims a day to see trans Americans, which will soon be followed by Pride month (June), and a whole liturgical calendar that spotlights sexual perversion.

Second, the Trans Day of Visibility, which began in 2009, was always going to transgress Easter. As Easter moves its date from year to year, March 31 would sooner or later be a point of conflict. And, if we have learned anything from the architects of the sexual revolution, competition with religion that opposes them has always been one of their strategies. By putting this date on the calendar, they ensured that Easter would eventually run into it and then blame Christians for “complaining.” We should know better—and not be steered by their manipulative tactics.

And this leads to a third observation. Namely, the fact that Barack Obama did not issue a similar proclamation when he served as president. Indeed, in 2013, Easter also fell on March 31, but Obama’s pre-Obergefell Whitehouse did not issue a transgender proclamation in March 2013. Why? 

The timing was not ripe; the winds had not yet fully changed. Since 2015, however, the sea has changed, and transgender ideology is everywhere, so much so that a day of visibility is lauded by the White House (even as it is wholly unneeded).

Again, I point all of this out to say that proclaiming “Christ is Risen” is no longer uncontested in America. Instead, Easter is a day of Christian proclamation that takes courage and conviction to say out loud and in public. It is a day that must not only affirm the empty tomb but also deny every false religion that seeks to impose itself over and above Christ.

Ironically, in his statement on March 29, Biden used the words “in the year of our Lord.” This vestige of Christian speech is a reminder that our nation, like all nations, exists under the Lord’s dominion—a fact that our nation once embraced.

Equally, Christ’s lordship is a truth that has marked all of Western history and one that we should continue to bring into the public square. If our governing leaders forget who gives them authority to serve as God’s ministers (Romans 13:1–7), we must remind them.

At the same time, we should also remind them what God’s Word actually says when they misuse for their own nefarious purposes. For instance, when Biden told the Trans community that he saw in them the image of God, he literally appealed to the place in Scripture (Genesis 1:26–27) where God identifies the image of God as male and female—nothing else!

In this way, Biden and all our governing officials cannot rail against God without depending on him for their life and their logic. As the Creator of all things and the source of all wisdom, goodness, and justice, God stands behind all of creation. This means that when Biden and his White House lackeys attempt to celebrate the sins of transgenderism, they must appeal to moral arguments that steal from and twist God’s Word.

“Christ is Risen” Means Rejecting Falsehood

What does this phrase mean for Christians today?

In a word, we can no longer proclaim “He is risen” and expect the culture, shaped by Christianity, to respond, “He is risen indeed.” And this means we must learn how to affirm the truths of God’s Word and to deny every falsehood. Sadly, many Christians only do the former. Trained to share Christ in the positive world, where being a Christian was a cultural good, many proclaim the resurrection in merely positive ways.

And yet, we need to realize that affirming the faith today means denying every other competing religion. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5–6,

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

In this day, we need bold witnesses for Christ, who not only say “Christ is risen,” but who live like it. Going against the grain and inviting the opposition of governors and governments who hate Christ, we need to remember that all things have been put under Christ’s feet. And with his authority, we have been sent out to proclaim judgment on the nations and salvation to all those who take refuge in Christ.

Indeed, by celebrating the sexual perversion of transgenderism on Resurrection Sunday (not to mention the erasure of manhood and womanhood), the White House invites the judgment of God. And it is the church’s responsibility to announce this judgment before it comes. Sadly, there remain leaders of ethical and religious coalitions who refuse to make such judgments. Convinced that gentle persuasion is more effective than public rebuttal, they affirm the faith but are reticent to condemn sin. Scripture, however, teaches us something else. To be faithful witnesses of Christ’s resurrection means that we must also reject falsehood publicly.

As Paul puts in Acts 17:31, Jesus was raised from the dead to judge the world. And we must not shy away from wielding the sword of the spirit to make such proclamations in public too. For without announcing the realities of God’s judgment, there is no impetus for lost sheep to seek salvation in Christ. But when we rightly affirm the resurrection of Christ and deny every argument and lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, then we fulfill our duty as witnesses, and by obedience to Christ’s command, we bring into the public the Lordship of Christ.

That conviction is most needed today. And we pray that Christ Over All might be helpful in spurring you on to that good work.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published as part of a longer series of comments at Christ Over All as they transition between their planned “themes.” This portion is being republished with permission from David Schrock and COA.

Center for Baptist Leadership wholeheartedly endorses and commends the work being done at COA and particularly recommends their March Theme on Baptist Confessions and other pertinent issues in SBC life. We urge all Southern Baptists to read these resources before the annual convention in Indianapolis on June 11-12. 

  • David Schrock

    David Schrock is the pastor for preaching and theology at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. David is a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. He is a founding faculty member and professor of theology at Indianapolis Theology Seminary and the Editor-in-Chief at Christ Over All. He is also the author of Royal Priesthood and Glory of God and Brothers, We Are Not Plagiarists along with many journal articles and online essays.