By Joshua Arnold
The Washington Stand
The cost of following Christ just hit home in a new way for one California teacher who was fired for refusing to tell lies about biological reality or hide student’s gender transitions from their parents. Jurupa Unified School District served physical education teacher Jessica Tapia, mother of three, with a Notice of Unprofessional Conduct for not embracing the district’s new polices promoting transgender identities and, on January 31, fired her after determining it could not accommodate her religious beliefs.
District administrators directed Tapia “to refrain from disclosing the gender identity of a student who is transgender to a parent who does not know the student’s gender identity” and “to address students by their preferred name and preferred gender pronouns.” But she told them that her religious beliefs made her “unable to comply” with the two directives.
“I knew immediately, like in my gut, in my heart, in my soul, that there was a decision I had to make because, you know, these two things were totally butting heads,” said Tapia. “I essentially had to pick one. Am I going to obey the district in the directive[s] that are not lining up with … my own beliefs, convictions, and faith? Or am I going to stay true … choose my faith, choose to be obedient to … the way the Lord has called me to live. And so it was crazy to be in the position where I realized that I couldn’t be a Christian and a teacher.”
Tapia’s refusal is biblical. Jesus distinguished our obligations to temporal versus divine authority, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Whenever a human authority contradicts God by commanding anything God forbids or forbidding anything God commands, a person must choose whom to obey. When ordered not to evangelize, Peter and John applied Jesus’ teaching, “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). They state the conclusion in the next chapter, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).