Yep, you read the title right.
I can’t believe it either.
In 1989, when I started pastoring, I never would have believed our society would be debating which bathroom a person should use.
It seems to obvious.
If you have male plumbing, use the Men’s Room.
If you have female plumbing, use the Women’s Room.
Well…apparently it ain’t quite that easy.
My worldview causes me to ask the question, Where would Jesus pee?
You do know Jesus used the restroom don’t you? Yep, you’ve got it, as a baby, the Son of God had a stinky diaper that someone had to change. As an adult, He still had the need to relieve Himself. So, if Jesus were alive today, dealing with the current debate, what would He say? How would He respond? Where would Jesus pee? I’m not the only person asking this question. I googled “Where would Jesus pee” and got over 2-million responses. WOW! There is even a hashtag #WWJP.
Last night I woke up at 4am and could not go back to sleep. My mind started wandering and I began thinking about what it must have been like to use the bathroom during the time of Jesus. Yep, that’s how my brain works. I have no idea why my mind went there. Instead of getting out of bed and doing something constructive, I laid in bed, grabbed my iPad, and researched, “ancient bathroom customs,” and “bathroom customs in the New Testament.” (I love google. I dream of what I could have accomplished if google would have been available when I was working on my doctoral dissertation.)
How sad is my life? Instead of getting up in the middle of the night to pee, I read articles about how other people have peed throughout history. Believe it or not, the history of peeing is rather interesting. (Before reading any further, stop and say a prayer for my wife. She has endured my strange thoughts for twenty-nine years.)
Here is what I found out: Male and Female restrooms are relatively new. Ancient times had public bathrooms (they actually took baths in them, as well as peed), meaning they were out in the open, no privacy, and available to both genders at the same time. Picture yourself (if you are guy) standing, peeing in a hole, while a woman is right beside you, squatting in her own hole. These public waste stations actually became a place where people would fellowship and do business (pun intended). And get this, I kid you not, one writer in one article I read, drew a connection between Calvinism, Puritanism, and separate places to pee based on gender. (I guess that means I’m a Free Pee Baptist.)
By this point, there was no way I was going to be able to go back to sleep. So I got up and peed and then got back in bed and continued reading.
During my insomnia motivated research, I came across pictures of public toilets in Ephesus during the time of Jesus. One picture is above (I don’t know who the people are) and one picture is to the right. As you can see the toilets are benches with holes cut in them. No privacy at all. Used by both men and women at the same time. More than likely, something similar to this, is where Jesus would pee…and poop. I know you are wondering, so I will tell you: Toilet paper had not been invented yet. People wiped themselves with a sponge on the end of a stick. (Ouch!)
What’s the point of this? (Do you see what I did there?) There is no point. It’s 4 o’clock in the freakin’ morning! But I for one do think we have a tendency to take ourselves two seriously. (Did you catch the hidden message in that previous sentence?)
I think arguing about which restroom to use is a first-world problem. I betcha Christians in the Middle-East, trying not to get beheaded, never give this subject a second thought. I doubt most of my friends in Honduras worry much about this either. They are just trying to survive.
Speaking of Honduras, I can say from experience going to the bano is an adventure. Especially if you are alto (tall) and grande (big), like me. The picture below is of me using a public, non-gendered specific, restroom at a local church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. While we were there (3 days), I had to go to the bathroom several times because I am old man and that’s what we do. When I had to go, everyone knew where I was and what I was doing because I was taller then the wall in front of the toilet. You may ask, “Why didn’t you sit down?” If you are asking that question, you have never used the bathroom in a third-world country.
I hope I can sleep better tonight. I don’t like it when my mind wanders because it usually takes me to weird places. Besides, I’ve gotta pee.
In 1969 I lived near Rome for almost a year. When we’d visit Rome, I noticed what looked like a small squared area of partitions periodically on the sidewalks. When I asked what they were, I was told restrooms, well, er, uh, the open air variety like what you experienced. I tried it once as only #1 was available, and I was in a bad way. The fluid simply goes down a hole into what had to be the underground sewer system. I went back in 2019 to celebrate a 50-year friendship and did not encounter even one of those. Progress, I suppose.