Anything but the Corner Seat

15 Apr
Anything but the Corner Seat
Take a moment to look at this photo I took in the ancient city of Ephesus. It is of a 1st/2nd century AD public bathroom (click HERE to see the photo enlarged). It is believed that this public bathroom was open to everyone: women, men, and children. As you can tell, privacy was nonexistent and when fully occupied you couldn’t help but be pressed against the person beside you… and you REALLY didn’t want a corner seat!  This is what the Apostle Paul and many of the early disciples would have used. In fact, there is a good chance that Paul could have used this exact bathroom.
I can even confirm that to this day there are still bathrooms across the globe that share a single room with sinks for both men and women with stalls for anyone to use. I experienced first hand some of these bathrooms on my recent trip to Greece and Turkey. Thankfully, individual stalls gave each of us much more privacy than would have been afforded in Paul’s day.
I only share this to point out that a large part of the current hot topic debate in North Carolina – specifically over gender specific bathroom usage – may be more of a cultural and temporal debate than a biblical and “Christian” one.  I have no interest in using the bathroom while rubbing hips with my neighbor (whether male or female by anyone’s definition).  I would be uncomfortable doing so. But I recognize that the Apostle Paul did, and that my own feelings have more to do with what I am used to and personally prefer than some universal code of bathroom morality.
Again, I am not trying to debate one side of the issue or the other here (either side could simply take this information and say that the opposite side should care less about their understanding of the “right bathroom” because of it). I am only sharing historical information and pointing out that arguing for gender specific bathrooms from a biblical and “Christian” perspective (as many seem to be) may be at least slightly flawed.
Looking back at the picture of the public bathroom in ancient Ephesus – of holes in stone, no barriers, seemingly way too close to your neighbor’s seat – I cannot help but wonder if getting everyone into his or her “right bathroom” is actually as important as we feel like it is in this moment. After seeing the norm for Paul (and that corner seat!), I am just thankful for a private throne, a door, and, of course, some toilet paper.
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Posts


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