Did Republicans “Expose” Themselves with Transgender Sports Bill?
Apr 29, 2022 by David Fowler
On Monday the state House approved by a vote of 70 to 14 a bill previously approved by the state Senate by a vote of 27 to 4. The bill prohibits biological males who “identify” as female from competing against biological females in collegiate sporting events. After its passage I asked myself why Republican legislators would deem it overwhelmingly important to recognize the distinction between biological males and females in sports but not in marriage, represented by their general lack of interest in supporting the Marital Contract Recording Act. You won’t like the answer.
My observations cannot possibly apply to all legislators as they may each have their own reasoning for what they wanted to pass and why. But that does not mean we, as voters, don’t need to think about the apparent discrepancy.
I have come up with four possibilities for why so many Republicans may have thought it important to protect the categories of male and female against the Mia Thomas’ of the college sports world, but not important in the context of marriage. They:
- Did not think through the two bills very carefully,
- Were interested in saving sports, not marriage, from gender/biology-based confusion, meaning they think sports is more important in society than marriage,
- Consider male and female meaningless categories until civil government ascribes some meaning to them, or, related thereto,
- Hold to a totalitarian, Machiavellian governing principle.
Personally, I don’t think any who voted for the sports bill would say that sports are more important to society than marriage, though culturally we seem to have a very low view of marriage and love sports. That leaves the other three possibilities.
I choose, for now, to think the correct reason is a failure to think through the two bills very carefully. I choose to do so because, as I’ll explain, the other two possibilities are horrifying. However, I cannot fault legislators for not seeing the what-does-it-mean-to-be-human problem underlying both bills, because the Christian community does not do enough to help them see the connection, which pertains to a fundamental problem in our society.
The Fundamental Problem Pertaining to Both Bills
Our fundamental problem is that we no longer know what it means to be human. That creates a real problem when humans come in different biological sexes and ethnicities. The problem presented by these differences is aggravated by questions of authority, evidenced by the railings against white supremacy and patriarchy.
There is much wrong in our ethnic relations and in the relations between male and female, but the root cause of the wrong is the God of the Bible is no longer relevant.
Many evangelical pastors and revivalists might offer a hardy “Amen” to that proposition; however, to the extent they do not root their preaching and teaching in a God who is Triune and in an ex nihilo understanding of creation, and make that a regular part of their exposition of the Scriptures, they are part of the problem, not the solution. “God” divorced from His Triune nature and from the doctrine of creation is not a solution to anything.
That statement could lead to an entire “white paper” and discussion of several hours—to which I’ve dedicated much time on the God, Law, and Liberty podcast—but the sum is this: The two sexes and the different ethnicities exist for a reason rooted in the very nature of God and His purpose for creation. In the Triune God we have a basis upon which to see a unity in our humanness that does not eliminate, supersede, or make irrelevant the differences in biology and ethnicity.
If we do not see in God a harmony between a fundamental unity we rightfully sense exists among persons and our differences, even if we struggle with them, we will never see why male and female can share a fundamental equality and yet the difference between them matter in both sports and marriage. We will never see why civil government must recognize those distinctions and distinguish in law when those differences matter and when they do not.
What Happens When the “Problem” Is the Governing Principle?
Without holding fast to the unity and diversity of a Triune God distinct from creation, unity will eventually swallow up diversity. Diversity without any unity is the predicate for chaos and anarchy, and we can’t have that.
So, for the sake of unity, persons wind up being reduced to only that which all persons have in common, which is the material “stuff” that constitute our bodies. But unity standing alone must, by definition, exclude anything that would otherwise make persons different, such as our different reproductive organs. This, in turn, reduces persons to what can be empirically measured among the “stuff” remaining to which we then assign value or meaning.
Thus, when Christians support a sports bill based on empirically measured differences between males and females—which many, if not most, did (check out last week's podcast)—they are operating out of the modern, God-less view of persons as their worldview framework.
These Christians can say they are upholding Biblical values and distinctions, but they are not; they are undermining them by using arguments that affirm and rely on the worldview that created the need for the sports law!
The fact that we think that we cannot even bring up for discussion metaphysical realities (realities beyond the matter/stuff science can measure) shows the level of rot that exists in our thinking and culture. For Christians to think that we cannot or should not bring up these metaphysical realities is to conform to the world.
The “Problem” Breeds Totalitarianism
The worldview that reality is simply made up of matter is the same as Machiavelli’s, and he knew that matter could be manipulated to whatever purpose might be desired if one had enough power. Total power was the key to everything, including the re-making of the person under his power!
Should our Republican legislators continue to think male and female matter in sports but not in marriage, then I will have to change what I have chosen to believe. I will only be able to conclude they are (A) incapable, as a group, of thinking clearly or discerning who among them can and following that person or (B) they have adopted the God-less view that persons are simply a collection of atoms that has no meaning but such as those with power—our legislators—give to it and that meaning can change depending on the specific context.
Before you vote for you state Senator or Representative in the Republican primaries this August, make sure you are not subjugating yourself and your family to a person whose thinking is confused or to a little Machiavellian.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006.