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Are evangelical leaders as courageous as J.K. Rowling?

Now is the time for prominent leaders and institutions to push back against the gender revolution

J. K. Rowling arrives at the world premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in London on March 29, 2022. Associated Press/Photo by Scott Garfitt

Are evangelical leaders as courageous as J.K. Rowling?

It is a well-established trope today that evangelical Christians were on the wrong side of cultural debates in the past and that present generations must therefore do public penance, whether the issue is racism or sexism or whatever. That raises the question of what issues the evangelical establishment might be misjudging today that will lead to future disdain towards this generation of evangelical leadership. Here is my suggestion: the issue of transgender ideology.

Why do I say this? Two reasons: first, transgender ideology is leading to the promotion of medical practices that mutilate the bodies and permanently ruin the lives of children too young to elect to have a tattoo. Second, it is destroying women’s rights through its impact on private spaces, safety, and (trivial but true) sports. Given that both the political and the medical establishment are fully on board with this madness, we might say that we are living at a moment when the institutionalized abuse of women and children is not just grotesque. It is also catastrophic.

And if anyone thinks that the politicians pushing this vicious garbage are operating from a position of knowledge and informed nuance, they should read the recent transcript of former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon explaining why trans women are real women unless they happen to be vicious male rapists. In short, trans women are women unless that identification might prove to be a liability at the ballot box. Sturgeon, like most pro-trans politicos, has merely been reciting a liturgy that plays well to a certain lobby group—a liturgy, however, that has harmful real-life consequences for real women.

Yet, for all of the evil that is being done to confused children and vulnerable women, it is some feminists who are speaking out on this. Kathleen Stock, the feminist philosopher, remains one of the most consistent and vocal opponents of the trans madness, even at the cost of her academic job. Abigail Shrier is another. And most famously author J. K. Rowling continues to speak courageously on the matter, though woe betide any who defend her, as Pamela Paul can now testify. It is right and proper that Christians give thanks for these voices.

Silence in the face of this evil is culpable and, make no mistake, will be noted by future generations.

This is why it is surely now time that the flagship evangelical organizations speak out too, using their broad appeal and status to have a real impact on the debate. It would be wonderful if Christianity Today were to run a series of detransition narratives, or Wheaton College host a conference on the damage that trans ideology is doing to children and to families. Such things would help confused parents and pastors. Then there are evangelicals with easy access to the pages of The Atlantic, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. If they were to use their platforms to speak out about this institutionalization of child abuse and misogyny, it might—no, it would—make a huge difference.

The trans issue might well collapse in the coming decades. Indeed, I am actually very hopeful that it will. But sadly, if it does so, it will only be after the pile of mutilated children’s bodies, ruined families, and shattered lives has reached a critical mass. That is why it is imperative to speak and act now, to make such damage as minimal as possible. The stakes are very, very high, and, as the case of Nicola Sturgeon demonstrates, the political leadership class is wickedly committed to the most incoherent and evil of policy paths. These people do not really care about helping trans kids or women. They care only about using the trans issue to drive their own careers by imposing their own irrationalism on the rest of us, whatever the cost in innocent lives.

The time for evangelical leaders and institutions to speak is now. The moment to use the platforms we have to protect women and children has come. If J.K. Rowling has the courage to stand for the truth and to call for the protection of children and women, then so should we. Silence in the face of this evil is culpable and, make no mistake, will be noted by future generations.

Yes, it is always easier to apologize for the past than do the right, and costly, thing in the present. But perhaps this time we might pre-empt the need for any future evangelical apologies by doing the right thing at the right time, though it cost us in the short term a light, momentary affliction.

Carl R. Trueman

Carl R. Trueman taught on the faculties of the Universities of Nottingham and Aberdeen before moving to the United States in 2001 to teach at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 2017-18 he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.  Since 2018, he has served as a professor at Grove City College. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor at First Things. Trueman’s latest book is the bestselling The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. He is married with two adult children and is ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

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