Can we make common cause with unbelievers?
When it comes to gender sanity, let’s stand with all those who still hold to common sense
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Ten years ago, my friend Ryan Anderson went into the lion’s den for an interview with Piers Morgan on same-sex marriage. The interview was explosive—not because Ryan was disagreeable (he is always exceptionally civil) but because Morgan, a staunch same-sex marriage advocate, had the knives out for him.
From the outset, Morgan attacked and disparaged Ryan’s view of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman—a view shared by nearly every culture in every corner of the world for nearly all of history. Piers Morgan called that concept of marriage offensive, un-American, and unfit for “the modern era.”
Fast-forward a decade, however, and it’s Morgan who now finds himself out of step with the “modern era.”
Recently, he appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, where he lamented the fact that men who claim to be women are now competing in women’s sports. He pointed specifically to Lia Thomas, a male swimmer who has beaten female opponents (in one race by 50 seconds) and went on to win a national NCAA women’s title. Thomas was then nominated for the NCAA 2022 Woman of the Year Award.
“That cannot be right,” Morgan exclaimed. “It cannot be fair.” Bill Maher agreed, as did much of his liberal audience, who joined in applause.
These interviews show just how fast the ground has shifted in the last 10 years. The debate over same-sex marriage has given way to Drag Queen Story Hour, cross-sex hormones and surgeries on children, men denying women fair play in sports, and males violating the privacy and safety of females in dorm rooms, locker rooms, prisons, and shelters.
With full hindsight, it’s easy to see that same-sex marriage was never a final destination but a mile-marker along the way to ever more ambitious attempts to redefine reality. And the consequences are clear: Women are losing athletic opportunities to men, and children are being irreversibly maimed under so-called “gender-affirming care.” Even Morgan is speaking up about all of this, and he’s not alone.
J.K. Rowling, the acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, has in recent years endured what a popular podcast series called “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling.” Rowling, a self-identified feminist, is one of the most successful authors in history and was universally beloved by millions of Harry Potter fans worldwide—until she wasn’t. Until she dared speak something that in a saner world wouldn’t be at all daring to say: that biological sex is real, that women are women, and that a man cannot be a woman. For this, she’s been smeared and relentlessly threatened for years. Yet unlike many others, she has refused to succumb to the mob. She remains heroically steadfast in her defense of the truth.
Christians don’t share a spiritual bond with Morgan or Rowling. The gulf between us is vast. But we should thank God that they can help push back the darkness of transgenderism, the most pernicious ideology of our time. We should be eager to partner with others like them, issue by issue, as we seek to advance truth and human flourishing.
As Christians, we recognize that non-believers often have much to contribute to society because they, like us, are made in God’s image. Wherever His image is found, we should expect to find much to embrace as well as much to reject. This is the doctrine of “common grace”—that despite humanity’s sin, God continues to pour out His grace on the world to sustain life and mitigate the worst effects of sin. Abraham Kuyper defined common grace as “neither an everlasting grace nor a saving grace, but a temporal grace for the restraint of ruin that lurks within sin.” Without it, evil would triumph, and the world would utterly decay. We can say with confidence that God can use anyone and any circumstances for His purposes.
Christ calls His people “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13)—agents of preservation who guard and protect what is good and right in a society. Surely this requires that we not only speak and live the truth, but that we multiply our impact by partnering with those outside of Christ who, by common grace, happen to be right on select issues. Bill Maher, for example, is avidly pro-abortion, but I am grateful for his commitment to free speech. Richard Dawkins has spent his career mocking the God of the universe, but I am glad he supports free inquiry and the pursuit of truth on college campuses.
Christians should feel no conflict in cooperating with such people when we can find agreement. We will differ when it comes to root motivations, but the societal good we can achieve together is greater than if we were to act alone. Now is a crucial time to make common cause with those who haven’t abandoned common sense.
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These daily articles have become part of my steady diet. —BarbaraSign up to receive the WORLD Opinions email newsletter each weekday for sound commentary from trusted voices.
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