Monday, August 2, 2021
It's Monday, August 2nd, 2021.
I'm Albert Mohler, and welcome to the brand new season of The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Major Worldview Issues in Olympic Headlines: First Openly Transgender Athlete To Compete in Women’s Weightlifting in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games—Creating a Crisis
There are so many issues for us to address, so many challenges to truth and to the Christian worldview for us to consider. But the 32nd Olympiad taking place right now, the summer Olympic games that are dated 2020 but are located nonetheless in Tokyo in 2021. Today is going to be a very historic day, or at least it is scheduled to be, and one that is absolutely loaded with worldview significance, and that is because the very first openly transgender competitor is scheduled to be one of the athletes competing for the prize in women's weightlifting. In this case the athlete is competing for New Zealand and goes by the name of Laurel Hubbard.
The New York Times reports, and I quote, "When Laurel Hubbard, a 43-year-old weightlifter from New Zealand makes her first attempt in the women's heavyweight competition on Monday, she will become the first openly transgender female athlete to compete at the Olympics." The next line: "Yet she will do so admit a debate over whether she should be at the games at all." Now, if you look at the opening words just have that one news article in the New York Times you see what we are now conditioned to see, what we now expect to see, and that is the in your face repetition of something, like a female pronoun in this case, in order to make the point, this is now the new normal. That is the preaching of the New York Times, and the larger culture around us, particularly the mainstream media, but as we shall see today, also establishment sport, not only in the United States, but increasingly worldwide, nowhere more apparent than in the 32nd Olympiad.
There's another tension in this article just in terms of the kind of language that's used, the dynamic of the vocabulary and the structure of argument here. It comes down to the fact that almost every one of the mainstream media articles, or news packages, on Laurel Hubbard wants to say, we have to talk about this, but we shouldn't be talking about this. This is about representation, but it should be just considered as normal. Maybe this is something that's controversial, but it probably shouldn't be, but because it is we're going to have to look at the controversy. And indeed, they do look at the controversy. Again, the headline in the New York Times article was this, "Olympics first openly transgender woman stokes debate on fairness."
Now as Christians we're looking at this, and let's just consider that that headline itself tells us something very important, and that is that the moral revolutionaries, with their gender revolution, are not actually getting as far as they expected to get, especially when it comes to the "T" in LGBTQ. If the inclusion of this transgender athlete were not controversial, there wouldn't be a news story, but there is a news story precisely because there is a controversy. And there is a controversy, and this is what's very interesting, even amongst those who want to think themselves absolutely progressive, absolutely enthusiastic about the LGBTQ revolution, because they can't imagine any other position, any other way of thinking. But this way of thinking actually doesn't work.
Now as we shall see, the Christian worldview reminds us of why that's true. It is because it is an effort to deny and to undo creation. You might just say, good luck with that, it's not actually going to happen. There are going to be people who are going to insist, and we'll be seeing this, especially this year, with so many issues brought to the forefront, we're going to see people say, it's not an issue, here's someone who simply is a woman, will use the pronoun she over and over again, the name Laurel Hubbard, this is a woman, is the insistence, who is competing now amongst other women. But the other women aren't going along with this, at least a lot of them are not, and they're saying that it isn't fair that someone who is indeed biologically male, at least in terms of the genetic structure, the skeletal development, and all the rest, shouldn't be able to compete against biological females in this very elite level, the most elite level of sports.
And remember here, we're talking about what's itself a bit ironic, and that is women's weightlifting. But once you're over the very existence of this sport, let's get to the report. For instance, in the New York Times, we're looking at the New York Times precisely because this is a newspaper that presents itself as unapologetically, enthusiastically, pro-LGBTQ, and in recent years they have particularly trumpeted the "T." And yet they have to run this news article about the Tokyo Games, coming back to say, "Athletes, advocates for women's sports, and fair sport campaigners have questioned whether Hubbard, who competed in men's competitions before quitting the sport more than a decade ago, has an unfair advantage. Others believe that the games binary categories fail to account for a diverse group of athletes."
Now as we have seen, once you deny the order of creation when it comes to gender and sexuality, once you absolutely deny and seek to discredit a biblical structure of morality and gender and human identity, then you're going to be endlessly engaged in a controversy over what you're going to put in its place. And in this case, the LGBTQ revolutionaries, and the feminists, and the women's sports advocates, they're not even on the same page, not even close. Now many of these same newspapers have been trying to shame state governments and local school districts that have been saying that boys, for example, shouldn't be competing against girls on girls athletic teams in interscholastic competition, or when it comes even to inter-collegiate competition. And you've had many of these newspapers, not only in their news section but on their editorial pages, absolutely castigate people who believe that male and female are fixed categories. That's absolutely shameful, it's something that should be an embarrassment in our postmodern society.
And yet, here you have the case that when it comes to elite sport, they seem to be at least acknowledging that maybe this case isn't so conclusively closed as many had claimed. And so you have people saying, look, when it comes to teenagers and children, there ought to be absolutely no question that "T" means "T," someone who is born male but is declaring female identity has to be treated as a girl, or as a young woman, and allowed to compete in the women's or the girl's teams. But when it comes to elite sport, you have someone like Martina Navratilova, one of the most famous female, and indeed lesbian, athletes in history, who has said that at least to the level of elite sport, maybe that's not going to work. But let's just remind ourselves of something, no one begins at the elite level, it actually begins with those children and teenagers in the gyms and on the playing fields. So that makes no sense whatsoever, but it does tell you that at least when it matters most, when something like the Olympics comes up, all of a sudden, there are people who say, "Now wait just a minute, I'm enthusiastically for this revolution, but maybe actually there's a big problem with it."
The head of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, that would be Karen Smith, said about Hubbard, "She's an athlete. She wants to come here and perform and achieve her Olympic dream and ambition." But notice, this is said about someone, for the first time in Olympic history, who had competed in previous games as a man, in which case presumably the head of the New Zealand Olympic committee could have said, "He's an athlete, he wants to come here and perform and achieve his Olympic dream and ambition." But the pronouns are changed, but that's why we're in such controversy, because in reality this is the same person.
Now Chris Mosier, "A race walker who in 2020 became the first openly transgender man to compete in a US Olympic trial," said, "This moment is incredibly significant for the trans community, for our representation in sport, and for all trans people and non-binary kids to see themselves and know that sport is a place for them." Now notice the issue of representation, that's going to come up again, and again, and again. We're told that in this case the athlete is going to be returning to the Olympics, in this case now the Tokyo games, "Four years after she returned to the sport from a 15 year break."
Now the New York Times acknowledges this, "The scientific debate over whether transgender female athletes have any physical advantages is far from settled." I want to stop here for a moment. That sentence is so important because you have the mainstream media saying that that is not the case when it comes to high school, or to college athletics, we're told it's absolutely insane to think it can make a difference. You're now just rejecting the science, given the language and the kind of epistemological authority that is cited these days. But the reality is that even the New York Times, in this case, has to acknowledge that the scientific debate "is far from settled." The paper goes on, "There are people who contend that the drugs that are widely used by transgender women as they transition do not entirely offset the physical benefits of having gone through puberty fueled by male hormones. Others note that there is a lack of specific research on the performance of transgender athletes in many sports."
Joanna Harper, an academic studying the issue, said, "It's an affront to many people that she's simply participating. It's clear she's going to do well, after all she's made it to the Olympics, but she's not going to dominate the sport." But the New York Times comes back and says, "Still others note that Hubbard's performance has improved with age and points to the fact that that is "completely opposite of typical weightlifters," that according to Emma Hilton, a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester. Hilton made her analysis clear with these words, "Either Laurel Hubbard is some kind of once in a lifetime weightlifter, the likes of which we've never seen and won't see again, or she is carrying male advantage."
Now what we need to note here is that the collision with reality is coming at the Olympics. Actually, you and I know, we all know, that the collision with reality is taking place now at the elementary and middle school and high school level, not to mention college sports. But that doesn't matter as much, at least in terms of the cultural equation, because the understanding is that if there is an LGBTQ win at those lower levels of ages, then inevitably the problem at the Olympics will disappear. But right now we're looking at a very, very interesting timing. The Olympics has come, and there are many who just aren't going along with it. For example, had the athlete named Laurel Hubbard now not appeared in this particular competition, that spot likely would have been filled by Tracey Lambrechs. Tracey Lambrechs is a woman. Let's be clear, she is female, she was born a female. She's a weightlifter from New Zealand, and she was displaced by Laurel Hubbard, otherwise she would likely be in this particular event.
The New York Times acknowledges this, "It complicates matters that the rules of the sport allow teams in the Olympics to have only one entrant per weight class. Tracey Lambrechs, a lifter from New Zealand who competed in the same weight class as Hubbard, said that the sports national governing body gave her an ultimatum several years ago after Hubbard had begun outperforming her, drop to a lower weight class or retire." The New York Times then says, "Hubbard's participation, Lambrechs said, deprived other women a chance to compete." Notice how they're doing their very best to stay with the logic here, other women. But here we're talking about someone who clearly is a woman displaced by someone who, at least according to right reason, clearly is not a woman. Lambrechs told Television New Zealand, "We're all about equality for women in sport, but right now that equality has been taken away from us. Weightlifters come up to me and say, what can we do? This isn't fair, what can we do? And unfortunately, there's nothing we can do because every time we tried to voice it, we get told to be quiet."
Now just consider this, just considered the feminist revolution of the 20th century. Just consider going back to someone just before the turn of the last century, before the year 2000, and tell them that actually women are now going to be displaced by those who were born biologically male, unquestionably so, who are going to be competing as women. So women are actually going to lose any kind of women's sport, which they've been contending for, and as Martina Navratilova's pointed out, the only reason to have women's sport is if you know who a woman is and only women are allowed to compete in those sports, the same logic pertaining also for females of younger ages.
The Collision of Reality Comes to the Olympics: The Destabilization of Morality, Sexuality and Gender as the LGBTQ Revolution Creates an ‘Existential Question About What It Means to Be Female’
This particular event is scheduled for today in Tokyo, and in the days leading up to the event you had mainstream media, not just the times, but many others dealing with this. Very interestingly, Julia Hollingsworth of CNN ran a story, and the CNN headline was this, "A transgender weightlifter's Olympic dream has sparked an existential debate about what it means to be female." Now just consider what we're talking about here, this is the year 2021, you have thousands of years of human experience, human experience predicated upon knowing the difference between male and female, and knowing what it means to be female. But now you have a headline, and this is CNN, telling us that this particular controversy about this transgender weightlifter's Olympic dream has sparked "an existential debate."
Now in this context what that means is the deepest meaning of what it means to be female, an absolutely essential argument about what it means to be female, and existential in this case points to experience as well, what does it mean to be female? Now just consider the incoherence and the deadly nature of a society that doesn't know how to answer this question, or would even allow such an existential crisis or debate over what it means to be female.
The CNN article cites former Olympic athlete Kristen Worley, identified also as transgender. The article says, "Transgender athletes aren't a homogenous group, cautions Worley, an athlete who has transitioned by having her gonads removed, will still have different testosterone levels from an athlete who hasn't, for instance." "Similarly, a woman who transitioned before going through puberty would have virtually no advantage," that said by yet another person. "And testosterone levels aren't the whole story. Dick Swwab, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam, who has studied the brain chemistry of gender identity, said, sensitivity to testosterone, differs, meaning people have a high level of testosterone, but their body is not able to use it."
In other words what you have here is the fact that there's no way these people can even keep their stories straight. Does it matter, does it not? Does it matter when the transition, as it's called happens before puberty or after? Well some say yes, some say no. Does testosterone matter? Some say yes, some say no. Is there a lasting advantage? Some say yes, some say no. And they're actually debating with each other about what is even the most important question to ask here.
Again, Christians look at this, operating out of a biblical worldview, and understand there is no right answer to this question because what has been rejected from the beginning is God's intention in creation and the very clear teachings of Scripture. Once you actually reject the creation order, and the clear revelation of God in Scripture, then you're just making it up as you go along, and we need to understand that's exactly what our society is doing right now. At one point they tried to just make up a new sexual morality, and now they're trying to make up a new biology. And of course we're going to have to be looking in successive additions of this program about how that's working its way out, including a recent headline about how to find a pediatrician for your child who's up to date on all this sexual theory.
But there's a background issue here too, and it has to do with women's sport, at least in much of its contemporary representation. The CNN article cites Emily Fox, who we are told plays Australian rules football for the Williamstown Football Club in Melbourne. She said, "Women's sport has often been a space for women who have tried to exist outside of gender norms anyway, and particularly for same-sex attracted women, sport was often the safe space. I think that making sport more exclusive inherently goes against what women's sport has often stood for." Let's just look at that for a moment. What is she saying? She's saying, using the modern language of the revolutionaries about transgression, you liberate people by transgressing the old, say biblical, or creation order boundaries. She says, "If you start making rules now, that's repressive."
But of course the Olympics has to make rules, it has to decide who may and may not compete in what category, and what events, under what circumstances, it has to continually make the decision who won the event, who came in first gold, second silver, third bronze, it's all about making discriminations, it's all about making decisions, and yes, it's extremely exclusive. We should note the CNN, after the games began, ran a major package on representation and inclusion at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the headline, or the article by Scottie Andrew was, "There may be more Olympians who identify as LGBTQ than ever before, but there are limits to inclusion." The issue here is representation. Why are we looking at that very important and worldview perspective? Because the here is that the games are really about representation. It's about representation of those who in this case are regarded as those representing sexual minorities, that's the expression you hear from many. And so you have the LGBTQ community, the non-binary community, they're all claiming that they must have representation, and this article argues that there isn't enough representation.
Now consider the fact that CNN has run any number of articles about LGBTQ representation in the games, leading up to the games, and now, as we see, after the games have started, the same thing's true of the mainstream media, and it raises another issue which is the fact that representation is never enough. There's never enough representation. And so you have numbers here offered, "At least 168 of the 11,000 Olympians competing in Tokyo this week are openly LGBTQ according to the SB Nation blog Outsports." Outsports tells you the vantage point of that particular blog, or website. We're told, "Of the 160 plus LGBTQ athletes, some are well known stars, like FIFA Women's World Cup champ Megan Rapinoe, WMBA great Brittney Griner, and diver a newly-minted gold medalist Tom Daley, all of whom came out publicly in the last decade. They're joined by up and comers like Canadian soccer player Quinn, and New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, both of whom are transgender."
So the article in CNN, the package at CNN is saying, here's good news, we've got representation, it's more representation than ever before, the first openly transgender athletes competing at the games, but it's not enough, it's not close to enough because 168 of 11,000 is not enough representation. Now let's recall that we're also considering representation in the volume of news, that would be a far higher percentage. This article cites Katie Schweighofer, identified as an adjunct faculty member in American studies at Dickinson College, as making the point, and this is CNN reporting here, "The relatively low number of participants who publicly identify as LGBTQ indicates that both," in the words of Katie Schweighofer, "top level sporting cultures, including the Olympics, and broader local level sports cultures have not truly become the welcoming environments for LGBTQ people."
Here's another interesting argument, it's not only that the representation will never be enough, but the argument is, a lot of these people who aren't claiming openly to be LGBTQ must be, we need to create environments so that they will identify as such. One of the issues we need to watch here is the fact that this representation is so important to these ideologues when it comes to the Olympics because of the vast international global audience of the Olympics and other events of major sport, but nothing is equivalent to the Olympics. If you can use the Olympics in order to create a lever for your moral revolution, a revolution in sexuality and gender, you have a huge global platform at your disposal. That's exactly what's going on here, and the mainstream media, the advertisers, the corporate sponsors, they're all falling over themselves, including apparently leaders of the Olympic movement itself, to try to say, we are all for the LGBTQ revolution, this means that everyone should be. That means that every nation should be, it means that every community should be, every school, indeed every sport.
But at the same time, the Olympics championing how progressive they are on these issues can't come up with what they understand to be an equitable way of dealing with this issue. Just consider the fact that the Olympics has really nothing to say to a woman, or a girl, who's been displaced by a biological male other than to say tough luck, or as that woman weightlifter from New Zealand said, "Be quiet." Now there is a very important reason that I've devoted this much time on this addition to The Briefing to this issue, and it's because the event is going to be today.
And just think in advance about this, how that event turns out is itself going to be a potential game changer in at least how this conversation goes. If the athlete identified as Laurel Hubbard wins, that's going to be very controversial. If the athlete known as Laurel Hubbard loses, that's going to be very controversial. You also have the fact that the question will then be, if you're the New Zealand Olympic Committee, what about the woman who otherwise would have had that slot, might she have won, actually being a woman? Any way you look at it it's likely to be an historic and an eventful day at the Olympics, especially when it comes to this particular event in women's weightlifting. There's more at stake here than metals, gold and silver and bronze. Indeed what's at stake here is the entire moral structure of human existence and a denial of something as basic as biology and physiology.
No More Ladies and Gentlemen: Gender Revolution Takes to the Skies as German Airline Adopts Gender Neutral Language to Subvert the ‘Gender Binary’
And as we bring this first edition of the new season of The Briefing to a close, we need to recognize that the demand to join the moral revolution, and to deny biological reality, isn't just a matter of the playing field in the Tokyo Olympics, it's a matter just about everywhere, and including in the sky. There is no escape. Just look at a news report from Lufthansa, the major German airline, the headline is this, "Lufthansa will no longer address you as ladies and gentlemen." The report coming from Deutsche Welle tells us, "The German carrier is doing away with its traditional onboard salutation. The airline group has come up with a list of alternative greetings to ensure that passengers remain in good humor." Lufthansa crews, we are told, will be "using gender neutral language to welcome passengers on board."
One of the persons reporting this and responding to it was Alexandra Scheele, an expert on sociology and economy at Bielefeld University, who said, "This move works at a symbolic level. It can be considered as a gender sensitive step through which the gender binary is questioned. People who identify themselves beyond male-female, as well as everyone who's questioning the binary systems, might be addressed better without using the phrase 'ladies and gentlemen/Damen und Herren'" in the German.
Yes, indeed. The revolution is now coming to the air on Lufthansa, and we are told, by the way, that the airline crews no longer using the language of ladies and gentlemen is effectively undermining or questioning the gender binary. You might want to keep that mind as you might be looking at a flight on Lufthansa. We're told that the Lufthansa crews can decide how they are going to address passengers and welcome passengers on the plane, but they will now be using gender neutral phrases, we are told, "Such as dear guests, good morning, evening, or simply welcome on board."
The decision, we are told, on how to address passengers "will ultimately be made by the crew, who were informed about this change in May, but the change is effective immediately." What does that tell you? It tells you it's already too late to get on a Lufthansa flight and hear yourself addressed as either a lady or gentlemen. It's too late. The question looming over everything right now is whether it's too late for an entire civilization.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can find me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.