NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Friday the 22nd of February, 2019. First up on The World and Everything in It: Culture Friday.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Martina Navratilova is arguably the greatest women’s tennis player in the world.
She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and an all-time record 31 major women’s doubles titles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, nine of those times in consecutive years, 1982 to 1990. She won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times.
EICHER: Navratilova is concerned about the future for women’s sports, and she’s been vocal about it.
Her latest concern, the presence of male competitors in women’s sports.
“To put the argument at its most basic,” she wrote in the Sunday Times of London, “a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.
“It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”
It’s Culture Friday and John Stonestreet joins me now. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.
John, good morning.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.
EICHER: Interestingly, Martina Navratilova came out in 1981 as a lesbian. So we’re not talking about a right-wing culture warrior here.
And it’s not the first time Navratilova has weighed in the issue on biological males competing in women’s sports. She did the same last year, got criticized for it, and backed away, saying she would educate herself. And you know what that usually means, but in her newspaper column, she said she did study up. And now, if anything, her views are strengthened.
What do you make of this?
STONESTREET: Well, good for her for being willing to kind of say what’s true. And, I mean, let’s just stop for a second, Nick, and think to ourselves… we’re actually having this conversation. We’re actually having a conversation about whether men have an athletic physical advantage over women and should be allowed to compete just because they say that they’re no longer men. This is not something that would have ever been considered until yesterday, culturally speaking.
And let’s remember, too, that the one now that is being called a bigot is someone who is an out-and-proud lesbian. I saw so many quotes on this story this past week, including from that College of Charleston professor who is a middle-aged man who identifies as a woman and used his physical advantage to win the world championship cycling competition of that age bracket. But in this case, the advantage is as clear as the picture of the winner’s circle, where you have three people in spandex, so nothing’s really hidden. You have two women on either side with all of their curves and petiteness and so on, even though very muscular and fit to be at that level of competition. And then you have a guy who looks like a box. He’s got wide shoulders and no curves and hardly a neck and you kind of look at this and you think, this is observable. This is not something that one has to even run DNA tests on or any sort of blood tests for doping. If having an unfair level of male hormones in your system artificially is ruled unfair, why is it not unfair to have that in your system naturally? I mean, this is what the scripture talks about when it talks about culture getting to a place of denying observable reality. This is kind of Romans 1 at work.
The other thing that I’ll say is that I’ve kind of been predicting for awhile this war — and many people have, not just me — but this war between the L and the T. And, see, the L of the acronym is based on kind of a second wave, third-wave feminism which essentially argues that men cannot understand women’s experience, that women have this very unique experience both biologically, culturally, and so on. And so men can’t really embrace that and so there needs to be room created in our institutions and our social structures and so on for this. And I think there’s problems with this ideology at some levels, but that’s what it’s based on. The T is basically saying I am a man and I can claim the female experience. I can appropriate the female experience.
And this is just — gosh — how many contradictions can we live with in one culture, right? You can’t appropriate someone’s ethnicity or their cultural background, their dance, their food, their dress, but you can appropriate their chromosomes? I mean, we’re just beyond — this is just observably crazy and Martina Navratilova will be the one who is called wrong in this. And there you go.
EICHER: I want to talk to you about the story that the Trump administration has opened up an international campaign to fight the criminalization of homosexuality.
Our U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is open about his homosexuality, and he’s leading the campaign. It’s said to be targeting countries in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.
And what seemed to spark it was the public hanging of a 31-year-old man in Iran for homosexuality. Grenell wrote about the case in a German newspaper back on February 1st.
What’s your thought on this one, John? You can oppose the Western LGBT agenda without feeling like you have to defend, say, executions by Islamist regimes, right?
STONESTREET: Yeah, you can. And you’ve got to do that here. Criminalization is different than legality, and I think that’s the important distinction to keep in mind. For example, I can believe that abortion is wrong and not necessarily believe that every woman who’s had an abortion should be prosecuted for murder, taking into all the other factors that come into whenever an innocent life is taken in our society and, you know, I think those conversations need to be had. But oftentimes those who are on the pro-choice side will say something like that. Well, you want to make abortion illegal, you want to put women in shackles, and whatever. And those aren’t the same things.
Look, I think homosexuality is not only wrong, I think it’s damagingly wrong to a society. I’ve heard it kind of described this way, “To go outside God’s design for marriage is like driving the wrong way on a one-way street.” To embrace homosexuality as a society in a world in which God has clearly designed sex to be in the context of marriage between a man and a woman is like driving the wrong way 100 miles an hour on a one-way street. In other words, this is another level of denying reality because as we were just talking about, we’re talking about denying actual biological realities.
So keeping all that in mind, homosexuality is damaging to a society and that’s the government’s job. It’s to not allow things that are damaging to society and to do the best to incentivize the population against it. So I don’t know that I’m — I think homosexuality should be illegal. I don’t know, can I say that? I think it should because it’s bad for society.
But that’s not the same. Believing that it shouldn’t be legal, that there should be ramifications is not the same as saying someone who commits sodomy, for example, should be strung up and hung in a public execution or should be killed at all or should be in prison. At one level you talk about what’s right and wrong for society, at the other level you talk about what is the penalty for that which is considered wrong. And society I think has rightly measured that out.
Now, whether the Trump administration should make this a top priority is another question given all the grave human rights abuses that are happening around the world. We’re still, for example, have great concern over persecuted religious minorities and the fact that the tough stance that President Trump has taken on immigration, rightly or wrongly, has also prevented us from really helping those that are in desperate need. But there’s injustice being done to people that identify as gay and lesbian around the world and if we can bring justice, then that’s fine too.
I guess my point is that there’s not just two choices here which is public hanging and then let’s throw Martina Navratilova out of tennis for not getting fully on board with the agenda. Surely there’s some middle ground.
EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. And, John, thank you.
STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.