Two posts ago, I mentioned that I would be doing a three-post series on the crazy world of news media. This is the third post and really what I was aiming at from the beginning. The other posts have highlighted the choices and behaviors of the rich and famous. I generally don't have much interest in what such people think and do as they generally don't seem to have a very firm grasp on reality. However, such people are idols to many and are looked to as those who have lives worth imitating. They are at least entertaining to the culture or they wouldn't be rich and famous. My concern about what such people say and do is that they have a shaping influence on the culture and on the thoughts and lives of their consumers. As Hollywood goes, expect the culture to come tagging along not too far behind.
So here I'd like to go back to the summer Olympics in Tokyo. History was made by the first openly transgender athlete competing in an individual sport. Laurel Hubbard, a New Zealand weightlifter, was assigned male at birth but transitioned to female a decade ago and was competing as a woman in the +87kg event. Hubbard did not win a medal and had difficulty with a successful lift in the finals.
Afterward, the medalists (gold – Li Wenwen of China; silver – Emily Campbell of Great Britain; and bronze – Sarah Robles of USA) were at a panel interview. An interviewer stood and addressed the medalists this way: “There was a historic night here with Laurel Hubbard competing as the first openly transgender in an individual event. I was wondering what you felt about that and what you felt that took place in your sport.”
You can imagine what they might have wanted to say - especially if one of them had not medaled because Hubbard had. They might have thought it unfair to have their chance to prove themselves usurped by an athlete who perhaps wouldn't have even qualified to compete had that person competed as a cisgender. But they didn't say such things.
In fact, all three medalists said...nothing. Silence. Crickets for an awkward 8 seconds.
Finally Robles, who had lifted her mask to sip from a bottle of water, simply said “No thank you.” And that was that. End of the interviewer's attempts to kick a hornet's nest.
But why the silence, you ask?
Because it would have been dangerous to speak honestly and openly about how they felt about Hubbard being allowed to compete alongside them.
Great Britain's culture is already firmly post-Christian, and the US is not far behind. China is becoming more of a player in the world of media and social media. Medalists at the Olympics stand to be offered product endorsements of a lucrative nature. They will have a higher profile should they interview for new jobs back home. All the post-victory gains they could realize would be jeopardized by speaking out against the cultural current surrounding freedom of sexual expression and freedom of self-realization via choice of gender. I remind you that teachers, athletes, tech-company, government and other employees have lost jobs, been cancelled from social media, had threats made against their lives and their families because they spoke out.
This is why I felt the need to highlight this particular bit of news. Precedents are being set. The movement of our culture is toward marginalizing and persecuting those whose convictions place them outside the mainstream. Any guesses as to which group comprises the majority of folks outside the mainstream? Bingo. Christians. Our culture that preaches tolerance is tolerant of just about anything except for religious faith and conviction.
I don't bring this up to scare anyone or to depress anyone. These are not times for retreat or fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. The culture is probably where it is because Christians were content for too long to be silent, to let our faith be a private matter, and to enjoy the pleasures and follies of the times right along with everyone else. So if we want to stop the slide into greater madness and mayhem, we need to find our voice again. In particular, we need to give voice to our faith, to the hope we have in Christ, and to God's love that has been poured out for the world's redemption.
Okay, I'm done....