The Olympics are awesome! The summer games are particularly interesting—with lesser-known sports like fencing, water polo, badminton, and table tennis getting time in the spotlight. Another enjoyable part of watching the games is the attention given to women’s sports and female athletes.
Lydia Jacoby, the first swimmer from Alaska to make an Olympic team and win a gold medal, is a great example. Her stunning upset in the 100-meter breaststroke set off a tumultuous celebration among her friends and family (I agree with Mike Tirico who called their response the best moment of the games so far). Lydia is a 17-year old who just graduated from high school and is on her way to the University of Texas. Let’s hope we see her again in four years.
Let’s also hope, the next time she dives into an Olympic pool, she only competes against women. Laurel Hubbard, a weight lifter from New Zealand, is the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics. Laurel competed as a man as recently as 2013, but her gender-selection process now means she competes as a woman. While Laurel may or may not win a medal, her presence marks the beginning of the end of women’s sports. Men competing as women will eventually dominate so-called “women’s sports.”
The transgender movement is demanding men who identify as women be allowed to compete as their gender of choice. While this problem is embryonic right now, it will flourish in the next decade as the current push to allow pre-teens to switch genders produces self-identified females who were born as males. Despite the progress women have made competing against women, biology means male athletes will dominate female athletes. Testosterone and male muscle structure really do matter in athletic performance.
While some states are passing laws to force people to compete according to their birth gender, is there any reasonable expectation those laws will hold up in court? Not likely, given the way gender-switching has been accommodated thus far in other fields. And, even if they do, these laws are not enforceable in a global context.
The feminist movement should be at the forefront of protecting women by insisting these laws be upheld. But they are in an awkward spot. They have celebrated lesbians who redefined sexual mores and demanded sexual behavior be a protected class. Consistency requires them to now embrace self-identified women who join their movement by also redefining their sexuality. In doing so, they are eliminating opportunities for women they once protected and promoted.
When a culture or country rejects God’s clear standards on sexual behavior and gender assignment, the immediate results often seem manageable. But the long-term consequences will be devastating. Women will once again be marginalized by men who take their place, limit their opportunities, and demoralize women who would have enjoyed competing and succeeding against their peers. That’s a sad change—not only for female athletes but for all of us.
Dr. Chris Chun hosted a digital symposium with Dr. Michael Haykin and Dr. Robert Caldwell to discuss Edwards’ spirituality, devotional life and theological impact in American Christianity.