When you lack shared foundations

The world swimming body, FINA, this week made a decision to exclude post pubescent males who have transitioned their gender from competing in women’s swimming events. The response was volatile.

On the one side, this decision was perceived as discriminatory, non-inclusive, and even non-scientific. On the other side this decision was seen as protecting the fairness and integrity of sport, a sense of opportunity for girls, and based on science.

Three things disturb me. First, we no longer know how to debate our values. That we hold differing values, and therefore have value clashes – this is inevitable. It always has been so. What is alarming is our inability to have a civil discussion about which values have priority over others. Things degenerate to labels and name calling. There is little genuine attempt to understand the other and dialogue.

Second, public debates cannot even agree on the science. Values are matters of opinion, but science is more so about research and facts. And yet both sides claim science is on their side. Science is weaponised, rather than listened to.

Third, as a culture, we lack a shared foundation that unpins and informs how we decide what is right from wrong. In Christendom, God was the moral authority. He instilled justice, truth, human dignity etc. into the fabric of his creation. The Bible was divine revelation that helped us understand this world and mortality.

Our culture has ‘moved on’ from her Christian foundations. But what this debate over transgender in sports reveals is that our new enlightened post-Christian worldview lacks substance and clarity.

There are those who consider themselves enlightened and current – who are approaching this topic from within the same post-Christian worldview – who land firmly on opposing sides.

Expect more of these – as a culture, we could be in for a bumpy ride. But this an opportunity for us as Christians to model differences within the Church handled with respect, love, and the ability to discuss without dividing.

By Rev. David Rietveld

Senior Minister


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