Tackling Gender Chaos in Sports

Transgenderism, Truth, and Gospel Compassion

David E. Prince

It seems our culture has gone from the acronym LGBT to LGBTQIA+ at breakneck speed. As the acronym continues to grow increasingly longer, so does the cultural chaos surrounding this iteration of the sexual revolution. 

Historically, there was no distinction made between biological sex and gender. But, in recent years, gender has been redefined as fluid and changing. Merriam-Webster now defines one of the usages of “they” as referring to “a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” Nonbinary is defined as, “a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male or female.”

The “T” in the acronym stands for transgender. According to “The Language of Gender,” “Sometimes [transgender] is used broadly as an umbrella term to describe anyone whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex.”1https://static1.squarespace.com/static/63ebbd468a9d2d129d622b91/t/64db93a93f8fd737be18e581/1692111785914/The+Language+of+Gender.pdf In other words, if a biological male says he psychologically identifies as a female, he should be considered a female in every situation and circumstance, and vice versa. 

Real-world implications in athletics

Adopting these ideas amounts to the erasure of biological sex as a meaningful cultural and legal category. This move cannot be brushed off because real-world implications affect all of us. One of those real-world implications is found in athletics, particularly biological males competing in female athletics. 

Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports is nothing less than an assault on women and women’s athletics. Ignoring the reality of biological sex in athletics harms all of us, disproportionately harming women. Acknowledging biological differences in athletic competition is as necessary as acknowledging age differences in youth sports or school size in team sports competitions. This reality is why we do not consider classifications in high school sports, age requirements in youth athletics, or weight classes in boxing as discrimination. In fact, they protect students and empower them for success. 

Vital laws, such as Title IX, protecting women from discrimination based on “sex,” are now upended by arguments that biological sex is less meaningful than self-defined gender identity. How can you have anti-discrimination laws in place to protect women if there is no verifiable way to identify who is male and female? In athletics, refusing to account for biological needs and differences will legally enshrine inequality in sports. 

As the father of five daughters, these issues are not theoretical for me. My two college-age daughters earned tennis scholarships and now compete for their respective universities. They are good players. Yet, a simple glance at the men’s tennis courts makes it evident that the women’s tennis teams would stand no chance against the men’s teams. No one can honestly make a case to the contrary. This observation is rooted in visible biological reality. Simply put, males are generally physically taller, heavier, stronger, and faster than their female counterparts. 

I am also a Christian pastor who holds unapologetically to orthodox biblical morality and ethics regarding the sinfulness of transgender behavior. But the absurdity of allowing biological males to compete against girls and women is so clearly wrongheaded it doesn’t demand a Christian worldview to point out its folly. Former women’s tennis legend and lesbian activist Martina Navratilova unequivocally stated that it is not fair for women to be forced to compete against biological males.2https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11903643/ Martina-Navratilova-says-banning-trans-athletes-womens-events-step-right-direction.html

As sad as it is, these are real issues we face. Thus, we must speak the truth on these issues, but we must also do more. Consider the following suggestions as you and your family navigate these chaotic cultural waters.

See people made in God’s image 

Scripture teaches that God created men and women in his own image as male and female (Gen 1:27) and speaks to the goodness of the human body. God’s Word calls us to glorify God with our bodies (Gen 1:31; John 1:14; 1 Cor 6:12-20). The Bible clarifies the inherent honor, dignity, value, and equality of the two sexes as created in God’s image, with each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.

Jesus affirmed God’s order and design in creating his image bearers “male and female” (Matt 19:4). God opposes any rejection of his purpose and plan, including dismissing one’s God-given, biological sex. Christians should likewise oppose sexual confusion and sin. However, Christians ought to do this while simultaneously recognizing the inherent dignity of those who struggle with their sexual identity. 

Christian families may deem it necessary to refuse to allow their daughters to compete against biological males or leave a school over the issue. Still, our ultimate goal is always to show compassion and to respectfully share the gospel with those God has created. I envision Christian families speaking out passionately against these harmful policies at their schools while also praying fervently for the transgender students and families involved. There is no place for degrading or mocking these individuals. Instead we ought to show intentional kindness toward them even as we oppose harmful policies. We must always see those made in God’s image, not merely issues.

Resist all worldliness

The spirit of the age wrongly points us in two opposing directions that we must resist. Both are manifestations of worldliness and normalize sin. Worldliness pressures us to disregard sin and to call evil good and good evil on all matters, including sexual ethics (Isa. 5:20; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). If we truly desire to love God and our neighbor, we must not do so. Caving into worldliness would be an unloving, cowardly, and self-protecting act rooted in the fear of man. Deceiving others for self-centered reasons is the antithesis of Christian love. 

But there is another brand of worldliness that we have a much harder time identifying as such. It stands on the biblical side of an issue but in an unbiblical way. A troubling number of evangelical Christians today argue that contending for truth means we must abandon displays of Christian kindness and gentleness toward our cultural opponents (1 Pet. 3:15). 

The implication is that what the Bible says about sweetness of speech (Prov. 16:21), turning the other cheek (Matt. 5:39), loving your enemies (Matt. 5:44), blessing those who persecute you (Rom. 12:14), gracious speech (Col. 4:6), and honorable conduct among those with whom you disagree (1 Pet. 2:12) is weak-willed and unable to meet the present challenges. That kind of worldly rejection of biblical truth must be repudiated and rejected as well. 

Speak boldly

Years ago, John Piper called Christians to be “winsome weirdos” in the world. I love the description. We must be willing to be viewed as weird by calling things what they are. The truth is that transgenderism is wrong and sinful. Likewise, allowing biological males to compete against biological females in athletics is wrong, unjust, and dangerous. In all things, we should unapologetically speak the truth of what the Bible says, in any context, no matter the costs. 

But we should also display our weirdness in another important biblical way. As stated above, no matter what is hurled our way as we stand for the truth, we must do so in a way that can be rightly described as speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and marked by an unyielding kindness and generosity to all. Loving our enemies, blessing those who persecute us, and gracious speech are not optional for Christians. 

Scripture does not permit truth and love to be pulled apart—as if love for others demands ignoring sin or faithfulness to biblical truth could exclude the love and compassion of God in which the truth is rooted. Truth and love do not dilute each other; the God of truth is love (Isa. 66:16; 1 John 4:8). May we reflect him and his gospel faithfully in all directions as we speak boldly and lovingly about the gross harm of allowing biological males to compete against biological females in athletics.

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24