Another year another Margaret Court story.
The furore around the tennis great receiving a national award for community services (via her church Victory Life in Perth running a large food distribution program) on Australia Day, will ensure that anyone nominated from now one will have the sexual gloryometer run over them first, just to make sure they are kosher.
I mean we don’t want bigots, homophobes and other miscreants slipping through the net and receiving national applause. Margaret has been judged by the kangaroo court of social media, political opportunists, and the odd award winner themselves who wants to bask in the glow of modern moral virtue.
In other words, if there’s any chance in your life that you aren’t on board with the sexular culture and its new vision of what humanity can become through sexual expression and gender identity, then you’ve got little chance of being nationally feted for your work.
I guess that’s okay if there’s zero chance of you getting such a gong in the first place. At least now I can blame my lack of national recognition on the writing I do promoting biblical sexual ethics. That must be the reason, right? I mean, what else could it be?
The Twitter world has exploded with the Court story of course. She’s obviously filling the void left over from Trump. At least until Trump II, whoever that ends up being.
The virtue signalling from those who are handing back awards they had been given, simply because to receive it would align them with Margaret Court and her views on sex and gender, continues apace . Every national award is tainted when someone you don’t agree with gets one as well, right? Purity culture is alive and well. Puritans to the left of me, Puritans to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with Margaret!
Cos that’s the problem, right? I think Margaret could have a good read of my new book Being the Bad Guys, and think through how she comes across in the public square. She could think through her tone cos it can sound a little sharp to me from time to time.
But let’s face it, I hold to the same view about sex and gender as she does, I just bring it across a little differently. Well to my thinking at least, because I am sure my opponents are horrified by it. But from what I can see, the problem is no longer even what we say or even how we say it, it’s that we think it in the first place. Right think is required. Group think is required.
The warm glow of trending on Twitter, being hash-tagged by the moral gatekeepers of the sexular age, is worth a dozen gongs. Or at least it is this year, because next year when you are offered one again you can always say yes, confident in your moral purity. There won’t be a Margaret Court in sight, you can be sure of that. The national committee that hands these things out is probably right now worried that their names and addresses are going to be published.
Now all of this wouldn’t matter so much if all it were were the gladiators fighting in combat in the arena, while the plebs such as us watched on. What does this have to do with those of us who are nameless, gongless and likely to continue to be so until the day we die?
Well, just this: When Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews labels Court’s views as “disgraceful”, and resulting in pain and even death, then you can be sure that there will be a trickle down effect. Oh well, I guess any loud shouty thing Dan can say to distract everyone from his government’s disgraceful performance that led to 800 COVID deaths.
But I digress. The likes of public figures such as Dan, and WA Premier, Mark McGowan, lambasting the views held by a significant proportion of people in Australia – Christian, Muslim and others – will have a flow on effect. You can be sure that there are heaps of eager CEOs and HR departments firming up their social policies, warmed by the scornful tones of state leaders towards any dissent.
Now as I’ve just said I think Margaret Court has something of a tin ear when it comes to her tone. She comes across like, well like a 78 year old woman who grew up in a different era and always spoke her mind.
But it’s not tone that is her problem according to Dan Andrews. It’s what she thinks. Dan isn’t having a go at her because she espouses her particular views a certain way. It’s her views that he can’t stand.
And if you hold to those same views, even if you don’t express them the cack-handed way Margaret Court does, then you are just as hateful, bigoted and homophobic as she is. You may not realise it, but to even mention that you hold those views could result in other people’s deaths. Maybe not 800 deaths to be sure, but the risk is always there. Who knows the domino effect you could have!
That’s what it means to be one of the bad guys in our culture today. The kind of bad in which you don’t get the gong, no matter what else you do right. I keep coming back to Mark Sayers stunning quote about the direction things are going:
You can reach levels of blistering hipness, gain position within a key industry, hold an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular culture, throw yourself into the great justice causes of the day, and still your belief in the second culture values of faith will see you viewed as beyond the pale.
By “second culture” Sayers is referring to Judea-Christian culture, as opposed to “third culture” which is the increasing post-Christian experience we are in. So in other words, you can be as crazily loving and kind and generous and selfless in the public square as possible, but your “belief” will do in you in – not just your practice or what you say.
Beyond the pale, as Sayers puts it. Beyond anything good or noble. Beyond the pale – the place of bad stuff and bad people. That’s what Dan Andrews is saying of Margaret Court and anyone who aligns themselves with her thinking on sexuality and gender (never mind whether they say it or not).
And that is something that the coming generations of Christians are going to have to deal with in their workplaces and social settings. All you hip young urban conservative Christians , I know you think you can launder out your stench on this issue in the culture by doing other stuff, but you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s the shibboleth, the test of your cultural orthodoxy. Our politicians are calling you out ahead of time. It’s going to be confronting. It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to be far easier to sign onto Team Dan Andrews than it is Team Margaret Court.
And make no mistake, they are coming for you. It will no longer be a case that churches can keep silent in the public square and get on with a biblical sexual ethic in private. Leading the way will be the likes of former orthodox Christian, Steve Chalke, who, as this article in The Guardian shows, is only too happy to lead a band of brigands your way and kiss you on the cheek for good measure. After all, like all traitors, he knows the system inside out. He’s the best asset the likes of Dan Andrews could have!
Which is why I say if you’re busy scratching around for a nice way to say what the Bible teaches about sexual ethics, you’re wasting your time in this sexular age. It’s not your tone that is your problem, it’s your belief. And there’s a whole bunch of evangelicals who still don’t get that and are still wasting a lot of time figuring out how to make the unmentionable mentionable. Just lean into it people, it’ll be far better for you in the long run.
Anyway none of this is to scare you or alarm you, merely to inform you. All the scare and alarm is being done by the likes of Dan Andrews and those giving their gongs back. It’s what it is.
Some Christians will give in to the pressure and turn from a biblical Christian ethic for the sake of an easier life. Other will get angry and frustrated. Still others will plough on faithfully and be derided and sidelined for doing so. It has always been thus. We’re going to have to figure out a way to be joyful, living, generous, kind, holy, unsullied by siren calls from secular progressives and secular conservatives, and not afraid to take a cultural beating at the same time.
Besides all this, the gong we’re really looking for is the crown of life, given by King Jesus to those who overcome a time of testing for the sake of their faith (Revelation 2:10).
Despite the fact that Margaret Court’s manner gets on my nerves a little, she’s going to receive that crown when she faces the only court that matters – the one where King Jesus is Judge. And she’s going to hear “Well done good and faithful servant”, even if I think her tone isn’t all that helpful at times. And all those other gongs? They’ll be burned up and forgotten.
AndTwitter itself will be confined to hell. Where I am sure it will be gratefully received and enthusiastically employed.
Oh, and here’s a video overview of my book if you are thinking of buying a copy to read up further on these issues: