I remember being really surprised when I first heard that some of my friends dislike Matt Walsh, especially my conservative Christian friends. I had read a few of his blog posts and found his straightforward, unapologetic, logical arguments for the truth refreshing. I felt similarly at times when I heard him speak in Phillips auditorium on Sept.15. He’s praised for his boldness, and yes, he doesn’t hold back. He criticizes fellow conservatives for not getting to the heart of serious issues. As he said last week, “There are logical arguments conservatives can make, but they won’t make them.”
With the exception of some religious differences, I don’t know of any area where I disagree with Matt Walsh. However, his brazen approach upsets both those who agree with him and those who do not because Walsh does not present himself as loving his neighbor.
There are exceptions to this rule. At the end of Walsh’s speech, he took some questions from the audience. A student asked him if a vote for Trump (Walsh mentioned his opposition to the Republican candidate in his speech) is justified given that he has promised to appoint a pro-life Supreme Court judge. Walsh replied that this was the only compelling reason he found to vote for Trump, insisting that he respected the student’s opinion, though he disagreed. Walsh made his case and concluded again with a message of respect, a word he used repeatedly, adding “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” I was pleasantly surprised. He is capable of adamantly defending his convictions in a gracious, courageous, and honest voice.
Nonetheless, the tendency to sound unloving was demonstrated well in a side comment Walsh made when he spoke here on campus. He was talking about important issues that conservatives need to be more vocal about, including transgenderism. Walsh didn’t deny that conservatives are right to be concerned about women’s safety in bathrooms, but he claimed that this isn’t the real battle we should be fighting. The bigger issue is that men and women are different, and we’re created to be different, and someone who is biologically male doesn’t get to decide to be female.
While I agree, what struck me was a remark Walsh made about transgender people. The only thing he said about trans people specifically is that they’re “mentally ill,” offering this as a further reason that “transwomen” shouldn’t be allowed in women’s rooms. While this is a valid point, it is not a helpful argument to make if you want to actually convince someone who disagrees, and it should never be the only thing you say about trans people if you are speaking from a place of love.
That said, Walsh is correct. Gender dysphoria is a mental illness, and there are instances in which it is dangerous to allow “transwomen” into the lady’s room. Recently, at Virginia High School in Minnesota, a biologically male student who identifies as female sexually harassed female students on multiple occasions as they changed in a locker room. These girls had nowhere to escape to, since the student was legally allowed in every womens’ bathroom and locker room, prompting 11 families to file a lawsuit against the school district.
This anecdote may seem powerful to someone who already believes in segregating bathrooms based on anatomy, but on its own, it is not likely to convince someone who fights for the rights of transgendered people out of compassion. Walsh made the case that this is probably not true for politicians, and he may be right, but it is true for most of the normal people who support trans rights. We can never convince those people that we love transgendered people too if we don’t address or refer to them in a loving way.
Instead, Christians should say, “my heart breaks for people with gender dysphoria, but I support bathroom bills like the one in North Carolina out of safety concerns, and because I believe men and women are fundamentally different.” Additionally, we might try to say, “the best way to love trans people is to encourage them not to transition, because they frequently become very depressed and suicidal afterward. They can be much happier if they learn to be comfortable as they are, and we should help them get there.”
Conservatives like Matt Walsh could be a lot more effective if they consistently focused on what motivates the opposition. By looking at our arguments differently, and framing them in a way that demonstrates our compassion for others, we can articulate our values clearly without changing our beliefs. Christians, are called to love. They’re called to stand for the truth, too. They should show care for their neighbors, because Christians cannot convince them any other way.