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Matt Walsh speaks at Hillsdale on Sept. 15. | Wiki­media

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.