After three decades of faithful service to his patients, British physician David Mackereth was not only relieved of his duties, but also chastised in court and in the press for holding beliefs “incompatible with human dignity.”
What controversial positions did this doctor hold that rendered his medical experience no longer useful in the 21st century? Mackereth refused to call a male patient (described as being 6’2” and sporting a beard) “she” and “Mrs.” He insisted that a genetically male patient not be viewed as (or treated as) a female.
“No doctor, or researcher, or philosopher can demonstrate or prove that a person can change sex,” Mackereth said. “My 30 years as a doctor are now considered irrelevant compared to the risk that someone else might be offended.”
Perhaps not incidentally, Mackereth is a Christian. While his scientific bias against gender fluidity was (in the popular press, at least) controversial enough, the fact that Mackereth also defended his position using Scripture clearly undermined attempts to salvage his job at a Birmingham, England, medical facility.
“It is deeply disturbing that this is the first time in the history of English law that a judge has ruled that free citizens must engage in compelled speech,” observed Andrea Williams, an attorney representing Mackereth.
The 21st century is different from all other generations, at least in this way: We are living in the first era of an international attempt to suppress moral knowledge. I refer to the widespread cultural abandonment of belief in “natural law.” How do we know this is happening in the Western world? In addition to cases like that of Dr. Mackereth, the list of examples grows.
In the classroom, through the media, in our entertainment, and via rigidly enforced corporate policies, accommodation of clear moral truth is being squelched with unrelenting pressure. America’s founders (and thought leaders throughout history) often referred to our knowledge of right and wrong as “natural law.” Phrases such as “self-evident truth,” “higher law,” or “the laws of nature and nature’s God” were terms used to describe the awareness of right or wrong known to all people.
Source of moral knowledge
Natural law doesn’t mean that people always do what is right. But deep down, in our conscience, people really do know what’s right. This has been amply documented by many scholars, persuasively arguing that humans are a species uniquely “hardwired” with the ability to know right from wrong.
In his 1943 classic The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis documents precepts of the moral codes held by major cultures throughout history, all of which strongly echo the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20.
Humans are moral creatures, yet no scientific theory can account for why humans are born knowing right from wrong. The Bible points out that God universally embedded moral awareness within the human psyche. Romans 2:14-15 states, “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.”
Moral awareness makes each person accountable to God, our Creator. In addition to our moral conscience, common sense tells people of all cultures and ethnicities that males and females are different. The increasingly-enforced LGBTQ message is counter-intuitive and counter-reality. Yet pro-LGBTQ activists deem disagreement with their message an act of violence on par with physical assault. Their lobbying of corporations and government entities to make policies more accepting of LGBTQ demands has been incredibly successful.
All of this mitigation against morality endangers not only the well-being and eternal souls of people, but it gravely undermines the preservation of the U.S. Constitution. The cultural call to sexual license and gender fluidity is not the innocuous path to personal “freedom” our nation is being led to believe. Abandonment of known truth comes with painfully high costs: The lives and souls of people, and (ultimately) our protected freedoms from the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Torture of moral confusion
One of the jobs I worked during grad school was as assistant manager of a Christian bookstore. Ministry opportunities seemed to walk through the store’s door daily, and one unforgettable person we met I’ll call “Russ.”* He would come to the bookstore many times per week, and he struggled with many things. Physical abuse that went back to childhood had taken a severe toll on this young man.
For Russ, the peace of Christ and a stable spiritual walk seemed very elusive. Russ one day informed us that he was from then on to be called “Courtney.”* The real answer to his problems, Russ was convinced, was to become a woman. Shortly after, Russ told us that he was now living with people who truly loved him – but only as Courtney.
He let us know that his new community had a different understanding of Scripture than we had been sharing. His visits to our store became less common. The last time we saw Russ, my wife and I begged him to seek counseling.
Sometime later, newspaper headlines reported that Russ’s death was an unsolved case. The tragic stories surrounding his death will not be repeated here; whether or not he was murdered, committed suicide, or died accidentally was never known.
But in the gender fluid climate of the 21st century, this is certain: Christians who tried to help Russ would today be accused of hate crimes for refusing to encourage the dark, destructive identity of Courtney. For trying to help this young man trust God’s design for his life, we would be guilty of “misgendering.” We had taken Russ/Courtney into our homes, our lives, and our hearts. But progressives today would say that the Christian context we offered amounted to “acts of violence.”
Statement of moral certainty
Because there is this universal witness of God written on every heart, Romans 1:20 contains some very sobering words: “People are without excuse.” Before the Almighty, we are accountable. Perhaps this accountability to God – and not just ourselves – is why many in our culture wish there were no “natural moral law.” This is certainly what John 3:19 indicates: “[M]en loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
John’s Gospel contains the indictment over man’s love for sin, but John 3:16 records God’s intervention to save us from our guilt: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The most morally correct (and wisest) thing anyone may ever do is to respond to the gospel in faith and obedience.
*Names changed to preserve privacy.
Alex McFarland is co-host of Exploring the Word heard daily on the American Family Radio Network. His newest book, Moral Decay: The Real Cultural Threat No One Talks About, will be released by Charisma Publishing this spring. Learn more about his books, apologetics ministry, and conferences at alexmcfarland.com or 877-937-4631.
This article originally ran in the January/February 2020 print edition of The AFA Journal. The full AFA Journal online edition is here.