Making the rounds is a sharp observation by Flannery O’Connor: “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” How far we’ve come! More and more it seems, the fickle will of man is becoming the final arbiter of what is, of reality itself. Reality now must serve the “evolving standards” of a post-Christian culture and the isolated individuals who inhabit it. Not so long ago, nature and reason were understood as the guides by which man evaluated his existence and actions. Now however, a deceptive, suffocating and self-serving definition of freedom has taken root. You don’t have to look hard to see where this philosophy is manifesting itself. Recently, during a meeting with Neapolitan youth, Pope Francis strongly criticized “gender theory” as, “an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.” The Holy Father is echoing his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who also called out this dangerous ideology in characteristically clear words.
According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation.
So, Benedict, Francis and Flannery…there’s a trio to get behind!