In an article appearing on Today’s Catholic, Theresa Farnan, PhD, adjunct professor at Franciscan University and Mary Rice Hasson, fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., say the controversy over “bathroom bills” goes much deeper than just insuring that transgendered people feel like they belong in society.
“ . . . [W]hile bathroom politics grab headlines, they are indicators of a much deeper conflict,” they write, and one which was pointed out in Pope Francis’ recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
“Pope Francis — a champion of inclusivity — points to the source of the problem: gender ideology. He warns that gender ideology ‘denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family… Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time’.
“Pope Francis sees gender ideology as a grave threat — to the family, to the very idea of what it means to be human, and thus to the Church’s mission of evangelization.”
Before we can defend ourselves against this menace, we need a better understanding of gender ideology and how irreconcilable it is with the Christian understanding of the person.
Farnan and Hasson highlight just a few key differences.
“First, as Christians, we know the person is a unity of body and soul. In contrast, gender ideology ruptures that unity, fragmenting the person: it posits gender as socially constructed, with no inherent connection between the person’s body (male or female), internal sense of self (gender identity) or outward expression of masculinity or femininity.
“Second, Genesis 1:27-28 teaches that, ‘male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply.’ Sexual difference matters to us — it’s part of the intrinsic goodness of God’s creation, has meaning and value, and lies at the heart of marriage. Only love expressed through the sexual difference of husband and wife is intrinsically and inseparably ordered to creating new life. Gender ideology erases sexual difference (facilitating marriage redefinition); without sexual difference, human sexuality is disconnected from procreation, and sex becomes an individualized pursuit of passing pleasure.
“Third, as beings created by God out of love, we recognize that our dignity is rooted in our ‘creation in the image and likeness of God’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1700). But gender ideology suggests that people, in effect, create themselves; each person defines ‘who they are,’ choosing a gender identity that feels authentic (regardless of anatomy or conformity to the natural law).”
They go on to call gender ideology a “tsunami that’s already hit the shore” and one that is tossing many people – both young and old – into a churning sea of confusion.
For example, sports stars, celebrities, and mainstream media are suddenly touting the fairness of allowing people to choose their own gender. Children are being taught in schools to reject the gender binary of male and female and accept a broad spectrum of gender identities which are couched in “anti-bullying” programs that present homosexuality and gender nonconformity as normal and healthy. Therapists, physicians and educators normalize “choose-your-own” sexual identity and behavior through sex education and counseling. All the while religious and moral perspectives are silenced as judgmental or intolerant.
To make matters worse, banks, corporations and sports associations (e.g., Wells Fargo, Target and the NFL) are now resorting to pressure tactics and advertising to normalize “diverse” (LGBT) family forms and influence government policy to conform to gender ideology. Employers and universities are mandating trainings where “hetero-normativity” is disparaged and gender ideology and various sexualities are promoted.
“Not surprisingly, the aggressive ‘mainstreaming’ of gender ideology is having its desired effect: according to a 2015 Fusion survey, the majority of millennials believe gender is ‘fluid’,” Farnon and Hasson report.
And as a result, many people are being pressured to not only recognize gender ideology but to affirm it.
This is a challenge that must be met head-on!
First, we must acknowledge that the rapid advance of gender ideology will require strategic thinking within the Church on multiple fronts, from law, healthcare and counseling to education, catechesis and ministry.
Even more importantly, we must remember that “We have truth to guide us and abundant grace to fortify us,” they remind. “As we search for ways to counter the culture and to protect our rights in the public square, we have to hold even more surely to the virtue of hope, so essential for the mission of the family. Pope Francis in a 2013 homily reminds us that families, united in prayer and imbued with the joy of the Gospel, have a unique role in evangelizing society.
“Christian families are missionary families … bringing to everything the salt and leaven of faith … the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.”
Regardless of how difficult the times might be, our God has given us all that we need to conquer the darkness with the light of Christ.
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