Pope Francis vs. Gender Ideology

In the end, reality always wins. An old saying has it that: God always forgives; man sometimes; Nature never.

In Krakow with the Polish bishops two weeks ago, Pope Francis declared that, “We are experiencing a moment of the annihilation of man as the image of God.” He specifically included within this defacement “[the ideology of] ‘gender’”. He was clearly outraged that, “Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex…And this [sic] terrible!”

Then he quoted Benedict XVI, who had said to him recently: “Holiness, this is the age of sin against God the Creator.” Francis’ response was that, “He is very perceptive. God created man and woman; God created the world in a certain way… and we are doing the exact opposite.”

Pope Francis is right to use the word “ideology” to define this “exact opposite.” The whole point of ideology is the transformation of reality. It seeks not to understand things, but to change them. A second or false reality is set up parallel to reality, which it then attempts to extinguish. At a certain stage, the destruction becomes literal, as was seen in the Gnostic Nazi and Communist enterprises of the 20thcentury. Scores of millions were killed in order to institute the faux realities of a race-based theory of history or a class-based theory of history.

The entire LGBT movement is similarly ideological as a gender-based theory of history, if evidently less destructive—though its denial of reality has cost the lives of scores of thousands of homosexuals and others due to HIV-AIDS and other physical ailments attendant to homosexual behavior. Aside from disease and death, how does the “gay” movement express the unreality of the “exact opposite”?

Consider what happens in an actively sexual homosexual relationship, in which sodomy is generally typical. In it, one man behaves toward another man as if that other man were a woman. The other man willingly pretends that he is a woman. For a man to pretend he is a woman is, to say the least, the antithesis of maleness. It is its denial. He is pretending to be a girl; he forsakes his masculinity. By Nature there is something cowardly and shameful in this. They are being less than men; they are being traitors to their sex. This is equally true of the one assuming the “male” role in the act of sodomy since he is also pretending the other man is a woman. The Supreme Court and the Obama administration now insist that we pretend along with them and accept the “exact opposite” as equivalent to, if not better than, the thing of which it is the opposite—meaning heterosexual marital relations.

With transgenderism, the play-acting, the pretend element, is sometimes taken a major step beyond cross-dressing with the attempted physical transformation of the male into a female, or the female into a male. Just when one thinks the deformity imposed by the ideology has reached its end, a new level of deformity is enacted with the surgical mutilation of what “God created [as] man and woman.” Once you accept a deranged premise, there is really no end to the absurdity it produces. For instance, a New York City Health Department form for new parents requesting birth certificates asks the “woman giving birth” if she is male or female.

We are told that one “discovers” that one is transgender just like one “discovers” that one is “gay.” In no way do I mean to deny that there are psychological disorders to which many so-called transgenders and homosexuals are subject through no choice of their own. The problem lies in not recognizing them as disorders, and then therefore accepting them as normative behavior that should be embraced and encouraged. Does one likewise “discover” that one is an adulterer, a thief or a drunkard? As a priest friend recently said to me, a temptation is not an identity. One makes it into an identity in order to rationalize the behavior occasioned by the un-resisted temptation. Steal often enough and your identity becomes “thief.” Habitually practice sodomy and your identity solidifies as “homosexual.” (I wrote a whole book on how this process works: Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything.)

Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director of DignityUSA, an inaptly named organization of LGBT “Catholics,” said, “… the pope doesn’t understand the danger that his words can mean for ‘gender-nonconforming people’”. But the Pope has shown that he profoundly understands exactly what nonconformance means and the danger it represents. In “Amoris Laetitia,” he warned of “an ideology of gender” as a threat to the family. “Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift,” he wrote. “At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.” In other words, conforming oneself to reality is a moral obligation. Refusal to conform oneself to reality is a revolt against it.

The problem, of course, is that “gender nonconforming” people are simply a small subset of a much larger group of “nonconforming” people—those who do not wish to conform themselves with reality as it exists. Their goal is to put themselves in relationship to reality as God was once thought to be in relationship to it. They would like themselves to be the cause of reality. They will constitute it and order it according to their will and wishes, as they have the power to do so. Like all human beings, they experience a profound lack within themselves—a hole in their souls, so to speak. They want to obtain control and power over those things which they think they lack, so that they can fill themselves with it. In this case, they are filled by themselves with themselves. 

Of course, this does not work. In order to understand why, they would have to restore the role of reason in their own lives, something they clearly do not wish to do. This is what Benedict XVI meant by this as “the age of sin against God the Creator.” They are traitors to being. Benedict XVI warned of the dire consequences: “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears.”

To find out why this is so, let us go one step deeper—in fact, to the foundation of things.  St. Thomas Aquinas said that God’s will proceeds from his intellect, and not the other way around. Nothing could be more important than this statement, though its profound significance may be difficult to grasp at first. Since God is Logos or Reason itself, St. Thomas said that “will follows upon intellect” (ST I.19.1). Reason rules; the will follows. What’s more, this is why man, made in the image of God, is morally obliged to rule himself by reason, and not by his passions or will. To do what is unreasonable is wrong—for example, physically disfiguring oneself. If on the other hand, the will is supreme over reason, then not only can God do anything—including against his own word—but so can man. He can will something to be the “exact opposite” of what it is. If reason is only a tool to serve his will, then it could be “reasonable” for a man to cut off his genitals and declare himself a woman, if he so wished it. Why not?

One should not get too discouraged by this revolt against being. It will fail. In the end, reality always wins. An old saying has it that: God always forgives; man sometimes; Nature never. Those who have been defying Nature—including the society that codifies this defiance and teaches it to its children—are in for a very harsh lesson.

About Robert R. Reilly 0 Articles
Robert R. Reilly was Senior Advisor for Information Strategy (2002-2006) for the US Secretary of Defense, after which he taught at National Defense University. He was the director of the Voice of America (2001-2002) and served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983-1985). A graduate of Georgetown University and the Claremont Graduate University, his books include The Closing of the Muslim Mind, Making Gay Okay, and Surprised by Beauty: A Listener's Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music.