Until the last few decades, all civilizations and religious traditions affirmed the uniqueness of humankind and biological male and female identity. Marriage was reserved for relationships that (at least potentially) produced the next generation and secured the common good of the tribe or nation. Alongside this common heritage have been all kinds of permitted (and even religious) sexual behaviors, but the primacy of identity and family continuity were enshrined in law and tradition.
We are in the midst of post-rational, post-empirical, and post-human subversions of the created order. Subjective notions of “gender identity” trump all science and any questioning of another’s feelings leads to castigation and accusations of fomenting violence. Toleration is a one-way street with the purveyors of anarchism and nihilism, as they are dedicated to the complete subversion of the biological family and silencing of “cisgender” and “heteronormative” worldviews.
A trans-identifying person kills three adults and three children at a private school in Nashville, TN. Instead of universal mourning and normal investigations, advocates are making the perpetrator the victim and suppressing the manifesto behind this horrific attack. This is a complete inversion of the truth. We are now celebrating violence in the name of pseudo-historical oppressions.
Advocates for unlimited gender identities are also deliberately undermining the authority and influence of the biological and adoptive family structure. Using the public education system and social media, they assist struggling children and young adults with concealing their explorations from parents. Even worse, parents that will not affirm gender transitions are marked as abusive and these radicals want the state to remove transitioning children from their homes!
How did we get here? It is one thing to tolerate consenting private adult behaviors in a pluralistic society. From the 1970s to the 1990s, this was the major demand of advocates for alternative lifestyles. As each accommodation was met, more demands emerged, culminating in 2015, when the Supreme Court affirmed the right of monogamous gay marriage. OK, finally all people are now equal before the law, right? Wrong! Suddenly scores of identities and new victims are created out of whole cloth, and previous psychological disorders are now causes for celebration and consequential physical mutilation.
Until recently, gender dysphoria was a psychological disorder affecting less than one-half of one-percent of the population. Today, this has metastized to 10-20% of adolescents. The social pressure to “explore” has overtaken normal development where most outgrow any confusion. The notion that a child barely able to dress themselves can decide to change identities is utterly insane – yet this is being “affirmed” by elites, and any restrictions on exposing children to sexual content are regarding as fascist and “book burning.”
What do rational and religious people do in this moment? In the next article, I will propose compassionate and wise pathways forward. Here are some first thoughts toward a recovery of “normal.”
First, there is no place for bullying, intolerance, and violence as we affirm our convictions. Genuine liberty means living with our differences, not shutting down debate.
Second, toleration is not always affirmation. People of varying philosophical, political, and religious views can be good neighbors, even friends.
Third, defending the “normal” includes reminding the world that human identity, biological sex, and the importance of family are values shared by billions, not just White Christians in the USA.
Fourth, religious communities must exemplify love and justice and empower all women and men toward their full identity, purpose, and contributions to our world.
Fifth, we must build a coalition for protecting vulnerable children and adolescents from sexual materials that should only be for adults (and even then, the scourge of addiction to pornography is ignored by the radicals). Drag shows, sexualized books, school curricula, and social media content must not triumph over parental influence and the social good. We CAN teach kindness and toleration without inviting the vulnerable to “explore” what should only be adult decisions.
Sixth, we must weather the attacks and realize that the adversaries of what is good will ultimately devour themselves. We are seeing this as very liberal voices are being castigated for affirming female identity and resisting the trans invasion of bathrooms, private places, competitive sports, and other arenas that women have fought for parity with men.
Seventh, and most important: We must articulate a vision of being human that is liberating, rooted in virtue, and leads to flourishing for persons and communities. The gender debates are obscuring serious issues of economic and racial justice that need attention.
Friends, we are not bigoted, crazy, irrational, intolerant, or on the wrong side of history as we desire clarity concerning human identity, biological sex, and moral virtue. We now turn to articulating the beauty and wisdom of “normal.”