Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Putting words into the Pope's mouth ... again

Did you hear about Pope Benedict XVI's 2012 Christmas address to his Curia, where he attacked same sex unions, adoption of children by homosexual couples, and such? Yeah, me, too. Only he didn't.

Instead, as this makes clear, he never mentions the words "homosexual," "sex," "gay," "lesbian," or the like. Don't believe me? Click on the link, hit Ctrl-F, and do a search for any of these terms.

If His Holiness is attacking anything, it is the notion that gender is merely a social construct that each individual can change based on nothing more than whim. In other words, if this theory is accurate, I can change my name from "Brian" to "Briana."

Benedict essentially starts off by saying it is "clear that the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human."

He then muses on whether society any more requires that which has always served as the foundation for the family.
The challenges [to the family] ... are manifold. First of all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment also worth suffering for? [These are great questions because they echo exactly what many are saying in our society, don't they?] Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it.
He then says something quite alarming:
Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.
He proceeds to reference Gilles Bernheim, France's Chief Rabbi, who has written a paper, "Mariage homosexuel, homoparentalité et adoption: ce que l’on oublie souvent de dire" (roughly translated as "Homosexual marriage, homosexual parenting, and adoption: What we frequently forget to mention").
While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. 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.
Benedict makes clear that this is not at all his opinion by pointing out that, "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."

Here is why this is wrong:
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. [i.e., man makes himself God] 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.
He concludes his argument by noting, "Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him [Family is ultimately about the child]. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. 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 defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man." [Do secular humanists understand this? Are they capable of acknowledging it? I'm just asking/am sincerely curious.]

Now is the Pope against same sex marriage? You bet (although Andrew Sullivan takes this same text and laughably tries to prove otherwise, and he concludes that the Holy Father can't see those with same sex attractions as "human beings," the same man who helped craft the Catechism's section on homosexuality, which says quite clearly they are human persons ... incredible; the woundedness this bespeaks is hard for me to fathom). Does the Holy Father think adoption by same sex couples is a bad idea because it robs children of the complimentarity that only having both a mother and father can bring? To use a very precise theological term, "Duh!" Does His Holiness hope society will gets its act together and realize the threat to the family posed by things such as same sex marriage, but also heterosexual cohabiting and the huge number of broken homes in western society? Undoubtedly.

But this part of the address was not about any of these things (indeed, not a single part was). Rather, it was about how the worst threat to the family is the push to redefine gender as maleable and simply a socially imposed construct/decision that we now have the ability to make for ourselves.

And you know what? Benedict's right. If redefining gender really is the foundational issue, if, as he indicates pace Bernheim, same sex unions et al are simply symptoms growing from this poisonous root, we ought to be scared to such an extent that we won't have to use the latrine for quite some time.

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