Tribulation Saint

Historic Christianity in the Twenty First Century

Tag: Radical Feminism

THE HUMAN TRAGEDY OF SIN

4.2.7

Frans Hals: Young Man with a Skull

“There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of way of death.”

(Prov. 14:12; 16:25; NKJV)

 

King Solomon was a man who had seen a lot during his lifetime, and writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his collected wisdom is found in the Book of Proverbs.  And the proverb before us encapsulates a pertinent observation about human behavior.  “There is a way that seems right to a man.”  The “way” is the path of life in life down which we choose to go.  And for many of us there is a particular path that “seems right” – it looks like just the thing we want.  It looks enticing and advantageous.  It appeals to our sense of self-interest.  “But its end {final outcome] is the way of death.”  It eventually leads to destruction and death.  What started out looking very promising turned out in the end to be a disaster.

Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the course of modern Western history.  The ‘60’s were a time of radical experimentation and change.  The Viet Nam War had provoked a widespread revolt against “the Establishment” which came to a head during the Chicago riots of 1968.  Disillusioned many turned to “sex and drugs and rock-n-roll,” culminating in the Woodstock Festival of 1969.  President Nixon managed to get us out of the war by 1973, and the anti-war protests died down.  The hippies of the late ‘60’s graduated from college and became the “Yuppies” of the ‘70’s – young, upwardly mobile professionals  seeking to climb the corporate ladder.

But in many ways the legacy of the ‘60’s remains today.  The sexual revolution and radical feminism changed the way Americans looked at sex, gender roles and marriage.  In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in a decisive break with Judeo-Christian morality.  And the Stonewall Riot of 1969 marked the beginning of the Gay Rights movement.

But where has all of this led us?  Today 40% of all live births in America are to unmarried women (in 1970 it was 10.7%), and 23% of all children are living in households headed by a single female parent.  The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan could cite studies that showed that children from single parent families were far more likely to do poorly in school, live in poverty, and become involved in crime (Family and Nation, 1986).  We have created social dysfunction on a massive scale.

The underlying problem lies in the philosophical assumptions of the Cultural Revolution of the ‘60’s.  Unlike prior reform movements such as the Abolitionism of 1830’s – 50’s or the Progressive Movement of the early 20th Century, the young rebels of the ‘60’s basically took a secular approach to social reform.  There was no clear-cut, unifying ideology, but there were several influences at work.  One of them was Neo-Marxism.  Karl Marx had predicted a social revolution based on an economic class conflict.  But by the 1950’s his predictions had largely turned out to be false.  The Proletariat had not risen up and overthrown the Bourgeoisie in a violent revolution.  Marx’s theory was then redefined in terms of social and cultural conflict.  People are oppressed and dehumanized by the “bourgeois” values of middle class America.  This set the stage for identity politics: one disadvantaged group after another felt oppressed by the white, patriarchal, Eurocentric Establishment.

Another major influence at work in the ‘60’s was Existentialism.  Here the emphasis was on the radical autonomy of the individual.  Concrete human existence precedes any defining essence.  There is no divinely established order to the universe, and therefore we should be free to define ourselves as we please.  The Existential influence was especially felt in the Feminist Movement through the writing of Simone de Beauvoir.  Gender roles are artificial and oppressive and should be discarded.  This eventually led to the LGBT movement and the idea that we should be allowed to choose our own gender.

And behind all of this lies the legacy of the Romantic Movement with its emphasis on individual freedom and self-expression.  And it undoubtedly had a special appeal to Americans with our heritage of freedom, democracy and free-market Capitalism.  It suited the consumer mentality of a generation that grew up in the prosperity of the ‘50’s and could take a comfortable middle-class lifestyle for granted.

The problem with all of this, however, was its secularism.  Both Neo-Marxism and Existentialism were atheistic.  In our sin and rebellion we refuse to acknowledge God as our Creator and Lord.  We want social justice, but refuse to accept God as the source of morality.  But on a secular basis it is virtually impossible to establish any kind of spiritual reality that would allow us to escape from the materialism of modern industrial society.  We wound up replacing the materialistic “bourgeois” values of our parents with “sex and drugs and rock-n-roll.”  We replaced materialism with outright hedonism. It was hardly the triumph of idealism.

But we are still human beings created in the image of God, and we are still accountable to Him.  In the end sin never benefits anyone.  At first it holds out the prospect of freedom and pleasure.  But in the end there is a long trail of broken relationships, ruined health and wrecked finances, and eventually eternal destruction.  We live in a universe created by God; and when we ignore His laws and go our own ways, we invite disaster.  That was the tragedy of the ‘60’s, and that is the tragedy today.  Calling sin “sin” is not being hateful or bigoted – it is simply giving an honest diagnosis in hope of a cure.

“There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its way is the way of death.”

 

THE END OF GENDER?

           This week the world stared in astonishment at the cover of Vanity Fair magazine which features former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner posing as a woman in a corset. The sight has prompted admiration from some, sympathy from others, and outrage from still others.

What are we to make of all of this? What is in view here is a stark contrast between two opposing views of human sexuality. But behind these two different views of sex there looms an even larger contrast between two different worldviews. Jenner’s actions strike right at the core of human existence: who are we as human beings, in what kind of universe do we live, and is there any universal set of norms to which we are required to conform?

We need to be perfectly clear about one thing: genetically Jenner is still a male human being – he has both “X” and “Y” chromosomes. He was born a male, he competed successfully as a male athlete, he was married to women three times and fathered several children by them. Physically he was a normal male human being. His decision to transition to a woman was based on his feelings and emotions.

Jenner says that he has suffered since youth from Gender Dysphoria, or Gender Identity Disorder, as it used to be called. What makes this claim a little hard to accept is that boys with Gender Dysphoria are typically effeminate, whereas Jenner went on to star in athletics. He did engage in cross-dressing years ago, but that might indicate a different condition known as “transvestic fetishism.”

But let us assume for the sake of the argument that Jenner really does suffer from Gender Dysphoria. There is a great deal of discussion and debate about what exactly causes this disorder, and many psychologists will say that it is still something of a mystery. There is evidence, however, that it is the result of a problem in early childhood socialization. An individual’s gender identity develops between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, and during that time a child’s relationships with his parents and peers is critical. In boys an overly possessive mother and a detached father is a common pattern.

But granted the diagnosis, what should the treatment have been? Logically we would think that there would be two choices: 1) try to change the mind to match the body, or 2) change the body to match the mind. Jenner chose the latter course.

But Jenner’s decision raises some profoundly disturbing moral questions. Does it matter what gender we are? Are we free to choose whatever gender we like? What kind of impact does that have on other family members, or society at large?

The transgender movement is the logical outgrowth of radical feminism, with its denial of gender roles. Radical feminism, in turn, is rooted in Existentialist philosophy, which held that existence precedes essence. In other words, as we come into the world (presumably through a blind, impersonal, natural process) we simply exist – we have no particular identity or “essence.” Our identity we acquire through our interaction with other human beings. Therefore in order to be truly free and equal we must create our own identity and force society to accept us as we are. Thus feminist pioneer Simone de Beauvoir could write, “it must be repeated once more that in human society nothing is natural and that woman, like much else, is a product elaborated by civilization . . . Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the action of others than herself” (The Second Sex, Conclusion). Thus society must be changed in order for women to be truly free and equal.

But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Should men be confined to specific gender roles? Why should anybody be constrained to think or act or dress a certain way – or sleep with a member of the opposite sex for that matter? Thus, the logic goes, Bruce Jenner should be allowed to change his gender if he so desires. The mere fact that he was born a biological male should not constrain him to be one as an adult.

All of this, however, presupposes that God does not exist, and that therefore there is no reason or purpose for anything in life. But what if God does exist? Everything then would have a specific purpose and meaning because it was created by an intelligent Supreme Being. Sex exists for a specific reason and purpose, and we are not free to manipulate it any way we want in order to suit our own selfish desires.

Gender, in fact, is something created by God. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (Gen. 1:27; NKJV). Eve was created to be “a helper comparable to” Adam (Gen. 2:18,20), and together they were to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28). Thus men and women are different from each other (by design), and they have different roles which complement each other. Thus together a husband and a wife form a functioning family unit. But in order for the family to function the way it is supposed to both the husband and the wife have to fulfill the specific gender roles assigned to them.

One might be tempted to look at Bruce Jenner and sympathize with him. But where does that leave the rest of society? If we create the impression that there are no rules, that anything goes, then no one will feel obligated to do anything he doesn’t feel like doing. How, then, will anyone make a marriage work or successfully raise children? In showing compassion for one person we create a dysfunctional society, and in solving one individual’s problem we create a myriad of other problems. The latter end is worse than the former. Can we as a society afford to suffer the consequences?