On Trying to Make the Sexes Indistinguishable

On Trying to Make the Sexes Indistinguishable October 25, 2023

The Vatican is hosting a “Synod on Synodality.”  No, it has nothing to do with the Missouri Synod and its relationship with the Wisconsin Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  It is the latest version of the Synod of Bishops (“synod” meaning an assembly or council of church delegates, deriving from the Greek word for “on the road together”).  But, unlike other Synods of Bishops, in this one 21% of the voting delegates are not  bishops, but is including laymen and laywomen.

The gathering was preceded by local “listening” meetings designed to give grass-roots input into the council, whose purpose is to discern “What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together?’”  What that means specifically is a reconsideration of Catholic teachings, regarding authority and structure, but also regarding the role of women in the church (including ordination, if not to the priesthood to the diaconate),  LGBTQ issues, communion for divorced Catholics, and other contentious issues, mostly regarding sex and gender).  Conservative Catholics see it as a conclave orchestrated to support liberal Catholicism.

The Synod on Synodality has provoked one such conservative Catholic, the great Anthony Esolen (see this and this and this), to weigh in on the topic of sex and gender.  He has written a powerful article in the conservative Catholic periodical Crisis Magazine entitled Male and Female He Made Them.

You don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate what Esolen says.  Here is an excerpt (my bolds):

In my lifetime, almost all of the controversy regarding the relations of men and women to one another can be summed up in a sentence or two. It is held that there are not supposed to be any special relations between men and women, that men and women are interchangeable, that each sex owes no peculiar duty to the other, and that their spheres of characteristic action in the home, at work, in the neighborhood, in the larger society, and in the Church are exactly the same. Anything else is held to be but the residue of old and unjust ways, the mulish bigotry of the past.

Anyone who says that there are distinctions between the sexes that are profound and important, and that each sex is made for the other in a relationship characterized by interdependence, hierarchy, and equality all at once, is to be scorned or ignored or accused of being hateful (if male) or stupid (if female).

And, of course, this insistence not so much on equality as on indistinguishability, not so much on each sex’s assuming its rightful place as on neither sex’s having any rightful place at all, not so much on the beauty and wonder of male and female but on their meaninglessness, has played the devil with the Church, too. It is no surprise that the call to ordain (or to pretend to ordain) women as priests comes mainly from people who wish to marry (or to pretend to marry) a man with a man or a woman with a woman, or from people who seem to believe that a man can become a woman by asserting it, perhaps assisted by a mink coat and a full-length mirror.

Esolen then gives a stunning bit of evidence on how nature–that is, human nature–reasserts itself:

Yet, even now, I notice that nature reasserts herself when people are distracted by emergency. For example, in the accusations hurled back and forth between the supporters of Israel in the current war and the supporters of the Palestinians, regardless of the sexual politics of the accusers, the targeting of women and children is marked as peculiarly abhorrent and criminal. Imagine the officers on the Titanic keeping women and children at bay at gunpoint, crying out, “Men first!” And imagine a woman gently pushing her husband away from her, as her husband weeps freely, and she says, “Dear, you must go now. Get into the lifeboat. It’s my duty to stay.”

No, we acknowledge that women and children are to be protected because they are physically vulnerable and because they are the hope of the rising generation.

[Keep reading. . . .]

 

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