Crossing the Wires

Recently my state, Rhode Island, became the second in the nation to ban discrimination against people who have employed surgery and massive doses of hormones to form upon their bodies parodies of the sex God saw fit not to give them. Justices in California, meanwhile, overruling the little wards of that state (once upon a time called “free people”), have exercised their divine right and decreed that couples who do not possess the wherewithal to marry shall do so anyway.
 

Not to be outdone — and knowing full well that to allow homosexual “marriage,” biologically absurd and a new thing in the history of mankind, one must of course accept polygamy, biologically feasible and very old indeed — the philosopher Martha Nussbaum has argued that it is time to let “polyamorists” fling the doors of the boudoir wide open, come one, come all. For a Canadian court, though, even a three-way marriage vow equipped with adapters is too onerous for people looking for quick kicks. It is unconstitutional, the court intoned, to shut down a public swingers’ club merely on the grounds of “moral taste,” rather than for proven “harm.”

The irrational tics of taste are what sexual activity is all about, according to a British text handed out to schoolchildren, wherein they are to learn that some people enjoy, well, what used to be called “buggery,” and some people don’t, just as some people enjoy “ham and cheese sarnies” and some people don’t. From Ferdinand and Miranda to this.


And what is my Church doing to drive back the barbarians? Hard to tell. If you’re at one of the local Catholic high schools here in Rhode Island, you’re being enrolled on the other side, but slyly, and without your clear consent. According to the book Building Your Own Conscience by Rev. William O’Malley, S.J. — a popular high school text for pretended moral catechesis — the only objective difference between males and females is genital. That’s it. Father O’Malley has never been to a neuropsychology lab, or to a criminal forensics lab. Or to a choir, a beach, a dugout — you name it. His book consistently (and cruelly) scoffs at the beauty of traditional manhood and womanhood, especially manhood, and perversely argues that you can’t really be a man or a woman until you have developed the inner woman or man.
The ideal, though many people (especially boys and men) will be too blockheaded to see it, is androgyny. So Father O’Malley quotes with approval the warrioress against boys, Carol Gilligan, and the despiser of housewives, Simone Beauvoir. The whole sexual order was collapsing around him back in the Seventies, and what does he single out for execration? What hurt the family worst of all? Not no-fault divorce, not a culture of fornication. Not hedonism, not the new mechanization of sex. No, it was The Waltons — that odd mix of nostalgia, family duty, and treacly liberalism.
But I shouldn’t focus on one bad book. When you are being routed from the battlefield, an extra deserter here and there doesn’t make much difference. Where, in the midst of all this confusion, does the Church raise her clear voice in defense not simply of man’s supernatural end, but of the holiness of our created nature as man and woman, made for one another? I’m not speaking now of the valiant popes, but of the rest of us, pastors, teachers, catechists, fathers, and mothers. Do we even know what is at stake here?
It is not just a matter of providing “rights” to a few people with their sexual wires crossed. It is a matter of defending what it is to be human, against those who would unmoor man from both his physical nature and God, leaving him helpless on both sides. Man shall be his own god, whisper the serpents, building his own conscience. But that makes it all the easier for him to slide back into the animal, while his “tastes” are managed by an elite corps of technocrats and social workers, changing his diapers from womb to tomb. Trusting to soar above his nature, he will sink lower than ever, and when his freedoms are taken away one by one, he will have no name of God to invoke against his tyrannical helpers.
We have now not even the severe pagan philosophies of Greece and Rome to assist us; education has seen to that. We will reject our sexes, design ourselves, plot out our offspring, even hybridize them for commercial or medical or economic purposes, and, strutting like little gods, demote ourselves in the very act of “transcending” nature, becoming tools and products, petty, absurd, programmed, obsolete.

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Anthony Esolen is the author or translator of 28 books, most recently In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John (Angelico Press), No Apologies: How Civilization Depends upon the Strength of Men (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord, a book-length poem made up of 100 poems centered on the life of Christ. He has also begun a web magazine called Word and Song, on classic hymns, poetry, language, and film. He is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts.

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