My daughter’s high school required her to wear a black cardigan sweater. So off we went to a clothing store so that she could be in full conformity with the school’s dress code. The sales clerk, however, told us that none were in stock. Nonetheless, my daughter, while browsing, discovered exactly what she was looking for on the rack. “Oh, no,” mustered the sales clerk, “that one is for boys, the one for girls has buttons and button holes on the reverse side.” My daughter laughed. “Who’s going to know the difference?”
Was this an instance of stressing the difference between boys and girls a bit too much? There was a time when women were discouraged from smoking cigarettes, but men found it cool to light up. Full court basketball was fine for boys, but considered too strenuous for girls who were not allowed to stray from one side of the court to the other and were restricted to two dribbles per possession. Women wore makeup; men wore cologne. The male always led on the dance floor; women followed uncomplainingly. The suitor picked up the check; his date said, “Thank you, I had a wonderful evening.” Men went off to war; women stayed home and prayed for their beloved heroes.
Those days may be gone forever. With the arrival of transgendered people, the difference between the sexes has been blurred to the point of no longer being recognized, let alone honored or ritualized. A bill has been introduced in California that would hit store owners with a $1,000 fine if they separate “toys for boys” from “toys for girls.” In the interest of equality, the sexes are now regarded as identical. If one disagrees, there are penalties to be handed out. Nevertheless, the penalties for strict conformity will be far more severe.
The recent pro-abortion, LGBTQ “Equality Act” has passed the House, and pro-life leaders regard it as “the most comprehensive assault on Christianity ever written into law.” Having abolished the distinction between male and female, biological males can use the locker rooms, restrooms, and shower facilities that have always been reserved for females. The ramifications are extensive. According to Dr. Bill Donohue, Ph.D., pressure would be placed on Catholic foster care programs to conform or shut down: “They would either have to agree to allow two men to adopt children—a clear violation of Church teachings—or lose federal funding.” Similar pressure would be placed on Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins described the Equality Act as “a catastrophic loss of religious freedom in America.”
In a senate hearing for the post of Assistant Secretary of Health, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) questioned Biden’s nominee, who is a transgender “woman.” Paul offered an array of medical facts and personal testimonies underscoring the extreme inadvisability of performing genital mutilations on children who wanted to change their gender. The nominee, Dr. Rachel Levine, persisted in refusing to answer the specific question, “Do you oppose the mutilation of the genitalia of children?” Paul also asked, “Do you support government overriding parental consent on puberty blockers?” In dodging the issue, Dr. Levine reiterated that such a procedure is “complex” and “nuanced.”
The new notion of the equality between the sexes is exceedingly narrow. It is equality without windows. Men and women are certainly equal, but only in some ways. They are equal in humanity and equal under the law, to cite but two examples. But their equality has an altruistic side to it, which is akin to looking out the window and seeing a vast array of things. Equality is not incompatible with complementarity. In fact, and throughout history, complementarity has been a powerful and positive force in bringing men and women together and forming the basis of marriage and the family. The new notion of equality is stilted, truncated, reduced, emaciated, and without windows.
The notion of complementarity, so hateful to contemporary Democrats, abortionists, and the LGBTQ consortium, gives added quality to mere equality. Men and women, according to no less an authority as Genesis were made with special differences so that they could fulfill each other. The man initiates, the woman receives. But his initiative need not be aggressive, nor is her receptivity necessarily passive. They are, as the poet Browning stated, “Two halves of a severed soul.” Sociologist Margaret Mead contends that “If any human society…is to survive, it must have a pattern of social life that comes to terms with the differences between the sexes” (Male and Female, p. 173). Opposing these differences points toward cultural anarchy.
The notion of complementarity is vital apart from the specific relationship that obtains between male and female. Parents and their children complement each other. The former bring their experience, love, and knowledge to their offspring who are in critical need of these gifts. Children, contrary to TV sitcoms, are not wiser and more capable than their parents. Teachers and students have a naturally complementary relationship. The art of teaching is different than the art of learning. The teacher is the motivator, the student is the ardent learner. The medical doctor is the complement of his patient. The patient does not make the diagnosis, or perform the surgery.
In general, the complementary relationship is mutually fulfilling. We all have needs that we cannot fulfill by ourselves. The concept of equality without windows is essentially anti-society as well as anti-personal. We live and grow and mature thanks to the benefits that we draw from our complementary opposites. And the most dynamic and universal of all of these relationships is complementarity of the sexes. Pope Saint John XXIII expressed the matter simply and accurately: “Men and women are equal in dignity, complementary in mission.”
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