Christians understand that we have a duty of faithfulness to the truth, regardless of the perversions of law. It may mean exclusion from much of society, loss of jobs, friends and family, religious institutions, freedom to speak the truth, fines and even for some incarceration. But we know that our trials will finally redound to God’s glory, and he will cause lies, and the suffering they cause, to fall in the end.
Previously this writer reviewed the analysis of the Supreme Court’s Bostock vs. Clayton County decision (2020) by Professor David Crawford of the Catholic University of America. This decision made sexual orientation and gender identity part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He showed that its logic imposes on society a metaphysics of self-determination, which is finally incoherent.
Crawford then discussed some of the implications this incoherent ideology has for society. He said that gender ideology, by denying human nature, results in the loss “of social order, as well as obviously, the family.” Both the larger social order and the family are “in profound ways, mediated by sexuality,” Crawford said. The fragmentation of gender ideology arises from “the modern liberal order,” which fosters “a narrative of perpetual liberation, there has to be more and more liberation … The body stands in the way of total liberation” as “a sign of my givenness.” To achieve more liberation it is necessary to set aside “the relatedness inscribed in our bodies.” But the real self “is structured by that givenness,” which is ultimately given “by God.” One’s identity as a man, or as a woman, are unintelligible except for the existence of the opposite sex. This givenness of the body “ties me into human society as a whole.”
In place of traditional, fixed institutions of marriage and the family, the operative law of today’s society, Crawford said, is really a materialist perspective on humanity. This regards the body as a collection of “subpersonal” body parts, plus an “abstract subjectivity.” The result is that the body is simply used ‘to project” the subjectivity of individuals. The body becomes “the propaganda of the self.”
Hadley Arkes, Founder of the James Wilson Institute who interviewed Crawford, observed that the modern attack on human sexual nature is tied to the therapeutic revolution. This is concerned with “matters of self-esteem involved in the wounding of persons.” It was observed that psychiatrists have given up trying to discern truth and instead try to help people make sense of their experiences in the interest of compassion.
In a question and answer segment, Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame University said that the Bostock decision derives from the same sources as the Obergefell decision (and the earlier Casey decision and its “mystery clause”). The underlying belief is that righteousness involves structuring our personal reality as we desire regardless of any evident natural order. Involved is a “worship of interior experience.” Bradley characterized the contemporary malaise of sexual reality as the “suffering solipsist,” which is at the bottom of civil liberties jurisprudence.
In answer to a written question, Crawford said that intersex persons (with no clear male/female chromosomal and/or anatomical structure) indeed exist in the image of God, but are “anomalous situations.” We should “compassionately embrace” them, keeping in mind that anomalies are only intelligible as anomalies by reference to the basic categories of male and female.
Another questioner asked whether the Casey decision’s “mystery clause” (which gives one the right to define reality) also applies to believers in traditional sexual morality, particularly in the workplace. Crawford seemed to indicate no, because they are adherents of ideas deemed oppressive. He said that the logic of the Bostock decision is that not only does one have the right to dress or act as a member of the opposite sex, but also to require the employers, co-workers, and perhaps even customers and the wider society to accept one’s self-definition. It really involves the denial of truth and reality in the interest of self-will. This, in effect, “enforces a kind of dishonesty on people.”
Requiring action against conscience is actually an attempt to change conscience by its violation. Crawford observed a comment of Bishop Fulton Sheen: “if you don’t act as you believe, you will soon believe as you act.” He also referred to Aristotle, who maintained that “our actions and our words form us.” Crawford said that Gorsuch holds in the Bostock decision that we are “free to believe what we believe as long as we don’t oppress someone else who believes differently. In fact what he’s demanding is ultimately that we believe the anthropology [of self-determination] that is presupposed in his decision, and no variation will be allowed from this.” Crawford said that this is ultimately “thought control.” It is an effort to control thought made by forced speech and action.
But self-determination and egalitarianism are in fact destroying what they are trying to liberate, as all radical revolutions do.