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The Bad Theology of Gender Ideology
Gnosticism rearing its ugly head
As usual, I was reading Thomas Merton the other day. Currently, I am slowly making my way through Contemplative Prayer, the last book Merton wrote before his untimely death.
As I was reading, one section stood out to me for the way it can easily be interpreted as a commentary on today’s society-wide identity crisis.
Under the pretext that what is “within” is in fact real, spiritual, supernatural, etc., one cultivates neglect and contempt for the “external” as worldly, sensual, material and opposed to grace. This is bad theology and bad asceticism. In fact it is bad in every respect, because instead of accepting reality as it is, we reject it in order to explore some perfect realm of abstract ideals which in fact has no reality at all.
Merton, for his part, was writing specifically about monks (though with the acknowledgment that the book would have a wider relevance). Obviously, since what I think and write most about is gender identity, I saw most of the parallels here, though I believe it could be applied to the way many people simply approach the world today in general.
In relation to gender ideology itself, the ideologues champion exactly this kind of reversal—that the interior is real and the exterior is unreal. “Gender identity,” when its proponents deign to try to define it, is described as an inner knowing or a strongly held belief or feeling. This turns into not only a decreased focus on the physical (and hence absurdities like men on women’s sports teams) but often a downright hatred of it (via barbaric surgical procedures).
The “perfect realm of abstract ideals” in gender ideology is the realm of soul-like “gender identities” that supersede the sensual and the material. These gender identities are supposed to override people’s sexual orientations, our sense of fairness and safety, and even our very eyes. The actual physical bodies of others are not supposed to matter in any way whatsoever.
If you think that physical bodies do matter, then you are accused of hatred. It can be shocking the first time one encounters this histrionic accusation, but it makes perfect sense when you see it as projection. The people who ascribe reality only to their subjective internal reality have contempt, as Merton says, for the external world. Because you acknowledge and live in the external world, they hate you too.
Gender ideologues and the woke have no right to force this religious stance on us and act like we are bad people if we don’t accept it. No, I don’t accept it. The external, physical world matters, whether you want to look at it from a spiritual, realistic, or purely practical lens.
At its core, this elevation of the internal over the external is Gnosticism, whether the attitude is displayed by monks or trans activists. It is a rejection of reality and life in favor of an idealized world that isn’t actually real. It is a rejection of reality that has the potential to leave devastation in its wake.
At least with the wayward monk, this error stops on a personal level. The postmodern Gnostics, however, want to hasten the destruction of this world to make way for the new, perfect world created in their highly disordered internal image.
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