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Gender Ideology 4: The scourge of our inner life

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 01, 2016

In rounding out this series on gender ideology, I could go in two different directions. I could look inward at what we might call the disruption of personal wholeness in those who fall victim to this ideology. Or I could look outward at the disruption of social integrity which characterizes cultures which fail to uphold the natural complementarity of men and women. In truth, there is a constant dynamism between these two poles. But I think it will be best to look inward first.

The Interior Life

When I speak of personal wholeness, in the sense of a well-ordered interior life, I am not talking about the explicitly spiritual life of grace to which we are invited by Christ. Rather, I wish to consider the implicit natural integrity for which each human person yearns, in which our passions are regulated by reason, we grow in virtue, and we orient our lives ever more fully toward the Good. Placing ourselves explicitly in God’s hands and making use of His grace is obviously a great help, but both the desire and ability to achieve this integrity are proper to human nature itself (even if these desires and abilities are weakened by what we have already described as the Fall).

The perception of this desire and at least this limited ability is common to everyone. From an early age, we spontaneously distinguish the broad outlines of good and evil, and the guilt we experience when we assent to evil arises from the universal human perception of living under a judgment. We have a disquieting sense that there is indeed a Judge, and we frequently wish that we could more easily know and seek the good. A thousand excuses may limit our effectiveness, but we have to be carefully taught to push these concerns away entirely. Moreover, when we are carefully taught, we invariably feel compelled to commit ourselves to some lesser, some purely human, vision of good and evil.

The human thirst for a moral code is insatiable. Each of us seeks some fundamental “rightness” that can ease the angst which plagues our fallen condition. Our behavior must always be justified; we feel it very keenly when our values are questioned. These feelings drive us either to discover moral truth, or to rationalize. Nothing could be more universal than this.

Now, because sexual passions are extremely powerful—and because they seem to us to touch the very center of who we are—we feel significant tension not only when our sexual urges go unfulfilled but when we suspect that we have experienced the pleasures of our passions in the wrong way. We find the former “frustrating”, and the latter we characterize as “shame”. It seems unlikely that any person is entirely free of either of these tensions when it comes to sexuality.

And with good reason: Everyone grasps the connection between sexual urges and reproduction. Everyone understands that bringing children into the world is a serious responsibility. We all know that in the very course of nature, children must begin with a mother and a father. It goes without saying that children will thrive best in a vibrant and stable family life headed by a man and a woman bonded in a permanent love—Mommy and Daddy. When we combine all of these perceptions, we begin to realize why so many cultures have guarded sexual expression with customs, precepts, taboos and laws which tend to discourage promiscuity and strengthen the commitments of family life.

This discussion is already pointing from the personal to the communal. Sex has a special human significance which consists inescapably in loving others into existence, with all the familial and social splendor this entails. But here I wish to emphasize how the misuse of sexual desire cuts away at our own personal foundations: Our feelings of inner health, our alignment with the good, our sense of worth—our very integrity as persons. There is nothing that leaves us quite so empty (at least over time) as sex without commitment or as sex misused and detached from its special human significance.

Undermining the Self

The elaborate constructions of gender theory utterly undermine the male-female relationship which lies at the heart of what it means to be human. Were we all Christians, we might all understand that God’s own fullness is best manifested in the fruitful love between husband and wife, for God Himself is a Family. But most of us do not see this clearly. We know only that the pleasure of exercising our sexual passions in a disordered way, outside of their proper context and apart from their obviously transcendent purposes—that this very substantial pleasure does not translate into the deeper happiness for which we yearn.

Apart from cases of arrested mental or psychological development, it seems scarcely possible that there are any adults who have not experienced this problem at some time and in some form. Especially in our own society, which perceives sex as a great escape, such conflicted feelings are extraordinarily common, even among those in denial, who may run from such discontents into deceitful pleasures of every kind, just to ease that dreadful inner emptiness which each person is convinced must be escaped at any cost.

It is, of course, the widespread separation of sex from reproduction which has led directly to the thousand and one theories which now bore us on a daily basis, all designed to prove that nobody is ever acting badly in indulging sexual appetites, whatever they may be. A moment’s reflection will reveal that these theories are suspiciously important to large numbers of people who will never find themselves personally in need of them, precisely because they disguise the shame, guilt and emptiness that instinctively afflict them in their more common heterosexual aberrations—such as contraception, or promiscuity, or adultery, or pornography.

But this dramatic urge to demystify sex by reducing it to the status of an almost random pleasure, with no teleology whatsoever—that is, no deeper purpose—is incredibly destructive of the inner self. It deliberately destroys ultimate meaning in those drives, perceptions, feelings and goals which we recognize as particularly intimate. And when what is most private and personal in our lives lacks meaning, there is sure to follow a deep inner crumbling, a veritable destruction. Where the very foundation of our lives should be, we have opened an abyss.

Human happiness first requires meaning and, second, the strength to live in accordance with this meaning. But gender ideology exchanges meaning for desire, or meaning for pleasure, which is another way of saying it substitutes pleasure for happiness. Nothing is more calculated to produce the hopelessness of an empty heart, as evidenced by high suicide rates among the gender-confused even when they enjoy social approval. Without meaning, our human integrity—our ordered wholeness as persons—is lost. The absence of meaning is truly the harbinger of death.


Previous in series: Gender Ideology 3: The value of personal relationships
Next in series: Gender Ideology 5: Subversion of the social order

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Langton7139 - Jun. 05, 2016 3:30 AM ET USA

    Thanks for putting so much effort into this series. There is something "faddish" about the whole thing. It will soon pass.