By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 24, 2022
In a 2019 Scientific American article, an author writes: “Contrary to popular belief, scientific research helps us better understand the unique and real transgender experience.” The article then presumes to demonstrate the scientific basis for gender fluidity.
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Who are you going to believe, Scientific American or your own eyes? Scientists can easily become madmen without faith.
The light of orthodox faith provides science context and direction. Christian belief maintains sanity and common sense. “God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them.” (Genesis 5:1-2) Hence, the word “man” expresses the original unity—and community life—of males and females in marriage. The sin of Adam and Eve and our sins damage the Divine image imprinted upon us and distort our self-understanding as human beings. The Incarnation restores our humanity in Jesus and elevates our self-understanding as human beings. The human body is the “sacrament” of the soul, destined for resurrection on the Last Day.
Jesus reveals the fullness of His humanity in the Gospel. His intelligence, mission, emotional control—including a handful of angry encounters—and basic humanity are on full display. Our conscious imitation of Jesus—with His grace as we encounter Him in the sacraments—begins to perfect our wounded human nature.
A heresy is obdurate false teaching. Some heresies distort the purposes of the intellect, will, emotions, and the body, and some even deny history. Heresies prevent us from following Jesus and undermine human dignity, even if we are not formally guilty of the sin. But we all sense our failures in seeking the truth, so we’re all heretics to some extent. As a result, we not only fail to see the dignity of our humanity as created by God; we risk going insane. So it is worthwhile—for purposes of mental health—learn a few lessons from heretical precepts.
Heresies of the intellect
The purpose of the intellect is to seek the truth fortified by prudence. We admire and listen to well-educated people. But we can also abuse intelligence. The creature with the most impressive intellect is Lucifer. Before his rebellion, he was the most glorious of the angels. But he refused to use his intelligence in God’s service. (“Non-serviam!”) There can be no contradiction between faith and science because science studies God’s handiwork. Scientific inquiry, medical research, and experimentation must not deny our roots in God. The search for scientific truth without God is too narrow and easily violates human dignity with absurdities.
Lesson: Never trust a doctor who asks a patient for his “sex assigned at birth.”
Heresies of the will
The purpose of the will is to make good choices with justice. We often admire people who exhibit a singular purpose. But it is heretical to live by the rule of: “I want what I want when I want it.” Heresies of the will and institutionalized selfishness lead to personal, family, and societal destruction. Self-denial—and choosing to live by God’s will—is among the most elusive virtues. Need evidence?
Lesson: The crushing national debt indicts most of us—excepting Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
Heresies of the emotions
The package of emotions is a gift that enhances human love. Our emotions include affection, desire, and joy. Even the intensity of the passions of dislike, aversion, fear, daring, sorrow, and anger reflects the strength of human love. We must govern our emotions reasonably, with prudence, justice, temperance, and courage. Emotions are integral to our humanity, but we cannot reduce Christian love to how we feel. Jesus teaches: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) and “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13) Love is a choice made in freedom.
Lesson: Flee mental health professionals who confuse perverted feelings for love.
Heresies of the body
The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the sacrament of the soul: an outward sign created by God to disclose the dignity of our humanity. Everyone is capable of patterns of virtue that glorify our bodies and reveal beautiful souls. Unfortunately everyone is also capable of patterns of vice that degrade our bodies and distort our souls. When heresies of the body become popular, the temptations toward such vices are multiplied. Among the heresies of the body are Hollywood obsessions, horrible mutilations of our sexuality, and the destruction of unborn babies.
Lesson: Heresies of the body are often crimes against humanity.
The Book of Genesis—and Jesus—reinforces the unity of men and women in marriage. Among the most prominent heresies of our time is feminism. Feminism measures women by masculine standards. Feminism denies the complementarity of the sexes and distorts femininity and motherhood. Many men welcome feminism because the ideology facilitates male irresponsibility. The contraceptive pill did not liberate women; it liberated irresponsible men. Feminist social engineering brings relentless turmoil: promiscuity, disease, abortion, divorce, single mothers, transgenderism, etc. Ultimately, feminism enslaves women by denying their femininity and dignity as mothers.
Lesson: Don’t trust anyone who has ever used the term “birthing persons”!
Heresies of historical disciplines
Historical events are facts. The art of history is to weave the facts into a truthful and intelligible narrative. When Jesus read from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, He concluded that Isaiah’s prophecies are fulfilled in Him. Jesus reveals that all history—good and bad—finds meaning in Him. Historians struggle with legitimate intellectual and factual academic questions and controversies. We learn from history, and it is a heresy to deny our heritage, censor, or deliberately distort it.
Lesson: The cancel culture erases dramatic stories of human dignity.
The heresy of discouragement
The complementarity of faith and reason isn’t a mere academic precept of Catholic theology. God has allowed us to see the full flowering of science undirected by the light of faith. We see the distressing madness! But chronic discouragement is also heresy. Jesus has “overcome the world” (cf. Jn. 16:34). So be of good cheer. Jesus restores our human dignity and sanity.
Lesson: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” (Jn. 14:1)
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Posted by: Phil -
Feb. 09, 2022 11:06 AM ET USA
That was gleaned from Pope John Paul II's theology of the body.
Posted by: Top8305 -
Feb. 08, 2022 6:52 AM ET USA
Is there a theological root for the assertion, "The human body is the “sacrament” of the soul..."? If so, please edify as to its source. Thank you, Father. Pax Christi
Posted by: loumiamo4057 -
Jan. 24, 2022 10:04 PM ET USA
Fr. Jerry, I am having difficulty with "we’re all heretics to some extent." All heresy is sin, but I wouldn't say that all sin is heresy. It seems to me that most of the time sin is merely falling short of what we know is the right standard, but our human weakness keeps us from meeting that standard. And most of the time the falling short is a result of choice, which is the root of heresy, but still it seems to me a choice of a different color. It is a conundrum for sure.