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Male and female He created them
(Part 2 of Thinking it through: The Church and “gender change”)

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 07, 2024

The real issue in gender change is not an abstract “nullifying of differences” in the sense that they ought to be ignored in matters of rights, privileges, and human respect whenever the differences are genuinely irrelevant (see Part 1: Nullifying differences). Rather, the problem lies in refusing to accept the differences which God has deliberately designed into human nature—the differences which constitute our identities as his beloved sons and daughters in Christ. To say “sons and daughters” in this context already indicates something special about our specific creation, special because it was intended by God. Thus, as human persons with intellect and will, we must learn to recognize a proper distinction between Divinely-intended differences and differences that arise when something has gone wrong in our fallen world.

We know, for example, that it is normal for a human person to have two legs and, if one is missing, that is a defect in nature which we ought to correct or make allowance for as well as we can. Both the two-legged and the one-legged man, woman or child are human persons, but the one-legged person has a natural defect which is subject to correction or accommodation in view of his or her essential human dignity. We also recognize that the human person is so constituted as to go through normal stages of human life—infancy, childhood, adolescence, maturity, old age—and we provide for these generally in accordance with their respectively universal human qualities. In the same way, we recognize that when a one-legged man pretends that he can run on two legs, he is either joking or diseased in mind; and that when a child demands adult privileges and responsibilities, he is out of touch with reality through immaturity, passion, or pride. Because of our own possession of and reflection on our human nature, it is impossible for us not to know such things unless our human faculties are injured materially or spiritually in ways that blind us to reality. Moreover, the failure to recognize these fundamental realities dooms any human society to disaster.

In the same way, we know from both nature and Divine Revelation that God created the human person deliberately as both male and female, that the distinction between them is first and foremost a bodily distinction, and that the overall purpose for this difference is the loving union between the two, that they might grow intimately in service to their Creator, especially through the procreation of children with Him for both the expansion of the human race in this world and the eternal happiness of each willing person with God in heaven. Again, notice that we know through both the visible operations of the natural law and the confirmation of Divine Revelation that this maleness and femaleness is neither a mistake nor an accident but is intended by our Creator, and that it is to be treasured and honored throughout life:

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth…. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. [Gen 1:26-28; 2:24]

And Jesus Christ Himself said:

“From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” [Mk 10:6-8; cf. Mt 19:4-6]

Whatever bizarre errors secularists may fall into, it defies reason that someone who claims to be a Christian can deny Revelation in favor of an imagined origin of gender in feelings attributed to one’s personal essence, or to the human soul (as we saw Sister Jeannine Gramick do in Part 1 of this series). To the contrary, it has always been understood by the Church Christ founded that the difference between male and female is intended by God, biologically determined (fundamentally if not exclusively as a provision for the procreation of children), and not to be considered an accident of nature, a defect, or any contradiction of some deeper identity. For God willed that this foundational difference was to be expressed bodily. Masculine sex-and-gender inclinations in women and feminine sex-and-gender inclinations in men are therefore instances—so common in all of us—of feelings that are unfortunately out of touch with reality, which is why such concerns have long been treated psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. Indeed, every personal temptation participates in this disjointedness!

It has taken a highly technocratic culture, largely divorced from the natural and Christian understanding of creation, to reframe the solution to sex-and-gender questions in terms of whatever we may desire, for whatever reason, at whatever moment. This is one of many bad results of a false culture deliberately divorced from the concept of God and outrageously attached to a principle of complete human autonomy—the fallacy that we come into existence randomly and so depend solely on our own wills for personal understanding, fulfillment and happiness.

But all of mankind has recognized maleness and femaleness as a fundamental pattern of nature, and for the Christian, and especially for that Church which was intended by Christ to teach the truth about what it means to be human, the fundamental goodness of the distinction between male and female can neither be ignored nor treated as a flaw in the human design. As with all medical issues, then, it is permissible for us to correct malfunctions of our male and female biological systems when they are somehow broken in our fallen world, but it is not permissible to reject our maleness or femaleness as this has been fashioned in us through our Creator’s love.

It follows that where no biological disorder exists, gender dysphoria is an illness to be treated; and/or a temporary emotional or psychological confusion which may be corrected through normal maturation or treatment; and/or a temptation to be rejected and conquered through prayer and spiritual growth. In other words, this problem is akin to the problem of homosexuality, especially in that spiritual growth and closeness to God come through resisting a temptation that we know through both reason and Revelation is contrary to our own good. Indeed, sexual temptations are generally so varied and so strong that the vast majority of Christians must exert themselves spiritually over a considerable period of time to find the peace which comes through the subordination of our sexual inclinations to God’s plan, God’s love and God’s will.

Moreover, it should be no surprise that two factors in our current culture contribute mightily to the incidence of prolonged gender dysphoria just as they contribute to the rising incidence of homosexual desires—namely, first, the familial wreckage and intense personal rejection and confusion suffered as a result of divorce and the general breakdown of the family; and, second, the depredations of a deadly culture which extols the pursuit of “happiness” through sexual temptation and experimentation.

After all, we are sexual persons by nature, and so our sexuality naturally creates very strong drives within us—which can be more or less disturbing and wayward. For a great many of us, therefore, it is largely through the struggle to subordinate our sexual feelings to the will of God that we repair our fallen nature and become the whole, integral men and women our loving Father is calling us to be in Christ.

Previous in series: 1: Nullifying differences
Next in series: 3: The Church and the transgendered

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 See full bio.

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