Part 2: Gender Theory and the Claim to Moral Neutrality
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
– Gen 1:27
In the recently published document on Gender Theory, published by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Vatican congregation concludes that we are facing an educational crisis related to human love and sexuality. It immediately reminds the reader that education is being fundamentally changed such that curricula are being planned and implemented that allegedly convey a morally neutral vision of the human person, male and female, marriage, and family life. Those who do not subscribe to this morally neutral vision are accused of being bigoted and are classed with racists and despots. To go against this ideology in public invites, not only, public scrutiny, but possible loss of job and career, and criminal prosecution in many countries.
People with a traditional conception of a man and a woman, marriage, and family life, are viewed as a great threat to culture’s advancement to a more tolerant, more accepting, more progressive future. Advocates of this progressive vision make the claim that their perspectives on the human person and human love are based in science, rather than religion. Science is viewed as rational and coherent while religion is viewed as non-rational and lacking credibility. The progressive, i.e. “morally neutral” position is viewed as being the most respectful of diversity whereas the traditional position is viewed as morally biased and prejudiced.
First, the Church respects and employs science. Science was born in a context that promoted the view that reality is intelligible and understandable because its Creator has an intelligence and orders creation wisely. The Church also respects and honors the attempt to be neutral in respect to the findings of science, i.e. to not determine its outcome prior to investigation.
However, morality, by definition has to do with judging human acts. It is about making a decision of whether an act is right or wrong. This discipline can and often is informed by modern science. To ask if something is moral is to ask the question, “is this specific human act right or wrong?” People who advocate the ever shifting view of the LGBTQ+ community are not morally neutral – as they claim to be.
Rather, they are taking a distinct moral position: that it is right, i.e. moral, for a person to determine their own sex. This is not a neutral position. Rather, it is a position that makes a claim about what is right or wrong. Again, the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, and popular culture ever increasingly, makes the moral claim that it is right and normal to determine one’s own sex. And, that it is wrong and abnormal to oppose it.
The Church makes an opposite claim: it is wrong to determine one’s own sex apart from accepting the way they were made, male or female. Sex is dermined at birth and is traceable to conception. Sex, then, being male or female is intrinsic to being a person. From a pastoral perspective we all should have every sensitivity toward the difficult position of being confused about one’s own sex. However, the position of the Church is that sex is determined prior to a human person’s later psychological reflections or cultural traditions about their sex. What that means is that sex is determined before we can ever decide about it. We don’t get to decide that, it is decided for us. We can accept it or reject it but we cannot determine it apart from its physical reality.
To take the science one step further. Sex is determined by the presence or absence of a y Chromosome, the type of gonads, sex hormones, internal genitalia and external genitalia.
To take the faith one step further: God created Male and Female and it is very good to be this way. Our sex is not our will but God’s. Our role as male or female is to accept our sex through reason and faith as a gift intrinsic to who we are, to how we are made in God’s image.
Fact to remember in this dialogue:
Neither side has a morally neutral position in respect to the core claim Gender Theory. One position makes the claim that it is possible and right, i.e. moral, to determine one’s own sex. The other position (the Church’s) is that sex is determined at conception and that it is wrong, i.e. immoral, to determine one’s own sex.
Based on the argument above the Church is on solid, scientific ground for believing that sex is determined biologically prior to psychological reflection upon it.