[copyrighted article from a recent number of The TRINTARIAN newpaper]
The Reformed theologian, Carl R. Trueman, in a somewhat different context, refers to people who, ‘[l]ike pouting teenagers in pre-torn designer jeans and Che Guevara tee-shirts…look angry and radical but are really as culturally conformist and conservative as a tall latte from Starbucks.’
‘Conservative’ might be taken as a political term, and with such here I have no wish to mess. I do very much wish here to deal with cultural conformity. I am a non-conformist in contemporary cultural terms. I would say that I rage against the dying of the light, except that temperamentally I do not rage, as a Christian I am metaphysically happy as a clam, and eschatologically I believe that ‘the strife is o’er, the battle won’. Also, as a (culturally) radical non-conformist, it doesn’t hurt that I am blessed to live in a society that, say what you will about it in some respects, has painless dentistry, falling crime rates, and astonishing levels of personal security and prosperity. If one must be a dissident, better to live in a leafy neighborhood in Georgia than in, say, Enver Hoxha’s Albania or in an impoverished kleptocracy.
All of that said, the socially and culturally dominant forces around us are mired in profound and deeply damaging confusion and self-contradiction. Items:
- Feminists upended high school and collegiate sports for boys and young men, in the name of equality for the much lower percentage of girls and young women interested in participating in such sports. Now the relatively new feminist orthodoxy, having destroyed traditional arrangements, is itself radically contradicted by a newer and trendier fashion, namely the trans-sexual movement. The trans-sexualists insist that males with mustaches and massive biceps and quadriceps are actually female, because they say or wish or feel it so, and also must be permitted to win all the girls’ matches and races. We come full circle, with the boys once again getting all the prizes: the only change being that in the new dispensation, instead of the winners being boys competing against boys in a world that cares about boys’ high school and collegiate sports, the new winners are boys claiming to be girls and competing against girls;
- Gay activists have, among the culturally conformist, won most of their battles. They insisted that God does not make mistakes, and that if John is attracted to other males, or Jane to other females, those attractions must be good and normal. Then, having asserted this moral opinion, the new dispensation is radically reversed, also by the trans-sexualists, who say that God (or, for the agnostic, nature or biology) did make a mistake, and a big one at that: one involving not just sexual attraction but also biological reality and chromosomal fact.
It might help to think of feminism and gay activism as stage 1 of the new conformist culture, and trans-sexualism (and other related ideologies to come) as stage 2. Stage 2 does contradict and undermine stage 1 in some respects, including in the matter of opportunities for female athletes and the matter of whether or not God (or nature or biology) makes mistakes. The two stages, however, are united in their radical elevation of the will of the creature above all else. In the Christian world, God and the nature he creates give us a self and a world limited by divine and natural reality and law. In the new world, the only limit is human will, which in turn is seen as autonomous, liberated, enlightened, free, absolute, and unconstrained. But why should sex be the only category in which the unconstrained will is indulged? Why should I not be believed if I assert that I am a 12 year old child, or a 5’1” Armenian woman, or a brain surgeon entitled to hospital privileges, or an engineer who may design your bridge? Why, if will trumps facts?
But it is not so. Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret: ‘You may expel nature with a pitchfork, but it will come back.’ When the boy who says he is a girl, but has all of the physical attributes (and athletic advantages) of being male, is permitted to compete against girls, our natural sense of absurdity and fairness will rebel. Or so one must hope. When men who say they are women are imprisoned with women who are women, and sexual assaults occur, someone is going to realize that we need to think again. The true ideologue may just shrug his shoulders and claim that the man who says he is a woman and then assaults women is an abusive lesbian and that same-sex sexual assault is common in prisons. The committed ideologue is inventive and the imaginations of his or her heart evolve. Others will think differently.
Revolutions always come to a stage at which they begin to contradict their founding principles and then destroy old revolutionaries who are not nimble enough to keep up with the revolutionary evolution. That is the Show Trials phase, and it is about where we seem to be today in the sexual revolution conformity evolution.
Often some good does come, however, from revolutions. God’s Providence is always at work. While I am a cultural non-conformist, I can find some good in the last half century. Feminism has undoubtedly benefited many women in many ways which few people would like to see reversed, however one evaluates the overall tally. Even traditional Christians can view the alteration of attitudes towards homosexuality wrought by the cultural revolution as in part correcting a balance: there is no reason to single out homosexuality as a sin when heterosexual adultery, divorce, and promiscuity are more common and are equally or even more likely to do harm.
That said, nature will exact its penalty for the pitchfork. And there we are.