Thinking more about the Vanity Fair’s Bruce Jenner cover I am thinking about the wider pattern and not the particulars of this story. After all there have been celebrities before with gender identity disorder, just not the same cultural reaction.
Lost in yesterday’s celebration of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut as a cultural touchstone for the transgender community was the fact that, at 65, she’s the oldest woman to ever grace the magazine’s cover, making her a gender revolutionary on an entirely different level. (Source)
Apparently gender identity disorder is not confined to individuals who suffer with this, but the culture at large. Words have become unstuck from their meanings. Language drift will always be with us as words come to have more meanings or even come to mean the opposite of what they once were defined. So I am not going to rail about “gender” in that it’s meaning is grammatical in reference to words and not a replacement for the words “sex”. It is easy to see why gender has taken the place of the sexes. The more accurate term was a “throwback” to the binary nature of he sexes as male and female. Gender as expressed now is much more fluid and can now mean anything (which of course means it means nothing).
Still this is a sidetrack to my observation in that the culture at large has become enablers for a range of problems. People are actually being praised for having mental illnesses or being morally deficient in some area. That for admitting some disordered behavior they are actually “brave” and likely to get a phone call or tweet from the President congratulating them.
On the one hand I see the good when people are not stigmatized and mocked for whatever failing they have. That we should always see the dignity of the human person and love them as our neighbor. That seeing our own major failings that we can become more empathetic towards others on their own journeys.
On the other hand I do not see how it helps someone to pretend that they do not have some problem. The culture of enablers is a culture in love with the Emperor’s new clothes and waiting for next season’s lineup. A culture that can’t make a distinction between sinfully judging others and making judgments. That it is better to normalize mental illnesses than to have empathy and to pray for those who suffer from them. That a problem goes away by saying there is not problem in the first place.
No doubt moral relativity has laid the groundwork for all of this. It is easy to see why everything is so confused when everybody is so confused. For the most part moral relativity as practiced comes down to this.
Morality is relative, but you’re wrong!
This is especially true when it comes to sex. Everything regarding it has to be undefined where each individual defines their own terms. The radical autonomy of the individual means each define their own morality, gender, etc. Just as long as you don’t define them by terms accessible by the natural law. Thus we have an excuse for everything. Teenage sex and fornication — they are going to do it anyway. No fault divorce – they fell out of love. Subsequent remarriage – of course. Psychological disorders regarding sexual identity – born that way. Adultery – everybody does it. You don’t have to live up to any moral standards if there aren’t any. As a consequence of original sin is is not a surprise when we do fall from a standard, but to deny standards does not eliminate the fall.
So much easier not to pass any kind of judgment – really you just go “pass judgement” and move straight to enabling. Who want to do a spiritual act of mercy like “rebuking sinners”, since it is too easy to be a jerk about doing it. Much better to not do it at all. When somebody writes a book displaying their extreme selfishness, where the destruction of the family is a necessary consequence, they are not condemned — instead a movie is made about this staring Julia Roberts.
This enabling is not something just confined to the culture, but to the Church as well.
How do you tell the difference between being pastoral and not doing nothing at all? Usually I can’t tell in the modern way pastoral is used. Although this is to be expected as prayer for a person is also pastoral. Still so much is passed over with vary a word. What George Weigel describes as the Truce of 1968 seems be to a treaty with an automatic annual renewal. It is sad that when a bishop moves against dissent or towards teaching the faith of the Church it makes headlines. This does not mean that most bishops are heterodox, just that many don’t want to makes waves.
So just go with the cultural flow.
“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
– G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man
- Trent Horn’s Five Questions for Supporters of Gender Transitioning.
- Mark Shea’s excellent essay Trangender Newspeak.