Jayd Henricks: Authentic happiness is hampered by confusion about human nature. Reclaiming of our sanity around sex and gender is a necessary first step to the happiness we all desire.
We are all designed to seek meaning – which has historically been informed by faith. But in recent decades, religion has been rapidly disappearing from the public square. As faith has been pushed out of culture, politics, and education, it has left a void in countless hearts and minds. Nature never permits a vacuum to linger long, however, and the need for meaning now often finds an outlet in the fight for social justice. The cause inevitably changes, but this decade has been marked above all by the fight for the social approval – even outright affirmation – of one’s chosen sexual identity.
Any controversial movement, especially a replacement for something as deep-seated as religion, begins by seeking tolerance for itself, moving over time to implicit acceptance and virtue signaling, and ultimately requiring explicit celebration. LGBTQ+ has become a virtual state religion now, requiring the affirmation of everyone’s sexual identity – whatever form it may take, and regardless of how opposed it may be to anyone else’s individual beliefs.
To recognize this is not to obsess about all things sexual, but simply to recognize what is now at the heart of American society. All Americans are expected to offer incense at the altar of not just sex, but disordered sex. We are told not to impose our faith, but the religion of LGBTQ+ is imposed on all.
From its places of power, this ideology demands full obeisance at all times, but particularly – and forcefully – every June. Every time Pride Month rolls around, schools, businesses, and government organizations preach the goodness of any and all sexual choices. LGBTQ+ clothes, flags, and library books come out front and center. To fail to bow low at this altar is to risk being accused of “rainbow washing” or being outright canceled.
This is how we’ve arrived at Bud Light and Target promoting LGBTQ+ in some absurd ways, and why the Dodgers/MLB turned the country’s national pastime into a sacramental for the new order. Why else would Bud Light hire a marketing executive that labeled the brand [read: its traditional customer base] as “fratty” and “out of touch”? Why else would Target put out a line of LGBTQ+ kids clothing? Why else would the Dodgers give a Community Hero Award to an organization that openly mocks the Catholic Church when half of the fans who attend their games are Latino, a historically Catholic group?
We have arrived at a strange place, where holding what has historically been understood as commonsense now feels like a last stand for sanity. Beliefs such as that men should use men’s bathrooms and only women should be allowed to play in women’s sports leagues are now berated as bigoted and discriminatory.
One can only wonder how much longer we will celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Days (a push has already begun in Canada to do away with both) in a culture where a Supreme Court justice can’t explain what a woman is or where saying “mom and dad” is too exclusive.
The Church, which exists to spread the Gospel, now must also preach the obvious: that there is something more than the individual and his or her desires. She reminds us that there is order in the universe and in human society. And she stands firmly behind the truth that there is a human nature, and that we honor the Creator by honoring the truths He built into the world and into our bodies.
A recent poll shows that the tide is gradually turning back toward the most basic truth about the human person: that there are only two genders. Sixty-five percent of Americans believe this truth, up from 59 percent two years ago. It is especially encouraging that there is a positive trend across all demographics – more Democrats, Independents, and Republicans believe in two genders than only two years ago and likewise for Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation.
These numbers show that we are in an opportune moment to correct our cultural craziness, but it will require continued commitment and energy. It also requires the certainty that doing so is necessary and good. Some within the Church pit the pastoral response against claims to truth – but the pastoral is founded upon the truth about the human person. Recognizing two genders is a necessary first step in our ministering to those who identify as non-binary or “gender queer.”
The absurdity of slavery was exposed through a movement that was largely led by people of faith, and now is the moment for people of faith to stand up again. The current absurdity has gone too far, and Americans are beginning to recognize it. We can and must rally them.
And we can do so by remembering this is not a solely religious issue. Justice Brown Jackson may not be a biologist, but even biologists who are “pro-rainbow” recognize that there are only two sexes.
So let us continue to proclaim this truth, lovingly but loudly. For authentic happiness is always hampered by misunderstandings about human nature. And reclaiming our sanity around sex and gender is a necessary first step to the happiness we all desire.
You may also enjoy:
Michael Pakaluk’s Humane Vitae’s Singular Vision
Brad Miner’s Further Thoughts on Transgenderism
Jayd Henricks is the president of Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal. He previously served as the executive director of government relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and holds a STL in systematic theology from the Dominican House of Studies.