The Facts of Life Series: Men & Women
Now, as orthodox Catholics, we live as strangers in a strange land. Just look at the many modern confusions we must cope with and confront. Think of the preposterous problems of gender or the perversity of sexual orientation. Think of the fallacious flaws in feminism and the purportedly pernicious prejudice of the male patriarchy, to name just a few. Culturally, we are awash in these confusions and many others that derive from them. And, we are being relentlessly pressured by the modern West’s cultural assumptions and its ideologues and even from their heterodox and heretical followers within the Church itself.
Most of these erroneous assertions and norms arose from Western modernity’s gradual rejection of reason and religion over the past four centuries. Reason’s rejection and its reduction to mere rhetoric leaves our modern world with science as its sole source for truth. As such, modern culture dismisses all truth claims beyond the findings of empirical science, and it remands everything else to the realm of personal preference and perception. Religion of all types are dismissed too, but Catholicism more vehemently so because of its foundational reliance on reason.
Now, morality is not a matter of revelatory or rational substance. It’s solely a matter of individual personal perception without grounding in objective reality. Perception is the first and final reality for everything because everything else beyond the realm of science is only an opinion or a product of arbitrary collective norms. Even common sense and innate intuitions and instincts are just perceptions; perceptions with no greater veracity or legitimacy than any other individual personal perception, regardless of its commonality, its preponderance, or even its rational veracity.
This is the implicit basis for our many modern moral deviations and the overriding relativistic moral principles, manifest as multiculturalism and its universal tolerance of any kind of personal deviation. Now, the modern West’s commandments are reduced to two. The first commandment of modernity is “thou shalt have no gods other than science” when it comes to truth. Science is the only god of truth. And, “thou shall not judge” is the second commandment, a natural corollary of the first modern commandment. For to judge is to invade the primary personal privilege of complete freedom to construct truth and morality as each individual should decide.
Asserting objective truth, as orthodox Catholics do, is not merely a challenge to modernity. It is a sin of the first order, an act of explicit oppression and repression and an act of implicit rejection of modernity’s first commandment of science’s epistemological dominance. All this leads to the natural modern tyranny of collectivist conformity, its explicit enforcement of universal tolerance for any and every personal opinion and its concomitant exclusion of all assertions of truth, moral certainty including the inherent reality of human iniquity.
In light of modernity’s primary principles, let’s look at the West’s claims about the nature of men and women and why these are false, faulty, flawed. Let’s begin with the modern insistence that men and women are essentially interchangeable, that there is no real difference between them. For this is a fundamental error in much of what we encounter explicitly in our cultural dialogue and debate and implicitly in our current cultural assumptions.
Men and women share a great deal in common. We are all human beings. We desire similar things such as goodness and love, affection and intimacy. But our commonalities are not universal, and our priorities are nuanced by both our personalities and our sexual differences, among other things. For there are general differences between the two sexes that are modified and varied based on our individual personalities, interests and dispositions. While this may have been common sense in earlier eras, it is no longer the case within our modern assumptions.
For instance, now when we see disproportionate differences in sexual preferences in vocational careers, we assume this is some form of prejudicial preference, rather than a differential manifestation of innate sexual preferences, interests and nature. When surveys cite an earning difference between men and women, it is generally thought to be a manifestation of prejudice, rather than a result reflective of the different nature and interests between men and women.
Much of the noted differences in earning comes from the fundamental reality of women’s desire to be mothers, which often interrupts their careers and their working lives, particularly in their children’s early years before school. Besides motherhood, most women, by virtue of their nature, are drawn to different professions than men. They tend to choose relational and caring professions like elementary teaching and nursing, rather than careers in engineering or upper-level management with demanding schedules and extensive work weeks, so they have time to raise their children and build and ground their family life.
These are decisions many women readily make because their priorities are more motivated by motherhood, family and domestic culture and responsibilities. And, these tendencies are noted in statistical demographics arising from compiled data reflective of real choices made by each sex about their education, vocation and their personal and family lives. Many men, on the other hand, choose different careers based on their nature and interests. Men tend to focus on riskier careers or careers that require longer hours and higher remuneration, which is reflective of their innate nature and their role as the family’s primary providers, particularly during their wives’ childbearing years.
These statistical tendencies and interests are not universal. But, they reflect a range of possibilities from which each sex makes decisive career and life-style choices. Motherhood is a reality and a compelling interest and purpose to most women, so much so that they give it primary priority during certain stages in their lives. But, fatherhood entails different responsibilities and elicits different decisions and duties that compel men to choose more remunerative careers, or even second jobs, to compensate for family needs, in light of the priority of motherhood’s child-rearing responsibilities.
In short, motherhood, fatherhood and family life innately touch men and women in similar ways. Yet, they elicit different responses by virtue of their innate realities and by virtue of their complimentary natures. They do different things, but for the same end, the same purpose. And those inherent differences joined for a common end is intentional, purposeful and planned because that was God’s intention. These complimentary differences and innate similarities were planned, from the beginning, by Him. A unique, yet universal, reality of shared love between a man and a woman and for the offspring of that love.
Yet, modern feminism assaults the very nature of these differences portraying them as oppressive products of male dominance and a virulent systemic patriarchy, when in fact, many feminists fail to find worth and meaning, joy and satisfaction in the very distinctives of true femininity like motherhood, marriage and family. These are the roles, the very venues, for full female fulfillment. For they match their natural giftings such as their relational sensitivities, nurturing dispositions, educational expertise, their sense of home and family.
If you find this a little obscure or antiquated, just look at the types of products and the marketing approaches that are used to attract female consumers. The evidence is in your mailbox or on the internet every day. Or compare and contrast the products and advertising approaches used to attract males. Different interests. Different activities. Even different priorities. Yet, there are still a great many commonalities too like love, commitment, responsibility, sacrifice, fidelity, selflessness.
Beyond these modern distortions of men and women, many perversions of men and women now populate our culture. And the manner in which they are portrayed is faulty, false. For instance, the very nomenclature of sexual inclinations exaggerates this dimension beyond its true scope. No one is a homosexual. They are men and women who have a sexual preference, inclination, and intentionality that deviates from nature.
And that deviation is a deeply immoral one. One that rejects the natural and created order. As St. Paul tells us, in the first chapter of the book of Romans, that when we “exchange the truth of God for a lie… Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males…”
But, in God’s world and in His eyes, there are no homosexuals. There are men and women, His sons and daughters, who are behaving immorally in their sexual desires, lusts and activities, and these immoralities are grave and deeply deviant. In God’s world, some, perhaps many, homosexuals may be loving and righteous in most of their lives, yet still be deeply immoral in their sexual lives. Again, there are no homosexual people. There are people who do homosexual behaviors, who have homosexual lusts.
That is a singular, yet serious, part of their lives. But, it does not summarize their whole being, their entire nature. And, when this is the summary of their being which they personally adopt and which modern culture labels them, they invite rejection and judgement. But, when it is situated properly as an aspect of their being, their immorality is confined to their thoughts and actions, not their entirety, as it should be. In a similar way, choosing your gender is an error arising directly from the primacy of personal perception and its latent assertion of the individual will over the facts of biology. This too is deeply sinful, but it is still an aspect of being, not its overriding reality.
Remember, our sex is a biological fact, not a moldable reality subject to our will. Being a man or a woman is an explicit expression of God’s design and intention, a providential part of His particular plan for you.
And remember, within these broad sexual differences and similarities, there is also immense intentional flexibility that is part of His deliberate design for your unique individuality, for your intimate personal relationship with Him and for your role as a disciple in the work of His Church in the years He gives and the talents and the sex He bestows.
We also recommend Mr. Cronin’s latest book, The World According to God: The Whole Truth About Life and Living. It is available from your favorite bookstore and through Sophia Institute Press.