Friday, December 01, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Upside-Down World

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Two weeks ago, a British court ruled that transgender fantasies now officially trump the word of God in at least one Western state.

Tom: Here’s the wacky ruling in a nutshell:

“Belief in Genesis 1:27, lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others, specifically here, transgender individuals ... in so far as those beliefs form part of his wider faith, his wider faith also does not satisfy the requirement of being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.”

Well, here we are, IC, “not worthy of respect”. How will we look at ourselves in the mirror?

Not Worthy of Inclusion

Immanuel Can: It’s quite breathtaking, isn’t it? They are actually so high-minded they imagine that anybody who disagrees with them is not worthy of inclusion in decent society. “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.” There it is. But that passage ends thusly: “... but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

Tom: The funny thing is that Genesis 1:27 has two millennia’s worth of Christians all over the world who agree with it. The “fundamental right” of a man to identify as a woman (or vice versa) has a few dozen loudmouthed ideologues pushing it over the past five years. But the incredible weight of intelligent human agreement with scripture does not show up in court and exert its influence in the same way as a few screaming queens and their incoherent advocates. Talk about being on the wrong side of history!

Normalizing Gender-Dysmorphia

IC: There’s also something really vicious about normalizing gender-dysmorphic disorder. Instead of seeking to help a mentally-ill individual come to grips with his confusion, we just pretend it’s normal. That keeps us from having to do anything for him at all, and lets us feel like we’re terribly virtuous and open-minded at the same time. It’s really wicked. And it’s totally self-serving.

Meanwhile, the talk about a “human right” to pretend to be something you’re not is absolute nonsense. I can tell you that as a student of philosophy. There’s no conceivable rationale that shows gender-dysmorphia can ever be a “right”. That’s just smoke.

Tom: And there’s no science. None. This is all loony politics and craven pandering. Even the judge referred to “lack of belief in transgenderism”, and probably did it with a straight face too. The poor doctor in question literally lacked faith.

But hey, I’m not looking to keep people with delusions or medical disorders from expressing themselves in any way they please. As far as I’m concerned, if acting out in public is what they feel the need to do, so be it. But governments should not be weighing in on it in any way, shape or form, least of all by telling emergency medical personnel what they should be able to think and say.

Feelings Trump Expertise

As the accused himself put it:

“[M]y 30 years as a doctor are now considered irrelevant compared to the risk that someone else might be offended.”

We live in an era in which we defer constantly to people with expertise. But in this case and this case alone, the accredited experts are not allowed to voice their opinion because it does not accord with the current year narrative. And when the experts do offer a scientific observation or two, they lose their jobs.

IC: Is it “people with expertise” that we’re deferring to? What expertise have these legislators to speak on the topic of what normal human sexuality is, what rights are, or what Christian teaching actually says? Where’s their competence to make any assessment at all? They have power to do it. They have nothing more.

Tom: That is very true. Where the legislators are concerned, they have no expertise in these issues at all, and they are ignoring every witness who has any actual data to present or years of experience to cite. But as you say, the ball is in their court. They certainly have the necessary authority to make unjust rulings that will negatively impact us all.

Letting the Chips Fall

Let’s suppose, IC, that you were still teaching and happened to ‘misgender’ a student. You could find yourself in the same position as Dr. Mackereth, the ‘villain’ of this piece, denounced as a transphobe and abruptly terminated after 26 years of competent service. Can you picture how you might advise a Christian in his position?

IC: I really never faced that challenge. I was thankful not to. And I do know of at least one really stellar teacher who took retirement early, at least in part to avoid such situations. I think you have to stick to your convictions and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t say you have to go out of your way to raise the issue, but when mentally ill students or patients are being abused in this way by the system, I think you do have a moral duty personally to hold the line in your own conduct.

Tom: I agree. There’s really not any other option. But this is more than a personal issue affecting a small minority of principled people. This is potentially society-transforming. After all, who is going to replace the doctors, teachers, lawyers and so on being fired for failing to toe the PC line? The one thing I can be confident of next time I have surgery is that my surgeon knows how to play politics. What I won’t have a clue about is whether he’s qualified to perform the surgery. As Dr. Mackareth put it, “Without intellectual and moral integrity, medicine cannot function.” Neither can science, education or any other discipline ... engineering, for example. I do not want to enter a building or walk across a bridge built by engineers whose most important qualification for their jobs was being inoffensive.

IC: No, that’s for certain.

Fearful and Overprotected

The irony is that while we aim at being the least offensive society in history, we are offended by vastly more things than other people in history would ever have been. We’ve never been so fragile, or had such a vague sense of oppression than we do now, at a time when we’ve never been more affluent, coddled and protected.

But in truth, the two go together: overprotected people are the most fearful. Why shouldn’t they be, since they are told and shown that everything is a threat to their well-being? And the more extreme the fear reaction they see around them, the more fearful they become. It’s a well-documented psychological phenomenon. To grow strong, people need to meet and beat challenges, so as to increase their sense of power and efficacy in the world. But we’re not having that experience anymore. We don’t even deal with difficult ideas, let alone with any really challenging circumstances.

Tom: It is also becoming increasingly clear that these putative offenses and hurt feelings over which Christians are getting fired are mostly fictional. Trans people are not the driving force behind made-up pronouns. They are merely an excuse for speech policing. In this case, Dr. Mackereth had not actually offended anyone. He was posed a hypothetical question by his line manager and then fired for giving the ‘wrong’ answer. The six-foot tall bearded man who wanted to be called “Mrs” did not exist and certainly did not take offense. More likely the line manager was a social justice activist who knew Mackereth was a Christian and targeted him deliberately.

Caring for Real Victims

So here’s my question: How do we as Christians distinguish the genuinely weak and needy (who, if we are reading our Bibles, ought to be the objects of our care and concern) from the coterie of manipulators trying to outdo each other in the victim sweepstakes, IC? We should certainly be concerned about giving unnecessary, genuine offense to anyone. But should we be worried about giving fake offense to the fake-offended about someone else’s fake identity?

IC: Fortunately, God himself defines the rights and dignities due to mankind, and with them, the scope of genuine oppression. Orphans and widows are frequent victims of oppression. The poor qualify. Prisoners of injustice qualify. But “transgendering”? Not only is such a possibility denied, but not one single case of such appears anywhere in scripture at all, and public expression of confusion of this sort is decisively rebuked in both testaments. Clearly, it’s merely a recent pathology of our confused and morally disoriented age, not any basic human right.

Tom: And when activist judges flout the plain statements of scripture, not to mention centuries’ worth of tradition in civilized societies, they demonstrate that it’s their own rulings that are “not worthy of respect”, not the convictions of believers.

IC: Well, as Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” That’s the bottom line.

1 comment :

  1. This incidence illustrates a terrible flaw in the ability of people nowadays to think logically and honestly. It is however not unique since we have definitely (perhaps cyclically) gone through periods in history where intellect was severely darkened for some mysterious reason (e.g., think Third Reich). The key point about flawed intellect in this particular case is that the judge seems unable to reason that human society and the individual has always had a need for moral guidelines and judgement and that, especially in the courts, one must make sure to be aligned with the most potently correct teaching on morality and behavior available. If not there is the danger that one gets the hideously erroneous results of arbitrary human judgement tainted by often horrific human flaws. If the courts and the person therefore ignore the most potent moral teaching available (in the Bible) they are setting themselves and their environment up for failure. Some people call that stupidity, irrationality, plain incompetence and inability to think clearly and will even think that it is evil. Willful dishonesty combined with ignorance and incompetence by those in power always has and will continue to present the danger of producing hideous consequences for the subjects. It therefore must be opposed strongly and peacefully whenever and wherever it occurs based on Biblical principles.