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by Ken Myers

Sound thinking

The abolition of men and women

Douglas Farrow on the anti-humanist logic of “gender”

by Ken Myers

by Ken Myers

The abolition of men and women

In 2007, theologian Douglas Farrow presented readers with a slim book titled A Nation of Bastards: Essays on the End of Marriage. One of the themes in those essays was “the relation between marriage and political freedom, and so also between marriage and religion; for there is no such thing as a non-religious basis for freedom. I want to contend that marriage, understood in classical Christian terms, is a bulwark of human freedom within the state and, if need be, over against it.”

In that book’s Introduction, Farrow acknowledged his identity as “a person with little inclination toward the politically correct, and with no respect whatsoever for the cowardice and apathy that today masquerade as the virtue of tolerance.” Farrow’s courage and passion were recently (in April 2020) evident in an article online titled “No More Lies: Exposing the Roots of Gender Ideology.” 

Farrow — Professor of Theology and Ethics at McGill University in Montreal — observes that the cultural revolution which began as a defiant defense of “free love” has rapidly descended  to “a denial of the goodness and even the importance of the body. It has been led, by its own internal logic, to the current ‘trans’ phenomenon, in which personal identity is said to be created or recreated by the individual agent acting independently of and, if necessary, in opposition to the body. 

“The revolution, in other words, has moved on from licensing sexual liaisons to suppressing the very idea of sex, and with it any coherent thought of the species qua species. We are not animals, after all, which (we said) must obey animal instincts and urges. No, we are almost angels, which do not require bodies. Since we presently have them, however, we will force them to do our bidding.

“This is the thinking, not only of the transgenderist, but also of the transhumanist. As Steve Fuller admits in Humanity 2.0, the latter doubts whether there is anything ‘worth continuing to defend as distinctly “human”.’ Neither works with those high hopes for the human being that once grounded our civilization on the axis of faith that runs from Christmas to Easter. Both labour instead under a heavy load of self-loathing and despair, the load Christ came to lift.”

Later in the article, Farrow argues that the confusion about “gender” in the present generation (who are also, I might add, confused about the fuller meaning of “generation”) has its roots in the divorce culture defended by their parents and grandparents. “We have by our own behaviour generated sufficient insecurity in our children regarding their natural place in the world, and whether they are truly loved by those who brought them into it, for experiences of alienation to multiply and to feed off one another in chaotic fashion. This not only renders clinical work more difficult, it renders the need for compassionate solidarity with those who are suffering more likely to be misconstrued as a need to affirm their present course of action and even to celebrate their own labels for it. This no worthy clinician would ever concede as wise. Neither should we.

“Moreover, it must be recognized that we ourselves, through the underlying culture of contraception and abortion, have created the conditions for doubt about the goodness of the body and about the soul’s relation to the body. Hence also about the public institutions that, just because we are bodily — because we are rational animals and not angels — bind us together in the good life that is the social life. It must be recognized that we ourselves have created the conditions under which it is no longer acknowledged that the will of God (as Augustine says) is the essence of each created thing, but affirmed instead that one’s own will is the essence of the self and of all that concerns the self. And that affirmation cannot sustain public institutions, whether marriage or any other. It cannot sustain public space or social goods at all. It can only break them down, completely and utterly.”

Farrow’s article, published on April 25, 2020, is available online here, at the website of The Catholic World Report.