God the Son became human in Jesus Christ in order to bring the fullness of life (e.g., John 3:16, 10:10, 15:11). Jesus’ mission is not to simply make people emotionally happy. Our Lord came to make human existence better.
As the Transgender Movement marches on (for example, it looks like a Disney film will have its first transgender character), isn’t it becoming increasingly clear that we cannot have the fullness of life if we are fundamentally confused about masculinity and femininity? It is the truth, not feelings and desires, that will set us free (John 8:32). This column will elaborate on some points made in my previous column.
Males and Females Are Equal
Catholic doctrine teaches that males and females are equal in important ways (as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 369). It is crucial for us to get this right in a Postmodernist culture which is as confused about equality as it is about so many other things.
Both males and females are equally made in the image and likeness of God. They are equally human. Both have human minds, human wills, human emotions, and human bodies and therefore the same human nature. We should respect the equal human dignity and the equal human rights of males and females.
The picture is incomplete without adding that males and females share a fallen human nature due to Original Sin. Both are equally in need of salvation, which can only come from Jesus Christ. Males and females alike need to grow in virtue. Both need the classic Catholic formula for growing in virtue: Use the mind to guide the will to direct emotions and the body. This remains widely accepted as the formula for worldly success, e.g., in sports and at work, while it is being abandoned in sexual issues when emotions and desires take priority.
In terms of sexuality, both males and females experience the same three stages of life when they are healthy and free of pharmacological and surgical interventions: preparing to be fertile, being fertile, and losing fertility.
Males and Females Are Different
The common fallacy today is: Because males and females are equal in crucial ways, therefore they are the same in practically all ways. There is actually overwhelming evidence from Reason that males and females are significantly different. (Reason is all of what we know apart from God’s Revelation. Examples of Reason are biology and psychology.)
The biology is obvious. It might be helpful to review the obvious in a culture which increasingly denies it and obscures it. From the moment of conception, a healthy male has an x chromosome and a y chromosome; a healthy female has two x chromosomes. The male body and female body are different in fundamental ways—they have different skeletal and muscular structures, differences in facial hair, different sexual organs, and different hormonal systems. Males and females prepare to be fertile, are fertile, and lose fertility in their own ways—the most outstanding example of which is that females can get pregnant and males cannot.
Differences characterize males and females not only on the physical level but also on the psychological and spiritual levels. What follows is my own list of examples which I think is based on research and common experience that is not skewed by ideology. To cite all my sources would take up too much space and make this column too academic so I will let my examples speak for themselves. They are descriptions and NOT value judgments. Since God has not revealed the following examples, someone can be a good Catholic, or a good person, and disagree with the following if he or she has better research and analysis. Every one of us should be committed to the objective truth about sexuality and let the truth correct any prejudices we might have.
Females tend to mature physically and psychologically faster than males. Males tend to be stronger, faster, and more athletic than females. The strongest man will always be stronger than the strongest woman. The fastest man will always be faster than the fastest woman. Although most athletic females will be more athletic than many males, the most athletic man will always be more athletic than the most athletic woman. These differences remain even after hormonal treatment and surgery to “change” gender.
Males have different temperaments than females—males tend to be more aggressive, competitive, exploratory, impulsive, and abstract than females. Females tend to be more empathetic to others than males tend to be. As humorist Dave Barry has noted, “If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.” Females tend to be more talkative and more expressive of their emotions than males. When talking about a problem, males tend to want to get to the solution more quickly than females do, and females tend to want to talk about their feelings about the problem before they get to solving it. Females tend to worry more than males. Males tend to have more anger-management challenges than females.
Without adult influence, little boys play differently than little girls. Boys tend to play rougher than girls, especially in a group of only boys, e.g., a group of boys will wrestle with each other and a group of girls will not. The play of boys tends to be more thing-oriented, e.g., boys tend to choose to play with a toy truck instead of a doll; and the play of girls tends to be more person-oriented, e.g., little girls tend to play with a doll instead of a toy truck. Males tend to like videogames much more than females do. The great majority of violent crime is committed by males in their teens and twenties.
Beginning with puberty, males think about sex more than females do. Males tend to want to have sex more frequently than females tend to want to have sex. Females are more satisfied with simply cuddling or other signs of affection than males are. Foreplay is more needed for a female to have an orgasm than it is for a male. Males are more attracted to visual pornography whereas females are more attracted to romantic stories.
There is an old saying: “Girls use sex to get love, and boys use love to get sex.” More accurately, girls (and women who settle for sex without marriage) are more naturally tempted to use sex in order to get the feeling of being loved, and boys are more naturally tempted to use the feeling of being loved in order to get sex. (The full reality of romantic love is a life-long commitment in a marriage in which a husband and a wife share their entire lives with each other and are open to conceiving a new person, their child.)
Girls tend to get better grades than boys, but boys tend to get higher standardized test scores than girls. While there are some females who excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), males tend to have more interest in STEM than females do.
So males and females have the same human nature but with different forms—just as different church buildings have different architectural forms, but a church is still a church and not an apartment building. The major differences between males and females are mainly the result of “Nature,” NOT “Nurture.” The differences are innate; human beings are born with these differences. They are NOT merely a result of culture, upbringing, or “assignment.”
God created gender, only two genders, and the difference between them (as expressed in the Catechism, 369). God wants males to be masculine and females to be feminine.
Every Male Can Be Masculine; Every Female Can Be Feminine
God does not call us to do the impossible. God’s calls can be challenging due to our fallen human nature. His call to every male to be masculine and every female to be feminine will be challenging at times; but it is for our own good, which God knows better than our desires and feelings know.
Often attempts to describe good masculinity focus on describing the kinds of bad masculinity that should be avoided. This is well and good, but it is not enough. Yes, good males are not macho men, playboys, bullies, predators, “jocks,” “frat boys,” “bros,” etc. Yes, good males treat females with the dignity they deserve; respect their rights; and do not harass, abuse, or use them. Just because we know what bad masculinity is, does not mean we automatically know what good masculinity is. Being a good male is not simply being a good person. Males need to know what good masculinity is. This is true in its own way for females.
God created males and females to be complementary. This means that God designed males and females to need and complete each other (as expressed in the Catechism, 371-372, 1604-1605). In order to be fulfilled and completed, we need to unite ourselves with the opposite gender along the entire spectrum of non-romantic male-female relationships. Any male can be masculine because any male can be a good son to his mom, good brother to his sister, good friend to his female friends, a good co-worker with female co-workers, etc. Any female can be feminine because any female can be a good daughter to her dad, etc. Essential to Catholic masculinity is a relationship with, a devotion to, the Blessed Mother.
Masculinity is primarily defined by fatherhood, and femininity is primarily defined by motherhood. Persons who are not actually fathers or mothers can grow in good masculinity and femininity by developing the habits and character of good fathers or mothers. Every male can be masculine because every male can acquire the habits and characters of good fathers. Every female can be feminine because every female can acquire the habits and characters of good mothers.
As we are now reminded every day, a male can rebel against his masculinity, and a female can rebel against her femininity. A boy or girl can be confused about gender, especially when getting contradictory messages or ideological pressure from adults. Gender is not only biological, but it is also something that must be freely accepted and cultivated.
While a boy can learn to be a good person from both good men and good women and a girl can learn to be a good person from both good men and good women, a girl better learns to be a good woman from good women and a boy better learns to be a good man from good men. Those males in their teens and twenties who commit violent crime usually do not have in their lives fathers or adult males with good masculinity to show them how to have good masculinity.
The Fullness of Sexual Life
We can see why people are tempted to believe in false sexuality. Like any false ideology or heresy, Gender Theory (the theory that gender is completely subjective regardless of biology) has a germ of truth. It recognizes that there is a freedom involved in gender, without understanding the nature of that freedom. And like any false ideology or heresy, it promises to be a panacea.
God the Son became human in Jesus Christ in order to bring the fullness of life, including the fullness of sexual life. Through the Catholic Church founded by Jesus, we know the objective truth that males and females are equal in humanity, but also that masculinity and femininity have essences which are different from each other but complete each other. Neither a new law or Supreme Court decision, nor public opinion polls and referenda, nor surgery and hormone therapy can change the truth that will set us free.