The Rt. Rev. Patrick S. Fodor
“Gender is a social construct.” This false idea started with French feminist existentialist Simone de Beauvoir (starting with her 1949 text The Second Sex), and the psychologist and major sexual pervert John Money (who coined the expression “gender role”). Their work was popularized by Judith Butler in her 1990 book Gender Trouble. The assertion that gender is separated from sex and a result of arbitrary social forces of oppression, is a recent mere manipulative word game in the service of an antihuman agenda.
As we should always do, we turn not to what the demons and their playthings say, but what God says: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Gen. 1:27-28). The original use of the term “sex” referred primarily to the nature of the human person as either a man or a woman. As Favale observes, “bodily sex referred to the person as a whole and was characterized by generative roles” (pg. 142). Sex was a word used to refer to the different sorts of human persons who would procreate in conformity with God’s Genesis command. As we’ve seen before, “gender” was only a grammatical way of expressing the realities of sex and their implications and roles in a specific language.
But sex was never about mere biology. Christian’s are neither Materialists who deny the existence of a soul and genuine mind and free will, nor anti-physical Gnostics on a quest for a supposedly better bodiless existence. Sex is not about biology alone or mere physical appearance, even if it does affect and condition those things. Sex is about function: procreation of God’s little images by the marital union of man and woman in a sublime act of self-donating love which itself images (in a dim, imperfect and creaturely way) the union of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. But this reality is, at least in potential, not about just the physical union. It is about the nature of man and woman as distinct, complementary modes of being human. To again quote Favale, “human beings come into existence in two distinct forms, male and female, and this difference of sex occurs on the level of being itself; it is ontological, intrinsic, part of the essence of the person” (page 142). Sex is not merely about distinct chromosomes or even about gametes (eggs and sperm), but about other mutually dependent, mutually completing characteristics of soul, mind, and body as a single reality. Separating gender from sex allows for dystopian manipulation of all aspects of sexual identity and activity. Pedophilia, necrophilia, and any other practice conceivable in the fallen mind of man or demons, are defended in this way. “Gender became the primary conceptual tool for dislodging the idea that men and women are two essentially different kinds of human beings” (Favale, pg. 148).
But aren’t we influenced by society, by nurture as well as nature? Aren’t we formed by the way people around us train us to interact with the world? Certainly. “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). These and many other Scriptures establish this, though we should know it from experience anyway. But to say that we can be affected by society and culture doesn’t mean all things are merely a function of those things. The confusion of essence with functions or roles, as if they were unrelated, and their complete separation as if they have no point of contact, are both major category errors. The God-given purpose of logic and reason is to establish what’s real and what’s not, to make distinctions between different things and not confuse them and avoid self-contradictory nonsense.
A large pool of studies over the past forty years (see Finley) have shown that men and women are different (and complementary to one another, together making a whole). The differences aren’t merely about physical reproductive organs, but also all the deep aspects of personality. It’s not that all men are exactly the same, or all women are, either. But some general characteristics of the two modes of being human show repeatedly, in ways consistent with a Christian worldview, so gender reflects sex in language and flows from it.
It also means our bodies aren’t exterior to our identity, but part of it by God’s design. That’s why God’s design includes our physical resurrection. The fullness of eternal life will involve not some disembodied existence, but perfect, glorified bodies and sinless souls and minds, united together in harmony. The popular 1992 book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus resonated deeply with people because it said out loud what we always knew or reminded us of things the hostile culture had erased.
Sex is an objective reality, rooted not only in biology, but also in the essential character of specific human souls and minds. The way that the two modes of human personality work together to glorify God is what needs to be brought back into view. And none of this is about mere social constructs that can be swept away. They literally, like God’s Words, abide forever.
Favale, Abigaile. The Genesis of Gender. Ignatius Press, 2022.
Finley, John D., Ed. Sexual Identity: The Harmony of Philosophy, Science and Revelation. Emmaus Road, 2022.