The Gnostic streak in Liberalism: An Analysis

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When subjective “truths” that are really no truths at all are allowed to sideline reality, biological or otherwise, they become an all too useful and common tool for tyranny.

The issues of LGBT rights, gender roles and abortion come to the fore every so often in current news, normally with the latest celebrity coming out in support of one or both (no pun intended). As a Christian I happen to believe that LGBTism is a desires-based identification that is completely incapable of explaining the human condition, keeping them in slavery to desires and causing them to not reach their true potential as images of God.  I also happen to believe that abortion is horrific and has no place in a civilised society. However, I am not here to preach on the nuances of how queer theory is incompatible with Christianity.

I am writing today to discuss recent talking points of LGBT rights, abortion and how there is a hidden tyranny behind both that has nothing to do with religious belief. This is not to say that people who identify as LGBT or who consider themselves as pro-choice by necessity wish to destroy the Christian family, (generally, I think some of the odd evangelical tendencies to see them as degenerate people subverting society as unhelpful to discourse) rather this article discusses the chilling implications of what these causes can have on a free society.

This is Nothing New

In the 2nd Century, a theologian known as St Irenaeus of Lyons wrote against the philosophy of people who claimed to be Christians but believed some very odd things. They believed that their bodies were not real, and in fact their true selves were their spirits, joined to spiritual beings they knew as Aeons. Complicated cosmologies followed, including such odd ideas as the Ophites, who saw Satan as a hero and used to release snakes on their communion tables, and the Valentinians who were notable for turning their communions into orgies. What they had in common, was their complete and utter denial of the reality of the body. They were spirits trapped in fleshy prisons who needed special enlightenment to be free of their bodies. They called themselves Gnostics, and we even see evidence in the Bible of the earliest Christians having to respond to their denial of Jesus’ humanity (see 1 John for more details).

Nowadays you will not encounter many individuals who believe in Sophia, the Pleroma, Monotes and Henotes (all Aeons of the Gnostic cosmology). However, you will encounter similar ideas surrounding the body, parenthood and desire that are very much in keeping with gnostic ideas. Namely: much of the LGBT lobby has decided that biology does not dictate reality but rather feelings, emotions and desires define what is actually existing, what is actually reality. A good summary of this can be found in one Queer theorist, Judith Butler:

According to the understanding of identification as an enacted fantasy or incorporation, however, it is clear that coherence is desired, wished for, idealised and that this idealisation is an effect of corporeal signification.  In other words  acts, gestures and desire produce the effect of an internal core or substance but produce this on the surface of the body , through the play of signifying absences that suggest but never reveal, the organising principle of identity as a cause….In other word,  acts and gestures articulated and enacted desires create the illusion of an interior and organising gender core….
(Judith Butler, Gender Trouble)

To translate the postmodern language, Butler is arguing that we, through our identity, create an illusion of reality. That is our body does not reflect reality, but rather a series of learned behaviours result in us adopting certain ideas about our body that then develop into our gender. It is our “psyche” that defines who we are, and not biological realities. All very philosophical so far, however it is this ultimate premise that leads to some devastating conclusions.

Parenthood

As biology does not define who we are, it means that our biological parents are not necessarily our parents. Consider this: when someone declares that they are having a child with someone of the same sex, what is it that they mean? To put it bluntly:  Two women cannot have a child without a Man’s sperm. Two men cannot have a child without a woman’s egg. Ultimately, the child is going to be taken away from one of their biological parents (at least) and given to the couple to raise. I do not wish to attack same-sex couples who choose to adopt, most of them do so with the best of intentions I am sure. However, it is simply a biological reality that there is no such thing as a child with two parents of the same-sex. All children have a mother and father. Sure, two people of the same sex can raise a child, but at least one of them will not be the child’s biological parent. The law however would say otherwise.

The question then becomes what then, if anything, defines parenthood if not Biology? Unfortunately, in the case of same-sex adoption, it is the state that ultimately defines what is considered parenthood. The law denies biological realities, instead in the name of “equality” declaring impossibilities to be true. This is ultimately why Catholic adoption agencies had to shut down after the law was changed, as they could not affirm the redefinition of parenthood that the state put forward. Result: a care system that is not fit for purpose given even more strain as one of the key adoptive groups (Christians) was being pushed out, as the state defines what parents are.

This should be scarier for those of us with biological children: the state now decides whether you are parents of a child or not. This means that loving parents could potentially have their children taken away if their values do not align with the state’s values. The state can decide for example that if you raise your children in a Christian manner that you are not fit to be parents. There are already people lobbying for this: Richard Dawkins is on record as saying that raising children in a religious background is “child abuse”. It’s not just religion though. If you have political values that don’t align with the prevailing government values, then that too could be an issue for you in the future. Remember those kids taken from the UKIP members in Rotherham? Imagine that but on a wider scale and done to biological parents. That is ultimately why many fear the tyranny of LGBT “rights” not because of homophobia, but because of the use of this particular lobby to expand state control.

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Gender

A relatively recent phenomenon in society has been the principle of gender identity, that is that our sex at birth is not in fact what we are. Many different pronouns and genders have been invented. For a long time, these ideas were confined to the most left-wing and fringe areas of Tumblr. Now we have the claim that misgendering should be a hate crime being taken seriously at a governmental level. We also have accusations of transphobia being placed on those who critique the suggestion that children should be encouraged to transition if they happen to behave like the opposite gender. Needless to say, both the philosophical assumptions behind transsexualism and the implementation of trans “rights” legislation are problematic.

Firstly: both trans rights policy and philosophy tend to be r rather sexist: Much of the identification of “trans children” is based on very rigidly defined gender roles. A boy that breaks into his mother’s dressing table and puts lipstick on is not simply having a laugh, but a girl. A girl who plays football, enjoys getting dirty, makes fart jokes is in fact a boy rather than a tomboy. If we say that biological reality does not define what a man or woman is, we then leave such definitions to be made based upon something else, in the case of trans children, the state’s perception of what a boy or girl is.

This is not simply confined to children and the record numbers of young people being sent into Tavistock, but to adults as well. Note how when any celebrity comes out as trans the media will immediately start using the individuals preferred pronoun. With it being a hate crime to misgender (use a pronoun different to the pronoun preferred by an individual) in many places, it has become necessary for the state to define what pronouns are appropriate for whom, thus giving the state control over language.

While this is yet to occur, we will soon get to the stage where someone will be able to legally define themselves as man, woman or any other claimed gender without having to do anything other than claiming that they are such (indeed legislation to that effect has begun to be looked at by parliament). At that stage the state could define people as male or female and justify the castration of individuals (or individuals’ children) in the name of them “identifying as something other than their assigned sex at birth. If a parent objected, they could have their children taken away in the name of protecting the child against their parents “transphobic abuse”. I don’t think I need to go into further speculation on how tyrannical this could get, but simple logic is seen here: when biology does not define reality, then the state will define reality for the individual. Once again: it is not trans individuals that are problematic, but rather the desire to have the state enforce a specific philosophical world view upon others that is the issue.

Abortion

The same logic forms for our abortion legislation. A child is only considered alive in their mother’s womb if the woman wants the child. In other words, it is a woman’s feelings that define the biological reality, not the biological reality (an unborn child is alive from conception) that defines the feelings. A common claim is made that Christians oppose abortion because of their belief in a child having a soul from conception. While Spirituality is part of some people who describe themselves as “pro-life”, the reasoning behind pro-life views in the Christian community is far more to do with the humanity of the unborn child, the fact that there is a human body growing inside the mother. This is why the discussion with pro-choice individuals’ centres around nebulous concepts such as “personhood” and “women’s bodily autonomy” rather than whether the unborn are living beings or human. This betrays another political problem: It is the state that defines whether someone can be considered alive or not. This is why abortion is unjustifiable, as once you put it down to someone’s feelings as to whether someone has a right to life you can apply it to any human. Genocide is justified with the same logic. The minority group isn’t truly human, and thus they can be destroyed. Incidentally, similar logic is used for euthanasia programmes, establishing the near comical idea of a “human non-person” that can be eliminated at the whim of whoever is allowed to be making the decision.

Conclusion

As we have seen, the gnostic streak in Liberalism is not merely something that is a matter of theological debate amongst Christians but something that should be of great concern to Conservatives and Libertarians alike. When subjective “truths” that are really no truths at all are allowed to side-line reality, biological or otherwise, they become an all too useful and common tool for tyranny. A tool that can be used to destroy critical institutions for a free people and can – and has – led to atrocity of the worst kind.

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