The Devil, You Say?
by Fr. Paul Scalia
Three times in his speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Cardinal Sarah described gender ideology as “demonic.” More recently, Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Coakley used the same word addressing the issue. So did Bishop Paprocki of Springfield regarding gay marriage. A strong word, to be sure. But most people misunderstand why. Some take “demonic” for mere hyperbole. Something is not just bad, but really, really bad. Others see it as rash judgment of opponents – literally demonizing them. Still others take it as just an overstatement by religious fanatics, who are unhinged anyway.
But “demonic” is a sober and sobering assessment of the thought behind gender ideology. It’s not a judgment of people’s intentions. It doesn’t mean that those who endorse gender ideology are demonic or possessed. It means, rather, that the reasoning and results of that philosophy – no matter how innocently held – line up with the desires, tactics, and resentments of “Old Scratch” himself.
Gender ideology repeats the basic lie of the evil one: “You will be like gods.” (Gen 3:5) Of course, this lie lurks behind every temptation. Every sin comes from that prideful desire to supplant God. But in the arena of human sexuality, it has greater gravity.
God creates; man is created. God brings into being; man receives his being. Gender ideology proposes something else: that we are our own creators. In one of his last (and perhaps most important) addresses, Pope Benedict noted:
The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. . . . But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. . . .the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.
And if we find our bodies not in keeping with what we have determined ourselves to be, then we alter them accordingly. Against this, Pope Francis counsels: “Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place accepting it and respecting it as it was created.” (AL, 56)
There’s also demonic hatred of the body. C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters chronicles the demonic resentment of God’s favoring us “hairless bipeds. . .[animals] begotten in a bed.” Why this hatred? Perhaps because the human body and soul are one. The soul, having so much in common with the angelic nature, is one with the body, having so much in common with animal nature. The devil takes this union as a personal offense. He (as we all experience) seeks to undo it – to divide us from our own flesh, to pit body and soul against each other. He masterfully leads us to worship the body one moment and abhor it the next. Death – the separation of body and soul – was, of course, his greatest victory.
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