Another family has decided to raise their children in a "gender-neutral" environment. This means that they have not let others know whether they baby is a boy or a girl and they do not tell them how to dress, what to play with or the societal expectations of how they should act. This also means they are setting their child up to be abnormal. It is a social experiment on their own children in order to push an agenda and try to further "societal change" toward a progressive culture.
The problem with all of these ideas is that they make a false separation between the body and the "true self". If you aren't your body, then what are you? If the real you isn't your body, what happens to the real you when it doesn't have a body to hold it any longer? What is the body, if it isn't a part of you?
These questions and many more highlight the need we have for the theology of the body. There are clear answers.
Modern society has placed a litmus test upon the way in which we relate to one another: this test is basically one of function. The secular criteria of functionality has become commonplace in the way our society thinks of equality and if this is so, then we must probably conclude that the Church is archaic and sexist. But in the eyes of the Church, equality between men and women is based on something much more important than mere function. Our equality goes beyond mere function and takes us to the heart of humanity.
THE IMAGE OF GOD
In the beginning, Adam was alone in his humanity and he knew something was missing. God also knew this and said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). What we see here, is that Adam did not enjoy the full range of his human capacity for relationships with creation as it was. As a human, he needed something else to be complete. The “other” that gave him the full meaning of relationship was Eve. Thus, they are created for and ordered to one another.
An important note we must make about the creation narrative is that Adam was not referred to as “male” until there was a female to contrast with his maleness. As Pope John Paul II point out, prior to Eve, Adam is just “man” in the sense that is used to define all of humanity; that is, mankind as a whole in which gender is not even considered. Adam only takes on the masculinity that is part of his nature after Eve is created and she can then provide the femininity that is needed to give masculinity its meaning. In other words, without female, there is no male. God created this distinction between male and female and it is consequently a divinely instituted distinction.
DIFFERENT YET EQUAL?
What happened next in the Garden of Eden is what we have come to know as marriage. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Here, the dynamic of the relationship between man and woman changes. Now we not only have man and woman in the narrative, but we have husband and wife. This brings on a real change in both the relationship of Adam and Eve, and in Adam and Eve themselves. The two become one. They complement each other in the differences that they bear by their nature. But the two are not interchangeable. The woman cannot be husband and the man cannot be wife. To complete each other they first must realize that in their differences, they find what the other needs to be complete. Exactly the opposite happens in modern thought when, attempting to make man and woman equal, it ends up making them the same, thus denying precisely that which truly makes us equal, our reflection of the divine.
It is now becoming clearer why the Church has a view which seems to be in conflict with society - it is. According to a function-based definition of equality, the roles that a woman once had are now open for men to fulfill, and vice-versa. We each are capable of doing what everyone else “does” regardless of our nature. This then justifies such ideas as that women should be priests because women can do anything that a men can do as priests (proclaim the Gospel, wear vestments, give homilies, run parishes, and so on). But as we have seen, this way of thinking about humanity is a denial of the purpose in which God created us -- male and female. If we are able to be whatever we want, just by willing it, this boils down to a refutation of what God intends each of us to be.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
If we as men and women seek to understand our differences, then we also must ask how our differences complement each other, and how we are tied to one another and to God.
If we side with society and the world-view that humanity is defined by function, then, for example, the unborn child has no rights since it cannot “do” anything, and more generally women and men are no longer distinguishable except by how we might function. But if we side with the Church and the sacramental view of humanity, then our dignity is tied to the fulfillment of our beings as found in each other and in the relationship that God created between men and women at the beginning. What does this criterion of equality based function end up doing to us? It means that we can never truly be equal; for true equality can only be found by acknowledging our differences and then finding that which transcends them.
It also means we shouldn't experiment on innocent children.