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I haven’t read Quillette much since Claire Lehmann converted into a scold in the era of Covid, but I saw this article tweet/posted early this morning, and, while a touch inflammatory in tone, it seems like a fairly comprehensive narrative of how Canadian politics and the accelerating gender madness are together careening down the broad, wide road that leads nowhere fun.

The two authors profile a series of people whose lives are confused, and, as importantly, the government policies that everywhere remove all prohibitions on individual people’s gender “journeys.” One person called “Le May” wanted to become something called “transmasculine non-binary” and surgically acquire both kinds of reproductive organs. There was a vague hesitation by government officials, but then they “capitulated so quickly that Le May seems upset to have been denied a bigger legal stage; and so is now (retroactively) pursuing a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.” The writers mention something I had not yet heard of—

“nounself pronouns” which “’use nature and other inspirations as non-binary and genderless descriptors.’ (Example: ‘For someone who uses the nounself pronoun “leaf,” that may look like: “I hope leaf knows how proud we are that leaf is getting to know leafself better!”’)”

About the phenomenon of Lia Thomas, they write, “For the first time, it dawned on the average citizen that, yes, there are ideologues out there who actually believe (or at least, pretend to believe) that saying ‘I’m a woman’ acts as a sort of magic spell upon the male body.”

Indeed, they document at length the spiritual tenor of this new unquestioning acceptance that a human body can be transformed from one kind of sex into another. For example, there is a “federal 2SLGBTQIA+ action plan” whereby Canada will become a place for all Canadians to be “truly free to be who they are and love who they love.” If you don’t know what the “2S” is, it’s for “Two-Spirit.” With lashings of sarcasm, they write,

Thus do Canadian activists now delight in advancing the (completely false) claim that the country’s original Indigenous societies were chock full of multi-spirited proto-trans and non-binary people who’d never even heard of the male-female “gender binary” until racist colonialists forced it upon them at gunpoint.”

But it’s not just adult misery, as we all, by this time, are well aware, it’s really about being able to trans the children:

For many therapists, this movement has clearly become a means to explain away a child’s depression, loneliness, or trauma in a way that offers families the tantalizing possibility of a decisive fix. This tendency is reinforced by school curricula, public-service announcements, and media reports, in which transition is presented as a wondrous “gender journey” into a magical land of self-fulfillment. Well-meaning parents, having been told that a failure to instantly “affirm” their child’s claimed trans identity might prompt self-harm, or even suicide, naturally fall into line.

And, sickeningly:

In many cases, Canadian gender propaganda has taken on the tone of spiritual literature, assuring troubled youth that a promised land is around the corner once they embrace the revealed truth that their gendered soul is trapped in the wrong flesh vessel. (As part of this mash-up of progressive gender dogma and old-time religion, the Anglican Church of Canada has even produced something called a “Pastoral Liturgy for Journeys of Gender Affirmation & Transition.”

It is, then, a bit alarming, in this mire of identity “confusion” to wander over to the lections for the day and hear Jesus, of all people, asking this most essential question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” His disciples at this moment, must be deeply uncomfortable, for Jesus has taken them out of the comfortable regions of ethnic Judaism and over into a place where a lot of Gentiles live with all their Gentile ways, to the district of Caesarea Philippi. There he asks the question. For he knows that while he himself is by no means confused about his own identity, everyone else is. The disciples name some people who are long dead, and one more recently deceased—John the Baptist. But then Jesus presses the question—“But who do you say that I am.”

If the disciples had had their wits about them—and we can’t possibly know what they were thinking and feeling because Matthew doesn’t tell us—they would have been jolted by the title “Son of Man.” Jesus isn’t asking a neutral question. Just as, for anyone who begins to wonder who, or now, in many cases, what they are, the inquiry is crushingly value-laden. Who I am is how other people will know me. If I don’t know, or you don’t know, I am admitting to the depths of alienation I experience within myself, never mind the disconnection I have with God or other people. It’s not just all the visual attributes of my appearance or character, it’s my essential being and how I am known. Who am I?

But Jesus isn’t confused about his own identity. He’s not asking because he doesn’t know. Nor is he asking for affirmation, as we would understand it. He doesn’t need the disciples to see his shiny inner self in order to properly accept his own mission or purpose or even nature. He is who he is, and they may acknowledge it or not. At the end of the day, and eternity, he will always be who he is.

But it is important for them. And for any passers-by. And for any reader of the text. And for you and me. Who is Jesus? If you don’t know, you can’t know yourself—not really, not with any true satisfaction.

And, as we may observe, Jesus does want you to know. He’s not being cagey out of the desire to manipulate or control you. On the contrary, he doesn’t want you to be a leaf-self blown about by the wind, fading and falling into the ground to be swallowed up by grief and decay. His self-revelation is perfectly designed to draw you into the everlasting solidity of the truth. Therefore, he gives away the answer in the question itself, because he wants you to both know him and know yourself. He says who he is even as he asks. He is the “Son of Man.”

You have to go all the way back to the book of Daniel to discover who that is. He is the Person who is presented to the Ancient of Days and is given authority and dominion over everything. The disciples, familiar with the term, are nevertheless confused to have Jesus say it, especially in reference to himself. For he is there with them in Caesarea Philippi and there are no thrones anywhere. They are all walking down a road—on a journey, if you will—that will eventually lead to the cross. All the names they give—Elijah, or one of the prophets—surely admit that they understand he is no ordinary person wandering in waste places looking for himself.

Peter leaps in to answer. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He is the Messiah. He is the One they’ve been waiting for. ‘Yes,’ says Jesus, ‘That’s right.’ Good job, though, a few verses later, Peter will stunningly and bravely betray his ignorance about what any of this means. But that won’t matter, because Jesus is old and true, and also firm and sure. For so God says in the other text for this morning:

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
    you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
    and to the quarry from which you were dug.
 Look to Abraham your father
    and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
    that I might bless him and multiply him.
For the Lord comforts Zion;
    he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
    her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the voice of song.

The writers at Quillette point out the horrible contradiction at the heart of the ideological view of gender that is wrecking so many people’s lives. Government officials and politicians aren’t stopping to hear what’s really being said. Of those driving this rattle-trap cart down the road, they write,

On the one hand…they typically insist that gender dysphoria shouldn’t be seen as an affliction, but rather as a natural (perhaps even welcome) outgrowth of the soul-like gender spirit that supposedly infuses all of us. On the other hand, we are simultaneously warned that many trans people will experience crippling psychic pain if they do not receive immediate access to surgeries and a lifelong program of cross-sex hormones.

Ultimately, what’s being promised is something religious and spiritual—“the utopian promises of a better life.” Even more, though, the promise is for self-knowledge apart from the sure, certain, unshakable rock of God’s own character and nature. The great fear is that if you bash up against that foundation, you will break apart. You will be shattered. Better not to be carved out of the Rock, but to carve up yourself, to refashion yourself into something that no longer resembles the One who made you. But the result isn’t happiness. It is an ever-growing wilderness, a waste land of misery and alienation and despair.

And yet observe how it is that God rescues his people out of all their unhappiness. For the Son of Man only came in glory and honor and power and dominion, presented to the Ancient of Days, after he had destroyed our Destroyer. He descended very low, into the darkest and most wicked places, into the depths of human “dysphoria” and “dystopia” in order to drag us out of the mire.

And so he and Peter and the other disciples continue on their way, his face set like flint. You should go with him. Especially to church this morning. Hope to see you there!

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