Two of the strangest stories of the past week was Caitlyn Jenner, a person who has all the physical attributes of a man and yet self-defines as a woman winning Glamour magazine’s woman of the year award. And secondly a woman, who many have said has pushed the rights of women more in line with men than any other, Germaine Greer, is disinvited to give a lecture called “Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th century” at The University of Cardiff because she doesn’t believe a man who goes through surgery to become a woman is actually a woman.
There are many things that can be said in response to these two stories, but I will limit myself to two.
Firstly it shows how, as a society, we are extremely confused about gender. This is cheekily summed up by Brandan Oneill who said “This is the world you live in, folks. One in which a bloke can be globally celebrated as an inspiring woman — and heaven help the brave soul who asks: ‘But is this strapping former athlete with testicles really a woman?’ — while an actual inspiring woman, whose balls are only metaphorical, can be labelled a disgrace to ‘feminism and society’.” When our gender becomes something that is entirely malleable and we can choose it based on a variety of factors, any talk of gender is inherently meaningless. When this happens more and more children will grow up with gender identity issues which can stunt a child’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. What we are saying and doing with gender today I fear will have huge repercussions in the coming years.
Secondly, it shows how, in order to be as tolerant as we can be, we have actually become extremely intolerant. The new definition of intolerance is as Don Carson says “no longer a refusal to allow contrary opinions to say their piece in public, but must be understood to be any questioning or contradicting the view that all opinions are equal in value, that all worldviews have equal worth, that all stances are equally valid. To question such postmodern axioms is by definition intolerant. (The Intolerance of Tolerance p. 12). In questioning a contemporary shibboleth, Greer has become on an outcast because she no longer fits the definition of tolerance. It is a supreme irony that Greer fought for the very right to speak that Rachael Melhuish, Cardiff University’s Women’s Officer, the person who penned the petition seeking to ban Greer, is now using against her. This shows that the new tolerance actually cannibalistic. The new tolerance movement has to eat its own because when your existence is predicated on the fact that there are enemies of tolerance out there you have to keep coming up with new people to name and shame, eventually naming and shaming the very p[eople you once considered allies.
What is the solution to all this? We, as a society actually need to be reconnected with God. Because it is in our connection with God we find out what is right and wrong, what gender is and how the genders function. It is when God is rightly on the throne of our lives, families, and societies can people find who they truly are and be free from looking for the enemies around them. The stories that we mentioned at the beginning show that what we really need is a revival. Are you praying for that?