The Social Embrace of a New Kind of Gnosticsm

A roadmap that leads from contraception, to abortion, to same-sex marriage, and ends in totalitarianism.

I don’t mean the historical heresy that attempted to merge elements of Greek philosophy and the Christian faith. Rather I mean a kind of bodily Gnosticism, one that Robert R. Riley notes that,

Gnosticism does not accept the evidence of reality. It is not a matter of what Gnostics do not know, but of what they refuse to acknowledge.

A few years ago, I introduced my readers to philosopher Daniel Moody and his arguments that followed along those lines in regard to the issue of transgenderism. Last year, Moody posted an essay over at The Public Discourse where he drew the line between the push for and acceptance of contraception and transgenderism. Titled, “Throw Off Your Rubber Chains! From Contraception to Transgenderism via Abortion,” Moody traces the logic carefully and forthrightly.

He begins by noting that,

It has taken mankind less than one hundred years to make the journey from an embrace of contraception to an embrace of “gender fluidity,”…

When one considers this against history, this is an incredible pace for a movement. He continues,

…but the link between the two is not always obvious.

Moody, gives us an analogy to help forge the connection, writing,

John is snuggled up on his sofa watching television. In front of him he can see moving pictures accompanied by matching sound. The presence of the pictures and sound explains why the TV is made of the materials it is, why it is the size it is, why there is a volume button, and so on. Everything about the TV makes sense.

He then throws a wrench in the works,

Now, let us suppose John places a layer of insulating material between plug and socket. With the flow of electricity thwarted, no pictures can be seen and no sound can be heard.

We should ask the question, what makes a TV a TV? The answer should be clear: it’s designed function. When something interferes with this function, it ceases to be a meaningful or useful source of either information or entertainment. Moody catches this,

If John curls up on his sofa again and regards this picture-less version of watching TV to be valid, then we can confront him with some questions: why is the TV constructed from those materials rather than, say, sugar? why is the TV that size rather than the size of a sugar cube.

That may seem to be an absurd series of questions, but that is merely the logic of the situation working out, as Moody rightly surmises,

Having accepted that the flow of electricity is irrelevant to the television’s nature, he will be powerless to defend the TV’s substance, size, and so on. In short, absent the flow of electricity, nothing about the TV makes sense. John may as well snuggle up in front of a cushion from the sofa.

Now, while this may seem to be a stretch, Moody makes the transfer appropriate by arguing that, when it comes to what constitutes a human being, there are two constituent elements: maleness or femaleness (ie biological sex) and the sexual union of those parts. That is that for a genetically new and unique human being to be conceived that the two elements of humanity must be brought together.

Now, there will, of course be some argument that these are not necessary any longer since scientists have figured out how to engineer sperm cells from other cells, which could be a good thing if a biological man is having problems producing enough on his own or has an injury or other defect that prevents it, however we’re talking about normal, everyday circumstances. But that’s going off topic since Moody wants to focus on this point,

When we add in the fact that “sex” is the word by which we signify the nature of the whole of the body rather than a part or parts of it, we can say everything about being male or female makes sense.

Which is true, if the argument is that biological “maleness” or “femaleness” is somehow a societal construct, it logically follows that saying that anything other than these are also “societal constructs”. You can’t have it both ways. Either it’s something determined biologically or it’s a product of society. You cannot smuggle biology into an argument about social discussions unless the biological has real, definitional qualities.

Moody goes on with his argument,

But what happens when a layer of insulating material is placed between John and his wife, Joan? Well, if John regards this baby-less version of sexual union to be valid, then we have a couple of questions for him. Why does his wife need to be female? And why does he need to be male?

I think, but I’m not sure, that Moody is a Roman Catholic, so some of his argumentation has to be understood along those lines about some of their beliefs about contraception, I’m even going to recognize that there has been a measure of change in recent years, so I’m going to let him go on based upon that assumption, to recognize his argument: if sex does not have procreation in view, then why not say that sex is not primarily for that purpose?

Indeed, if sex exists not for procreation as it’s first use, then my sexual outlets do not have to be limited to only those, or that one, with whom I can procreate. This opens the door wide for the embrace of homosexuality, bestiality, and pederasty, by erasing the biological elements of human nature.

Moody runs with this, pointing out that,

If a thing is deemed meaningless within the very context that defines its purpose, then that thing cannot be said to have any purpose at all. We are made of sex, so if the maleness of John has no meaning, then John has no meaning. This is the only logical conclusion available to him. Absent the flow of life, nothing about the body makes sense.

Moody’s  Catholic roots are showing in the next statement, but I agree on a fundamental, philosophical level when he points out,

In placing a barrier between male and female, we also place a barrier between body and mind, with the mind no longer able to see that it is the mind of somebody who has meaning. Contraception starves the mind of ontology.

Now, as I said, I agree on a fundamental level. However, Moody says that contraception is “wrong”, and I feel compelled, if not obligated to disagree because I can conceive of a number of legitimate, medically necessary reasons why contraception may be required, but I’m not going to argue for those here. So, I will not engage in a moral argument here, even though I can follow his logic.

Moody notes that because human sexuality has become disconnected from its primary purpose, that it undermines any meaningful grounds for a positive sexual morality, saying that,

[…]John needs to turn his back on the idea that there exists any objective reference point for sexual morality.

This is based upon the fact that (heterosexual) marriage is the, “right by which sexual wrongs can be known (emphasis added).” The inherent problem with a meaningless sexuality is that there is no way to identify a positive sexuality, because all sexual expressions are defined equally valid, and to say that they’re are those which are not just smacks of arbitrariness. Moody makes a second point,

[….]John must abandon all possibility of locating meaningfulness in anything that flows out of the nature of the body.

By reducing sexuality and its expression to mere emotion, then whatever is done to the body is what is true, and there’s nothing that says that one has to limit it to their body. There’s nothing that says, without engaging in arbitrariness, in such a worldview that says that I must respect my biological expression or that I have to respect anyone else’s. If I want my child to be something that they weren’t meant to be, then there’s nothing that stands in the way of that, or in the way of me imposing upon another person, and Moody recognizes this noting that,

If we have inwardly hidden the truth about our body, we must then destroy all external evidence of that truth. Our embrace of contraception compels us to hide the consequences of being made male and female. We must hide our babies.

So, how does this apply to abortion? Moody makes three points for this, but his second is the most important, in my opinion, in capturing this:

The state cannot suppose some persons (those in the womb) not to be persons and continue to recognize natural personhood in law.

Moody’s point is this: either the thing in the womb is a person, which means that there are certain legal protections which are an inherent in that fact, or no one is, which means that there are no real expectations due to someone. It’s an all or nothing proposition, or it’s arbitrary or, to butcher a phrase, trying to have your cake and eat it too. That means that no one becomes a person, but is a person from the moment of conception. Where does such a denial of what is evidently true lead? Moody takes us right to the door and knocks,

Signing up for legal permission to be free from the natural consequences of being [biologically] sexed translates to signing away any access to legal recognition of who we naturally are.

It is, fundamentally, a rejection of ones humanity.

Moody says this,

As is the case with law, the concept of human identity is a natural monopoly. It cannot have more than one owner, or else we human persons would have nothing in common with one another. If we suppose God no longer owns the patent for law, …ownership must have transferred fully to the state. The same must be true of the patent for human identity. Laws govern persons, and persons are subject to laws, so whoever owns either of the patents must in fact own both.

Scripture is clear, God made man(kind)—“peoplekind” for the Canadian audience—“male and female”. That means that the constituent parts of humanity are only two and nothing else. I am willing to concede though that there are instances, rare instances, where there may be ambiguity due to a genetic abnormality, however the exception doesn’t make the rules.

Seeing that this post is getting inordinately long, it seems like a good place to wrap up, and sum up what I take Moody’s argument to be as he draws the line from the institution of contraception, it’s lead to abortion, the embrace of homosexuality, and, what is the greatest threat to human freedom, transgenderism. Once the purpose of a given activity—sexual intercourse and its necessary relationship to procreation—is erased it removes the necessary and right distinctions between the constituent elements of humanity, falsely leading to the belief that not only are those distinctions aren’t real but are merely a choice. 

I didn’t choose to be male, I was endowed by my Creator with the gift of maleness. As such I have a responsibility to use it as He has defined it. My feelings have nothing to do with the matter. To say anything else is to call God a liar.

Please, go read Daniel Moody’s full article over at The Public Discourse.

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