When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, most rejoiced in what they thought was a victory over the Marxist-inspired despotism that had harried the world for decades. That event, which Pope Benedict XVI called an “elegant symbol,” was a turning point of sorts, but not one that led to the full flowering of human freedom. On the contrary, it marked a disturbing turn from a failed economic structure to its cultural stepchild, founded on an insidious lie that stalks our society on any given day. Indeed, the victory we thought we had attained was only a skirmish in a more long-standing war, the war over the dignity of the human person and where he finds his salvation.
Understanding the Dialectic
The Eastern Block nations (under the boot of Soviet Russia) believed that man was a tool of the state, and his salvation was in the marketplace. In their strictly materialist view of the world, the class struggle would culminate in crushing capitalism through the dialectic. By pitting thesis against antithesis, a new synthesis would accrue: the classless workers’ paradise.
While the Marxists seemed to have lost the battle in the marketplace, they have persisted on the cultural level and are winning battle after battle. In that sense, the fall of the Berlin Wall was only a small setback. It is through this lens that we must take stock of the pro-life movement and the status of the family today.
All who have fought for the dignity of the unborn are quite familiar with feminists, who have never wavered in their attack on marriage and motherhood. “Biology is not destiny!” is their battle cry, and to understand their agenda you must understand that they are cultural Marxists at heart -- indeed, they are key players in the next level of the dialectic. Just as the Marxists of old fought for control over the “means of production” feminists have always framed their arguments in terms of controlling the “means of reproduction.”
It began with the equity feminists, who eventually morphed into radical feminists, and yet now we are facing the gender feminists who want nothing less than an all-out deconstruction of all sexual differences. It is here that we find the power of the dialectic: they believe that men were the oppressors and women were the oppressed. Thus, it’s not enough that women rise up, but there must be a new synthesis, the eradication of male and female, which allowed the oppression in the first place.
The arc of their agenda has been steep and swift. These are the supporter of same-sex marriage, claiming that families can be configured in a variety of ways. And immediately on the heels of approving same sex marriage came the demand for transgender rights -- and not only content with “bathroom bills” and reconfiguring birth certificates, they will have made their impact on the Olympics games, where biological men may compete in the women’s events this very summer even without gender reassignment surgery.
Outmanoeuvring the Pro-life Movement
If you look at this chaos in terms of cultural Marxism, it becomes clear, especially as we review the stages of confrontation specific to the pro-life movement. The first battle was enormous and urgent -- to save the life of the child. It took years, but technology was on our side. Education about fetal development was key, and what fetal models did at the outset, the ultrasound perfected, so that there are very few people who have not seen the marvelous images of the unborn child: they are in scrap books, on refrigerators, and even in a handful of television commercials -- this is a tremendous a victory for life!
The second battle was for motherhood, which was to underscore the strength of women everywhere, to show that they were strong enough to handle pregnancy in a host of adverse circumstances: while still in school, while working stressful jobs, after having suffered abuse or rape, while encumbered financially, while feeling emotionally fragile, while responsible for other children, and even when facing special needs or medical emergencies -- this is a tremendous victory for women!
But the greater battle has yet to be won, and this is where Marxism and its insidious lies have prevailed, even here -- despite the political changes that accompanied the fall of the Berlin Wall, its cultural footprint remains. The majority of millennials are pro-life -- in that they want the unborn child to be given the benefit of the doubt, a chance at life. Gone are the days of stigma, where a woman would have an abortion because of the shame of a child out of wedlock. Schools and workplaces accommodate pregnancy no matter what the particular details of the situation, and in this realm we see that choice has won.
Having a baby at any stage of life, within marriage or without, has so prevailed that we now come to the root horror of our predicament: fatherhood is no longer an essential component of family life. The quest to defend life and to empower women has left men completely out in the cold, and few people see their value -- even though a woman cannot be a mother without a man: the child exists only because of his seed.
This is where we as believers have to acknowledge that our Judeo-Christian culture is inherently, historically, existentially patriarchal. Since that key truth has been soft-pedaled and hidden in our places of worship, we now discover that it has been abandoned even by most Christians. This is partly because of men behaving badly, but also because of a growing -- already widespread -- disdain for masculinity.
We must understand that fatherhood can be maligned in three different ways: a father can be compromised by apathy or indifference towards those entrusted to his care; or he can abuse his authority by using excessive force in the execution of his duties. In this regard, he is more of a tyrant than a father. But there's a third way that fatherhood is undermined, and that is permeating our culture today: behold androgyny -- the blurring of the distinction between male and female. We find this phenomenon everywhere, seeping into popular culture, changing our vocabulary, and trying to establish a new normal. This is the victory of cultural Marxism: the deliberate sowing of confusion, replacing male and female with “gender identities,” and exposing our children to vulgar and perverse ideas even in their earliest years.
The demise of fatherhood over the past few decades now means that the father is not legally bound (or otherwise committed) to help the mother of his children, the collaboration between men and women is undermined, and children are far less exposed to complementarity, which is both at the heart of male-female relationships and the foundation of the family. This means that boys increasingly will not be mentored properly as boys (mothers cannot do this!); girls, without a protective and loving father, will seek self-destructive attention in the wrong places from the wrong men; and no one in these situations will understand the fatherhood of God.
That is the ultimate harm, and it’s not only a sociological problem: we have now arrived at the root tragedy: attacking patriarchy is blasphemy. Saint Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (1 Eph 3:14). To attack fatherhood is to malign God himself. Moreover, this primal blasphemy has crept up on us while we were valiantly busy trying to save babies and support their mothers.
All of this is no accident, because it was in the original design of Marxism:
Marx’s writings on gender and the family are significantly more substantial and more valuable than is usually acknowledged. Marx showed considerable insight into the gender relations of his own time, pointing to the need for a total transformation of society that would necessarily involve new relations between men and women … Since both nature and society are not static entities, Marx argued that there can be no transhistorical notion of what is ‘natural’” (The International Marxist-Humanist).
Why is this battle so important? We are fast approaching the end game, which is now unmasked. The battle for the life of the child and the dignity of the mother were real, but only a softening of the target: In winning those wars, we were actually out-manoeuvred by those who wanted to deconstruct the family, because a family cannot thrive without a father. The father, the mother, and the children all benefit by living in a stable family -- this is obvious by reading every sociological study properly rendered, but more importantly, only then can each person begin to understand God the Father.
Why is the Fatherhood of God essential?
Of course God is not male, but He asked us to call him Father: Elsewhere, Saint Paul wrote: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:15). God must be at the centre. The very opening of our Catechism begins with: “FATHER, . . . this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent …” The first word in the prologue is Father! And then the text begins with God:
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church.
See how it immediately pairs his creative work with the Church, which is precisely the nuptial reality currently under attack, showing that the Divine Mercy radiates outwards -- from the center out to creation -- by means of his fatherly love, to man who receives it in relation to his humility and reverence.
How is patriarchy properly understood? To know, we must look at the love of God the father, whose actions are life-giving, who is faithful to that which he has created, who creates in a nuptial fashion (through another, although he remains the principal); who points to complementarity, and whose love is sacrificial. Fatherhood most faithfully reveals the truth about divine generation and how God relates to his creatures. Our faith is supposed to be grounded in filial piety, which requires trust -- and this is where the three ways that fatherhood is compromised come into play: this trust is massively difficult for those who have suffered either the neglect of fathers or from male tyranny, but it is impossible for those who buy into the androgynous lies that are swallowing our culture.
Saint Cyprian famously said “you cannot have God as your father without the Church for your mother,” but both are lost to our children if fatherhood and motherhood become alien concepts -- as is seriously becoming a distinct possibility. Until we understand this truth, internalise it, and lay it as the foundation of our very lives, we cannot properly rebuild our society. The followers of Christ have always known that the truth will set us free, but what we may not have known until now is how important patriarchy properly understood has been to flourishing of the human family.
So what shall we do?
If this truth is problematic to you, take it to prayer and beg for healing from those scandalous obstacles that may have harmed you in the past -- you cannot share what you do not believe. This begins by forgiving all those who have fallen short in their fatherhood -- whether physical or spiritual -- and teach others to do likewise. And pray for all men; theirs is a heavy burden and they face a tremendous accounting before God.
We must pray intently for ways to incorporate this truth into our pro-life endeavors, and pray for men who have been marginalised from their very vocation. We must be very attentive to encouraging all men to provide a fatherly witness -- especially to children without their own biological father to turn to. This may mean mentoring young men to be better fathers, or by including confused children into healthy family activities.
We must defend marriage as the best environment for children, for only marriage provides an institution in which they can know that their parents are committed to each other and to them. We must reject the stories and jokes offered at the expense of men, who are only discouraged by nonstop parodies of their efforts. We must offer spiritual and moral support for priests and pastors -- our spiritual fathers who lead their flocks to Christ. We must also speak the truth about male and female, which is how God wished to share his image on earth and bring new life into the human family. This means praying intently for wisdom and courage to stand up to the insidious lies that go to the very heart of who we are as persons.
Ultimately, patriarchy is the proper filter by which to measure every decision, every ideology, and every mandate. This means adopting a principle which asks: does this strengthen or weaken authentic fatherhood -- that singular icon that helps us understand the One True God? Every obstacle we face, every lie we encounter, every ideology we are fighting on every front in this age is an attack on fatherhood. Cultural Marxism is only one of a convergence of ideologies today, but it is the one that most affects us through media images, manipulation of the language, and legal boon-doggles. Furthermore, although all these ideologies contradict one another on every other level, they have one thing in common: they all despise patriarchy -- and so that must be our touchstone: the fatherhood of God.
There was another fall, more recent than the collapse of the Berlin Wall: the malevolent destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001, but that was nothing compared to the effort to take down fatherhood and motherhood. Let that image be seared on your brains as an emblem of this important truth. This is the battle of our age, and we must not waver in regards to the fatherhood of God. Understand the dialectic, the lies, and the strategy - and fear not. If we reject the blasphemies that lie about fatherhood, prepare for a ferocious spiritual backlash, but what will ensue is an authentic renewal of culture from its very core. Hold fast, walk boldly in light of this essential truth, and know that God’s is the true victory in the end.
[To comment, go here]