Original Sin, Again and Again

April 29, 2013 | 0 comments

It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord,
but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

 — Bob Dylan

Let’s play a little game. I’ll give you four news items and you tell me what they have in common. Please answer in complete sentences, fill in ovals completely with a No. 2 pencil, and show your work.

1. Belgian archbishop Andre Leonard found himself the target of a lewd attack while participating in a debate at a Brussels university. Four women leapt from the audience, removed their shirts to reveal crude slogans painted on their torsos, and yelled shrilly at the archbishop while dousing him with (one hopes) bottled water. The women were evidently trying to protest Church teaching on homosexuality; the slogan on one woman’s chest (the only one I can safely repeat in this space) read, “My Body, My Rules.”

2. Nature magazine published an indignant editorial criticizing a Vatican conference promoting adult stem-cell therapies, saying that “it’s wrong . . . to raise false hopes of quick fixes” for the disabled and terminally ill." (Of course, this is precisely what enthusiasts for embryonic stem-cell research [ESCR] did for years, before that therapy’s lack of success led to ever-diminishing returns from the maudlin appeals of celebrities and politicians, but no matter.) Meanwhile, research advances in induced pluripotent stem cells, which promise the theoretical power and utility of embryonic stem cells without the moral problems of harvesting them, are putting even greater pressure on the ESCR camp.

Adult stem cell therapy is producing actual results, while induced pluripotent cells offer nearly unlimited potential without killing anybody. Follow the money and you’ll see where the future is. Yet for some reason many scientists, politicians, and journalists still cling stubbornly to the embryonic stem-cell dream.

3. Recently the Swedish government introduced hen, a new gender-neutral pronoun. Though perhaps not a bad idea in itself (if English won’t return to the universal male pronoun, to the principle of “the male embraces the female,” here’s one editor who’d prefer a made-up word to the hodgepodge of clumsy alternatives one encounters at present), it has become an icon of this famously progressive country’s forced march toward the obliteration of sexual differences.

Same-sex marriage? That’s so yesterday’s news. In the land of hen, all our mental connections between sex and names, dress, interests, or roles must be expunged. School speech codes will forbid the phrase “boys and girls” and discourage “playing house” that favors mother-father scenarios over more creative modern parenting combos. Meanwhile, proposed “gender pedagogues” will monitor schoolrooms to make sure that Jack and Jill don’t play with trucks more than dolls, or vice-versa. (Jack’s the girl, by the way . . . or is hen?).

4. Kermit Gosnell. Well, you probably already know some things about this monster in human form. Among the little factoids emerging from his trial that you didn’t learn from the mainstream news was that Gosnell kept severed hands and feet from babies he killed, charmingly preserved like prize butterflies. After a long strategic huddle, pro-abortion groups finally emerged to condemn Gosnell’s actions, running with the line that Gosnell’s excesses actually throw the reasonableness of regular abortion into sharp relief, but they have yet to offer a coherent reason why it’s wrong to collect the chopped-up parts from babies you kill in the womb, but not to kill them and chop them up in the first place.

Okay, time’s up. So what’s our red thread? Genesis 3:5:

For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

The sin of our first parents lay not simply in their disobedience to a positive command from God, but in their desire for mastery over good and evil, and thus over life and death. They sought to seize a divine prerogative and so upend the basic cosmic order.

 “My Body, My Rules.” You could work at it for a long time and not come up with pithier expression of the fallen human will. The Genesis 3 mentality rejects objectivity, rejects natures, rejects any connection between being and acting—and replaces those things with self-determination. In like fashion, the Swedish gender police are out to discard what human nature reveals about itself and replace it with an artificial construct, down to the minutest levels. Those Belgian lesbians and gender pedagogues believe that if they lie with a woman as with a man, or ban urinals, they will be like God.

ESCR proponents are drawn to the theoretical potential of embryonic cells, sure; but if their unwillingness to embrace better alternatives is any indication, apparently some are drawn to their symbolism even more. What a fitting way to declare to the universe that men are the masters of good and evil, of life and death: by causing the death of some in order to give life to others.

And of course, there is no better example of grasping for the divine than a man, like Gosnell, who relishes slaughtering the innocent for its own sake.

But the joke’s on all of them. For there’s someone else who wants to be like God, who is in fact the very author of that desire.  And his name is magnified in the sins of those he ensnares. We may think we can be the master of good and evil, but in the end we’re either God’s child or Satan’s patsy.


Todd Aglialoro is the editor for Catholic Answers Press. He studied theology at Franciscan University, the University of Fribourg, and the International Theological Institute. A New York native and New England convert, Todd now lives in the San Diego area with his wife, seven children, and zero dogs.

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