June 28 and the Original Gender Defender

As Pride Month 2023 blows itself out with its loud, frothy-mouthed proclamations that demand uncanny and unconditional validation, the voice of Irenaeus booms from the heavens like summer thunder, denying and denouncing their aberrations.

There are concurrent moments in history that the Catholic scholar Dr. David Allen White likes to call “God’s thumbprint,” where what the world would call “coincidence” seems to hold a particular Divine design—such as Shakespeare and Cervantes dying on the same day (which they did).

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 began in New York City on June 28, when protesters made violent resistance against the New York City police for six days after law enforcement raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. (Same-sex relations were illegal 50 years ago—imagine that.) 

As Providence perhaps would have it, June 28 is also the feast day of St. Irenaeus, the Greek Church Father who guided the faithful through the Gnostic heresy. The connection? The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of the so-called “gay rights movement,” a sexual and societal epidemic that has been the catalyst for the political and moral restructuring of the notion of the sexes and even human nature in general. This forced reconstruction of the natural order has plummeted to new depths with the transgender movement, all of which is exemplary of the toxic, freewheeling attitude of Gnosticism. 

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That a giant of the Church who is remembered primarily for his mighty resistance to the nature-denying Gnostics, whose persistent heresies infect culture to this day, is commemorated on the same day this neo-Gnostic movement dawned is remarkable—but not necessarily in a reassuring way. It feels more like a warning than anything else; but it also carries a strong impulse to hope.

Though St. Irenaeus taught and fought at the end of the second century, his holy patronage and power is just as relevant today as it was eighteen hundred years ago. Perhaps even more so. Irenaeus famously said, “the glory of God is man alive,” and never was there an age where man was so afraid to live and God so faintly glorified.

As Pride Month 2023 blows itself out with its loud, frothy-mouthed proclamations that demand uncanny and unconditional validation, the voice of Irenaeus booms from the heavens like summer thunder, denying and denouncing their aberrations. His arguments and ardor have defended the Church for centuries, and his defenses have not grown out of touch with the times. The arguments and prayers of Irenaeus are still needed, for the gender-bending heresies of today are nothing less than the new face of the Gnosticism he devoted his life to resisting. That fight goes on and on. This St. Irenaeus’ feast day, Catholics should look to this early Church Father to continue to defend us from the airy errors of Gnosticism as they exist today.

The old Gnosticism, in a nutshell, began as a religious belief that held that all the physical world was wicked and irredeemable, the grotesque work of an evil demiurge. Their rejection of material conditions engendered a hatred for things and especially for the human body. They saw people as bodily prisons where the soul was caged. They believed that it was only through ascending into the secrets of the universe, through gnosis, or gnostic knowledge, that the soul could be freed and absorb into an ethereal peace.

Though many early Christians bought into aspects of this pseudo-theology, its trajectory was quick to reject any creed involving the Word becoming Flesh, and a kind of spiritual atheism dominated the dreamy Gnostic doctrines of the cosmic mind and the conscious universe. All was turned to the individual quest for fulfillment and enlightenment and breaking free of the shackles of nature to discover one’s true self in the light of knowledge.

Atheistic secularism wasn’t the only resultant cultural feature of the Gnostic movement; it also birthed the reliance on science to unlock the secrets that would offer gradual release of the spirit—a spirit undefined by biological gender that found perfection in relinquishing natural designations and entering into the “self.”

Much of what is known about the Gnostics comes from St. Irenaeus’ writings condemning their beliefs. In his famous work Against Heresies, much can be gleaned of the out-of-body magicians and snake-oil psychologists that he rebutted and who remain at large. Though Irenaeus did incredible work fortifying the bulwarks of the Faith against the psychedelic experiences of Gnosticism, making clear and even aggressive arguments to enshrine Apostolic succession, the Magisterium of the Church, and the role of divinity and grace perfecting nature, the fumes of Gnosticism are also strong and pervade and pollute the minds of men still. Focusing on the assertion of self and the desire to repurpose nature for the sake of pleasure is all too familiar, and the concept of a new Gnosticism is commonly held.

Thus, the freak flag flies for a new normal and a new Gnosticism: a new codex of esoteric “politically correct” knowledge that no one can explain or expound; and it is one being rammed down the throat of common sense as though to choke it into submission or channel it by seduction. After all, love is love, hate has no home here, and all should be free to live their truth—even if that means transcending gender, eliminating gender language, and confusing traditional gender roles.

But the attitude of freedom Gnosticism promotes is simply the removal of restriction and granting some sort of ascendence or superiority beyond the material world and the natural assignments of being, no matter how irrational. But one thing is clear: Stonewall began a new avalanche toward the extermination of the divisions of gender as restrictive boundaries.

Again, the pure spirit the Gnostics avowed was trapped in the body and required escape into the universe by knowledge and for the sake of knowledge; and that spirit was neither male nor female, like the angels. But without God, the material world and its problems remain just a mess of evolutionary randomness that is ready and ripe to be manipulated and corrected. And with this mindset comes that amorphous androgyny of pure, unmitigated potential with the message that everyone can be who and what they want to be—and to assert that they are because it is “corrective,” because it is “affirming.” 

“Gender-affirming” technologies, procedures, and “medications” are all facets of the new Gnosticism. The golden calf of equality has been the Gnostic idol for centuries, and the gender wars of today are part and parcel with this spiritual disease—the relativism of society, the subjectivity of morals, and now our ever-changing bodies provide the “you-do-you” release that knows no bounds until someone gets hurt and the culprits get canceled. And then it’s back to the madness of doing the same thing and expecting different results.  “Gender-affirming” technologies, procedures, and “medications” are all facets of the new Gnosticism. Tweet This

Nevertheless, rinse and repeat. There is no God. The world is a conglomeration of random relations, so anything goes—reconstruct, redefine, innovate, make it whatever you want it or need it to be; conform reality to your mind instead of conforming your mind to reality. Deny the margins, remove all obstacles, look to technology and psychology to allow people to be who they want in a celebration of individualism—never mind manhood or womanhood or their natural or traditional roles in supporting one another and their reproductive obligations—and force acknowledgment that all have the supreme power of defining their own beings.

Contraception, fornication, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism—all of these are wiping the duties, distinctions, and roles of sex and gender off the face of the earth so that no one need be bound or hindered by anything essential anymore. 

Welcome to a Gnosticism of ideology that St. Irenaeus couldn’t have dreamt possible. But it is. Thankfully, the Mystical Body of Christ still has the power of Irenaeus to protect us and guide us against the cultural chameleons that throw the world that God made good to the dogs as though they were the masters of the universe.

Pride Month, the Pride Movement, and the catalogue of insanity they preach, is all about serving the self by eliminating the traditions of society, recasting the norms of nature, and harnessing the intellect and scientific means of manipulation to ostensibly seek a utopia where no one will be barred from being what they choose to be, unhindered, unlimited, and unshackled. It is Gnosticism all over again—but with glittering drag queens this time instead of nail-biting ascetics. 

A large part of what may be called heresy here is that the utopia which is the purported end is not an end that concurs with the physical and spiritual purpose of mankind. Though we do not live for this world, but rather for the next, what we do in this physical world with our physical selves makes all the spiritual difference. And it must involve suffering, and so we gladly suffer. Yes, happiness is achievable as well, but happiness in the condition of fallen beings who have hope in the reality of redemption, and whose toils and travails are an indispensable part of that picture.

In short, the Cross is not compatible with the libertine slant of Gnosticism; and so the Cross is rejected in the gender-fluid age that the prayers of St. Irenaeus can deliver us from, someday, somehow, somewhere over the rainbow.

St. Irenaeus, pray for us.


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