Carl R. Trueman

Queer Nation Is No Nation At All

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Monday, June 13, 2022
For a flag to be a powerful, sacred symbol of unity and purpose, it has to symbolize a real common sense of unity—a unified moral vision around which individuals can rally as part of a larger imagined community. That the Pride flag already has so many variations reveals the lack of unity that has always marked the LGBTQ+ movement when the cameras were not rolling. This disunity has only become more obvious with the advent of intersectionality and the triumph of queerness and transgenderism.

Flags typically serve as rallying points for unity. They point to something a culture considers sacred. The Stars and Stripes was, for many generations, precisely such a rallying point in America. The fact that flag burning, while protected by the Constitution, was deemed by both its opponents and proponents to be remarkably serious, speaks to this: One cannot desecrate that which is not considered sacred.
This is just one reason why it is interesting that the American Embassy to the Vatican is flying the rainbow flag for Pride month. Commentators have pointed out the obvious intent to cause offense to the Catholic Church. But the embassy’s decision also sends a message to the American people: Another flag has government endorsement. The message of “inclusion” that it represents signals to those Americans who might dissent from the LGBTQ+ movement that in these interesting times their membership in the republic for which the real national flag stands is more a matter of tolerance than full-blooded affirmation.
The problems with LGBTQ+ inclusion are, of course, manifold. First, there is the logical problem that any movement deploying the rhetoric of inclusion has to face: If everyone is included and nobody is excluded, then the movement is meaningless. Thus, the language of “inclusion” here is really a code word for precisely the opposite: It actually means exclusion and the delegitimizing of any person or group that dissents from what the movement’s movers and shakers deem to be acceptable opinion. Acceptable thought will typically tend toward a view of reality that regards such dissenters as mentally deficient, sub-human, or simply evil.
Second, the emphasis on inclusion must inevitably default to queerness. It is interesting how the word “queer” and its cognates is beginning to supplant the old taxonomy of “gay,” “lesbian,” and even “bisexual” in common LGBTQ+ parlance. The reason speaks to the central incoherence of the movement. Gay men and lesbian women have identities predicated upon a sex binary rooted in biology. That is rather “transphobic,” to use the psychologized terminology typically used to discredit any pushback on the transgender movement. Indeed, in the wonderful world of intersectional mythology, white gay men and white lesbian women rank little higher in the political hierarchy than their straight counterparts.
In fact, the LGBTQ+ movement has always been a marriage of political convenience. Prior to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, lesbian women generally regarded gay men with deep suspicion, as those who enjoyed male privilege and whose sexual desires and experiences differed in fundamental ways from those of females.
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Welcome to Pride Month, Christian

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Friday, June 3, 2022
And so surely the Christian cause of this month should be opposing Pride Month and its flag in as public and strident a way as many have opposed racism and its symbols. Let us have many blog posts and tweets on the topic. And may we even have pointed op-eds and major articles slamming Pride by those Christians privileged enough to have access to the pages of The Atlantic and The New York Times. Social justice surely demands it. And I, for one, am looking forward to reading them all.

If anybody wants to understand what is happening to the public square in America—indeed, if anyone wants to know how America, or at least her ruling class, wishes to understand itself, they need look no further than Pride Month. If the arrival of the Pilgrims, the founding of the nation, and even the contribution of Martin Luther King Jr. receive no more than 24 hours on the national calendar, the LGBTQ+ alliance has an entire month to party in the streets. And this street party is enabled by the countless commercial ventures that post rainbow flags in their windows and on their websites.
For anyone not completely hoodwinked by the erotic obsessions of our day, taking pride in one’s sexual identity—indeed, even considering sexual desire to be an identity—would seem at best pitiful and at worst a deep perversion of what it means to be human. Yet, here we are. And we should not underestimate the power of what it signifies.
It is a basic fact of history that if you control time and space, you also control the culture. The early Christians of the fourth century knew that as they slowly but surely claimed space in pagan Roman culture for churches and marked the rhythm of time with the development of the liturgical calendar.
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Is God A Therapist?

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Monday, May 30, 2022
I would anticipate that within five years we will witness a significant disruption across all major representatives of the Christian faith. The fault lines will run between those who find a way to accommodate to the world’s terms of good citizenship and those whose fidelity to Christ will lead to varying degrees of internal exile within this earthly city. The former will ultimately accept the collapse of biblical anthropology, repudiating its implications for sexual morality, for human identity, and for addressing the various socially constructed problems we now face, such as those of race and gender. The latter will maintain Christian teaching and be decried as being at best naïve, at worst bigoted.

Archbishop Chaput recently wrote that holiness, above and beyond all other things, should mark the church and her members. It was an encouraging reminder that, in an age when church leadership is often characterized by bureaucratic skills rather than piety, the Lord has yet a few who have not bowed their knee to the various Baals of efficiency, wokeism, and wonkery. And though the archbishop did not make this point explicit, it is clear that holiness is a corollary of a high and orthodox doctrine of God.
At this moment in time, Christian churches face an unprecedented challenge. Western nations have (with few exceptions) experienced the collapse of the broad moral vision that made them coherent entities. This collapse means that even the most basic terms of membership in wider society are increasingly antithetical to the most basic terms of membership in the church. Some deny that this is happening, but they tend to be those who enjoy what we might term “progressive privilege”—temporary protection from the left’s culture warriors because they engage in ritual acts of Christian self-loathing and focus only on the doctrines that comport nicely with whatever is the bien-pensant penchant of the day. But the changeling morality of the secular elite is a fickle mistress. Progressive Christians will learn, as did the liberal Christians of a previous generation, that conceding too much is never enough for Christianity’s enemies.
I would anticipate that within five years we will witness a significant disruption across all major representatives of the Christian faith. The fault lines will run between those who find a way to accommodate to the world’s terms of good citizenship and those whose fidelity to Christ will lead to varying degrees of internal exile within this earthly city. The former will ultimately accept the collapse of biblical anthropology, repudiating its implications for sexual morality, for human identity, and for addressing the various socially constructed problems we now face, such as those of race and gender. The latter will maintain Christian teaching and be decried as being at best naïve, at worst bigoted.
How should we prepare to stand in the face of what is to come? I agree with Archbishop Chaput that holiness and devotion must mark the church’s witness. After all, if we do not take the faith seriously, how can we expect others to do the same? Furthermore, holiness is not simply, or even primarily, an apologetic strategy. It is in part a response to the doctrine of God. Only when we grasp this can we truly place our own lives in perspective and anchor our faith so as to resist the cultural moment. If our imaginations are not fired by the greatness of the eternal communion with our glorious God that will be consummated at the end of time, then the problems of this present age will loom large and always threaten to overwhelm us.
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Baylor University Charters LGBTQ Group

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Monday, May 2, 2022
In the same month that Baylor announced the chartering of its LGBT group, Notre Dame announced the launch of a pro-LGBT alumni group. Anyone interested in how safe space thinking can develop, and how it can be used to disembowel an institution’s own religious commitments and marginalize those who actually adhere to those commitments, should consider this recent example: When a priest wore a rainbow pride stole to an event sponsored by a Notre Dame LGBT organization, one student expressed concerns, and was subject to all manner of unpleasantness for doing so.

The news that Baylor University has officially chartered Prism, an LGBT student organization on campus, marks an important moment in Christian higher education in the USA.
To be fair to Baylor, Christian colleges and universities have a very difficult task in the current climate. Institutions of higher education are meant to be places for free discussion and exchange of ideas. With sexual identity politics now a central component of wider public discourse, freedom of discussion inevitably means that sexual identity discourse will take place on campuses. But there is a difference between students discussing these issues in the context of, say, a debating society or a mainstream political club, and discussing these ideas in an official LGBT group. To receive an official charter is to receive a formal imprimatur.
The charter itself is interesting. It contains no reference to Christ or Christianity, an odd lacuna for a group at a Christian university. Especially for a group whose stated mission is to “help students gain deeper understanding of their own and others [sic] complex and intersectional identities, including gender and sexuality and faith and spirituality” and to “provide resources to navigate essential services including physical, mental, or spiritual well-being at Baylor and beyond.” We are all now familiar with spirituality Hollywood-style, which lacks objective content and represents little more than self-affirmation. It is unfortunate that a Christian school would endorse such language without requiring some explicit reference to the Christian faith.
Significant too is the group’s desire “to create a safe and respectful environment for LGBTQ+ community.” On one level, this is laudable: Campuses should be places where all students are safe from physical harm and from verbal abuse. The problem, of course, is that the language of safe environments is today remarkably flexible. It often means a place where ideas that a given group finds uncomfortable or offensive are not tolerated. The danger of this kind of charter is that it might easily come to be used as an instrument for the kind of conceptual and linguistic cleansing that now grips the culture of other universities. In effect, it begins to establish a rightward boundary on what is deemed acceptable to think and to say on campus—conservative views on sexuality start to be deemed offensive and intolerable, and outside the bounds of acceptability. Baylor is scarcely unique in this. Progressive pieties are disenfranchising conservative views and more throughout higher education. Examples abound, but the recent case of the radical feminist disinvited from Harvard for her rejection of transgender ideology is a case in point.
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Rowan Williams and Our Sentimental Age

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
When the intellectual elites of our culture allow sentiment to supplant reason, then the discourse of public life is in grave trouble. We should know this from seeing what happens when sentiment comes to dominate other branches of our culture. Art becomes kitsch. And ethics becomes a matter of responding to the latest sob story and the immediate appetites of the moment without reflection on broader social needs, goods, or consequences.

Today, as in the days of Plato, rhetoric is what moves the crowd. But as Plato knew, truth, not rhetoric, is the task of philosophy and philosophers. That is why the latter are so important. Sadly, many in today’s philosopher class—the intellectuals—seem to have forgotten Plato. They now find rhetoric more attractive than truth. Last week provided yet another example of this when a number of British religious leaders signed a letter to the prime minister, Boris Johnson, calling for transgender people to receive the same protection from “conversion therapy” as other LGBTQ+ individuals.
The letter is a good example of how sentimental mush has come to replace careful moral reasoning in the minds of so many. The usual therapeutic patois is on full display. The language of becoming whole, of safe place, of affirmation, is strewn throughout the piece, and the postmodern ethicist’s empty-but-persuasive word of choice, “journey,” appears twice, once even qualified with the adjective “sacred.”
The letter is light on actual theology but does make peculiar comment on conversion therapy and prayer: “To allow those discerning this journey to be subject to coercive or undermining practices is to make prayer a means of one person manipulating another.”
The logic of this sentence seems to imply that to pray for a transgender person to become comfortable with his biological sex is a form of “conversion therapy.” As such, prayer is to be equated with coercion and bullying. Do these religious leaders think that prayer changes nothing and that any claim otherwise makes it simply a tool for exercising psychological power over another? Or do they think that the only petitions that should be made on behalf of trans people are those that confirm their self-diagnosis? If the former, then why bother praying for anything at all? If the latter, what about the growing number of de-transitioners, many of whom would no doubt have been grateful if somebody had prayed for them and also intervened in some other way before they permanently mutilated their bodies?
Yet as confused as that sentence is, it is not the most disturbing aspect of the letter. That honor must be given to the presence of Rowan Williams’s signature.
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De-creation?

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What A Tangled Web

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Friday, April 15, 2022
We have abortion bills that flip-flop on fetal personhood and candidates for the Supreme Court who defer to biologists while trying to avoid gender essentialism. This conceptual chaos, rooted in a denial of reality and responsibility, can only lead to chaos. To quote Sir Walter Scott, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Confusion over what it means to be human continues to dog public life in the West. Soon after Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party shadow secretary for women, revealed that she does not know what a woman is, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson deferred the same question to biologists. That move was odd: It was obviously an attempt to play to the progressive trans lobby, but it actually revealed Jackson’s lack of understanding of the current debates surrounding gender. Jackson implied that she sees the issue as one of biological essentialism. Contra de Beauvoir, it would appear that she believes one is born a woman; one does not become one.
It is easy to poke fun at the confusion that ensues when reality is denied in the service of the latest political fads and fakeries. Yet while we laugh at the silliness, we may forget that the real confusion here is not over the political excesses of gender theory and the supine surrender of our leaders in the face of its obfuscations. The deeper issue is the confusion over what constitutes a human person. And that has tragic consequences for the most vulnerable in our society.
As a case in point, consider two bills currently under consideration in the Maryland House of Delegates. Both deal with abortion and are clearly meant to be preemptive strikes in case Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court. House Bill 1171 (Declaration of Rights – Right to Reproductive Liberty) proposes a change to the state’s constitution so that Article 48 will read as follows:
That every person, as a central component of the individual’s rights to liberty and equality, has the fundamental right to reproductive liberty which includes the right to make and effectuate decisions regarding the individual’s own reproduction, including but not limited to the ability to prevent, continue, or end their pregnancy. The state may not, directly or indirectly, deny, burden, or abridge the right unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.
In many ways this is standard pro-abortion fare, assuming as it does that the baby in the womb lacks personhood and thus has no rights.
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Liturgy of the Powers

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Thursday, March 24, 2022
The latest form of body dysmorphia—rapid-onset gender dysphoria—is fueled by extremely wealthy lobby groups with a vested interest in identity politics. Backed by a medical establishment for whom ethics is little more than a supine acceptance of technological possibilities, and enabled by a political class that lacks a moral backbone, these groups are shaping the country’s pediatric care. And the cost will be catastrophically high. 

The trans revolution reached new heights of absurdity last week when the BBC asked Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party’s shadow secretary for women and equalities, to define “woman.” Dodds proved singularly incapable of doing so; after saying that “it does depend what the context is,” she equivocated for several minutes and refused to give a direct answer. Her party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, later came to the rescue, telling Pink News that “trans women are women.” That is not, of course, an argument. In fact, by using the term “woman” without offering a definition, Starmer merely begs the question. But arguments and definitions are somewhat passé in our current political climate. Uncritical and obsequious recitation of the liturgical response that the progressive lobby demands is the order of the day. That not even all trans people buy into this mantra is never mentioned. They have, to use trendy progressive jargon, been made “invisible” by the political powers that be.
Dodds made a pitiful spectacle; she is an ironic victim of the anti-culture of endless inclusion that is now consuming the West. To be qualified for a job, one must have a basic understanding of the specific task at hand. The car mechanic needs to know what a car is; the brain surgeon needs to be able to recognize the brain. A politician tasked with safeguarding women’s rights should therefore know what a woman is and be able to articulate that understanding in public statements. “What is a woman?” hardly seems an unexpected or unfair question to ask the shadow secretary for women. And yet she fluffed it.
The rationale for the transgender movement is couched in arcane and rebarbative prose. But its underlying dynamic is nonetheless straightforward. It is based upon negations—denials and repudiations of traditional categories. Such categories, the gender theorists claim, create the illusion of an authority grounded in nature, posit ideological forms as the truth, and thus marginalize and exclude any who do not fit.
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When Evil Is Called Good

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
There is a clear push to grant LGBTQ+ ideology a favored legal and cultural status that enforces it without compromise. It also labels any and all dissent as morally evil. You don’t have to be an Old Testament prophet to see where this is all heading, or at least where those in power hope it is heading. 

Last week, three news stories threw into sharp relief the ambitions of the sexual revolutionaries who govern the United States. First, there was the predictable outrage from the usual elites concerning Florida’s Parental Right in Education Bill, which would significantly restrict the teaching of LGBTQ+ ideology to schoolchildren. Second, it emerged that Washington State has a policy preventing teachers from revealing a child’s gender transition to parents. And third, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki condemned a directive from Texas governor Greg Abbott that calls on state agencies to protect Texas minors by investigating cases of children receiving “abusive gender-transitioning procedures.”
Each story reveals a particular aspect of the current sexual revolution. The criticism of Florida shows just how deeply the progressive elites have imbibed the notion of expressive individualism. Actress Kerry Washington condemned the Florida law, declaring that “Children deserve to be who they want to be. To be their true selves.” That such a statement makes sense to her and presumably to many of her 5.5 million Twitter followers testifies to how the notion of authenticity, tied to a sexualized notion of childhood, is now unquestioned orthodoxy in our culture.
Washington State’s policy is a reminder of how deeply government agencies have bought into trans ideology, and how they are using it to drive a wedge between parents and children. By the state’s own philosophy, the child is the gender he or she claims to be. So the state holds that the child defines who he truly is, but that the child’s parents have no right to know. That is disturbing in the extreme.
As to the Biden administration’s attitude toward the Texas directive, the president and his entourage seem to believe it is inappropriate, and indeed morally disgusting, to investigate institutions involved in gender transition to see if they conform to current Texas law. Psaki said that Abbott’s guidance was “designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most.” Our administration believes that loving and caring for trans kids apparently means enabling them to do irreparable damage to their bodies at an age when they have no idea what the consequences will be later in life. The lobbyists have so perverted the narrative, and the current administration has so enabled that perversion, that yes, evil is called good and good is called evil.
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Decadence On Display

Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Monday, February 28, 2022
To be fair to them, the #NeverTrumpers are probably the victims of an honest misunderstanding. When elected, Joe Biden claimed that the adults were back in charge. My guess is that the #NeverTrumpers naively assumed he meant “adult” as in “grown-ups.” The Brinton appointment indicates that he likely meant “adult” as in “bookstore” and “videos.” It’s a mistake anyone could have made

The appointment of Sam Brinton, a very public “queer” activist, to the U.S. Department of Energy is merely the latest sign of decadence in the dying culture of the West. Brinton, a man of such exotic and public perversions that I cannot in good conscience describe them here, is a sign of the times. It is, of course, not his perversions that are problematic with regard to his basic competence as a public official. It is the fact that he is an exhibitionist who uses his twisted sexuality to bully others in the workplace with the specific intention of “educating” the public, as Rod Dreher documents with a notable lack of squeamishness (you have been warned).
What is interesting, of course, is that this is yet another sign of how the Biden presidency seems not simply mortgaged to the radical extremists of the left but positively committed to promoting their causes. And that raises interesting questions about the #NeverTrump evangelicals.
One of the interesting aspects of #NeverTrump evangelicals was the absolute refusal to allow for any legitimate reason to vote for Donald Trump. Joe Biden, they claimed, was going to restore some dignity to the office of president of the United States. Character counts. And so it does.
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