Father Booth’s Weekly Reflection

Can the Individual Really be the Supreme Expression of Humanity?

Jesus did not come into the world as an individual. He certainly could have done so. He could have skipped all the development inside the womb of Mary and later in the family setting provided by Joseph and Mary. He who created the incomprehensibly vast universe would have had no problem at all simply entering this world as a fully formed adult. Had He done so apart from a family and from the influence of culture, then one might claim that the individual is supreme over the family and over the culture. He could have created Himself as a Son of David, at least genetically. Of course that would have been incomprehensible at the time, and that would have negated prophecies surrounding the Messiah, such as Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14. Likewise, He had to be born under the Law of Moses, be subject to that covenant, and fulfill it perfectly. Thus, Jesus was born into a family and into a culture, and later He became subject to the covenant of the Chosen People when He was circumcised on the eighth day.

Humanly speaking, a family (a lineage), a culture, and a covenant defined who Jesus was when He walked this planet. Clearly, these things mean something and cannot just be tossed aside as if they did not matter at all. For example, my northern European ancestry gives me a greater propensity for skin cancer whether I like it or not. Whether I like it or not, there were probably haggis-eating caber-tossing as well as longboat-sailing claymore-wielding men among my forebears. The past is what it is. My ancestry is what it is. Likewise, I was born into a largely Christian culture at one side or the other of its peak and currently live in a post-Christian, post-modern, post-rational, post-patriotic, post-moral, post-proud, post-freemarket, post-democratic, post-truth-loving culture in irreversibly rapid decline. I cannot turn back the cultural clock to 1960. I cannot declare myself Maltese or proclaim my skin to be immune to cancer. God determined the circumstances of our birth, He chose the times we live in, He knew how our culture would grow and decline long before the earth was formed.

The Lord has given us the true understanding of humanity, the true understanding of the family, the true understanding of culture, the true understanding of life, and the two true religions He established, first the Old Covenant that was superseded by the New Covenant. But that has not stopped us from making a mess of things. We tend to define the meaning of our own lives. We are prone to reducing humanity to an accident of nature enslaved to the laws of biochemistry. We can’t stop inventing our own religions. Recently we seem determined to redefine family while negating its significance. And when we do so, suffering, pain, and death result.

For example, 25-30 years ago certain activists began calling for banning the circumcision of boys. It was supposedly cruel and unnecessary. Different advocates rightly campaigned against similar procedures for girls. For girls it was utterly barbaric and unnecessary while definite benefits have been recognized for boys. But where are these advocates for protecting boys and girls today? It is likely that these same people and other of their ilk are championing the current horror show of opposite gender hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and juvenile gender reassignment surgery. How could they go from opposing a minor and beneficial procedure – boys’ circumcision – to advocating for vastly more radical interventions in the form of hormones, powerful chemical compounds, and surgical mutilation?

The simple answer is the exaltation of the individual over the family, even over established scientific fact. A minor can be talked into thinking that they would be happier as the opposite sex long before they might understand what it means to be a man or a woman, long before they can grasp the long term implications of such radical and irreversible medical interventions. These things can even happen without parental consent and increasingly are happening despite parental opposition. Boys and girls incompetent to enter into a legal contract, enter into marriage, to enter the military, to get a tattoo, to vote, to drink beer, and so on are somehow competent to make an even more momentous choice to become something they can never be? Absurd. Demonic. Inexcusable. But this is exactly what happens when a culture becomes estranged from God. Estranged from God, how easily we begin to think that we are gods.

—Fr Booth