The pope used his Christmas message today to warn of an "attack" on the "true structure of the family," which he defined as a father, mother and child. Debate all over the world isn't only about marriage equality, he seemed to say, it's about what it means to be human.
In the address, Pope Benedict rails about contemporary views of gender and says anyone who defends the old way of thinking is actually defending God himself. The message grows more alarming with each sentence.
The Pope notes a saying of feminist author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir -- "one is not born a woman, one becomes so" -- as "the foundation for what is put forward today under the term 'gender' as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious."
Then the Pope goes on at some length to insist that God created a "duality" in gender that is "an essential aspect of what being human is all about." He said people are trying to "decide" their genders, calling transgender people a "manipulation of nature."
The Pope has been on a tear lately, using his message for the World Day of Peace to say that same-sex marriage is a threat to peace. For that, a small group of protestors attempted to enter St. Peter's Square to object, saying weapons are a threat to peace, not love.
The Pope's further comments follow below, ending with his insistence that standing up against this new line of thought is akin to standing up for God:
"People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: "male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female - hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man."