Franke: Gender — the Triumph of Error

June 26, 2023

by Mark Franke

How did we ever get to this point? And so quickly?

I routinely try to ignore national news channels but admit to scanning a daily feed of headlines. What I am seeing beggars credulity. One of the top news stories is gender affirmation/gender reassignment/gender whatever issues among young children. Young children?

The battle lines are clearly demarcated. In numerous locales parents are pitted against teachers and school administrators over what the children will be taught and whether parents should be kept in the dark. This is not a condemnation of all schools and all teachers, but there are way too many incidents to dismiss it as an aberration. At least I know of no such controversy in my corner of Indiana and my conceit is that sanity will continue to reign in the Midwest.

So why is this question even on the table? Whose children are they?

The home has been the structural foundation of our civilization and most others. Parents are the pillars of the home with the nurturing function incumbent in such a role. What gratifies parents more than watching the young persons they love most mature into responsible adults?

I hardly believe that all parents are perfect; I certainly have not been. Yet each parenting failure can lead to a useful lesson for both parent and child. No one wants to make the same mistakes his parents made during his childhood. We strive to be better grandparents than we were parents. Such is the strength and weakness of human nature, when tempered by an attitude of forgiveness.

Given that, how much influence and control do we as parents wish to default to the state and its school system?

I like the response of Gomez Addams from “The Addams Family” television show to the truant officer’s complaint that his children were not in school. “Ridiculous. Why have children just to get rid of them? I’m opposed to the whole nonsense.”

The significant increase in home-schooling and enrollment in private and parochial schools suggests that there are a lot of Gomez Addamses out there. Parents are doing what Americans do when they disagree with prevailing conditions; they vote with their feet.

Who could have foreseen this?

A 19th-century theologian, Charles Porterfield Krauth, advanced a theory of how doctrinal error enters the church. It is a three-stage process. First, the error simply asks to be tolerated, a belief or practice held in private but free of condemnation or persecution by the orthodox. Once toleration is established, the error demands equality, viewed as equally valid and as true as orthodox doctrine. Finally, error supererogates a position of superiority, in which it condemns and persecutes that which has been accepted doctrine for centuries.

Notice how everything has been stood on its head. Wrong is right and right is wrong.

It is not simply a matter of denying all universal truth; it is a newly established universal truth that brooks no questioning. The putative persecuted have become the persecutors. Welcome to our brave new world where natural law is not only irrelevant, it is proscribed from the public square.

Krauth’s interest was doctrinal, reflective of the church’s confession. He has proven right as nearly all fundamental Christian doctrine has become challengeable if it fails muster with our upside-down cultural norms. The profane trumps the sacred.

Disney’s film “Fantasia” has a wonderful illustration of how this relationship is supposed to work in its segment set to “Night on Bald Mountain.” The animation behind the orchestral music shows all sorts of demons running amok in the world at least until a church bell rings and a procession of the faithful walk to worship by candlelight. The demons decamp.

It is now “Fantasia” in reverse. Krauth never could have envisioned how his theory would dominate secular culture less than two centuries later. My parents, teenagers during the Depression, could not have seen this coming. I can scarcely credit it myself, especially given the warp speed of this moral inversion. It goes way beyond Hegel’s dialectic. No synthesis has evolved. Instead antithesis becomes thesis and accepts no challenges. The dialectic door is slammed shut. Krauth eclipses Hegel.

So I ask the question again? Whose children are they? How can anyone argue that the state’s interest supersedes the rights . . . and duties . . . of parents? Those who do must live in the world of “Animal Farm” or “The Village of the Damned” where children are controlled by others than their parents. Parents are irrelevant and even potential obstructionists if they were to be allowed influence with their own children.

We are in danger of no longer living in the “land of the free.” It’s time to remember that we also live in the “home of the brave” and just say no to this statist, anti-liberty trend. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less from us.

Mark Franke, M.B.A., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review and its book reviewer, is formerly an associate vice-chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.


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