Thomas Aquinas on Transgenderism

Thomas Aquinas, the Church’s greatest theologian, had lots to say about the nature of the human person. So what would he say about the modern transgender movement? We asked Father Hugh Barbour.


Cy Kellett:What would Thomas Aquinas say about transgenderism? Father Hugh Barbour is next.

Cy Kellett:

Hello, and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding and defending your Catholic faith. So much talk about transgenderism these days, and it finally occurred to us, I wonder what Thomas Aquinas would have to say about that? And so we decided, we’ll ask a Thomist what would Thomas have to say about our current confusion regarding sex and gender? And so we have a really good Thomist that we can call up and get ahold of, and that’s father Hugh Barbour. And here’s what he had to say.

Cy Kellett:

Father Hugh Barbour, thank you for being with us.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Happy to be here.

Cy Kellett:

I want to talk to you about transgenderism and the whole kind of transgender movement. And it seems to me that so many people say, and I think they’re right when they say this, this gets right to the core of what it means to be a human being. And when you get right-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Close to the core.

Cy Kellett:

Close to the core. Okay. All right. Maybe you can explain that more as we go. But when you think about issues of what it is to be a human being, you think, well, what did Thomas Aquinas have to say about that? Because he had a lot to say about these profound things.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well he did, but he said what he found in sake of Scripture and in the truth of the revelation of the faith. So he found what’s found in Genesis, that God created man in his image. That’s the real core.

Cy Kellett:

That’s the central core.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Man made in God’s image.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And then male and female, God created them, because man is a composite being of soul and body, and so is multiplied by procreation. Unlike angels, who are multiplied by, “bang.” They’re created right individually. But man is multiplied by procreation. Angels don’t have mommy and daddy. No other creature cooperated in the making of an angel. God made them directly. But with human beings, apart from Adam, the first man, and Eve, who came forth from Adam, and even that’s a cooperation, all human beings come into existence by the power of God, who creates their immortal soul and infuses it into the body, generated by the cooperation of their parents through procreation through intercourse.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

So man is made in God’s image as to his soul or his spiritual nature. Best to say his spiritual nature. Made in God’s image according to his understanding and his power to love, his intellect and his will. But then insofar as he can be duplicated, replicated, multiplied, then that requires procreation. Because bodies require a process of procreation. And that is why God created man in his image. And then it says right away in Genesis, male and female, he created them.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right. Yeah. So it’s just this next-step truth about man. Man is created in God image. Man is created male and female. So as to have more human beings after God’s image. So the multiplication of God’s image is the main thing, but that comes about for human beings not by the wild excess of God’s goodness as he does with the angels, just but with a particular kind of goodness, which allows the human persons who exist to cooperate in bringing forth new life as male and female.

Cy Kellett:

All right. Well, then, I’m going to ask you now a question that I had thought I would ask later, because it seems to present itself immediately from what you just said, that if you say the core of the matter is God created man in his own image, and then the immediately following upon that is male and female he created them, how do we address the person who’ll say, “See, the main thing is that we are in God’s image. The maleness and femaleness is just an accidental of our person. It’s not essential to who we are.”

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, it’s essential for human nature as the common possession of the whole human race.

Cy Kellett:

Okay.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Because you can’t have new human beings, ultimately. I mean, you can talk about the technological things they can do now to cause procreation without-

Cy Kellett:

Well, yes, right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

But, I mean, naturally speaking, you cannot produce human beings without the cooperation of both sexes. And so the distinction of sex is part of the essence of human nature, insofar as we’re bodily, but not insofar as we are also spirits destined to a life of contemplation of God and the possession of spiritual goods, in which case men and women are not distinct. As St. Paul says in Galatians 3, “In Christ, there’s neither male or female.” And that’s referring to the grace of baptism. A little girl baptized is no less baptized into Christ than a little boy, because they all become members of Christ, the Body of Christ.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

The Body of Christ, which, this is where we can get into the gender ideologies maybe, is both male and female in its members. Christ the head is a man, like Adam was a man, but his body is both male and female. And indeed, in relation to him, all souls who are bodily are as female to Christ the bride groom, the one who renders them spiritually fruitful. But at that point, we enter into a realm of metaphor or analogy describing our relationship with God as though it were like the relationship between a man and a woman, even though, in fact, it is not. But it’s used as an image in the Scriptures to convey that to us. That’s a whole lot in one answer, so maybe we can chop it up a little bit. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Well, I’ll go this direction. We’ll see if this does chop it down a little bit. But so for someone like Thomas, who you said really derives his anthropology or his theory or his understanding of what the human person is directly from the earliest lines of-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

From Genesis, right. Yeah. Not just from Aristotle.

Cy Kellett:

No. Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

He uses Aristotle, but he doesn’t get his anthropology of Aristotle. Just like uses Plato, but he doesn’t get his anthropology from Plato. He gets it from the Bible, from divine revelation.

Cy Kellett:

Right. And his faith permits him a certainty that this is true, that-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right, exactly.

Cy Kellett:

That man in the collective is made … and in each individual case, too, made in the image and likeness of God, and that male and female he created them. So he starts there, he starts with-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right. Right. Exactly.

Cy Kellett:

He doesn’t start with, you know … But there’s certainly helpful insights in Plato and Aristotle.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right. Right. And that’s part of … Yeah, go ahead.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. So, I’m still not clear, then, in even in how you described it, how would a person … No, let’s not say a person like Thomas. How might Thomas respond to the claim of this transgender movement, that there can be a difference between our physical sex and what we are as a person, our gender, so to speak?

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, he would respond in this way. He would say, looking at the human person with all of the faculties in powers of the soul, he would try to locate in that composite where the inclination contrary to the biological sex would be found. So if you have a boy who’s born male, I mean, he has male chromosomes. He’s biologically a male. And that’s, strange enough, that’s almost controversial even to say that, but that’s the way it is. All right? So you have a boy who was born male, who feels strongly, is convinced, that he is actually female. Then you have to locate that desire or that inclination somewhere in his nature. You can’t locate it on the level of simply bodily nature. Because biologically, he’s male.

Cy Kellett:

Ah. That’s … I see what you’re saying. Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

So where are you going to locate that? You have to look at him and you have to say, well, he got it where? From some impression made on his senses, which entered into his imagination? Which … And every form that we receive begets an inclination, begets a desire or an aversion. So something came to his senses, which was collated into his imagination and his memory, which so affected them that he feels strongly that he would rather be female.

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right? And therefore, you have to locate that particular orientation towards defining his identity, you have to place it in the emotional life based upon past experience of this person. That’s where you have to put it. There’s no denying, you have to respect people. When someone says, “I want to be a woman, even though I’m a man,” they probably do want to be a woman. Yeah. Now-

Cy Kellett:

Or they may even be convinced that they are.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Of course. Right, right. Convinced or otherwise. Some people may find that a painful inclination, which they resist and try to overcome. Others may, with a lot of help from other people nowadays, say, “Well, this is what I am and so I’m going to assert it.”

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And that’s where it’s found. So you have to say, well, in my nature, I’m a man. But should I desire not to be a man but a woman, that particular inclination will be found somewhere else in my nature, but not in my bodily biological construct. Certainly not in my genitals, certainly not in my hormones, certainly not in any of that, but rather in an affect that is an emotion which is generated by experience.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And there are examples. People can have traumatic experiences of trauma associating with being male. I know of a case of a famous writer whose mother was in perpetual mourning over the loss of her beautiful brother to syphilis this in 19th century. And so when she found the little boy when he was five touching himself in his genitals, she went nuts because she associated men with sexual pleasure and the death of her brother with this syphilis coming from his running around. And so she went to the kitchen and got a knife, and she waved to the little boy and said, “You know, if you ever do that, I’m going to cut those things off.”

Cy Kellett:

Horrific trauma for that child.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

To a five-year-old. Okay? And, so, consequently, he took that for what it was worth. He loves his mother. He takes her word. This is something really bad. I should be something else. And therefore where the shame and the fear associated with having a penis and balls made him not want to have them, or to have them from someone else who had them securely and assertively, and not insecurely. And throughout the course of his life, and this is a Catholic writer. I won’t name him now, but he’s very well known in certain parts of the world and very much admired, he struggled with this his entire life.

Cy Kellett:

As one would. I mean, five years old, the whole threat from his mother.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

But that’s there. Now, there might be on the other side, a less traumatic and more soft version where daddy wanted a daughter, and mommy doesn’t have any problem with that because mothers, the initial identification of a child is with the mother. And with the boy especially, he has to make the transition to identifying with his dad and with his peers. But girls, that’s no problem. They identify right away with their mothers and then they continue. And therefore, it’s a very different kind of psychology. But the boy has to make this transition.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, what if neither father nor mother are particularly interested in making that transition? The mother’s perfectly happy to address the boy up in girls’ clothes or to let him have girls’ entertainments and identify with other girls and play with them and not do anything that would be expected of a little boy? The father respects his son’s sensitivity, doesn’t do the normal male things with him, and he never identifies with masculinity.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And then they hear a show on NPR and then their little boy says, “You know, I’d like to be a girl.” And they said, “Yeah, that’s right. So let’s go talk to the doctor.” Now, that’s a reality. That little boy has received such impressions in his life that he is convinced on the level of his emotions that this is what he is. Not what he wants to be, but what he is.

Cy Kellett:

And when you say it’s not physical, in other words, a scientist could deconstruct-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:13:04]

Cy Kellett:

In other words, a scientist could deconstruct his body, examine it in every way, look in every single cell, and you would find no evidence of the female. It’s not…

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Not there.

Cy Kellett:

So that’s what you mean, that it’s not arising from the body.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Other than the fact that men have estrogen too. So they can-

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

You could have a case of, some men have more testosterone than others, that kind of thing. But no, basically you’ve got it right there. There are certain cases of androgynous births-

Cy Kellett:

Sure.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Where they can’t determine the sex, but those extreme cases, which are physical still on the level of chromosomes, they’re usually pretty clear. But even there there’s some difficulties sometimes, but the extreme cases don’t prove the point. They just prove that there’s some disorder there.

Cy Kellett:

Sure.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

That’s on the level of a physical disorder like people can be born with other chromosomal difficulties that also cause deficiencies. Or we might say, nowadays we say more differences From other people. But that’s something that has to be worked out on a very individual level. That’s not a model for everybody.

Cy Kellett:

It does seem to me that even… I shouldn’t say even, certainly among our Catholic brothers and sisters, among many, many Christians and among many who are kind of part of the popular, modern religion, whatever it is that’s left over from Christianity, has a sense that the soul is a thing within the body. And that is not Thomas’s view of the soul, that we might call a dualism, or a kind of dualism. And then there’s another kind of modern modernity or modern way of… This, look, the soul bit, all that soul business is a fantasy. You’re just a physical body. That’s what you are. And so in the latter case, if you feel like a girl, be a girl, because there’s no… The truth of the matter is irrelevant. You’re just a physical body anyways. In the former case, maybe you do have a female soul in a male body.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Yes. Well, we would say of course, as far as the spirit goes that we don’t distinguish sex according to spirit, because that would make two different kinds of being, men and women would be different natures altogether and not share common human nature if there were female souls and male souls. They differ by their body, but not by their souls. But it’s important to keep in mind that the bodily nature of human beings is informed by the soul as a principle of life, the soul being immaterial, why do we say it’s totally spiritual or immaterial? Because totally in the sense that it has those root… The power to exist without a body. Because we have operations that we can perform that do not require a body, such as the generation of a universal concept from sense experience. Nothing in sense experience is going to give you a universal of any kind.

Cy Kellett:

Right [crosstalk 00:15:57].

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Everything we experience on the level of senses is something individual. So the power that we have to universalize our sense experience, our sense knowledge, shows that we have something that goes beyond the material because the material order is only composed of individual material things. The universal notion comes by a spiritual nature. That is, there are only human beings, Joe, Jack, Mary, Paul and all the other names according to ethnicity. But human nature, humanity is something which the mind perceives and really exists in those people, but is only perceptible to a spiritual faculty, that is without matter. So the, the point you’re really driving at is that we have an ideology that’s come up, especially since the 60s in universities, which began as a way of interpreting literature of the postmodern or deconstructionist movement. Where there’s a basic and universal denial of natures in favor of materiality and brute experience.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

So that there is no such thing as human nature. There is no such thing as an essence, there’s only your being and your ability to project your being in the world however you will. So basically there’s being and willpower and you decide what you want. And if you succeed in getting what you want, well, that’s fine. Your life project, they call it, or if you can succeed in that fine, if you don’t, well, it’s too bad, but everybody is doing that. No one is actually living a life in order to fulfill the rules or the laws that apply to universal human nature as such, in order to attain an end, which is common to all human beings.

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And so then this ultimately devolves after several decades from being nerdy university analysis of literature, all the way down to, you can determine your reality. And you can decide that you are female even if you are bodily and scientifically, we would say male. They can just say science, that’s a cultural construct. What I have is my experience.

Cy Kellett:

Yes.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And what I want, and I can assert that and no one has the right to oppose my right. And the only way to make society run is just to have all these people, doing whatever they want, as long as they don’t impede what somebody else wants, but that is almost an impossible world to maintain because you will have people disagreeing. And when they disagree, what do they do? They give reasons why they disagree.

Cy Kellett:

Oh and all of a sudden we’re back into the-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

We’re back to natures-

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And arguments based upon reality.

Cy Kellett:

Yes. Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And so otherwise, I mean, if you’re in a black room with no light and no visibility of whatsoever, and you could just sit there and throw stuff at other people and find a comfortable position and grab something to eat and whatnot, without any notion of knowledge of anything whatsoever, but just survival of the fittest without any knowledge. Well, then you would have the kind of world that this sort of thing would lead to. But fortunately, because God made a world that is full of natures and realities that can be ascertained rationally, nobody is able to be consistent in the application of this ideology. Nobody.

Cy Kellett:

No, it’s not possible, right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

It’s not possible.

Cy Kellett:

It’s not-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

It’s a-

Cy Kellett:

because you end up saying something like, there is no such thing as human nature and you have no right to violate it. It becomes a kind of moronic-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right and this individualism, you say, well dad, I’m a girl, you can’t say I’m not. And if you do, you’re hateful, you hate me. You’re a hateful person. You’re like Adolf Hitler. All right. That’s usually the… It goes to there. All right. And then dad could say, wait a minute, I’m an individual, too, and I don’t think you’re a girl. So, but you’re not me. He said, what rule tells me that, why can’t I just make you a projection of me? I decide that you are me and you are my identity. And you will be what exactly, what I want you to be. Now where could you use in this ideology, gender ideology anything that would justify your maintenance of your individual dignity against someone else’s claims?

Cy Kellett:

You have no ground to stand on-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

You can’t. You can’t.

Cy Kellett:

Because you’ve already said there is no human nature to defend.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right, exactly. And so you can just do it however you want. This is very different from, for example, the problem or the challenge, or the reality say like traditionally of sexual morality, per se, where you can analyze it according to male and female and say, well, okay. The mean of virtue in sexual matters is chastity in marriage. And that’s a relationship between man and woman for the sake of procreation of children. And then the excess of lust goes farther and farther away from that as you move along. So fornication, adultery, self abuse, sodomy, bestiality, you go around the line, getting farther and farther away from the mean, but it’s all a question of excess of lust. Do you know how to interpret it? But the world in the late 19th century came up with new categories. Instead of just male and female, the psychologist gave us homosexual male, heterosexual, male.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, homosexual-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Homosexual female, heterosexual female. Oh, so now we have sexual identities that are based upon inclinations and not based upon bodily reality. Before they had those notions in the world that existed before, a man might have strong feelings for another man. But it was out of the question that he should act on them sexually. He got married and had children. There are very few men that are attracted to other men who couldn’t, in an ideal world, and in some circumstances marry and be happy. There’s some men that are super masculine and have no inclinations towards their own sex. Although there are a lot that do, but all of them could marry. You have these writers, C.S. Lewis, even while they said they went to boarding schools, kids behaved in various ways, but everybody married and had kids. It was not based upon the sort of psychology of identity based on inclination.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, that stuff started. Of course we can handle it because we’re still dealing in the categories of male and female, irreducible, because physical. And classically, no one wants to be a woman less than a homosexual man. So-called homosexual. I don’t like the term, but I’ll just use it for now. And no one wants to be a man less than a homosexual woman. So the sex aspect is clear, but now we’ve moved to another realm where we’re saying that independently of sexual desire, you can choose your sex. And now we have the situation where there are men who want to transition, as they say, to being female, but they still will maintain their relations with the quote, unquote, opposite sex. What is that? Psychologically, it has to be analyzed. It has to be analyzed on the level of desire, because it’s no longer a simple case of the assertion of masculinity over femininity.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Or as some feminists say, maybe it is. Because not only do I get to be a man, but I get to take your sex. That’s why the old fashioned feminists now, no one will let them speak and put public anymore because they’re lobbed with us. Because they maintain the distinction of the sexes. And so the classic Gloria Steinem types, they say, “No, no, if you weren’t born a woman, you can’t be a feminist.” I mean a representative of a feminist association. But then you have women’s colleges like Smith and Mount Holyoke back east who are now forced to receive men who have become women as their students, because they don’t want to be identified with genderless essentialism.

Cy Kellett:

No, right, right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

So it’s all gone completely stark raving mad, but there is a reason for it, as we can easily see, you simply separate sexual desire from sexual identity. And then you end up with this situation.

Cy Kellett:

You go back to a thing where you have men and you have women and the sexual desire can come and go and be what it is or… but-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

But you’re still a man or a woman.

Cy Kellett:

But you’re a man or a woman and-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And morally-

Cy Kellett:

You’re made for the opposite-

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right.

Cy Kellett:

Sex.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Morally and psychologically you have to evaluate your sexual inclinations. You have to make it reduce back to your sex. And then evaluate your desires in accordance with the reality, the standard that your sex represents. That’s the point. I mean, how many married couples would one come across in life, and it does happen where the man is kind of effeminate and the woman is kind of tough.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And yet they’re married and they have children and there’s no issue there.

Cy Kellett:

No.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

The stereotypical marks of masculine and femininity, they work to a point. They are truly conventional. And normally people abide by them, but there are always cases where they don’t. But if they observe the moral law, no one’s going to point at that couple and go, “That’s disgusting.” Now they could, if they’re just emotionally immature. And they just don’t like the fact that he’s a little light in his loafers and she’s tough. But they found each other, they love each other. They married and it’s all working out fine. And that’s in accordance with the moral law and that’s the way it always was until these identities were created first homosexual, heterosexual. And then when they lifted the onus of psychological disorder from it in the 70s, everyone decided, well, it’s a psychological disorder and now it’s not anymore, so it must be okay.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And you have to go back to that and say-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:26:04]

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

… And now it’s not anymore, so it must be okay. You have to go back to that and say, well, the church never evaluated sodomy as a psychological disorder. It was evaluated as an immoral act that was [crosstalk 00:26:12].

Cy Kellett:

A physical, immoral act.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

A physically immoral act.

Cy Kellett:

Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

And the various predispositions like, why you did it, all right? If you did it because you were the Royal Navy in the 18th century, all right? The British Navy is always used for that [crosstalk 00:26:25].

Cy Kellett:

Pick on the Royal Navy.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, no, that’s the stereotype. Or because you’re in a prison or in a boarding school, boarding schools actually are better playgrounds for masculinity than co-ed situations where the boys are not, and the girls also are not challenged to identify with their own sex, so that stuff happened but it’s only because there were no girls around. That’s different. All these things happened, but they were never regarded as signs of psychological illness, they were just sins.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. You just, right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

But then when they turn it into a creepy, psychological illness, the shame element enters in and so people [crosstalk 00:27:02].

Cy Kellett:

And that’s in the 19th century, basically?

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right, the nineteenth century and then in the 20th century, and so the people are eager, please don’t call me that because that means I’m crazy. Then, you’re ostracized and therefore, if you’re going to lay hold of it, you’re going to have to really make an extra hard, emotional effort to identify with what other people regard as craziness. Then, you’re stuck because you have really embraced first, a false view of your own condition, and then, are due to the expectations of society around you which are completely false. The church just says, look like St. Philip Neri said, have fun boys but don’t sin.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

That’s it. [Foreign language 00:27:43]. That’s the point is that the individual inclinations, psychological predispositions, circumstances, all of that has to be evaluated, but the church is interested in men behaving as men sexually and women behaving as women sexually on the level of their bodies. That means that they can only have sexual relations within a permanent, marriage relationship which is open to procreation because that’s what our sex is ultimately for.

Cy Kellett:

Right. Because we do have a nature.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right, exactly. We do have a nature and anything outside of that is either lust or the rare, St. Thomas says it barely has a name because it’s so rare, the vice of insensibility, people that have no sexual desire at all. Now, in this context then, the transgender ideology, they talk about people that don’t identify as either, they’re non-binary.

Cy Kellett:

Oh, yes. Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

So, I’m not male or female. Well, I just ask one question. Does that mean that you don’t have sexual relations?

Cy Kellett:

Oh, I see.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

All right? Because if by non-binary you mean, I don’t have sexual relations with people, I’m not identifying as male or female at all, then fine. But if you’re having sexual relations, then at that point, you are identifying in that action with either one or the other. You can’t do both.

Cy Kellett:

You might switch around but your acts are binary.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

You can’t get around this by just saying, I’m not binary. What you’re actually saying is that your desires are sufficiently or your affections, your emotional life, is sufficiently ambiguous that you kind of like some things about being male and kind of like some things about being female and you combine them all. This society has always managed these emotional varieties perfectly well, or not so well, depending, but as long as the moral orders have had held, there’s a way around it. There’s some way to deal with this but we have to start and stay firmly entrenched in the reality of male and female. Then, we can avoid the cramped, Victorian, Freudian, shame-based, pathologization of people’s personalities and desires. Don’t make fun of the sissy, that any Christian parent or any Christian father that is worth his salt, teaches his sons not to make fun of boys who are effeminate.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

If you’re a bad dad and you want to make more people like that and make their lives miserable and harm them forever, then go ahead and despise sissies and say mean things about them in front of your sons. If you want real love and charity to prosper, then you teach your children to accept people in the personalities they have and evaluate morality according to the law of God, and don’t give in on either one. I accept you the way you are, I’m not going to judge your habits, your tone of voice, your gestures, or even your dress, or anything like that. Just be accepting and then you’ll be able to, if you establish a friendship, to make some corrections or suggestions or give that person the confidence of your friendship or companionship, so that the limitations that they place on themselves by their own behavior, can be gradually overcome. This can happen and that’s part of the tragedy in our culture right now is that no one is doing anything for these kids.

Cy Kellett:

Well, I have to say too, I mean, you [crosstalk 00:31:10].

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Except telling them it’s all okay.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. But your comment about men, I would like to add a comment about women, because I’ve seen this many times. Women sitting around talking about children, saying something like, oh, you can tell he’s gay because he’s just a sweet little boy. He’s just sweet. This kind of gossiping about children in that way is evil. You should never, ever do that.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Well, someone should just say, so what? Teach him the commandments, encourage him, make sure that he knows that he’s a man and that a man is made as a man, strictly speaking, for union with a woman. He will manage because what you call homosociality, that is the fact that men associate with men and women associate with women, is an emotionally satisfying reality that all men and women have to have. If a man is particularly inclined towards other men, well then fine, you make sure that he has good associations with men so that he can develop properly in the right way. You don’t immediately say, well, I guess you’re going to be taking a trip to X part of town, so you can find more of your kind, that kind of thing.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

No, you establish relationships that are broad, that are open, that encourage an identification with other males as males. Admiring them and whatnot? Because there’s always some level of homosociality with, I’m just talking mostly about boys because this is the way it mostly works out, female homosexuality is a different story, largely speaking. That has more to do with a protective, nurturing environment that they want because of the danger of associating with certain kinds of men who have hurt them or whom they view as threats, where it’s a little different, it’s more protective. Whereas, male homosexual culture is not that protective. It can be pretty wild and because it’s male, and this is what the feminists don’t like, it pretty much asserts that it should just be able to do anything it wants, you know? It’s not domestic in that sense, it’s not trying to keep a quiet life going.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

We need to recognize clearly that the parents have a particular role in guiding little children in the right way, without anxiety, without inducing shame, with encouragement, and with wisely looking at the opportunities they have to develop their identity according to the nature that God gave them. First of all, they’re boys and girls, that’s a very basic distinction that they all learn and they know right away without much training. Then, in those things which express masculinity or femininity, to be careful to make sure that they are conveyed in such a way that if they don’t get it right away, that they’re not being shamed for it. That if the little boy picks up a doll, you don’t just grab it from him and slap him and say, don’t do that.

Cy Kellett:

Here’s a machine gun.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right, no. You behave in a way which is encouraging. Men like encouragement. They like being told they’re great and that they can do things and encouraged to do things and overcome fear. Because so often there’s just a fear there. The hesitant boy, who’s hesitant in sports and whatnot, a kind coach, a kind father that kind of moves him along so that he can begin to identify with other boys, he may develop so that he still has an inclination but he doesn’t have to view it as something that he’s required to act out on sexually.

Cy Kellett:

Right or that alienates him from other men.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

No, exactly. No, exactly. This is the problem is that with men like that, the very thing they need they feel alienated for because of this late 19th century psychologization where everyone’s ashamed of being nuts. They, if you look at that [crosstalk 00:35:10].

Cy Kellett:

Then, parents are afraid of that for their children. Because he this or that.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right. You look at poetry or art or photography before this period, men showed great affection for each other. I mean, how many, and they do this now online, they do it like, this is proof that they were gays forever. There are pictures of men sitting in each other’s laps or hugging each other or touching each other. Well, no, it was very common to have pictures, portraits made with your best friend.

Cy Kellett:

Before you made everybody uncomfortable, in other words [crosstalk 00:35:32].

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right and there was no, right, but then they created it as a pathology, these nerdy Germanic people. Then, they made it so that people became ashamed of that. All you can do is slap someone on the back, you know?

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, right. Exactly.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Because before it was very, you read Tennyson’s, In Memoriam, where he goes on and on, an epic poem, all because he was completely devastated by death of his friend. Now, people say, well, that’s gay. That goes in the gay studies program. Well, no it was just a man in love with another man because they were friends, friendship, [foreign language 00:36:07], in Latin means, lovingness. That’s what it means literally, lovingness.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Augustine is a great example, his mourning for the death of his friend, where he said, I feared to die lest if I should die, he should die completely because he was half of my soul. He goes on and on and on about that and Cardinal Newman who determined that he should be buried, not next to, but in the same grave as Ambrose [inaudible 00:36:31]. Of course, all the clap trappers and the London Tablet and all this liberal Catholic press and whatnot, they go on and say, well, see, there was a gay relationship. No, they were friends. Get it.

Cy Kellett:

Well, let me ask you this [crosstalk 00:36:44].

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Read Socrates in The Symposium and the end, when Alcibiades comes to him and offers himself, and Socrates says, what? I would give you gold and you would give me bronze? That was his reaction. It’s a sound reaction, he was a pagan, but he knew this was not, this… no. It’s friendship but he didn’t deny the affection and he didn’t humiliate Alcibiades. He just said, look, what you’re offering me is not very good. I have something much better to offer you, name me the knowledge of the truth. Go ahead.

Cy Kellett:

Well, the problem with Alcibiades is if you got him angry, he’d just join the other side and go to war against you, so.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Yes, well, that’s what aristocrats are allowed to do. Because they’ve always got to be on the [crosstalk 00:37:24].

Cy Kellett:

Always got to be on the winning side. Okay, so you started by saying that Thomas’ anthropology then of male and female is rooted in scripture, is our way out of the madness simply, and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way because this is our great duty and the joy of our lives, simply the proclamation of the gospel to return people to sanity, or should we busy ourselves also making philosophical arguments and whatnot to help restore some sense of sanity?

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Well, I’d say all of the above. Of course, depending upon what you’ve been given to do. Because, of course, obviously nature itself indicates the very same things but revelation indicates it in a way which is compact and portable. It’s like, that’s what we believe, it’s in the scriptures. What we have to do is to assert the reality of nature and to assert it calmly while not seeding to the accusation that what we’re saying is hateful. One approach I’ve used with several people who have come to me about these things rather vehemently is just to say, well, what about Orthodox Jews? They have a lot of rules about what is pleasing to God and what is not, ceremonial rules. Now, we Christians are no longer bound by the ceremonial precepts of the old law, but a lot of their rules are not just ceremonial, they’re moral. Orthodox Jews teach that homosexuality is wrong. They teach also that that abortion is wrong. They have strict limitations…

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:39:04]

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Also, that abortion is wrong. They have strict limitations on the way in which men and women relate in marriage, much stricter than ours, and so on. Are they haters? Are they awful because they keep kosher?

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Just say, “Why don’t you give us Catholics a little slack?” I believe, because you’re going to have to say this more and more, because there’ll be lots of people who just simply cannot see what we’re saying, and we’ll be viewed as hateful. Use the religion card. Say, “This is my faith. This is what I believe. I’m not going to hurt you, but this is what we believe. We also believe that it should be true for you, because unlike the [inaudible 00:39:41] Jews, we would be happy if you would become one of us. We actually evangelize.”

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

They do. Some of them do, the [inaudible 00:39:49], but most of them don’t evangelize. They’re very careful about that, because they want to maintain those rules, whereas we are open, and we evangelize. We welcome people, even people who don’t quite get it.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

That’s why, on the progressive side of things, they’re not wrong by saying that Catholic parishes should be open to whoever shows up. There may be rules of prudence that you have to use in order to not to distress families and whatnot, but still, no one should feel like he, or she, or they, or whatever it is that people are saying nowadays-

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, right. Right, right, right. Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

… could be able to enter a Catholic church, and pray, and be turned away, because they’re treated like a freak.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, no. Right.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Because people, it’s not right. On the other hand, we have to hold firm with what we teach, and be very firm about it, and persevering. The church has given us, in the recent magisterium, two truths, which are not dogmatically defined at the highest level, but which still are most certainly infallibly taught by the Universal Ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiffs.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

One is the immorality of artificial contraception or contraception in general. The other is that women cannot be ordained to the sacramental priesthood. Okay, between those two truths, one of which is very fundamental and natural, that basically says that sex is for procreation, even though, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, it’s for the union of the couple, there’s a secondary end, but we need to get back to the language of not treating those two end, procreation and union as co-equal. If you don’t have the procreation part, the union is going to get you where we are now, okay?

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

You have to have it. That’s what Paul VI was teaching, basically, by saying that you are not allowed to engage in sexual activities which are not at least in some way open to procreation, or at least where you are not deliberately blocking it, so that it can’t happen. If it can’t happen, there’s a physical reason in you, but it’s not something you did, right?

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

That gives the bottom line about sexual morality right there. You can’t prevent conception and claim that it’s a moral sexual act. Therefore, that rules out all immoral sexual activity, including adultery and fornication, because those are about the circumstances which are necessary in order for procreation to occur.

Cy Kellett:

And including, your list went out to self-abuse and bestiality, too. All of it is covered.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

All those things. It’s all covered, right, but even adultery and fornication, they’re only more natural in the sense that they can bring forth children, but Saint Thomas says all the sins against chastity are against nature, in the sense that they are contrary to reason. You need a stable married life to raise a child, and therefore you have to rule out adultery, and you have to rule out fornication, because those offend the stability of marriage or the existence of marriage.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

So, all sexual sins are related to the reality of procreation and education of children. That, we have to maintain. Then, that women cannot be ordained to the sacramental priesthood. That means that a human society, at its height, which is beyond the political order and the sacramental order, that is our conformity to Christ through his sacraments, the offering of the Eucharist, and the gathering of the peoples into Christ body is governed by an awareness of the distinction of sex on the level of sacramental signs, that they point to something heavenly.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Therefore, we’re not allowed to ignore them as though the priesthood were simply some kind of job which a man or woman could equally well preform, but rather, there is the contemplative sign value of something, which the world does not understand, because the world uses signs only to make money, only to … No, it’s exactly true.

Cy Kellett:

I see what you mean.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Only to satisfy … It’s back to the hidden persuaders, you know?

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

It’s back to those old studies, or Marshall McLuhan studies in communications, and advertising, and all that. Signs are used for that, there, but for us, the signs are markers of what is ultimate and eternal.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Now, on that score, then, Saint Paul can then tell us, once we’re incorporated in Christ, and baptism, and are destined for Heaven, we all relate to him as the great high priest and spouse of our souls. Even though a priest represents Christ at the head, at the altar, as a sacramental priest, an instrument of Christ, the only full priest, still, it remains true that as a man, as an individual human being, he relates to Christ as the bridegroom.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Again, now, we’re moving from nature to analogy. You find out that Christianity has in it a tradition which is not transgender, but which relativizes and sublimates sexual distinctions into the relationship we have with almighty God, so that the whole church is like a bride coming out of heaven to meet her bridegroom. That’s all of us. The saints of the middle ages, even the male saints, spoke of the spiritual life in terms of the song of songs, where the soul is the bride, and Christ is the bridegroom.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Now, there are some modern Catholic people scandalized by the gender ideology who have written nasty works complaining about the exegesis of the song of songs as being the root of too much feminization in the church. Well, they should be just chastised, because we don’t reject the fathers and the doctors of the church just because we’re pissed off that in our own culture, [crosstalk 00:45:27]-

Cy Kellett:

Men are having trouble being men. Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Right, exactly. Don’t blame Saint Bernard, okay? He was a man’s man-

Cy Kellett:

Boy, was he.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

… in the toughest possible way, so don’t blame his commentary in the Song of Songs. Just look at the culture and the post-Cartesian culture, which separated the soul from the body, at least in popular understanding. That wasn’t Descartes’ exact intention, but that’s what came out. Let’s just assert these things to know that you still are free, as a Christian, to relate to Christ as your spouse, to relate to him as though you are female, on the level of the spiritual life.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to … Whatever. I don’t know what would be psychologically healthy, but the fact is, the doctoral truth is such that our relationship with Christ is so beyond understanding that it exceeds and outstrips the limits of our bodily nature while we remain united to him, because he is God. So, there is that aspect, which, properly understood, shows how broad is the Christian perspective, but it’s very different from this transgender stuff, I have to say. Sorry.

Cy Kellett:

You don’t have to say sorry.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Sorry just that, you know …

Cy Kellett:

Sorry. Yeah.

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Yeah. I’m sorry as in, like, sorry I have to disappoint you. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Well, thank you, Father. May we have your blessing?

Fr. Hugh Barbour:

Certainly, okay. [inaudible 00:46:43] blessed virgin Mary, and by the mercies of Christ, spouse of souls, [inaudible 00:46:48] blessing almighty God, the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit descend upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

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