The problem with the movement designated as D.I.E. (Diversity, Inclusivity and Equality) is that its ‘inclusivity’ has never included Christianity. Despite the camouflage of the words used, it is a secular movement, characterised by the hyper-sexualisation of our culture, and it intends to reduce the complexity of human identity to erotic desire.
Sooner or later, the clash with Christianity was bound to break the surface. So it’s no surprise that it has done so in the educational environment and in a head-on clash with the Catholic Church.
For many years, the Catholic Church has taken hit after hit over celibacy. The corrosiveness of Freud’s idée fixe on the importance of sexuality has undermined and dissolved our sense of the value of restraint. We have, as a result, become an increasingly self-indulgent society, drowning in our own incontinence. But the Catholic Church is the one form of Christianity ready and equipped to take on the disordered sexualisation of our culture.
The clash between John Fisher School in the Archdiocese of Southwark and the secular campaigners trying to get the Department of Education involved exposes the incompatibility of this secular belief system and the Catholic faith.
Simon Green, an LGBTQ+ writer, described as ‘a writer of teen fiction’ was scheduled to give a talk to pupils on World Book Day. However, when the content of his writing became clearer to the school, the Archbishop’s office was bombarded with complaints, and he was disinvited.
The protesters that erupted in fury after he was disinvited began, of course, by claiming the school was not sufficiently sympathetic to the gay community, who are deemed to be perpetual victims and outsiders; the reverse is, of course, now true.
Our society is awash with LGBT+ propaganda. It is Christians – with their eccentric view that sex is not recreational, but a powerful gift, whose most beautiful and potent place finds expression in marriage – that are now the outsiders.
The emerging truth about D.I.E. is that, as it has grown, its exponents have developed a growing and dark aspiration to close down any opposition. This necessarily involves curtailing free speech, freedom of conscience and Christian diversity.
One of the surprises of the last few years has been the extent to which people have been willing to enforce conformity to the new progressive values at the expense of free speech and the integrity of conscience.
Even if this did not undermine one of the central principles of a just and democratic society, there are pragmatic reasons for being suspicious of such autocratic enforcement.
Dr Jordan Peterson has been helpful to many as he has articulated that you need to be free to talk about an issue out loud, to express an opinion, even if the only reason is that you need to be able to examine a view out loud to weigh up its merits. This cannot all be done sotto voce, in the head, under our breath, in a private space. We need to speak aloud and to each other. The Catholic Church is a passionate defender of free speech and freedom of conscience. It ought to occur to the casual observer, secular or not, that there Is something wrong with that side of the argument that wants to confine free speech and curtail conscience.
It is the LGBTQ+ culture that is dominant, and Christian culture that has become marginalised. It is not the gay or gender-fluid who find it difficult to express their public beliefs in public. It is Christians.
It is not sexual identity politics that has its voice circumscribed or silenced in the public space. It is Christianity.
As the children growing up in schools navigate their journey of discovery through the complex currents of their adolescence, they face the challenge of managing their growing hormonal changes along with the task of articulating understanding and defending their sexual and existential integrity. But it is not LGBTQ+ children who will find themselves under social pressure to conform to a norm they find uncomfortable. It will be Christian children who find themselves being taught about or being attracted to the option of chastity.
If diversity and inclusion were real, why would they not welcome or encompass chastity in the name of a greater diversity of choice?
If they were real, why not allow diverse opinions?
Part of the challenge for the Church in these culture wars is to move the argument away from being just about sex and towards a full panoply of ideas that centre on human rights, human dignity and freedom of speech.
Dr Simon Hughes, the Director of Education in the Diocese of Southwark, cut through the emotional blackmail and hype of both parents and activists whose claims implied that children at John Fisher were in some way being deprived of sufficient exposure to a sexualised adolescence. In his official statement, he said:
“From time to time materials or events emerge for consideration that fall outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school, because they do not comply with all aspects of the tests cited above – for example, the protected characteristic ‘religion’ (Part 2 of the Equalities Act 2010) and all that that encompasses in our context. In such circumstances, we have no alternative but to affirm our unequivocal and well-known theological and moral precepts and to act in accordance with them. The book-signing event scheduled for 7 March 2022 at The John Fisher School, Purley is one such event and we have recommended that the school’s leaders cancel it.”
There are other arguments to be made, of course. One would be the value of chastity as a defence against predatory and disordered sexual experiences at a time when children are vulnerable and easily wounded psychologically and spiritually.
Another would be the incoherence, instability and even contradiction encompassed in the range of sexualities represented by the ever-growing acronym LGBPTTQQIIAA+ (=Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Ally).
But for now, it ought to be enough to claim that Christianity has a worthy and valuable place to play in a diverse liberal society. The Catholic Church offers children a space to explore a fuller range of spiritual, sexual, psychological and educational choices that confront them. Their Catholic education is not an exercise in sexual deprivation, but an opportunity to understand the consequences that follow from the hierarchy of values that they will choose to adopt as adults.
And perhaps one of the greatest gifts it will give them is the knowledge that our God-given personality, a matter of complexity and wonder, is profoundly impoverished if it is reduced to our more animalistic reflexes – the single and confined lens of desire.
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