The Apotheosis And The Emperor’s New Clothes

In the last few days Twitter has banned a number of highly visible accounts for describing a member of President Biden’s administration, the assistant secretary for health, by his former name. This person, who also holds the title of Admiral, is biologically male but identifies as female. One of the accounts was a satirical publication which specializes in making fun of things in the evangelical and secular worlds. Twitter does not mind when the site makes fun of evangelical foibles but observing that a biological male is such, well, that is beyond the pale and requires cancellation. Why? 

BigSocMedia is deeply committed to “expressive individualism,” the apotheosis of which is trans ideology. Apotheosisis the right word since it is a word that is frequently used in a religious context. It has two senses. The first sense given in the dictionary says, “the highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax: his appearance as Hamlet was the apotheosis of his career.” The second is overtly religious: “the elevation of someone to divine status; deification.” It is in this sense that I am using the word in this discussion.

The all-knowing algorithm will not tolerate dissent to what is fundamentally a religious commitment and I do not mean religious commitment in a good sense. It is a blind religious commitment. Why blind? Because it defies sense experience. When I was a boy everyone read Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. I asked my students today if they had all read it and most had, but a surprising number had not. There could hardly be a more relevant children’s story for our age. It should be required reading for every child and adult in the West.

In the story some con men come to town and persuade a foolish king that all the fashionable people are wearing what the con men describe as magic cloth. Well, of course, it is not cloth at all and the foolish king is parading in public in his underwear, but the king’s court and people are too afraid to say the obvious—all but a guileless child, who did not know how to “play the game,” as they say. The child did not know that he (or she, the story does not indicate the sex of the child) was supposed to go along with the charade. The child announced what his sense experience told him. He knew intuitively that the world was made to be known and he was made to know it.

Were the story told in 2022 he would be too innocent to know that the world is supposed to be a series of arbitrary “constructs” (as the smart people say today) that need to be “deconstructed” and that human sexuality is supposed to be nothing but a construct, an arbitrary convention created by society. The child would not know that human beings supposedly have a “gender” assigned to them at birth and that gender may be seen as a construct to be deconstructed and changed at will.

Today, however, were Anderson’s hero to pipe up and announced that the cabinet member is, in fact, not a female but a male dressed like a female, that child would be “cancelled.” It matters not that it is the plain fact. It matters not that any grown up, apart from comedic purposes (e.g. Milton Berle, Monty Python, or Robin Williams), who dresses as a female and demands to be regarded as a female is raving mad. That we are not allowed to say this in public is a bad thing indeed.

It is a bad thing for lay Christians, who graciously but clearly articulate to their neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends that there is a God in heaven (whom everyone knows in his conscience) to whom we shall all have to give an account, either in our own person or clothed in the righteousness of Christ. What is more rude, more uncouth in our age than to speak of the coming judgment for sin and the necessity of a personal faith in Christ? What message will get someone hauled to Human Resources more quickly than that one?

This intolerance of saying what is plainly true does not bode well for Christian preachers either, who almost certainly face future restrictions on speech. Such restrictions have already been attempted (one thinks of the mayor of Houston, TX who demanded transcripts of sermons by local preachers). During Covid we have seen the lengths to which officials will go (and continue to go) to control both speech and behavior. Believe it or not, Californians still live under a state-wide “emergency,” which grants the governors sweeping powers, which powers he seems reluctant to release.

I suppose it is obligatory to acknowledge that the BigSocMedia platforms are private businesses and that they may therefore ban whom they will. We are not supposed to recognize the growing entanglement (which we have seen during the Covid regime) between government (particularly at the federal level) and BigSocMedia wherein these private companies did the bidding of the administration. In that case, is not the government using a private entity to suppress free speech?

Be that as it may, it is well for Christians to know and understand that we have entered not into a brave new world as much as a blind new world, a deliberately stupid new world where we are not supposed to “see something, say something.” We have entered into a world where we are not supposed to notice or say that a biological male is dominating female collegiate swimming or that a biological male, who pretends to be a female, holds a significant position in the national government.

Obviously, Christians should pray that the Lord would be merciful to this person, that the Spirit would open his eyes and soften his heart, that he might recognize the greatness of his sin and misery, his need for the Savior, and that he might turn to Christ and live. He can only do this by the sovereign grace of God. We should pray that he gets the help he needs to address the deep-seated issues which drive him to demand that we regard him as a female. He is a psychiatrist, indeed a former professor of psychiatry. We should pray for his patients who have a deeply disturbed person as their counselor and physician.

Beyond that we should pray that the Lord would curtail and even lift the pall of madness that has descended upon the West. Radical, subjective, expressive individualism is not a sustainable ethos. Were Nero alive he would laugh at us for tolerating in public what he did in private. Expressive individualism is the apotheosis of subjectivist madness, a divination of individual autonomy over all other authorities and even over universal sense experience.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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One comment

  1. //There could hardly be a more relevant children’s story for our age.//

    That exact thought struck me several weeks ago when I was reading that story to my children. Just this morning, before seeing your post, I was trying to research Andersen’s religious convictions and sure enough, he was a Christian (of sorts).

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