Fr. Martin always tries to play the martyr card when people use the heresy word. Many people have spelled out his errors elsewhere, but I offer one of his latest posts as to why people might think this. Bottom line, he’s really suggesting a form of dualism below. Yes, yes, I know. He never uses the word, but then, he never does, always preferring to remain ambiguous.
So, what is the heresy of dualism (and my priest friends tell me it’s Gnostic Dualism but they’re way more in the know) in very simply non-super philosophical terms? It says that the body and the soul are two separate things which can be in conflict with each other. What is the Catholic teaching of body and soul? The body and soul form once substance, not two. Body and soul are not in conflict. They are one.
Now, those with anything but authentic Catholic thinking are trying to fracture people not just into body here, soul there, but they are now trying to split the person into gender, biological sex, thought, experience, etc., as shown by the post below. It’s ridiculous but it all amounts to dualism.
This post is just a small snippet of Fr. Martin’s load of hooey found here:
What does the congregation propose? Essentially, and unsurprisingly, its document restates the traditional Catholic view of sexuality: Men and women are created (as heterosexuals) with fixed sexual and gender roles. This traditional view, however, is contradicted by what most biologists and psychologists now understand about both sexuality and gender. These contemporary advances in understanding human sexuality and gender have been set aside by the congregation in favor of a binary understanding of sexuality. Even the term “sexual orientation” is put into quotes in the document, as if to call that very notion into question.
So, the Church “view” is contradicted by “most biologists and psychologists”? PROVE IT! And for the sake of argument, let’s just suppose the numbers bear that out (which he fails to prove), IT DOESN’T MATTER IN THE REALM OF TRUTH. Dualism is still wrong.
Before I go on, I have to tell you that James Martin, SJ, is either falling down in research or he’s lying, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s the former. His suggestion that no psychologists were consulted is bunk. Giuseppe Versaldi, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, actually does have a degree in psychology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He ran a counseling center and he taught psychology. The Secretary, Angelo Vincenzo Zani, has a degree in social science. Oops! Not sure how Father Martin feels competent to let us know who or who did not weigh in on this document, but he’s been a wee bit off.
This article explains Fr. Martin’s and America Magazine’s problem well:
Have your kids ever peppered your phone’s intelligent personal assistant with random questions? Mine do all the time. It’s a lot a fun when we do it together—the kids get a kick out of it, especially when they start asking potty questions.
Just last night we were having fun asking Siri a variety of questions, and I told my children to ask, “Are you male or female?” to which Siri responded, “I don’t think that really matters.”
I acknowledge that Siri is correct, since artificial intelligences don’t have sexed bodies. But her answer does give us something to consider, since it’s the mantra of the modern transgender movement. Let’s think this argument through.
Advocates of transgenderism argue that our sexed bodies have nothing to do with our personal identity, which is why they think it’s possible that a person’s identity as male or female doesn’t have to be in conformity with his or her biological sex. If a person thinks such disharmony exists, they argue, then he or she should be able to harmonize it by conforming to his or her desired identity.
Only heard this a million times. And Fr. Martin suggests in his tweet that biologists, psychologists, or life experiences that support gender dysphoria somehow makes it not a heresy?
It’s a form of dualism, and the idea is not unprecedented. It dates back as early as the writings of Plato and became predominant in modern philosophy with the writings of the seventeenth-century philosopher Renes Descartes. Descartes made this view so popular that it is now known by his name: Cartesian dualism.
See? I told you. Love it when I find really smart guys to back me up.
Descartes taught that the human person is divided into two separate substances: a mental substance (the soul—res cogitans) and a corporeal substance (the body—res extensa). For Descartes, the substance that constitutes who you are as a person is the res cogitans—“the thinking self.” And rather than the body being essential to a person’s identity, as understood in the views of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, it is merely accidental (not belonging to the essence). For Descartes, the body is merely a machine in which the soul exists as a ghost—hence the phrase “ghost in the machine.”
Like I said earlier, I think that modern day dualists are actually splitting the person even further. Would that make it quadruple-ism or quintuple-ism? Just kidding. It’s pluralism, and philosophers have already covered that.
Constructing your argument
Cartesian anthropology has seeped into the well of our culture, so to speak. Since transgenderism—which holds that a person’s sexed body is separate from the person—entails Cartesian dualism (the body is separate from the person), we have to ask, “Is Cartesian dualism true?” If Cartesian dualism is not true, then transgenderism is also not true.
Of course, it’s a no-brainer for the devout Catholic who embraces the teachings of the Church.
Following the lead of philosopher Scott Sullivan, in his recent book Why Transgenderism is Wrong: A Critique of the Philosophical Assumptions Behind Modern Transgender Theory, we can construct the following syllogism:
P1: If transgenderism is true, then Cartesian dualism is true.
P2: Cartesian dualism is false.
Therefore, transgenderism is false.
I will focus on premise two, and to do that I’ll give two arguments that favor the view that the body is not separate from a person’s identity.
From the inside
The first is from the inside. Notice that as you read this article you sense the words on the screen and at the same time you understand their meaning (unless, of course, I haven’t expressed myself clearly enough). It’s not as if you understand the words but only your body sees the words. In the technical jargon, there is one subject of action, you, who both sees and thinks.
It is this fact of human experience that led St. Thomas Aquinas to conclude that the body is not separate from a person but is essential:
It is one and the same man who is conscious both that he understands and that he senses. But one cannot sense without a body: therefore, the body must be some part of man (Summa Theologiae, I:76:1).
Obvious if you ask me, and yet missed by so many. Fr. Martin appears to say that person and body can be separated and put at conflict by thoughts or experiences. Wrong.
If you are reading the words on the screen and sensing the words involves the body, then it necessarily follows that your body is not separate from you—like a car is separate from a driver—but your body with its biological design is you. In other words, the body that allows you to sense the words is essential to your identity as a human person, along with your rational soul that enables you to understand the meaning of the words. You are not your soul alone, nor are you your body alone, but you are both body and soul. Philosophers call this view hylemorphism (Greek, hyle, “matter”; morphe, “form”).
From the outside
The second argument is metaphysical—it takes a third-person point of view by looking at the relation between the body and soul. On a basic level, the soul is that which makes a thing living (ST I-II:75:1). This is the distinguishing factor between animate and inanimate beings.
But as we inquire further, we discover that the soul also makes a living thing the kind of living thing it is with its unique powers. If the soul of a living thing is its vital principle, which it is, then it necessarily follows that the soul is also the principle of that thing’s vital activities. And since it is obvious that there are different living things with different types of activities, then there must be different types of souls.
For example, plants take in nutrients, grow, and reproduce but do not have the powers of sensation and locomotion like animals. Therefore, plants must have a different kind of soul than animals. This is a vegetative or nutritive soul. Non-rational animals have the powers of sensation and locomotion, along with all the vegetative powers, but do not have rational powers—namely, intellect and will.
So not only do non-rational animals have a different soul than plants, they have a different kind of soul than humans. This is a sensory soul. Human beings stand at the pinnacle of living organisms, embodying all the powers of the vegetative and sensory souls plus their distinct powers of intellect and will. Philosophers call this kind of soul a rational soul.
And this is one area where Fr. Martin and his ilk like to lead people astray. He tries to make everyone a slave to their proclivities. We are not.
Now, just like the vegetative soul is the principle of all the powers of plants, and the sensory soul is the principle of all the powers of animals, the rational soul is the principle of all human powers: vegetative, sensitive, and rational (ST I:76:1). As Aquinas concludes, since the vegetative and sensitive powers belong to the human body, and the rational soul is the principle of those bodily powers, the soul is the “form” of the body (ST I:76:1).
Uh, yeah. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Fr. Martin quote the Summa in the context of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. Doesn’t fit the narrative.
What this means is that the soul is so united to the body that the two make one substance: a human being. Converse to the idea of Cartesian dualism, humans are not a “ghost in a machine.” Both your soul and your body make up who you are as a human being.
Our sexed bodies do matter
If my body and soul together make up the one substance that I am, then it necessarily follows that my male body together with my soul makes me who I am. My male body is not an accident to my personal identity that I can change like my hair color (that is, if I had hair). My male body is essential to who I am as an individual human person.
Although we can excuse Siri for dodging the male-female question, we cannot do so for embodied real intelligences—namely, human beings. Genesis 1:27 was right all along: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
It’s beyond me how a Catholic priest can inflict so much confusion on the faithful, but he’s going to keep giving it the old college try. Sadly, he will one day be held accountable for the souls he leads astray.
One last thing. I ran across this article by Robert George. He basically says the same things pointed out here but he neglects to be blunt and use the “h” word – heresy. He’s basically making the same mistake that Fr. Martin makes with the faithful although I imagine for far different reasons. He fails to do the tough thing and admonish the sinner. I mean, this is seriously dangerous for the soul of Fr. Martin as well as the faithful he leads astray. He needs to speak the hard truth. It’s not pleasant but if he loves his friend he will get real and get real fast. They ain’t getting any younger.