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Our Centuries-Old Enemy

Some years ago, I considered myself an Objectivist and a rabid supporter of Ayn Rand's view on just about everything. She has been widely quoted as saying, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” In other words: reality is what it is. "Facts are facts," she wrote, "independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears."

Though I've long since left behind Objectivism and found my way into Christianity (a brand of "superstition" Ayn Rand particularly despised), I can still agree with her on the principle of the objective nature of reality. All Christians can and should agree with her on that point. The Bible and the nature of God leave no room for a wishy-washy, murky concept of what's true or good or real.

Much of Rand's adult life was consumed with marshaling her merry band of intellectuals to fight against what she labeled "subjectivism" -- a willful ignorance and defiance of the way reality is and what it means for human life. Rand fought that battle for decades, but Christians have been fighting it for centuries. Ayn Rand called it "subjectivism," but generations of Christians have known it under a different name: Gnosticism.

Katherine Kersten's article, "Transgender Conformity," brings home a very concrete example of how Gnosticism and subjectivism have worked their way into the politically-correct culture that demands we bend our knee:
The Gnostic approach creates a kind of magical reality that refuses to admit conditions that resist the human will...

Today’s transgender crusade can be seen as the latest manifestation of this denial. It is inherently authoritarian, as other latter-day Gnostic projects have been, because it has to be. Nature and common sense oppose it. In the “Gnostic dream world,” as Eric Voegelin once put it, “non-recognition of reality is the first principle.” Critics who persist in drawing attention to reality must be discredited or silenced. Otherwise, the Gnostic fantasy world crumbles...

Soviet authorities silenced dissenters with late night knocks on the door. In the U.S., the tool of choice is weaponized civil rights. Critics of transgender ideology are denounced as bigots—guilty of the only sin left in our post-Christian world.
That last sentence is a critical, eye-opening observation. When the postmodern culture abandons any notion of objective right and wrong, the only thing left that people can use to insult or silence anyone is to call them a bigot. When all objective truth has been denied and shouted down by the Gnostics, the only remaining foundation for moral judgment is the position that every person gets to construct his or her own subjective "truth."

Denying someone's subjective truth makes you, the denier, a sinner. Since the Gnostics can't use the word "sin" because of its implication that a higher authority exists, they settle for "bigot" -- which is itself an accusation of a kind of negative subjectivism. Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as "a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices." In a subjectivist culture where opinions and prejudices are the only basis for "truth," of course it's morally repugnant to be devoted to your own worldview.

Making the Judeo-Christian claim that our worldview is based on the general and special revelations of God simply does not compute in the minds of the subjectivists and the Gnostics. They cannot fathom even the possibility of an objective standard for moral judgments, let alone the existence of an objective authority (God) who sets such standards. The best they can do is chalk our beliefs up to our "opinions and prejudices."

Where does that leave us? According to Kersten:
In the near term, transgender ideology will further polarize society and diminish the shared civic space where liberals and conservatives can fruitfully coexist, as happened at Nova Classical Academy. Longer term, it will mount an escalating attack on the family and religious institutions, the perennial targets of totalitarian forces.
I'm not confident of exactly what date Kersten wrote this article, but given that she wrote it for the December 2016 print issue of First Things magazine, I'm certain it was prior to Donald Trump's election victory. There's no more vivid example of the "diminished shared civic space" than the protests and violent riots that broke out in the allegedly "tolerant," liberal communities of Portland, Seattle, and the like. The "escalating attack on religious institutions" unfolded before my eyes in real-time as I watched protesters here in Portland shout foul obscenities in the faces of evangelists preaching the Christian gospel amid the riots.

I must leave it to those who are wiser, more tactful, and more discerning than myself, to figure out how we should respond to all this. The best I can do for now is call to mind the guidance from 1 Peter 3:15-17:
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. (King James Version, emphasis added)

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