Defending the truth in today’s relativistic environment is anything but pleasant. In my first few weeks of working as an intern at a children’s school, I came face-to-face with the demands of truth. I quickly realized how some of the things the school taught these young children about their gender identities and sexual orientation were not only incompatible with what is true but dangerously harmful.
By Grace Williams
27 September 2019
I never thought that defending the truth would be such a lowly, unglamorous experience. St. Catherine of Siena says, “Be who you were meant to be and it will set the world on fire.” On fire! Blazing with all the light and power of goodness, beauty and truth, a raging force ready to take over the world with authentic freedom and the awesomeness of Christ’s love. The prospect she proposes conjures a powerful image and inspires a fervent heart. It all seems so beautiful: taking on the cross of Christ for the sake of his kingdom. What reverence, honor and wonder must accompany such an undertaking.
Yet this is completely contrary to how I felt after standing up for the truth. I felt lost, lonely, misunderstood, sorrowful, helpless, weak, maybe even cowardly. These were the real, hard, difficult feelings that I met after a face-to-face battle over the truth. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” – these are the words of Christ to his disciples (Matthew 10: 34-36). He straight up warned us about what was to come. He tells us clearly that if we are to stand up for him, it will not be easy and so we must leave everything else behind, take up our cross and follow, sometimes blindly, the path he lays out for us.
That is what Christ calls us to do and yet how easy it is to glorify and glamorize this task with the zeal of love. It’s easy to imagine that the early Christian martyrs must have felt so gloriously holy as they sacrificed their own flesh and blood. Yet the reality is that Christ’s truth is a cross to bear in this world because we were not made for this earth, we were made for heaven. And in order to live in eternal, beautiful bliss there, we must first live out the cross here. Jesus prays to the Father specifically for our struggle in the world because he knows that we will need it, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17: 15-16). Jesus needs us in the world, but he also needs us to know that we were not made for this place, we belong to him.
Perhaps you are wondering about my experience in battle for the truth, so let me explain. I recently started graduate school in Child Study and Human Development at a large university. In addition to my classes, I took on an internship with a children’s school connected with my university department and was assigned to work in a classroom with preschoolers. As I began my first few weeks working there, I quickly came to realize some of the things the school taught these young children about their gender identities and sexual orientation. They taught them that a boy can be a girl if he wants, and likewise, a girl can suddenly change into a boy if she feels like it. They taught these little children that biology doesn’t make a difference in our self-understanding and gender is a construct you can change based on your own arbitrary feelings. Simply put, our God-given natures don’t mean a thing and gender is relative to every person’s individual take on it.
However, the Church teaches that human sexuality is not something fluid; nor can it be altered by personal desires, emotions, or wishes. It cannot be changed by surgical procedures that merely modify the body’s physical appearance. Sex is not skin deep:
Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.CCC 2332
Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.CCC 2333
In other words, the sexuality of the human person is willed by God as male and female. Human sexuality, male or female, penetrates the entire being of the person ontologically, inherent to body and soul. It’s impossible to alter one’s sexuality under a surgeon’s knife, through destructive hormonal treatments, or through a simple gender-switch-desire of the will. Contrary to relativistic gender ideologies that throw biology, science, philosophy and theology to the wind, human sexuality is indeed binary.
When the truths about human sexuality are undermined, untold spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering is the result. For instance, the suicide rate among individuals who have undergone transgender surgeries is reported in a number of studies to be far higher than the national average. Some indicate that transgender surgeries increase the suicide rate by as much as twenty times.
Children deserve to be raised in such a way so as to ground them in what’s true, that their minds be conformed to reality as it is, not, on the other hand, conditioned for confusion and suffering by today’s transgenderist mentalities.
I knew that I absolutely could not support or partake in these false, destructive teachings, especially since they were presented to young, innocent children who have not yet gained the full capacity to use their reason and were only beginning to understand their identities as boys and girls. I could not stand by and watch these precious ones be lied to about the reality of their personhood before they had a chance to know the truth.
In order to stand up for the truth, I had to walk away from a lie.
It seems contradictory doesn’t it? Maybe even cowardly? Yet through discernment, I knew that this was the narrow path which Christ was asking me to walk in order to carry his cross. Standing up for the truth in this case meant separating myself from an evil that was masked by rainbows and a false idea of acceptance and love. I felt like I was abandoning these beautiful little children whom I had just met to the snare of the evil one. Yet I knew that in reality, I was choosing to love these children through my refusal to lie to them about the truth of their identity in Christ.
This is the kind of love that Christ’s cross called me to follow, this is the kind of love that Christ’s cross demands. It was not the glamorous kind of love I had expected as a young, enthusiastic Catholic desiring to set the world on fire for Christ; nevertheless, it strengthened my understanding of Christ’s suffering heart. It forced me to trust that it was Christ who changes hearts, not my works, and it is he who plants the seeds of truth. I must simply be his mouthpiece, he the voice.
Through the feelings of loneliness and confusion, I was able to perceive a clearer picture of the cross, the multitude of deceitful ways in which the evil one works, and the clarity that only Christ’s love can give.
Evil is easily masked with apparent goodness. Love can be misunderstood as acceptance of anything while causing you to fall for everything. Standing up for the truth sometimes means walking away from a lie.
My experience of defending the truth taught me and continues to teach me the way of the cross that Christ desires us to follow. It is not a dazzling and glamorous undertaking nor is the path wide and clear. It is an arduous journey, making it easy to collapse along the way, with a burden that often seems too heavy to bear. But the prize is worth every bruise, the end is far greater than any wonder we can imagine, and the most beautiful truth is that Christ does not let us bear his cross alone. He himself has already prepared a way for us to follow through his own death. Though the way is hard, Christ’s companionship lightens the load. It is Christ who helps us bear our cross and only Christ who can set us free to emblazon the world with our witness to his truth.
May the cross of Christ remain ever in our hearts and the truth of Christ’s love set us free always.
Grace Williams is a recent graduate of Ave Maria University with a degree in Humanities and Liberal Studies and a minor in Shakespeare in Performance. She plans to continue her education in Child Study and Human Development with a masters from Tufts University beginning this fall. She comes from a large family of 9 children and enjoys all things Shakespeare and acting. Grace is passionate about education and the preservation of the family, especially as she prepares to begin her own next summer. She hopes to use her education and talents in teaching and theatre in her future career.