Reinhold Niebuhr was born in 1892 and raised in a Pastor's home. He studied at Elmhurst College and Yale Divinity School. Assigned to a pastorate in Detroit, he found pastoral work and preaching amidst the problems of an industrial centre a radical challenge to his liberal theology and moralistic upbringing. Influenced by Marxism, he began as a liberal and a pacifist before moving theologically to the right and socio-politically to the left. Central to his interests were the problems of Christian ethics, and his impact great upon secular thinkers on social and political problems. His greatest theological contribution was his analysis of mankind's essential nature and destiny.
Niebuhr began by asking the question: what is wrong with mankind?
His answer is that we are sinners. This is to say that he saw mankind in the light of our relationship with God, for sin is a theological category. Our condition as sinners, as opposed to people who happen to commit sins, is described by Niebuhr in a number of ways. It is our unwillingness to acknowledge our finiteness, which consists of our efforts to transcend the proper state to become like God. It is alienation from God in the sense that by our self-assertion we deny what is our proper relationship to God. We do this because we are self-centred; we are inescapably egotistical. Rejecting the orthodox tradition that such a condition is somehow inherent, Niebuhr treats Eden as a myth giving an accurate account of what is universally true about humanity. There was not a particular time in history when a first man "fell", but there is "original sin" in the sense that there is a prevailing and inevitable proclivity in us to deny our natural limitations.
For Niebuhr, human freedom has as its source the fact that we are both spirit as well as nature. To say that we are spirit points to our capacity to transcend ourselves, to stand off from both ourselves and the world-to reason-to objectify possibilities and ourselves. In this situation, we always envisage possibilities exceeding our capacities, and this makes us strive for perfection that is impossible. We therefore become anxious. In our freedom, as we face the many possibilities we may also feel insecure, and this feeling of insecurity prompts anxiety.
Anxiety is not sin; but it is the precondition of sin. In such a condition, we either assert ourselves beyond our limits (the more basic condition of sin), or we try to escape the insecurity of this freedom. In neither case is this sin really necessary or inevitable. It is an act of freedom, and thus we are responsible for our condition as sinners. The covering term for the first form of sin-that in which we act in ways to deny our limitations-is pride. The second form, in which we try to escape our freedom's insecurity, is sensuality. As we shall see, LGBTQ+ agenda and queer theory in particular combine both forms of sinful behaviour.
Sin As Pride
The first form is Pride of Power, which takes two forms. It is the pride of those who assume their self-sufficiency and self-mastery and believe themselves secure. It is also the pride that is the motive of the lust for power. Greed would be an example of this will-to-power, which moves in a vicious cycle. The more one acquires, the more one has to lose; and so the more insecurity threatens and more power is demanded to overcome it.
The second is intellectual pride. This is the kind of pride that people take in the thought that their knowledge or their beliefs are superior. Such people cannot see the limitations of their own grasp upon the the truth or the partiality of their perspective.
The third is moral pride. Moral pride is also involved in intellectual matters. It is revealed in all self-righteous judgments in which the other is condemned because they fail to conform to the highly arbitrary standards of the self. WOKE ideology is a prime example.
The fourth is spiritual pride. This religious or spiritual pride issues from moral pride when it attempts to claim driving sanction. Our judgments are claimed as the truth of God. This is done when our partial standards and relative attainments are explicitly related to the unconventional good.
All such forms of pride are rooted in our basic self-centred mindset. They are modes of self-love. We think too highly of ourselves in failing to acknowledge both our mortality and limitations. They are ways of exalting ourselves and by this, denying our natural relationship with God.
Sin As Sensuality
Sensuality is a form of sin. In one sense it derives from pride, which is the root of all other sins. Sensuality can be a means of self-glorification through physical pleasure rather than via power, knowledge, or virtue. But the individual may become aware of one's sensual self-love and feel guilty. Consequently, one tries to escape the sensual love of the self through sensual abandonment to another or, for example, through fornication.
What then is mankind meant to be?
That mankind is not meant to be a self-centred egoist becomes clear in our sense of conflict between what we are and what we could be. There is still health left in mankind to enable us to perceive that we are not healthy. Further, the vision of Christ, for Christians at least, heightens the sense of contrast. Niebuhr talks about the image of God in mankind and our original perfection. These are terms that refer to Adam's state before the Fall in Biblical and traditional thought. For Niebuhr, they do not, any more than the story of the Fall itself, refer to any literal historical events. This Biblical story is a myth which tells a truth to mankind about ourselves. What these terms do refer to is a structure of possibility which defines what mankind is meant to be, what fulfillment is. Essential humanity includes our natural endowments and determinations expressing ourselves in harmony. It includes the freedom that we have in our capacity for self-transcendence, fulfilled in a life of faith, hope, and love. Mankind's original righteousness was present at no particular time in history; it is present in the moment before the self acts. It is present when the self regards regards its earlier action and knows itself as merely a finite creature among many others and realizes that the undue claims which the anxious self in action makes result in injustices to our fellows.
The norm for mankind-what we are meant to be-is then disclosed in our own experience at the point where we become aware of a lack. One might say that the norm is disclosed as a law which mankind is not fulfilling and which we discover cannot be fulfilled under our own power. This awareness of the norm is heightened in the confrontation with the Christ and his cross, which clarify both the human predicament and the human goal. "He is what I am essentially, and therefore what I ought to be." The cross shows the radical character of our own self-contradiction and yet shows us the nature of the love representing fulfilled humanity.
Mankind in Society
One of the clear implications of Niebuhr's understanding of the nature of mankind is that our sin (pride, self-centredness, and self-interest) will be observable wherever we are. It will be found in group and social life as well as in the individual and in our relations to other individuals. It will be found then in politics, in the economic realm, in our schools and universities, and even in the church. The further implication is that we ought not to have any illusions either about motives (our own or those of other groups) or about the possibility of any simple solutions to the problems that arise at this level. Niebuhr is thus highly critical of all sentimentality and utopian views about society. On the other hand, one of the most significant problems is that of how to deal with power in the interaction of social groups-whether this be the power of nations, economic classes, or political groups.
A second implication is that the norm of love-if it is the norm for human life-must somehow be made relevant to the social scene. If love is not a simple possibility (and it is always subject to corruption), then some method of relating it to the human social issue must be found other than the effort embodied in the injunction, "all you have to do is love your neighbour as yourself."
A third implication is that just as there are always possibilities of evil inherent in human freedom, so there are indeterminate possibilities for a greater good beyond the existing situation. There are no limits to be set in history for the achievement of more universal harmony, for the development of more perfect and more inclusive human relations. But only to the extent to which we resist the sinful human propensity toward pride and sensuality.
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, or serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
Transgenderism is more than just pride, it is also idolatry: "we are all gods created in our own image and limited only by our own imagination." And at the root of it all is the Marxist concept that government is the source of all goodness, and therefore, god-like. But something about this pride month feels different, as the reaction to state mandated and enforced mores spreads. It feels different in this "holy" month of June. The rainbow colours are there, but something has changed.
Could it be that people are finally prepared to demand the separation of pride and state?
In California, Armenian parents fought pitched battles with pride activists and Antifa at a school board meeting. In Maryland, Muslim parents protested against LGBT curriculum in schools. In Ottawa, parents protested mandatory pride education and events at school. In Italy, Prime Minister Meloni has declared June "Family Pride Month."
In many schools, students are in open rebellion, refusing to wear anything pride-related, and often not even attending classes. Some parents are talking about how their kids were murdered by gender ideology. There are multiple incidents of vandalization of pride flags. In California, the legislature is considering a new draconian bill that would isolate kids from their own parents if they fail to affirm their child's gender. In Britain, parents are suing against secretive school curricula. In Canada, Muslim children stomped all over a pride flag.
The headline for a new Gallup poll announces that "Social Conservativism in U.S. Highest in About a Decade." Nearly 4 in 10 respondents say that they are conservative on social issues, the highest since 2012, and around 44 percent say they are economically conservative, also the highest since 2012. Another poll says that Americans now overwhelmingly oppose transgenders in women's sports.
Political realists are usually reticent and wary about putting too much trust in public opinion. The reasons are twofold. First, as Hans Morgenthau once wrote, the public is usually passionate. It is foolish and egalitarian to think that everyone is either rational or cognizant about the details to make a sound judgment on every aspect of society: the rational grand strategy of a great power is incompatible with the tides of public passion. That is the reason we have electoral and representative democracy.
Second, and more dangerously, public opinion is easily manipulated through careful propaganda, passionate demagogues, and activist monoculture. The times might change-from ancient Athens, to Edwardian Britain, to every modern revolutionary society in human history-but the game remains the same. Socrates died due to mass democracy. Hitler won an election. That is not to say that we should not be wary of instincts and passions and seek a Platonic balance.
Census data indicate that 00.3% of Canadians, 100,815 of 30,500,000 people identify as transgender or non-binary. Canada is the first country to collect and publish data on gender diversity from a national census. Statistics Canada produced a 2022 report entitled "Filling Gaps in Gender Diversity in Canada." This means that over 99% of Canadians are not transgender or non-binary. Despite this, many retailers are tripping over themselves to pander to this increasingly vocal minority for the primary purpose of being a billboard for the Alphabet crowd.
Corporate behemoths like Bud Light, Always, and especially Target are stampeding into the culture wars, all in an attempt to win points with the WOKE crowd. This corporate virtue signalling is not just annoying; it is a business disaster of titanic proportions. For example, Target's Pride-themed children's clothing line has lost a staggering $10B since its launch.
Undaunted, Target is doubling down on its WOKE ventures and its tuck friendly female swimwear line, ostensibly designed to provide additional coverage for men. Most of us (99% in fact) buy swimwear for comfort and propriety, not to make fashion statements about our sexual proclivities. Sadly, this madness does not stop with Target.
Now PetSmart has thrown its hat into the ring with its "You Are Loved" collection-a surreal range of Pride-themed pet products like rainbow dog bikinis and butterfly cat leashes. Perhaps Fido's talents could be best applied to fetching our slippers, rather than moonlighting as a technicolor billboard for the Alphabet agenda. This reveals an uncanny obsession to make even pets, utterly indifferent to human sexuality, part of this never-ending carnival.
Then there is Always, the feminine hygiene brand. They have purged the words 'girls' and 'daughters' from their literature and released a pamphlet referring to women as "bodies with female sex organs". Apparently, using five words to describe a woman is more straightforward than using just one. Similarly, The North Face has launched its "Summer of Pride" campaign, replete with a drag queen beckoning us to join them in nature.
This is not progress. It is dehumanizing farce. Instead of understanding the clear message sent by consumer backlash, corporations and governments continue to endorse the radical Alphabet agenda. They have lost their bearings. This is not about inclusivity or diversity; it is a concerted effort to normalize a specific worldview to an increasingly younger audience. The LGBT+ community insists that the world must be their billboard, and they do not care how many companies go broke or how many cis-gender jobs are lost.
A reaction has finally and truly begun to push back a needle that has drifted too far to the left. Unjust laws are unjust. And pride month always had theological underpinnings. This country was designed, rightly or wrongly, to separate state and faith. Even faith in a providential theory of history and progress, which somehow still needs state coercion to reach its providential end.
Normal things are easy to spot. They are natural, balanced, and harmonious. The current pride movement is anything but that. It is therefore not surprising that we are seeing more rebellion against the current state-mandated religion. Perhaps that is why the mass media glossed over the death of one of the most famous transgender people in history. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, died on 10 June 2023 at age 81. He was once one of America's most brilliant young mathematicians, but went mad after being a subject in abusive MK ULTRA experiments while he was at Harvard. A lot of people know about that..but did you know that before becoming a hermit who mailed bombs to people, Kaczynski also developed gender dysphoria and wanted to become a woman?
Evidence that Kaczynski battled with his gender identity date back to his confession in 1998, after he was sentenced. That same year, The Washington Post reported that Kaczynski considered undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1966, but decided against it while in a psychiatrist's waiting room. He wrote in documents released during a court trial that he considered murdering the psychiatrist after his regret set in, describing his inability to undergo gender reassignment surgery as a "major turning point in his life...Like phoenix, I burst from the ashes of my despair to a glorious new hope."
That flames of that phoenix killed Kaczynski's victims. His glorious new hope ended those of everyone he killed. Ted Kaczynski was a trans-terrorist. His pride caused him to believe that he had the right to murder complete strangers.
Pride is the deadliest of sins because it leads to all others. It is delusional, spiteful, and bitter; at its root, it declares "I do not want God to be God-I want to be God!" Pride is a preoccupation with self, and it presumes to possess excellence and glory belonging to God alone. The danger of pride is that most people are unaware of their pridefulness, and it is often considered to be a negative force in human existence, the opposite of humility, a source of social conflict. The root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God's rule.
The pride movement is a social expression of the deadliest sin, and must therefore be completely eradicated from the public square.