We Must Always Tell the Truth About God’s Creation

Love demands that we never cooperate in a lie that seriously distorts human nature.

Transgender swimmers Izzi “Iszac” Henig (l) of Yale and William “Lia” Thomas (r) of the University of Pennsylvania compete in the 100-yard freestyle swimming race at the 2022 Ivy League Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Feb. 19.
Transgender swimmers Izzi “Iszac” Henig (l) of Yale and William “Lia” Thomas (r) of the University of Pennsylvania compete in the 100-yard freestyle swimming race at the 2022 Ivy League Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Feb. 19. (photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images)

There is a national discussion about swimmer William “Lia” Thomas, a so-called transgender female (i.e., a man who claims to be a woman). Thomas has been competing against some of the best female swimmers in the world, defeating them by large margins and transforming the very nature of their sport. Something seems unfair.

But the real problem is not unfairness. The real problem is that calling a man a woman is a lie.

Let’s be clear: People with true “gender dysphoria” deserve our love and sympathy. But they also deserve the truth and an approach that helps them accept what nature, and nature’s God, has actually made them. In this rests their truest fulfillment and happiness. Lasting happiness is never found by lying or rejecting what God has set forth.

Yes, the real problem lies deeper, with people who should know better (especially Catholics), and who participate in this lie and spread its harm by being fearfully silent at best and cheerfully enthusiastic at worst. And those who cooperate in the lie, either out of fear or ideology, are participating in a serious distortion of human nature. Lying is a moral evil because it perpetuates what is erroneous and untrue. Lies do not bring happiness — they distort reality, create cynicism, destroy trust and stifle communication. They poison human interactions. 

Lying is a very serious matter. Consider what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the nature of truth and the serious consequences of lying:

  • “[People] are obliged to honor and bear witness to the truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth” (2467).
  • “A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving. The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: ‘You are of your father the devil ... there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies’” (2482; see also John 8:44).
  • “Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships” (2486).

Exactly, and very well put. And we can see the harm that constant lying has done to our culture. What institution garners trust any longer? So many institutions, groups and experts have broken trust. It is sadly reasonable to assume we are being lied to. The Church has also betrayed the trust of the faithful in many ways: sexual abuse cover-ups; unchecked liturgical abuses so rampant that the very validity of sacraments received has come into question; the widespread tolerance of both laity and clergy who spread errors and mislead the faithful.

Yes, lies are very destructive to human relationships and attack the very fabric of culture and nation. The warning of the Catechism is confirmed: Lying “contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of reputations and society; it undermines trust … and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.”

The idea that a man can be a woman is also a lie because it contradicts Holy Scripture, the source of truth for all true believers. There are not multiple genders — there are only two sexes. As Genesis (1:27-28) says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Catholics know that Holy Scripture is no mere opinion. It is the truth. Therefore, whatever contradicts or seeks to undermine its teaching is not merely a different opinion — it is flat-out false and erroneous. And this is no mere cultural matter that was later distinguished or qualified in Scripture, such as kosher food norms — this is a clear and unchanging declaration about the very nature of the human person as created by the hand of God. Scripture warns us of the pride in rejecting what God has set forth (Isaiah 45:9-12): 

“Woe to him who quarrels with his maker. Can the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ … Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and its maker: ‘How dare you question me … or instruct me in the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created man upon it. It was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I set forth all its stars.’”

Yes, we are all sinners, and in so many ways we are prone to “quarrel with our maker,” which is what  people are doing when they say, “Why did you make me thus? You should have made me different that I am. I will correct your error by declaring myself to be another sex than you made me. I will recreate myself in my own desired image.”

Unbelievers may not know explicitly that they are saying this, but Catholics and others who believe in God have no excuse and must be clear that we have no right to lie or reinvent reality or human nature. To do so is to disobey God, and to indulge in a lie contrary to God’s revealed truth. We must actively resist those who promote this lie and pressure others, through intimidation, to join in the lie or be silent about its terrible error. 

Some have tried to avoid the concern that we are lying by speaking of “biological males” and “biological females.” But it still is a lie since there is no male other than a biological male and no female other than a biological female. Maleness or femaleness is etched into our very bodies in the clearest possible way. And even if some engage in voluntary genital mutilation and wreck their bodies with the wrong hormones, the maleness and femaleness go to the deepest possible levels. A man cannot be a woman; a woman cannot be a man. It just isn’t possible or real. 

Most egregious in this terrible lie are those who mislead children and draw them into decisions, dangerous hormonal “therapies” and even surgeries that are sure to end in disaster. It is predictable that lawsuits will emerge in the near future when these children as young adults wake up to the awful reality of trying to be someone they are not. They will ask fundamental questions: “Why did you let me do this? I was just a kid. Why didn’t you stop me?” Parents, doctors and teachers who have promoted this lie will have a lot to answer for.

No one can take a glass of arsenic, call it “wine” and simply expect reality to obey. With every sip one will grow sicker and sicker. Calling a thing something it is not is dangerous and harmful. Saying a man is a woman does not make it so. 

And note, this is no mere debate over nomenclature such as whether we call a beverage “soda pop” or “soft drink.” This is a lie about the very reality of human nature and the human person — about foundational issues such as sexuality, marriage and family. These are the truths at the very root of what makes for a civilization, a culture and a nation. Get human nature and sexuality wrong and everything else soon crumbles.

Resist this and call it what it is — a harmful lie.

In Advent, we await the coming of Jesus at Christmastime.

What Is Advent Anyway?

EXPLAINER: Advent is a season in the Church’s life intended to renew the experience of waiting and longing for the Messiah.