At the 2018 Labour Party Conference in Liverpool a feminist called Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, founder of campaign group Standing for Women, put up a poster using the dictionary definition of a woman – "Woman, wʊmən, noun, adult human female". There was 'outrage'. What a heinous crime! Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson promised to "remove stickers and work with the police to identify those responsible".
Fast forward (backwards?) to the Labour Party Conference 2021. This week the party leader Sir Keir Starmer was asked on the Andrew Marr show: "is it transphobic to say that only women have a cervix?" His response? "Well..it is something that shouldn't be said..it is not right."
The Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, when asked the same question on LBC, struggled to answer. She said that the question was unhelpful and unproductive, that she didn't even know how to start answering such a question (which was blindingly obvious) and that people should be able to identify with the gender they feel comfortable with.
The Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy told the conference that those who argue that only women have a cervix are "dinosaurs".
The message is clear. Most of the Labour party, like many of the cultural gatekeepers in our society, are hopelessly confused about what a woman (or a man) is. For those who are unaware of biology, it is a scientific fact that only women have a cervix. Repeat: no man has a cervix. No man has a womb. No man has XX chromosomes. But arguing with trans ideologues is like arguing with flat-earthers.
Imagine if Andrew Marr had asked Starmer "is it flat-earthphobic to say that the earth is round?" and Starmer had responded, "Well, it is something that shouldn't be said. It's not right."
As we saw last week, this issue has achieved prominence at the Labour Party Conference because of one Labour MP – Rosie Duffield, who felt she could not attend because she had received so much abuse because of making precisely this statement.
Although Starmer said she was safe to attend, it is clear from his words, and those of his colleagues, that Duffield was correct. If the leadership is prepared to deny basic science in order to accommodate such an intolerant ideology, then Duffield was wise to stay away.
In yet another sign of just how deep this madness has gone, the latest edition of the medical journal, The Lancet featured a front cover with the words "Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected". Note this is not even people with vaginas. These are bodies.
And this is where Christian theology comes in and helps us see what is going on. What Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, and the transgender ideologues (I am not convinced that the Labour Party leadership have actually thought about this – they are just buying into the memes) are doing is denying the humanity of human beings, by separating us from our bodies. It is the ancient heresy of gnosticism, dressed up in 21st Century jargon and gobbledygook, and it is yet more evidence that modern Western society is not progressing, but rather regressing into a Greco/Roman/Pagan view of the world.
The denial of the fact that our bodies are an integral part of our persons was part of the gnostic heresy. The Gnostics separated the material from the spiritual. The physical is evil, the spiritual is good. In 21st Century terms it doesn't matter what your body is, it's what you feel that counts. If you have a man's body, but feel you are a woman, then a woman is what you are. If you are a teenage girl influenced by social media, who feels that you are a boy trapped in the wrong body, then rather than deal with your mind, our society will freely mutilate your body in order to accommodate your feelings. Physical matter is bad, spirit (or in 21st progressive language 'mind') is good.
A consequence of this in the first century was that women were exploited and abused by men. After all, if the body didn't really matter, what you did to it didn't really matter. Doubtless The Lancet doesn't intend to go that far – but ideas have consequences. Especially when they are so irrational and so emotionally enforced by ideologues.
Why do you think that The Lancet had no problem in referring to "ten million men currently living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer", but women are reduced to "bodies with vaginas"?
In this Brave New Progressive World, women's wombs are now for sale, as are their bodies (men conveniently call it 'sex work'), mothers are 'birthing parents' (according to the NHS), and breastfeeding is now 'chestfeeding'. The marginalisation and exploitation of women continues apace – aided and abetted by intellectuals who don't think, and politicians who don't understand where their virtue signalling in support of the latest progressive cause will lead.
Gender ideology is a new religion. Unlike Christianity it has no provable doctrines, no historical basis and no discernible good. But it does have its own dogmas (transwomen are women), its own priests and its own heresy hunters. Put up a post saying only women have a cervix and the heresy hunters will get you.
The devotees of this new gender ideology religion – which apparently now includes the Labour leadership and the editor of The Lancet – make an absolute schism between mind and body. We all somehow have this inner knowledge (gnosis) – even little children can just 'know' that they are trapped in the 'wrong' body. This disconnect from the reality of the physical is exacerbated by the influence of the Internet – where we can form for ourselves any identity we want. Online we can be whoever we want to be. Life is just one big computer game.
Thankfully Christianity can bring us back to reality. Just as the early Church dealt with the heresy of ancient gnosticism, so we can deal with the modern version. We teach the truth of Scripture (backed up by all scientific observation), that men and women are different – but equal. We know that our bodies matter. That the physical is not disconnected from the mind or the spirit.
Above all we teach the truth of the Incarnation. That Jesus was born of a woman. That he came in a human body and died in one. And that now the dust of the earth sits on the throne of heaven. Because of that our bodies matter. They really matter. We should not abuse, mutilate or deny them. Mind, body and spirit come together in joyous harmony in the real world. What God has joined together let no politician put asunder.
David Robertson works as an evangelist with churches in Sydney, Australia. He blogs at The Wee Flea.