“Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman?’” The question seemed simple enough, but during her U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Ketanji Brown Jackson couldn’t answer it. “I’m not a biologist,” she said.
Did she really not know, or is something else afoot? Peter Herbeck of Renewal Ministries offered an answer in a video, “Don’t Walk in Darkness,” saying her response reflects society’s abandonment of God and should be a warning.
It points to our growing fear of humans over God, he said. Not wanting to be canceled, we’ll do whatever necessary to please the dominating voices.
Herbeck referenced a work of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, “The Yes of Jesus Christ,” in which Ratzinger analyzes the deep spiritual battle taking place in our world—the result of our refusal to submit our minds and hearts to God.
In seeking the will and opinions of humans instead, Herbeck said, we become vulnerable to falsity. Forgetting that true freedom comes in placing ourselves in the hands of a loving God, we become chained to the dominating opinions of humans, which then determine our freedom.
These dominant voices “project a story that is a world apart from God,” Ratzinger said, and instead of what is true, “the appearance of the real” starts governing the world, becoming a universal power that “damages the courage to stand for the truth.”
This is what we saw play out in that confirmation hearing in March, Herbeck said. We cheer the fact that a minority woman has been raised high, yet she cannot even define who she is, because in going off script from the dominant opinion, she risks offending those voices, falling into “self-contradiction.”
“Courage is the willingness to sustain a wound, and stand for the good, the true and the beautiful,” he continued, not allowing our fear to subjugate us. For as Ratzinger noted, when the fear of God no longer holds sway, we break from reality, and “the door is left wide open for every kind of folly.”
“We want to be God,” Herbeck said. “We’re going to save ourselves and fix the world…” But it’s a trap, because, as Scripture and the saints remind us, our destiny lies not in the hands of men, but of God. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man,” he said, quoting Jeremiah 17:5, adding, because “he is walking away from the light.”
A society that falls prey to this, Ratzinger said, becomes “a pseudo-religion…that enslaves people,” leading to a citizenry that is “sorrowful and filled with despair.” What sense does it make to turn toward the creature, who is lost, Herbeck asked? Only Christ can fight the powers of sin and death.
Christians must be courageous, he said, and allow the Holy Spirit “to lay hold of us, so we can be the faithful witnesses we’ve been anointed by God to be,” helping win the victory over the fears that dominate the world, walking in true freedom as sons and daughters of God.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on May 16, 2022.]
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