Teen Vogue recently re-tweeted an article entitled: “Gender Variance Around the World Over Time: It’s nothing new.” It’s the latest attempt to reinvent history to suit the LGBT and progressive crowd.
In the article, Lucy Diavolo, who appears to be a transgender woman, argues against the so-called “white cisheteropatriarchal lens” that supposedly informs historical interpretations. Diavolo insists that “understanding (LGBT) history will only help to inform the ongoing struggle for the liberation of gender-variant people everywhere.”
That’s a bit of a stretch. Of course, people have lived alternative lifestyles for centuries. The problem though has nothing to do with the nonsensical term cisheteropatriarchal and everything to do with sin.
For example, one of the Diavolo’s example of a “transgender” historical figure is Roman Emperor Elagabalus, also known as Marcus Aurelius Antonius Augustus, who is considered by modern historian Adrian Goldsworthy as “the least able emperor Rome had ever had.” The young man is known to a small group of historians for his many, many sex scandals, including marrying as many as five times during his short life and reign, prostituting himself in taverns, brothels and even in the palace and offering money for any physician that could give him a vagina (the veracity of that claim is up for historical debate).
His reign was so disastrous, and largely inconsequential, that his own grandmother was involved in planning his assassination.
Teen Vogue has spun this woeful story of a clearly unstable and ill-suited child emperor, who reigned a paltry four years, as something to admire and recognize. In the article, the author mentions his desire to create a vagina as one of the first pursuits of “sexual-confirmation surgery.” Of course, it doesn’t mention any of the severe problems with his reign.
What Teen Vogue revealed has nothing to do with finding “gender variance around the world over time,” but everything to do with identifying mankind’s oldest problem: sin.
In many ways, people see our current time period as something new and unique. There is some truth in that. Technical achievements alone have profoundly changed the world we live in, but the problem of sin, including sexual sin, always remains the same. No matter what century, time period or empire, sin expresses itself in the same way. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV).
When I toured Pompeii as a teenager, one of the most well persevered buildings that they had us tour, and I believe the only one that retained its second story, was strangely the brothel. It wouldn’t be difficult to go to the city of Naples and probably find prostitutes still working the streets in the modern city just feet from the ancient remains. Places, cities and situations do change, but human nature and sin does not.
Diavolo wants young people to believe that LGBT history has been marginalized because of an invented term like cisheteropatriarchal, but that’s not it. In a large majority of cases, these individuals are usually inconsequential to history. There is no argument to make that studying Elagabalus will result in any pearls of wisdom. He remains on many lists, with the likes of Nero (who is known for his vicious and cruel persecution of Christians) and Caligula (who made his horse a Senator and declared war on the sea), as one of Rome’s worst emperors, but with little to no historical impact.
There is nothing wrong with learning about the various major and minor players of history, but the pursuit of filling the history pages with LGBT history should not come at the cost of the historical figures who truly helped form our world. It is likely that some school children may or will soon know more about Elagabalus and his proclivities than they do about Julius Caesar (a brilliant military strategist who led to the rise of the Roman Empire and who the month of July is named after) or Caesar Augustus (his successor who established the Roman empire and who the month of August is named after), and that’s a problem.
How can we learn from history if we don’t really learn anything from it at all?