Paired for the good of society

Genders irrevocably written on human heart

Kevin and Lisa Cotter are like two peas in a pod.

The couple from Lakewood share many things in common—they both work for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), enjoy hikes and a good book, just to name a few.

Yet their gender differences are what make them a perfect pair.

When house hunting, Lisa made decisions based on her emotions and the impact on their family life. Kevin considered the financial implications.

“I pictured us eating dinner in that kitchen. I’d get my heart wrapped around a house real fast,” said 29-year-old Lisa. “Whereas he would think about if the roof would fall down. My husband was able to keep a level head and think things through logically.”

When caring for their 6-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, Lisa is more intuitive.

“I’m able to see and notice if their moods are changing. I know why my daughter has been crabby lately,” Lisa explained.

Kevin, 30, is slow to notice these needs.

“It’s not that he doesn’t care, but as a woman you are able to pick up on things faster.”

God made men like Kevin and women like Lisa for each other.

Scripture says that God creates males and females in his image, and wills them for each other. The two genders have both equal dignity and significant differences.

Genesis Chapter 2 reveals, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them shall become one flesh.”

This passage, said Christian Brugger, a moral theologian at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, tells people about male and female complementarity.

“That one flesh is a metaphor and also a biological reality. They become one flesh for purposes of generation,” Brugger said. “It’s both a unity that is not just a spiritual union but a bodily reality. Procreation is conditioned upon the prior reality of the two sharing bodily complementarity.”

Biological complementarity is foundational to understanding gender. The marital act of becoming one flesh is exclusive to spouses who give and receive themselves to one another. Their sexual differences make the act possible.

“He gives himself to her and by doing so he receives her,” wrote moral theologian Michael McGivney of the Catholic University of America. “On the other hand, she is uniquely capable of receiving her husband personally into her body, herself, and in so doing she gives herself to him.”

The marital act expresses a sexuality that is giving and receiving and concerns the innermost being of the person.

Men and woman also complement each other socially.

“Women, as many studies point out, tend toward responding to situations as entire persons, with their minds, bodies and emotions integrated, whereas men tend to respond in a more diffuse and differentiated manner,” McGivney wrote.

The Cotters own relationship attests to women’s tendency to care for personal needs and men’s inclination to pursue long-range goals.

But gender identity and complementarity was contested in history.

Philosophers like Plato argued the sexes are equal yet no significant difference exists. Aristotle argued men are naturally superior to women. Such theories were debated until St. Thomas Aquinas articulated a Christian foundation to understanding gender, in which the genders are equal and have a significant difference.

In her work “Man-Woman Complementarity: The Catholic Inspiration,” Sister Prudence Allen, the philosophy chair of St. John Vianney, gave an overview of gender theories.

Christian theories were trampled by post-Enlightenment philosophers like Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone Beauvoir. Extreme imbalances were later countered with the works of Dietrich Von Hildebrand and St. Edith Stein in the 1900s. John Paul II made inroads into Catholic thought with “Theology of the Body” and other works, pointing to the genders’ biological, individual, personal and spiritual complementarity.

Today, same-sex civil unions are an attempt to ignore gender identity and its complementarity.

“There’s an implicit dualism in same-sex marriage debate,” Brugger said. “Dualism says that my body is not defining of my person. What’s defining of my person is my consciousness. I can do whatever I wish of my body. My body is analogous to the clothing on me.”

But gender is an identity written on every human person by God, and an acceptance and support of its complementarity is crucial to a healthy society.

“Physical, moral and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.”

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.