Have We Missed the Truth About LGBT Rebellion and Human Nature?


I had two articles on my mind when I started this blog post. It was the third one, though, that got me thinking about how we may have missed the real truth about the LGBT rebellion against human nature. These are experimental thoughts that I’m only beginning to work on. You’ll see the somewhat rambling effect of new thinking in process here. If you know of anyone who has written anything like this before me, I’d like to know about it.

Out of the Archives

The first article I was planning to write about is one I ran across while randomly browsing files I had stowed away on disk here at home: Hadley Arkes’s 1996 First Things article, “The End of Democracy? A Culture Corrupted.” The whole thing is disturbingly prescient. I was tempted to quote entire paragraphs, but this is the one sentence that got me started.

 And one thing may be attributed to the gay activists quite accurately and fairly: they have the most profound interest, rooted in the logic of their doctrine, in discrediting the notion that marriage finds its defining ground in nature.

Polygamy Arising

The second article (or trio of articles, actually) had to do with a Long Island case in which polygamy has achieved a new sort of quasi-legal status, through a judge granting three members of a throuple joint custody of a ten-year-old boy. The NY Post even calls him “their” ten-year-old son.

What does the son call his parents? We don’t hear about the dad, but when the judge asked how he told his “moms” apart, he answered that “one was the ‘mommy with the orange truck’ and the other the ‘mommy with the gray truck.’”

Christine Cauterucci, writing in Slate, called that answer “an adorable set of names more moms with trucks should adopt.” Really? More moms should consider it adorable to be identified as the parent with the red truck? Isn’t there something more, you know, personal a child could know his or her mom by?

Part of our problem here is journalists getting stuck in “cute” when they should be thinking about what they’re writing.

The Nature of Marriage

The bigger problem, though, is what Arkes recognized 21 years ago: the attack against marriage having “its defining ground in nature.” Until recently, marriage was thought to be a certain thing by  nature. It had a reality, an essence of its own; it was what it was, not merely what the mood of the day (including this move toward legalized polygamy) said it was.

The Judeo-Christian line of thinking has  considered marriage to be that way because God made it so. The attack on marriage has therefore always been partly an attack on religion.

But only partly, for marriage has always been known everywhere to be for man and woman, with or without the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Its natural meaning flowed directly from human nature. Marriage is what it is because humans are what we are.

Human Rebellion Against Nature

That’s how we used to think of it; but humanity has rebelled against human nature. We’ve rebelled against nature itself: the nature of what it is to be human. But it’s more complicated than that, for just what is it we’re rebelling against?

There is human nature as we once thought of it: a real and stable essence that defined humanness. Just as marriage once used to be what marriage was, humans used to be what humans were.

Now, however, we refuse to be limited by what we are. Part of that refusal comes out in our unwillingness to let our physical sex limit either our genders or our relationships.

But human nature itself is complicated. How much is “human,” and how much is “nature”?

Sex is biology, after all, and biology is nature; but mind is higher than nature and need not be limited by it. I’m sure some of us would choose to swim like fish if we could. We can’t, obviously; some limits surpass all power of mind. But we can declare our genders independently of our biology. We can devise our relationships without concern for nature’s limitations, too.

Which brings me to the third source that came to mind this evening, leading to what I’ve got on my mind here. C.S. Lewis wrote the following in The Abolition of Man about man’s drive to overcome Nature:

From this point of view the conquest of Nature appears in a new light. We reduce things to mere Nature in order that we may ‘conquer’ them.… But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same….

(You can read a longer selection from the same passage here.)

Human Nature As It Wasn’t Meant To Be

Our drive to conquer nature impels us to rule over even that which is natural within us, wrote Lewis. He also saw the effect that would have: the conquerors would be at the same time the conquered.

For we are by nature (or so we are told) only natural. Let me say it again another way, so I won’t be using “nature” in two different ways in the same sentence: We’re convinced that we have no essence, no reality, except for what comes from, what remains, and what unavoidably and forever is and shall be the same sort of thing as the animals, the plants, and the soil we all spring from.

Which brings me finally to the point where I am beginning to wonder whether we conservatives have been getting the marriage and gender revolution all wrong — or at least, wrong insofar as we’ve thought it was a rebellion against human nature. I wonder if it might instead be the result  of people trying to live up to true human nature, when they’ve been inculcated with a doctrine that there is no such thing.

Could LGBT Be Rebelling Against the Right Thing?

Make no mistake: we are not merely natural, and we all know it, in our inner and most human places. The merely-natural view is false. It deserves any rebellion that’s raised up against it. In fact, given that we know better on the inside, it’s impossible to imagine humans not rebelling against it.

Which makes me wonder: could it be the LGBT revolution is a rebellion against the right thing — though in the wrong way?

I think it’s possible.

Yes, We Really Are Meant To Be More Than Our Biology

We were meant to be more than the merely-natural thing we’ve been told we are. We can’t hide that reality from ourselves. The problem is, we don’t know what that “more” could be. We know we were made to transcend, but we have no idea where we could possibly rise to. We’re afraid we might really be stuck inside nature.

We sense that we were meant to be more than our biology. But our biology is all we are and all we have, or so we’re told. Our one escape is to the least nature-like thing about us, our thoughts. So we try to bootstrap ourselves right out of our biology by sheer mind-power. We flail, trying to punch our way out of a box that has no outside, as far as we know.

Maybe it’s because sex is such a transcendent experience that it has become the sphere in which we have tried to ascend outside ourselves. It’s still biology, though. That soaring feeling can be explained by neurochemical processes. As far as true humanness goes, it only lifts us high enough to think it’s “adorable” when a ten-year-old tells his mommies apart by the colors of their trucks.

The Box Has To Have An Outside

That’s about as far as any human experience can take us, as long as we refuse to see that the box has an outside after all. If nature is all humans are — if we can’t see there’s a reality outside the box — then we’re stuck. Inside here we will continue to flail. And fail.

But if we can see that the box has an outside — that there’s more to us than what’s merely natural — then we can know our deepest human self-awareness is true. We can be who we are and what we are, both on the inside and the outside. We can be fully human, spirit, soul, and body, without needing to distort ourselves on any of those levels.

Getting On the Same Side of the (Human) Table

I’m not saying this is the full explanation for the LGBT revolution. There’s a lot more nature-and-nurture going on than what I’ve focused on here. Sex itself is certainly part of it. Pride is, too, along with a host of social and spiritual factors I’ll nod at in passing by way of tacit acknowledgment.

I’m also not saying that the LGBT revolution is good if it’s a rebellion against the right thing. The 1917 Bolshevik rebellion in Russia was also at least partly against the right thing. The Czars were corrupt; but the Communism that followed it was, too, in completely new ways, and to unheard-of degrees.

Yet I think there’s something here worth considering. Practically speaking, if it’s true it could be a way to get on the same side of the table with LGBT people for a change: “You want to rebel? What are you really rebelling against? Is it against being limited by your biology? Christians don’t believe we’re limited by what’s merely natural, either. But we do think we’re meant to be an integral whole, body, soul, and spirit. Wouldn’t you like that for yourself, too?”

Image Credit(s): Carla TenEyck.