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

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.

21 thoughts on “Have We Missed the Truth About LGBT Rebellion and Human Nature?

  1. Why not just talk about God’s plan for humanity versus sinful humanity? You get all muddled talking about “nature” because there’s God’s intended nature mixed up with our sinful nature.

    People aren’t rebelling against one kind of nature or the other, but they’re just rebelling against God.

  2. Rebellion against God takes many forms. I’m talking about it this way because simply saying, “You’re rebelling against God,” while true, is unlikely to help anyone understand.

    I don’t think I’m the one who’s muddled about “nature.” (My writing might be muddled, but it’s clear enough in my mind, and in other thinkers’ writings.) It isn’t simply God’s intended nature versus our sinful nature. There is human nature, which includes the imprint of God’s image; his law written on our hearts (Psalm 19 and Romans 2); “eternity in our hearts” (Eccles. 3:11); our bodies, souls, and spirits; our rational intellect and volitional capacities; and also our fallenness, which isn’t essentially human (we could be human without being fallen) but it’s universally human in the world we live in.

    Of course there’s some mixing up there: humanness includes all sides of who and what we are. An accurate analysis has to take all that into account.

    And I think people really might be rebelling against a certain view of human nature, that we are just physical beings or just natural beings. Why shouldn’t they? It’s being stuffed down our throats, yet we know on the inside it isn’t true. That awareness could help lead some people to a true understanding of who and what we are: made in God’s image, for relationship with him.

  3. Tom said:
    throuple

    The preferred term in the poly community is ‘triad’ or ‘vee’, depending on the configuration. The term “throuple”, as far as I can tell, was invented by media personalities outside of the poly community several years ago, and is in fact younger than my own poly relationship.

    You want to rebel?

    No, not really (at least not as far as this topic is concerned). I just want to live a happy life without being constantly lectured about how I’m doing things wrong by people who don’t even know me.

    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.

    LGBT people aren’t some perplexing philosophical mystery. Instead of theorizing from the armchair about why people do what they do, perhaps you could…I don’t know, ask them?

  4. I’m not quite sure how to “ask them,” because there are more of “them” than I could possibly ask.

    The LGBT people I’ve spoken with have never said they were processing spiritual dissonance on the level that I’ve suggested here. Maybe some of them are, though. I can’t ask all of “them.”

    Maybe more of them would if we opened up a conversation about it. Still probably not all of “them,” but I don’t expect everyone in any group to process things philosophically this way.

    I just want to live a happy life without being constantly lectured about how I’m doing things wrong by people who don’t even know me.

    You don’t have to listen to my writing, yet you continue reading here. That seems to contradict what you’ve just said. Are you coming so you can lecture me for doing things wrong?

  5. The LGBT people I’ve spoken with have never said they were processing spiritual dissonance on the level that I’ve suggested here. Maybe some of them are, though. I can’t ask all of “them.”.

    My point wasn’t that you’ve failed to rigorously survey the LGBT community. It was that you’re approaching the issue the same way you might approach metaphysics or epistemology. In other words, you’re looking for some sort of “Theory of LGBT nature”.

    What you’re looking for doesn’t exist. LGBT people, like everyone else, are motivated by personal and interpersonal motivations. When LGBT people decide to pursue LGBT relationships and do LGBT things, they’re not thinking “What is human nature all about?” or “What are my essential properties?” or “I’m going to rebel against my biology!”. Rather, they’re thinking “Wow, I really like that guy!” or “I’ll be more comfortable and have less anxiety if I change the way my body looks”.

    That’s it. That’s all there is.

    You don’t have to listen to my writing, yet you continue reading here. That seems to contradict what you’ve just said.

    No it doesn’t. Not being lectured is not the same as being lectured and declining to respond. But anyway, that statement wasn’t referring specifically to what you wrote; it was more referring to stuff like the Lydia McGrew article you linked.

    McGrew says things like “abominable mess” and “If you can’t see that this is nuts, you need your head examined”. And it’s clear that she’s not referring to just the specific people in the news item, or the legal messiness of this particular court case, but poly relationships/childrearing in general.

    Tom, do you agree with those statements? Is that what you think about me? Do I need my head examined?

    But anyway, I’d just like to point out that no one has a problem with a child being raised by multiple people in cases where those people are not all in a romantic relationship. For example: I was raised by my biological parents, two sets of grandparents, and a friend’s parents. That’s eight people in total.

    I’d also like to point out that poly relationships and LGBT relationships are not the same thing.

    Finally, you said: The attack on marriage has therefore always been partly an attack on religion.. This is just false. Most of the LGBT and poly people I know are themselves religious, and some of them are even Judeo-Christian. It’s also odd, by the way, that you think wanting to participate in marriage constitutes an attack on it.

  6. Btw, just as an aside:

    The Czars were corrupt; but the Communism that followed it was, too, in completely new ways, and to unheard-of degrees.

    While I’m definitely not a fan of state communism, I’d like to point out that (1) western capitalist states have also committed their fair share of atrocities, arguably just as bad or worse than those of Stalin, both historically and in the modern day; and (2) Soviet Russia played a far larger part in defeating Hitler’s war machine in WWII than did the U.S. or Britain.

  7. If developing a philosophical theory requires a rigorous survey covering a population most of whom don’t think in philosophical terms (like any other ordinary Western population), then I’ve failed to do so. I don’t accept that if, however.

    Your unwillingness to view marriage as having essential properties or an is-ness of its own is evidence of that.

    I think polygamy is seriously disordered.

    For example: I was raised by my biological parents, two sets of grandparents, and a friend’s parents. That’s eight people in total.

    Hopefully, though, you didn’t tell the judge you could them apart by the color of their trucks.

    Finally, you said: The attack on marriage has therefore always been partly an attack on religion.This is just false. Most of the LGBT and poly people I know are themselves religious, and some of them are even Judeo-Christian.

    It’s an attack on historic Judeo-Christian religion for reasons I stated. It’s not an attack on “religion” understood in the broadest possible terms, and it’s uncharitable for you to read it as if I said it that way. Your Jewish and Christian friends are not following historic Jewish or Christian moral beliefs.

    It’s also odd, by the way, that you think wanting to participate in marriage constitutes an attack on it.

    It’s odd you’ve been on my blog as long as you have, and haven’t understood why what I said isn’t odd after all. They want to participate in what they call marriage, but in order to do so they have to undermine the unique meaning of marriage. That shouldn’t be so hard to understand, even if you find it hard to agree with.

  8. Skep @8: If you’re going to start arguing that Communism wasn’t really all that bad after all, you’ll have to quit ignoring the body counts. Not quite 100 million, but way too close.

    If you’re going to start arguing that Western states have done as bad or worse than that, you’ll have to admit you’re as clueless as you really are.

  9. If you’re going to start arguing that Communism wasn’t really all that bad after all, you’ll have to quit ignoring the body counts.

    “Communism” is a very broad, general term. I don’t deny that Stalin’s regime did some terrible things. But I’m an anarcho-communist, which is pretty far removed both in theory and in practice from state communism.

    If you’re going to start arguing that Western states have done as bad or worse than that, you’ll have to admit you’re as clueless as you really are.

    Western states genocided native americans, instituted chattel slavery, caused severe famines in India, and turned Australia into a penal colony. Just to name a few.

    Anyway, getting back to the main topic:

    Your unwillingness to view marriage as having essential properties or an is-ness of its own is evidence of that.

    It’s not that I disagree with you about marriage having essential properties (although I technically do disagree). It’s that I don’t really care whether it does, because it doesn’t matter. To me, and to almost every other LGBT person, that’s just philosophical minutiae. What matters is how legal policies actually effect people’s lives, regardless of whether they’re technically philosophically inaccurate. In other words: if a pro-LGBT marriage policy improves people’s lives (and I think it does), then we should be in favor of it – even if it gets the definition of marriage wrong in a philosophical sense. And the same goes for a pro-poly marriage policy.

    I think polygamy is seriously disordered..

    Ok. Let’s try something here.

    Imagine I were to agree with you on this. What should I do? Don’t say “come to Jesus” – I’m still an atheist, so that won’t help. In practical terms, what’s disordered about it? Is it making my life worse in some way? Will my life improve in some way if I give up being polyamorous?

    Hopefully, though, you didn’t tell the judge you could them apart by the color of their trucks.

    I don’t understand why you & McGrew find this specifically to be such a sticking point. To me, this just seems like a young child doing what young children do. Would you feel better if the child referred to them as “mommy” and “mama”?

    It’s an attack on historic Judeo-Christian religion for reasons I stated.

    Are my Judeo-Christian LGBT friends attacking their own religion?

    Your Jewish and Christian friends are not following historic Jewish or Christian moral beliefs.

    I’m pretty sure you’re a protestant. So, in some sense, neither are you. You’re probably going to say that all Christians historically have agreed on the moral issue of LGBT sex acts. But all Christians historically agreed on the moral supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church – until they didn’t.

    That shouldn’t be so hard to understand, even if you find it hard to agree with.

    Yes, I understand what your view is. But I still find it odd; not your view on marriage itself, but that you think the opposing view is an attack. Yes, people like myself disagree with you, but not all disagreements are attacks. Do you consider utilitarianism an attack on deontology? What about mathematical constructivism – is that an attack on formalism? If not, then why is a social view of marriage an attack on the essentialist view?

  10. Yep, you’re clueless about the West and communism. Even about who initiated chattel slavery. (Participated, yes. Culpably, yes. Initiated, no.)

    Anyway,

    Whether marriage has essential properties does matter. Your naivete is amazing. Consider:

    If marriage has essential properties, then it is what it is.

    If it doesn’t have essential properties, then it can be what we make it.

    Which of those actually supports your position?

    Practically speaking (since you’re so big on practicality) you’ve adopted the second position. And practically speaking, if you’re wrong on this, then you are wrong on everything else related to marriage. You’re wrong about it politically, socially, and with respect to the next generation.

    And you don’t even give a damn whether you’ve adopted a position, because you say it doesn’t matter. You’re pretending you’ve thought this through but you’re just doing what you want to do whether it’s right or wrong. You only care about your own damn life: “Is it making my life worse in some way? Will my life improve in some way if I give up being polyamorous?”

    Self-centered jerk.

    I don’t understand why you & McGrew find this specifically to be such a sticking point. To me, this just seems like a young child doing what young children do. Would you feel better if the child referred to them as “mommy” and “mama”?

    You’re blind, too. You won’t read what I wrote. What I wrote about was the way it depersonalized the child’s relationship with his “moms.” Any real mom would get that. Any real dad would, too.

    Are my Judeo-Christian LGBT friends attacking their own religion?

    You tell me. They’re certainly attacking centuries upon centuries of religious belief. I don’t know what religion they call their own, but they’re certainly attacking historic Judaism and historic Christianity.

    How is that not blazingly obvious to you?

    But all Christians historically agreed on the moral supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church – until they didn’t.

    Disingenuous. Misdirection. All Christians agree on the great creeds. All Christians agree on the core doctrines written in them. All Christians agree on the moral supremacy of the Bible, but you and your friends don’t. What that makes you or them isn’t up to me to decide, but it doesn’t make you Christians in the historic orthodox sense. (And by the way, I’ll admit the Reformation ended up being an attack on Roman Catholicism. It wasn’t intended to be, but it turned out that way. What, are your friends afraid to admit their attack is an attack, too? What’s wrong with their honesty?)

    But I still find it odd; not your view on marriage itself, but that you think the opposing view is an attack…. If not, then why is a social view of marriage an attack on the essentialist view?

    Because it is, you dummy. The two views are mutually exclusive. These other examples you brought up don’t undermine the basic and socially necessary construct.

    But oh, hell, I give up. You can’t get anything.

    There’s a time for patience and there’s a time for saying, “Forget it.” You don’t need patience, you need a kick in the pants.

    I’m not playing this game with you any longer.

  11. Self-centered jerk.

    you need a kick in the ass.

    Really, Tom?

    “We welcome respectful, thoughtful debate. The perspective I ask of writers here is that you treat others as persons, not as projects and not as foes to be defeated at whatever cost. ”

    “Comments must be civil and clean, “family friendly,” as they say. Your opinion is welcome, whether you agree or disagree, under what I call the “Starbucks Standard,” practicing the kind of courtesy you would give another person while sitting over coffee together. That means no personal insults or gratuitous character attacks on other persons. ”

    I guess that doesn’t apply to you?

  12. I’m done playing the patience game with you. The Starbucks Standard doesn’t include multiple rounds of pretending you’re listening. Sometimes when a person needs a kick in the ass you need to give them one. There was nothing gratuitous in what I wrote. You’ve earned it over time.

  13. You’ve been commenting here for more than three years, yet you keep on asking the same questions again and again, saying, “Well, Tom, I just don’t know your reasons for saying … ”

    I’ve given you the reasons.

    You’ve ignored them. You’ve treated them as if they never happened.

    I don’t drink coffee with people who pester me with the same question over and over and over again and don’t care to notice that I’ve answered.

  14. Tom, I have a radically different outlook than you do on many things. Not just issues like same-sex marriage, but even on more fundamental things like the nature of argumentation and the basis of a civil society. Now if you think I’ve misunderstood a point you’ve made, that’s fine. But don’t act like I’m just some disingenuous asshole troll coming around here to disrupt your precious philosophical discussion about how I live my life, cause I’m not. Get off your high horse.

  15. Of course you’ve misunderstood the points I’ve made. Worse than, that, though, for years now you’ve asked me to repeat myself as if I’d never answered the same questions over and over again. That’s not a basis either for argumentation or for civil discussion. It’s a demonstration of not caring what someone says when you talk to them.

    To deny that is disingenuous. I didn’t use the other two descriptors against you.

    And if you think this is about how you live your life, you’ve got an inflated view of yourself (which you’re demonstrating not for the first time). I don’t know you well enough for that to be my primary topic of discussion.

  16. I’ve never asked you to repeat yourself. I’ve asked you for clarification, I’ve asked you to expand on points, I’ve asked you related questions, and I’ve asked you follow-up questions. I’ve made many attempts at what I feel are genuine efforts to understand the nuances of your views and how they apply to various related situations. And almost every time, I end up running into a brick wall, as if all of this should just be obvious.

    And now you’re just flat-out insulting me. Not only is that disappointing on its own, it reeks of hypocrisy, as you often make it a point to praise the virtues of civility and charitability in discussion.

    You said in comment 4: “My writing might be muddled, but it’s clear enough in my mind, and in other thinkers’ writings.”

    Maybe you should take some time to reflect on that.

  17. Disingenuous. “I never asked you to repeat yourself.” I didn’t say you used those words. I said you kept repeating your questions.

    For example, for previous discussions on the undermining question, see the dozens of comments beginning from https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/08/same-sex-marriage-a-thoughtful-approach-book-review/#comment-102947.

    See the OP and all the discussion at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/08/counterfeit-marital-love-in-same-sex-and-straight-relationships/

    See all the discussion here: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/10/religious-freedom-ssm-pastors-being-forced/

    Skep, you were heavily involved in all that. It’s been a while ago, but it sure was repetitive then (not just with you but with others in the discussions), and this conversation brought back bad memories.

    I just don’t think you have it in you to realize that making such huge fundamental changes to the hugely important — yet terribly fragile — institution of marriage is going to make it even more vulnerable than it’s been before.

    But don’t ask me again how. I don’t think you have it in you to comprehend the answer. It’s not the answer that’s at fault, either.

  18. I will, though, admit that I got hot and made personal insults that were wrong. I apologize for calling you a jerk. “Self-centered” still does appear to be true from the evidence here, but “jerk” is, as I said later, a matter of subjective opinion.

    Whether you’re willing to take the time to try to understand my arguments is something you can feel free to go ahead and demonstrate. I’ll respond accordingly.

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