In Defence of Men & Women

It would seem to me that man has been on the downward side of certainty since he decided that reason was the sole arbiter of philosophical reflection. The ‘Age of Enlightenment’, initiated in the 17th century, brushed aside the cobwebs from the moral cupboard, relegating tradition and faith to the proverbial scrapheap! In some ways this was not a bad thing, for there were many ideas and practices which were no more than superstition and uninformed intent, but in other ways…?

In general man is a selfish, ‘I’ oriented being intent on satiating his own needs and desires above all else, the survival instinct one would suppose; but this begs the question – is this type of behaviour, this self-endowed mantle of moral pre-eminence really the pinnacle of humanity? These needs and desires which seem to drive our self-deception; are they no more than a justification for our actions? Are we re-inventing that, which in the past were regarded as moral and philosophical absolutes, just to satiate our propensity for what is essentially moral turpitude! What do statements such as ‘What is truth?’, ‘What is wrong for you is not necessarily wrong for me!’ and other relativistic utterances mean other than to justify man’s proclivity for immoral behaviour. One must perhaps conclude that, to this end, rationalism (man) excluded God for this very reason – substituting himself as his own moral compass to facilitate the egregious implementation of his own promiscuous agenda.

Tough or one sided, perhaps but quite close to reality I think; though today’s philosopher mighty even question that – ‘What is reality?’

Thus modern man’s pre-occupation with sexuality; his amoral reasoning that sexuality equates to the real love between two people irrespective of gender, wanders far from the real meaning of love between man and woman and the core meaning of sexual intimacy!

From a Christian perspective there is a simple guiding principal:

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply;[1]

This statement, while of religious origin also carries with it a sense of the natural order of things, beliefs and moral certitudes that have been held through millennia. The bond of a man and a woman though opposite, are two sides of the same coin; yet despite this they are attracted through these very same complimentary differences, the ‘yin & yang’ so to speak. This conjoined pair forms the very core of the family unit, the reproductive progenitors of the human species.

As Douglas Farrow, professor of Christian Thought at McGill University states in the first of his thirteen theses[2] on marriage: (1) “Homo sapiens is a sexually dimorphic species that depends for its propagation and socialisation on the complimentary differences between male and female” and the second of his theses elaborates on this: (2) “Sexual difference, not variation in sexual inclination or ‘orientation’, is fundamental to the existence and well-being of the human race.”[3]

While these ideas adumbrate the regular theist, do they represent a broader representation of society?

All good and well when talking of the survival of species, how does one apply this rather banal description to the love needed to bond a man and a woman together?

Tradition and Christianity are close to the point when they describe it as that unreserved, unconditional love – agape love. It is the love used to describe God’s sacrificial love of humanity, that ‘no matter what’ type of love! It is this same type of covenant bond which links man and woman. The physicality of such a bond is summarised well in Farrow’s fifth and seventh theses: (5) “Well-ordered sexual intentions have in view goods both of body and of soul, goods that are at once personal and societal.” (7) “Consideration of these goods ought to respect the highest human good, which is the enjoyment of God and of one another in God.”

If this is descriptive of the bond between man and woman, how then does one describe the love bond of same sex couples? How does this relatively new concept of love, fit in with the original blueprint of the family as the encapsulation of the natural ideal? In addition and following on from this premise, is the question of the family unit as procreative nurturers of society – how do a same sex couple, who biologically cannot have children, raise children in a parental environment of ‘father father’ or ‘mother mother’, without impairment to the natural order of things?

Without the standards and norms which have governed humanity since time immemorial society, I believe, would long since have collapsed into individualistic anarchy – a proposition which seems to be portentously close![4]

This we find was one of the prime elements of Benedict XVI’s Christmas address to the Roman Curia[5]. As he has articulated previously, the pope expressed concern over the threat to the family unit described as the “…authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence.” He goes further to say that the family unit is not just about a specific social construct, but essentially about man himself – about what it is to be authentically human. The commitment so necessary for the strengthening of the human ideal is increasingly being rejected to the expedience of man’s relativistic intent. Consequently, he says, the key figures in human existence are also vanishing: father, mother, child – those essential elements of what it is to be human.

Quoting from the Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim[6], Benedict goes on to say that the very notion of ‘sex’ is no longer an element of nature but rather the choice of a social role that we choose for ourselves in life. A role previously determined by societal norms! He lifts up the very hypocrisy of a humanity, happy to censure the manipulation of the environment within nature but insistent on the manipulation of humanity within nature to suit a sexual whim.

For these observations, Benedict has been taken to task predictably by gay rights groups and by much of the popular media. Though this is a sad indictment of man’s moral sensibilities, it is in a perverse way, confirmation of the pope’s points of view!

Perhaps approaching this from a different perspective will bring more clarity. All of humanity is governed by natural law, laws derived from nature and binding on everyone everywhere. But what is natural law (lex naturalis) – Wikipedia mentions: “Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyse human nature—both social and personal—and deduce binding rules of moral behaviour.” And Miriam & Webster defines it thus: “A law or body of laws that derives from nature and is believed to be binding upon human actions apart from or in conjunction with laws established by human authority.” In both of these definitions, one can see the thread of morality running through, a thread of natural common sense.

Thus for me, even from a humanistic point of view, a view very much based on rationalism, the sexual adventurism which is capped by the call for legalising gay marriage, is the antithesis of the very rationality which seeks to govern our modern society. It just seems to me to go against the same natural law which governs our existence.

I would ask: How can society allow it? 


[1] Genesis 1: 27

[2] (Farrow, 2012)

[3] Emphasis is mine

[4] This is my perspective.

[5] (H.H. Benedict XVI, 2012)

[6] (Gilles Bernheim – Chief Rabbi of France, 2012)

Bibliography

1. Farrow, D., 2012. First Things – Thirteen Theses on Marriage. [Online] Available at: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/09/thirteen-theses-on-marriage [Accessed 28 December 2012].

2. Gilles Bernheim – Chief Rabbi of France, 2012. Mariage homosexuel, homoparentalité et adoption : ce que l’on oublie souvent de dire. [Online] Available at: http://www.grandrabbindefrance.com/mariage-homosexuel-homoparentalit%C3%A9-et-adoption-ce-que-l%E2%80%99-oublie-souvent-de-dire-essai-de-gilles-bern [Accessed 28 December 2012].

3. H.H. Benedict XVI, 2012. Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the occasion of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia. [Online] Available at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/december/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20121221_auguri-curia_en.html [Accessed 28 December 2012].

4. Lucie-Smith, A., 2006. Foundations of Moral Theology. 1st ed. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa.

5. May, W. E., 2003. An Introduction to Moral Theology. 2nd ed. Huntington(Indiana): Our Sunday Visitor.

6. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 2012. Natural Law. [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law [Accessed 01 January 2013].

Advertisements

About Anthony

I am a married Catholic who is interested in Theology, History, Philosophy and the search for truth. I also have a penchant for photography.
This entry was posted in Comment, Discussion, Ethics, Morality, Observations, Opinions, Religion, Religious Philosophy, Social Constructs, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to In Defence of Men & Women

  1. Hi Anthony. Haven’t read one of your blogs in a long time, and it’s always a pleasure because of the effort, the insight and the clear argument.

    You speak, though, of the natural order – while ignoring the well documented cases of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom, from giraffes to dolphins. Surely that would imply, by your reasoning, that homosexuality is a natural state of being; and by extension that homosexuality is not simply a personal inclination but part of the broader creation.

    If that is the case, should individuals engage in loveless marriages just to procreate, or submit themselves to abstinence? I leave it to you to consider how successful either of those options have proven to be.

    Nonetheless – while we may disagree, you blogs are enjoyable and thought provoking; and a place where we can debate the issues rationally. It is always risky to publicly expose your principles, but worth the effort. Keep writing.

    • Anthony says:

      I have to admit that there is a fair amount of ‘research’ related to homosexuality within the animal domain – however, I must express concern over the veracity or intent of these studies!

      As a high level and rather simplistic initial comment – it concerns me when sophisticated human mores are applied to animal behaviour in order to justify some or other aberrant behaviour within human society; as though humans and others in the animal world are on the same intellectual or cognitive footing! In fact, a study by Harvard academic Marc Hauser, emphasises the cognitive gulf between humans and other species! [1] So it seems that to equate behavioural patterns between the two would be specious at best.

      To illustrate this rather irrational logic viz. animals do it so the behaviour should be accepted within the human realm, I would pose a similar, if somewhat asinine example.

      Rape is a blight on our society, an indictment of human social behaviour and should not and is not tolerated in any form or manner. Within the animal kingdom though, rape as we would define it, [2] is rife as is infanticide. [3] Justifying rape or infant murder based on the same logic as wanting to justify homosexuality based on the sexual behaviour of animals, is ludicrous and would be dismissed with the contempt it deserves!

      Yet in an effort to relativise deviant sexual behaviour, sections of modern society have adopted the duplicitous stance of condemning the pathological behaviour associated with rape and infanticide but at the same time seeking to legitimise deviant sexual behaviour by equating animal behaviour to human instinct.

      Thus I must disagree with your assertion that homosexuality is a natural state of being, on the contrary it is an aberrant behaviour in which justification is being sought within the lower realms of nature. [4]

      With regards to the choice of procreation or abstinence, I concede that this may be a cause of unhappiness within a section of the community but this surely does not justify aberrant behaviour and as with other antisocial behaviours, will require some difficult choices!
      ——————————————————————————————————–
      1. Harvard University. (2008, February 22). What Is The Cognitive Rift Between Humans And Other Animals? Retrieved April 5, 2013, from ScienceDaily: http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/02/080217102137.htm
      2. My definition of animal rape is based on the same logic as equating the sexual actions of animals with the aberrant homosexual behaviour of humans!
      3. Infanticide (zoology). (2013, April 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:41, April 5, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Infanticide_(zoology)&oldid=548193004
      4. This reference is only meant to differentiate the cognitive abilities between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.

      • Sparring with you always requires nimble thinking 🙂

        Infanticide and rape are well documented, in chimps for example – I agree. But that’s not quite what I was saying – I only responded to your apparent statement that homosexuality is an unnatural state – as I pointed out, it’s not.

        You do seem to have Trekian leanings though – you seem to imply that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. As a libertarian I can’t really agree – there be autocracy which I abhor.

        Nice blog, Tony. Keep writing – you make this atheist think 🙂

  2. Anthony says:

    Anthony, so good to hear from you. Will need time to digest your comment but will reply shortly.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s