Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What's Natural for You

I remember a product from my youth that ran commercials reminding us that “natural means what’s natural for you.” While the slogan might be useful to advertise a dietary supplement, social progressives are using the same philosophy to promote alternate lifestyles. Postmodern thought has so infiltrated humanity that we are now believing, practicing, and crusading for any number of social constructs having no objective basis but are deemed appropriate because individuals have decided they should be. In an increasing effort to eliminate differences and level societal patterns, an individual can have any belief system whatsoever. The current trend is the enablement and promotion of gender fluidity. No longer content to remain content with binary constructs, individuals are seeking to assign themselves other designations with which they have affinity. The only acceptable caveat, then, is that the belief cannot interfere with the collective belief system for that cultural group. While the intent to have a society and culture that allows individuality and equality seems laudable, attempts to deconstruct natural phenomena leads to chaos, not contentment.

The physical world functions steadily according to a definite set of parameters. Every person born into that world has preset DNA and chromosome characteristics inherited from a man and woman, again according to preexisting physical parameters and functions. In addition, each person learns to interact with like beings in relationships defined by type: family, gender, locale, etc. Eventually, we interact with objects and nonhuman beings so as to understand strengths, weaknesses, limits, and dangers for our general welfare and that of others. The one constant in these interactions is the nature of the world: everything operates according to its design and function. True, there is variety within design and function, however the physical limitations prevent us from operating outside those parameters. Knowledge and experience of these designs and functions allows individuals and societal groups to continue, grow, and aspire to workable goals.

When we attempt to change the operation of either design or function, we lose the ability to interact and function. Postmodernism makes such an attempt by espousing deconstruction of norms in order to allow societal shifts. Consider this portion of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass as Alice tries to understand Humpty Dumpty’s use of a word:

Humpty Dumpty and Alice
    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

This instructive interchange helps to illuminate the fundamental question: Is the standard derived from the established construct or societal, even personal, use? While deconstruction attempts to level the societal norms, the logical progression has been to elevate individual desires above the societal and force acceptance via the postmodern method, effectively deconstructing deconstructionism. As long as an overarching semblance of cohesion exists among individuals, society can continue, however, the inevitable result of this trend will be a chaotic amalgam akin to that described by Arnobius of Sicca (c. 255–330 AD):
All these various opinions cannot be true, but it is not possible to discover on which side is the error, so powerfully is each sustained by argument. And yet not only do these opinions differ from each other, but they are self-contradictory. Such would not be the case if human curiosity could attain to anything certain, or if after having, as it is believed, discovered anything certain, it could obtain universal assent to it. It is the height of presumption to pretend to possess any certainty or to aspire to it, since truth itself can be refuted, or that may be accepted as real, which has no existence, as in cases of mental hallucination. (Against the Pagans, II.57)
Twelve hundred years later, the Lutheran reformers would similarly point out the self-contradiction of the celibacy of priests being promulgated by the Church of Rome.
Therefore it is ridiculous for the adversaries to prate that marriage was commanded in the beginning, but is not now. This is the same as if they would say: Formerly, when men were born, they brought with them sex; now they do not. Formerly, when they were born, they brought with them natural right; now they do not. No craftsman could produce anything more crafty than these absurdities, which were devised to elude a right of nature. (Augsburg Confession, Apology XXIII.10)
Yet, this self-contradiction is the state of that collective mindset which currently seeks to redefine definitions and relationships solely from selfishness and pride. Once understood for mutual edification, intimate relational bonds have been sexualized and individualized, devaluing and destroying their natural place and function. Family units built on a natural attraction of man and woman with the desire for offspring has dissolved into any group that desires to be together—again ultimately for selfish ends. Children, once the natural desire and outcome of a committed man and woman, are prevented from occurring or killed, when deemed necessary, for the good of the adults. And while these fall within the realm of natural phenomena, adults and children now are eschewing established gender definitions to be known according to self-defined terms; or they are refusing their natural physiology by seeking out means to live as the opposite gender. This mindset has focused on what might feed the basest of personal desires without consequence, albeit in an increasingly bizarre manner. Whereas ancient or primitive cultures may have allowed concubines or polygamy to satisfy desire, the current impetus appears to be self-determination, even self-deification. In essence they are saying, “I am god of my body: nature be damned.”

Those seeking to fulfill their desires through unnatural means are doomed to failure. While the pleasure or satisfaction may last for a time, detrimental consequences are inevitable. Long-term participation in unnatural sexual activities has been directly linked to the increased transmission of specific bacteria and viruses. As the degree of deviancy increases, so does the severity of the health concern (HIV, Hepatitis, and a disproportionate increase in STD among same-sex couples); finally, attempts to change gender through pharmaceutical and surgical means carries both the short-term risk of these procedures, but also the unknown and unpredicted long-term effects. If this was not enough, the mindset that these unions are intended solely for personal pleasure brings with it the need to prevent the natural outcome of childbirth. Pregnancy prevention has been problematic as medical solutions have led to unexpected health concerns and complications when children were later desired. Coupled with this is the yet ongoing practice of aborting unwanted children. The result has been a gradual depopulation of American society. By giving way to our basest desires, we are slowly bringing about our demise.

So What Exactly Is Natural for You?

I have spoken of a natural order of things as made manifest by observable phenomena, inferences, and deduction; and this order, with its manifestations, is in accord with the opening chapters of Genesis. Therein, God is described as the Creator of an ordered and systematic world with caretakers given specific duties and mandates for that creation. And all of this He considered very good (Ge 1:31). Only after Adam rebelled do we see corruption enter in. Generation after generation pursued greater degrees of decadence and abomination in a continual cycle of self-destruction, yet God held His creation together as a continual witness that He was present (Ro 1:19–20).

Yet mankind distorted what was natural, seeking to chase after lust rather than the Creator. To this attitude Cyril of Jerusalem had poignant remarks:
There is nothing polluted in the human frame except a man defile this with fornication and adultery. He who formed Adam formed Eve also, and male and female were formed by God’s hands. None of the members of the body as formed from the beginning is polluted. Let the mouths of all heretics be stopped who slander their bodies, or rather Him who formed them. (Catechetical Lectures XII.26)
What our Lord had intended for our good, derived through natural means, was and is being subverted and polluted, yet it remains as a reminder that the vehicle which humanity is using to its own ruin still remains as a testament to His faithfulness. Teachers pollute and slander what our God gave us in these beautifully made bodies; yet, what is being demeaned, devalued, and deconstructed into a new reality is still the very thing our Lord uses to show Himself.

In our natural state, we were to take care of the world and be in communion with God. We failed, and continue to fail, miserably. Only by the work of Jesus, the Christ and Son of God, to pay for our sin and we might be made righteous. In one sense, things go on as they are with our sin working against us and God. Yet, in another sense, there is for those baptized into Christ, an anticipated new natural in the final resurrection with the new heavens and new earth.

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