What Does Natural Even Mean?

The situation described in the following letters is entirely fictitious, including persons, names, crimes, sins, relationships, circumstances and all particulars. The kind of situation that is described, however, is all too common and my hope is that biblical principles applied to this fictitious scenario may be of some help to individuals tangled up in a real one.

Dear Tomas,

Thanks for the question, which in my mind goes right to the heart of the issue. Right after simple obedience to the plain commands of Scripture, which is first, your question calls us to understand our obedience. But we are not to study forever in order to talk ourselves into obedience. Rather, obedience is the path to understanding. As George MacDonald once put it, “obedience is the great opener of eyes.”

Your question was this: “What does natural even mean?” I had quoted Paul from Romans 1, and he there assumes a definition of the word, but it is a usage that does generate some reasonable questions. It also generates unreasonable questions, but we can’t tell the difference between the two kinds of questions without knowing what natural means.

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature” (Rom. 1:26).

So in this verse Paul describes something called a “natural use,” and he also points to a practice which he says is “against nature.” A man having intercourse with a woman is, in his assumption, a natural use. A man having some kind of sex with another man, or a woman having sex with another woman, is against nature.

But what exactly makes it unnatural? The question cannot be answered without acknowledging the authority of design, and you cannot figure out how the design is supposed to work unless you know the end or purpose of the activity. In other words, there is an entelechy to sexual activity.

Because our culture has gradually come to assume that this purpose is sexual gratification or release, and has also made the obvious discovery that such a release can be obtained in all kinds of sexual configurations, we think the matter is settled. But having made this discovery, we find ourselves up against the plain testimony of Scripture, what nature itself is telling us, and the witness of the faithful remnant of the church. My point here is simply to talk about what nature is telling us.

The biological purpose of the sexual act is the procreation of children. We must never stop asserting this, but we tend to shy away from it. The reason we shy away is that there are some follow-up questions that can be difficult to answer, and because we are not exactly sure of our answers, we are hesitant to “go there.” But this reluctance is unnecessary.

The biological purpose of eating is to provide nutrition to the body that can be used to repair that body, and provide it with energy to do things. That is what eating does. I can affirm this (and do) and not be embarrassed by the fact that competence in a cook can bring a great deal of additional pleasure. Nor am I embarrassed by the fact that a thoughtful hostess can make the entire dinner party a more civilized and pleasant experience by how she decorates the room and sets the table, how she uses cloth napkins, the centerpiece chosen, and so on. We do not take these additional perks as an argument for pushing our food around on the plate. We do not say that since the purpose of eating is to “refuel,” we ought therefore to take all our meals out of the microwave, and eat them over the sink. We could refuel that way also, right?

There is a crucial difference between abandoning nature, revolting against it, and supplementing nature, augmenting it. Augmenting nature is natural to man. Man was created as a tool-making creature, and such artificial tools are natural to him. But in order for his use of tools to remain natural, he must never forget the natural center, the natural anchor point. He uses tools to hunt, kill, dress, butcher, cook, and present the dinner. But at the natural end of the process, the forkful of meat goes in the mouth and not in the ear.

So it is possible to have an uncivilized eating that does the job, but does nothing else. A man pulls a banana off the tree and eats it, in just the same way a chimp does. You can have a civilized eating, where the biological and nutritional purpose of eating remains the central point, but it is adorned with many other good things—laughter, fellowship, aesthetic pleasures, comfort, etc. You can also have a Babylonian food orgy, where ostentatious display and unnatural uses of everything are the order of the day. This third category is not “advanced,” but rather is decadent. It does not surpass the civilized meal, it rather sinks below the savage eating the banana.

Now in this comparison, Scripture teaches that there are all kinds of lawful and encouraged adornments to the sexual experience, whether perfume, poetry, spices, or bed sheets, etc. But that adornment surrounds and enhances the same basic encounter that Adam and Eve experienced the first time, presumably without such adornment. To follow the encouragement of the Song of Songs is not decadence, but is rather civilization. Civilization enhances without destroying. Decadence destroys without replacing.Civilization enhances without destroying. Decadence destroys without replacing.

We can find a striking example of the distinction I am seeking to make in Paul.

“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering” (1 Cor. 11:14–15).

I would be happy to discuss the larger import of this passage some other time. Right now I just want to get one thing out of it. Nature teaches us that men ought not to have long hair. But in a “state of nature” a man’s hair grows just the same way a woman’s does. Paul is not describing any kind of Rousseau-inspired primitivism. He is not telling men and women (in order to be “natural”) to just let it all hang out. Men are supposed to cut their hair, and so Paul teaches us that for men, to interrupt the course of nature, using an edged tool, is something that nature requires of us. The use of scissors on a man’s hair is obviously a natural act.

And this means that nature does not mean letting “whatever” happen. Nor is it natural to leave a garden untended.

All of this means that nature teaches by means of something more than what we might find on an IQ test. There is a natural understanding within us that reminds us constantly, in our conscience, that the man goes with the woman and the woman goes with the man.

There is something to the IQ test illustrations, but they by themselves are not sufficient. They make one point well, but they do not go far enough. A nut and a bolt are designed to go together. The nut threads onto the bolt, just like the inventor intended. An electrical plug is designed to go into the wall socket, and it goes right in, just like that. When you are hooking up a stereo, you can usually figure out how the male and female couplings (big hint in the names!) go together. Of course it is natural to assemble things according to their design like this, but Paul is addressing something that goes well beyond this. Say someone didn’t know how to thread a nut onto a bolt—that would simply be ignorance or stupidity. But when a man turns away from a woman to embrace a man, he is not just ignoring the obvious design of the parts, he is also suppressing the knowledge of God within him. He is sinning against his own conscience, which leads him to sin against his own body.

I mentioned earlier there are some difficult questions to answer in light of all this. If the teleology of sex is procreation, should an infertile married couple stop having sex? Is it unnatural for sex to occur after menopause? There are a few other issues that accompany such as these, but they can wait for the next letter.

Thanks again.

 

Cordially,

 

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

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adad0
Member

Wow, sounds like silence is a natural reaction to such an open ended post!

????

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

adad, what’s to say? One either finds Doug’s logic on this point persuasive, or one does not. Most people here do; I don’t. Suppose, by way of example, there were a verse in the Bible that said it’s natural for fish to live in pastures and eat grass like cows. The problem, of course, would be that this would be totally at odds with everything we know about fish. Likewise, Romans 1 is completely at odds with just about everything we know about human sexuality. However, if someone is a true believer, he’s not going to care about that. And… Read more »

Mariano Ifran
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Mariano Ifran

“Likewise, Romans 1 is completely at odds with just about everything we know about human sexuality”

Yeah, the proven data confirms gay sex is healthy and fruitful, but those Christian bigots keep thumbing on that Romans 1 thing!

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Probably 90% of heterosexual sex is unfruitful and much of it is probably unhealthy, but what would that have to do with natural in any event?

And you’re missing the point. Romans 1 sets forth a specific set of steps by which someone becomes a homosexual, that start in verse 17 with refusing to glorify God and ends with God giving them over to unnatural affections. That does not match the life experience of most, if any, actual gay people.

Jill Smith
Member

I have also wondered about that. To me, what St. Paul says suggests a Dorian Grey kind of dissipation where, after years of sexual self-indulgence and immoral living, you turn to just about anything to acquire some new thrill. Something like habitual jadedness turning into orgies of Romanesque proportions. But I have a dear relative who we predicted (accurately) was gay from about the age of seven. She was apparently no more of a hardened sinner at that age than any other child, and it is hard to imagine the spiritual debauchery of which a seven year old is capable… Read more »

bethyada
Member

I suspect Romans may in part be addressing this from a societal perspective over an individual one.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Bethyada, I think there is some truth to your argument, but I also think that doesn’t help the anti-gay position very much. Society has no opportunity to affirm homosexuality unless gay individuals exist, and the central question is where did these gay individuals come from? What makes someone gay in the first place? And the answer from Romans 1 appears to be that they “left the natural use of the woman” only after they had first turned away from God. Which, as Jill points out, is completely preposterous in light of her being able to predict homosexuality in a child… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“…he said that when he was five, he heard a radio preacher railing against homosexuals, and somehow he knew that the preacher was talking about him..” That speaks well to the concept imprinting. Children are imprinted by what they hear and see. A five year old has no sexuality. Neither does a 7 yr old. Nobody around that small child should be perceiving them in a sexual way at all,let alone affirming that they are homosexual. They are being imprinted, taught what is expected of them and growing into that sexuality. It is not unlike some gender bending parents who… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

In the case of my relative, I am quite sure that neither her parents nor her other relatives told her they thought she might be gay. I can’t imagine a sane parent doing such a thing with a seven-year-old child. She had a very normal upbringing, did not have gay adult family friends, and this was long enough ago that homosexuality was not discussed openly in the media. Siblings raised similarly grew up to be heterosexual. Her parents, while accepting her tomboyish interests, did not make an issue of any of it. Yet, some relatives predicted (if only to themselves)… Read more »

bethyada
Member

Yet many tomboys don’t go that direction.

And even if we are tempted we follow the path of obedience not feelings. One does not need to act on sexual attraction.

Jill Smith
Member

Yes, I think the vast majority of tomboys are heterosexual. I was a doll-loving, sedate, girly-girl who hated dirt, reptiles, and loud noises–but most of my straight female friends tell me that they were like Jo in Little Women. There was something else, and I can’t put my finger on it, that made my young relative different. But not reprobate and given over to depravity as a kindergartner. Bethyada, I do agree completely that one is free not to act on sexual feelings, and if you are trying to lead a traditional Christian life of virtue, you don’t get much… Read more »

bethyada
Member

‘My issue is with the idea that God has already given over young children to sexual impulses He finds abominable because of their reprobate status. ‘

As it should be as that claim is nonsense (as you suspect. )

Something demonic may have been going on?

Jill Smith
Member

That’s not a possibility I usually consider unless someone is acting like Linda Blair in The Exorcist (which scared me so much that I had to draw a crucifix on my arm with a ball point pen). I have thought a lot about it, and I really have no idea why a very few people seem to be gay from the very beginning. I am inclined to think brain chemistry and hormones, but I have no evidence to support that. My relative was brought up in a nonreligious home. Had she been brought up in a traditional Catholic home and… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

MeMe, when a five year old determines, apparently on his own, that a radio preacher is talking about him, I don’t think that’s a case of imprinting. Unless your claim is that one of the adults in his life put such ideas in his head, a claim you have no evidence for.

insanitybytes22
Member

Krychek, when a five year old already understands the intricacies of sexual attraction and believes a radio preacher is speaking words of condemnation directly to him, something is already all wrong in the child’s life.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

No need to understand the intricacies of anything. The evidence suggests that sexual orientation is already determined at a very early age, so it’s not implausible that a five year old could have the necessary self awareness to be able to say, “Hey, that’s me” without understanding much beyond that.

insanitybytes22
Member

“The evidence suggests that sexual orientation is already determined at a very early age….”

It does not. That is an idea that just flies in the face of everything we know about child development, psychology, and biology. That is a cultural narrative, not an evidence based fact.

Ironically, it’s a narrative that began with pedophiles projecting their own dysfunction upon children, deceiving themselves into believing kids are sexual beings who actually desire them.

Jill Smith
Member

MeMe, I don’t think that sexual orientation is necessarily carved in stone at birth. But, if you are saying that homosexual orientation is not determined at a young age, then you are also saying that heterosexual orientation is not set at a young age. There is no evidence to support that. Most people are straight, and most people are straight from a young age.

insanitybytes22
Member

“But, if you are saying that homosexual orientation is not determined at a young age, then you are also saying that heterosexual orientation is not set at a young age. ”

That is exactly what I am saying.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

And you have virtually the entire community of people who do that sort of science for a living on the other side of you but hey, what do they know. Your assumptions and presuppositions outrank their actual data, right?

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

(author and Socialist, Upton Simclair)

Virtually the entire community of people who do that sort of science for a living are paid to generate studies supporting a particular point-of-view.

This bias becomes clear when they are confronted with studies that contradict their preconceived notions:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2012/06/don_t_let_criticism_of_the_new_gay_parents_study_become_a_war_on_science.html

As you know from first-hand experience, ad hominem attacks are a good indicator of a weak position.

Jill Smith
Member

Hi John, I agree that a lot of research is agenda-driven. But a lot of rejection of all research is also agenda-driven, making it impossible for the average person to know what actual science is telling us. In my experience, people who strongly disapprove of any attempt to normalize gays automatically reject any science which suggests that homosexual orientation is determined by anything other than free choice. People who see sexual orientation as fixed, unalterable, and likely genetic in origin resist any science that suggests it might be fluid or on a continuum. I think both sides are guilty of… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

Confirmation bias is indeed a part of human nature and we all fall prey to it.

Newer research is suggesting a considerable social effect to self-identified orientation in teenagers in the US.

This is also the case in a very different context. From a PBS FrontLine documentary on pederasty in Afghanistan:

“I had a boy because every commander had a partner,” says Mestary, a former senior commander who is well connected with major Afghan warlords. “Among the commanders there is competition, and if I didn’t have one, then I could not compete with them.”

Jill Smith
Member

The Dallas article makes points that I have seen among my daughter’s acquaintances, especially the young women. There is a pervasive attitude that promiscuous sex is morally neutral, and there is a greater willingness to experiment with sex that my generation would have seen as deviant. As I am told with tiresome frequency, you love the person, not the gender. I would reply that love does not apply to sexual hook-ups with someone you met two hours ago at a bar. I think that we are talking about two different things, yet treating them as one. To me, sexual orientation… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

John, science doesn’t always get it right, at least not the first time, but I’m still inclined to trust people who study something for a living over people who don’t. And I don’t think it’s ad hominem to point out that someone who has not studied something knows less about it than someone who has. I’ll take my doctor’s medical advice over the medical advice of my brother in law who’s a mechanic any day of the week. And the other issue is that what for lack of a better term I will call contrarians have agendas too. If your… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

“Social Sciences” should be put in a different category than medical sciences (which, in turn, are in a different category from the physical sciences). For the past couple of years, social science has been rocked by a serious “reproducibility crisis”: The project members collectively repeated 100 published psychological experiments and replicated the results of just a third of them. Saletan’s Slate article is a brief against ad hominem arguments. These arguments are not just about calling one’s opponent “bad”, it also includes dismissal of an argument because the asserter is “uneducated”, “uncredentialed”, or is of the wrong sex, race or… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

It’s illegitimate to dismiss an argument because the asserter is of the wrong sex, race or age, and that absolutely is ad hominem. Uneducated or uncredentialed is a closer call because that goes to whether the asserter is in a position to know what he or she is talking about. It is possible for someone with no formal education to go on line and learn about quantum mechanics or genetics or human sexual behavior, but the probability of someone actually learning more that way than someone who has spent years studying it in a formal setting is remote. So, as… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Krychek, I think this is a bit like pro- and anti- gun people hitting each other with statistics and anecdotes. Before any meaningful discussion is possible, there has to be agreement on what constitutes evidence. Where differing religious and moral values are involved, this agreement may never be reached–if only because giving one inch is seen as total surrender. If I say that any research that conflicts with my beliefs must by definition be wrong, there’s not much point in telling me about the discovery of epigenetic tags in the DNA of identical twins. And if I add that all… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

I suppose that a person who is arrogant enough to think he can get away with crime might also be arrogant enough to think he can act as his own attorney. But, I think there is a tendency among North Americans to dismiss expert knowledge in favor of “common sense” or “intuition”. Sometimes that is valid, but often it can be foolish. Common sense doesn’t help much with the intricacies of the tax code or the rules of evidence. And most of the intuitions I have had about science have been wildly wrong. It’s not intuitive to me that planes… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Gee, John, thank you for encouraging me to postpone my chores as I waded through the psychfiledrawer of experiments that couldn’t be replicated! I was amazed. My clinical psychology courses were taken in the late sixties when behaviorism reigned. I am not surprised that the most replicable studies are those dealing with cognition, because they are the ones most often defined in terms that behaviorists would find meaningful. Reading through the summaries, I got pretty good at predicting which studies would fail the replication test. Some were so poorly conceived that I can see why no one wants to have… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

John, I wanted to add a bit and I don’t have edit. I think social psychology is reasonably interesting, but its use of the scientific method is kind of questionable. Sometimes I do a Buzzfeed quiz (Tell us your favorite beverage and we will tell you what breed of dog you like best”), and I am sure the results are probably just as reliable. In fact, I have been amazed by online quizzes that, by asking me what I like to read or eat, accurately guess my age and where I grew up. It makes you wonder what is left… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

Jill,

At the risk of further distracting you, I’ll recommend this fascinating, alarming and eye-opening article on Diederik Stapel’s audacious academic fraud:

“People think of scientists as monks in a monastery looking out for the truth,” he said. “People have lost faith in the church, but they haven’t lost faith in science. My behavior shows that science is not holy.”

What the public didn’t realize, he said, was that academic science, too, was becoming a business.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

John, any human endeavor, including science, will contain a certain number of cranks and frauds; that just human nature at work. But the system also contains enough checks and balances to keep outright fraud from going too far afield, and by the time a consensus has developed it means enough scientists have looked at it that any fraud should have been uncovered.

And pound for pound, the religion business probably produces far more fraudsters than science does, yet I don’t see you abandoning religion.

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

The moral of the Stapel case is that the system did not contain enough checks and balances to prevent Stapel’s fraud (ironically, he himself taught a graduate seminar on research ethics!). That blatant fraud, though, is just the trip of a much larger iceberg. They are many ways of producing invalid scientific results; making up raw data from scratch is simply the most dramatic method. This problem is being highlighted by the new organization, Retraction Watch. The problem is most acute with highly-politicized fields like sociology, psychology and climate change. A relatively small group of individuals, whose success in life… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

I will put that on today’s reading list. Last night, after I responded to you, I started wondering about the replication of the famous experiments I mentioned. Obviously, the Stanford prison experiment can’t be repeated as ethical violations can’t be avoided. There have been attempts to replicate Harlow’s monkey trials, but PETA has got in the way. (Harlow’s conduct was apparently not above approach; he was known to deliberately frighten the monkeys which might have skewed the results. But the Milgram Obedience Experiment has been replicated successfully times., most recently in Poland. The Poles added women to the testing group,… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

John, what an appalling story. I can’t think of many worse sins for an academician than deliberately making up data. And, while it is undoubtedly true that grant money is hard to come by and academic preferment goes to researchers who get results, none of this can possibly serve as an excuse. One of the things that shocked me most was that colleagues had their suspicions and did nothing. Surely this must have violated professional codes of ethics. Thinking back to the cold fusion scandal and Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent work on vaccines and autism, I wondered if it is harder… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

Jill,

Stapel’s colleagues turning a blind eye to evidence of his fraud follows the same, common pattern as the blind-eye-turning of Harvey Weinstein’s colleagues:

“Yeah, there have been some reports from young ladies that Harvey may have cut a few corners in his seduction technique. But he is important and they are not … and have you seen his latest picture!? Wow!”

“Yeah, there have been some reports from grad students that Diederik may have cut a few corners in his data handling. But he is important and they are not … and have you seen his latest published results!? Wow!”

Jill Smith
Member

That surprises me, MeMe. Were you not aware of liking boys from a very early age? Do you think sexual orientation is fluid before a certain age, or do you think it is nonexistent? At what age do you think it is determined?

insanitybytes22
Member

At a young age “liking boys” is actually learned behavior, mimicry. There is no sexual attraction, in fact for most kids, the very idea of sex is either repulsive or uncomfortably funny. We are not yet designed to process it, our brains and bodies have not yet developed.

Jill Smith
Member

I don’t think young children have conscious sexual attractions, but I don’t think liking boys (or girls) is mimicry. I think it is inbuilt. What a child may actually do about it (dress dolls as brides and so on) is likely imitative. We may be defining terms differently here. I don’t think young children can process sexuality. But I think that can see evidence of sexual feeling long before puberty. A teenager knows why he is practicing what used to be called solitary vice. A six-year-old only knows that it feels good. Do you think that gay orientation is solely… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

I suspect nearly all of our sexuality is the result of environmental influences. Without culture, environment, socialization, we are pretty much just sexually fluid critters with no powers of discernment. That is why we can victimize children, animals, rape men and women, all kinds of atrocities with little or no moral compunction.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

MeMe, you are entitled to your suspicions, but actual hard data is to the contrary.

insanitybytes22
Member

Actually, the “hard data” from the “credentialed experts” you seem to favor, supports my view, Krychek.

Surely you don’t believe bestiality, rape, bd/sm, pedophilia, all develop in utero? I assure you they do not. Environment, not nature, shapes our sexuality.

Jill Smith
Member

MeMe, I spend quite a bit of time reading this stuff, and while I agree that no scientist has identified a “gay gene,” I have not read any scientific research (even originating from people who oppose the normalization of gay) that says human sexuality is entirely environmental. Can you refer me to some of the sources you have consulted? Most of the reputable research I have read (medical as opposed to social science research) currently posits that sexual orientation is the result of the interaction of a number of factors: some genetic, some prenatal, and some environmental. No scientist is… Read more »

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a theoretical reason why bestiality, etc. *couldn’t* develop in utero. Whether they actually do or not I don’t know. If at some future time science determines that they do develop in utero, then the fact that you would be appalled at the outcome wouldn’t change anything; ultimately the evidence goes where the evidence goes. I frankly suspect that your views are colored by your desire that homosexuality not be normalized. And I never said that environment had nothing to do with it at all. But when you have lots of… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“I frankly suspect that your views are colored by your desire that homosexuality not be normalized.”

What is “normal” for humans? Murder, rape, violence, theft, lying, cheating, etc, etc. Homosexuality hardly makes a blip on my radar.

You however, seem heavily invested in “normalizing” homosexuality,and that creates a bias that apparently will not allow you to think critically about it.

Jill Smith
Member

I don’t see that, MeMe. I think Krychek is looking at the same research that I see. Which does not say orientation is genetic, but which does not say it is purely environmental. You have said that all the credible research denies any genetic basis for homosexual orientation. Again, can you point me to any study that says this? I am not invested in normalizing homosexuality. I think society has pretty much done that without my help. But I am interested in allowing valid scientific findings to help me understand the root causes of sexual orientation.

Krychek_2
Guest
Krychek_2

By “normalized” I meant socially acceptable. And Jill is right, you have yet to point us to any of this data that supports your position.

Jill Smith
Member

I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Jill Smith
Member

I find the hormonal explanation persuasive, but it couldn’t be the only factor or the rate for fraternal twins would be as high as the rate for identical twins. Lots of people carry genes for various mental disorders but it takes postnatal environmental factors to “activate” them.

bethyada
Member

Well I did day it is partly societal.

Though I do think some do go down the pathway to sodomy via promiscuity. Young gays and lesbians have a higher rate of heterosexual sex and pregnancy than heterosexuals.

I think your roommate should have resisted that temptation.

Jill Smith
Member

Bethyada, that makes more sense to me, and also the fact that St. Paul probably did not see sexual orientation in the same way that we have been encouraged to.

Oscar
Guest
Oscar

“Likewise, Romans 1 is completely at odds with just about everything we know about human sexuality” Romans 1 describes the downward spiral of a culture as it devolves from one sexual perversion to the next. You’re watching it happen right in front of you, yet refuse to see it. 1. The sexual revolution first normalized heterosexual promiscuity and divorce. 2. Then, homosexuality was normalized. 3. Then, homosexual “marriage” was normalized. 4. Currently, “transgenderism” is being normalized. 5. Pedophilia will probably be normalized next. 6. Bestiality will probably be normalized after that. At that point our culture will have abandoned its… Read more »

Commenter
Guest
Commenter

I am new to the blog, and I love it. I have enjoyed every post I’ve read. Thank you for your clear speech and biblical perspectives! I hope I don’t overstep as a new commenter, but I’d like to stir the discussion a bit with some common arguments I’ve seen. Please note: I do not agree with these arguments or consider them valid. What about the happily married gay couple who live an exemplary, selfless life and have a model relationship. Everyone seems to know one, or several. Some even go to church every Sunday. If the point of marriage… Read more »

Vva70
Guest
Vva70
bdash
Guest
bdash

you are correct
most husbands are now commanded to act like women to show sacrificial love
Gender is totally irrelevant to marriage

Tom
Guest

Splendid post. I found myself standing up to applaud at several points.

insanitybytes22
Member

It’s a good post. Something that I enjoy taking note of, there was no Hebrew word for “natural.” The word used actually means “imprint” and also a “ring.” The logic there is that kings often used a ring to implant their seal on documents,like one would do with sealing wax. So “natural” in Hebrew really means by royal decree. “Imprint” begins to take on more meaning when we realize how our sexuality is imprinted on us, it is learned behavior. So when it gets broken, promiscuity, homosexuality, pedophilia, whatever, we have been imprinted, taught, led away from what is natural.… Read more »

Vva70
Guest
Vva70

Eh? What does Hebrew have to do with a letter written in Greek?

insanitybytes22
Member

Well, let’s look at Pastor Wilson’s words, “But what exactly makes it unnatural? The question cannot be answered without acknowledging the authority of design, and you cannot figure out how the design is supposed to work unless you know the end or purpose of the activity. In other words, there is an entelechy to sexual activity.” The “authority of design” inherent in the Greek word for “natural,” first appears in Genesis 41:42 in the form of signet ring. The Hebrew word for “natural” was to “imprint” or “the imprint of the king’s ring.” Baby ducks will imprint on the first… Read more »

Vva70
Guest
Vva70

Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck.

Genesis 41:42 isn’t about “nature” or “authority of design.” The signet ring there is a literal, physical signet ring. What makes you think that Paul had Genesis 41:42 in mind when writing Romans?

And Doug’s words don’t say anything about “imprinted.” Are you just importing that by going from Greek to English to Hebrew?

insanitybytes22
Member

“The signet ring there is a literal, physical signet ring” No, it is not just a “signet ring,” It is a transfer of authority, it is the handing down of power and the establishment of dominion, it is the King’s design. The Hebrew word for “natural,nature” was a word more akin to “imprint.” That is the context in which Paul is using the Greek word “nature.” Absent this awareness, this understanding of what Paul is saying and, and the argument become weak, full of holes because what is “natural” to the Nazirites is men with long hair, what is natural… Read more »

Vva70
Guest
Vva70

No, it is not just a “signet ring,” It is a transfer of authority, it is the handing down of power and the establishment of dominion, it is the King’s design. The physical signet ring represents (and facilitates) a transfer of Pharaoh’s authority, yes, but to generalize that to “authority of design” and project it both backward to creation, and forward to Paul, would require more of a foundation than you’ve provided. The Hebrew word for “natural,nature” was a word more akin to “imprint.” That is the context in which Paul is using the Greek word “nature.” I get that… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“And not only that, but he must also be drawing upon the larger semantic domain of the Hebrew word?”

Because he was familiar with the bible and he understood the context, as well as understanding Jewish culture and the mindset behind it.

Vva70
Guest
Vva70

Because he was familiar with the bible and he understood the context, as well as understanding Jewish culture and the mindset behind it.

That’s a fair enunciation of why Paul could have been drawing upon the context you’re claiming for him. To be clear: it’s not that your interpretation here is impossible, or even implausible. But what you assert isn’t directly in the text and instead relies on inference and typology (typology in particular regarding your use of Genesis 41:42). And for that sort of interpretation to be compelling, you’d need to show more of a foundation than just plausibility.

insanitybytes22
Member

Well, isn’t typology when “one holds that things in Christian belief are prefigured or symbolized by things in the Old Testament.”

Do we not hold that to be true? I hold that to be true.

Also, if we are going to draw from Genesis in regards to “design,” than we might as well properly pull from Genesis the very definition of “natural,” too. It’s a far more powerful argument and it demonstrates some consistency.

Vva70
Guest
Vva70

I’m not saying that your argument is wrong because it involves typology. I’m not even saying that your argument is necessarily wrong. I’m saying that you’ve not presented a compelling argument. If Genesis 41:42 is to be read as a type for the natural order, then show us why. Show us the consistent typological themes of nature and creation in the treatment of Pharaoh and Joseph. Or the consistent use of signet rings in Scripture to represent the natural order. If Paul is connecting φύσιν to טַבַּעְתּ, then demonstrate it to us. Show us his direct references to Old Testament… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“If Genesis 41:42 is to be read as a type for the natural order, then show us why.” It is the first time we encounter the Hebrew version of the word “natural.” God is fulfilling his promise to Abraham’s descendants through Joseph. This is God’s design made manifest. This is the original definition of “natural,” God’s promises fulfilled. “Natural” is related to God’s authority, His will is “imprinted” on these events The Jews (and later Paul in the Greek,) do not define the word “natural” as we with post modern eyes do. The Jews don’t even have a word for… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

It’s a really interesting argument, and led me to look at rival Roman, Greek, and Hebrew conceptions of “nature.” What did the Hebrews use to refer to the physical world, the Creation, as opposed to human nature? The Greeks were almost obsessed with definitions of nature, and possibly the closest to our modern sense of human nature is “that which is true for all men in all circumstances.” The Hebrew word you are using meaning imprint referred to coins as well as to the king’s ring. Does your exegisis change if you focus on coins rather than rings? What I… Read more »

Vva70
Guest
Vva70

I appreciate your attempt to expand this. I still think you’re asserting more than that for which you’ve laid the foundation, but at least it’s closer now.

Clayvessel
Guest
Clayvessel

Rationalism.

It eliminates good exegesis every time.

Jill Smith
Member

Interessting. Imprinting, in the biological sense, refers to the pre-programmed tendency of mammals and birds to attach themselves to, and derive their identity from, their mothers. An orphan raccoon can be adopted by a nursing cat, and will see himself as feline. This happens so soon after birth that, if imprinting in that sense is the cause of sexual disorders, they might as well be genetic. There is also a genetic definition of imprinting that had something to do with silencing and reactivating genes, but my eyes began to glaze over.

Jill Smith
Member

I’m not trying to be argumentative for the pure fun of it, but I don’t see how nature teaches us that a man’s hair should be short. If we analogize from the animal world, we would expect a man’s hair to be more luxuriant and flamboyant than a woman’s. I don’t see anything in nature itself that tells me a man should be cleanshaven and short-haired. Were the ancient Hebrews, in fact, short haired? Did St. Paul like short hair on men because he had Roman tonsorial tastes?

bethyada
Member

There is some argument that long hair on men was referring to tresses rather than length. After all, Samson and Absalom both had long hair.

insanitybytes22
Member

This is one reason why context is so important and why biblical continuity can be so helpful. Paul is using the word “natural” in the same way the ancient Hebrews used the word “imprint.” The cultural norms of the time imprinted on people that men with long hair were all temple prostitutes in rebellion, and bald women with shaved heads were actually slaves or the very poor. Paul is attempting to build unity,harmony, between diverse cultures. When in Rome do as the Romans. Samson is a Nazirite, he’s supposed to have long hair. The fact that Nazirite and Nazarene sound… Read more »

John
Member

Me Me, don’t doubt you but do you have any pictures or other info that would support your claim? I’d be interested in researching this a little further. Thanks!

insanitybytes22
Member

I don’t really have any links that outline the whole concept,but here are a couple of articles that might point in the right direction,

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.602802

insanitybytes22
Member
James Bradshaw
Member

“If a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?”

At what length does a hair become “shameful” for a man? Hair grows … naturally. That is what it does. If nature itself is cause of offense, I think Doug’s post fails to advance the argument.

Denise
Guest
Denise

Hair, for a woman back then, was her glory. A man did not glory in his hair. The whole of chapter 11 needs to be taken into consideration … not just vs 14 Head covering issues..

Commenter
Guest
Commenter

Trees grow naturally, yet we are commanded to care for them. Pruning, training, collecting the fruit for our food. Trimming the hair and beard is natural as it becomes ragged and tangled. A manual laborer has a hard time managing long hair in a worksite, and it can become a dangerous thing in some settings. Warriors keep short hair to deny the enemy a handhold. (Unless they are so confident in their prowess that they flaunt long hair.) Long, matted, tangled hair was a sign of incapacity or craziness.

James Bradshaw
Member

I’m pretty sure the Fall occurred before the invention of scissors and pruning shears.

Oscar
Guest
Oscar

Adam cultivated and kept the garden (Genesis 2:15). We don’t know precisely which tools he used to perform his work, but it’s highly unlikely he used his teeth and fingernails.

Jane
Member

I’m not.

Justin Parris
Member

There are a variety of responses I’ve seen to this. I prefer the practical approach. Men, either in a secular or a Christian world, are the physical laborers. Long hair regularly interferes with that task. Watch football and wait and see how long it takes for some of these guys’ long and glorious Dread locks to get torn out during a tackle. The famous military hair cut is extremely short. These aren’t accidents. The tasks of men naturally require tight control of the hair. In a Christian worldview, this takes an additional meaning, as men aren’t simply the laborers by… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

I don’t know about women in Biblical times, but there is certainly an equally good reason for women to tie back their long hair before engaging with machinery. In the old days of washing machines with power mangles, women were sometimes scalped by their hair getting into the equipment. Just last week I accidentally lopped off a strand of hair by letting it hang down over the pattern I was cutting. And I shudder to think what harm could come to women working in garment factories using power tools.

Jill Smith
Member

I know that we are not supposed to fall back on cultural differences to account for Pauline teachings that we find puzzling. But I still simply can’t see that nature tells men to cut their hair. If the argument was that God commands His male followers to have short hair, there would be nothing more to say. But when we are told that nature itself makes a commandment obvious, we have to believe that every man, using the light of God-given reason, should be able to deduce this on his own. Yet even the most cursory examination of past cultures… Read more »

Jane
Member

I agree it’s confusing. However, evidently I’m the one who’s confused, as the inspired apostle said it is so. On some things you have to let go of “I don’t get how this works” and move on to “Since this is the case, what should I do about it?” But that doesn’t mean that we can’t ever try to work through the answer, just that until we get it, or if we never do, we have to accept the non-answer and not treat it as a road block to understanding or obeying the larger point.

Covered
Guest
Covered

Dear Mr Wilson,
As a Christian woman who has covered in obedience to I Corinthians 11 for close to ten years, I would welcome your thoughts on this passage…

Kevin Brendler
Guest
Kevin Brendler

“If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” 11:16 This text puts nearly every church in America *outside* of apostolic recognition. Think of it! If the apostle Paul were to visit your church on Sunday morning and he witnessed the women of the congregation praying with heads uncovered, the apostle would declare, “The disorderliness here is disgraceful. You’ve got women praying like men in this place. This is an outrage! I do not recognize this people as belonging to Jesus Christ.” Now why would the apostle be so upset?… Read more »

nate
Guest
nate

Well said, Sir. So sad that if men pointed out the commands of our own Lord in Church they might be thought of as fanatical or even silly. I got saved about 10 years ago. How did the majority of assemblies get to this point?