Unbelievers live in the world, and this is why we must continue to insist on the authority of nature. They also live in the world defined by Scripture, but they are more inclined to deny this than to deny they live in the world. Not only so, but whenever they deny that they live in the world defined by the enscripturated Word, Christians are more inclined to let them get away with it. This is because Christians accept the Bible, and non-Christians don’t. Everybody lives in the world, like it or not.
Right, and this is why we must continue to insist that the world has a nature, and that this nature is teleologically structured. There is an entelechy to all things, and this purpose, this telos, this intention, this embodiment, was determined by the God who made the world. The world has a nature. Whenever we speak of Nature, we are simply expressing this truth in a shorthand way.
But we are currently living in the midst of a large-scale revolt against nature and nature’s God, and this revolt wants to say that “nature” is a blank, that it has no nature, and that man can therefore impose whatever he wants on it. The godly man wants his dominion to be the result of an obedient conforming to the way things are, while the ungodly man wants his dominion to be the result of whatever he wills, and what he wills is almost always wired up to his lusts somehow.
According to the theorists of this revolt, the world is a lump of dough, to be shaped into whatever forms the masters of the universe in question desire for it. Sarte’s phrase for this was that “existence precedes essence,” and he touted the idea that human beings do not possess any inherent nature or value, and that everything we become is therefore a function of the will. Just as Nixon surrendered economic sanity by allegedly saying “we are all Keynesians now,” so also fickle Christians seem to be readying themselves for the time when they can say “we are all existentialists now.” It turns out the Cities of the Plain have a theological society, and we have a bunch of guys who are desperate not to get kicked out of it.
But the world has a nature. The world is not a colorless, odorless lump of stuff for which humans can volunteer to be the demiurge. Nature has a grain, and that grain must be honored, respected, and obeyed. Without an assumption of this fixed given-ness of nature, justice becomes an impossibility. Suppose you were to set the family dog to fold the laundry, and then punished him severely if he did a poor job. This would be a gross injustice because you failed to take into account what a dog is.
In the same way, if you do not know what a man is, and if you do not know what a woman is, you are setting the stage for grotesque sexual injustice. If you do not know what a prepubescent child is, then you cannot know what sexual molestation is. If the nature of things does not have a nature, then everything is lost. If our deep thinkers want to kick against the authority of nature, I would simply cut to the chase and ask them to formulate why a sex change operation would be a travesty and abomination. If they cannot or will not do it, then this is because they have already surrendered to the central tenet of sexual existentialism. I do not want to know whether they are for or against same-sex mirage — I want to hear their case against it. If that case does not involve the nature of nature, then at worst they have already gone over to the other side, and at best they have been taken prisoner.
I should also add that once sexuality has become a matter of the will, we have set the theoretical stage for every form of coercion — from the strong-arming of evangelical wedding photographers to the construction of rape rooms.
In saying all this, I continue to insist that I am a classical Protestant, and a Van Tilian. I prefer to speak of natural revelation, in distinction from natural law. I am suspicious whenever people want to leave the Bible out of our discussions of what should go on in the public square. I want the authority of the Lord Jesus to be confessed by the House and Senate, and I want the president to sign it. So I trust my bona fides are in order.
But I give these qualifications because I continue to be dismayed that the homo revolt is being opposed more effectively and consistently and rigorously by Thomistic natural law theorists than it is by the erstwhile heirs of Bahnsen and Rushdoony. I believe that this is the result of some form of dryrot that has gotten into our floor joists, and which makes our people willing to retreat to a biblicism that wants to posture inside a faith community — but because we want to come off like conservatives, we don’t use the phrase faith community. This “retreat to commitment” wants to pretend that the God who gave us a Bible with set characteristics did not do the same thing when He gave us us a world with set characteristics — with the set characteristics of the Word and the world being fully consistent with one another. By that, I mean a woman in the Bible has the same nature as a woman in the world. The world described in the Bible is the very same world in which the sexual existentialists are conducting their bizarre and perverse experiments. This is why the end of their revolt against nature will be that nature will revolt against them.
Luther once called Aristotle “that Greek buffoon,” and as a biblical absolutist, I do understand the point. But everything hinges on what you are comparing him to. We do have to recognize that when it comes to this question of nature’s nature, Aristotle was closer to the kingdom than some of our modern theologian squishes — conservatives intent on conserving nothing.