Pushing back against “born this way”

Postmodernists are opposed to “essentialism,” the notion that ANYTHING is innate or predetermined.  Thus I have found it interesting that when it comes to homosexuality, the prevailing argument is that this condition IS innate and predetermined.   I have been waiting for signs that postmodernism is on its way out, and this seemed to be a significant development.  But now it seems that postmodernists are pushing back against Lady Gaga’s assertion that we can all say “I was born this way.”  Instead we are seeing a revival of the notion that identity, including sexual identity, is “fluid.”  Thanks to Tim Challies for his comment alerting me to this from Gender Studies professor Suzanna Danuta Walters:

If marriage and military access are conjured as the Oz of queer liberation, then biological and genetic arguments are the yellow brick road, providing the route and the rationale for civil rights. The medicalization of sexual identity – and the search for a cause if not a cure – has a long and infamous history. This history includes well-meaning attempts by social activists to create a safe life for same-sex desire through the designation of homosexuality as biologically predetermined but also, more ominously, includes the sordid history of incarceration, medication, electroshock “therapy” and numerous other attempts to rid the body (and mind) of its desires.

Notions of homosexuality as “inbred,” innate and immutable were endorsed by a wide variety of thinkers and activists, including progressive reformers such as Havelock Ellis and not so progressive conservatives, eager to assert same-sex love as nature’s mistake. Richard von Krafft-Ebing in the 1880s and Magnus Hirschfeld in the 1903s – both pioneer sexologists and generally advocates of “toleration”– came to believe in some notion of “innate” homosexuality, whether through theories of a kind of brain inversion or through vague references to hormonal imbalances. These theories mostly had little traction, and no evidence whatsoever, and were further undermined during the heyday of the early gay movement which included a deep commitment to the depathologization and demedicalization of homosexuality, manifested in a long-term attempt to remove “homosexuality” as a disease category in the DSM.

Theories of biological origins of “gayness” have ebbed and flowed during different historical and social moments, most obviously intersecting with the rise of eugenics and other determinist frameworks in the early part of the last century. There is no question that the romance with biological and/or genetic explanations for sexual “orientation” has ratcheted up in recent years, due in no small part to the combined force of the gay marriage debates and the increasing “medicalization” and “geneticization” of behavior and identity, spurred on by the initiation of the human genome project in 1989 which furthered the already booming interest in genetic bases for behavior, personality, disease, etc. . . .

In our present political context, gay volition is like Voldemort – dangerous even to be uttered. This “born with it” ideology encompasses gay marriage, gay genes, gayness as “trait” and is used by both gay rights activists and anti-gay activists to make arguments for equality (or against it). This is bad science (mistaking the possibility of biological factors with wholesale causation) and bad politics (hinging rights on immutability and etiology). Causality is – of course – the wrong question and will only get muddled answers. The framing of “gayness” as an issue of nature vs. nurture or destiny vs. choice misses the point about (fluid, chaotic) sexuality and about civil rights. It’s not our genes that matter here, but rather our ethics.

via Born This Way? – Brainstorm – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Of course, the author doesn’t cite any evidence for her contention, just surveying the overall history of the question, which is how postmodernists tend to argue.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Cincinnatus

    While postmodernism as a label is passe in the academy, I don’t think postmodern is going anywhere anytime soon, and I don’t think it’s fair to assert that postmodernism is a monolithic “worldview” (or epistemological framework) with unanimous views on any question. Such unanimity would, indeed, defeat the purpose of postmodernism (which is precisely why, in fact, many undeniable postmoderns reject the label).

    Some postmoderns–namely, Michel Foucault and his queer theorist successors like Judith Butler–believe that sexuality and gender are self-constructed, “improvisation within a scene of constraint.” Self-creation and choices of personal identity ought not be restricted, then, by social artifices.

    But other versions of postmodernism–the kinds that offer fruits to us–are inclined to recognize the value of social constructs like gender roles and their indispensable relation to human life.

    But for the average American, it probably suffices to point out that this is just a rehashing of the interminable nature/nurture debate. Unsurprisingly, “science” hasn’t reached a definitive conclusion, so, to hedge our best, we should probably continue raising (nurturing) our children according to the old assumptions–for instance, that gender identity matters and should conform to one’s biological givens.

  • Cincinnatus

    While postmodernism as a label is passe in the academy, I don’t think postmodern is going anywhere anytime soon, and I don’t think it’s fair to assert that postmodernism is a monolithic “worldview” (or epistemological framework) with unanimous views on any question. Such unanimity would, indeed, defeat the purpose of postmodernism (which is precisely why, in fact, many undeniable postmoderns reject the label).

    Some postmoderns–namely, Michel Foucault and his queer theorist successors like Judith Butler–believe that sexuality and gender are self-constructed, “improvisation within a scene of constraint.” Self-creation and choices of personal identity ought not be restricted, then, by social artifices.

    But other versions of postmodernism–the kinds that offer fruits to us–are inclined to recognize the value of social constructs like gender roles and their indispensable relation to human life.

    But for the average American, it probably suffices to point out that this is just a rehashing of the interminable nature/nurture debate. Unsurprisingly, “science” hasn’t reached a definitive conclusion, so, to hedge our best, we should probably continue raising (nurturing) our children according to the old assumptions–for instance, that gender identity matters and should conform to one’s biological givens.

  • Cincinnatus

    hedge our bets*

  • Cincinnatus

    hedge our bets*

  • Jeremy

    It should be noted that postmodernism is very different than scientific naturalism / atheistic humanism. If you ever read Richard Dawkins, he detests postmodernism. Read Dawkins’ “Postmodernism Disrobed”, and you’ll find somebody who hates postmodernism more than you do.

  • Jeremy

    It should be noted that postmodernism is very different than scientific naturalism / atheistic humanism. If you ever read Richard Dawkins, he detests postmodernism. Read Dawkins’ “Postmodernism Disrobed”, and you’ll find somebody who hates postmodernism more than you do.

  • Michael Z.

    @ 1 Cincinnatus
    Well put, I was going to say something similar, but I don’t want to be redundant, so I will just say that it doesn’t really matter for us Christians whether it is chosen or genetic, does it?

  • Michael Z.

    @ 1 Cincinnatus
    Well put, I was going to say something similar, but I don’t want to be redundant, so I will just say that it doesn’t really matter for us Christians whether it is chosen or genetic, does it?

  • Cincinnatus

    Michael Z.@4: That too. That a condition or behavior is “natural” (i.e., that someone is allegedly naturally predisposed to engage in certain behaviors) doesn’t excuse it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Michael Z.@4: That too. That a condition or behavior is “natural” (i.e., that someone is allegedly naturally predisposed to engage in certain behaviors) doesn’t excuse it.

  • Matt

    “Well put, I was going to say something similar, but I don’t want to be redundant, so I will just say that it doesn’t really matter for us Christians whether it is chosen or genetic, does it?”

    It shouldn’t, perhaps, but, unfortunately it does. The debate has resulted in two very wrong ways to deal with this issue, neither of which is correct, and very little middle ground.

    First of all, both secular and Christian therapists are coming to a remarkably similar conclusion that there are multiple factors and combinations of factors, both biological and sociological, which can lead to homosexuality. Unfortunately, the churches in America have allowed themselves to be caught up in the nature/choice debate and neglected the incredible amount of data about homosexuality available over the last 3 decades.

    The liberal churches have chosen the “I’m born this way” side, concluding that if a desire is present by nature, then to act on that desire can not be a sin in God’s eyes. This is an invalid conclusion.

    The conservative churches have championed the choice side of the debate and have concluded that if an attraction is not inborn then it must be present by choice and ergo, it is not a integral part of a person identity. These churches have wasted a lot of time trying to reason people out of homosexuality. This too is an invalid conclusion.

    The facts are that whatever the combination of factors involved in the formation of homosexuality in a specific individual, these factors are usually in place by age 3 and almost always present by age 10. The homosexual attraction is very difficult to reverse and, in fact, impossible to reverse completely. Approximately 1/3 of those who seek to change will develop heterosexual attractions to a person of the opposite sex strong enough to form a stable relationship. But even that third will still find themselves reverting to homosexual desires under times of stress or depression. The other 2/3rd can only hope to control their desires enough to live a comfortably celibate life. This is a reality the Church has to deal with and has ignored in the false conclusions over the nature/choice debate.

    I know many single homosexual men in their late middle age who chose to forgo sex with other men because of their faith. I do not know a single one of the faithful believers who does not face depression, loneliness and guilt far in excess of those who entered the gay lifestyle or of their heterosexual brothers in the Church. This is the single greatest factor pushing people toward the gay lifestyle in my experience. I have never heard any gay man say that media glorification of homosexuality had major role in drawing him toward the gay lifestyle. I have heard countless men say that the single largest attraction toward homosexual behavior was that they could not stand to be lonely anymore – and not in the sense of having a sexual partner but in the simple need to have friends to celebrate a birthday with or to socialize with.

    In the conservative church’s commitment to “choice” as the cause of homosexuality we have not only neglected the very real and present need of these men and women for simple friendship but have influenced the parents and friends of these people to see them as somehow reprobate. In doing so we have torn apart the non-sexual relationships with friends and families they do have. I am really sick of dealing with parents who, because of the ignorance of their pastor’s preaching, direct blame, or suspicion at a homosexual Christian because he or she, in the eyes of the parents, “refused to choose a proper heterosexual orientation.”

    Apparently it does not occur to congregations and pastors that if we ask a homosexually oriented individual to avoid the gay subculture with its temptations and at the same time load him down with guilt for having failed his friends and family by his “choice” that maybe, just maybe, he will wind up a tiny bit isolated, lonely, depressed and suicidal.

    The conservative church is, by far, one of the loneliest places on earth for a homosexual person who, in faithfulness to Christ, chooses to fight against his temptations.

    I agree with the Bible that homosexual behavior is a sin. But the more I speak with pastors, parents and homosexuals on this issue the more I am convinced that the single greatest contributor to the exploding growth of the gay subculture, the exponential increase in the acceptance of homosexuality as normal and the rapidly approaching juggernaut of pro-gay legislation is conservative Christians and their refusal to open their eyes to the real and inalienable needs of these struggling brothers and sisters in Christ.

    All because we got so damned invested defending the “choice” side of an argument that had no legitimacy anyway.

  • Matt

    “Well put, I was going to say something similar, but I don’t want to be redundant, so I will just say that it doesn’t really matter for us Christians whether it is chosen or genetic, does it?”

    It shouldn’t, perhaps, but, unfortunately it does. The debate has resulted in two very wrong ways to deal with this issue, neither of which is correct, and very little middle ground.

    First of all, both secular and Christian therapists are coming to a remarkably similar conclusion that there are multiple factors and combinations of factors, both biological and sociological, which can lead to homosexuality. Unfortunately, the churches in America have allowed themselves to be caught up in the nature/choice debate and neglected the incredible amount of data about homosexuality available over the last 3 decades.

    The liberal churches have chosen the “I’m born this way” side, concluding that if a desire is present by nature, then to act on that desire can not be a sin in God’s eyes. This is an invalid conclusion.

    The conservative churches have championed the choice side of the debate and have concluded that if an attraction is not inborn then it must be present by choice and ergo, it is not a integral part of a person identity. These churches have wasted a lot of time trying to reason people out of homosexuality. This too is an invalid conclusion.

    The facts are that whatever the combination of factors involved in the formation of homosexuality in a specific individual, these factors are usually in place by age 3 and almost always present by age 10. The homosexual attraction is very difficult to reverse and, in fact, impossible to reverse completely. Approximately 1/3 of those who seek to change will develop heterosexual attractions to a person of the opposite sex strong enough to form a stable relationship. But even that third will still find themselves reverting to homosexual desires under times of stress or depression. The other 2/3rd can only hope to control their desires enough to live a comfortably celibate life. This is a reality the Church has to deal with and has ignored in the false conclusions over the nature/choice debate.

    I know many single homosexual men in their late middle age who chose to forgo sex with other men because of their faith. I do not know a single one of the faithful believers who does not face depression, loneliness and guilt far in excess of those who entered the gay lifestyle or of their heterosexual brothers in the Church. This is the single greatest factor pushing people toward the gay lifestyle in my experience. I have never heard any gay man say that media glorification of homosexuality had major role in drawing him toward the gay lifestyle. I have heard countless men say that the single largest attraction toward homosexual behavior was that they could not stand to be lonely anymore – and not in the sense of having a sexual partner but in the simple need to have friends to celebrate a birthday with or to socialize with.

    In the conservative church’s commitment to “choice” as the cause of homosexuality we have not only neglected the very real and present need of these men and women for simple friendship but have influenced the parents and friends of these people to see them as somehow reprobate. In doing so we have torn apart the non-sexual relationships with friends and families they do have. I am really sick of dealing with parents who, because of the ignorance of their pastor’s preaching, direct blame, or suspicion at a homosexual Christian because he or she, in the eyes of the parents, “refused to choose a proper heterosexual orientation.”

    Apparently it does not occur to congregations and pastors that if we ask a homosexually oriented individual to avoid the gay subculture with its temptations and at the same time load him down with guilt for having failed his friends and family by his “choice” that maybe, just maybe, he will wind up a tiny bit isolated, lonely, depressed and suicidal.

    The conservative church is, by far, one of the loneliest places on earth for a homosexual person who, in faithfulness to Christ, chooses to fight against his temptations.

    I agree with the Bible that homosexual behavior is a sin. But the more I speak with pastors, parents and homosexuals on this issue the more I am convinced that the single greatest contributor to the exploding growth of the gay subculture, the exponential increase in the acceptance of homosexuality as normal and the rapidly approaching juggernaut of pro-gay legislation is conservative Christians and their refusal to open their eyes to the real and inalienable needs of these struggling brothers and sisters in Christ.

    All because we got so damned invested defending the “choice” side of an argument that had no legitimacy anyway.

  • Lou

    Good stuff Matt.

  • Lou

    Good stuff Matt.

  • Jeremy

    If it has been conceded that homosexuality is innate and not a choice, it does bring up some very hairy theological questions. In this case, we have God creating people as homosexuals, and then commanding them to live otherwise. How do we explain this?

  • Jeremy

    If it has been conceded that homosexuality is innate and not a choice, it does bring up some very hairy theological questions. In this case, we have God creating people as homosexuals, and then commanding them to live otherwise. How do we explain this?

  • Jonathan

    It also brings up the question, why single out homosexuality?

  • Jonathan

    It also brings up the question, why single out homosexuality?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Jeremy (@8), that’s not exactly a “very hairy theological question”, as it’s not exactly unique to homosexuals — at least, not as you’ve framed it. After all, every person on this planet is (1) created by God, (2) sinful, and (3) commanded to be perfect and holy. I mean, that’s the whole setup that Christianity addresses.

    Also, good comments, Matt (@6).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Jeremy (@8), that’s not exactly a “very hairy theological question”, as it’s not exactly unique to homosexuals — at least, not as you’ve framed it. After all, every person on this planet is (1) created by God, (2) sinful, and (3) commanded to be perfect and holy. I mean, that’s the whole setup that Christianity addresses.

    Also, good comments, Matt (@6).

  • Jeremy

    @Todd

    You’re right in that this is not specific to homosexuality, but it I think this really makes the entire “created imperfect, but commanded to be perfect” paradox that orthodox Christians face hit a lot harder.

  • Jeremy

    @Todd

    You’re right in that this is not specific to homosexuality, but it I think this really makes the entire “created imperfect, but commanded to be perfect” paradox that orthodox Christians face hit a lot harder.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jeremy@11: No it doesn’t. I think you missed tODD’s point and, more importantly, the Christianity’s point. The redemptive work of Christ precisely addresses the fact that we are all born (if not created) sinners who are nonetheless commanded to be perfect. I won’t here commence an evangelical spiel about the nature of the atonement, the glory of the Gospel, and the necessity of Christ, but nonetheless, yours is a conundrum that doesn’t apply to Christianity in the least. Maybe Judaism or Islam?

    Whether you are a Christian or not (I think once you claimed that you are?), Read Romans or something.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jeremy@11: No it doesn’t. I think you missed tODD’s point and, more importantly, the Christianity’s point. The redemptive work of Christ precisely addresses the fact that we are all born (if not created) sinners who are nonetheless commanded to be perfect. I won’t here commence an evangelical spiel about the nature of the atonement, the glory of the Gospel, and the necessity of Christ, but nonetheless, yours is a conundrum that doesn’t apply to Christianity in the least. Maybe Judaism or Islam?

    Whether you are a Christian or not (I think once you claimed that you are?), Read Romans or something.

  • Steve P.

    Matt,

    Good job!

    I doubt your conclusion is entirely true, but I know it’s partly true (change “the single greatest contributor to…” to “one of the contributors to…” and I don’t dare disagree).

    You’ve put what was until now a black-and-white combox debate into a sober moderate fact-based perspective.

  • Steve P.

    Matt,

    Good job!

    I doubt your conclusion is entirely true, but I know it’s partly true (change “the single greatest contributor to…” to “one of the contributors to…” and I don’t dare disagree).

    You’ve put what was until now a black-and-white combox debate into a sober moderate fact-based perspective.

  • Cincinnatus

    Steve P.: Was this a black-and-white combox debate? I hadn’t noticed any simplistic comments thus far. Matt’s comments are excellent, but it wasn’t like he stepped into a flamewar.

  • Cincinnatus

    Steve P.: Was this a black-and-white combox debate? I hadn’t noticed any simplistic comments thus far. Matt’s comments are excellent, but it wasn’t like he stepped into a flamewar.

  • fws

    cincinatus @ 12

    “I think you missed tODD’s point and, more importantly, the Christianity’s point. The redemptive work of Christ precisely addresses the fact that we are all born (if not created) sinners who are nonetheless commanded to be perfect.”

    I agree with you cincinatus! and I agree with Matt. And.. you missed something Todd did not add but is implied in his response and that is this:

    What is the the way back to eden?

    Some say that that way is to start keeping the Law by doing it. They don’t claim, as you are now claiming, that none of us, including gays, simply can’t keep it! Or we claim that , now that we are christians, we now can now keep it, we just need to chose, and with holy spirit power… yes we CAN!

    For this group, it is essential to assert that being gay is a moral choice to deny this would be to deny the essentials of their theology.

    It appears that the “kinder/gentler” faction of this group generally lumps gay-ness as a compulsive disorder exactly like addictive behaviors, and then maybe accept theories that it is nature and nurture. This too is all really a theory isn’t it? Pure nature? theory. Pure nurture? theory. Nature/Nuture? theory. We don’t know.

    Now if, as you are asserting, none of us are able to stop sinning, then gays are in the same boat as anyone else. So how we treat gays is truly diagnostic of how we deal with our own sin.

    This, at least to me looks like : “Well, I overcame MY sin of (fill in the blank) by doing the following (fill in the blank) and so gays need to do the same or they are NO christians! ”

    or

    “There is something gays must DO , either positively or negatively, in order to be considered member in good standing in the church.”

    Matt’s post implies that even for celebate christians in church, the minimum bar is that they make a show of being ashamed of their being gay. We do not demand this of fat persons do we? This demand is usually reserved for “sexual sinning”. and so gays are “sexual sinners” even if they are celebate, and they are most certainly excluded if they are say… a 15 year old, full of hormones…and who also have youthful desires for romance. And we cant tell those 15 year olds to “save it for their wedding night ” can we. This is is not to be ignored.

    Finally, those who assume that because men and women are differentiated by different external genitalia that to not act accordingly is a choice. This is to say that blind people who have eyes that appear normal have made the choice not to see. It is a bit more complex than that.

  • fws

    cincinatus @ 12

    “I think you missed tODD’s point and, more importantly, the Christianity’s point. The redemptive work of Christ precisely addresses the fact that we are all born (if not created) sinners who are nonetheless commanded to be perfect.”

    I agree with you cincinatus! and I agree with Matt. And.. you missed something Todd did not add but is implied in his response and that is this:

    What is the the way back to eden?

    Some say that that way is to start keeping the Law by doing it. They don’t claim, as you are now claiming, that none of us, including gays, simply can’t keep it! Or we claim that , now that we are christians, we now can now keep it, we just need to chose, and with holy spirit power… yes we CAN!

    For this group, it is essential to assert that being gay is a moral choice to deny this would be to deny the essentials of their theology.

    It appears that the “kinder/gentler” faction of this group generally lumps gay-ness as a compulsive disorder exactly like addictive behaviors, and then maybe accept theories that it is nature and nurture. This too is all really a theory isn’t it? Pure nature? theory. Pure nurture? theory. Nature/Nuture? theory. We don’t know.

    Now if, as you are asserting, none of us are able to stop sinning, then gays are in the same boat as anyone else. So how we treat gays is truly diagnostic of how we deal with our own sin.

    This, at least to me looks like : “Well, I overcame MY sin of (fill in the blank) by doing the following (fill in the blank) and so gays need to do the same or they are NO christians! ”

    or

    “There is something gays must DO , either positively or negatively, in order to be considered member in good standing in the church.”

    Matt’s post implies that even for celebate christians in church, the minimum bar is that they make a show of being ashamed of their being gay. We do not demand this of fat persons do we? This demand is usually reserved for “sexual sinning”. and so gays are “sexual sinners” even if they are celebate, and they are most certainly excluded if they are say… a 15 year old, full of hormones…and who also have youthful desires for romance. And we cant tell those 15 year olds to “save it for their wedding night ” can we. This is is not to be ignored.

    Finally, those who assume that because men and women are differentiated by different external genitalia that to not act accordingly is a choice. This is to say that blind people who have eyes that appear normal have made the choice not to see. It is a bit more complex than that.

  • Steve P.

    Cincinnatus,

    I was referring to other recent combox debates, not this particular discussion. Those discussions mostly remained at the surface level of whether sodomy is a sin or not and whether gaymarriage is an attack on human nature or a progressive advance in human civilization. Because of that, some very important but more difficult and less black-and-white questions couldn’t be addressed. Matt’s comment began to address some of those more difficult questions.

  • Steve P.

    Cincinnatus,

    I was referring to other recent combox debates, not this particular discussion. Those discussions mostly remained at the surface level of whether sodomy is a sin or not and whether gaymarriage is an attack on human nature or a progressive advance in human civilization. Because of that, some very important but more difficult and less black-and-white questions couldn’t be addressed. Matt’s comment began to address some of those more difficult questions.

  • fws

    cincinatus @12

    so Todd as a Lutheran says that God demands that we keep the Law in two ways:

    1) God demands an inward, or heart-keeping of the Law that far exceeds what keeping the civil law looks like: If we do not keep the Law of God from the very deepest yearnings and desires of our heart, then we are not keeping this inward keeping. This is what the First Table of the Decalog , uniquely, and peculiarly, demands.

    Who can do this keeping that God demands of all?! No. One. This Cincinatus , is the part of the Law no one can keep. We can only really keep this Law by faith in Christ that is a gift that God plants in us in Baptism. This is not faith in the sense of a “historical faith” that assents to what the bible says as being true. Even satan has this sort of faith. The faith required here looks like new heart movements.

    The evidence of this kind of keeping and faith is that one is terrified when he considers his own works because he realizes he does not keep the Law this way! And so this drives him to present only the works of Christ to God to appease a guilty conscience and the just wrath of God.

    2) and then God demands an outward keeping of the Law. This Law is a Law that even those without Bibles can fully know. Why? Romans 2:15 says that this Law that can be kept outwardly is Divinely Revealed or Written in the Minds/Reason of all men. This is why Reason agrees with the Decalog. It is the same Divinely Revealed Law. Cincinatus: This Law CAN be fully kept , but only outwardly, by all men we Lutherans believe.

    But Reason can only know this Law apart from the Bible that is about an outward keeping.

    Practical application:

    1) So then, a gay man. Or you. Does that gay man have faith in the works of christ and present them to God? good. Is that gay man terrified of his sins because he sees that even his best works are filthy rags because his heart is not fully in them? better. Ditto for you cincinatus! And so that gay man and cincinatus can rest his conscience and be secure in faith in the Works of Christ!

    2) so then, is a gay man, or you… doing that outward keeping that God demands that is fully kept by being a good samaritan as Jesus says? Great! God promise you earthly blessings and even heavenly rewards and crowns for this!

    No? Then that gay person or cincinatus, or me or mr joe pagan, should fear God and learn to become a good samaritan, because if he does not, God threatens to send punish him with earthly punishments and plagues until he desists in causing harm…and … starts to become a good samaritan. We see this at work as people age dont we? The Law literally grinds them down (which is what the word “contrition” means), and so older people tend to sow fewer wild oats.

  • fws

    cincinatus @12

    so Todd as a Lutheran says that God demands that we keep the Law in two ways:

    1) God demands an inward, or heart-keeping of the Law that far exceeds what keeping the civil law looks like: If we do not keep the Law of God from the very deepest yearnings and desires of our heart, then we are not keeping this inward keeping. This is what the First Table of the Decalog , uniquely, and peculiarly, demands.

    Who can do this keeping that God demands of all?! No. One. This Cincinatus , is the part of the Law no one can keep. We can only really keep this Law by faith in Christ that is a gift that God plants in us in Baptism. This is not faith in the sense of a “historical faith” that assents to what the bible says as being true. Even satan has this sort of faith. The faith required here looks like new heart movements.

    The evidence of this kind of keeping and faith is that one is terrified when he considers his own works because he realizes he does not keep the Law this way! And so this drives him to present only the works of Christ to God to appease a guilty conscience and the just wrath of God.

    2) and then God demands an outward keeping of the Law. This Law is a Law that even those without Bibles can fully know. Why? Romans 2:15 says that this Law that can be kept outwardly is Divinely Revealed or Written in the Minds/Reason of all men. This is why Reason agrees with the Decalog. It is the same Divinely Revealed Law. Cincinatus: This Law CAN be fully kept , but only outwardly, by all men we Lutherans believe.

    But Reason can only know this Law apart from the Bible that is about an outward keeping.

    Practical application:

    1) So then, a gay man. Or you. Does that gay man have faith in the works of christ and present them to God? good. Is that gay man terrified of his sins because he sees that even his best works are filthy rags because his heart is not fully in them? better. Ditto for you cincinatus! And so that gay man and cincinatus can rest his conscience and be secure in faith in the Works of Christ!

    2) so then, is a gay man, or you… doing that outward keeping that God demands that is fully kept by being a good samaritan as Jesus says? Great! God promise you earthly blessings and even heavenly rewards and crowns for this!

    No? Then that gay person or cincinatus, or me or mr joe pagan, should fear God and learn to become a good samaritan, because if he does not, God threatens to send punish him with earthly punishments and plagues until he desists in causing harm…and … starts to become a good samaritan. We see this at work as people age dont we? The Law literally grinds them down (which is what the word “contrition” means), and so older people tend to sow fewer wild oats.

  • fws

    Stephen P. @ 16

    I am really pleased to read what you are writing. I find myself agreeing with you!

  • fws

    Stephen P. @ 16

    I am really pleased to read what you are writing. I find myself agreeing with you!

  • Lou

    Two things came to mind as I was browsing the comments.
    1) Many Christian apologists deal with sexual sin primarily on a trajectory that points back to Eden. However, perhaps it is more helpful to think of the trajectory as pointing toward the New Jerusalem instead. This could help us keep from framing the debate in an us vs. them fashion with the goal of “converting them to heterosexuality” instead of converting them to Christ. Maybe?

    2) Speaking of sexual sin, why is the church so quick to jump on the homosexual condemnation bandwagon, yet I don’t think I’ve witnessed a single excommunication, or bar from communion, because of an unrepentant pornography addiction. A couple may be in counseling for years because of (typically) the husband’s porno problem, but he receives grace and compassion, help and accountability, understanding and friendship. I am not complaining that churches are doing this, only that we consider ways to confer a similar degee of care upon homosexual strugglers.

  • Lou

    Two things came to mind as I was browsing the comments.
    1) Many Christian apologists deal with sexual sin primarily on a trajectory that points back to Eden. However, perhaps it is more helpful to think of the trajectory as pointing toward the New Jerusalem instead. This could help us keep from framing the debate in an us vs. them fashion with the goal of “converting them to heterosexuality” instead of converting them to Christ. Maybe?

    2) Speaking of sexual sin, why is the church so quick to jump on the homosexual condemnation bandwagon, yet I don’t think I’ve witnessed a single excommunication, or bar from communion, because of an unrepentant pornography addiction. A couple may be in counseling for years because of (typically) the husband’s porno problem, but he receives grace and compassion, help and accountability, understanding and friendship. I am not complaining that churches are doing this, only that we consider ways to confer a similar degee of care upon homosexual strugglers.

  • fws

    cinncinatus:

    If you did not have the patience to read through my entire posts, I would like you to note that Todd and me and the Lutherans here believe that all men CAN outwardly,/i> in a real measure keep the Law of God.

    We Lutherans would never argue that this is not possible.

    But there is a keeping of the Law that God also demands, that is impossible for sinful men to keep just as you asserted.

  • fws

    cinncinatus:

    If you did not have the patience to read through my entire posts, I would like you to note that Todd and me and the Lutherans here believe that all men CAN outwardly,/i> in a real measure keep the Law of God.

    We Lutherans would never argue that this is not possible.

    But there is a keeping of the Law that God also demands, that is impossible for sinful men to keep just as you asserted.

  • fws

    close italics…

  • fws

    close italics…

  • fws

    Lou @ 19

    Lutherans suggest that the best way to ponder all this is exactly to point back to eden. why? If the entire point is to restore us to Adamic Original Righteousness and the Image of God that Adam had and was lost, then it is good to consider of what that Original Image and Righeousness consisted of.

    What we decide is the answer to that question, will also determine how we think we get back to either eden or enter the new creation.

    example: some here, I think brother Kerner maybe hints at this, think that Original Righeousness looked like Adam keeping the Law in the form of showing his Obedience by what? By refraining from eating the forbidden fruit. This also informs the idea of some as to what the Law is all about: The Purpose of the Law is to afford us the opportunity to demonstrate our Obedience to God , as the way God has give us to Glorify him. So Original Righeousness and the Image of God have two essential charactaristics in that case : they are about us doing something or conforming to something, and it is to do for the purpose of Glorifying God. And … this is how Original Righeousness and the Image of God looks!

    Lutherans reject this!

  • fws

    Lou @ 19

    Lutherans suggest that the best way to ponder all this is exactly to point back to eden. why? If the entire point is to restore us to Adamic Original Righteousness and the Image of God that Adam had and was lost, then it is good to consider of what that Original Image and Righeousness consisted of.

    What we decide is the answer to that question, will also determine how we think we get back to either eden or enter the new creation.

    example: some here, I think brother Kerner maybe hints at this, think that Original Righeousness looked like Adam keeping the Law in the form of showing his Obedience by what? By refraining from eating the forbidden fruit. This also informs the idea of some as to what the Law is all about: The Purpose of the Law is to afford us the opportunity to demonstrate our Obedience to God , as the way God has give us to Glorify him. So Original Righeousness and the Image of God have two essential charactaristics in that case : they are about us doing something or conforming to something, and it is to do for the purpose of Glorifying God. And … this is how Original Righeousness and the Image of God looks!

    Lutherans reject this!

  • fws

    Lou @ 19

    The question is, what would one propose as an alternative to the vision I outlined in my previous post? Lutherans have an interesting proposal I think.

  • fws

    Lou @ 19

    The question is, what would one propose as an alternative to the vision I outlined in my previous post? Lutherans have an interesting proposal I think.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: I read/skimmed your comments, fws, and found them mostly agreeable–or at the very least, predictable, given previous discussions. Are you disagreeing with me? While I’m not sure I agree that it is possible to keep the “whole law” (otherwise, why Christ?), you avoid this contention by noting that it is not possible to keep the First Table. Note also that I did not limit my discussion of sin and sinfulness to homosexuals; they only figure prominently here because that’s the subject of this discussion. Gluttons and adulterers and everyone else, myself included, are culpable. So? You seem very concerned, but for the life of me, I can’t discern at which point specifically you disagree with my statements.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: I read/skimmed your comments, fws, and found them mostly agreeable–or at the very least, predictable, given previous discussions. Are you disagreeing with me? While I’m not sure I agree that it is possible to keep the “whole law” (otherwise, why Christ?), you avoid this contention by noting that it is not possible to keep the First Table. Note also that I did not limit my discussion of sin and sinfulness to homosexuals; they only figure prominently here because that’s the subject of this discussion. Gluttons and adulterers and everyone else, myself included, are culpable. So? You seem very concerned, but for the life of me, I can’t discern at which point specifically you disagree with my statements.

  • fws

    cincinnatus @ 24

    I think actually I was probing. I suspect brother that we agree far more than we disagree on the Law. Yet I think we both agree that we have some difference that seems to be important. I am interested in trying to pinpoint what that difference is since I have grown to respect your views. You are both honest and can do nuance.

    I think I am getting better, thanks in part to your comments, at summarizing some pretty complex stuff. I am still waiting for you to email me what you say is a lengthy tome that explains your natural law arguments on marriage :)

    I suspect that we disagree on a point that maybe you have already considered:

    Lutherans, based on romans 2:15 say that Reason = Divinely Revealed Law. This is what Lutherans would call ‘natural law”. This, as you know, would be a far different definition than my good friend St Thomas would propose. In this case, even men without Bibles can, fully, know the Law of God then that is about an outward keeping.

    Logically then, this means Cinncinatus, that any assertion that something is an outward keeping of the Law of God has to pass the reasonableness test that looks like the story of the Good Samaritan. And remember, this was a story to ask a young attorney to use his reason to answer his own question! If a claim that something is Divine Law then doesn’t pass the reasonableness test, the implication is that the Word of God is not being rightly understood as to what the second table demands.

    I suspect that this is where you and some of the Lutherans and other christians disagree as to the issue of homosexuality as to whether it violates the Law of God or not.

    Those here who disagree with me essentially say that we know homosexuality is wrong simply because God says it is. Because of faith that is. This thinking says that Reason is fallen and falable, so all men need to turn to either the Bible and/or the Church to set Reason …um… straight and for any real morality/ethics to be possible. Lutherans say that Romans 2:15 would not agree with this view.

    You seem to sense and agree with what the Lutherans assert based on romans 2:15, and so you seem to feel somehow obligated to try to argue that it is possible to determine what is moral on certain issues like marriage and homosexuality, apart from faith

    Your thinking seems based on some sort of reason-able or “natural law” argument that seems based on the work of St Thomas whose work is based upon Aristotle. All the articles you reference are , without exception, from that school of thinking. So that is why I make that assumption dear brother.

    I think you have trouble summarizing your basis for your views, because of course Thomistic theory is based upon a premise that is based on a premise, that is based upon yet another premise that is based upon….. This is not easy to condense into something short eh?

    My views , with practice, boil down to Romans 2:15. Not so hard!

    Penny for your thoughts.

  • fws

    cincinnatus @ 24

    I think actually I was probing. I suspect brother that we agree far more than we disagree on the Law. Yet I think we both agree that we have some difference that seems to be important. I am interested in trying to pinpoint what that difference is since I have grown to respect your views. You are both honest and can do nuance.

    I think I am getting better, thanks in part to your comments, at summarizing some pretty complex stuff. I am still waiting for you to email me what you say is a lengthy tome that explains your natural law arguments on marriage :)

    I suspect that we disagree on a point that maybe you have already considered:

    Lutherans, based on romans 2:15 say that Reason = Divinely Revealed Law. This is what Lutherans would call ‘natural law”. This, as you know, would be a far different definition than my good friend St Thomas would propose. In this case, even men without Bibles can, fully, know the Law of God then that is about an outward keeping.

    Logically then, this means Cinncinatus, that any assertion that something is an outward keeping of the Law of God has to pass the reasonableness test that looks like the story of the Good Samaritan. And remember, this was a story to ask a young attorney to use his reason to answer his own question! If a claim that something is Divine Law then doesn’t pass the reasonableness test, the implication is that the Word of God is not being rightly understood as to what the second table demands.

    I suspect that this is where you and some of the Lutherans and other christians disagree as to the issue of homosexuality as to whether it violates the Law of God or not.

    Those here who disagree with me essentially say that we know homosexuality is wrong simply because God says it is. Because of faith that is. This thinking says that Reason is fallen and falable, so all men need to turn to either the Bible and/or the Church to set Reason …um… straight and for any real morality/ethics to be possible. Lutherans say that Romans 2:15 would not agree with this view.

    You seem to sense and agree with what the Lutherans assert based on romans 2:15, and so you seem to feel somehow obligated to try to argue that it is possible to determine what is moral on certain issues like marriage and homosexuality, apart from faith

    Your thinking seems based on some sort of reason-able or “natural law” argument that seems based on the work of St Thomas whose work is based upon Aristotle. All the articles you reference are , without exception, from that school of thinking. So that is why I make that assumption dear brother.

    I think you have trouble summarizing your basis for your views, because of course Thomistic theory is based upon a premise that is based on a premise, that is based upon yet another premise that is based upon….. This is not easy to condense into something short eh?

    My views , with practice, boil down to Romans 2:15. Not so hard!

    Penny for your thoughts.

  • fws

    cinncinatus @ 24

    “While I’m not sure I agree that it is possible to keep the “whole law” (otherwise, why Christ?), you avoid this contention by noting that it is not possible to keep the First Table.”

    I am glad you caught that. Let me state what I stated more strongly: Lutherans never disagreed with Rome when they said it is possible to keep the whole written law outwardly, even the first table… outwardly . I hope this surprised you to hear a Lutheran assert this and agree with it.

    “outwardly” can fully include, by the way thought, word and deed” .

    Why would anyone disagree with this? It IS possible to be a completely law-abiding citizen. When was the last time you broke a Law Cinncinatus? For me it has been quite a while. I am pretty meticulously Law abiding actually. I suspect you and most posters here are too!

    And you are right, Christ is not necessary for any of this to be done. And I love my neighbor as I love myself probably as well as the young attorney who Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to. So then, why Christ?

    I will also assert that everyone truly hates God, resents God and flees him who does not possess the unearned gift of that faith in Christ that St Paul says is beyond the reach of reason.

  • fws

    cinncinatus @ 24

    “While I’m not sure I agree that it is possible to keep the “whole law” (otherwise, why Christ?), you avoid this contention by noting that it is not possible to keep the First Table.”

    I am glad you caught that. Let me state what I stated more strongly: Lutherans never disagreed with Rome when they said it is possible to keep the whole written law outwardly, even the first table… outwardly . I hope this surprised you to hear a Lutheran assert this and agree with it.

    “outwardly” can fully include, by the way thought, word and deed” .

    Why would anyone disagree with this? It IS possible to be a completely law-abiding citizen. When was the last time you broke a Law Cinncinatus? For me it has been quite a while. I am pretty meticulously Law abiding actually. I suspect you and most posters here are too!

    And you are right, Christ is not necessary for any of this to be done. And I love my neighbor as I love myself probably as well as the young attorney who Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to. So then, why Christ?

    I will also assert that everyone truly hates God, resents God and flees him who does not possess the unearned gift of that faith in Christ that St Paul says is beyond the reach of reason.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: “When was the last time you broke a law, Cincinnatus?”

    Um, today? Probably minutes ago. Perhaps even this very second. Aside from the fact that I broke the speed limit driving home from work (does that count?), I lust, I harbor arrogant thoughts, I think uncharitably of my neighbors. I also fail to tithe sometimes. I maintain various idols in my heart. ad infinitum

    Or did you have something different in mind when you claimed that, not only is it possible to keep the whole law, but you might very well be keeping it flawlessly yourself? (i.e., are you drawing the distinction Christ does when he notes that even to hate is to commit murder?)

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: “When was the last time you broke a law, Cincinnatus?”

    Um, today? Probably minutes ago. Perhaps even this very second. Aside from the fact that I broke the speed limit driving home from work (does that count?), I lust, I harbor arrogant thoughts, I think uncharitably of my neighbors. I also fail to tithe sometimes. I maintain various idols in my heart. ad infinitum

    Or did you have something different in mind when you claimed that, not only is it possible to keep the whole law, but you might very well be keeping it flawlessly yourself? (i.e., are you drawing the distinction Christ does when he notes that even to hate is to commit murder?)

  • Lou

    fws: I’ll need to develop my thoughts a bit more to answer your question above. For now, I wanted mostly to comment on your thought about Lutherans and the law: “Lutherans never disagreed with Rome when they said it is possible to keep the whole written law outwardly, even the first table… outwardly ”

    Perhaps Lutherans today?? Certainly not Martin Luther himself, though. The fundamental question of Luther’s life was, “How can I find God’s mercy and grace?” After failing to find it through good works and righteous living, Luther found it in what was then a most unlikely place—the text of the New Testament. Specifically, it was Romans 1:16-17 that caused Luther to wrestle with God over the “Good News.”

    How could “trying as hard as you can, failing to meet the standard of perfection, and being cast into Hell after all that hard work” be good news to anyone? Luther wondered. Then he read the verses again, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Luther was thunderstruck: the righteous shall live, not by works but by faith; not by monastic austerity but by faith; not by doing religion properly but by faith!

    Luther was set free. Of course, his new view of Grace irritated the religious establishment of his day but in the end Martin Luther, the tormented man, found what his soul, condemned by the law, needed most: God’s grace found only through faith in Christ.

    What Luther needed then is what we need today and what Lady Gaga fans need as well.

  • Lou

    fws: I’ll need to develop my thoughts a bit more to answer your question above. For now, I wanted mostly to comment on your thought about Lutherans and the law: “Lutherans never disagreed with Rome when they said it is possible to keep the whole written law outwardly, even the first table… outwardly ”

    Perhaps Lutherans today?? Certainly not Martin Luther himself, though. The fundamental question of Luther’s life was, “How can I find God’s mercy and grace?” After failing to find it through good works and righteous living, Luther found it in what was then a most unlikely place—the text of the New Testament. Specifically, it was Romans 1:16-17 that caused Luther to wrestle with God over the “Good News.”

    How could “trying as hard as you can, failing to meet the standard of perfection, and being cast into Hell after all that hard work” be good news to anyone? Luther wondered. Then he read the verses again, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Luther was thunderstruck: the righteous shall live, not by works but by faith; not by monastic austerity but by faith; not by doing religion properly but by faith!

    Luther was set free. Of course, his new view of Grace irritated the religious establishment of his day but in the end Martin Luther, the tormented man, found what his soul, condemned by the law, needed most: God’s grace found only through faith in Christ.

    What Luther needed then is what we need today and what Lady Gaga fans need as well.

  • fws

    cinn @ 27 and Lou @ 28

    good stuff!

  • fws

    cinn @ 27 and Lou @ 28

    good stuff!


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