Further to my previous post, there are several other interesting implications which follow from the Christian doctrine of creation. In fact, there are three specific implications which all follow from this major idea, namely that, given the Christian doctrine of creation, matter matters. Indeed, matter or materiality matters just as much as the “mind” or soul. Many a controversies in church history have been stirred by suggesting, for example, that the body was too evil for Jesus to inhabit (Docetism), or that all that is material is inherently evil (Gnosticism). But the traditional Christian view is that neither the seen nor the unseen is inherently evil because all of creation (i.e., visible reality) has been created good (!).
And there are three crucial implications that follow from this truth: (1) that we, being embodied beings, have a sexuality, and that particular sexuality – i.e., male or female – makes a difference; (2) that activities which primarily involve the mind are no more “spiritual” than activities which involve the body; and (3) that creation care counts. I shall look at (1) in this post and (2) and (3) in the next (and final) post on the Christian doctrine of creation.
Regarding the first implication, namely, that every human person has a particular sexuality, and that that sexuality makes a difference, we must, standing against the contemporary crippling cultural current, vigilantly maintain and lovingly articulate that sexual differences are grounded in our spiritual-biological natures, not in socially constructed identities. Not all of our cultural progress on sexual issues is misguided: for example, the professional and family roles that traditionally were occupied (nearly) exclusively by men (e.g., doctors, lawyers, etc.) or by women (e.g., homemaker, caretaker, etc.) are now taken up by the other sex. But the “androgynization” – or complete sexual indiscrimination – of male and female human persons, especially among today’s youth, is wrongheaded and culturally destructive. For certain practices, discrimination based on sexuality is morally wrong: paying men employees more than their women counterparts; or worse, favoring and therefore allowing newborn baby boys to live while killing their sisters. (To note, there is a double-evil here: murder (1) based on sexual discrimination (2).) But sometimes discrimination based on sexuality is morally fitting, indeed in some cases biologically required: the institutions and practices of, for example, heterosexual marriage (a redundancy by definition), Biblical male headship in families, and breastfeeding. And such sexual discrimination is necessary because it is natural – i.e., based on the sexed natures of our beings, male and female. On a Christian view, sexuality is spiritual and biological, and has implications which are social; whereas, from the standpoint of our current cultural climate, sexuality, or rather gender, is social, and the implications are indeterminate.
In other words, discrimination in itself is not wrong; what is immoral is discrimination based on features irrelevant to the issue at hand. So, in the case of a difference in salary amount for male versus female employees is morally wrong since sexuality is not a relevant feature in an employment context. However, on the Christian view at least, discrimination (as it were) on the basis of sexuality in the context of marriage is justified – indeed, morally obligatory – because here sexuality is a relevant feature of the morality of marriage. Being male or female is essential to what it means to constitute a marriage.
Of course, just which features of a particular issue are considered relevant is often the crux of the matter. For those who advocate “homosexual marriage,” sexuality isn’t relevant; for those who favor a traditional view do. There seems to be an interesting irony here: those of the former camp, i.e., those who tend to advocate “homosexual marriage” are also the ones who advocate a gender-identity politics based on the importance of sexual differences; that is, defenders of homosexual rights (including the right to “homosexual marriage”) defend such rights on the assumption that sexuality, specifically homosexuality, is a real, non-negotiable, feature of human personhood, and that this real, non-negotiable, feature makes a real difference.
Our culture is obsessed with having sex, but fails to realize that having sex requires having a sex; and that each one of us having a sex derives from the fact of our having a particular nature from which certain and not other dispositions and activities (such as those listed above) naturally follow. Sexual differences make a difference, and these differences are grounded in our distinct natures.
In my next post, I shall discuss two further implications of the fact that matter matters: that activities which primarily involve the mind are no more “spiritual” than activities which involve the body; and that creation care counts.