Sunday, February 17, 2008

But it's natural

This past week, I’ve been composing another response to an objection to my call to modesty that I make in A Crisis of Modesty in the Evangelical Church , which is organized around a long series of objections that have come from fellow Christians. Soon, I am going to post an updated version of a Crisis of Modesty in the Evangelical Church with this response added along with a couple of other things added.

“But sexual desire is natural”

The battle for “natural” is a thread that runs through this whole discussion on modesty.

For someone to state that a person’s behavior is “natural” is for that person to offer their moral philosophy without admitting it. In the realm of human behavior, “natural” is a word that people use to assign an idea of good to something but they don’t want to admit their complicity in making a statement of faith or value. Instead, one calls it “natural” in order to give the idea that something else outside of his/her own value judgment, has imbued it with goodness, inevitability and necessary for instantiation. If something is “natural” it is therefore immoral and/or impossible not to have, and not having it violates our innate human design, producing unhappiness and conflict.

Depending on ones metaphysical understanding, “natural” can mean a vast array of things. Depending on how one looks at “natural”, even technology can be natural outworking of humanity. If one is saying, “Sexual desire is natural” as an objection to this criticism of public sexual tease and titillation, the idea of “natural” being defended is that lust is good or at least thoroughly inevitable human reality. Here, A) the desire on the part of men to look is natural and B) the desire of women to show is “natural” and that any outworking of A) and B) in fashion trends is therefore a natural as a good and/or inevitable and unstoppable thing.

As I mentioned earlier in this pamphlet, street postmodernists do not believe that we have an eternal self that is accountable to God’s claims on our sexuality. Rather, they have a Freudian idea that our authentic self is the Id that needs to come out from under the attempts to suppress and repress it. This Freudian idea operates in what can be described as a street postmodernist “reduction sauce” that has reduced many 20th century philosophies – ranging from Freud to Positivism to Deconstruction to Feminism to Marxism and Critical Theory— to a fundamental worship of nature, as nature expresses itself through the id, individually and collectively.

Street postmodernists do not worship the Id/Nature as a traditional deity that provides a path to eternal life of the soul. However, they do elevate the Id/Nature as the path to maximum wisdom and happiness in this short life that we have on earth. The metaphysical idea behind this is that Nature was “impregnated” with the fortuitous accident of circumstances to produce human experience as a reality that operates thoroughly outside of any higher Divine law. Nature—as nature is expressed through the unfolding of human desire via our DNA— is the path to the wisdom of our accidental creation. The role of humans is to sublimate the inclinations of our ego and super-ego that would get in the way of the id’s wisdom.

In all that is mysterious, unknowable and fecund, the Female takes priority as the seat of ultimate wisdom, as the unchanging fulcrum on which all weak and transitory “phallic” ideas of truth perish. This fulcrum is what the deconstructionist philosopher Derrida referred to as the “Hymen” as a metaphor borrowed from female genitalia. This is part of the idea that the Female, as the pulsating motion of mystery and nature, operates beyond the realm of any higher law.

For street postmodernists, the Female is the source of wisdom, and the Id of actual females is understood as having special “priestess” power to channel wisdom of the Id. Maleness, as it is defined philosophically as the quest for truth and the reification of law, is seen as obtrusive to the wisdom of the Female and must be suppressed as a force in the collective consciousness to make way for the Id. Actual men must give up the Male find redemption as the dutiful servant of the Female. Men can organize their aggression not around the Male but around the worship of the Female via a machismo, a male aggression that is relegated to performance and spectacle and is denuded of moral authority.

As a topless pantheistic tribe has a more communal and less private experience of female sexuality to complement its theology of Nature/goddesses, so too does a street postmodernist society have a public, communal experience of female sexuality that compliments the street postmodernist metaphysical understanding of the Female. In street postmodernist society, the awe of the Female must over-ride the Male, so sexuality of females is harnessed subjugate and envelope the Maleness of men in a gauzy haze of disposable sexual thrill and pseudo-validation.

Complementing the visual subjugation of men, Street postmodernism is compelled to silence any assertion of the Male by saying “who’s to say” which means “who are you the lone individual to say?” Though it may seem counterintuitive, this is fruit from the same intellectual tree as women who declare “I’m always right!” as the basis of their relationships with men. Both assertions are appeals to the wisdom of the Id. It is these ideas of the Male as being anything but a source of gentle dominion that have characterized Feminism and have characterized the Politically Correct Street postmodernism that has applied feminism in the realm of social taboos and relationships.

In an effort to not be legalistic, which can be defined as a wooden and inept attempt to apply the Male, many Christians have syncretized Christianity with street postmodernism’s elevation of the Female. The problem with this approach to confronting legalism is that it Christians are actually syncretizing a form of Id-worshipping pantheism to their Christianity. It is this street postmodernist Id-worshipping pantheism that makes claims on what is “natural” that are in direct contradiction to what Scripture defines as natural.

It is “New Testament 101” to say that Paul discusses our old man and our new man, the former being our self that is in bondage to sin and the latter being are true authentic self in Christ (… it is not me but sin within me…). Encapsulated in this passage is Scriptures organization of “natural” into what is “archnatural”/unfallen and what is sinful/fallen.
For a Christian to employ a Street postmodernist idea of “natural” is to flatten the hierarchy of old man and new man, lowering the status of what Scripture says is archnatural and raising the status of what Scripture says is sin.

When Jesus says in John that we are to “worship in Spirit and in Truth” Jesus is recognizing that what we consider to be deeply and fundamentally true will be what we worship. Jesus’ call to “worship and Spirit and in Truth” is a claim that Jesus makes on our efforts to understand what is true, particularly in those realms of understanding that intersect with our feelings. To fulfill Jesus claim on our hearts and minds, we must take all of our feelings captive to see how we are justifying them, and examine those justifications carefully in the light of Scripture.

Dealing with the anatomy of Godly and ungodly sexual desire would take a much longer essay. Suffice to say that there is a form of sexual desire that is consistent with God’s claim on our hearts. It is the nature of the cut-to the core intensity of sexual desire as God has designed it that it is idolatrous if it is not submitted to God. No fleeting feeling of horniness is to escape our scrutiny because every feeling carries a justification with it, and with every justification comes a larger system of belief that the justification appeals to. Every feeling is connected to a larger thought system as mushrooms on the ground are connected to the rhizome underneath.

It is a pastor’s role to judiciously and carefully employ the Male, which in the context of Scripture is the truth of Scripture, as a shepherd uses the staff to guide sheep. It is street postmodernism that seeks to employ the idea of “natural” as it defines “natural” within its metaphysic to elevate the Female and emasculate the Male from the pastor. In regard to modesty, many Christians have allowed themselves to employ street postmodernist ideas to confront modesty legalism. The consequence of Christians defending women from modesty legalism in this manner is that they have also defended street postmodernism. In doing so, many Christians have defended the culture of disposable sexual experience and have introduced a doctrinal gangrene into their Christianity.


Steve Blackwelder said...

Christian congregations that tolerate exposed intimate skin during worship services, on the bodies of women who are regular attenders or worse yet are involved in leading worship, are not safe communities where men can get the help they need to repent from pornography and other forms of lust. Thanks, Greg, for further exposing the rhizome under the ugly mushrooms.

greg wertime said...

Hi Steve,

Exposed intimate skin is part of the "porn continuum" that extends all the way from tease clothing into soft-core porn and into hard-core porn. It all emanates from a nihilistic idea that sex is to be "freed" from deeper meaning and made available for hook-ups of all variety, whether they be visual or physical. Of course this is hurtful to men who look to the church to help in their struggle with lust in all of its forms, including porn addiction. The church has been unable and unwilling to confront this problem and has often turned the unquestioned tolerance of exposed intimate skin by men in the church as a virtue of their manly Christian maturity. While this unsafeness is felt most palpably by struggling men, it is a problem for all. The struggling men are actual "canaries in a mine shaft" for a deeper doctrinal gangrene that is syncretizing Christianity with anti-Christian ideas.