Steadfast Madcap

"How Secular Family Values Stack Up"

33 posts in this topic

 

 

Besides, we were talking about morality, not law.

Yeah, we've kind of steered off topic.

EDIT: Correction, I've steered off topic.

 

As to your comments about the Bible, just be careful in how you interpret what you read. It's easy to just say "from what I've seen this is not good." Or loosely read something and just say "it's that way."

 

People have been arguing about the interpretations of texts for thousands of years and killing each other over it. Human nature isn't as simple as what most modern social sciences try to make it out to be, and the decision to believe or not to believe in an entity greater than yourself is something that's part of it.

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I used the term arbitrary because most people that believe in an omnipotent god, and especially the Christian god, believe that morality is based upon that god, and thus it is free to choose what is moral and what is immoral (if it is not free to choose, then that means there exists an absolute moral system that is independent of this god, and if that's the case, from whence did it come and how could it bind an omnipotent god?). And since for the most part there is no logical explanation given for most of what is considered immoral in the Bible (it's all based on what God wants or what he decrees as being wrong), I have to conclude that it is arbitrary and that he could have set up a different system if he desired. Sure, maybe he looks at all the facts at any given period in human existence and adjusts the moral system based on those facts and logical reasoning about what is best for humanity, but unless he explains that reasoning I can't see the moral system as anything but arbitrary. And since the Bible hasn't been updated, I have to assume that, if the Christian god exists and is happy with the Bible, that the morality presented in it is still the morality that he applies to us today.

 

That's the Euthyphro dilemma. Euthyphro argued that something is good because God wills it (e.g. He could turn around and make rape morally okay, and it would be). Socrates argued that God wills a thing because it is good (i.e. there's a moral system independent of God and above Him and He simply enforces it).

 

Neither of those positions are the Christian position. The Christian position is that morality is based on God's own nature. Morality can't change because God can't change His nature, and the system of morality comes from God Himself. The Bible puts it, "Be ye holy, as I the Lord your God am holy." When you choose to do good, you're choosing to do something that conforms your nature to God's nature. That's why God can't just change what's moral, for example, by making it good to give poison to your neighbour and bad to give them pie. And it's not some moral system that's independent of God or greater than Him.

 

I can't think of anything in the Bible that's "arbitrary". Even the old dietary laws forbidding eating pork weren't "arbitrary". God didn't just decide, "Well, there's nothing wrong with bacon, it's actually quite delicious, but just for a laugh, I'm going to make it so you can't eat it." He told the Jews, "You guys are important to salvation history, and right now, your task is to not corrupt the revelation I've given you by getting it all mixed up with other religions and cultures around you. To remind you all that you're not like the Pagans and Gentiles around you, I'm going to give you laws and customs to follow. They're going to encompass everything - what you eat, what you wear, how you worship, how you work - because I don't want you to forget that you're different from other people."

 

That's why those laws didn't remain once Jesus came. The moral laws were the same, because morality doesn't change. But things like "Make clothes with one kind of fabric" weren't relevant any more. The whole idea of, "The clothes you wear should be symbolic of how you need to keep God's revelation pure and unadulterated from what's in the surrounding culture," - that wasn't needed any more. Now that the Messiah was here, that step in God's plan had been fulfilled. Now it was, "Good job in keeping the revelation pure and unadulterated until the time of the Messiah. Your next task is to go out into the world and bring all of the non-Jews the revelation, too. Therefore, don't worry any more about separating yourself from the Gentiles. You're all going to be one big family now. Remember the moral laws, though, because they've not changed."

 

xxx

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The Christian position is that morality is based on God's own nature. Morality can't change because God can't change His nature, and the system of morality comes from God Himself. The Bible puts it, "Be ye holy, as I the Lord your God am holy." When you choose to do good, you're choosing to do something that conforms your nature to God's nature. That's why God can't just change what's moral, for example, by making it good to give poison to your neighbour and bad to give them pie. And it's not some moral system that's independent of God or greater than Him.

This is rather problematic though as it could be used to throw all the rules surrounding sexual morality out the window due to the fact that God is seemingly asexual or depending on interpretation un-gendered. As a result the only rules that would possibly hold up under this explanation would be those concerning honour and loyalty, as we could attribute those traits as belonging to God's being, leaving the those concerning premarital, non-hetero-normative, and all other sexual activities unexplained due to the lack of sexuality in God's nature.

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This is rather problematic though as it could be used to throw all the rules surrounding sexual morality out the window due to the fact that God is seemingly asexual or depending on interpretation un-gendered. As a result the only rules that would possibly hold up under this explanation would be those concerning honour and loyalty, as we could attribute those traits as belonging to God's being, leaving the those concerning premarital, non-hetero-normative, and all other sexual activities unexplained due to the lack of sexuality in God's nature.

 

God doesn't have a biological sex because He's not biological. But it doesn't follow that therefore when He creates biological creatures in His image, there can't be any rules about sex.

 

That's why sex has to be open to life - because God is by His nature creative, and therefore sex was designed to reflect that creative nature. That's why sex has to be in marriage - because God is by His nature faithful, and therefore marriage is a symbol of the covenant God makes with us, as is the marital act itself. That's why sex is supposed to be a total, free gift of self - because that's how God is in his nature: infinitely generous and respecting of free will. God's design for sex is essentially another of His ways of making His nature incarnate in the flesh.

 

And even though God is genderless, it doesn't follow that we've got some kind of androgynous, gender-neutral relationship with Him, or that masculinity and femininity are purely biological constructs. When ancient cultures talked about goddesses of nature and the gods of the skies and heavens, and identified the heavens as masculine and earth as feminine, it's common for us nowadays to look back and say, "Oh, they were just projecting what they saw in men and women onto the world." But for Christians, that's exactly backwards. Humans don't project their own biological sex onto a genderless world. Male and female are just what happens when biology meets masculinity and femininity. Masculinity and femininity are real things, cosmic principles, if you will, working in relationship with each other. The clouds in the sky rain down water and bring life to the earth, which brings forth fruit. Maleness and femaleness just continue this pattern, and cultures were right to see the world around them as reflecting the same.

 

God reveals Himself as having a masculine relationship with us. He is the King, the warrior, the husband who pursues His bride Humanity. God initiates, and we respond. That's why the Church is always described as feminine, as she, because the Church bears God's truth to the world, and is His means of bringing life to it. As a mother gives physical life to her child after being impregnated by the father, so the Church bears spiritual life in the world by receiving grace from God. God has a masculine relationship with us, which finds its fulfilment in Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity who is not just masculine, but has become male, in biological flesh. This is why marriage is described in the Bible as being an image of Christ and His relationship with the Church, where a husband becomes like Christ, and a wife like His Bride the Church.

 

xxx

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God doesn't have a biological sex because He's not biological. But it doesn't follow that therefore when He creates biological creatures in His image, there can't be any rules about sex.

 

That's why sex has to be open to life - because God is by His nature creative, and therefore sex was designed to reflect that creative nature. That's why sex has to be in marriage - because God is by His nature faithful, and therefore marriage is a symbol of the covenant God makes with us, as is the marital act itself. That's why sex is supposed to be a total, free gift of self - because that's how God is in his nature: infinitely generous and respecting of free will. God's design for sex is essentially another of His ways of making His nature incarnate in the flesh.

This does not solve the issue though. If we say that that sex needs to be a creative force, as it is defined by this portion of God's being, then a married couple that knows that at least one of the partners is sterile and continues to be intimate has committed the same transgressions as anyone who has had 'unnatural sex.' However, if we argue that they have not committed these transgressions then we ultimately create a catch 22 whereby you only have to have 'natural sex' if you are outside of a heterosexual union.

The problem remains that there has to be more to it than God's essence when talking about sexual morality. If there isn't we will continue to run into the same problems since, God has no sexual identity in his essence. As a result if God holds that homosexuality is wrong it cannot be because of his essence but rather his will, so in the end were right back at "it is written."

Further, are you stating that sexually active couples outside of marriage are not faithful to each other, because if they were they would get married, and then using this conclusion to form the argument that premarital sex is immoral, since you cannot say it is due to a lack of creation? Sorry if I misunderstood, this part of the passage is just awkward.

 

And even though God is genderless, it doesn't follow that we've got some kind of androgynous, gender-neutral relationship with Him, or that masculinity and femininity are purely biological constructs.[...] Male and female are just what happens when biology meets masculinity and femininity. Masculinity and femininity are real things, cosmic principles, if you will, working in relationship with each other.

Actually, it does. A genderless entity does not have a gender even though it can posses both masculine and feminine traits, as Jewish tradition actually demonstrates, thereby making it androgynous or gender-neutral if you want to give it a title.

As for the biological aspect I agree. Gender is not purely biological it is also largely a cultural construct. However, if it is also some sort of cosmic construct the masculine/ feminine dichotomy is much too narrow and we will have to outline how genders cover asexual and hermaphroditic life as well as sexed life where the roles of male and female are different than those of the Western Christian view... Oh, and animals that can change their sex, we're going to have to actually try and classify that as well and best be prepared to throw this all in the garbage too if and when we find life elsewhere in the universe.

 

When ancient cultures talked about goddesses of nature and the gods of the skies and heavens, and identified the heavens as masculine and earth as feminine, it's common for us nowadays to look back and say, "Oh, they were just projecting what they saw in men and women onto the world." But for Christians, that's exactly backwards. Humans don't project their own biological sex onto a genderless world.[...] The clouds in the sky rain down water and bring life to the earth, which brings forth fruit. Maleness and femaleness just continue this pattern, and cultures were right to see the world around them as reflecting the same.

You are making assumptions here. Cultures have, or have had, different views on gender and the number that exist in humans. As for the various elements of the world being assigned a gender this actually changes from culture to culture as well (ie. the earth in Germanic cosmology is masculine due to it being shaped from the corpse of Ymir).

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You are making assumptions here. Cultures have, or have had, different views on gender and the number that exist in humans. As for the various elements of the world being assigned a gender this actually changes from culture to culture as well (ie. the earth in Germanic cosmology is masculine due to it being shaped from the corpse of Ymir).

I'm just quoting this parts of your responses for two reasons.

 

1. You forget she is only talking about the Christian world view.

2. You forget that we're talking about someone who others believe "created everything."

 

It's like you just gloss it over and use pin point something in left field when the hitter hits right, like a red herring. What does a German corpse of Ymir have to do with the God of the Bible? And what does most of your post have to do with what she wrote, it's like someone is talking about an apple and the other an orange.

 

No offense, I'm sure you're intelligent because what you write is intelligent... but intelligence is useless if you aren't responding to someone in a way that they would understand.

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This does not solve the issue though. If we say that that sex needs to be a creative force, as it is defined by this portion of God's being, then a married couple that knows that at least one of the partners is sterile and continues to be intimate has committed the same transgressions as anyone who has had 'unnatural sex.' However, if we argue that they have not committed these transgressions then we ultimately create a catch 22 whereby you only have to have 'natural sex' if you are outside of a heterosexual union.

 

I didn't say that sex needed to be a creative force. I said that it was designed to be creative, and to reflect God's creative nature. That doesn't mean that there can't be individual people for whom sex isn't going to produce children, even if it does for the human race as a whole. It's not a sin to be sterile any more than it's a sin to be blind. It would only be a sin if a person was deliberately thwarting the design of sex, by deliberate sterilisation or by changing the sexual act in a way to make it impossible to create new life.

 

Incidentally, I've said much, much more about this in my "Ask a Catholic" thread, if you're interested.

 

 

The problem remains that there has to be more to it than God's essence when talking about sexual morality. If there isn't we will continue to run into the same problems since, God has no sexual identity in his essence. As a result if God holds that homosexuality is wrong it cannot be because of his essence but rather his will, so in the end were right back at "it is written."

 

Again, I don't think it matters that God isn't male or female. That's how He designed humanity to be. If you want to think of God as being the fullness of masculinity and femininity, then He decided to have a race of people who would each be either male or female. So, yeah, it was His "will" that humanity be divided into two complimentary halves instead of us each to have the fullness of both sexes. But if you want to argue that because God designed us to be a certain way then the laws of morality are arbitrary, then I don't see why you couldn't argue that the moral laws against killing and maiming people aren't arbitrary, too, since God decided to design us with physical bodies that could be damaged, or that the laws against gluttony are arbitrary because God gave humans stomachs.

 

 

Further, are you stating that sexually active couples outside of marriage are not faithful to each other, because if they were they would get married, and then using this conclusion to form the argument that premarital sex is immoral, since you cannot say it is due to a lack of creation? Sorry if I misunderstood, this part of the passage is just awkward.

 

You do realise that this website is for people who are waiting till marriage, right?  :lol: So, yeah, that's kind of what I'm arguing. I wouldn't say that's the only reason sex outside of marriage is wrong, or that sex in a committed relationship outside of marriage is as bad as just sleeping around with anyone. But I'd still say, yeah, that's not how God designed sex to be used. You can disagree if you like. I'm just arguing my own position.

 

 

Actually, it does. A genderless entity does not have a gender even though it can posses both masculine and feminine traits, as Jewish tradition actually demonstrates, thereby making it androgynous or gender-neutral if you want to give it a title.

 

I'm not saying that God doesn't possess both masculine and feminine traits. I'm saying that He's revealed Himself to us as masculine, and that's the kind of relationship He wants to have with us. Again, if you want to argue that He could have picked something different, or if there's something inherently masculine-feminine about the relationship between God and His creation, then that I don't know. But in any case, we've got to go with what God's revealed.

 

 

As for the biological aspect I agree. Gender is not purely biological it is also largely a cultural construct. However, if it is also some sort of cosmic construct the masculine/ feminine dichotomy is much too narrow and we will have to outline how genders cover asexual and hermaphroditic life as well as sexed life where the roles of male and female are different than those of the Western Christian view... Oh, and animals that can change their sex, we're going to have to actually try and classify that as well and best be prepared to throw this all in the garbage too if and when we find life elsewhere in the universe.

 

Okay, I don't know what you mean when you talk about "sexed life where the roles of male and female are different than those of the Western Christian view". In all cultures, it's males who father children and women who give birth to them. If you just mean things like women working and men caring for children, that doesn't change the person's sex. You can argue about how much of that is culturally relative and how much is just how men and women are inherently.

 

As for "asexual and hermaphroditic life", I'm not sure if you're talking about humans or animals, here, since we don't tend to call humans "hermaphrodites" but rather "intersex". If it's animals you're referring to, as with animals that can change their sex, then that's not relevant to human morality. Some species reproduce differently, and that's just how they were designed. Again, you can argue that God could have designed us differently, to reproduce differently. I don't know, maybe there are other species on other planets who are people like us but reproduce asexually, or are both sexes, or can change their sex. That is kind of irrelevant to us, though. Presumably, the laws of sexual morality would be different for them, just as the laws would be different for them if they didn't eat the way we do..

 

Now, if you are referring to humans who are, for example, intersex, then I still don't think that presents a problem for the male-female dichotomy. Just because someone has a medical condition that makes it difficult, or even in rare cases impossible, to determine what sex they are, it doesn't necessarily follow that therefore they don't have a sex, or are some third sex.

 

 

You are making assumptions here. Cultures have, or have had, different views on gender and the number that exist in humans. As for the various elements of the world being assigned a gender this actually changes from culture to culture as well (ie. the earth in Germanic cosmology is masculine due to it being shaped from the corpse of Ymir).

 

Yeah, like Ringer says, I'm just talking about the God of the Bible (that's what my original post was addressing). If I've used examples like the earth and the heavens, then they're just illustrative examples, not a definitive statement about every single religion and culture. (I actually looked it up, and in some Norse mythological accounts, the earth IS personified as the goddess Joro, even though she was made from Ymir's corpse).

 

Okay, I think I've probably derailed this entire thread, but anyhow...

 

xxx

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Now, if you are referring to humans who are, for example, intersex, then I still don't think that presents a problem for the male-female dichotomy. Just because someone has a medical condition that makes it difficult, or even in rare cases impossible, to determine what sex they are, it doesn't necessarily follow that therefore they don't have a sex, or are some third sex.

We need a new topic...

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