What are Men and Women?

7321265-man-and-womanAs I’ve written about sexual identity and the natural differences between men and women, several questions have come up in different venues all asking the same thing: Where are you getting your concepts of gender roles? There are a lot of complicated ways to answer this question, and there are a lot of flat-out wrong ways to answer this question. I’ll try to keep it as simple (and right) as I can, but it will still take some ins and outs.

I believe that men and women have distinct roles and functions in life because I believe that sex matters. Men are men. They do not choose to be men. There is not some internal asexual self waiting to be freed. The same is true for women. This is both physical and psychological. It is a matter of body and soul.

Now all of this is derived from my own understanding of God and His design, but also from the nature of things. This can get us into the “complicated” very quickly, and so I’ll start by giving us some easy analogies. Imagine yourself in something of a desert island situation. You’ve got leaves, trees, sand, dirt, rocks, animals, etc. Then you stumble upon a fully-crafted ax. You can tell it is different from the other items because of its composition and the clear evidence of design. You run your thumb across the blade and cut yourself. This thing is meant for cutting. It might work for other jobs, but obviously cutting is the primary one. Continue reading

The Sin/Crime Distinction

So I do a bit of writing on politics, law, and religion.  I was even fortunate enough to have one article published by an academic journal last year.  This isn’t my primary vocation, but it’s a solid second calling.  It’s more than a mere hobby.  And the further I’ve gotten into this field, the more convinced I am that Christians really don’t know how to think about law and politics.  There are very large segments of the Christian population who have severed themselves completely from Christian jurisprudence, namely the far-Left progressives and the Libertarians.  These folks can certainly be true Christians.  They are just very mistaken about how that relates to politics.  The majority of “Evangelicals” find themselves in the middle of the GOP spectrum, some reluctantly and some happily.  And a few other well-intentioned Christians stick with the “moderate” and “independent” labels.  Hardly any of them, however, are terribly confident as to whether this is actually a consistent Biblical outlook, and those that are “very confident” are also often very mistaken.

Now let me quickly add that I don’t think I’ve got it all quite figured out either.  There are a number of contemporary political issues of which I am not totally sure what the best approach is.  But one thing I have managed to do over the last few years it to get a  comfortable grasp of the guiding principles of traditional Christian legal thought.  Notice that I said principles.  Principles are different than positive commands and prohibitions.  They go back to basic concepts and founding themes and ideas.  Principles can often take different expressions depending on the rest of the context.  Still, basic morality never changes.

One of the perennial questions is always regarding what role religion should even play in politics. Continue reading

“Sacramentalizing” and “r2k” are Two Sides to the Same Coin

I’ve managed to come to this odd position where I could be construed as critiquing both certain strands of neo-Calvinism and Radical Orthodoxy (a more left-wing variant of the same concepts) on the one hand and the so-called “two kingdoms” school (called “radical 2k” by their critics) on the other hand.  A surface approach would think that one should line up with one of these groups to attack the other.  This is not the case, however, because both share the same basic problem of not being able to allow nature and grace to dwell together happily. Continue reading

Robert Farrar Capon and the Goodness of Stuff

Robert Farrar Capon, in his excellent The Supper of the Lamb, writes this spot-on description of the modern “problem” with nature:

Ah mischief.  Man is not always content to take reality at such width and depths.  He cuts the wine of paradox with the water of consistency: The mystery of God and things is tamed to the simplicity of God or things; he builds himself a duller, skimpier world. Continue reading

Why is “Catholic” a Gloss for “Creation”? (or why “sacramental” needs a moratorium)

This is from a comment response to a post here (with slight editing so as to make my writing look better than it is).

The divide is not between some generic “catholic” Church (which oddly includes magisterial Protestants) versus the more modern “Baptist”, but rather the older one of nature and grace. Modern evangelicalism looks a lot more like medieval Romanism in this regard than many would care to admit. The classic Protestant position admits that nature is already a reflection of the divine and possesses its own integrity. This is also why it is no surprise to find great works of techne among even the non-believers and pagans (see for instance, the sons of Cain in Gen. 4:20-22). Continue reading

SPSA in New Orleans

As I mentioned earlier, I will be presenting a paper for the Southern Political Science Association this Saturday in New Orleans, LA.  This will be at the Hotel InterContinental, and so if you’re in the area please come on.

My panel is called “Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the Common Good,” and you can check it out by going here and clicking “browse the program” and then clicking on “Saturday.”  I’m at 1:15.  To get at philosophy and the common good, I examine a dispute among early American Presbyterians about natural law and religious freedom.  The paper overlaps with the political discussions we’ve had here, and it shines a clear light on the old-guard disciplinarian and Presbyterian view of “the two kingdoms.”  Here is the abstract: Continue reading

Love God and Do What You Please

This is from our church’s recent January newsletter, but I’ve been asked to make it public by posting it here.

In his Seventh Homily on 1st John, the early church father Augustine of Hippo gives this pastoral advice, “Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt.”  As a college student, I attended a summer conference for Reformed University Fellowship, and one of the campus ministers adapted this quote to answer the question, “How can I know if I’m doing God’s will for my life?”  He answered, “Love God and do what you please.”  The answer is shocking at first.  It sounds like a way to avoid responsibility and a license to sin.  Anything I please?

The key to understanding St. Augustine, as well as my conference speaker, is found in the order of the words. Continue reading

Richard Hooker’s Biblical Defense of Reason

Much of Hooker’s concern in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity deals with the legitmacy of natural revelation and reason.  His opponents, in order to boost their views of church government, had advocated that we could rely upon nothing but positive Biblical revelation.  Hooker argues that this goes too far, rejecting what is necessary in order to properly receive positive Biblical revelation.  He even goes further and shows that the Bible itself requires the right use of reason:

“Judge you of that which I speak,” saith the apostle. In vain it were to speak any thing of God, but that by reason men are able somewhat to judge of that they hear, and by discourse to discern how consonant it is to truth. Scripture indeed teacheth things above nature, things which our reason by itself could not reach unto. Yet those things also we believe, knowing by reason, that the Scripture is the word of God. In the presence of Festus a Roman, and of King Agrippa a Jew, St. Paul omitting the one, who neither knew the Jew’s religion, nor the books whereby they were taught it, speaks unto the other of things foreshewed by Moses and the prophets, and performed in Jesus Christ, intending thereby to prove himself so unjustly accused, that unless his judges did condemn both Moses and the prophets, him they could not choose but acquit, who taught only that fulfilled, which they so long since had foretold. His cause was easy to be discerned; what was done, their eyes were witnesses ; what Moses and the prophets did speak, their books could quickly shew: it was no hard thing for him to compare them, which knew the one, and believed the other. ” King Agrippa, believest; thou the prophets ? I know thou dost.” Continue reading