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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Distinguishing Between Human SEXUALITY And Human ONTOLOGY
'What is man that thou art mindful of him?' Imago Dog Illustration by Greg Groesch
This past week, a Facebook “friend” and former student, asked me why I’m so relentless in criticizing progressive sexual politics, and more specifically, why I persist in challenging “LGBTQ sexuality.”
More specifically, here’s what my newly minted alumna said, “The majority of the agenda you’re pushing is sexuality driven … I’m genuinely interested in why you only speak on the issue of [LGBTQ] sexuality and not everything else …?”
Now, I do take exception to the straw man claim that “the majority” of what I write is on this singular issue (any quantitative review of my columns for The Washington Times proves otherwise). But, I do agree that I have continuously rung the bell that this one issue is perhaps one of the most critical of our time.
Before I answer, let me make something crystal clear. When I speak about “LGBTQ sexuality,” it has, in all sincerity, nothing to do with sex. This is a critical point my young critic and her progressive peers don’t seem to get. By all appearances, they completely miss the point that calling into question rainbow politics, frankly, has little to do with what they do in their bedrooms (honestly, I don’t care, and I wish they’d quit telling me about it). No, quite to the contrary, when I confront the issue of “LGBTQ sexuality” (as my young graduate calls it), I am really not talking about human sexuality at all, but rather about human ontology. In other words, my concern is not about your inclinations (sexual or otherwise); my concern is about your identity.
So, back to answering the question; Why do I keep ringing this bell?
Well, at rock bottom, the reason I persist is that I am a conservative, which means I am a conservationist. And as a conservationist, I believe in conserving things. Yes, I believe in conserving owls, trees and whales once in a while. And, likewise, I believe in conserving clean air and clean water. But, foremost, as a conservative, I believe I am obligated to conserve that which is of the highest value, i.e., those things that are “first” rather than second. And what are those “first things?” As a classical liberal and contemporary conservative, I hold them to be human dignity and human identity. In other words, I believe I am required to guard and protect what it means to be human.
Rod Dreher, in the American Conservative, comes about as close as anyone I can think of to providing the perfect answer to my critic’s question:
“At the heart of these issues about sexuality and gender are some core principles about the relationship of the body to the metaphysical order, and what it means to be a human being … [If we] don’t recognize that, then [we] are confused about first principles. To give LGBT activists and progressive allies what they want — total affirmation — is to affirm that they are correct about the body, and about human nature. This is something that [I am not] willing to do. To be a Christian means that you believe, as the Bible teaches, that man is made in the image of God. This is at the root of human dignity. This necessarily means that human nature is given. It is not created by us; it is created by God and given to us. We either receive it or we don’t. As Christians, we cannot believe that we have permission to create ourselves in our own desired image.”
In these few and brief words, Mr. Dreher shouts that the very definition of the human being is in the balance! Are we real, or are we contrived? Is a female a fact, or is she a fabrication? Is a male toxic by definition? Does a woman have dignity? Does a man have objective worth? Are we merely defined by our desires, or are we more than this? Is our identity more than the mere sum total of our base inclinations?
Are we the handiwork of a Creator who endowed us with unique definition and purpose, or are we mere products of happenstance and chance? Do we find our teleological dignity in the worship of God, or are we little godlike narcissists with no purpose or definition other than what we find in the malign fusion of self-infatuation, self-worship, self-congratulation, and sex?
At the end of the day, are we the imago Dei? Or are we the imago dog? Are we made in the image of God, or are we made in the image of the animal? Are we defined by our Lord or our libido? To paraphrase Wilberforce as he bellowed in the halls of parliament for over 20 years, “Am I not a man and brother and not a beast?”
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” is the seminal question of our time. This is no secondary matter. If we get the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a human being?” wrong, then all else crumbles. This answer determines all the rest.
• Everett Piper, former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is a columnist for The Washington Times and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).