21 July 2011

"Normal"?

by Dan Phillips

One little bit of Al Mohler's recent essay on "reparative therapy," homosexuality, and the Gospel, sent me off on a bypath. It is in Mohler's quotation of a coalition of mental health-type professionals in 2008, whose stated premise was that “both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality.” I probed a little further and found the American Psychological Association touting the release of this document, formed by a "diverse coalition of 13 national organizations has joined in a renewed effort to protect the safety and emotional well-being of students." One wonders how genuinely "diverse" the coalition was. Not very, one suspects. Perhaps the "diversity" of a bunch of bananas: some longer, some shorter; some plumper, some thinner. But all bananas.

To say that the statement is question-begging is to say that American government spending has been "a tad short-sighted." What could "normal" possibly mean, in this context? Statistically normal? Surely not; even on the grossly-inflated 10% figure, homosexual behavior is not the norm. Biologically normal? In terms of design, again, surely not — unless one wishes to argue that the mere fact that a thing can be done with a part of the body means that it is normal to do so... in which case, the imagination quickly staggers under such new-"normal" images as fingers in pencil sharpeners, tongues in light-sockets, legs in wood chippers, and the like.

No, clearly "normal" is the result of some extensively massaged redefining. Stripped of footnotes and citations and psychologese, I daresay this "normal" amounts to "feels right to them and doesn't seem to hurt anyone." This definition, in turn, while popular, also rests atop a mountain of unfounded assumptions. Is what "feels right" therefore right? Yes!, says popular culture. "Follow your heart!"... until one mentions, say, rape or murder, which also arise from the heart. All right, not that. It has to not "hurt anyone." Why not?, one asks. Well, hurting others is bad, we guess baselessly. Oh, so abortion is out? No, no no no...

And on it goes.

You smart cookies have already arrived where I'm heading. Though our culture has selective awe and reverence for the Priesthood of White-Jacketed Experts (preferably Government Certified™), this thunderous, well-nigh Sinaitic pronouncement rests on precisely nothing.

Look: suppose someone brings you a shiny, multiflanged, multifacted, multicolored, multilimbed metallic thing with a big shiny propeller on it. He asks you, "Is this working normally?"

Your response, of course, is "I have no idea. What is it supposed to do?"

Well, that's what you'd do. You have some common sense. If you were a Government Certified™ Expert, on the other hand, you'd forcibly extract  money from working folks, fund a committee, commission a study, and produce a report. If the committee noted that it kept doing the same thing and didn't burst into flames, they might name it a Disgronificator, hand it back, and say, "Yep. Normal!" Or if it worked too well, they'd regulate it into inaccessibility. But I digress.

The truth is, we really do not know what "normal" is (except statistically) until we know design and intent. That is, we don't know whether Object A is functioning normally until we know what Object A was designed to do.

So that is why in WTG I go right back to the opening chapters of Genesis, to the creation of man. It's a simple formula:
  • To understand how the Gospel is a solution, we must understand what problem it addresses.
  • To understand what problem the Gospel addresses we must understand what is wrong with man.
  • You can't understand what is wrong with man without understanding what man was created to be and do.
In other words, the backwards progression must be:
  • Gospel
  • Sin
  • Fall
  • Creation
So you see, all of that puts us in an entirely different frame, a different perspective, a different worldview. Central issues are no longer primarily defined on exclusively horizontal (let alone statistical) terms, but primary reference must be given to the vertical. Which, you will also note, takes us right back to Genesis 3, where our existential dilemma all began. It was at that point that we, as a race represented in our head Adam, insisted on the exclusive right to solipsistic, internal, horizontal (if not centrifugal) redefinition of everything.

In other words, God created and defined us, our world and our meaning; and we turned around and re-defined ourselves, our world, our meaning — and God.

Then all Hell broke loose.

And that, dear friends, is how we got where we are today: up is down, left is right, black is white, harmful is helpful, and perverted is "normal."

But let me throw yet one more monkey-wrench into the Autonomaton. If we want to see what a real "normal" human being is like, we need to look at Jesus, as I have argued elsewhere. Put that in the context of the rest of the Bible.

Then "normal" takes on a very different hue.

Dan Phillips's signature

37 comments:

chiefofleast.com said...

Great thoughts! I lament that homosexuality has become such a "hyper-controversial" issue in the culture that we rather not even touch it anymore with a ten point sermon. Simple biblical discussions of "design" and "intent" will go a long way in rediscovering the only Owner and Sovereign over our bodies and worldviews.

God keep raising up men and women who have Spirit born courage to paint the sin problem and gospel solution with all Scriptural clarity!

Jamie said...

Dan,
I must say I enjoy reading most everything posted here at teampyro, and this piece ranks among one of the best written. I hold a design patent for a way to identify neonates and the first thing I had to do was state what the intent of my design was. Only then was my design evaluated against what it was intended to do. Hear, hear, you are spot on with your reasoning and conclusion.

Thank you.

Robert said...

Or if it worked too well, they'd regulate it into inaccessibility.

While this might be a tad off of where this post was aimed, this gave me a good belly laugh.

That aside, this is a great post and has me more anxious to read WTG. You have definitely captured the thoughts behind the modern day relativism that we encounter from the "man on the street." Thanks, Dan.

Fred Butler said...

I have often asked unbelieving homosexual enablers if they believe in evolution. All of them will eagerly nod "yes." I then ask them what evolutionary advantage does homosexual behavior confer to the human population, especially since homosexuals can't reproduce to pass their genes along to the next generation.

After a moment of blanket stares I am either told I don't understand evolution or I am called a bigot.

Tom said...

When I read Mohler's article yesterday, "normal" was the word that jumped out at me, too. I didn't even finish the article because my mind went on a rabbit trail about how easily that slipped in there.

Welp, that's what happens when your source of authority is yourself. Then *anything* can be "normal."

When are you guys going to stop thinking so biblically? ;-)

Tom

Frank Turk said...

Fred:

You don't understand evolution. Evolution produces Marxism, for pete's sake, and tears down all structures of Western dogmatism, including all social structures and moral codes.

Therefore evolution must produce homosexuality, and it's utterly acceptable.

DJP said...

Tom, exactly right. But we have to remember, this is what we see when we see worldlings: people who are simply making it up as they go along, but doing so with absolute conviction.

The trouble is unconverted "Christians" who don't understand how exactly catterwompus the Biblical worldview is.

Larry Geiger said...

Every day clarity. Thanks.

(By the way, that's not a monkey wrench, it's a crescent wrench?)

Tom said...

Sensei,

Thank you for this.

Always your gakusei,

Tom

Steve Drake said...

Frank, Fred,
Therefore evolution must produce homosexuality, and it's utterly acceptable.

In actuality, evolution if true should produce asexual reproduction. The question is why evolution would produce two different genders, each with it's own physiology. Evolution cannot and still answer the question of 'Why Sex'?

nascent said...

In actuality, evolution if true should produce asexual reproduction. The question is why evolution would produce two different genders, each with it's own physiology. Evolution cannot and still answer the question of 'Why Sex'?

Why reproduction at all...

Steve Drake said...

Dear Nascent,
Why reproduction at all? I don't know, maybe you can help me. What do you think?

Steve Drake said...

Somewhat enigmatic Nascent.
'Why reproduction at all...? What do you actually mean to imply? Flesh your argument out my friend, so that we can best address your comments.

Steve Drake said...

Come on Nascent,
I know you're there, lurking. Can you not respond my friend?

nascent said...

Hello, Drake. Don't worry, I'm not ignoring you on purpose.

I don't know, maybe you can help me. What do you think?

The fundamental point I'm trying to raise (I guess) with the question "Why reproduction at all..." is this: how did the rise of life anticipate the demise of life? How did abiogenesis (or some other process) account for the decay and eventual 'death' of living organisms? (Which previously did not exist.) How many times did life rise before some reproductive process evolved (replication, asexual, sexual, etc.)? Why did it evolve, if nature isn't keeping score and doesn't care?

How did natural selection / evolution know that reproduction would be necessary? In other words, as an organic function it seems to me too directed for undirected evolutionary processes to have 'come up with'.

I would have expected life to die out shortly after arriving on the scene, if (Darwinian, meaning naturalistic) evolution were true.

Steve Drake said...

Hi Nascent,
Thankyoufor your reply. Let me acknowledge you for your good questions. I will attempt to answer them but please realize that others will atttempt to answer sthem in the interim from when my reply are seen on your postings.

nascent said...

Drake,

Sure, if you desire.

Steve Drake said...

Nascent said:
how did the rise of life anticipate the demise of life? How did abiogenesis (or some other process) account for the decay and eventual 'death' of living organisms? (Which previously did not exist.) How many times did life rise before some reproductive process evolved (replication, asexual, sexual, etc.)? Why did it evolve, if nature isn't keeping score and doesn't care?"

Nascent,
How did the rise of life anticipate the demise of life? What? What the heck are you tryin to say here?

Steve Drake said...

Nascent said:
"How did abiogenesis (or some other process) account for the decay and eventual 'death' of living organisms? (Which previously did not exist.) How many times did life rise before some reproductive process evolved (replication, asexual, sexual, etc.)? Why did it evolve, if nature isn't keeping score and doesn't care?"

Nascent,
Have you read the account of Creation in Genesis 1-3 in the Judeo-Christian Bible?

Steve Drake said...

Nascent,

do you declare yourself as Christian or something else? If something else, what are you willing to describe yourself as?

nascent said...

Drake,

How did the rise of life anticipate the demise of life? What? What the heck are you tryin to say here?

I am saying that reproduction makes sense only in light of death.

Have you read the account of Creation in Genesis 1-3 in the Judeo-Christian Bible?

Yes, I am a Christian theist. That is why I specified Darwinian / naturalistic evolution in a previous reply (as opposed to TE).

Steve Drake said...

Dear Nascent,
You actually are saying that Darwinian evolution is the process that God used to bring about our present circumstances? Is that what your are saying?

nascent said...

Drake,

You actually are saying that Darwinian evolution is the process that God used to bring about our present circumstances? Is that what your are saying?

'Naturalistic evolution' supposes a godless universe, so no. This is what I said:

"I would have expected life to die out shortly after arriving on the scene, if (Darwinian, meaning naturalistic) evolution were true."

In other words, if evolution has occurred as modern scientific literature describes, it would need to be God-driven.

Steve Drake said...

Dear Nascent,
You must realize that you are straining against the consensus of this website, no?

Steve Drake said...

Ya'll gonna have to pick up the dialog with Nascent. Where are 'all' you Christians who proclaim that evolution is wrong? Step in, and state your case!

DJP said...

No, actually, I'm going to step in and say "STOP," please.

You're far off from the subject of the post, and I think you're talking past each other. So, I flip an internal coin and decide to leave the diversion up for now, but that's enough, please.

SandMan said...

Well-stated, Dan. Clearly, you have caught unconverted man doing what he LOVES to do... normalize sin. The sad fact is that he doesn't realize that man isn't the Authority and therefore he hasn't the clout to redefine anything. It's akin to me deciding to change the Webster's definitions of all English words and then demanding that everyone else operate in literature, blogosphere, and conversation within the framework of my new definitions. If anyone noticed at all, the only attention I would get would be angry folks asking me who I think I am that I would arbitrarily change the rules of language to meet my whims.

DJP said...

Steve, re-read my 4:51pm comment. Review the rules. I've had to delete several of your comments. That road is closed. If you'd like to get back to discussing the topic of the post, please do. Further discussion of the bypath I've closed, or debating the closing of the bypath, is a problem, and please let's not go there. You had your say, Nascent had his say, I had my say on your says, and it's done.

Which I've had to say twice now. Please, stop. I don't know how to say it nicer and plainer at the same time.

Steve Drake said...

Okay Dan,
Deleting two of my comments to Sandman is tantamount to telling me I am not welcome on your website. Peace and grace to you brother, but please know you are being arbitrary in your exclusions, as you are happy to see your own posts that can be considered in somewhat illustrious light.

SandMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachael Starke said...

Back in my communication skills coaching days, I was sitting in the back of the room watching a more experienced coach lead a class through an exercise designed to get rid of people's bad posture/gesturing habits. (They had all been videotaped doing all manner of distracting things as they spoke.) One by one, the coach redirected them when their bad habit came up. One person protested pretty forcefully that "it just doesn't feel normal!"

She replied, "You're right. But what feels normal isn't right. First, you have to see that it's not right. Then you have to practice doing what's right. After a while, what's right is what will feel normal."

They had no idea how they had just experienced a living example of how the Holy Spirit works supernaturally.

Robert said...

Kind of like what Sandman alluded to with the dictionary is what people are trying to do with the definition of marriage, which is a term/institution that God created. Yet mankind sees fit to discard the truth and the definition from the Creator and just flaunt their own desires in His face. Just as people will be shaking their fists at God at the end of the world.

mike said...

silly side bar,
i recently watched the newest X-Men with my son.
oddest thing for me was that as they attempt to tie everything into evolution and therefore mostly good, they made the case of Professor Xavier silly, and pragmatically wrong.

since normal must be evolution-ally beneficial, then the "regulars" are the problem.

sort of the same argument made by the rainbow coalition, with out the cool visual effects.

Steve Drake said...

Dan,
I want to publicly apologize for my comments yesterday to you and all. They were very unbecoming of me, and of the faith I profess. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

Sir Aaron said...

@DJP: There was a time when I didn't think one's view on Genesis was very important in the scheme of things. Your post today reminds me of the reason why I came to see it as foundational to the Christian faith.

@Rachael: Great anecdote. Similarly, that is why pilots fly by instruments when they can't see and not by "feeling."

@Robert: Every sinner wants to define their sin as acceptable and normal. The last thing you want is somebody telling you that what you feel like doing is immoral. I, pre-salvation, acted in a very similar matter (albeit with a different sin).

Tyrone said...

We often look to find an excuse for our (sex)drive and we look to excuse our actions as it is a gift from God... 1Co 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman."
1Co 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
1Co 7:3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
And then Paul makes this statement; 1Co 7:7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
So all it really is when we get it wrong -- is misguided lust.

Andrew Faris said...

As soon as I read the word "normal", all I could think was, "What the heck does that mean?" Not that I don't know what it means, mind you, but it really did seem immediately obvious that those folks would not even begin to be able to answer the question.

Anyway, great exposition of the point, DJP.

Andrew Faris
Someone Tell Me the Story