In the last part of this series I want to take a look at two of the hot button issues of today, and how the divided view of truth and the human body come to bear on them.
In the previous two posts we looked at how it came to be that people came to have a divided view of truth, with facts in the lower story. These were the only things we could know for sure were real, and they were tested by math and science. In the upper story was basically everything else, from religion to emotion, and everything in between. This lead to a divided view of the human body, with the biochemical machine (the actual body) in the lower story and the “self” in the upper story.
These things really messed with people, and in order to live in this divided life, they had to start adopting (historically) very interesting positions. The self in the upper story is autonomous, and is able to do/define the lower story biochemical body as whatever it wants, with no guidelines. For our examples, we’ll look at abortion and homosexuality.
A fairly recent (we’ll say since the 70’s, but that’s just a ballpark estimate) distinction between sexual orientation and gender is an example of this. The idea is that gender (lower story) is something that you are born with, but doesn’t necessarily effect anything. The autonomous, upper story, self can change anything and everything about the lower story body. For example, the self can determine that it is a boy/girl, regardless of what gender they were born with. The self can also determine what it is attracted to, again regardless of what gender they were born. We are told that sexuality in general is fluid, and may change several times throughout a person’s lifetime.
Another issue in terms of the human body is abortion. One of the most used arguments by pro-choice advocates is that women can do whatever they want with their bodies. We rarely stop to think why this is so, but I think one of the main (if unconscious by most at this point) reasons is that there is a divide in their concept of the body. I am typing this one a machine known as a computer, and since I have purchased it, I can do whatever I want with it, whether that is to use it for normal (one might say, natural) means or to break it. If our bodies are simply complex, biochemical machines, then you could argue that we could do whatever we want with them.
Christianity offers answers to these, but in order to accurately engage in conversation, we have to realize that people have this two-story view in their thinking. They may not consciously think “this goes in the upper story and this goes in the lower story”, but you see the effects of this thinking all the time. If we understand the thinking behind the arguments, then we can start talking past one another, and start addressing things in ways that actually get through to people.
It’s my hope that this short series has helped you take a step in understanding the world you live in so that you can engage the culture more effectively for the glory of God.
If you want to read some more in depth analyses of the two-story view and how it effects art, music, movies, and the like, check out “Saving Leonardo” by Nancy Pearcey.