Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Freudian slip. . .

Sigmund Freud’s view that “biology is destiny”was shocking enough when he fomented it but even Freud could not have foreseen how that phrase might be used today.  We seem inexplicably resigned to the idea that our lives are defined by genitalia and that that desire is beyond control.  It is as if we have come to believe that the manifest destiny of mankind of defined by sexual desire, that the cruelest bondage of all is that which restrains or directs this desire, and the captivity to conscience has held humanity back from its greater destiny and accomplishment.

No less than the Supreme Court has ventured in to add its own legitimacy to Freud's dictim.  In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, Justice Ginsburg wrote for the majority (5-4) rejecting the distinction between “status” and “conduct” made by the plaintiff.  In other words, she challenged the notion that homosexuals may not be able to change their nature, but they can choose how to behave. What is true for gays, is surely true for straights as well.  Biology is our destiny and since desire is "natural", it is "unnatural" to restrain or redirect it.

Hmmmm,...  If we used the same reasoning for children, it would be child abuse to potty train them.  But that is exactly what we are given to do by God.  God trains desire by implanting conscience and His law within the heart.  God trains desire by killing and giving life in baptism.  God trains desire but eschewing the worldly ways and holding up the radical path of discipleship, obedience, sacrifice and service -- and equipping us by His grace and Spirit to walk in this new way by faith. 

We Lutherans should be most comfortable with the idea that nature is not our best guide.  We are accustomed to confessing most Sundays that we are by nature sinful and unclean.  Yet this is precisely the conflict with the world around us.  If we were born with this desire, we must honor it (says the world).  No, Christ has given us the new birth of baptism that we might kill exactly that -- what is natural but unclean.  Instead He trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age... Titus 2:12.

Christianity insists that Freud has it all wrong (even if we cannot blame Freud for our modern surrender to desire).  Biology is not destiny.  God gives us the faith, the will, and the new desire to say simply "no" and this is a good thing.... a great thing.... a wonderful thing.  It is impossible to say "yes" to the good without at the same time saying "no" to the evil.  Some Christians are preoccupied with simply nay saying and never get to the point of saying "yes" to anything.  Other Christians find it hard to say "no" to anything and end up saying "yes" to everything.  In both cases, we have lost our way and the world has lost a voice to lead it beyond the darkness and dead ends of desire to the noble place of virtue and love.

No comments: