Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

Why Nature Is Necessary

Let’s clear a few things out in the first paragraph. Nature is nature, which seems obvious enough, but less obvious is that nature has a nature. The grain of the natural order runs in a particular way. It is not amorphous goo that can be shaped by any volunteer demiurge that happens by. It is not an inert substance that can successfully be altered by an act of Congress, or runaway judges. I just read in the news this week that a federal judge determined that in Michigan water must now run uphill.

This why sex change operations are such a fine example of pomosexual confusion. If nature does not have a nature, then subsets of nature (that would be us) would not have a nature either. If we do not have a nature, then it cannot be possible to contradict or violate it. But if we do have a nature, as established by nature’s God, then one of the first things that rebels against that God will want to do is declare war on it.

Not only does nature have a nature, nature also has a way of instructing us about herself. We see this in the realm of sexual customs. For example, nature teaches us that long hair is a disgrace for a man, but is a woman’s glory. But this creates an interesting set of questions.

We alter nature when we comb our hair, brush our teeth, take a bath, get braces for our teeth, or get a haircut. Now — and I am serious in asking the question — why are all these things lawful, and a sex change operation is not lawful? Why are the former examples of cultivating nature, and the latter an example of insulting her?

Nature was intended to be tended. Adam was placed in an untended garden that was entirely natural, and he was commanded to make it more like itself. A garden is more like nature than a weed patch. Nature was created to be cared for. Now when it is cared for, that care shows. It is manifested.

Up to a point, it is appropriate and lawful to force things “against nature.” Paul uses an example from grafting to make this very point. “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” (Rom. 11:24).

Grafting a wild olive branch into a cultivated olive tree is described as being “contrary to nature,” and yet doing do is perfectly fine. This is something that stumps the simple. The wild branch is wild “by nature,” and the good olive tree has natural branches (that were cut off) that can be grafted back in again. In other words, wild trees are natural and domesticated trees are also natural–and better.

This is why Jews can be Jews “by nature” (Gal. 2:15). Circumcision was natural. Nature was not intended to be left alone. Man was given dominion over it, and is expected to exercise that dominion. The cultural mandate is not authorization for environmental rape. At the same time, rape of nature is a possibility. That category does exist. It is just that the people who are most likely to chatter on about it have no earthly idea of what they are talking about. A guy in San Francisco prepping for a sex change operation decides to have lunch after his most recent hormone shots. At lunch, he will inquire carefully into whether or not the chicken in his chicken salad had any hormones in it. Ah, I see. Hormones must be bad.

So how can we know how to draw the line between getting braces so that you can someday get a girl, and getting hormone shots so that you can someday become a girl? There is no way to draw this line without resorting to natural revelation or natural law, and the Bible requires us to draw this line. Biblical wisdom must therefore learn how to read the world.

When Adam was tending the garden, it was perfectly fine for him to figure out how to prune a tree, and how to oversee a process like grafting. But if Adam starting trying to plant trees with their roots in the air, so that fish could build their nests up there, we would all start to worry that a serious problem had developed. We would begin to suspect that Adam had been taking some graduate classes.

In other words, there is a line. Nature wants to be messed with, up to a point, and nature must not be messed with past that point. What is that point exactly? Well, we have to pay close attention to nature to let her tell us.

Think of it this way:

“Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion” (Lev. 18:23).

Leviticus does not say that for a woman to have intercourse with a beast is contrary to this verse — although it is. The question is this. What was it contrary to before the verse was revealed? The law is certainly prescriptive: don’t do that. But the verse is also descriptive: it is confusion, and it would be confusion in ancient China, Peru, or any other place that had never heard of Moses. It would already be confusion. Confusion about what? It would be confusion about how God shaped the world.

The poet Horace put it this way, and we should all pay closer attention than we have. Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret. You can drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she keeps on coming back.

It is tempting for some Christians to appeal to this or that datum in science, as though the issue can be quantified. In a sex change operation, the DNA of the patient remains exactly what it was before. He is still male in that sense, just the eunuchs of Scripture remained male. Differences between them become manifest, obviously, just as we clearly distinguish between a steer and a bull. We have the noun eunuch for a reason. But castrating a man doesn’t make him a woman. As well hang a silicon udder on a steer and call it a cow. Doesn’t matter what you call it — you have plainly crossed the line we were talking about earlier, and graduate classes were probably involved in it.

But if we determined such things that way, why would it be lawful for a man to receive a woman’s kidney in an organ donation, but not lawful for him to receive a facsimile of a woman’s sexual organs via a surgeon’s knife? In the former case, he would have a bunch of cells that actually were female. How much sand can you put in the sugar bowl before it isn’t sugar anymore? Why would I, conservative Christian guy, not have a problem with that one and I would with the other?

The answer is that nature speaks everywhere, including in the heart of every man, woman, and child. God speaks through nature in the galaxies, in the buttercups, and under the breastbone of every proud atheist. This is routinely denied, but only by people who are trying to yammer loudly enough that they can’t hear Him anymore. But if you have questions about it, nature speaks to the Scottish common sense realist, and he doesn’t even need a microscope to answer you. Check in with him.

Athletic discipline is unnatural in one sense, and natural in another. Athletic discipline for women is unnatural in one sense, but natural in another. We see the grace of cultivated nature when she competes on the balance beam. We see the epitome of secularist stupidities when she competes in boxing and shot put. Ain’t natural, especially if she is good at it. It is called an abomination in Scripture (Dt. 22:5), but it was an abomination before Deuteronomy plainly called it that. If I were admonishing a carpenter for trying to pound nails with a tea cup, I wouldn’t need a verse.

And this is why the category of nature is such an essential one. Any denial of the nature of nature, or the reality of nature, or the goodness of nature, or the direction that nature’s grain naturally runs, or the complete authority of Jesus in and through all nature, is a catastrophic denial. We might be talking about Aquinas, or the doctrine of regeneration, or common grace, or Van Tilian apologetics, but depend upon it — any denial of nature will eventually be revealed to have been an essential part of an opening gambit designed to recreate all nature as playdough for the pomosexual.
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