The Clues to the Culture of Life: Faith in God’s Design

By Guillermo Moreno

June 3, 2020

A few years ago, I was invited to the wedding of a couple of friends of mine. Excited, I sought to improve my dancing skills and I signed up for a Lindy Hop class at a local event venue. On the first night of my lessons, the choreographer instructed me to lead her as she showed me the basic steps. Unsure of her personal background, namely on whether or not she was a woman of faith, I decided to ask her a trick question. I asked her, “The man leads?” She looked at me wide-eyed, and answered, “Always.”

 

You can probably imagine why it was a trick question. Of course, the man leads! I couldn’t name you any type of dance that did otherwise. At the same time, I wondered about her personal background because if she was feminist, then she might have branded me as sexist and even misogynist. I might even have been kicked out of that venue that very night and not welcomed back ever again, just for asking about gender roles, because what differences do sex differences make, right?

 

But there’s one problem: what if it’s true? What if sexual differences in fact make all the difference? By that, I mean, what if the sexual differences really help to explain human nature, being persons as male and female? This would explain why some kinds of roles transcend time and culture and serve as the common denominator in gender roles, such as in dancing. This would also explain why men relate to other men and women relate to other women as such when it comes to our approach towards romantic relationships with persons of the opposite sex.

 

As such, the sexes experience what I’ll generally refer to as intimacy in this article, encompassing attraction, affection, etc. This intimacy is experienced in our love lives, not despite sexual differences but because of them. What makes this all the more fascinating is that the climactic expression of intimacy in our love lives is sex itself, which not only bonds a man and a woman unlike any other form of intimacy, by becoming one flesh, but it also has the power to bring another human life into existence!

 

My questions are the following: What if that’s not a coincidence? What if our design, of which intimacy and sexual differences are inherent, really does have a Designer? Furthermore, what if dissenting from that design brings us something that is not love? And by doing so, what if we get further away from the Designer Himself? And what if that causes us to lose clear vision of His design of reality in some way, shape, or form?

 

This brings me to my initial thought of whether or not my choreographer was a woman of faith, for in my theological studies as well as in my lived experience, I have come to see that it is no coincidence that men and women who are devout in their faith, particularly if they are Christian, also hold fast to certain traditions that some of us might have been led to believe are conditioned by our culture and that they are besides our nature. But some of those traditions, by which I mean certain gender roles in which men generally play a leadership role and are the breadwinners, while women generally stay at home,[1] have lasted because they speak true to our reality as men and women: men lead, and women are led by the man. If my choreographer was a Christian (which she is), it would be more consistent with her giving me instructions about the man leading.

 

But even persons who lack faith and devotion know that certain roles are true because they are written in our very selves as either men or women, designed by the Designer. For further proof of this, let’s consider that men play an active role in dance, while women play a passive role. This fact reflects human nature itself: men play an active role and women play a passive one when it comes to romantic relationships. For even more proof, let’s ask women one question: ‘would you want to date or marry a man who is passive?’

 

She’ll most likely say ‘no,’ and it’s for the same reason that men generally have the same kinds of triggers when it comes to romantic interest, as do women towards men. What if it’s no coincidence that men in their physiology are generally attracted through their senses, whereas women in their physiology are attracted more through their emotions? While men naturally experience attraction towards women instinctively because of the senses, women will experience interest towards a man according to his behavior, which takes time to realize and experience.

 

I emphasize ‘coincidence’ because some ideas about the relationship between the sexes in postmodernism, notably egalitarianism, feminism, and especially birth control, presuppose that it is a coincidence that men and women are different. But this distortion infects our view of ourselves individually and collectively, how we view the sexes, and how we perceive reality. In the end, though, reality is not dependent on our perception. Cause and effect will happen, whether or not we see the connection of the effects of our choices.

 

This is where we are prone to rebel against roles and norms that are associated and consistent with Christian principles. Some moral norms are obvious, such as adultery, but other norms are not obvious, such as openness to life in having sex. Yet, society has witnessed a decay in romantic relationships particularly since the sexual revolution that consists of higher divorce rates, broken families, single parenthood, and even the legalization of abortion.[2] This cancer in relationships, individually and collectively, in western civilization is what Pope John Paul II referred to as a culture of death,[3] which stems from the ideological rejection of Christianity and of faith.

 

The ideological enemies of Christianity and of faith lead men and women to doubt tradition and gender roles because sin tempts men and women to want whatever we want in ways that are consistent with our weakness; what appeals to us is good if we can indulge in it at our say without having to sacrifice. True, we desire sexual intimacy whether or not we are Christian, but the voice of faith looks like an imposition that says that we can’t have whatever we want when we want it. It looks like an imposition on our desire for happiness.

But we can say that we look for happiness in the sense that we want a “happily ever after.” Generally, no one gets married looking forward to their divorce. No one looks forward to being cheated on. No one looks forward to consistently testing oneself for sexually transmitted diseases. No one looks forward to having to split the kids between weekdays and weekends. No one looks forward to having an abortion. No one looks forward to the pain that ensues from broken relationships and broken families.

Rather, we yearn for the peace and the joy that comes from loving relationships. What if that’s not a coincidence? What if we are designed this way for a reason? What, then, is that reason? Could that reason be our happiness? These questions are addressed to everyone, but especially to non-believers and to believers who object to traditional roles and sexual moral standards because those roles and standards are “outdated.”

This article is an invitation to what’s called a hermeneutic of faith when it comes to tradition and sexual morality. Having a hermeneutic of faith means having some level of trust that traditional roles and sexual morality are there because they are the correct reasons, even if we do not immediately understand why. We can contrast this with a hermeneutic of doubt, which encourages an assumption that something is actually false. A hermeneutic of faith is the trust that leads us to pursue the truth that divine revelation proclaims as such, and it is consistent with what reason alone can show us in natural law, which is our ability to discern good and evil, to know good and evil as such.[4]

For example, let’s address one moral norm in particular: couples moving in together after their wedding. A hermeneutic of faith would compel us to consider, “what if that moral norm is truly good?” instead of dismissing it as irrational or archaic, especially since a function of our reason is to be critical. We would thus see that such a norm requires virtue, in which patience, purity, and prudence lead couples to reserve cohabitation once already married, and that cohabiting before marriage, particularly as a form of “test driving” is a counterfeit and caricature of marriage, as well as the opposite of marital love.[5]

Because, in all fairness, what if it is true? We need a hermeneutic of faith in the two-fold realm of traditional roles between the sexes and in sexual morality because it is no coincidence that Christian moral principles are reflected in our being as men and women. A good starting point is acting on our design in our masculinity and femininity: generally, men pursue, and women consent. While we’re at it, let us strive for the traditional moral norms that are counter to the hook-up culture by saving intimacy according to the commitment of our relationship, such as by saving sex for marriage and expressing affection in dating relationships that are holy in unmarried relationships. We do this because we have the faith that this is true and good and because it is the hope for the love that is promised to us in our faith (cf. James 1:12).

These two factors, the nature of our design and a hermeneutic of faith, are the clues to a culture of life. The culture of life does more than oppose abortion. Building such a culture means renewing our minds and hearts in conformity with the dignity of the human person, acknowledging that persons are meant to be loved and must never be used. A culture of death distorts our mind and hearts, blinding us from seeing human dignity and tempting us to continue using people. But the truth is written in our bodies, and the Church and the Bible confirm this based on God’s natural and supernatural revelation. The connection is not a coincidence because the Designer is the author of the universe and He is the initiator of revelation.

 

Endnotes

[1] Cf. this Pew Research article which demonstrates that women in the workforce are less religious than women outside of the workforce; “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World: Women are generally more religious than men, particularly among Christians.” Pew Research Center, Washington D.C. (March 22, 2016) https://www.pewforum.org/2016/03/22/theories-explaining-gender-differences-in-religion/#fn-25370-53

[2] Cf. Christopher West, Good News about Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching (Cincinnati, OH: Servant Books, 2004), 121-124.

[3] Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (Boston, MA: Pauline Books and Media, 1995), 19.

[4] Cf. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor (Boston, MA: Pauline Books and Media, 1995), 42, 44.

[5] Cf. West, Good News, 71-74.

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