In the recent rumblings about marriage and attendant Facebook-picture campaigns for equality, it is intriguing to observe the lines of reasoning and rhetoric taken up. In the end, advocacy for the widening of the term ‘marriage’ seems to turn on the fact that certain individuals want to be able to do something or have access to something and therefore should have access to it. Perhaps the most forceful variation on this, though, is the insistence that some individuals simply do not, indeed cannot, prefer or choose or do otherwise than they do and ought then to be granted every opportunity of enjoying a happy (whatever that may mean) life in accord with their innate tendencies.
I’d like to make a comment on some of the pertinent doctrinal dynamics here, but in relation to the condition and conduct of the human person more than an official national position on the content of marriage. Interaction on the inner workings of doctrine and ethics at this nexus is welcome, though without the vitriol injected into so many blog threads that touch on this subject.
For those interested in maintaining a classical Christian sexual ethic, the contemporary discussions and debates are a forceful reminder that the perceived plausibility of such an ethic stands or falls with a willingness to make peace with the doctrines of Adamic headship and original sin. ‘Born-this-way’ Lady Gaga-ism wins the day unless one is able to assimilate the teaching that someone else (i.e., Adam) represented us and made a decision (i.e., rebelled against God in the Garden) whereby the rest of us incur guilt before our Maker, inherit a corrupted nature with all manner of spiritual, psychological, physiological, and moral maladies, and are still left responsible before God to resist certain innate tendencies (sexual or otherwise), repenting of sin, calling upon the name of the Lord to be saved, and seeking by the grace and power of the Spirit to grow in holiness.
The momentum of the born-this-way ethic is also inversely proportional to a laying hold of the Christian hope of new creation. If this life is in fact all there is to human existence, then it becomes more difficult to persuade anyone that in some cases it is unwise to do as one tends to want to do. On the other hand, if this life eventually culminates in giving an account before the holy judge of all the earth and then (for believers, anyway) gives way to the blessed hope of life in the new creation, then one has considerable theological and moral traction in contending that the disciplining of desire according to the will of God is the way forward in this fallen world.
To the extent that in the so-called ‘millennial’ generation modern individualism and idealization of autonomy have only been amplified, are there thoughts on ways in which the teaching of original sin and the ancestral solidarity it presupposes might be driven home once more? How might all of us, whatever our default sins may be, walk the fine line of 1) showing kindness to those with innate tendencies that lead to sinful acts and that were at the same time unsolicited tendencies and 2) maintaining that each person remains responsible before God for their sin?