As I continue to read Love Thy Body (Pre-order yours today here), I am impressed with both the grace and wisdom with which Nancy Pearcey approaches the subjects of sexuality and gender. In this post I would like to introduce the relationship between telos, the Greek word for purpose, and sexuality and gender. Nancy helps us to understand the importance of God’s intended design and purpose for humanity:
1. If nature is teleological, and the human body is part of nature, then it is likewise teleological. It has a built-in purpose, part of which is expressed as the moral law.
2. We are morally obligated to treat people in a way that helps them fulfill their purpose. This explains why biblical morality is not arbitrary. Morality is the guidebook to fulfilling God’s original purpose for humanity, the instruction manual for becoming the kind of person God intends us to be, the road map for reaching the human telos.
3. It tells us how to fulfill our true nature, how to become fully human. In this purpose-driven view, there is no dichotomy between body and person. The two together form an integrated psycho-physical unity. We respect and honor our bodies as part of the revelation of God’s purpose for our lives. It is part of the created order that is “declaring the glory of God.”
I find it helpful to understand that there are three aspects to the teleological view of human purpose which are:
1. Sexuality 2. Gender 3. Procreation
Sexuality: Human sexuality is intrinsically linked to gender.
Gender: One’s gender is the defining aspect of personhood. Being either a woman or a man is a major component of identity.
Procreation: Human procreation is the advancement of human life from one generation to the next.
Prior to surrendering my life to Christ, my discussions with Christians as a lesbian focused on these three aspects of telos. The Christian’s logic went something like this: “You can’t possibly justify your sexual preferences for women because your body parts do not fit together and you cannot have children.” The argument was generally presented in a pretentious and condemning manner. My general response was, “What do genitals have to do with love? Secondly, there are plenty of unwanted children that you straight people have created who need loving homes.”
As I enter my ninth year as a fully devoted follower of Christ this argument still makes me uncomfortable. I think it is, in part, because it indicates that I completely “missed the mark” of God’s intended design. Then again, isn’t that what the basic definition of sin is, to miss the mark of God’s best for our lives?
As a woman in my 50’s who never had children, it is easy to feel like I have missed the mark of God’s intended design for my humanity. Which brings me to this question: is the sum total of our human experience to date, mate, and procreate? Yes and no is my answer.
I do believe God’s best for human sexuality is expressed in a marriage relationship between one man and one woman. My pastor says that “marriage is Eden restored.” Secondly, I have concluded that gender is the defining aspect of identity. Gender influences our perspective, our emotional needs, and our life experiences. In addition, procreation is far more than the advancement of human life; children are a gift.
That said, I believe we are made for more than our sexuality. We are made to be known by God and to know God. A relationship with God is the ultimate expression of human telos. Ultimately our highest purpose is to honor and glorify God with every aspect of our humanity—body, mind and spirit.
Thanks for following my journey,