Apologeet.nlNatural Order of Things
Nortega came up a good topic. He said:
If you can, would you mind explaining why we should use our (bodily or spiritual) capacities for the ends to which they are ordered? […]
To my knowledge, the notion of ‘ordered’ in the sense in which I am using it derives from Thomistic and (originally) Aristotelian philosophy. So when something is ordered, we could say it is ‘meant for’ something, or that this is its ‘reason for existence’ (raison d’être) […]
So I guess my question would be, though it may be easier to argue for something ‘natural purpose’, what I find more daunting is arguing why we should care about something’s ‘natural purpose’.
What is Natural Order
Okay, before we dive into the actual question why one should care about the natural order of some things, we really have to dig a little in the background of this concept.
In modern day theology, the natural order would be defined as a created order in which man would be directed to an end or destiny that is strictly proportionate to his capacities, powers, and desires. It is used to distinguish what is meant by supernatural and supernatural order. Natural order is part of what we call natural law which is built upon two assumptions. First, there is an order to nature—that nature conforms to a law and isn’t chaotic. Second, humans are rational creatures that can discover this order, which is binding on everyone because the Lord God gave men and women reasonable souls.
The idea of natural order is commonly used in apologetics as a means to make God known through reason instead through supernatural revelation. A natural theologian looks at nature—forests, mountains, the faces of people—and concludes things about God’s character and personality from what he sees. The supernatural theologian looks at the Scriptures and concludes the truth about who God is from what he understands from the text.
To make it a little easier on myself, I will use the terms, natural law and natural order, like they are interchangeable. But strictly speaking, they are a little different from each-other.
A good example for natural order could be the traditional order of male and female. While females are best suited to bear children, men are overall better equipped to make them pregnant in the first place. Now, my kids will probably cringe when they hear that I used this awkward example. But still, the example makes a thing or two really clear. You see, we should look at what the Bible basically would have us ask two questions:
- What is a thing made for?
- What is it thus against?
And in my cringy example we can clearly answer these two questions… Without going into further detail.
Y, X and Z
This was a simplistic example, I know. It becomes more complicated when we talk about other seemingly ordered things. The fact that X is made for Y, does not automatically imply that X is not made for Z. Take your eyes for example, they are clearly made for sight… But does that imply that they can’t be used for communication? Likewise, the mouth which is clearly made for eating, but that doesn’t mean it’s not made for speaking. And to make things worst, even when it’s true that X is not made for Z specifically, neither does that imply that X is made for not Z.
And here we have arrived at the problematic situation we have with modern-day theology. Although the idea of natural order is very old, it is today that people actually start to stretch the Biblical principles.
The reason fundamentalists cite this doctrine against GLBT people is because they view any variance in sexuality or gender identity as a violation of the natural ordering of husbands and wives in relation to each other. Sadly this ordering is a perpetuation of that hetero-patriarchy where a man’s place is in charge and a woman’s place is in the home […]
The saying, “It was ‘Adam and Eve,’ not ‘Adam and Steve,’” is irrelevant, aside from the fact that most fundamentalists do not realize what ordo creatus naturalis entails as a doctrine. There is no “Natural Order of Creation” that the Christian is expected to fit into.i
The writer of this article assumes that the doctrine around the natural order was partly based on Scripture, partly based on the patriarchal Roman social order. Because of this assumption she reasons towards a straw man argument, saying:
Thus, within the Kingdom of God ordo salutis has superseded the ordo creatus naturalis. This is the context in which Paul declares, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) All distinctions of ruler-subject, husband-wife, parent-child, and master-servant are done away with in mutual servanthood.
Although, undoubtedly there are Christians who believe that men need to rule, or suppress, women, I am convinced that most of us will not look at the idea of natural order in that way. So, the fact that the New Testament tells us that we should serve one another and that we are one in Christ, doesn’t mean that we have to do away with natural order.
Why Should We Care?
So why should we care about the natural order? Believe it or not but many are already deeply concerned with the natural order of things, yes, even without them knowing it.
Let me give you some examples. The natural law has been the bedrock of western moral and political thought for centuries. However, natural law is distinct from civil laws that are enacted and enforced by legislators. I mean, legislators can come up with laws that seem to contradict what we experience in the natural law. When legislators start to develop dictatorial attitudes, many will automatically fall back in the default idea of natural order.
This natural order basically dictates that we are all created equal because God…
[…] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth […]
Being equal doesn’t mean we are the same, but is does rule out tyrannical leadership. It would be very weird when hard-working people start to celebrate the rise of a dictatorship. Most wouldn’t mind having some rulers who make laws and who are regulating the things that happen in a country. That seems perfectly in order with our concept of natural order. But any deviation on this concept will result in resistance.
Maybe you can come up with another pillar of modern-day society? It isn’t really difficult, but it might be that you have to think hard since this pillar has been ridiculed by many liberals.
Right! I am talking about marriage. And not just a marriage in the way many governments like to classify it, no I mean marriage in the Biblical sense—that is between one man and one woman.
We shouldn’t think man and woman are unequal or that one is lesser than the other. Absolutely not! Marriage between a man and a woman upholds the dignity of the two because society can only arise from the sexual difference of each. Thus, sexuality aims toward reproduction. God blessed Adam and Eve:
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
This doesn’t mean of course that all marriages result in children but that does not take away the main purpose. It is like eating an apple. You’ll find the seeds, and you just know what the main purpose of these seeds are. Knowing the purpose does not mean that it always actualises. Even though the main purpose is to grow a new apple tree you just might decide to bite the seeds and eat them, and that’s okay.
However, generation is inherently impossible between two man or between two women. In other words, disordered sexuality doesn’t even have the potential for generation and misses the main purpose, that is the natural order.
But there is another main purpose for sexuality. I am talking about unity, and faithfulness or commitment. Just look it up in the Bible, and you’ll find many verses about upholding this unity of a man and a woman. Why? Well simply because it is this unity that makes a society strong.
But you might say that a friendship between two men can be good as well, right? Absolutely! But, this kind of friendship has a different natural order. Men can encourage each-other, they can sharpen each-other, they should help each-other to become strong men who are able to lead their families in a God honouring way.
Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Still, this friendship between two men cannot be a sexual friendship. Their sexuality misses the natural order, the main purpose, because it does not have the potential to fulfil the sexual good of generation. I know many disagree with me on this, but I hope that those who disagree will at least concur with me that it will be very hard for a man to make another man pregnant. Most advocates for gay-marriage know and acknowledge this. That’s why they never attack this natural order of sexuality between male and female, instead they attack the concept of marriage. That is much easier to do, since it is the government who now gets to decide what marriage is.
Get Enough Rest
Remember that I said that most are already concerned with the natural order? Not convinced? Why do you think people really want to have at least one day off per week? What did God say about work? He told us to work six day and rest on the seventh day. And yes, that is a natural order thingy as well.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
It was Joseph Stalin who tried to do away with the six-day work week in the 1930s. Eighty percent of the workforce were told to go to work and 20 percent to stay home. The normal seven-day week was changed in the nepreryvka, or ‘continuous working week.’ It was five days long, with days of rest divided across the week. While a woman would have a day off, her husband might have had to go to work. Gatherings were very hard to organise because friends and family may had to work on different days. As a bonus the regular church services could not continue any more. There was no Sunday on which everybody would have time off. Both the naming, Sunday and Saturday, were a thorn in the eyes for the communists any way. The Russian for Saturday is Subbota, from ‘Sabbath,’ while the word for Sunday is simply ‘Resurrection.’iii
Anyway, the experiment utterly failed! Why was that you think? It failed on all aspects. Economically it was rubbish. The so-called shared responsibilities often meant no one taking ownership of their work tasks. Talking about natural order… We are called to take responsibility in our work, so what happens if everybody gets the same responsibility. Right, nobody will step up to take charge because everybody gets the same anyway.
It failed family wise because a man’s wife had to be in factory and his children in school while he had his day off. The homes became neglected because there was no time to do some work together. And when the family ceases to function it will soon be felt in society as a whole.
So Why Should we Care?
The initial question was about why we should use our (bodily or spiritual) capacities for the ends to which they are ordered? I think I have taken this concept a little further by also mentioning society. Even though many liberals would want you to believe that we do not have such a thing as natural order, we have seen that all aspects of life have a natural ordering.
God has created our universe and everything in it, in an ordered fashion. He gave us the natural law in which and by which we live our lives. Even those who says they don’t believe in God are bound by these laws. Every time people, or a society as a whole, abandon these laws we end up with something destructive.
Because God is a God of order, we should be, as well. We were created to thin, reason, judge, and consider all aspects of a matter in orderly ways. That’s why God said to us to
[…] come, let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18)
God enjoys it when we talk with Him. We can come with our questions, our studying of His Word, and our willingness, and He will bring order in our disordered thinking. It is beautiful to see that Christians who are really devoted to Him, will become more like Him. Their lives become more orderly, because He is a God of order.
There is so much more to say about this topic. I think I didn’t even scratch the surface yet. What do you think, are there any orderly things in life that should be followed and even obeyed? Are there aspects in this natural order of things that we can neglect without serious consequences? Let me know in the comment section of this video below! Remember! I am mostly active on my Odysee channel. You’ll find a link to that channel in the description of this video.
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i Kellogg, E, A. The Natural Order of Creation, whosoever, [internet] https://whosoever.org/the-natural-order-of-creation/, 01-11-2004 (accessed 28-03-2022).
ii Marvel, J,. Natural Law and Human Sexuality, Gospel Reformation Network, [internet] https://gospelreformation.net/natural-law-and-human-sexuality/, 06-09-2021 (accessed 19-03-2022).
iii Frost, N,. For 11 Years, the Soviet Union Had No Weekends, History.com, [internet] https://www.history.com/news/soviet-union-stalin-weekend-labor-policy, 30-08-2018 (accessed 30-03-2022).