Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is Instinct the Measure of Morality?

AOL TV summarizes an interview with singer/actress Kristin Chernoweth, where she claims that "her staunch Christian beliefs are not at odds with her support for the gay community."
In an interview with 'The Advocate' Chenoweth says that people are born gay or straight, just like they're either tall or short, and that it's not a choice. In response to a question about people who cite Christianity as justification for passing discriminatory laws, she said "I would ask, 'What would Jesus do?'"

She added that, "It sounds so cliché and Pollyanna-ish, but I have a feeling if he were on the earth today, he wouldn't be walking around saying, 'You're going to hell' and 'You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong.' I think he'd be accepting and loving."

Chenoweth continued, using her own tiny stature to illustrate her point. "What would I do if it was a sin to be short? That's the way God made me, so what could I do? Let's see, I could wear heels, I could tease my hair, and maybe on a good day I could be 5'1". But the bottom line is, I'm 4'11" and that's the way I was put together. And that's what I believe about homosexuals."
The example of "if it was a sin to be short" is of course, ridiculous. The fact is that there are lots of things that people believe are wrong even though people have a natural inclination to do them. From lusting in your heart after someone to the fact that by nature we enjoy stealing and talking about our neighbor behind their back, we are by nature sinners. Our natural condition or desire is no gauge for morality. I hate to drop a bomb like Lewis on Chernoweth's head, because she's such a sweet lady, but this notion that our natural desires are good and are the measure of goodness needs to be laid to rest once and for all. Take it, Lewis:
Telling us to obey Instinct is like telling us to obey 'people'. People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. If it is held that the instinct for preserving the species should always be obeyed at the expense of other instincts, whence do we derive this rule of precedence? To listen to that instinct speaking in its own cause and deciding it in its own favour would be rather simple-minded. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of all the rest. By the very act of listening to one rather than to others we have already prejudged the case. If we did not bring to the examination of our instincts a knowledge of their comparative dignity we could never learn it from them. And that knowledge cannot itself be instinctive: the judge cannot be one of the parties judged; or, if he is, the decision is worthless and there is no ground for placing the preservation of the species above self-preservation or sexual appetite.
As far as I'm concerned, Christians ought to stop fighting the battle over whether or not some people are born with homosexual desires. Let us grant it. Supporters of the morality of homosexual behavior are still left in the position of defending a morality which is rooted in the human condition rather than in an external natural law. As Lewis says in the above quote from The Abolition of Man, this position is circular in nature.

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