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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

C.S. Lewis on "Being Born That Way"

Much is made to day of the way people define themselves, their gender, or their sexual orientation because of their feelings. They feel they are a person trapped in the wrong body or they feel an attraction to the same sex. I don't doubt that these feelings are real; it is only the person himself that can confirm or deny such predispositions. However, just because one has a predisposition doesn't mean that the predisposition is correct or that it should be pursued.

In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis makes the same point. In speaking of the desires and mental pulls we face (Lewis uses the word "Instinct" with a capital I), he makes a great point that no person follows every desire that strikes him. That would lead to barbarism. We weigh our desires, using reason, logic, and our moral compass to guide us.

This is why while the kleptomaniac may have an overwhelming urge to steal, we don't respond by saying, “Oh, you were born that way!” and throw open the department store doors to let them have their fill. We know that stealing is wrong and we as a society tell the kleptomaniac that while his feelings are real and he may even have been born that way, he needs to seek help for his improper desire. Lewis writes:
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.1
Lewis is right. College men are coming under immense scrutiny right now if they act upon their sexual appetites. The whole “Yes means yes” law implies that a person can overcome strong natural urges to engage in sexual activity. Yet we are told by some of the same advocates that abstinence programs will never work and those with a predisposition to homosexuality should express themselves because of what they feel. How is that consistent?


1. Lewis, C. S. "The Abolition of Man." The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002. 710. Print.
Image courtesy Noel Hildalgo and licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.

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