There is a purpose in nature
From the standpoint of General Revelation, or the idea that God’s truth is found in nature itself, we need to start with the fundamental principal that God created everything in nature with a purpose.
We see the tragic results in our family and in our society when we deny that there is purpose in nature: Instead of places of learning, schools become centers for merely warehousing children away from their families and indoctrinating them against God.
Instead of places of worship where God is praised and adored in spirit and in truth, too many churches become places where pastors generate income for themselves, rather than focus on the work of God.
Instead of the joyful discovery of what God has instilled in His creation, science has often become the base manipulation of things to produce wealth, aggrandize the ego of the scientist, and further political agendas of ideologues, both on the right and the left.
Instead of a healing art whereby a physician assists nature to work for the benefit of the sick, medicine has become a playground of the ego wherein the physician manipulates the structure of the body to do whatever the patient wants: sterilization, abortion, body-enhancement and gender reassignment surgeries, lopping off fat to lose weight, inserting (and removing) sexual organs at will; the list could go on and on.
Truly, man has removed himself so far from nature that for many years of the 20th Century, doctors were teaching women that it was far healthier for their babies if they used “formula” instead of the natural and nutritious milk that their own bodies provided. Of course, this myth was later disproven by the same scientific community who once said the latter; but isn’t it troubling that we couldn’t plainly see this truth from what God showed us in our own bodies?
After many years of this mistake, psychology has proposed that a number of neuroses and emotional wounds of men and women in the industrialized world has increased because “the science of nutrition” denied them the basic and fundamental bond that a child should have with his mother from the first moments of life outside of the womb.
While others make proper and compelling arguments that there is, indeed, a purpose in nature, my purpose above is to merely identify the results of several centuries of our world where nature has been inverted.
We, as Christians, need to stand up and admit that we have been complicit in this denial of the purpose in nature. God appointed us stewards of His glorious creation when He assigned Adam the work of tending His garden. But what have we done with that sacred vocation?
If there is purpose in nature, then we need to narrow down our inquiry for a moment and ask a very important question: Is there a purpose to sexual intimacy? If we cannot answer this question or if we answer the question wrongly, our inquiry will be in vain.
The reality is that many Christians, even those who profess to be counselors and pastors, abuse our stewardship of God’s creation and our role as teachers by denying that there is purpose in sexual intimacy.
Sin darkens the intellect
Why this denial in the purpose of nature for sexual intimacy? What happened then? Why didn’t men just discern God through nature, as it clearly reveals so much truth? Paul provides us with the answer: “So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 1:20-21).”
As Paul explains, sin darkens the intellect. When we sin, we can’t use our reason clearly. It’s hard enough to see God’s truth even with the Bible; imagine how hard it was for men before Jesus to see God from nature by themselves!
Paul is fairly clear, however, that these men who failed to see the invisible God in nature suppressed the truth by their wickedness. The Apostle gives no excuses for them. But note that he doesn’t say: “Because these men were weak, let’s give them a break.” Rather, he says: “They are without excuse (v. 20).”
Paul is not speaking about men who refused the Gospel. He’s speaking about men who did not benefit from General Revelation and, nevertheless, are accounted guilty for failing to recognize that God exists from the signs that He put into the world.
So if our sins have darkened our intellects, how do we recover the innocence to think clearly? Paul tells us: “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25).” This verse states clearly that knowledge of the truth comes about after repentance. Because God is the one granting the repentance, our turning towards Him in repentance originates from His grace for us, which then results in the healing of our hearts and the renewal of our minds.
We see this in scripture when Jesus identified Himself in His coming: “I have come to heal the broken hearted and to set the captives free (Luke 4:18).” How was the Kingdom of Heaven proclaimed? Repent and believe in the gospel. Repentance is the initial stage of healing, and faith in Jesus allows healing to happen in our lives.
Faith and reason are both gifts from God
When we assent to divinely revealed truths, we make an act of faith. Paul tells us in Hebrews: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).” We act by faith whenever we believe another person.
Sometimes it’s human faith, as when you have faith that the person who promised to pick you up at the airport will arrive on time. The essence of faith is in the will. If your friend is trustworthy, you’ll choose to believe that he will arrive on time to get you. When you trust your friend, your will moves your intellect to say: “He will arrive on time.”
Faith in God, however, is inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit. This is why “saving” faith is different from a merely “said” faith. The divine truths that we find in the Bible cannot be believed without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is a gift from the Father, and many of the truths of the Bible cannot be known by reason. For example, the fact that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus; the fact that Jesus turned water into wine; the fact that Jesus rose on the third day; and so on. We cannot know these things by the use of natural reason.
The use of reason happens in the natural order, as when we say that two plus three equals five. We don’t need divine faith to admit that. Moreover, we don’t need divine faith to convince us of a number of things that we do on a regular basis: We know it’s good to take a shower, to brush our teeth, to ask for directions, to climb up stairs (not fall down them), etc.
While we admit that all of the teachings contained in the Bible are true, we do not want to limit God’s power to communicate with men through nature. Paul says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).” Both faith and reason are truly knowledge but of different orders: one of natural reason, the other by a supernatural gift within our wills by faith.
Since the Bible is given to us for training in righteousness, we do well to judge what we discover by the use of reason against those things that we know by faith. Was man created by God or did he evolve from a primordial soup? If what men call science stands against what we know by faith, how do we discern the truth?
This is an excerpt from chapter 1 of The Meaning of Sex: A New Christian Ethos (January, 2018). For more information on how to obtain a copy, please contact our office at IHFINFO@InstituteforHealthyFamilies.org. Christopher Doyle, MA, LPC, LCPC is a licensed clinical professional counselor and the Executive Director of the Institute for Healthy Families.
Posted on Fri, December 15, 2017
by Robert Tucker