In considering our moral obligations, we understand them to involve the design which God has imbued in the world. Some of our moral obligations are necessary, grounded in the Creator-creature relationship (e.g. the obligation to obey Him) and the very essence of God’s holy and righteous nature (e.g. the prohibition of lying), but others are contingently grounded in God’s design of mankind. That is to say, the ratio essendi for many of our moral obligations, such as our familial, marital, and sexual obligations, is the natural order which God has ordained. This natural order is the foundation for the Christian’s condemnation of sodomy, and it is my contention that a proper consideration of this design, specifically the social design of mankind, will likewise vindicate the strong-kinist tenet that miscegenation is intrinsically wrong. To make this point, it would be profitable to understand the means by which we can apprehend such a moral fact as this.
The Witness of Conscience
Though it is crucial never to disregard the perfect authority of Scripture in directing our moral beliefs, it is important also to recognize how God has embedded in nature a way for us to directly cognize the moral characteristics of certain actions. When we encounter some conspicuously righteous action, whether really or theoretically, we form a properly basic belief—that is, a belief which we justifiably hold even though no other beliefs serve as evidence for it—concerning the righteousness of that act. We form the belief as naturally and properly as we form other basic beliefs, such as beliefs about the existence of objects which we perceive with our senses. This properly basic belief is generally accompanied with other intuitions or affections as well; for example, if we consider the act of giving money to help the poor among us, our (properly basic) belief in the righteousness of that act is accompanied by a sense of propriety, goodness, or harmony. Contrariwise, if we consider an act of cruel violence, whether we actually witness it or simply contemplate a scenario with it, we form the basic belief in its immorality, which belief is attended by feelings of aversion, repugnance, or anger. This also holds for sexual sins: in considering the act of sodomy, any properly functioning mind will form a basic belief about its immorality, along with intuitions of its perverse, disgusting nature. This is especially so when one comprehends its perverse nature as juxtaposed with the order of things as God has designed us—when one contrasts a sodomite union with a traditional and biblical family.
It is vital to insist that these properly basic beliefs and accompanying intuitions or affections occur only in image-bearers inasmuch as we are properly functioning. Sin and its effects inevitably distort the dependency of conscience’s testimonies, but—by God’s common grace—conscience is certainly not eliminated entirely.1 There are some acts which fail to strike the conscience of nearly all unregenerates (and even many regenerates), such as the sin of false worship; but there are some acts which still bite at the conscience of perverse unbelievers, such as the sin of murder.2 And before the propaganda of the sodomite rights movement, people did not need to be Christian to apprehend the sinfulness of two men pretending to be married. Though the Bible confirmed their intuition with the explicit imperative of God, they could see its immorality as a sin “against nature”: against the created order of God.
Miscegenation Also Against Nature
It is the same with miscegenation. Prior to our modern multicultural brainwashing, the idea of race-mixing was met by properly-functioning consciences with antipathy and revulsion. Our Christian forefathers did not even treat it as a conclusion for which to be argued; it was always a bedrock moral presupposition. For example, R.L. Dabney, in speaking of the logical end of the granting of political equality to blacks, asserted: “He must be ‘innocent’ indeed who does not see whither all this tends, as it is designed by our oppressors to terminate. It is (shall I pronounce the abhorred word?) to amalgamation!”3 The reason he would even attempt to make this point to his audience is because of such a general moral agreement. The point would otherwise be entirely unpersuasive, or even counterproductive. And this was no isolated instance, either, although I will not be surveying the history of racial opinions in Christendom.
Just as proper moral intuitions concerning the perverse nature of other sexual sins are more substantively generated in contrast to the proper order of things (e.g., a sodomite union as opposed to a traditional family), the same is the case with the intuitive unnaturalness of miscegenation. This is where its violation of our social design comes to the fray. Imagine the world operating according to God’s original ordination and providence. The nations are separated “according to their families,” and all the tribes of the earth are at peace with one another. All men have appropriate natural affections for their own families, communities, nations, races, and humanity as a whole, but none show undue prejudice either in favor of their own or against the other. The nations have fraternal and commercial relations with one another, but nevertheless retain sufficient political independence to maintain their own identity and preserve their heritage: all is as it ought to be. Would not an interracial jump in marriage be a complete breach of this order and harmony? Would it not disrupt the social fabric of mankind, and treat the people-groups in which God has made us as meaningless—as not real distinctions at all? The (properly-functioning) conscience should ponder this scenario and wonder why miscegenation seems so clearly to violate our understanding of man’s social design as God has designed it.
Naturally, any anti-kinist will see an argument predicated on moral intuition as a ticket to claim innocent disagreement. “The reason that seems intuitive to you is just because you’re thoroughly racist,” he might say—not so calmly. But there are two reasons to resist such a reply of his, concerning both the form of this argument from conscience and the content of it.
The anti-kinist might take the form of the above argument and scoff at its logical efficacy. “Is he seriously trying to build a case off of intuitions—mere feelings?” But this skepticism would express derision at our own moral constitution, a vital component of the imago Dei in man.4 Unless our consciences have been cremated by multicultural propaganda, we naturally recognize the grave immorality of other sexual sins by this exact means. We understand incest, necrophilia, sodomy, pedophilia (need I go on?) to be wrong intuitively. Scripture explicitly confirms this knowledge, but our consciences, so long as they are functioning properly, do supply us with these moral principles. Thus, unless the alienist wishes to disregard the entirety of our natural knowledge of sexual immorality (and all immorality, for that matter), he is not at liberty to disparage this argument’s structure.
Even so, the alienist might then scoff at the content of the intuitions to which I make my appeal; he might think it “racist” or otherwise bizarre that I would see miscegenation as a breach of societal harmony. He might condemn such intuitions as intrinsically sinful, stating that those intuitions about ethnicity arise from my baser instincts and need to be redeemed.5 But here, in actuality, Scripture condemns the alienist. The alienist’s objection depends upon the condemnation of all ethnic-kinship intuitions as sinful, for it is simply those intuitions which buttress the related intuition of miscegenation’s unnaturalness. That is, if the intuition about ethnically homogeneous societies as God’s order is a correct one, then the intuition about the impropriety of miscegenation in disrupting such societies is also a correct one—yet God’s own Word countenances these very intuitions. Either we ought to have some special affections for our own, and therefore it is proper to express moral revulsion at acts which transgress these boundaries or relations; or it is incorrect, selfish, and wicked to have any special affections for our own. The latter is madness. Scripture affirms the former.6
The alienist might have some final safety net in response to this argument from conscience. He might agree with the propriety of the intuition of conscience, but he might desire to reinterpret it. Rather than affirm that miscegenation is inherently wrong from this deliverance of conscience, he might argue, all we can safely say is that something is wrong with the scenario—and that specific “something” is that an act of miscegenation occurs when the world is already divided into separate ethnostates. If the nations were all ethnically divided, then miscegenation would necessarily involve the traversing of geographical distance as well as cultural, political, and social boundaries—and it is those breaches which are disruptive of social harmony. But the alienist might say, there is nothing about race as such which contributes to the intuition of impropriety, and so, in our modern multiracial land, we ought not to see miscegenation as a sexual evil.
The first response to be made against this alienist is that he has now abandoned alienism for weak kinism. He has just conceded that miscegenation is unwise: that it is wrong consequentially but not intrinsically.7 Of course, that does not mean he is wrong, but it does mean that this argument from conscience now has only two possible outcomes: strong kinism and weak kinism. Second, and more directly, such a reinterpretation of this anti-miscegenous intuition would undermine the import of all our other moral intuitions against sexual immoralities. It would undercut our detestation of the intrinsic immorality of sodomy, reinterpreting our moral outrage as nothing more than some kind of dissatisfaction with the consequences which sodomy has on a traditional, heterosexual, monogamous society, which arrangement is not normative at all. Similarly, the reinterpretation would undercut our repulsion to the perversion of incest, finding it distasteful only inasmuch as it disrupts our ordinary structure of the family—not hating it as intrinsically sinful. No: this intuitive and conscientious moral revulsion, as a plain and basic matter of fact, has direct implications on the nature of the act itself; by the way God has constituted us, such moral intuitions necessarily mark out an action as inherently wrong. To attempt to make an exception for miscegenation is utterly destructive of all sexual ethics and supremely dishonoring to the King of kings.
The Ratio Essendi of Sexual Ethics Unified
To wrap up a point long in the making, this consideration of mankind’s social design via conscience demonstrates how the ratio essendi of sodomy’s immorality likewise points to miscegenation’s sinfulness. Indeed, the ratio essendi for all of sexual ethics—God’s constitution of mankind in all its variegated facets—is unified in human nature and requires the prohibition of all sexual sins collectively; and it is especially by means of conscience that we ascertain this connection. Certainly, different components of human nature are related to the moral prohibitions of different sexual sins: fornication is forbidden by God’s placing the conjugal act within the covenant of marriage, incest is forbidden by the constitution and purpose of our close familial relations, sodomy is forbidden by the constitution of both the family and the sexes, and miscegenation is forbidden by the distinctly social elements of our design. Nevertheless, if one implicitly denies God’s design of human nature by denying the sinfulness of any of these sins, he has just opened the floodgates to permit all sorts of sexual evils. And this is a crucial point even for the anti-kinist or weak kinist who is as yet unconvinced by this line of argument: it teaches us that if miscegenation is sinful—whether or not it actually is—the grounds of its sinfulness would be a facet of human nature, and it is therefore vital to grasp that the pro-miscegenist’s error, if it is an error, cannot remain isolated but must extend to destroy all sexual ethics by implication. If he severs the connection which persists in fact between human nature and sexual ethics for any of these particular sins, then he has implicitly lost the grounds to condemn any of them. (For evidence of this, consider how anti-gay marriage arguments today are mocked as mere replicas of those “bigoted” arguments against interracial marriage fifty years ago – that it is against nature, deviant from God’s design or order, and so on.)
Thus, if my argumentation is sound, the consistent approver of miscegenation must likewise ignore God’s design of mankind for the rest of sexual morality; the miscegenists must pass the torch to the sodomists. And since we indeed own good grounds to see that conscience bears witness to the unnatural and anti-design character of miscegenation—by appealing to the same general design and conscientious reaction by which we know sodomy to be wrong—we therefore have excellent grounds to witness the danger of such a doctrinal and practical error.
It is ever-important to honor God’s created distinctions and His design of us as His image-bearers. This includes the consideration of our social nature, which inevitably regards ethnicity and race. Miscegenation is a violation of this design, and if we have moral grounds to condemn incest, sodomy, necrophilia, and the rest as contrary to the created order, then the same grounds condemn miscegenation, as our consciences attest. Thus, those of the church militant who are militantly anti-sodomite need to embrace consistency in the realm of sexual ethics and be unafraid to denounce miscegenation as a transgression of God’s design. But beyond the considerations of this article, we will find further grounds for such condemnation in the remainder of the series.
- Some might ask how the faculty of conscience can be made less reliable and yet still supply us with moral knowledge. They might say, “If some sinners’ consciences do not function reliably in accurately reporting the moral nature of certain acts, then how can we trust any moral information communicated by conscience? The only thing we can do is look to Scripture as an infallible authority.” But it is not the case that infallibility is necessary for knowledge (or for justified belief). It would take too much space to fully explain this now, so it shall be sufficient to note that this involves the debate in epistemology between internalism and externalism. Since I hold to the latter, I deny that we must have an infallible conscience to gain knowledge through it. ↩
- I am not saying that such a moral aversion to murder among unbelievers is necessarily held with consistency, either. For there are plenty of unbelievers who express great moral objection to murder, but who nonetheless avidly grant the moral right of murderous mothers to abort their God-given children. ↩
- R.L. Dabney, “Ecclesiastical Equality of Negroes,” in vol. 2 of his Discussions, p. 206. See the PDF version here: <http://dabneyarchive.com/Discussions%20V2/Ecclesiastical%20Equality%20of%20Negroes.pdf>. ↩
- A very important epistemological point to make about conscience at this point is that we do not infer our moral beliefs from the intuitions that are produced in us. It is not as if we go about our daily lives, have a feeling, and then logically deduce a moral conclusion from said feeling. Rather, with our moral intuitions we form basic beliefs; and, as God has designed us, those basic beliefs formed in the appropriate circumstances constitute moral knowledge. In reflecting back upon this cognitive activity, we then can construct inferential arguments by comparing our moral reactions to different sexual sins, as we are now. For instance, we can note our acquisition of moral (basic) knowledge from a moral intuition in response to sodomy, and we can then infer that a similar moral intuition produces moral knowledge concerning miscegenation. But in reality—in the actual process of forming these beliefs, rather than in our philosophical reflections about such belief-formation—the beliefs are formed basically, not as conclusions to be drawn from feelings. ↩
- Naturally, as well, the anti-kinist will claim not to feel any such intuitions. But this is as effective as the sodomite who claims to have no intuition of sodomy’s revolt against nature. Whether the anti-kinist believes this culpably (by suppressing proper intuitions) or not (by being so brainwashed as to have an extinguished conscience), it matters nothing for the propriety of the moral intuitions in their proper place. And their propriety is bolstered by Scripture anyway, as we will see. ↩
- Note, I am not here arguing that the Bible’s approval of ethnic-kinship affections ipso facto entails that miscegenation is intrinsically wrong (nor am I denying it). Rather, my point is that our consciences behave the same way with respect to miscegenation as for other sexual sins, especially when we consider our consciences’ reaction to the sexual sin as contrasted with the proper order of things. Then, given this argument from conscience, the scriptural reference serves the purpose of confuting the anti-kinist objection that an anti-miscegenous conscience is sinfully malfunctioning. Thus, Scripture does condemn miscegenation in this case, by approving (and requiring) ethnic-kinship affections—but only due to the structure of this argument from conscience in which it is situated. ↩
- One might argue that he has not yet embraced weak kinism, since this hypothetical alienist concedes merely that miscegenation would be unwise were the world ethnically divided, but not necessarily now in the increasingly multiracial West. Granted. But he would then have to believe both that the multiracialization of the West is a generally good (or neutral) thing and that race is, even today, entirely unrelated as a genetic reality to geography, culture, politics, and society in order to maintain his alien brand of alienism. ↩