In the previous article we learned of the great commonality which persists between racial and gender egalitarianism, how they both deny the possibility that God could sovereignly append moral obligations to any of His contingent created distinctions. It is evident how such a view relates to the question of miscegenation’s moral propriety, since that question concerns whether we have any moral obligations concerning race as such, the most evident of which would be the obligation not to destroy racial distinctions through amalgamation. But more evil abides within equality-worshiping thought than this delusional moral presupposition, as is particularly evident when one witnesses egalitarian attempts to downplay not only the moral norms attendant to race and gender but even the categories’ very existence. And although the vocabulary on the sides of this debate had no need to exist prior to the onset of egalitarian thought, there now is a terminological distinction between the truth and error. This article will thus further explain this distinction, being an extended articulation of the unnatural and anti-natural character of egalitarianism – constructivism, emphasizing that race and gender are meaningless, man-made social constructs – in contrast to its Christian-theistic enemy – essentialism, emphasizing that race and gender are God-created and integral to the essence of human nature. Christian racial essentialism, also known as strong kinism, will show itself to be the most formidable opponent against such God-hating constructivism.
The Two Horns of Constructivism
The two horns of constructivism can best be described in terms of what they attack. The first horn, as outlined in the previous article in the series, is the tenet that there are no moral norms connected to race or gender as such. To bolster this argument for gender egalitarianism, feminists will appeal to cultural and historical differences in gender roles and to scientific studies which putatively disprove any genetic foundation for gender besides genitalia. Yet those types of bolstering evidences are not strictly necessary for the feminists to make their case; even if there are tasks which women are statistically better at fulfilling, and even if gender roles were entirely identical throughout history and across cultures, it would not strictly logically follow that all women are obligated to act in accord with those gender roles. To the feminists, there simply is no apparent reason why they must act in accord with gender roles and not how they please. This is the crux of feminist and sodomist ideology, and it (again) relates directly to the content of the previous article: it neglects the possibility that God could design gender distinctions such that moral norms are assigned to them as such (e.g. 1 Tim. 2:12; Eph. 5:22; Lev. 18:22). The gender-constructivist mindset sets its sights only on personal autonomy, showing gross disregard for any consideration of the Almighty. Forget the Good: there is no higher good than personal freedom.
The second horn of constructivism is implicit in a type of evidence proffered to support the first horn. It is the criticism that gender does not even exist, other than as a product of human volition. The traditional view of gender understood the social and cultural expressions of gender behavior and gender roles to be partially rooted in a genetic and biological reality, but modern egalitarians dispute this claim, absolutizing “nurture” and eradicating “nature.” They turn gender into a social construct. These two constructivist horns are very deeply connected, for a denial of the very existence of gender, beyond the trivialities of genitalia, would also obliterate any moral norms somehow inherent to the category itself. And even further, since God has designed His image-bearers to naturally recognize the truth and importance of gender roles upon apprehending the gender distinction itself (that is, since we automatically realize masculinity and femininity to be ideals for men and women), the feminist denial of gender’s existence helps to soothe the feminist conscience as it might tug her towards femininity.
Constructivism’s two horns apply equally dangerously to race, denying that we can have any obligations attendant to race as such (forbidding both a love for one’s own nation and any restriction on immigration or miscegenation), and even denying the very existence of race. And as with gender, racial egalitarians utilize the tenet of race-as-social-construct to bolster their claim that race as such can carry with it no moral obligations. (This is why articles about the genetic reality of race, without mentioning any moral conclusions, receive so much unbelieving resistance.) The multiculturalist touts the same platitudes of personal autonomy and freedom as the feminist, arguing that even if race did have an unbending genetic basis, it would not undermine the permissibility of individuals’ decisions to associate with whomever they want. But, as above, this shamelessly neglects the possibility (and the actuality) that the Lord has designed race to carry moral obligations with itself as such.
All this is to say that both gender and racial egalitarians are united in their constructivism. They both view a certain category of nature as a product of human social interaction rather than God-ordained genetics, and they both deny that the category can have moral obligations attendant to it. We should therefore seek a congruous Christian response and inspect its applicability to the issue of interracial marriage.
Failed Responses to Constructivism
Since Christians understand that the Bible binds us unto moral obligations concerning gender and race as such—even though most modern Christians deny the latter—they understand the importance of responding to this constructivist enemy. But there are two errors to be made when formulating a proper response. (And I will focus only on gender constructivism for clarity and brevity’s sake.) The first error appeals merely to general statistics concerning gender, such as the observation that women tend to be more nurturing and receptive while men tend to be more aggressive and imposing. Based on this observation, certain anti-feminists will say that it is therefore natural for women to be homemakers (Titus 2:5) and for men to retain positions of authority (1 Tim. 2:12). But the conclusion simply does not follow: absolute imperatives cannot be derived from general statistics.1 Such statistical generalities might help to explain why it is that men tend to be authorities and women tend to nurture their families, but the general existence of those characteristics does not in itself obligate anyone to act in accord with particular gender roles. On the contrary, such a failed criticism of constructivism would undermine the biblical imperatives on the subject and validate the egalitarian criticism that the Bible “stereotypes” genders by assuming all males or all females to have the exact same characteristics.2
Frustrated by the insufficiency of generalities to ground the absolute biblical imperatives, some Christians might simply add that gender roles are binding upon us because God says so. They might point to the relevant Bible passages and end their explanations there. This is correct in a sense, for God’s Word is an infallible ratio cognoscendi upon which we can apprehend what our gender-obligations truly are. It is a perfect way for us to know whatever obligations we have concerning gender. But it would be very dangerous to end the explanation there, as if the biblical commandments were also the ratio essendi for our gender-obligations—for that would turn all gender-obligations into positive law.3 Rather, we ought to affirm that gender roles are part of God’s moral law, because they are part of how we are truly designed to operate and to flourish; our gender-obligations are not some extraneous additions, but are somehow connected with the way in which God designed His image-bearers to interact.
The consequences of holding Scripture’s imperatives as the ratio essendi for our gender-obligations are quite pernicious when we see how the view caters to egalitarian thought. Consider how, if an anti-feminist passage comes up in their expository preaching schedule, many pastors will ensure their audience that women are equal to men in everything except the one role listed in the verse. (I have even heard pastors deny that women are weaker than men, contradicting 1 Peter 3:7.) Not free from the entanglement of Equality, these pastors will basically assume egalitarianism to be default and then modify their beliefs on gender according to the specific and isolated points where the Bible says otherwise. Assuming total gender equality as a starting point, these pastors slightly alter their beliefs with morsels of inequality, only as far as the Bible explicitly dictates. This is the functional egalitarianism which expresses no objection to women ruling entire nations or fighting in the military, because the Bible does not outright forbid either one. And it is the mindset which stems from seeing our gender roles in Scripture as instances of mere positive law. If all statements of gender inequality must come from special revelations of God, then we ought to believe in full-blown equality in the absence of such revelations.
The Christian and Essentialist Response
The proper response to this egalitarian-wannabe exegesis is to affirm a comprehensive essentialist outlook. This involves the tenets not only that gender and race are genetically grounded, as evidenced by a number of statistical generalities, but also that these real, genetic categories have attendant moral obligations as such—that God has designed such genetic categories to be used or expressed in particular ways. It is part of God’s design of femininity, for instance, that women be characterized by modesty and shamefacedness (1 Tim. 2:9), submissive and respectful to their husbands and not usurpative of authority. Because femaleness is a real category, femininity is a true ideal—with all its moral obligations. And we are designed by our Lord to cognize the ideal of femininity when we contemplate the genetic fact of femaleness in all its statistical expressions. For example, the statistical tendency of women to be more nurturing and emotional points our minds to an obligation of femininity, that women should care for their own families and households, being good homemakers. The statistical tendency does not strictly entail such a conclusion, but our minds are geared, if properly functioning, to form the belief in such a gender norm upon apprehending such a gender fact.4 This is applicable to masculinity and to racial facts and norms5 as well, and it is the framework for Christian essentialism.
One benefit of this doctrine of essentialism is that it does not see scriptural pronouncements concerning gender as positive law, and therefore is not driven to strictly isolate all of our gender-obligations to what is clearly stated in Scripture. And this is so far from diminishing biblical authority that it actually leads to a much more expansive application of scriptural principles. Consider the idea of women fighting in the military. Modern-day anti-feminists will typically oppose females in combat by appealing to some statistical generality (e.g. they do not want the average woman carrying a wounded soldier on the field), but these arguments by their nature cannot outlaw all females from such aggressive activity, not without illegitimate “stereotyping.” Prohibiting the average woman from carrying a wounded male simply bars all those humans below a level of strength who incidentally happen to be female — but it does not make any proclamation concerning females as such. Furthermore, inasmuch I have searched, the Bible contains no verse expressing or implying clearly that women ought not to engage in war. But when we see several passages describing men as doing the fighting (e.g. Josh. 1:14; Num. 1:1-3, 20; Deut. 20:5-9), we can rightly utilize our presupposition of essentialism in conjunction with these texts to conclude that the reason men are described as the soldiers is because fighting is fitting for masculinity, not for femininity. Without this presupposition, and simply by doing a linguistic analysis, all we can strictly logically infer from God’s Word are the facts that men did the fighting at that time, but nothing normative about who ought to do the fighting. Yet with the presupposition that masculinity and femininity contain a number of intrinsic obligations, we can make appropriate inferences about gender both from the Bible and from our own lives. For we should be able to apprehend that men ought to do the fighting in the military simply by grasping the nature of fighting and the relative strength of men; the descriptive fact (the statistical generality) should lead our minds to the prescriptive fact (the absolute imperative), even though the imperative does not follow as a deductive conclusion. God created our minds to operate this way.
What is crucial to note about this prohibition of women from the military is that our knowledge of this moral obligation is grounded in nature. As God has designed us, we know from the ordinary course of life—witnessing the differences between the genders, seeing how aggression fits masculinity more, and understanding how fighting requires aggression—that men are designed to fight and women to be defended. When we read verses like Joshua 1:14, our minds are led to understand that men not only fight but ought to fight; and we reach this conclusion because we already understand from nature that it is a dictate of masculinity. We have the knowledge from nature, and when we read of “mighty men of valor,” we understand the passage to be in part morally motivated by the fact that aggression is characteristically masculine. We do not sift this principle from the text through linguistic analysis, but we do realize that the principle serves as a moral motivation of the text — that is, the reason the Holy Spirit speaks of “mighty men of valor” is partly due to the fact that combat is characteristically masculine. In this way, the Bible’s speaking of “mighty men of valor” provides revelatory confirmation that our natural knowledge is correct. Having this understanding of essentialism with which we approach various texts, then, we can avoid the biblicist pitfalls of egalitarian-wannabe pastors.6 (Similar arguments can also be made concerning other applications. Consider Isaiah 3:12, where God laments that His people are ruled by women. The essentialist could argue that the moral motivation for this text is the fact that women are not designed to be in such positions of authority, even though a mere lamentation does not strictly logically entail that conclusion.)
Consider how the solution of essentialism applies to the question of miscegenation’s moral standing. The constructivists see racial and gender constructivism as being joined at the hip, with steadfast advocates of a Christian-essentialist view generally uniting to hold both race and gender as real, God-created categories, not social constructs. But if a Christian professes a thoroughgoing outlook of essentialism, then the only way he could fail to forbid miscegenation would be if he affirmed some truncated form of racial essentialism that denies any moral obligations concerning race; or, alternatively, he could affirm that there are some race-obligations, but that there are none prohibiting interracial marriage on an individual level. As I mentioned in the previous article, this is extremely unstable. The two legions warring in this conflict are all-out constructivism and all-out essentialism, with King Christ commanding the latter. But if anyone is unconvinced that an unmitigated racial essentialism is the key to battling egalitarianism—if he thinks that affirming the genetic reality of race is permissible, but not affirming any inherent moral obligations concerning it—then I will provide further evidence in the next article showing the dangers of denying the moral principles of Christian racial essentialism, that is, of strong kinism.
We understand the coherence of egalitarianism in its denial of God’s sovereignty over the moral design of His created distinctions, as argued in the previous article. But the addicts of equality go further, seeking to legitimize their rebellion by denying the very existence of the distinctions in the first place; and in our modern zeitgeist of nature-hating unbelief, racial egalitarianism serves as the prime foundation. The Christian’s acceptance of racial essentialism is the key to countering this constructivist casuistry, affirming not only the undeniable reality of race but also the moral obligations therewith associated. And if there is any obligation associated with race as such, it is our duty not to destroy the distinction itself: miscegenation is thereby outlawed. In the ensuing article, I will explain further why the only way to affirm an appropriate Christian response to constructivism is to embrace essentialism in both its facets; there is a serious danger to denying the moral element of racial essentialism.
- There is a time when general trends do warrant absolute prohibitions, but those are in legal and pragmatic settings, not moral ones. For instance, even a modern universal suffragette might make the argument that all seven-year-olds should not be permitted to vote, even if some might be capable, based on the general incompetence of seven-year-olds to do so. ↩
- Of course, I do not think “stereotyping” should be cited in normal parlance as a sin; it is instead a false sin of our age, employed to promote a variety of thoughts and acts that in practice undermine biblical Christianity. But if it means anything sinful at all, then “stereotyping” is the irrational assumption that some members of a particular group must have a characteristic which belongs to most people of that group. It would be the illegitimate inference from most to all. ↩
- If these terms appear strange, see the third article of the series for their definitions. ↩
- As I see it, either this belief-formation process could be the formation of a properly basic belief which would be appropriate in the circumstances of apprehending some gender fact, or it could be an inference one makes from the general statistic and from the premise that God has generally equipped the sexes to do the tasks that they are also obligated to do. (A “properly basic belief” is a belief that we are justified in holding even though we do not hold it on the basis of another belief.) ↩
- Our obligations related to race will take a different form than our obligations related to gender. For instance, while maleness points to an ideal of masculinity for which males ought to strive, differing significantly from femininity for females, there are not such different ideals for whites, blacks, and other races. But there still are social obligations concerning the love we ought to have for our own race and nation and culture, and the fact that these obligations are tied in with race (or ethnicity) as such is what is vital. ↩
- This provides us with an interesting but soluble paradox. Some seek to exalt biblical authority by demanding that any obligation for women to refrain from the military must be clearly stated, whether expressly or implicitly, in Scripture: that we can believe in a gender-obligation only if it is strictly logically deducible from biblical passages. Then, if a passage like Joshua 1:14 is introduced, these same people would deny that the passage teaches of any obligation for women to refrain from the military, since the passage simply describes men as doing the fighting. Those who seek to exalt biblical authority would conclude that the Bible does not clearly forbid women from fighting in the military; such a conclusion cannot be strictly deduced from the text by linguistic analysis. But on the other hand, the Christian essentialist, who understands independently of Scripture that the aggressiveness of war is solely within the sphere of masculinity, will then interpret passages like Joshua 1:14 as prescribing women to refrain from military combat, since the reason that only men were doing the fighting is precisely because war is suited for masculinity. Thus, the ones who allegedly exalt biblical authority end up limiting its restriction in practice.
The key to understanding this is seeing how the professed Bible-exalters are actually engaging in biblicism. When they demand that every moral obligation concerning gender must be expressed or implied in Scripture – where “implied” refers to what can be validly deduced according to formal principles of logic – what they mean is that a gender-obligation, to be binding, must be strictly deducible from scriptural statements. Then, since Joshua 1:14 provides a mere description of men fighting, but the Bible does not (to my knowledge) provide any statement to the effect that war is unfit for females, these biblicists ascertain that women are not at all forbidden from military activity. (That is, one cannot strictly deduce from scriptural statements that women ought not to fight in war; and this leads biblicists to conclude that there is nothing wrong with it.) But the Christian essentialist can presuppose the premise, obtained from nature, that war is unsuited for femininity and consequently conclude from Joshua 1:14 that the reason only men fought in the military is precisely because only men ought to do so. He can righteously infer that one reason why Joshua 1:14 says what it does is because males ought to do the fighting, seeing the moral norms of gender roles as part of the Scripture’s moral motivation for the descriptions stated in verses like Joshua 1:14. He can see that there is more implicit to the text than what is strictly logically deducible from it (which is true of all textual interpretation, really), and that is why he can expand biblical application more than the biblicist. By appropriately treating the Bible as a supernatural revelation which has a certain interconnection with natural revelation, the essentialist can see how Scripture indeed forbids females from war (with the extreme exceptions, of course), even though the affirmation of such a scriptural teaching depends upon one’s prior knowledge from nature that women are so forbidden. The biblicists restrict the grounds for gender-obligations to Scripture and therefore deny that certain obligations are in Scripture, but the essentialists respond to the voice of God in nature and therefore see gender-obligations as both demanded in nature and confirmed in Scripture. ↩