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Nancy Pearcey’s Love Thy Body Part 2

September 30, 2018
Nancy Pearcey’s <em>Love Thy Body</em> Part 2


Dr. Craig continues a discussion of Nancy Pearcey's newest book.

KEVIN HARRIS: Bill, this brings up two things I want to run past you. One is same-sex parenting, and a homosexual relationship to adopt children or to have children through a surrogate. There's all this research that shows that a child does better with a male and a female, with a mom and a dad. Yet, that is swept aside to accommodate the romantic notions of adults. So the best interest of the children . . . this is what a lot of people are arguing against same-sex parenting – you're denying the child what research shows is best for the child (male/female, mom/dad), but we put that aside to accommodate our romantic notions – two adults, romantic feelings and emotions. And the other one is “my authentic self.” You hear that a lot these days. One researcher said this is very hard on marriage because all of us want to be our best version of ourselves – our authentic selves – and we've come to a point of marriage where we try to marry somebody who will help us do that, and if they don't we kick them to the curb. That's a big pressure to put on somebody, to accommodate my romantic notions and it's your job to make me the best version of myself that I can get (my authentic self). Historically, marriage didn't have that kind of a burden on it. I saw the other day that this is – in fact, I saw it on NPR – very hard on marriages.

DR. CRAIG: With respect to the first point, we've talked about this a couple of years ago on this podcast.[1] I think it was Mark Regnerus – wasn't it? – at UT Austin who did this sociological study that showed that children of same-sex parents are disadvantaged in significant ways. UT Austin did a thorough review of his research attempting to discover any sort of political bias or tendentiousness, and it exonerated him. His studies were shown to be entirely correct and properly done. It was significant because it was one of the very few that had significant sample sizes as opposed to just sampling, say, thirteen couples which would not give you a significant enough sample size. So you're quite right in saying that this is bad for children to be raised by two same-sex parents. I remember the blog[2] that we discussed on this podcast a couple years ago of a young woman who had been raised in such a family, and she said this is a form of child abuse. You are denying the civil rights of children to be protected by acceding to the romantic desires of a couple of adults to want to be married to each other no matter what it costs the children. That was a very striking critique on her part. I think that is making a very good point.

Now, with respect to the second point, I have to agree with you again that this sort of self-centered narcissistic view of self-realization is antithetical to the Christian worldview and Christian view of marriage which sees you as there to help the other, to be there for the other, to love that other person, and not to simply use that other person as a means of discovering or actualizing your authentic self.

KEVIN HARRIS: Boy, that is a whole podcast! She says[3],

There's a well known outspoken lesbian . . . Camille Paglia. This is exactly the way she defends homosexuality. She acknowledges that nature has made us male and female, that humans are a sexually reproducing species, and then she asks, "Why not defy nature?" And then she says, "Fate, not God, has given us this flesh. We have absolute claim to our bodies, and may do with them as we see fit."

Now, that's quoting her – she's not just paraphrasing her.

So here's where this negative view of the body is coming from. Our bodies are merely products of blind, material forces. The implication is, they convey no moral message, they give no clue to our identity, they have no inherent purpose that we're obligated to respect.

DR. CRAIG: I think that's a consistent secularist view. I've argued again and again that if atheism is true then human beings are just animals, and there are no intrinsic human rights to be respected or objective moral duties to be performed. So I would agree with this woman that given her naturalistic presuppositions you're free to do whatever you want with your body. The question would be: is she right in thinking that we are mere material products of evolutionary development, or is there a Creator God who has made us a certain way and who has given us divine commands as to how we ought to behave? How you answer that question will be a watershed in how you act. The people that are inconsistent, I think, would be the secular philosophers who want to affirm the objective value of human beings and of the human body on a naturalistic worldview.

KEVIN HARRIS: I see kind of a conundrum for them. On the one hand they use evolutionary psychology and everything to determine value and what evolution has given us – bestowed us – as persons and morals, but then they say, But you can deny that and captain your own fate right despite . . .

DR. CRAIG: Yes. There's nothing that obliges you to be obedient to nature, as this woman said, because there is no source of objective moral duties on naturalism. Nature just is what it is, and you don't need to go along with what nature says.

KEVIN HARRIS: Nancy says, continuing this interview toward the top of the page seven,

We have to come back with them [secularists] and help them to see, no actually it's the secular view that has a very low view of the body. It treats the body as irrelevant, insignificant, having no moral purpose, and it's Christianity that actually gives a high view of the body, and says, "Yes you should respect your body, you should consider it an intrinsic part of your identity." Christianity teaches that we are psychophysical unities, and that we can't simply separate our feelings, our mind, our desires, from our body. That we are called to respect it in the moral choices that we make.

DR. CRAIG: I would say that it's actually a minority of atheists and naturalists who have the courage to face the conclusion that, on naturalism, there are no objective moral values and duties. Most of them want to affirm the intrinsic value of human beings whom they regard as just physical organisms. Take, for example, Erik Wielenberg, whom I debated earlier this year. Wielenberg is an ethical realist. He believes there are objective moral values and that we have objective moral duties to fulfill. Yet, he's also a reductionist. He doesn't believe that there is a soul or a mind distinct from the brain. Indeed, he doesn't even believe there are mental states which are distinct from brain states. So he identifies human beings with their bodies, and yet he holds to the objectivity of moral values and duties as an atheist. I think there are a lot more people like Wielenberg in the community of philosophers that Nancy is willing to acknowledge.

KEVIN HARRIS: The next question that comes up, Scott asks,

We've heard some suggest, that ... particularly in Christian circles, that human beings are nothing more than souls on a stick, and that the soul is all that matters. This is why I think what you've pointed out in the book about the incarnation, and about the resurrection body, that there's just as much hope for our body in eternity as there is for our soul.

DR. CRAIG: I think that listeners might accuse me of taking such a view. But it's important to understand that although I think that the body derives its value from the soul, that doesn't mean that we are like ghosts in a machine. Rather, we are intimately connected in our body-soul. We are body-soul composites who are valuable as a whole, as human beings, and it is essential to full humanity to have a physical body, not just to be a disembodied soul.

KEVIN HARRIS: OK. He continues,

How would you address the transgender issue within the context of the worldview that you've described here? Because it seems at first glance that the person who wrestles with transgender types of things would be functioning, in a way contrary to the way their body works, and to deal with that you would almost think that they need to transcend their body. How does the transgender discussion fit in to the worldview that you're describing?

Nancy says,

Right. I think that the transgender movement expresses the negative view of the body even more clearly and more obviously. Because the transgender narrative itself says your gender has nothing to do with your biological sex. In fact there are trans websites now that are treating biological sex as a hate term, because it reminds people that they are denying their biological sex when they adopt a trans identity. So today, kids down to kindergarten are being taught that their bodies are completely irrelevant to their identity. And that matter does not matter. That all that matters is your personal feelings, your internal sense of self. To which we should say, "Why accept such a demeaning view of the body?" It's radically dehumanizing.

DR. CRAIG: Her critique here is basically the same critique that she gave earlier of homosexuality – that it's disrespectful to the body. In the case of transgender persons, it's worth noting that there are some (a very tiny percentage) who have chromosomal confusion – hermaphrodites – that are neither clearly male nor female. This is an especially agonizing situation in which a few find themselves. But for the most part, she's quite right. These persons are clearly biologically male or female, but due to psychological attitudes they've chosen to disregard their biological sex and to adopt a gender that is contrary to that.

KEVIN HARRIS: Nancy says,

I was reading a book by a Princeton philosophy Professor ... you know, you read what the professors are saying, because that's what's going to filter down to ordinary people. And so this book was a defense of transgenderism, and to my great surprise, the professor acknowledged that transgenderism involved disconnect, self alienation, self estrangement, that was her other term. And I thought, "Why are you advancing a worldview that tells people they have to live with disconnect, self estrangement and self alienation?"

She goes on to tell the story of a young woman. She says that she started to try to live as a boy at age eleven but then she reclaimed her identity as a girl when she turned about fourteen.

She said, “The turning point came when I realized it's okay to love your body.” And I thought what a wonderful quote. Unfortunately my book was already at the printer, so I couldn't include it.

DR. CRAIG: This would be a case of a person who was deliberately adopting a transgender lifestyle even though apparently having a normal sexual orientation. The real difficulty is for those individuals, whether homosexuals or in this case transgender people, who find themselves as though they feel trapped in an alien body that isn't their own, that has a sexuality that's so different from what they instinctively sense. For those persons you can imagine the disconnect, the estrangement, the self-alienation that they have to deal with, and will probably be something that they're going to be wrestling with all of their lives. It's not going to just go away because you adopt a view of loving your body. These are deep mental health issues that are not easily resolved. It's sad what this professor said, but I think it's an honest assessment for most transgender people.

KEVIN HARRIS: This interview wraps up with Sean talking about Ryan T. Anderson's book called When Harry Became Sally, and the subtitle is Responding to the Transgender Moment. Apparently Ryan Anderson thinks that this is going to self-destruct; that this is not going to continue, this whole transgender thing. He's calling it a transgender moment, and that people are going to wake up and it's just going to kind of play itself out. Nancy disagrees because she says there's such a worldview undergirding this that is so embedded that we have these worldview issues to address or it's not going to go away. She disagrees with Ryan Anderson there; she thinks we might be in this for the long haul.

DR. CRAIG: I simply don't know. I think you'd need to be a sociologist to tell. I do think that, on a view of naturalism, it is going to be impossible to consistently hold that you ought to adopt traditional behaviors and lifestyles because on naturalism anything goes. So long as naturalism and secularism continue their predominance, it seems that these sorts of issues won't just go away, but whether or not the sort of fanaticism and coolness of transgenderism might not fade, that's anybody's guess. It seems to me, therefore, that the issue is ultimately bound up with whether or not God exists which gets us back to the truth question again, doesn't it? If God does not exist, then I don't see any reason that a person has to listen to the dictates of his body or of nature. He doesn't have to listen to anybody or anything on atheism. So the secularist who adopts transgender, homosexual lifestyles is entirely consistent in doing so. Indeed, I think the best defense for homosexual or transgender lifestyles would be to simply say God does not exist and therefore there are no objective moral values and duties that I'm obliged to respect. I don't think trying to found them in the body alone is going to suffice. There's got to be something more than the body to ground objective moral values and duties because the body in and of itself is just an animal organism – an electrochemical machine. We need to say that these bodies that we possess are en-souled by human person and therefore designed by God to function in certain ways, and that we have objective prohibitions and obligations to fulfill that God has laid upon us. The worth of the human body and its respect is therefore grounded in theism.[4]


[1]          See the Reasonable Faith Podcast “Issues of Same-Sex Marriage”, May 10, 2015, (accessed October 2, 2018).

[2]          Katy Faust, “Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent,” February 2, 2015. See (accessed October 2, 2018).

[4]          Total Running Time: 17:45 (Copyright © 2018 William Lane Craig)