God Creates Dinosaurs VI

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the films. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (2018)

Fallen Kingdom parallels The Lost World (1997) just like Jurassic World (2015) paralleled Jurassic Park (1993). Each movie of the pair features a character or two who turned from a life as an entertainment-based capitalist-consumerist to a guilt-ridden naturalist-preservationist and animal-rights advocate regarding the dinosaurs. Both suffer from the same problem of not questioning their fundamental mistake: it wasn’t their business to create dinosaurs in the first place, and once the deed was done, it doesn’t make preservation of dinosaurs noble or moral.

And while The Lost World and Fallen Kingdom each have a misguided guilt-driven wannabe hero seeking self-redemption (i.e. John Hammond and Claire Dearing), they each have an antagonist doubling down with an even more ruthless capitalist-consumerist plan for the dinosaurs (i.e. Peter Ludlow and Eli Mills).

Mills: “Claire, I admire your idealism. But we both exploited these animals. At least I have the integrity to admit it. … You exploited a living thing in a cage for money. How is that any different?”

Mills has a point here. At the end of the day, exploitation is exploitation, whether people experience it with a smile of delight or a wince of disgust. Keeping with the metaphor of my thesis, sexual liberation is just a deluded “happy” form of our sexual self-exploitation. In Jurassic World, the dinosaurs are the happy pampered park inhabitants who exist for the pleasure of tourists, like a lifestyle of casual sex. In Fallen Kingdom, I see Ken Wheatley’s crew capturing, roping, crating, caging, intimidating, transporting, and abusing a bunch of dinosaurs, and I can’t help but see something a lot like international sex trafficking.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The metaphor that forms my thesis starts feeling a bit convoluted or confusing at times when applied to Fallen Kingdom, because a point has come where the metaphoric and the literal begin to be one and the same. Nowhere do the metaphoric and the literal meet with greater clarity than Maizie Lockwood—a child clone of the dead daughter of a sad lonely dying old man. Not the embodied icon of the self-sacrificing love of her parents. But an isolated child who’s the product of capitalist-consumerist reproductive technology for the satisfaction of a wealthy recluse who doesn’t have the ethical sense to know the difference between whether he could do a thing and whether he should do a thing.

Benjamin tells Claire that he’s “trying to save us” with his grand philanthropic gesture to relocate the dinosaurs. And his final stated reason they have to do this is that it’s “for the children” as an abstraction. It’s peak irony. Real individual children are the victims of the sexual revolution, whether as collateral causalities, consumer commodities, or sacrificial offerings to cultic careerism.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was a dark and stormy night on Isla Nublar …

The opening scene is fertile ground for imagery and becomes pregnant with meaning. The dark watery gates to the Jurassic World lagoon open, and the mini-sub enters. Working backward from the monstrous life that is to be created from dead remains at the bottom of the lagoon, it functions as a metaphor for a womb. And a barren womb as hoped by the mini-sub driver who assures his partner.

Driver: “Anything in here would be dead by now.”

Beginning here in the lagoon, there is a reversal of the origins of the sexes that took place in the beginning. God put the man who he created into a death-sleep. God took a rib out of the man, and from that rib, God builds a woman. But in Fallen Kingdom, it is arrogant, avaricious, and hubristic man who takes a rib from the dead remains of the Indominus Rex, and from that rib, man builds an Indoraptor.

As I presented previously, the female Indominus Rex is an Anti-Eve, an Anti-Mother and destroyer of all living. And from her death, there arises a male Indoraptor that is an Anti-Adam, an Anti-Father and destroyer to make the earth barren. They’re completely twisted from their natural purpose as living things that were created and commanded by God to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.

Weaponizing dinosaurs is like the sexual revolution in that it changes the teleology of a thing. The sexual revolution is about man rending asunder the divine design for human sexuality and reconfiguring it for ends which it was never designed to serve and cannot serve with any genuinely good and healthy fruition.

The monstrous manufacturing of the Indominus Rex, and even more so the Indoraptor, is Frankensteinian scientific madness and horror. And the movie embraces this by taking on the genre of a horror movie as the Indoraptor is debuted, escapes, and wreaks havoc and carnage until it’s impaled to death.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In an argument of the time and cost of the work to further perfect the Indoraptor, Henry Wu tells Eli Mills what the fundamental problem is with the Indoraptor they have.

Wu: “It needs a mother!”

The bottom-line problem is still one of family dysfunction and breakdown. Mad science won’t impart empathy, obedience, and other civilizing traits to this monster. It can’t fill the gap that only real parenting can fill.

And here we have Blue who has grown up from being a good daughter under Owen Grady and takes on motherliness in a variety of ways in the movie. She protects Zia and Franklin like two hapless kids in danger. She marks and confronts the Indoraptor as a threat to her adoptive family—Owen, Claire, and Maizie who have formed up as a family following the recurring theme in this movie series where functional family units survive and overcome.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ll conclude with the remarks of an older wiser seasoned Ian Malcolm testifying before a government committee.

Malcolm: “I think that we should allow our magnificent, glorious dinosaurs to be taken out by the volcano. … This is a correction.”

The listening crowd hisses and mumbles, “Murderer.” But Malcolm is right. As I presented previously, the takedown finale of the Indominus Rex is a metaphor. The sexual revolution will come to a disastrous end. It will be challenged and pecked at by genuine wise Reason (Blue the Velociraptor). It will be bucked and pummeled by tested and tempered Tradition (Rexy the Tyrannosaur). And it will finally be dragged down to the depths and drowned by rugged and relentless Nature (Shamu the Mosasaur). The sexual revolution is against all of these things. And Nature, the created order with its created meaning and purpose, is the most fundamental of the trio. In Fallen Kingdom, Nature has taken a new form, Mt. Sibu the active volcano. And it is offering a guilt-free opportunity to just step back and allow it to set things right. And Malcolm tells us why we should do so.

Malcolm: “We amassed a landmark technological power, and we’ve consistently proven ourselves incapable of handling that power … Now we’ve got genetic power. How long is it going to take for that to spread around the globe? And what’s going to be done with it? It ain’t gonna stop with the de-extinction of dinosaurs … I’m talking about manmade cataclysmic change … Change is like death; you don’t know what it looks like until you’re standing at the gates. … We’re causing our own extinction.”

Here again, the metaphoric and the literal begin to meet and be one and the same. The sexual revolution has been aided every step of the way by the particular applications of technologies that have enabled the circumvention and redeployment of human sexuality from its God-given purposes. And it’s becoming a proposed and desired gateway for some to pursue the transformation of future generations of humans into something other than human. As C.S. Lewis argued in The Abolition of Man, the grand project of seeking ultimate freedom over ourselves, over the restrictions of our own nature, so that man can remake himself any way he sees fit will end with man having only the fallen rebellious desires of his morally corrupt nature to guide the foolish project. Thus this transhumanism will enslave man to his fallen desires and destroy man.

A Profane Stench in Holy Nostrils

A few thoughts on abominations in Scripture and selective appeals to them, specifically against homosexuality, by a prior generation of Christians that was not entirely free of worldly thinking and desires.

Moral Conceptions

The word “abomination” (Hebrew: tōēvah) refers to a stench in the nostrils or the cause of the gag reflex. This is the so-called Yuck Factor in modern culture. And thus the biblical references to the land “vomiting out” its inhabitants. An abomination to God is a generic or common object or practice that evokes moral disgust. A related idea is a “detestable thing” (Hebrew: sheqetz). It refers to a consecrated object or space that becomes defiled and evokes moral disgust. (Unfortunately, the words tōēvah and sheqetz are not translated consistently in English Bibles.)

The human Yuck Factor is analogous to that of the Divine. It’s a genuine moral emotion experienced as disgust. Moral Foundations Theory in psychology has been exploring this concept which finds expression in moral notions of sanctity and degradation. This is the holy and the profane. Notions of ascent to the pure, the ethereal, and the transcendent in contrast with descent into the contaminated, the debased, and the abysmal.

We do have to consider carefully that sin has marred our humanity. So, for us, the Yuck Factor can be a matter of our prejudicial fears more than actual convictions or properly formed moral sentiment in a consistent biblical ethic.

It has been observed that the Yuck Factor is losing (or has essentially lost) its cogency in arguments about sexual ethics. Insofar as the Yuck Factor was an expression of personal prejudice, good riddance. However, it’s not as if the notion and function of a Yuck Factor has vanished. The present cultural generation is merely redeploying this moral emotion for other ends—quite possibly toward ends that are not in line with biblical ethics (God’s holy law). The new situation of prejudicial fear may prove more warped and destructive than the prior situation of prejudicial fear.

Sexual Applications

Traditional Christians (among many others) regard a number of deviant sexual acts to be abominations. This has merit in Scripture. Focusing on sexual tōēvah, there are some acts called abominations to Yahweh in Leviticus 18. The infamous one in recent generations is sexual relations between two men (18:22 cf. 20:13). In a similar manner, sexual relations between humans and animals is “confusion” or “perversion”. However, the bookend of this section (18:24-30) reveals all listed sexual sins to be abominations.

So, sexual tōēvah includes:

  • incestuous sexual relations
  • sexual relations during a women’s menstruation
  • adulterous sexual relations
  • dedication or sacrifice of offspring to false gods
  • same-sex sexual relations
  • bestial sexual relations

The common logic to these sins is their status as violations of the created order and the mandate in Genesis 1-2.

Abomination in Levitical Scripture is complex. It includes things Christians do not regard as abominations under the New Covenant. For instance, it is a Levitical abomination to eat unclean animals (Deut. 14:3-21). There are pedagogical reasons for this in the logic of the ceremonial holiness code. It will not suffice to wave a dismissive hand and say, “Since shellfish is fair game, sexual sin must be on the menu as well.” This theological revisionist tactic doesn’t respect the integrity of Scripture.

It’s not in my intended scope to sort out the ceremonial and ethical threads in the warp and woof of the Old Covenant. But regulations about sexual immorality carry over into the life of the church (Acts 15:28-29). And specific behaviors such as adulterous and homosexual acts are named. This is ample justification to understand Levitical sexual ethics as relevant and binding.

Recent Inconsistencies

Professing Christians in recent generations have been partial in their condemnations. While generally giving adultery a pass, we have fixated on homosexuality. And more so, we have shifted from condemning the act to condemning the person as an abomination. And many Christians have become lackadaisical about the meaning of marriage and sexuality. Along with the culture, many Christians lack an understanding of natural (creationistic) marriage.

Many Christians have an exaggerated sensitivity to homosexuality. And it’s shaped and nurtured by the underlying thought-forms of the surrounding culture. The result is Christians taking a position at the opposite pole on a misguided axis of thought. This misguided thinking is post-Freudian psychology about sexuality. It defines various humans as species according to sexual desire with pleasure as its end. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are Freudian ideas, not biblical ones. Christians have adopted a baptized version of fulfilling heterosexuality within revisionist marriage.

And even a prior generation of sensitivity against homosexuality is giving way to a current generation of sensitivity toward homosexuality as the logic of revisionist marriage and the consumeristic rhythms of everyday life continue to unfold work themselves out in the lives of Christians.

The church must recover her understanding of the institution of natural marriage. She must recover her understanding of male and female. She must be a shrewd and tempered prophetic voice in defense of these things. Marriage is not a casual, private, and sterile-by-default arrangement for emotional fulfillment. Male and female are natural realities, procreative teleological descriptions, and liturgical functions with daily consequences.

Other Applications

But enough about the distorting sexualization of the church in our post-Freudian culture. Suffice it to say that many Christians of a particular generation have a distorted fixation on the sinfulness of gay people and practices. And those who will deploy the Yuck Factor will also frequently overlook other abominations worthy of contempt. Christians need to show more evenhandedness and clarity in our prophetic ministry. We need to be sound students of Scripture and labor to correct our distortions.

For starters, here’s a list of abominations worthy of consideration:

  • Civic apostasy (Deut. 13:12-18), i.e. public worship of false gods, as well as individual apostasy (Deut. 17:2-5)
  • Occult practices (Deut. 18:9-12), i.e. forbidden means of discerning the will of God
  • Sex-role confusion (Deut. 22:5), e.g. women in combat are a violation of taking up a man’s ‘military gear’
  • Dishonest weights and measures, i.e. currency and commodity units (Deut. 25:13-16; Prov. 11:1; 20:10; 20:23)
  • Idols (Deut. 27:15; 32:16; etc.)
  • Devious people (Prov. 3:32)
  • “There are six things Yahweh despises; more so, seven that are an abomination to him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16-19)
  • Sacrifices performed by unrighteous people (Prov. 15:8; 21:27), as well as their ways (Prov. 15:9) and their thoughts (Prov. 15:26)
  • One who justifies the wicked and condemns the righteous (Prov. 17:15)
  • Prayers of one who turns his ear away from the law of God (Prov. 28:9)

Most of the abominations on this list are everyday occurrences in our culture. Many have been institutionalized. All are immoral in Scripture from beginning to end. To be fair, faithful Christians still speak out against many of these abominations. But these don’t get the special attention that selective sexual abominations do.

Consider dishonest weights and measures. How often are these used in daily commerce? Are entire monetary systems built on them? Does anyone apart from staunch libertarians advocating for the gold standard even care to ask?

If not literal weights and measures, how about figurative ones? Double-standards in our judgments are likewise dishonest. As far as double-standards, there’s a lot of grumbling about them from all sides. This is a widespread abomination.

Are there any false gods getting public service?

Has anyone been stirring up strife between brothers?

Do we care about this stuff as much as who is sleeping with whom?

We should.

Further Considerations

One could response by arguing:

  1. Not all sins are equal in their ramifications.
  2. Sexual sins are of a sort that is far more grievous than those offered in the preceding list of abominations.
  3. Some sexual sins are more grievous than other sexual sins.

On the first point about variability in the resulting repercussions, I agree. Paul writes,

Flee from sexual immorality; every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins toward his own body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:18

Note the italicized correction of the otherwise common rendering “against” in this passage. The text could be evidence of the unique heightened ethical severity of sexual immorality. But, it indicates the heightened consequential severity of sexual immorality. Sexual sins misuse the body, the dwelling place of our personal presence and of the Holy Spirit. It’s the form of sin which strikes closest to home in our bodies; it causes the most severe disturbance. And that deserves special pastoral consideration.

But on the second point, is there a categorical special ethical severity to sexual sins? Are they unique hyper-abominations? No, that’s not the case.

By using ‘abomination’, Scripture already indicates they are worse than other sins. There’s nothing in Scripture to elevate sexual abominations into a special ethical class. It may be healthier to see the other abominations as equally repugnant in the eyes of the Lord our God. Or at least as far more repugnant and alarming than we regard them. And that the church has neglected to acknowledge them as such. Freudian sexualization has trained us to read the Scriptures with this hypersensitivity. We need retraining (re-formation) according to the word of God.

And on the third point, are some sexual sins more grievous than others? As much as some may resist it, yes, some are more grievous than others. Or rather there are a number of factors that increase the grievousness of sins. Factors including violations of the natural order, the relative stations in life of those involved, the extent of public scandal, and so forth. Discerning the heinousness of a particular sin is complicated. Sins do not have a set ranking in the abstract.

An aging generation of reactionary and insecure Christian fundamentalists needs to stop it. We need to stop being selectively fixated and disgusted by gay people. To stop thinking of gay persons as abominations while not compromising our sexual ethics. And we need to stop pretending the Yuck Factor is a consistent moral conviction we’ve been upholding. We need to start being serious about various overlooked abominations. Abominations which fill the land with violence and offend God Almighty.

And a younger generation of skittish and burnt Christians with no Yuck Factor need to learn. We need to learn to understand human sexuality and ethics from Scripture and not give up on them. And we need to renounce the unnatural forms of marriage and sexuality offered in our culture.

God Creates Dinosaurs V

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the films. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic World” (2015)

Jurassic World is a self-conscious homage to Jurassic Park—from background advertising for Jurassic Tennis, to Lowery Cruthers’ mint-condition T-shirt purchased on eBay, to an Agusta A109 flying past the rock monolith in the ocean and into the same jungle ravine.

This recapitulation includes background plot elements. In Jurassic Park, John Hammond’s daughter is getting a divorce. So, Hammond’s grandchildren Tim and Alexis Murphy are sent away to the island. In Jurassic World, Claire Dearing’s sister is getting a divorce. So, Dearing’s nephews Zach and Gray Mitchell are sent away to the island. Although the park in both movies is seen and advertised as a place for the family in the abstract, the park is where we encounter particular children as concrete individuals with names, faces, and personal histories scarred by the breakdown of family.

The sexual revolution promises to entertain families—or rather individuals broken free of family ties of the past, the present, and the future. In reality, it destroys families in its provision of unsatisfying pleasures decoupled from natural purposes and deformed by vicious desires run amok.

Even the background conversations in Jurassic World are filled with content about various family relations that are strained, broken, or recovering. Zara Young is repeatedly on her phone with her friends discussing her fiancé, her conflicts with him and his friends over planning his bachelor party, and their wedding details. Lowery Cruthers and Vivian Krill can be overheard discussing the surrogate father figure in Lowery’s life or who Vivian is dating while wondering if this is an office friendship that’ll become an office romance.

In the end, we simply cannot escape family. It comes back around to remind us what it is we’re opposing in a losing war over the reality that “God creates dinosaurs”—that God’s design for the reality of family can’t be thwarted without dire consequences.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The vibrant color-coding of the clothing continues from Jurassic Park to Jurassic World and signals to us very basic motifs in the characters.

In Jurassic Park, the elementary color signalling is as follows:

WhiteControlJohn Hammond
BlackChaosIan Malcolm
GreyUrbanismDonald Gennaro
BrownWildernessRobert Muldoon
BlueMasculinityAlan Grant
PinkFemininityEllie Sattler

Even the secondary characters follow the color-coding. Henry Wu and John “Ray” Arnold wear white as agents of control working for John Hammond. Dennis Nedry wears grey as representing urbanism along with Donald Gennaro—giving an impression of cold metal, artificiality, sterility, corporations, finance, regulations, legal bureaucracies, profits, and so forth. Tim Murphy wears blue like Dr. Grant his hero. Lex Murphy is characterized as a tomboy wearing pink and blue. And the functional family of Alan, Ellie, Lex, and Tim are all caked in brown mud displaying their encounter with the wilderness—impressing the sense of warmth, soil, fecundity, savagery, struggle, survival, and so forth.

The same basic color signalling continues in Jurassic World. And color combinations are employed creating meaningful mixtures of these motifs. Interestingly, there’s no pink in the movie, only two mixed uses of lavender that have motherly connotations.

Claire Dearing dresses in all white. She controls her “assets”. She embodies control. She prints out an agenda for a date. She practically screams control. In fact, she even literally screams, “You are not in control here!” Only once her priorities change and she becomes concerned with her nephews does she reveal her lavender undershirt—a subtle signal of motherly concern appearing. As events progress and her motherliness grows, she sheds the white blouse altogether.

Owen Grady dresses in blue and brown signalling his combination of masculinity and wilderness in strength, struggle, and survival. In his most ruggedly untamed moment, he’s wearing two shades of brown, is smeared with grease and sweat, and talks about animals and their urges and instincts. Owen embodies competent masculine agency contrasted with Masrani’s domesticated chic and Hoskins’ domineering chauvinism.

Simon Masrani wears grey and lavender. His grey suit is an accurate and appropriate signal of associations with the world of finance and business. And his lavender shirt fits his rather motherly demeanor toward his park, which is like his child. He is focused on the guests having a good time and the dinosaurs enjoying their life at ease in play. He dotes over his treasured child-like park and wants to spoil it. “Spare no expense.”

Vic Hoskins wears beige (brown) and black signaling a mixture of savagery and chaos. He’s the embodiment of warped and toxic masculine agency. He revels in carnage and blood-lust. He pillages and plunders. He’s disdainful toward women, womanliness, and motherhood. In an abstract sense, he’s a rapist, defiler, and usurper—spoiling all that is pure and taking away all virginity and innocence.

Henry Wu wears black and grey. He’s surrounded by amber-yellow ornamentation and occupies white and grey surroundings. He operates as chaotic urbanism in a context of controlling urbanism. And his black-and-yellow motif is classic nature signalling for all manner of creatures that are dangerous and poisonous.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Simon: “Oh, it’s white! You never told me it was white.”

Claire: “Do you think it’ll frighten the children?”

Simon: “Children? This’ll give the parents nightmares.”

Masrani draws attention to the coloration of the Indominus Rex, and the connotations immediately rush to mind. She’s the product of unprecedented levels of genetic control and manipulation. She’s inordinately aggressive. She has exaggerated predator features and behaviors. She kills for sport rather than food. She’s killing her way to the top of the hierarchy. If the de-extinction of dinosaurs is an allegory for the sexual revolution, then this sort of artificial hybridization for non-natural entertainment and military ends is a frightening allegory for the violent weaponization of sexuality in rebellion.

The Indominus Rex is white. And she’s a she. And she’s also the dark alter-ego of Claire.

“You made a genetic hybrid. Raised it in captivity. She is seeing all of this for the first time. She does not even know what she is. She will kill everything that moves. … She is learning where she fits in the food chain, and I’m not sure you want her to figure that out.”

While Owen describes the Indominus Rex, the camera glares right into the face of Claire, creating a connection between a woman disconnected from nature in almost every way and a mutant hybrid she-monster artificially built against nature in almost every way.

One could readily interpret the Indominus Rex as the embodiment of warped and toxic feminine agency—womanhood, sisterhood, and motherhood hideously transmogrified. A jealous woman who eats her sister. A woman who cares nothing for husbands of any sort and will have nothing to do with children in any form. An Anti-Eve. Not the mother of all living but the destroyer of all living. A Witch-Queen. The demonic Lilith of myth.

One could also readily interpret the Indominus Rex as an allegory for a more ruthless or subversive version of corporations. Corporations inherently supplant natural households. And as corporations exist in a culture that is increasingly nature-neutralizing, they begin to realize that the natural family itself is a hindrance to optimal corporate operations. A new corporatism will eat everything that moves in this family resort destination.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m just going to pin these thoughts here for your own imagine to run with them:

  1. Owen Grady is a noble patriarch with four daughters. And he teaches them virtue.
  2. Simon Masrani is a benevolent Walt Disney. And the dinosaurs are his princesses.
  3. Vic Hoskins is a malevolent Harvey Weinstein. And the dinosaurs are his victims.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“We want to be thrilled.”

“Bigger. Faster. More teeth.”

One of the realities of thrill-seeking is the problem of diminishing returns and the need for escalation in stimuli. This reality has played itself out in many different ways in the sexual revolution as it becomes increasingly revolutionary and extreme as time passes. Nature is fought further and further. The consequences become increasingly severe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Zach Mitchell is a lost boy seeking to be found. A loner going his own way. He assumes he’s on his own in life. He’s waiting to escape from his parents’ custody. His cold truth-telling to his brother Gray is that “there comes a point when you have to grow up”. And it’s clear that “grow up” for Zach means focusing on yourself and your survival.

Zach doesn’t see himself as a son. And he has no aspirations for being a father. Zach’s a wannabe womanizer. He has no affections for the girlfriend he leaves behind to travel to the park. He leers at and flirts with girls. He has a teenage male’s sex drive, yet he knows only what the sexual revolution has told him to do about it. He’s cynical and embittered.

Zach is aimless and purposeless as a young man in a world that no longer knows what to offer or do with young men, because the present culture marred by the sexual revolution fears and despises virile male agency. And therefore the present culture abandons male agency to the frustration of young men. But Zach finds purpose when the circumstances force him to take responsibility for his younger brother’s survival. He finds courage. He finds brotherhood. And that’s an excellent start.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once again, I have to give my father-in-law credit for his movie analysis skills. He nailed the meaning of the climactic showdown with the Indominus Rex.

Owen’s three remaining velociraptors, like prodigal daughters, come to their senses and return to allegiance with their father. The Indominus Rex seeks to destroy them, because they’ve abandoned her and her agenda. Ultimately, only Blue survives the onslaught.

In the midst of the conflict, Claire runs to unleash a new ally against the Indominus Rex and all she represents—an ally with “more teeth” that can be brought to bear. She leads the Tyrannosaur into the conflict. The Tyrannosaur is a challenge for the Indominus but the former ultimately takes a beating and is almost killed until Blue rejoins the fight.

Blue and Rexy together form an effective team and are able to beat down and drive back the Indominus Rex into a standoff. And then a third critical bystander becomes an active combatant. The Mosasaur clamps down on the Indominus Rex, drags her into the lagoon, and drowns her.

This is the allegorical triumvirate that kills the Indominus Rex:

  1. Blue the Velociraptor is Reason.
  2. Rexy the Tyrannosaur is Tradition.
  3. Shamu the Mosasaur is Nature.

The weaponized sexual revolution represented by the Indominus Rex is savagely opposed to reason, tradition, and nature (all of which comport with one another). Reason finds the vulnerabilities in all that is irrational. Tradition holds established ground against all that is dangerously unproven or provably dangerous. And Nature scourges and condemns all that is woefully disordered and in rebellion against its created purpose. Reason launches off of Tradition’s back to strike while Tradition plows with its respectability. And when an opportunity presents itself, Nature is the gargantuan enforcer that comes crashing down and puts an end to it all.

In the end, we simply cannot escape nature. It comes back around to remind us what it is we’re opposing in a losing war over the reality that “God creates dinosaurs”—that God’s design for the reality of nature can’t be thwarted without dire consequences.

God Creates Dinosaurs IV

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the films. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic Park III” (2001)

Surprise. Surprise. The plot of the film revolves around yet another broken family in need of restoration to survive. Paul and Amanda Kirby are divorced and require reconciliation to save their son Eric. Paul and Amanda have succumbed to the enticing lies of the sexual revolution and divorced. This puts Eric in the position where Isla Sorna and its dinosaurs (as the metaphor of the sexual revolution) tempt and endanger him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The movie opens with Eric Kirby and his mother’s boyfriend Ben Hildebrand visiting Isla Sorna as if it was a great vacation destination. That proves to be a mistaken perspective as death and loss ensue. This sets up Site B as a metaphorical Pleasure Island. It’s a place of great allure, promising all the delights of the sexual revolution. A pleasure-seeking man and his boy protégé in pursuit of carnal desires become lost to the island.

Paul and Amanda recruit Alan Grant under the pretense of being wealthy and indulgent thrill-seekers thirsting to venture to the island. This reinforces the connotation of Site B as a metaphorical Pleasure Island.

This Pleasure Island consumes and kills every functionally unwedded, virile, self-assured, adventurous man who sets foot upon it. Hildebrand. Cooper. Nash. Udesky. Very nearly Billy Brennan who was seduced for a time.

Isla Sorna is the house of the adulterous woman from the Book of Proverbs. And fools lose themselves by going in to her house at the enticement of her delights. Pleasure Island and Proverbs become the motif of this movie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dr. Alan Grant is a curious character in this movie. In Jurassic Park, he learned how to be a father and to love fatherhood. But now we see he never married Dr. Ellie Sattler. He never married anyone. Is it because he returned to his old ways of disliking children? No. Grant engages with little Charlie Degler as he awaits Ellie. And he’s willing to address an entire auditorium of teenagers.

Grant continues to study velociraptors. When he speaks to the high school assembly, he insists such study happens in the ground. Real dinosaurs are in the rocks. Site B is of no interest to him. He too has learned the lesson that God creates dinosaurs.

“It is in the ground where real scientists make real discoveries. What John Hammond and InGen did was to make genetically engineered theme park monsters, nothing more and nothing less.”

And if the de-extinction of dinosaurs is a metaphor for the sexual revolution, this means Grant studies natural sexuality. Grant studies the divine order: the creationistic contours of marriage, sex, and procreation. Or at least the metaphor for them.

As he tells his student Billy Brennan:

“The bones will still be there when we get back. That’s the great thing about bones: they never run away.”

Bones in the rocks have fidelity. They don’t run away like adulterers and adulteresses.

Alan Grant is a man in a vocation of celibacy like a monastic scholar. He isn’t putting off marriage and clinging to bachelorhood like an indulgent man-child. He has embraced a devout calling. And in both poetry and irony, he now studies the institution of marriage (metaphorically) and teaches others likewise. This makes him a walking embodiment of the Book of Proverbs. He is a spiritual father teaching spiritual sons the path of life and warning them about the adulterous woman. Warning his sons about the dangers of the sexual revolution.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Paul and Amanda Kirby pretend to be thrill-seekers on their way to Pleasure Island. But in truth, they need a guide who is Mr. Proverbs. They know where they’re going. They know their son is lost in the house of the adulterous woman. Lost in the wilderness of the sexual revolution. They need a prudent son of Lady Wisdom to navigate this terrain.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When the group arrives on Isla Sorna by airplane, they encounter the Spinosaurus. They learn InGen was up to things on Site B that were never public. There’s something newer. Something bigger. Something secret. It kills a Tyrannosaurus (the old ruler) to solidify its dominance. The revolution marches on to greater degrees of radicalization. It has become militant in its radicalism. It stalks the survivors across the island and through the movie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The group (down two members) explores the abandoned dinosaur manufacturing facility. It’s the remains of an aborted industrial operation littered with the remains of aborted dinosaur fetuses. An apt exchange ensues:

Paul: “This is how you make dinosaurs?”

Alan: “No. This is how you play God?”

Things becomes horrific when the truth that God creates dinosaurs is abandoned.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eric Kirby has survived. And he has survived thus far because he is a student of Alan Grant. He has read Grant’s book. His two books in fact! Proverbs and Ecclesiastes? Eric has also read Dr. Ian Malcolm’s book. So he knows the lessons of God Creates Dinosaurs.

The reunited and reconciled Kirby Family escape the island with the aid of Alan Grant, i.e. Mr. Proverbs. In the climactic final confrontation with the Spinosaurus, they call for help to escape. It’s not anyone at random they call. They call a family for help. And the family dynamics are crucial. Alan needs Ellie. Ellie Degler (née Sattler) is married to U.S. State Department official Mark Degler. And they have a son Charlie who answers the phone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Billy Brennan is a student of Alan Grant. He has heard Grant’s warnings. But in a moment of weakness, he steals velociraptor eggs. He abducts a velociraptor couple’s children. He tampers with a velociraptor family and the velociraptor community. He violently disrupts the family and the community for the sake of financial gain. He has given in to the same temptation as the people who made the park: disrupting the nature order for profit.

Billy has acted according to the sexual revolution. He yielded to the Harlot Folly and has gone into the house of the adulterous woman. And he knows it. He confesses this was a stupid mistake. And he pleads that this impulsive act was with the best intentions. Alan makes sure Billy knows how severe and unmerciful folly is.

“The best intentions. Pfff. Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions. As far as I’m concerned, you’re no better than the people who built this place.”

Billy took the severity of this to heart. Afterward, he walked with his gaze turned down as an ashamed son in the eyes of his monastic spiritual father. He seeks to redeem himself to his father and despite his father’s harshness by risking and giving his life to save the Kirby Family in the aviary.

Grant realizes he judged Billy too harshly. Mercifully, Billy survives. Wisdom has looked kindly on him, because it is wise to show mercy. Billy is restored and reconciled to Alan.

God Creates Dinosaurs III

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the movies. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic Park: The Lost World” (1997)

The movie opens with a rich family and their yacht crew anchored and vacationing on the beach of Isla Sorna. Mr. and Mrs. Bowman are squabbling over little daughter Cathy. She leaves their sight and is attacked by compsognathuses.

The story transitions to Ian Malcolm responding to a summons. He witnesses another rich family feud over control of the InGen Corporation. It’s another fight over that which has been birthed and its fate. And as we know about InGen Bioengineering later in the movie, their motto is:

We Make Your Future

What an ominous comment from those in the business of manufacturing this metaphor for the sexual revolution.

Nephew Peter Ludlow is maneuvering to seize control away from Uncle John Hammond. InGen “has been on the verge of chapter 11 ever since that incident in the park.” Some in corporate leadership want to exploit the dinosaurs on Site B as assets to bail the company out of debt. The corporate moneymen want to get back in the business. And we all know “sex sells” as they say.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hammond’s new direction might not be the redemption he’s hoping to find. He’s “gone from capitalist to naturalist” in a very short time. And this may represent not so much a change for the better as a change for an other. When he presents his plans in light of his new philosophy, the following exchange ensues.

John: “Don’t worry. I’m not making the same mistakes again.”

Ian: “No, you’re making all new ones.”

Hammond made a name for himself with the de-extinction of dinosaurs. And that turned out to be a disaster. Now he wants to make a new name for himself with the preservation of dinosaurs. It’s as if what now is must be good and worth preserving simply because it is. As though somehow now it has the status of a thing resulting from the natural course of the natural order. Its mere persistence in our world has normalized it.

Ian, still the voice of warning about the unnaturalness of it all, says this move is no better than the last one. And he rebukes John for endangering more people after having caused the deaths of others.

“You want to leave your name on something? Fine. But stop leaving it on other people’s headstones.”

Following the symbology, perpetrating the beginning of sexual revolution was bad. And Ludlow’s vision for a second wave of sexual revolution is bad. But Hammond’s vision to preserve the results of the first wave as if they’re now good is also bad. Once a bad thing has gotten a foothold, that doesn’t make it a good thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There’s the struggling family dynamic of Dr. Ian Malcolm, his daughter Kelly Curtis, and his independent girlfriend Dr. Sarah Harding. They pull together as a family, and it saves them through the movie’s dangers in a manner similar to Dr. Alan Grant and the Murphy kids in Jurassic Park. Not much need to belabor that point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dr. Sarah Harding is a prominent figure for exploring key motifs of the sexual revolution in our society. She tests female agency and the struggle and status of women coming into the working world that was shaped by men of prior generations.

Harding has a feminist chip on her shoulder. She sees herself as a heroic challenger in the academic world. Her colleagues are rivals. Their work is an outdated obstacle. She wants to prove dinosaurs were nurturing parents rather than vicious lizards. And this is laid out along lines where men being men are the purveyors of the old view. So there is either an irony or a fitting inevitability in this situation. A woman who’s not pursuing motherhood herself is arguing for idyllic motherhood in her research. And this irony sets up a further irony (the reversal between human and dinosaur) in the fabric of the movie.

There’s a moment where Sarah’s struggle in her male-dominated working world becomes most clear. Sarah, Ian, and Nick are in the mobile headquarters dangling off the cliff. The vehicles plummet to the ocean below. The three ascend the rope in the pouring rain and darkness. Sarah takes the lead. She’s the first to reach the ledge. She pulls herself up over the rim. And who’s there waiting at the clifftop? Bending down (condescending) with an outstretched hand to pull her the rest of the way? Roland Tembo. The great white hunter. The man. And his company of men. The flashlight’s in her face, i.e. the spotlight is on her. And her look is one of frustration, exhaustion, and failure.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, let’s face it. There’s only one intact functional natural family featured in this film. And it’s the Tyrannosauruses. The parental behavior of Mama and Papa T-Rex drives much of the plot in the movie.

Harding draws special attention to the importance of tyrannosaurs as good parents. She wants to stick it to fellow paleontologist and rival Dr. Robert Burke by name. He’s the one who called the T-Rex “a rogue who would abandon its young at the first opportunity.” By a happy coincidence, Burke’s on the island advising the InGen rivals who are rounding up dinosaurs. The parental behavior of the tyrannosaurs leads to Burke’s eventual death by Mama T-Rex. A poetic end to a man of the old order destroyed by his foolishness?

That parental behavior proves to be very reliable throughout the film. Roland relies on it to trap his prize, Papa T-Rex. Ian and Sarah rely on it to recover the rampaging father on the streets of San Diego. It gets Peter Ludlow killed as Daddy teaches Junior how to hunt.

One of the final visuals of the movie is Mama, Papa, and Baby Tyrannosaurus reunited at last. They’re together in a field like it’s a picturesque afternoon picnic in the park. Happy T-Rex family life has been restored.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It’s not in the movie, but there’s a noteworthy point about animal parenting in the novel. The velociraptors are the premier examples of dinosaurs lacking parenting. They have no social skills. These lab-grown clones never had a family and a community to impart their natural order to them. And they’re killing each other because of it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Roland Tembo the big-game hunter gives the moral of our story. His long-time hunting companion Ajay Sidhu has been killed by velociraptors. The hunter has tranquilized the male tyrannosaur he intended to kill. He turns to leave. He and Ludlow exchange words.

Peter: “There’s a job at the park in San Diego if you want it.”

Roland: “No, thank you. I believe I’ve spent enough time in the company of death.”

Roland has seen what happens with these de-extinct dinosaurs and figured out where all of this will lead. The pursuit of ongoing sexual revolution is a death wish.

God Creates Dinosaurs II

In my introduction to this series, I presented my thesis. The Jurassic Park movie series is about the sexual revolution in Western culture. De-extinction of dinosaurs is a symbol. It represents an unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous act perpetrated by man in rebellion. The motto “God creates dinosaurs” captures this conviction. This use of scientific power for consumerism is a metaphor for the sexual revolution. And the everyday signs of the sexual revolution are pervasive in the plots of the movies. They reinforce the connection. And the agency of the functional family saves the day.

Signs of the Sexual Revolution
“Jurassic Park” (1993)

In the beginning, Dr. Alan Grant is averse to having kids. He’s not fond of being around them. He’s annoyed by them. He finds fatherhood to be inconceivable (pun intended) in his case.

Then, John Hammond’s grandkids (Tim and Alexis “Lex” Murphy) enter the picture. The kids are spending the weekend with Grandpa, because his daughter is getting a divorce.

The guests all set out on the park tour. The power goes out. And the tour vehicles idle in the tropical storm by the tyrannosaur paddock.

InGen attorney Donald Gennaro flees the free tyrannosaur in terror. He abandons the Murphy children in the SUV. Lex reacts by repeating in a panic, “He left us. He left us.” This is an obvious allusion to the traumatization caused by the divorce of her mom and dad. “He left us. He left us.” Every man in charge of the kids flees to save himself.

After the road attack, Lex is still hysterical. “He left us. He left us.” Dr. Grant has to man up, look her in the eyes, and assure her, “But that’s not what I’m going to do.”

Dr. Grant spends the rest of the movie living into the calling of a surrogate father to Lex and Tim. In doing so, he becomes more competent. He gains confidence and affection for children. He teaches them the ways of life as they navigate the wilderness of the park. He protects them all the way to the end. In the end, Lex and Tim nap safe and sound in Alan’s welcoming arms on the helicopter to the mainland.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Then we have the curious conundrum of Dr. Ian Malcolm. He’s the mouthpiece in this movie giving us the moral of the story. And yet he’s no hero in this narrative. His life is that of a man who’s bought stock in the enterprise of free sex and easy divorce. And his crippled condition later in the movie links him to his lecherousness and serial infidelity.

Does he have children?

“Me? Oh, hell ya. I love kids. Anything at all can and does happen.”

Is he married?

“Occasionally. Yeah, I’m always on the lookout for a future ex Mrs. Malcolm.”

Malcolm loves having children. But he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about giving them a stable home life. He’s a guy who can’t make marriage work. And he gets injured and has to rely on others to save him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then there’s the case of Dr. Ellie Sattler. At times, she’s the voice of motherhood.

She taunts her partner Alan about his disdain for children. And she expresses her desire to be a mother. She takes a shine to Lex and Tim and continues her games prodding Alan with the help of the kids.

Ellie and John have a heart-to-heart over melting ice cream and fond old memories. They express (stereo)typical male and female modes of responding to the crisis. John wants to act and regain control of the chaos. Ellie wants to feel her way through the chaos rather than trusting in cold reasoning.

And yet there are occasions where another voice comes out of Dr. Sattler’s mouth.

Malcolm makes his quip.

God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.

Sattler adds to it in a manner that amends the original meaning.

Dinosaurs eat man.
Woman inherits the earth.

In Genesis 5:1-2 (cf. Genesis 1:26-28), we read the following.

In the day that God created man [i.e. Adam], he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them mankind [i.e. Adam] in the day they were created.

But Sattler extracts Woman out from Man as though Woman can stand apart in this way. Her quip is the “Woman destroys God” equivalent to Ian’s comment “Man destroys God”.

On two occasions, Sattler ventures out to do something dangerous.

The first time is when she goes with game warden Robert Muldoon to rescue the group stranded in the park. She announces she’s going. And no one thinks anything of it. It is what it is. Ellie is being a helper. Good work.

The second time is when she goes to turn the power back on. She and Hammond have an awkward moment about who should be the one to go. It draws attention to the question of “sexism in survival situations”. And by doing so, the viewer is forced to consider the events that follow in light of that question.

What is the significance of Muldoon providing cover for Sattler in the jungle?

What of the three velociraptors all being female?

And what about Muldoon’s “clever girl” and subsequent death in this context?

And what is the significance of an old man and a crippled man arguing over who’s right in guiding Sattler to her goal?

And most chillingly of all, what is the significance of Sattler electrocuting Tim Murphy in ignorance and inadvertancy?

A woman with good intentions who went out to do a man’s work endangered the children unbeknownst to her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At the climax of the movie, the sexual revolution eats itself alive as tyrannosaur collides with velociraptor. Alan, Ellie, and the Murphy children escape the Rex vs. Raptor rumble under the rotunda and race to the Jeep out front with Hammond behind the wheel. Grant (as the dad in this functional family) and Hammond (the visionary architect of this theme park) have an exchange.

Alan: “Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.”

John: “So have I.”

They’ve rendered their collective judgment on this allegory for the sexual revolution after nearly being destroyed by it. And being more like natural family was their salvation.

God Creates Dinosaurs

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice a book lurking around in two different scenes in Jurassic World (2015). Zara Young picks up Zach and Gray Mitchell at the Isla Nublar dock. Then she’s sitting behind the boys and reading this book on the monorail from the dock to the main complex. It’s also lurking on Lowery Cruthers’ desk in the control room. It’s the book God Creates Dinosaurs by Dr. Ian Malcolm.

I’m surprised Jurassic World employees are reading this book or are permitted to read it. But I enjoyed seeing it foreshadow the inevitable breakdown of the new theme park.

This title alludes back to Jurassic Park (1993). Dr. Malcolm, Dr. Grant, and Dr. Sattler are watching for the tyrannosaur with bated breath. Then Malcolm quips:

God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.

Malcolm’s phrase “God creates dinosaurs” becomes the motto for his thesis. The use of genetic engineering to bring about the de-extinction of dinosaurs is unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous. Mankind has wielded power to do things we have no business doing. And we’ll dehumanize and destroy ourselves in the process.

This is the exact problem in the real world with another exercise of power. De-extinction of dinosaurs stands as a metaphor for a subject much closer to home in our culture. And the signs of this problem pepper the plots and the characters’ lives in the film franchise. It links the unnatural creation of dinosaurs by mankind to this pervasive cultural problem in a way that’s profound and not coincidental.

The Jurassic Park franchise is about the sexual revolution. And when I’ve explained this to you, you’re going to slap a facepalm and wonder how you never noticed this until now.

Long ago and far away … Okay, after college and elsewhere in town, my father-in-law and I would watch films once the kids went to bed. Afterward, we’d discuss cultural themes at work in the flicks. By 2:30 AM, we’d usually solved the world’s problems for the week.

We observed how the original Jurassic Park trilogy contained a lot of dysfunctional family dynamics. Also on display were the duties, expectations, and places of men and women in the modern social order. This trend has continued in Jurassic World series. Men, women, and children are in social distress, dinosaurs look to be the death of them all, and forming functional family structures saves the day. Our confrontation with the natural order run amok catalyzes this transformation and redemption.

The bold and defiant act of cloning dinosaurs and everything that results is an allegory. It’s an allegory for the sexual revolution and its repercussions. It’s about divorcing sex, marriage, and procreation from each other. About commodifying sterile sexual activity and commercializing child-making. About every sort of reproductive intervention and artificiality to create (or not create) children. About blurring the lines of male and female spheres of activity. About muddying up male and female agency. About human life in the modern world contrasted with human life in the natural world.

Think about it. Why clone dinosaurs? Entertainment. It’s the only effective motivation to fork over the funding. You could try to be noble and say it’s about research and scientific knowledge. But Dr. Henry Wu the chief geneticist tells you there’s nothing natural about this. And he knew this from the beginning. In the original novel, he even argues it would be a feature rather than a bug. He wants to make the dinosaurs less real, less natural, by making them more stereotypical to conform to our uninformed prejudices. Dr. Wu wants to create unnatural dinosaurs to be what we want them to be, not what they were when God created them. And we are to think of them as natural because they fit our fantasies.

You clone dinosaurs for the same reason you precipitate a sexual revolution. To denature nature and convert it into a commodity for our pleasure-seeking consumerism.

In the posts ahead, I will show how this plays out film by film.

Poor Advertising

Natural Marriage and Side B Reluctance

Much of the church practices a revisionist view of marriage. If you suggest to the average chaste gay Christian that he ought to consider the possibility of getting married, it’s likely to be the revisionist view of marriage with which he’s going to wrestle. And he’s probably going to be dealing with an understandable level of frustration and bitterness at well-to-do suburban evangelical lovey-dovey couples who have baptized revisionist marriage and made it shallowly outwardly conform to a paper-thin image of marriage in Scripture. This is my own experience over the years.

A fulfilling romantic desire for a spouse (though good and welcome) is not a constitutive element of natural marriage. Telling that to a Christian with same-sex attraction is a hard pill for him to swallow, because few people in our culture ever swallow it. It’s implausible. Nobody is living it in sight of us. It’s not commonly promoted. Even the idea of marriage as hard and ugly and covenantally locked down is absent in our culture.

Lax divorce laws signal to everyone that we don’t have to and aren’t expected to maintain marriages when they becomes too much frustration, or we become disillusioned that the fairy tale didn’t last. A celibate gay Christian is likely to think you’re asking him to go into a marriage in a condition emotionally comparable to the condition in which most people nowadays are getting out of a marriage. Who can blame him for thinking that?

Difficult Unweddedness

Pauline Vocational Celibacy and Side B’s Framework

In my pushback on Reformed and Side B, I wrote:

And I push against some of my sexual minority traditional Christian brethren for conflating a difficult native state of unweddedness with Pauline vocational celibacy.

This requires some explanation.

Marriage and celibacy are mutually illuminating vocations. There’s no generic celibacy. It has a backdrop that structures and orients it. And the backdrop given by the Apostle Paul in his discussion in 1 Corinthians 7 is natural marriage. One could view both vocations as institutions. Perhaps ideally so. Perhaps a stricter formal celibacy needs to be established by vows, and it needs the recognition and support of the church in order to give it a more substantial public reality just like marriage. Permanent celibacy should be publicly vowed celibacy in which the community has a vested interest.

Apart from that, one is in a state of native singleness that’s about being sexually faithful in that season of life (however long it may be) and isn’t committed one way or another to a vowed state of monasticism or marriage. In any event, celibacy is about forgoing natural marriage for the sake of service to the Kingdom. It involves recognizing a sort of default general call to marriage and procreation as the majority expectation (I won’t call that the normative expectation) for how people must still live and yet will also have to submit to having their marriages subsumed under the priorities of the Kingdom. But the celibate Christian forgoes that path and embraces another path for subsuming his life under the priorities of the Kingdom.

As far as the backdrop of celibacy being marriage, I sometimes hear Side B folks slip into a mode of speaking about celibacy as if the backdrop is self-denial from entering into a same-sex marriage. Of finding a partner of the same sex and building a home and family through additional acts of defiance of the created order with that person. When that slip happens, and insofar as it’s regularly at work in the mind of the individual, that denial isn’t celibacy juxtaposed to natural marriage. It’s sexual fidelity and obedience to Christ in contradistinction to sinful rebellion.

This is a potential pitfall I see lurking in the ambiguity of talking about sexual fidelity as “costly obedience”. What does it cost that is of value? Being a faithful gay/SSA Christian by living a chaste life in celibacy is “costly obedience” only if the measure of cost is the wealth of sin forgone in the form of a same-sex marriage. It’s not “costly” obedience. But it’s hard obedience which is legitimate, respectable, and bears much fruit.

Now, of course, if we’re talking about someone forgoing the vocation of natural marriage, then that’s another story. There are real costs attributable to that. And there are real costs attributable to people who forgo the vocation of celibacy for marriage.

Refraining from sin is not the same as forgoing the dignified calling of marriage. It’s not an honorable deprivation in the sense that refraining from sin is some form of glorious calling. Refraining from sin in all its forms is just universal obligation to Christ. But I do affirm, respect, and champion the unique hard obedience of chaste gay Christians. Often a harder obedience than many other Christians practice. I would do the same for any gay Christian who entered into natural marriage as a particular hard obedience.

I get the impression from some Side B folks that their gay self-conception is an automatic sign that celibacy is the only true and lifelong vocation available or seriously considered. Some Side B folks in their push against Side X (which is conceived according to the rules of the Side A/B game) do not sufficiently seriously consider natural marriage as a viable option for them. I get the sense that such an outlook is fortified by thinking according to the sexual orientation paradigm (Freudian clinical psychology) too heavily.

It’s also fortified by the assumption that a gay man, for instance, must become attracted to women in general before he can become attracted to and marry a particular woman. Except that’s not how attraction usually works. And it’s cynical about what can happen when another person loves us first, what being loved first can bring out of us.

As I read Paul’s comment that remaining unwed is good, but because of intemperance toward sexual immorality, one should marry rather than burn, I don’t think homoerotic and homosexual desires and inclinations are an exception in his opinion or teaching. I wouldn’t grant such desires and inclinations as automatic disqualifying exceptions from the long list of life’s hardships that hinder individuals from marriage. I’d just say life is ugly and messy and complicated and harsh. And it’s differently so for different people.

When Paul affirms the goodness of a man remaining in the calling (e.g. bondservant or freedman, Jew or Gentile, wed or unwed) in which he is called (i.e. into the Faith), those callings are significantly involuntary in their origins. It’s going to mean learning to live with them and live into them even though we’re already planted in them as conditions.

The same would hold true if anyone changes callings. I wouldn’t presume a change of callings puts someone in an inherently easy new condition. It’s more straightforward to say of all faithful single Christians, regardless of personal circumstances, that they are living faithfully in a hard or complicated state of native unweddedness.

Impoverished Conceptions

Some Pushback for the Reformed Tribe and the Side B Tribe

Circumstances being what they are, I’m often forced to think about the collision between the most outspoken elements of the Reformed tribe and the Side B tribe. I’m forced to do so, because I have an awkward foot and vested interest in each one’s territory. And I have my pushback for both tribes.

On one hand, I have the impression that ultraconservative Reformed culture warriors push too hard on the vocation of marriage and family as the universal expectation. Any concession to a vocation of celibacy has so many strange qualifications it becomes non-existent in practice.

Many in the Reformed tribe have a poor conception of the complexity of sexuality and the inner workings of men and women when it comes to affections, attractions, aesthetics, disabilities, deficiencies, dysphorias, disorientations, sufferings, self-denial, chastity, and social structures and needs.

On the other hand, I have the impression that activist Side B posterboys and girls push too hard against the vocation of marriage. If not against the “cult of the family” found in suburban Pop Evangelical churches, then against the natural institution in their own lives in a few forms.

Many in the Side B tribe have a poor conception of the complexity of sexuality and the inner workings of men and women when it comes to edification and transformation (i.e. vivification and mortification), self-discovery, self-conceptions, social presentation, and the resulting feedback on oneself.

As someone who’s a fairly conservative Reformed man who experiences and navigates persistent same-sex attraction, I sympathize with both camps, and I push back on both camps. I push against some of my ultraconservative Reformed brethren for being naive and thickheaded toward fellow Christians who don’t neatly fit the former’s personality enclave. I push against some of my sexual minority traditional Christian brethren for conflating a difficult native state of unweddedness with Pauline vocational celibacy.

In many ways, I’ve come to view both excesses as complementary counterparts mutually shaped by the same distorting influence of our culture. Our culture is one of corporatistic consumerism. Highly untethered from nature writ large (creationistic teleology) and our own human natures as embodied males and females who have roots and bonds.

Identity self-construction and curation, i.e. personal brand development, as consumers is a force at work in every decision we make. So, the ultraconservative Reformed Christians who are being countercultural by emphasizing rigorous federal headship, single-income households, and quiver-fulls of homeschooled children are developing and promoting brand loyalty. And the activist Side B Christians who are hashtagging, rainbow-flagging, and bumblebee-stamping mini-bios and daily social media activities are developing and promoting brand loyalty.

There’s an insecurity on both sides where the constructed and curated identity must be affirmed publicly in a free market of self-identification. No one can just live a vocation where the social context of doing so is its own reinforcement and reassurance. There’s more concern about tribal signalling for market share than their is with contentment in the meaningfulness of daily practice.