As a supplement to Van Leeuwen's excellent article on evolutionary psychology, the present article expands upon the importance of our embodied nature (i.e., biological processes) to a consideration of the ethics of human gender relations. An attempt is made to demonstrate that biological processes are important to the interpretation, formulation, and behavioral implementation of any ethical system of human sexual relations based upon Biblical teachings. Two examples of the importance of biology to implementing behavioral ethics (homosexuality and heterosexual offenses) are briefly discussed. Finally, it is suggested that we need to accept the importance of our biological nature without accepting the assumptions of evolutionary psychology and that only a "holistic" view adequately reflects our created nature.
In her article on evolutionary psychology, Van Leeuwen (2002) has done a stellar job of not only demonstrating the incompatibility of such a view with the Christian worldview but also the ultimate failure of its claims to explain human gender relations. The "selfish-gene" hypothesis (Dawkins, 1989) of gender relations, on which evolutionary psychology is based, is a savage, ruthless, mechanistic proposal of how genes survive and reproduce through the process of adaptation. Supposedly, the process of natural selection favors genes that lead to behaviors (and mental strategies) that are successful in the further struggle for survival. However, as Van Leeuwen points out, not only does the concept of natural selection fail to explain common genetic legacies underlying general sexual relations (male and female), but fails most miserably in its proposal of "sexual" (male or female) selection. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the attempt (hardcore version) to explain male-initiated rape as merely a reproductiv e strategy. This "gene made me do it" explanation of rape is the ultimate insult to women and our God-image nature as human beings. Indeed, as Van Leeuwen indicates, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get ethics out of the mechanistic, reductionistic proposals of evolutionary psychology and we must look elsewhere.
While I also agree that Scriptures (with its teachings on being created in the image of God, human dignity, and pair-bonding) and the community of faith provide us with a foundation for developing an ethics of human sexuality, this issue needs to be addressed more fully in the context of our embodied (biological) nature. Although Van Leeuwen recognizes our physical (biological) nature and the degree to which it has been compromised by sin, her endorsement of Browning's statement that we "should use the discipline of biology last, not first" (p. 22) in a consideration of the ethics of human sexuality, leaves the reader with conflicting messages. Exactly, what role does our biological nature play in such a consideration, if any?
First of all, it is quite apparent to the present author that Christian discourse on most topics (not only sexual relations) tends to minimize or marginalize the importance of our embodied state and biological functions to human experience (Cole, …