Where’s Nature in Natural Law?

Desert Blossom

I don’t often have “aha” moments of insight, but I did the other day. It occurred to me that much of organized religion’s arguments against the rights of LGBT people to live full and complete lives as God created us — including lives that include sexual expressions of love — are often connected with a loose understanding of Natural Law theory.  I say “loose,” because I think that Natural Law theory — properly understood — has lots of room and possibility within it to come to different conclusions about homosexuality. In its crudest sense, Natural Law theory claims that what is natural is also universal, and that a proper understanding of “human nature” is what governs human life and activity, including moral activity.

My “insight” was simply this:  if there were more Nature in Natural Law, then perhaps the mistake wouldn’t be made of placing general and abstract principles above specific, concrete individuals.  The notion of “flower” exists precisely as that — as a notion, an idea.  It doesn’t really exist in the concrete such that it can be pointed to, described, or experienced in the here-and-now.  What does exist is this flower and that flower and those flowers over there.  Similarly, “the human person” only exists as a notion and an idea to help aid in understanding ourselves.  But any conclusion about “the human person” as an idea must always, always, always give way to the reality of you or me or any other individual human person.  Abstractions about “the human person” can indeed help us understand those things that are at the core of what it means to be  human, but if the the list of those things becomes such that fewer and fewer of us see ourselves as thus described, then the list needs to stop.

When the lived, concrete experience of living, breathing people becomes subordinate to an abstract notion of what it means to be a man or a woman or a person, then our thinking has taken a wrong turn and we need to return to the drawing board of Nature.

After all, isn’t it in Nature that we find what is Natural?!

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