My attention was drawn recently to a blog post entitled “When You Unchain The Earth From The Sun.”1 What I thought was going to be a galactic dystopian novel turned out to be an article about a Canadian man who has decided that he is not simply a woman trapped in a man’s body but he is actually a six year old girl trapped in a man’s body. I confess it was news to me.
Surprisingly, the author did not spend much time discussing the specific case. His interest lay elsewhere and were philosophical. He observed that when one decides that categories of identity are merely psychological and that reality is constituted by language, there is nothing left. He writes,
“If everything else which shapes our identity can now be determined by mere personal preference, why single out age as an exception? After all, the way we measure time is a human invention. For example, we arbitrarily build our calendar around the earth’s orbit of the sun. I have always thought that this is a somewhat imperialist imposition of heliocentrism on our lives. We also assume that time moves forward, one moment following another, but that too is really a linguistic construct. ‘Time’ is a floating signifier, a patriarchal myth. To coin a term, the old-fashioned idea of linear chronology now represents a somewhat heterotemporal approach to existence, methinks.”
In other words, you have unchained the earth from the sun.
Of course none of this is new. Since the beginning of the human race we have been less than unanimous on matters of right and wrong. And yet we can’t seem to get rid of such categories.
In the early pages of Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis touches on this very topic, revealing the hypocrisy of wanting to be chained and unchained at the same time. He writes,
“Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong — in other words if there is no Law of Nature — what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?”2
It might be wise to be careful about tossing out the laws of nature. Someone else might do the same and you would not like the results.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20.
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952), 19-20.