Tuesday 13 December 2022

The metaphysical role of men and women in this world, and the next

Most versions of Christianity - and indeed of world religions - do not have any metaphysical role - that is any ultimate, fundamental, essential, necessary role - relating to the role of sex differences (i.e. the division of Man into men and women) that are concerned with the ultimate metaphysical nature and destiny of God's creation. 

This is evident in ideas that sex is often seen as merely a temporary and expedient factor of this ephemeral earthly mortal life; and the belief that sexuality and sex differences will be dissolved away in the life to come. The idea is that we will all be a single kind of being; perhaps differing in appearance and individual character - but most Christians (other than Mormons) do Not see men and women as having a different 'role' in Heavenly life.  

In this earthly world, there are all kinds of - apparently opposed - ideas of sexuality, which are nonetheless all rooted no deeper then observations regarding human psychology. Human psychology is affected by 'nature and nurture' and also by many other things such as illnesses, toxins, genetic problems (including, I believe, cumulative and cross-generational mutation accumulation), drugs and others. 

From a psychological perspective, therefore, many different conclusions can be reached; according to selection of the evidence and prior ideology. 

These range from sexuality being a matter of individual choice, and 'therefore' a matter of indifference to the bureaucratic state - to its being a relatively-sharp binary divide, with one sex as superior, and the other sex inferior; when judged by various criteria. For instance women are (on average and when interfering factors are controlled) healthier, live longer, and are more conscientious; while men are stronger, more intelligent and more creative.    

But here we come up against the fact that in this mortal life - in this material and entropic world - we are always dealing with change, with 'imperfection' and corruption (leading towards death and material destruction in general). So that we almost never get any clear, coherent and stable answers from analyzing the material appearances of things. 

Different attitudes are aware of different sets of data, and the same set of data lead to different conclusions - yet the prior metaphysical assumptions that structure this ephemeral world into data, concepts, and persons are themselves seldom acknowledged or brought to awareness. 

This is a particular problem when we are trying to understand ultimate and spiritual matters. Far too often these get mixed up with worldly factors, and worldly expediency, as well as with short term social and personal agendas. 

Metaphysics then gets reduced to psychology and social policy. 

When this happens, observations are being put before the assumptions that make them possible - which is incoherent, and an error. People then try to generate expedient (and changeable) metaphysical assumptions that seem to sustain whatever it is they want to do, how they want to live, what makes them feel better. 

The result is a mess! 

At the back of everything, the question towards which other questions lead - is the nature of God the creator, God's relationship with Men, and God's purposes in creation.

If, at the end of the line, God is one; then this implies that unity - i.e. one sex (i.e. no sex) - will be the ideal of theosis. 

However things may be in his earthly mortal life; the ideal of Heavenly life will be tending towards the God-like state of no sex differentiation. 

And if God is one and a man in His nature, then it follows that men will be ideal, and woman secondary. Our ideals will tend towards the masculine; and the feminine will be judged by masculine criteria. 

But if, as I believe, God is ultimately two, a dyad; and if that dyad is a man and a woman - then sex difference and sexuality is irreducible, and ideal. 

When one understands that the two-fold division into man and woman goes all the way down, then in an ultimate and eternal sense (not expedient, not temporary, not due to limitations of knowledge nor accidents of entropy) - both man and woman are ideal types, and (again ultimately) the role and behaviour of men and women ought to be regarded in itself, by its own role and criteria

(It is the primordial love between our Heavenly Parents that began creation. That is, indeed, creation itself.)

If God is a dyad, and if we are children of God; then man and woman are both finally irreducible; and each is incomplete in some ultimate sense.   

If God is a dyad; then the closer than men and women come to being like God the creator, then the more important will sexual difference become; until, at some point in divinization, men and women will need to become a dyad - if theosis is to continue towards God-like-ness.

Such matters of ultimate metaphysics do not have any direct 'applications' to mortal life. In other words; we cannot read-off social policy from metaphysics. 

On the other hand, some polices are ruled-out by metaphysics - such as the mainstream sexual revolution agenda, and the current gender agenda. 

And the metaphysical understanding does dictate that we do not unthinkingly, and in all situations, judge men and women by the same criteria. Men and women are both human, but neither is the totality of human; so there will surely be situations in which we need to regard men and women as different in kind. 

And when there is a difference in kind, it is wrong to assume that there is no difference, nor should we assume that both men and women can be evaluated and regulated using the same concepts or mechanisms. 

On the contrary, we need to be mindful that men and women are like two separate but intertwined 'species' inhabiting the same niche. While we need to do separate things much of the time and especially at the lower levels of expedient functionality; the more spiritually advanced and ultimate are our considerations - the more aware we need to be that men and women are necessary parts of that harmonious loving creativity of interpersonal interaction which characterizes God's creation as it will be manifested in Heaven.  

However we may be forced to manage affairs with expediency  in this temporary and corrupt mortal life; we ought, therefore, to strive for an ultimate understanding of the human condition which does not give primacy to either the man's or the woman's perspective; but should recognize that at the highest level there is a genuine and necessary complementarity of the two sexes.


Lucinda said...

I have quite a few children. 5 girls 7 boys. In sequence, b g b g b g b b g b g b. It's such a joy to become aware of the boyish tendencies and girly habits, things that might be mistaken for simple individualism if I had fewer children. Especially now that close to half are teenage, it's really great. I do wish more could experience the beauty of the sex differences from a parenting perspective, but I suppose there is something inexpressible about it.

Lucinda said...

So for instance, lately I've been doing a story telling time with my youngsters. My boy already has the very strong focused obsession habit, and his storytelling is filled with sounds and actions (blowing on me to tell about the big bad wolf blowing the house down), skipping words and details at every turn. I contrast his style with his articulate younger sister, with all her detailed description words. It's so sweet.

Lucinda said...

I believe part of the motivation for regarding sexual differences as superfluous to spiritual progression is from a desire for eternal childhood, safety, non-responsibility.

Modern people are obsessed with the idea of informed consent, and ultimately they often find the only solution to be puberty-blockers for eternity, stop the forward motion since we can never be sufficiently informed about experiences we've never had yet. In my view, God took a risk, He invited us forward, but He knew many things would take us by unpleasant surprise, and many would become angry with Him. And this seems to be especially true about sexuality, which is why many God-believers wave it off as temporary.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda "a desire for eternal childhood, safety, non-responsibility"

I agree; and that this is also essentially the same yearning as for oneness, peace, stillness, bliss etc - which is ultimately the desire to revert to unconsciousness and loss of self.

Such ideas got mixed up with Christianity very early - it seems - but is almost the opposite in terms of the motivation of its adherents.

"many would become angry with Him. And this seems to be especially true about sexuality, which is why many God-believers wave it off as temporary."

I think this is correct, but it is not obvious, since the anger at sex/uality tends to be projected at social arrangements nowadays.

Lucinda said...

"the anger at sex/uality tends to be projected at social arrangements nowadays." True.
Men have a fear of rejection consequent to the almost constant drive to reproduce, which they tend to believe women can solve. However, women simply cannot understand the necessity of reproduction as a problem that needs to be solved because women don't have any drive to genetically reproduce. I've looked for evidence of "the biological clock ticking" phenomenon, and I've never seen it. Rather women appear to have a strong desire for inclusion in the most exclusive clubs, which includes the world-ruling hand-that-rocks-the-cradle club.
Meanwhile women are preoccupied by fear of abuse which they believe men can solve, but women are bound to fear rescuers and abusers alike from a fear of violence period and a difficulty in discerning the difference. (This also stems from a woman's inability to see the necessity of reproduction as a problem to be solved.)

It is interesting that both men and women believe that the other sex has the social-arranging power to alleviate their distress.

MVT said...

@Lucinda "women appear to have a strong desire for inclusion in the most exclusive clubs, which includes the world-ruling hand-that-rocks-the-cradle club." Do you think this is why fertility seems to be almost "contagious"? In my extended family we have a running joke that pregnancies come in waves. One woman will get pregnant and then one or two more will get pregnant a few months later.

Lucinda said...

@MVT - I would think highly k-selective and social species generally would have "contagious" pregnancy biological processes because of improved survival rates by various means relating to efficiency of group action. Female orientation toward status in a social group probably is the result of such biological processes, rather than a cause, if that makes sense. I do think there is a feedback situation at the psychological level, where women feel safer getting pregnant when they know other women are getting pregnant, but I've also heard of women being so stressed by social pressure to get pregnant, that they are not able to conceive until some event removes that pressure.

Lucinda said...

I agree with Bruce Charlton that patriarchy is not the way forward, but I do think it was a vital training period, which, among other things, allowed women some freedom from an oppressive sisterhood that seems to me to be a biological necessity in nature. It at least started women thinking toward an idea of man-woman dyadic cooperation. I think modern women have shown that without the structures of patriarchy, many women are inclined to ignore the male perspective entirely choosing instead to immerse themselves in a toxic sisterhood, hoping for safety in numbers.

Which is to say, I think the potential fertility benefits of "contagious" pregnancy are outweighed by the problems of contagious wokeness, etc. among modern women. The goal is to grow up, not to stay true to the immature and short-sighted sisterhood.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - Fascinating comments! Thanks.

MVT said...

Thank you Lucinda! :)

Lucinda said...

I'm going to revisit part of an earlier comment in light of later comments:

Men are driven by desire to propagate genetics, women by desire to propagate culture as an insider, particularly devaluation of outsiders. Both fear abuse, i.e. denial of their vital desires.
The desires themselves are good, but both men and women serve as checks on the others excesses, which is to say, women instinctively pull back on male genetic propagation aspiration and men instinctively pull back on female aggressive delineation between insiders and outsiders. (Think of how honest men hate virtue-signaling.) When a man and woman love each other, they can find a way to navigate the polarity , but fear drives both men and women to pit their needs against each other so women become suspicious about men's need for genetic propagation, and men become suspicious about women's need for social cohesion.

As an aside, I think men are historically less frustrated with female antitheticality to reproduction because men appreciate the check on other men's ambition. On the other hand, women have no instinctive reason to appreciate male antitheticality to cultural norms.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - I think there is something in what you say - with certain provisos, including that little of this applies in the modern West where real values are so often inverted.

But I think we need to be careful about describing the sex difference and (ideal) complementarity in terms of traits - it is actually at the level of soul and of consciousness (of modes of thinking), and only secondarily and approximately comes out as traits.

This is how the traits can, with sufficiently extreme environmental pressures and incentives, be reversed.

Lucinda said...

Yes, that is an important clarification. I think what I've described could be better thought of as original participation complementarity rather than ideal. Final participation complementarity would be less subconscious and compelled.