Sexuality and Gender

Morality from Nature?

Author Greg Koukl Published on 03/31/2013

It’s common of late to justify one’s “sexual orientation” by an appeal to nature. The claim “I was born this way” is all that’s needed to stem moral criticism of homosexuality. But why settle for this approach? Why think that the state of nature is an appropriate guide to morality?

Seventeenth century Philosopher Thomas Hobbs noted famously, “Life in an unregulated state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” It was precisely this fact, according to Hobbs, that caused humans to enter into social contracts, gladly accepting the moral constraints of civilization to its alternative, the law of nature. Morality, as an extension of that contract, is a way of protecting ourselves from the brutality of living in a world where people simply did what came naturally.

I think Hobbs was wrong in his analysis of morality, but that’s not my point right now. My point here is that since living according to nature would easily justify all kinds of barbarism, how does it make sense to invoke the natural state of things to justify anything? By contrast, behavior that’s “natural” is the very thing morality is meant to protect us from. Animals always do what come naturally. Morality that counters one’s natural inclinations rather than commends them is our only refuge from a life that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”