Nature and nurture PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 July 2015 11:58

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

It should be nature and nurture together and in conformity with each other, not nature vs. nurture, as those of the gender ideology would often invoke. What is obvious is that we are not our own creator, and our nature is not self-generated. It has its own law, independent of how we understand it, and we should just try our best to respect and follow it.

I remember Pope Benedict in his encyclical, Deus caritas est, saying that nature is one and indivisible which includes not only our physical environment, or our biological make-up, etc., but also the spiritual and moral dimensions of our life.

It’s good that we are witnessing a growing sense of ecology, or care of the environment, but we should realize that that ecological sense should extend all the way to include our spiritual and moral life and environment, which actually is its most crucial aspect.

And just as what happens in our physical environment, we too have the choice either to respect, enhance and develop this spiritual and moral ecology, or distort or even destroy it. Sad to say, it seems that many of us are concerned more with the physical ecology than with our spiritual and moral ecology.

Nature is what is given to us by God, our Creator and Father, through our biological and genetic make-up, courtesy of our parents, the procreators. And nurture should build on it, not go against it.

We all know that one is conceived and born either as male or female. This is basic biology, not bigotry. That there sometimes are hermaphrodites is the exception, a rare phenomenon, which proves the rule.

It’s an anomaly that simply shows that nature too has its limitations, which often is also caused by us, much like why we have typhoons. Still, such anomaly is not the end of the world for the person concerned. Something can always be done to address that predicament.

And so when one is born as a boy, he should try his best, with the help of everyone, to develop and nurture his manhood as fully as possible, actualizing his manly qualities and properties as shown by Christ himself and reflected and mediated in a homogeneously evolving way by our cultures and civilizations through the millennia.

The same when one is born as a girl. She should cultivate her femininity as fully as possible. There is supposed to be complementarity between the two sexes.

This is, of course, easier said than done. We know that for one reason or another—physical, hormonal, emotional, psychological, environmental, etc.—there can be confusion between the two genders. This should be acknowledged humbly as an anomaly for which some solution has to be sought. It should not be considered as normal, much less, natural.

Clarifying and resolving issues as to what is to be masculine and what is to be feminine, I suppose, would be a dynamic affair up to the end of the world. But this concern should have some consistency and homogeneity.

What is clear is that while some commonality can be observed and is ok in many aspects of our human sexuality, i.e., in the relation and distinction between male and female, the sharpest distinction between the two can be observed in the venereal level, when the direct use of our sexuality as in the conjugal act or sexual intercourse is involved.

In this aspect, the male has to be male and the female has to be female, since the act, to be wholly human, has to be an act of love, of total self-giving that is open to life.

In that act, the whole person is involved, in the totality of one’s spiritual and bodily dimensions. That is the very nature of the act, the moral object of the act. We should not pervert it by not respecting the very nature and purpose of that act.

If animals that are driven simply by instincts would know in general how to do the act and with what partner—we call it mating—we human beings, who are persons with intelligence and will, should know better.

But then again, since we have a wounded nature, there’s always a possibility that instead of doing things according to our nature, we can choose to do things against our nature.

In fact, of all the creatures, we are the only ones, together with the purely spiritual angelic creatures, that can contradict our nature, and thus become inhuman or subhuman.

We have to be more aware of our grave responsibility to put nature and nurture together, not nature vs. nurture.a