It’s All in the Design

How well can you translate psycho-babble? Here's a test from J. Budziszewski's new book, What We Can't Not Know. Not many years ago a physician wrote an article for a medical journal about a certain condition that affects only women. This condition, he wrote, should be regarded as an "illness" which is "almost entirely preventable." He said that the illness had "an excellent prognosis for . . . spontaneous recovery if managed under careful medical supervision," but that it may also be "treated" through "evacuation of the uterine contents." What "illness" did the physician have in mind? Why pregnancy, of course. Yes, you read that right. He thought pregnancy should be defined as an illness. He didn't mean something that can go wrong in pregnancy -- he meant pregnancy itself. Most people see instantly that defining pregnancy as an illness is crazy. Pregnancy isn't something that goes wrong with a woman; it is provided for in her nature, her God-given design. It's something that goes right. Budziszewski argues that you can learn a lot by studying the design of human nature. Not just our physical design, but our behavioral design as well. For example, we are designed for families. No mere human invented the family; no mere human could. Yet it exists everywhere, and for nurturing children, nothing can take its place. Not only were we designed for families, but we were also designed for one-man, one-woman marriages. As sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur observe, "If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design . . . would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting. The fact that both parents have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child." At some level, everyone recognizes facts like these. Marriage and family have been cherished in every society on earth, even places where God's Word has never reached. And this isn't an accident. As the Apostle Paul says in Acts 14, "God has not left Himself without witness," even among the pagans. And one of His witnesses is the way He designed us and made us. Budziszewski points out that even in polygamous societies love poems are addressed from the lover to the beloved -- just two people. A love song "to my darlings, Mary, Ellen, Susan, Penelope, Martha, Hortense, and Gwen" would be recognized everywhere as farce. Even the pagans knew that when we fight against the creational design for human nature, design wins. The Roman writer Horace wrote, "You can drive out nature with a pitchfork, but it always comes running back." We were made for marriage between a man and a woman and for family. These are things we can't not know. To find out more about our creational design, I suggest that you read J. Budziszewski's new book, What We Can't Not Know. You will find great apologetics material to use in defending the Christian faith with non-believing friends. For further reading and information: Warren M. Hern, M.D., "Is Pregnancy Really Normal?", Family Planning Perspectives 3, no. 1 (January 1971) -- available at the website of the author's abortion facility. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Harvard University Press, 1994), 38.
  1. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know: A Guide(Spence, 2003).
  2. Budziszewski, "'Little Platoons': God's Design for Our Relationships," BreakPoint WorldView, March 2003.
Roberto Rivera, "No Other Kind: Foregoing Fulfillment," BreakPoint Online, 22 October 2002. BreakPoint Commentary No. 021230, "So Close . . . So Far: The Blank Slate and Human Nature."


Chuck Colson



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