Armand Nicholi is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of one of my favorite books; The Question of God. In the book, he addresses what I consider to be one of the most important issues that influences our lives; and that is our worldview.
Nicholi says this: “Whether we realize it or not, all of us possess a worldview. A few years after birth, we all gradually formulate our philosophy of life. Most of us make one of two basic assumptions: we view the universe as a result of random events and life on this planet a matter of chance; or we assume an Intelligence beyond the universe who gives the universe order, and life meaning. Our worldview informs our personal, social and political lives. It influences how we perceive ourselves, how we relate to others, how we adjust to adversity, and what we understand to be our purpose. Our worldview helps determine our values, our ethics, and our capacity for happiness. It helps us understand where we come from, our heritage; who we are, our identity; why we exist on this planet, our purpose; what drives us, our motivation; and where we are going, our destiny. Some historians of science such as Thomas Kuhn point out that even a scientist’s worldview influences not only what he investigates but also how he interprets what he investigates. Our worldview tells more about us perhaps than any other aspect of our personal history.”
The two basic worldviews in western culture
Nicholi is saying that there are two basic worldviews in western culture. One that is a secular, scientific worldview that emphasizes reason and knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge. Its motto is “What do nature and science have to say?” On the other hand, you have a spiritual worldview that is rooted in biblical revelation. It places emphasis on spiritual truth and right conduct, and its motto is, “What does God have to say about this?”
These are clearly two mutually exclusive views of reality, and can lead to divergent views on some of the most important issues of life. Take sex for instance. In the modern secular view of sexuality, God is not a factor. For most modern people, sex is nothing more than another form of pleasurable recreation. You may want to live in a committed relationship, or you might prefer to have multiple partners.
The most prominent sexologist in modern times is Alfred Kinsey. His research on human sexuality is extensive. A recent movie on his life’s work stars Liam Neeson.
Kinsey was a pure secularist, and he believed that God has nothing to do with sex. His view was that, as a mammal, you should be able to enjoy sex with any other mammal of your choosing. This could include your mother, uncle, sister, or even an animal. While this might sound extreme, sound reason alone would have to agree with Kinsey. As the Russian author, Fyodor Dostoevsky, rightly stated,
“If there is no god, all things are permissible.”
This would include human sexuality.
Christianity contends that the healthiest, most meaningful, most satisfying, and most pleasurable sexual experience is found between a man and a woman in a covenant relationship called marriage. A covenant is a promise – a pledge of love, loyalty, and faithfulness. A covenant involves continuity – the sense of a common future – to look forward to and a history to look back on together. A covenant means belonging – a commitment to a rich and growing relationship of love and care.
In Matthew 10: 4 & 5, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The word cleave is a Hebrew word that means absolute unity. Total union. Deep, profound solidarity. Not just a physical union but an emotional union, an economic union, a social union. A complete union. To cleave to someone is to say, “I belong exclusively to you. Permanently. Everything I have is yours. I am yours.”
This is what marriage is. This is why God created sex – for cleaving.
God made sex to be able to say to one other human being, I belong completely, and exclusively, and permanently to you. All of me. Everything. Most followers of the traditional Christian view of sexuality believe that it is sacred, beautiful, and meaningful.
We can’t ignore the contrast of two opposing worldviews. The question to pose, then, is this: Which one has the ring of truth to it? Or, as Tim Keller asks, “Which worldview has the most ‘explanatory power’ to make sense of the world that we live in?”