Monday, September 30, 2013

What Is Normal?


There are, if you think about it, a few ways of looking at "the normal".  The normal could be either ...

  • That which is statistically normal - the average behavior for the greatest number of people.  This is the way we like to think of "normal".  We like to think it's defined by consensus, and consensus is simply what's popular at the time.  But the statistical norm is only a way of describing behavior at a given moment.  Beyond statistical normality, there is also ...

  • What is normal for our fallen human nature: the normal that makes us happy.  This takes a big leap for people these days, who don't believe in nature, or in human nature - fallen or otherwise.  What is normal for our fallen selves are those things that make us happy in the world - nutritious food, healthy relationships, productive work, a family.  These are all good things.  If we eat bad food, surround ourselves with abusive relationships, do work that makes us miserable and that leads nowhere, or have no family or a family that's in a shambles, we are unhappy and notably so, for we are living an abnormal life - a life that's not in accord with human nature.

  • But there's also the normal for our redeemed or sanctified nature: the normal that makes us blessed.  What is normal for the New Adam is total dedication and self-sacrifice in the name of love.  Thus, things like mortifications, fasts, penances, deprivations - things that make our worldly fallen nature unhappy, these same things are delights to our sanctified selves.  Jesus Christ outlined these things in the Beatitudes.  They are surprising and out of step with either the statistical norm or the happy norm, for they point toward a far deeper happiness.

What you have, then, when you think about the "normal" is a a picture of three things ...

1. How man actually lives (the statistically normal)
2. How man ought to live to be happy in this life (the happy normal)
3.  How man ought to live to find bliss in eternal life (the sanctified normal)

Number one has no necessary connection to either happiness or blessedness.  Thus, even though having our sexuality twisted and abused by porn is now "statistically normal", it is an act that is contrary to both #2 and #3, our fallen nature and our redeemed nature.  In the old days, it may have been "statistically normal" to live with open sewers and stagnant waters that bred malaria, but such "statistical normality" did nothing to keep us healthy or happy; we simply got used to it.

When a person argues, then, that "anything goes" in sex and that this is the "new norm", tell him that at one time black men and women in this country were bought and sold as mere property.  That was utterly normal, and utterly wrong, and it made neither slave nor master happy or healthy.  We now see that as truly abnormal from the point of view of both this life and eternal life.  One day we may again see abortion or sodomy as being the inhuman abnormalities they are, for both are merely "statistically normal", and neither brings any real pleasure, but only misery and suffering, abuse and contempt.

But these days we reject all three norms as arbitrary and contstrictive.

These days we are simply fools.

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