Spotlight Interview with Nancy Pearcey: God’s Design for Human Sexuality
Nancy Pearcey is author of the newly released Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. She is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University and editor-at-large of the Pearcey Report. Her earlier books include The Soul of Science, Saving Leonardo, Finding Truth, and two ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winners: Total Truth and How Now Shall We Live (which was coauthored with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson). Pearcey has spoken at universities such as Princeton, Stanford, USC, and Dartmouth, and was hailed in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual.”
Carmen LaBerge: Okay. There’s a headline out of Houston that I want to discuss today. And it’s kind of an icky headline. I’ll just tell you in advance. And so joining me to discuss this particular headline about sex robot brothels is Dr. Nancy Pearcey. Now, Nancy Pearcey is a professor at Houston Baptist University. She’s the author of Love Thy Body, Answering The Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality, she’s going to join me right after the break to discuss the disturbing news that sex robot brothels are on their way to America. One is set to open just next month in Houston Galleria Business District. I’m Carmen LaBerge. Yes, you heard me right and you’re listening to Connecting Faith. I’ll be right back.
Carmen LaBerge: Hey friends, welcome back to Connecting Faith. I’m your host Carmen LaBerge. Indeed he is a good, good father and he gives us by grace a knowledge of goodness and beauty and truth, but we also live in the reality of fallenness and so here to talk with me about. Well, I would just say a current expression of the depth of our depravity is Dr. Nancy Pearcey. She is the professor of apologetics and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University. You can follow her on twitter @NancyRPearcey. Nancy, welcome back to Connecting Faith.
Nancy Pearcey: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Carmen LaBerge: So I’m just going to give a two sentence summary of the headline of the news headline and then you can run with it from there as a … Wow, because Houston is your town and I know that you’re working on this particular issue. So here for our audience is what we’re talking about. The founder of Kinky S Dolls is going to open the first sex robot brothel in the United States sometime in early October in Houston. He does not call this a brothel, he prefers the term showroom. So tell us what he means by the term showroom and tell us how people are responding.
Nancy Pearcey: Right. The founder of this sex brothel, he is very honest about it. He says, I talked to a lawyer and the lawyer told me if you’re smart, you won’t call it a brothel. You’ll find another word for it. So he calls it a showroom. And what he means is that it operates like a car showroom in other words people can rent the dolls, test them on the premises and decide whether to buy one. So if you want half an hour in a private room with a sex robot, you pay $60 and I think you can get up to two hours.
Nancy Pearcey: So it’s really a way around the law by not calling it a brothel is making it harder for cities to regulate. Now the Houston mayor is going to try to regulate it. He said in an email statement, the city is looking to upgrade our ordinances to cover this type of business and the city council is actually due to a vote on these amendments next Wednesday because of course the laws were written before there were such things as sex robots. And so in order to meet the new technology, they’re rewriting some of their city ordinances to see if they can figure out a way to regulate them. Right now they don’t think they can outlaw them. They think they can merely regulate them as a sexually oriented business is what it’s called SOB. And sexually-oriented businesses do have certain regulations. They have to be a certain distance from schools, daycare centers, churches and so on. So they’re looking into those kinds of regulations.
Carmen LaBerge: Okay I know my listeners are particularly disturbed because one of the realities is this is a franchise and he’s just opening the first one and the projections are that this could actually replace porn, which we know is a huge industry. Talk with us about the whole concept of depersonalizing sex because that’s what this feels like. This feels like we’re moving from sex being one thing that we would be able to understand and describe from a biblical narrative to something that it … I mean when we talk about sexually-oriented business and we’re going to talk about this being sex, that’s a completely different definition than when we would have been operating with a generation ago. Can you talk us through that depersonalization process?
Nancy Pearcey: Right. And that’s actually why things like laws are not going to be enough. We need to dig deeper and say, how is it that people have, at least some people have come to prefer a mechanized doll, a robot to a real person and it goes back. You can see it happening over time. Look at the hookup culture. The hookup culture rests on the assumption that sex can be purely physical, cut off from the whole person without any hint of love or commitment. And you’ve talked to young people that today, they know the script all too well.
Nancy Pearcey: In my new book Love Thy Body, I included several very heart-wrenching quotes from college students. One of their names is Alicia and she says, “Hook ups are very scripted, you learn to turn everything off except your body and make yourself emotionally invulnerable.” or another college students that I quote said “The mistake people make is they assume that there are two very distinct elements in a relationship, my emotional and one’s sexual, and they think there are clean lines between them.” So in other words, they treat sex as a strictly physical act, isolated from the rich inner life of the whole person. So what we’re seeing is that young people are already being sort of trained in a depersonalized view of sex that treats the body as nothing more than a physical organism driven by physical urges and instincts. And no wonder it’s creating a trail of wounded people. No wonder it’s creating things like the Me Too Movement.
Carmen LaBerge: Let’s talk about, that kinda jumps ahead. But let’s talk about this idea, sort of redeem the conversation and talk about how God intended this to work. Let’s talk about the unified body, soul and spirit to use some kind of combination of ideas. Talk with us about how God intended this to work
Nancy Pearcey: Right. The truth answers to that on the one end for the individual, you are not meant to function only as a body disconnecting in your mind and your brain and your emotions from what you do with your body. You are meant to be a whole person. Your mind any emotions are meant to be in tune with your body and in one sense we could even say that when you have sex outside of the whole. When you have sex outside of the whole person commitment of marriage, when you step outside of that and cut off the sexual element and engage merely sexually, in a way, you’re lying with your body. We can speak with our body. Everyone knows across the world that a smile means something, and a punch in the mouth means something. We communicate with our body, and when we have sex, that is God’s ordained way of saying, “I belong to you, you belong to me, mind, emotions, heart, and body.” So that when you extract sex from that wholistic context, you’re in a sense lying with your body. You’re saying, “I’m committed to you,” when you’re not. Most of us have this experience, sometimes we’ve … I don’t know if you … Think back to your dating years, you might’ve held hands with somebody if you didn’t really want to. You might’ve kissed somebody that you didn’t really want to, either because they were forcing you to, or because you wanted them to think that you cared more than you did. We sense that we are lying with our bodies, we’ve all had that experience. So that, in a sense, what scripture is saying is that we are lying with our bodies when we have sex extracted from the whole commitment of marriage. We’re saying, “I’m committed to you,” when we’re not.
Carmen LaBerge: Nancy, thank you for all of that. Friends, Love Thy Body is a great book to turn to, to understand not only God’s actual real design for all of this, but also how far away from that we have gotten. Nancy, I’m wondering if in the few minutes that we have left, you and I could actually make a transition here and talk about the truth. You have written extensively about the truth. Total Truth and Finding Truth are both really excellent books that I would direct people to. Can you just speak to the moment that we are in right now in America, on the subject of truth?
Nancy Pearcey: I think that the Kavanaugh hearings have … nobody on either side really thinks this is about truth. No one’s trying to get at the truth of what happened in Kavanaugh’s earlier life. It is strictly a matter of power. When I was a young person, as a non-Christian I went to L’Abri, the ministry of Francis Schaeffer. It’s because of my time at L’Abri that I eventually became a Christian. This is 1971, back then Schaeffer was already saying the key issue that Christians need to understand about secular culture today is, there’s been a shift in the concept of truth, and there’s no longer a commitment to truth. A lot of people didn’t really catch it back then, they didn’t know what he was talking about. But, he kept warning, “If a culture loses the concept of truth, all that’s left is power.” All that’s left is sheer power, and there’s nothing to protect us from that power. I sense that that’s what’s happening, and the Kavanaugh hearings that have brought it to life in a way that’s much more vivid than any we’ve seen before. Everyone was about, probably on both sides, this was not a battle to find out what really happened, it was a battle to find out which side was going to win. I think Schaeffer’s warning has been borne out, that when you lose the concept of truth, it just becomes a duel of opposing sides over who gets the power.
Carmen LaBerge: Let’s help the audience redeem that. How can we, in our own lives, in our own conversations today, be people who bear witness to the truth even in the midst of a culture that doesn’t appreciate it?
Nancy Pearcey: Yes, that’s a good question, because I find in my students, for example, that many of them, even though they’re Christian, do not have a strong view of truth. They tend to have a sacred secular split, where they’ve been taught that science is really true, that’s what’s objective, that’s what’s knowable and testable, and what science can tell us is really what’s reliable. Then, there’s the sacred area where we talk about God, and morality, and spirituality, and so on. The modern secular view is that that’s not really true, because that’s not something that you can stuff into a test tube and stick under the microscope. So those things may be meaningful to you, but they’re really a matter of personal experience, personal preference, what gives you a reason to get up in the morning. A lot of Christians, because we’ve grown up in a secular culture, we sort of absorbed that notion.
Nancy Pearcey: Let me give you an example. This really surprised me. I had a master’s student, it was in my master’s class. I had a master’s student in theology, she was in her final semester, so she was very well trained in theology. She took one of my classes and she got to the end of class and she said, “I just realized Christianity is really true.” It’s not just true in the sense of, “If I believe it it’s true for me, but it’s actually true of the real world.” And I thought, “This is very common among Christians.” They believe Christianity, but almost like believing it makes it true to them, and they don’t understand that Christianity is true whether you believe it or not. It is objective truth about the structure of reality. If we don’t understand that … This student said it transformed her life, it transformed the way she talks to her kids, transformed the way she understands the message at church. In fact, after finishing her master’s degree in theology, she’s coming back and taking one on apologetics.
Carmen LaBerge: Oh, awesome.
Nancy Pearcey: So that she can learn more about this life transforming concept of truth.
Carmen LaBerge: Nancy, that’s amazing. Friends, let me direct you to two books, Total Truth and Finding Truth, both by Nancy Pearcey. You can find her on Twitter @NancyRPearcey. You can also find her online at nancypearcey.com. You can obviously find her at Houston Baptist University as well. Nancy, thank you for all the ways you speak truth into our lives. Thank you for joining us today on Connecting Faith.
Nancy Pearcey: Thanks for having me.