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P R A E S I D I U M
A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis
12.3 (Summer 2012)
faith and cultural meltdown
courtesy of artrenewal.org
Higher and Lower Nature: The Christian Duty to Stand Against Gay Marriage
Few people are eager to comment upon homosexuality in the normal course of events. It isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a subject that comes up at the dinner table, and if it crops up around the coffee pot, one either tries to crack a ribald joke and move on or (if said pot is on the twenty-third-floor break-room of some large corporation’s offices) to be vaguely, vapidly sympathetic. When some ardent young person declares pugnaciously, “Everyone should have equal rights!” one offers a nod that may or may not be confused with bending into one’s coffee mug for another sip.
I have to admire those who are more resolute in their resistance—for being cast as an opponent to “equal rights” is very close to letting someone paste a swastika between one’s shoulder blades. These brave few sometimes escape being tarred and feathered by coming off as religious fanatics. After all, somewhere in our muddy, malodorous collective consciousness is an awareness that we let Muslims off scot-free when they denounce practices like homosexuality. So shouldn’t equal rights cover fair turnaround—shouldn’t one kind of zealot get the same free pass as another?
Personally, I do not like building this case by producing a few references to a holy book, whether it is mine or another kind of believer’s. I don’t care for shifting authority to Him Who Must Not Be Questioned in any discussion where the objective is deeper understanding. First of all, it implies in the case of “gay” relationships that sacred injunctions to abstain from such behavior are irrational—that those who do not believe in the holy book’s god will find the taboo utterly inscrutable. As a Christian, I am convinced that God founded His ethical imperatives in our reason (not to be confused with logic: sentiments, too, are rational) rather than in blunt, thunderclap proclamations. It is characteristic of His love that He would guide us through an inner voice as well as through an external table of commandments (and that, indeed, His commands would all flow implicitly from that inner voice).
Secondly—and this is almost the same point, but not quite—the “biblical commandment” approach to homosexuality, or anything else, suggests a kind of moral relativism. It hints that differences in values cannot be explained—that such disagreements are fixed immovably in prejudice and beyond the arbitration of any human faculty. You bet even, I bet odd; you take red, I take black. One of us is wrong and damned forever; the other will enjoy eternal paradise among God’s elect, because… because he guessed heads instead of tails. That can’t be right. With apologies to Pascal, faith is not a bet. A person can only be morally wrong if his choices work against the guiding lights that God has set aglow within his basic nature.
Defenders of the gay lifestyle will at once clamor, “But our basic nature is to be attracted to our own sex!” Yes, and heterosexuals are likewise attracted to the opposite sex—that is not the nature I have in mind. All biological conditioning is hard-wired. A behavior whose compulsion cannot be resisted by the will does not fall within the province of morality. To say that a man who cannot stay awake for a week or cannot fast for a month is evil would be madness or sheer stupidity. To say that a person should be able to push himself away from the table before taking a second helping of Dutch chocolate layer-cake would be common sense. Some in our post-Sixties, postmodern, post-rational society would claim that sexual behavior is more like the former case than the latter, I know. Yet that position is outrageous. We can control our sexual drives, to a great extent. The person of progressive or “evolving” values would surely not say, right after insisting that gay men must chase other men, that straight men must chase women. Any number of behaviors once covered by the phrase “woman-chaser”—brushing up against the buxom secretary at the water cooler, complimenting a tightly swathed vamp on her buttocks or cleavage, following a working girl home from the office—would be viewed today as predatory and would lead to dismissal, legal action, or both. We expect heterosexuals to be able to govern their conduct, and we indeed require them to do so in public venues.
What, then, is required of the gay man or woman in Christian morality? No more or less than is required of anyone else: to subjugate all behaviors under the rule of the will that are not biologically irresistible. A moral man is ruled by his impulses in as few places as possible and to the minimal extent possible. He does not yield to anger and throw things or flail his fists when somebody infuriates him. He does not run away in fear if he sees a child being attacked by a dog because the dog looks rather big. He does not file false reports about his coworker even though he knows that the person achieved a promotion by forging results. He controls anger, fear, and envy. In the same fashion, he controls his sexual urges. He does not cheat on his aging wife although his new colleague is young, footloose, sexy, and hot to trot. We expect a squirrel to run off with a toddler’s unguarded dessert at a picnic: we don’t expect a man to do the same thing. Human beings are not animals.
Now, if the need for sex is not as overpowering as the need for sleep, it is perhaps more so than the need for chocolate. Different people have achieved different levels of mastery. The strictly Christian duty of the homosexual is to remain celibate. Again, the advocate of “gayness” will spring out of his chair and cry, “How grossly, hypocritically unfair! The straight man gets to indulge his urges in marriage with God’s blessing… but the gay man must forever wrestle with his in isolation! Is that Christian charity?” As a matter of fact, Christian marriage is not intended to be a means of relieving urges. Its purpose is to join two spirits so that they may face the world’s obstacles and seductions with greater fortitude and, if the stars are properly aligned, to raise a family. It is as wrong (from a strictly moral perspective) for a man to come home and demand lively sex from his wife every evening—forcing her compliance even when she is not “in the mood”—as it would be for him to cart off his secretary to a motel. I suppose all of us find some way or other of dominating our urges in our struggle to live at a higher level, and some ways are no doubt less wholesome than others. But the main point is that we struggle. We fight against the gravity of hedonism. We fight more bravely some days than others, but every day we fight. The homosexual is not absolved of this struggle. If he cannot completely master his impulse, then he must do so insofar as he can.
And here I am afraid that I must grow crudely blunt: honni soit qui mal y pense—I am only trying to clarify a critical point. “Gayness”, I would say, does not appear to be strictly about satisfying the sexual urge in the only way possible for those affected. Many gay men have led heterosexual lives—very, very active ones—before coming to the new creed. It is evident, therefore, that they are not restricted to this single manner of relieving their urge. Furthermore, in the case of those who are biologically incapable of reaching a climax with a woman (and I have no earthly idea what their percentage might be, but my guess would settle on a single digit), one has the gravest difficulty imagining how they compensate for the denied pleasure by allowing intrusions into a part of the anatomy where things were meant to exit rather than enter. In other words, their activity can scarcely cater to physical pleasure. They must delight, rather, in the sense of being able to provide another with pleasure—but the composition of such delight must be psychological, and hence not really genetic at all. Men who take advantage of these frustrated lads to achieve an illicit rapture are plainly able to find joy in any sort of bottle that their cork will fit (if I may borrow an expression from Shakespeare’s Lucio).
The “provider” in such situations, it seems to me, is deeply to be pitied. He is being emotionally exploited. The “consumer”, on the other hand, inspires in me contempt and disgust. I am not “afraid” of him, as the idiotic concoction “homophobe” vacuously charges: I am repulsed that his physical joy—a joy whose physical parameters would be roughly the same had he chosen a woman as his mate—must be seasoned with an exotic kind of domination. I do not like exploitative, dominating people; and when a person must channel these repellent characteristics privately into some anomic burst of passive-aggression because he cannot achieve the same level of triumph publicly, I see no reason to regard him more warmly.
Will the advocate of “gay rights” counter that the aggressive partner’s ability to perform with women is irrelevant—that he prefers men, even if women may suffice, and that he has a right to his preference? Well, I suppose most of us heterosexual males would prefer to be married to Miss Sweden, other things being equal. But other things are not equal. Within any bra and pair of panties rests a human being, and the qualities of that human being should be far more important than a glorious bust/waist/butt triad. A practicing Christian is not supposed to choose a mate on the basis of “maximizing good sex”. He would demean his partner’s humanity and degrade his own soul in so doing. In the same way, a homosexual who is remotely capable of physical intimacy with the opposite sex should seek a soulmate among those of the opposite sex—a person, obviously, who can understand the nature of his struggle, among other things. His torment, in most cases, results from various tragically crossed wires in his psyche’s emotional engine rather than in a visceral urge transmitted by his DNA.
At any rate, no homosexual relationship deserves to be graced with the name of marriage. The only meritorious counter-argument would be that the tax code should not place extraordinary strain on partners in anomalous relationships; and frankly, such legislation as tax breaks that make marriage a secular asset or liability should be wiped off the books as soon as possible. Marriage partakes of social engineering, to be sure—but we need not go so far as to fine or remunerate people for being married or unmarried (or not unless we want the state controlling all our other behaviors with carrots and sticks). As a sacrament, marriage requires heterosexual union for the reasons I have already offered: i.e., because God All-Good is pleased by goodness, good conduct involves mastery of animal urges, and homosexuality puts concupiscence center-stage by removing the motive of child-bearing entirely and by declaring Platonic same-sex friendships to be inherently inadequate.
But let us concede that marriage is also a secular rite—a formality whose intended audience is the neighborhood as well as (or rather than) God. Does the taboo against gay couples dissolve at this point? Hardly. As a civil ceremony, marriage has the transparent objective of encouraging the traditional family structure. Societies whose members don’t reproduce die within a generation (as we are witnessing graphically in Europe’s squalid death agony), and societies whose members reproduce without marrying tumble into chronic poverty and personal irresponsibility (as we see painfully in the miseries of the American black community).
There is no moral obligation to survive materially, of course: sometimes one’s duty is indeed to face death without flinching for the sake of a higher good. But what higher good does homosexual marriage serve by promoting the European notion that we should embrace collective extermination? Death for no good reason at all—death without sacrifice—is not automatically noble: quite the opposite. It is the sin of suicide—the renunciation of God’s precious gift of life because one wishes not to suffer, to struggle, to change, to grow, and (in short) to be beholden to any sort of god.
In promoting its reasonable mission to maintain itself by elevating heterosexual marriage, furthermore, the community might be said to incur a moral obligation of the following nature to its young. Children learn by studying what their elders do. If their elders allow gay marriage to occur and insist that no brow be raised or head be turned, then most children will naturally come to view such arrangements as entirely normal. The pursuit of sexual pleasure for its own sake will therefore also appear fully normal and proper—as will, by extension, the pursuit of any other pleasure. In a complementary decline, the value of child-rearing and of the considerable sacrifice involved therein will plummet. Such a society will at length be producing children, that is, who have learned by observation to prize their selfish pleasures above service to others (not to mention respect for themselves as beings of rational will).
If we want to savor a cheap “feel good” moment about our own moral superiority by championing tolerance of gay marriage, then I suppose this foolish gesture may be just one more item on a long list which includes dismantling our national defenses and providing lifelong free care for lawbreaking trespassers. Everything on this list, however, must eventually be paid for by those who come after us. I wonder how warm our tolerant, enlightened fellow citizens would feel about themselves if a look in the mirror would reveal, not just a complacent mug, but an infinite queue of misled, undefended, bankrupted descendants? What do you call a person who blasts you with a pompous, self-righteous sermon while small hands at his back, their pleas drowned in fluent bombast, reach desperately for help? Is there a noun with sufficient spittle in it to do them justice?
I have written all of these comments, be it noted, on the assumption that the gay community is genuine in only wanting its bit of sunshine. In the real world, most of us recognize that the truth is more complex. Some members of this “movement” (e.g., the shameless participants in NAMBA) have no intention of lowering their outcry once two adult males or two adult females may receive a marriage license. Polygamy, “open marriage”, pederasty, and outright bestiality all have floats in this parade. Let us not forget, as well, that certain politically subversive forces are eager to see our social structure melt down and our coming generations either dwindle to nothing or acquire the complexion of newly arrived, unassimilated, readily exploited “sheeple”.
The role of feminism in undermining our social structure from this direction is also a vast subject worthy of deep examination. Mere common sense suffices to tell us that the academically approved and fostered tendency of women to despise men must have had some impact on the parallel tendency of men turning to men for sex. Both movements mushroomed in the late seventies and throughout the eighties. Having destroyed courtesy and reduced chivalry to an abomination, feminist luminaries like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda did not much like the kind of man they were left with, any more than “sensitive” men liked the crude, foul-mouthed, sexually insatiable women whom they met on college campuses. Ivory-tower lesbianism came to be, I am convinced, nothing more than an option—and a very appealing option—to the “one night stand”, emotionally ravaging, abortion-haunted heterosexual relationships pimped by paleo-feminism. Most intellectuals of the Sandra Fluke stamp are no more incurably lesbian than a rose is certain to end up in a vase. Their lifestyle, rather, is an ideological statement, a declaration of independence from everything male. They could change their bedmate’s gender as quickly as they could change the bed’s sheets.
For men, the descent into “gayness” is immensely more consequential and tragic. They are the big losers in this childish, self-absorbed game of pushing the envelope; and as our men go, so will go our society. ~ Pancratistes