A Rubicon moment for the Anglo-American Left?

On the European Continent–especially France, Spain, and Russia–there’s never been any doubt that the Left is anti-Christian; the quest to eradicate Christianity from public life has been practically its defining feature since the eighteenth century.  Liberalism in England and America, while acknowledged by friends and enemies as a Leftist movement, has always tried to understand its relationship to Christianity, and other religions and “comprehensive” philosophies, differently.  Supposedly, Anglo-American Leftism does not require historical Christian orthodoxy to be false, only controversial or irrelevant to governing.  Liberalism presents itself as a neutral position, an agreement to disagree and not throw the weight of government coercion one way or the other.  Thus, liberals are fond of saying that a policy of legal abortion is a way of not deciding whether the act in question is murder or harmless lifestyle enhancement.  I think this claim is untenable–and I especially don’t see how the neutrality line is consistent with liberals’ insistence that the government make sure that women have easy access to abortions, as if whether or not this is something that is good to have access to weren’t the very thing liberals claim to be neutral about–but that’s an argument for another time.  Sometimes the supposed neutrality of the liberal state is presented as a recognition of how little power government has to influence the private morals of its citizens:  “You can’t police bedrooms”, and all that.  Again, there are arguments for and against this view, but at least it’s not obviously absurd.  It seems perfectly possible for someone to say, for example, “I think prostitution is utterly wicked, but attempts by the government to suppress it would be futile and counterproductive”.

In the past few years, Anglo-American liberalism has basically abandoned this “neutrality” position.  It did this by embracing the homosexual agenda.  Now, one can imagine a sodomy-friendly liberal policy that plausibly respects the strictures of official neutrality, e.g. “We liberals don’t think the state should take any position on the morality or lack thereof of homosexual acts.  We won’t punish them, and we won’t bar sodomites from government positions.  If someone thinks that what these people are doing is wrong, they are free to argue it in the free marketplace of ideas.”  However, the Left–and I mean the entire Anglosphere Left–has gone far beyond this.  It insists that homosexual relationships are positively good.  It sets aside a whole month to officially celebrate them.  It seeks to award civil benefits to those who claim to be engaged in such relationships.  It demands that public schoolchildren be taught to hold a positive view of active homosexuals.  Furthermore, the Left–and I mean the entire Left–believes that disapproval of homosexuality is itself a social vice that must be eradicated by government action.  Schoolchildren holding gender essentialist views are now actively terrorized by euphemistically-named “anti-bullying” campaigns.  The state has broken off collaborations with the Catholic Church precisely because the Church refuses to endorse what the Left regards as the unquestionable good of homosexuality.  There is no way that a liberal can say that liberalism is neutral on the moral question of homosexuality–or the related ontological/teleological question of gender; it is actively campaigning for one view and using the power of the state to discourage other views.  Nor can liberals claim that they are simply keeping their noses out of other peoples’ business because they don’t think the state has any real power to affect public morals.  The whole point of their campaign is to alter the public’s moral perceptions.  This necessarily means redefining marriage in the minds of its participants into a genderless arrangement and impeding the ability of gender essentialist and/or religious parents from transmitting their moral beliefs to their children.

So liberalism isn’t even pretending to be neutral anymore.  Fine, you might say, what’s the big deal?  I mean, nobody but a few political science professors ever really imagined it was.  Most liberal voters hold the more forthright view that their moral opinions are objectively correct and should be reflected in law for that reason.  It’s best that they drop the whole “neutrality” smokescreen now, so we can get to the serious work of arguing over whether their beliefs (utilitarianism, tolerance, etc) really are true.

But there is something new and troubling.  Aside from idolatry and possibly adultery, no sin is condemned as clearly and forcefully by the Christian tradition as sodomy.  Whether one looks at the Bible, the Fathers, Popes, or Protestant Reformers, the witness is unanimous.  Nor is this a belief that the Church just absorbed from the surrounding culture; opposition to homosexuality was, like opposition to infanticide and polygamy, one of the defining features of Christian life in opposition to paganism, whose opinion of these practices was more ambiguous.  Now, liberalism claims that not only is homosexuality morally unproblematic, but that disapproval of it is itself a grave moral fault–the supreme liberal sin of intolerance.  Thus, liberalism now claims that one of Christianity’s clearest and strongest moral stands is itself wicked.  If true, this would mean that Christianity must be a false religion.  Liberals may admit that Christianity has a few correct teachings, but they are committed to eradicating the belief that it is a reliable guide to truth about morals and human nature.

That’s the new thing.  Anglo-American liberalism has not admitted before that it wants to make it official policy that Christianity is a false religion.  The real reasons to oppose the androgynist agenda, of which the approval of homosexual perversion is only one part, are philosophical and anthropological; they don’t rely on any particular revelation.  However, it is certainly worth noting that Leftism now regards it a matter of basic justice that the religion of the majority of the American population be rejected as false.

38 Responses

  1. A rather curious (and entirely secular) development occurred in the 19th century and became dominant in the 20th.

    Traditionally, sodomy had been regarded as a sin and, specifically, as a sin against religion. It is no coincidence that the three crimes of blasphemy, sodomy and witchcraft [le blasphème, la sodomie et la sorcellerie] were abolished by the same resolution, passed, without a debate, by the National Constituent Assembly on 25 September 1791, adopting the old Roman maxim “Deorum iniuria diis cura” [Injuries to the gods are the gods’ business]

    The wide canonical definition had applied to the old crime: “carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage.” The sex or species of the patient was irrelevant.

    Michel Foucault has, rather drolly described the change that took place in the public perception in the 19th century: “Sodomy, that of the old civil or canon laws, was a category of forbidden acts. Their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The nineteenth-century homosexual became a personage: a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a character, a life-style and morphology, with an over-inquisitive anatomy and, possibly, a mysterious physiology. Nothing that he was, escaped his sexuality… It was consubstantial with him, less as a habitual sin than as a singular nature…. The sodomite had been a lapse; the homosexual was now a species.” [My translation]

    From being a sinful action to be repented, or a vice to be overcome, “homosexuality” became a condition to be treated. Now, of course, it is an identity to be validated. This development was inevitable – « Elle lui est consubstantielle… une nature singulière » could not but raise issues of civic equality and the protection of minorities.

  2. A tremendously clarifying encapsulation – thank you.

  3. Another way of saying this is that homosexuality was invented by the left in the 19th Century. Nobody ever heard of it before. Pagans as much as Christians would have found the category bizarre. It is liberalism’s child, and it is well-loved.

  4. I am reminded of the following, taken from British historian Paul Johnson’s “The Quest for God” (1997), pp. 28-9:

    “There were a great many of us, in the 1960s, who felt that there were grave practical and moral objections to the criminalisation of homosexuality, and therefore supported, as happened in most Western countries, changes in the law which meant that certain forms of homosexual behaviour ceased to be unlawful. Homosexuality itself was still to be publicly regarded by society, let alone by its churches, as a great moral evil, but men who engaged in it, within strictly defined limits, would no longer be sent to prison. We believed this to be the maximum homosexuals deserved or could reasonably expect. We were proven totally mistaken. Decriminalisation made it possible for homosexuals to organize openly into a powerful lobby, and it thus became a mere platform from which further demands were launched. Next followed demands for equality, in which homosexuality was officially placed on the same moral level as standard forms of sexuality, and dismissal of identified homosexuals from sensitive positions, for instance schools, children’s homes, etc., became progressively more difficult. This was followed in turn by demands not merely for equality but privilege: the appointment, for instance, of homosexual quotas in local government, the excision from school textbooks and curricula, and university courses, passages or books or authors they found objectionable, special rights to proselytize, and not least the privilege of special programmes to put forward their views—including the elimination of the remaining legal restraints — on radio and television. Thus we began by attempting to right what was felt an ancient injustice and we ended with a monster in our midst, powerful and clamouring, flexing its muscles, threatening, vengeful and vindictive towards anyone who challenges its outrageous claims, and bent on making fundamental — and to most of us horrifying — changes to civilized patterns of sexual behaviour.”

    The situation in Great Britain is rather more advanced than that of the United States in its intolerance of any speech critical of homosexuality, frequently resulting in dismissal of position or bringing of criminal charges. Of course, such punishment, in the nature of things, frequently targets outspoken Christians. In such a circumstance, where criminal action is literally being brought against Christians for intolerant speech against homosexuality, the veneer of neutrality is impossible for the State to maintain and it becomes perfectly clear who is officially priviledged and who is not. The unavoidable fact that such State action amounts to intolerance of normative Christian views is conveniently overlooked.

  5. I agree with your general point, but would argue that there are no true “Rubicon moments” for the Left because it has been committed to comprehensive revolution from the start. It cannot stop itself or be satisfied by anything short of total victory, because it is intrinsically insatiable. Each demand it makes is presented as a small adjustment that will correct an Injustice or bring society into line with Reason; but this is tactical, not strategic. For no sooner is the adjustment made, we know, than it’s standards of Justice and Reason are hiked a little farther to the left.

    The Johnson quote posted by Peter S reminds us that Gay Lib, as it was once called, began as a small, seemingly reasonable demand for decriminalization. It took about twenty-five years for it to proceed through normalization and official celebration to protected class status. Much the same thing happened with contraception, which was at first urged as intended only for married couples who wished to limit family size in order to be good parents and responsible citizens. In some jurisdictions the slide from such “hard cases” (which are, of course, easy cases) to distribution of free contraceptives to college (and later high school) students took about 20 years. Do any of you remember the argument that mildly salacious images in popular media would reduce the demand for smut?

    There should have been any number of Rubicon moments for the Church and traditionalists. I mean moments when we realized that this new Caesar would not be accommodated or appeased, but was coming to destroy us. I long understood the symbol of crossing the Rubicon from the viewpoint of Caesar, as a metaphor for final commitment at a point of no turning back. I now understand it from the viewpoint of the Senate. We have been in denial; and (apart from scriptural assurances) it appears that we are very probably doomed.

  6. What is being described here, this metastatic progression of liberalism, is really only the abandonment of the unprincipled exceptions that have hitherto held it back from reaching its goal. Expect the rate at which these exceptions are shed to increase exponentially in the years ahead as they realize the fecklessness and impotence of their opponents.

    Bonald, you should begin thinking about writing posts outlining the duties of Christians to the state as this situation progressively worsens. At what point, and to what extent, is resistance to this acceptable? May one licitly resist, with violence, arrest and imprisonment for speaking out re: homosexuality? May one licitly resist efforts to shut down churches for the same? It is clear we are commanded to obey authority, but equally clear that this commandment applies to civil authority only to the extent that it does not conflict with natural or divine law; nor is it clear to what extent civil authority in such conflict may be resisted.

  7. Johnson shows the moral judgment of those days was complacent and dull–rotten. Homosexuality has always been a monster. When properly suppressed and beaten down, it’s a weak and cringing monster. They actually thought they didn’t need to keep suppressing it and beating it down. Feed it and give it free run, it becomes terrible. “Oooh, we didn’t realize that would happen.”

  8. A posting the other day by Jim Kalb (http://turnabout.ath.cx:8000/node/2923) although not specifically related to this topic, brings light to bear on larger metaphysical issues that are central to it. From Kalb:

    “…liberalism is entirely logical given the accepted basis for serious mainstream public discussion today.
    That basis is a stripped-down and basically technocratic view that says that at bottom that there’s no God and no objective moral order that can be relied on, just atoms, the void, and free-floating human desires and sensations. As a result, nothing has an essence, natural goal, or reason for being, since there are no intrinsic natures or goods. The only meaning things can have for us is the meaning we give them. It follows that wanting to do something is what makes it worth doing, and the good is simply the satisfaction of preferences.
    That view also tells us that all preferences, and all actors, are equally preferences and actors, with no higher standard to make one better than the other. It follows that each has an equal claim to satisfaction. Morality therefore becomes a system that has nothing to say about how to live but only tells us to stay out of each other’s way and support arrangements that help everyone reach whatever his goals happen to be. The uniquely rational approach to social order, it turns out, is to treat it as a sort of machine—a soulless technically-rational arrangement—for maximizing equal satisfaction of preferences.
    But that’s liberalism. The basic liberal standard of equal freedom—that is, equal preference satisfaction—turns out to be simply rational given current understandings of what’s rational, real, and moral.
    …What’s most obviously missing from public understandings today are ideas of essential form and transcendent reality. Both have to do with the question of what the world and the things in it really are, how we make sense of them, and how to avoid the purely technological outlook that now dominates public life. That kind of metaphysical issue seems far-fetched to some people, but it determines what is thought reasonable, and what is thought reasonable determines what can be talked about and done. So any serious movement of opposition has to consider such questions.”

    To put the matter another way, the normalization of homosexuality, and of the larger “androgynist agenda” – to use Boland’s felicitous phrase – including larger notions of gender equality, represents a largely unrecognized metaphysical crisis in the liberal mind. Contrary to expectation, the liberal mind does possess a metaphysics. There are only two problems with it: it is so radically distorted as to be falsified, and the liberal mind, given its philosophic precommitments, has no right to in any case. For the liberal mind, moral ideals circle around a very limitative set of notions: equality, tolerance and little else. Broader historical virtues, whether the civic virtues of classical Greece or Rome, the theological virtues of Christianity, or what have you, are largely marginalized or absent. Such a limitative set cannot help but lead to destructive distortions in practical ethics and concomitant outcomes, as may be judged readily from numerous societal measures. Further, the liberal mind is characterized by a rejection of the Transcendent and a humanist substitution of man for God, as reflected in its thoroughgoing secularism and philosophic materialism. But in this rejection of the Transcendent for the secular and material, the liberal mind has, in necessary consequence, rejected the domain of ideals, most particularly moral ideals, which, being necessarily universalized abstractions, cannot possibly exist only in a secular and material domain. The liberal mind is, in fact, existentially nihilist, which renders moral judgment perfectly impossible for it, but is either too intellectually incoherent or too intellectually dishonest to face the contradiction of its own nihilism squarely, the consequence of which would be its own radical dissolution.

  9. Nihilists can have no reasonable basis for pursuing whatever policies they are in the mood for. If nothing matters, their stuff does not matter either.
    Bonald, I think this sort of “Rubicon crossing” is a much bigger thing for Catholic Traditionalists than for Calvinists who expect to be more or less at odds with “The World” – which is seen anyway as a dark and fallen place. The ideal has always been to show them how the people of God live, not maintain a heaven ordered hierarchy in all of society.

  10. “Do any of you remember the argument that mildly salacious images in popular media would reduce the demand for smut?”

    Before my time, I think. Who argued this?

    I did hear that the Dutch legalized smutty lit, then when the market didn’t explode they decided to legalize smutty pictures, thinking it would also be mostly harmless and inconsequential.

    Oops.

  11. more anon

    Sex crimes of all types have steadily decreased as porn has become more pervasive and accessible. Unless you think of porn as a serious sex-crime per se, there is something here to ponder.

  12. Paul Johnson strikes me as a rat. In his whole book, “The Quest for God”, he never mentions that his “History of Christianity” was an outrageously dishonest and unfair smear attack on the Catholic Church, all in the service of his then-ideology of communism. At least when Michael Novak switched from commie to neocon, he sort of acknowledged in a Crisis article that he had been guilty of pushing bad ideas. Johnson seems to think he’s done the Church a favor by ceasing to attack us, or rather by criticizing us more gently for not being Whiggish enough.

    Johnson and Novak show that the spiritual distance between communism and democratic capitalism is much smaller than the distance between either and genuine Catholicism. Intellectually, both treat economics as the core reality. Spiritually, both are indications of a Catholic with an inferiority complex, who desperately wants his religion to be more “modern” and respectable with the elites whose acceptance he craves. In the end, communism and capitalism are just poses Johnson has taken to prove what a good Whig he is. To hell with him.

  13. This is what is so cool about Calvinism – I have no reason to pretend to be a Whig, good or otherwise.
    A favorite figure of mine from history is Sir W. Churchill. His mother was an American from a Calvinist/Huguenot family that had been wealthy here since the mid 18th century. An awful lot of his biography can be explained by this one fact.

  14. Sex crimes have also decreased with the rise of DNA testing, cell phones. and incarceration of criminals. The “philanthropic pornographer” excuse misses a lot of variables.

    Care to guess what has happened to the illegitimacy rates?

  15. The “illegitimacy rates” are driven by fertile females freely choosing to have babies without bothering to get a husband before-hand. Male horniness has nothing to do with it. That has NEVER been the rate limiting factor. Most single motherhood these days is happening because the guys young women are lining up to copulate with during their ovulatory period are a small minority of their age cohort. They could not possibly marry all of the mommies and so they dont. But you get to pay for it all with your taxes.
    It is the welfare state that drives it. Sluts do not need a “husband” if the state acts as a provider for them and their bastard spawn…
    Tell me again what porn has to do with this?

  16. In light of Boland’s observations and to clarify, my quote from Johnson was meant as a standalone excerpt and no endorsement of the book as a whole.

  17. Proph,
    The criteria of a just war requires, among other things, a reasonable probability of success.This resistance,then, implies the ability to actually prevent the action you wish to resist.
    Bruce Charlton’s recent ‘A dream of what to do’, suggests a more practical ‘Atlas Shrugged’ course of (in)action.
    One can not curse what has not been blessed,and nothing was ever invented in Hell.Our enemies long ago ceased to be men of ability or good will, with whom we simply disagreed, and are now avowed agents of the Devil,true Whigs, and all liars and thieves,like their infernal master.All that they have,and all of their legitimacy comes from us.
    -Agnello

  18. Indeed – creating a category is seldom neutral and usually serves some purpose. ‘Immigration’, for example, distracts from the vital and specific matters of how many people with what characteristics. Are we talking about the sepcific case of Albert Einstein migrating to Princeton; or open access leading to tens of million people per decade including thousands of active members of violent gangs, millions of members of hostile cultures bent on takeover, and the rest mostly those incapable of net-productive work in a modern economy (even if they wished to do it)?

  19. You are holding Paul Johnson to a false standard. I can recall sitting and reading Johnson’s public repudiation of socialism, published in the socialist New Statesman around 1975. (Being a socialist and atheist at the time, I thought he was a fool.). Johnson’s repentance most importantly is between him and God; but he has publicly repented many times – and it one of the UK’s best known conservative Catholic public figures. I have read many worthwhile things by him, most recently an excellent account of the Spanish Civil war. Do you expect him to append an explanation and ‘apology’ at the foot of each page and following every article to atone for his past misdeeds (which cannot be atoned for, being over and done with and having had their effects – only repented for, which he has done)? Naturally, we are all ‘rats’ by the highest standard, by PJ is at least much less rodentlike than most of us…

  20. I’m not recalling arguments written out in high-brow magazines, although I’m sure such were made. I’m thinking about the way adults at the time discussed the semi-normalization of Playboy magazine or gauzy super-soft porn sequences like the one in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

  21. I’m going to take your word on the decline in sex crimes. This means that many men find pornography-enhanced masturbation more satisfying than sexual assault. Small mercies, I say, since many more men find pornography-enhanced masturbation more satisfying than sexual intercourse–especially with the slightly sagging, not-particularly-imaginative, woman known as their wife. This is a fantasy that not only substitutes for reality, but actually destroys that reality.

  22. Indeed.

    It is now widely held that the objective features of a phenomenon so little constrain the ways it is classified and theorized that these features can be disregarded in trying to understand why a particular classification system or scientific theory has been adopted.

  23. Another way of saying this is that homosexuality was invented by the left in the 19th Century. Nobody ever heard of it before.

    Indeed – Michael’s comment, along with Bonald’s OP, offers a very interesting and historically-informed way of pointing out that one of the greatest coups of the homosexual movement was convincing society that homosexuality is something one is rather than something one does.

    The erasure of this distinction is at the root of so much of the homosexual movement’s success at banning opposition, and the church has acquiesced to it in a certain measure. Consider the recent trend of “anti-bullying” laws at schools, and “anti-harassment” laws in the workplace. As we know, it’s become verboten to use “gay slurs”, or to poke fun at homosexual behavior. Even church-types have gotten behind these measures in the sense that they’re now arguing, “Well, yes, we should oppose the homosexual agenda, but we should do it kindly, with respect for the individual. We should make our case, but leave taunts and mockery out of it.”

    Why? Sodomy is a repulsive, immoral behaviour, hilarious in the most grotesque sense possible, and it should be mocked! Lesbianism is an absurd caricature of legitimate sexuality that invites being laughed at! In these cases, we are not criticizing, or mocking, anything that the individual cannot easily avoid by not engaging in these lifestyles.

    I myself was quite surprised when I thought about this today, and realized, hey, there actually is no reason not to make sport of homosexual behavior. That such a revelation could have surprised me shows how quickly we adopt the prevailing worldview, even unconsciously.

    (For another take on this, see Laura Wood’s reader feedback here. Summary: Christians have become too nice.)

  24. That basis is a stripped-down and basically technocratic view that says that at bottom that there?s no God and no objective moral order that can be relied on, just atoms, the void, and free-floating human desires and sensations. As a result, nothing has an essence, natural goal, or reason for being, since there are no intrinsic natures or goods. The only meaning things can have for us is the meaning we give them. It follows that wanting to do something is what makes it worth doing, and the good is simply the satisfaction of preferences.

    The above, more or less, would have been my own reply to the commenter at The Fourth Checkraise who insisted that very few people are actually “liberals”:

    In fact, mostly, there are no “liberals”. There are just various small changes that people, in smaller or larger groups, push for.

    His argument is thought-provoking, and I think there’s some truth in it, but it depends on what you mean by “liberalism”. Certainly “liberalism”, as you’ve defined it, is the underlying mental template for most Westerners today.

  25. Has he repented for his attacks on the Church? It seems very odd that in an autobiographical book like “The Quest for God”, he should fail to mention that he spent so many years of his life in the service of Satan.

  26. Whoa! That shows what a degenerate I am: I don’t remember anything striking me as pornographic in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”.

  27. Hi Proph,

    Sometimes I do think about it, but I never come up with any strategy that I think would make a difference.

  28. It is rather bizarre to see supposed conservatives turning into anti-essentialists and invoking Michel Foucault.

    Men who are exclusively attracted to other men are a real phenomenon in the world, one that has existed long before it was specifically named. There are also other identifiable characteristics that tend to strongly go along with such attraction.

    This is a different phenomenon from men who are attracted to women, but who will opportunistically engage in sexual relations with men for various reasons, often to do with lack of easy access to women.

  29. In my second entry above, which you quote from, it occurs to me that, rather than refer to the “liberal mind”, it is likely more proper to refer to the “modern mind”. That is to say, the secularist and materialist metaphysical presuppositions inherent to many, if not most, moderns, are rather loosely correlated with political stance or party membership. If most liberals are secularists and materialists, there are no doubt some that are not – how they live with the contradiction, I cannot say, but presumably God knows His own. There are no doubt a fair number of conservatives who are secularists and materialists as well, and thus possessed, along with the majority of liberals, of a “modern mentality”. Some effort should be made to keep the two distinct levels straight: that of liberal politics, on the one hand, and materialist metaphysics, on the other. The rejection of the sacred and transcendent may be largely inherent in the first, but is perfectly explicit – with the concomitant probability of the ruination of the soul – in the second.

  30. The other great coup of the homosexual movement was that, having largely banished the public application of the category of sin or gross immorality to homosexuality – in part by transferring attention from homosexual acts (buggery, sodomy) to homosexuality as a state of being – it next banished the public application of the category of dysfunction or disorder to homosexuality, as most directly evidenced by the removal of homosexuality in the 3rd edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III). In a perverse inversion, the movement pushed the term “homophobia” – implying an irrational psychiatric condition – as applying to the reasoned and principled moral disapproval of homosexuals and homosexual acts, thus profoundly corrupting language to suit their own ends. One is tempted to invent a similar neologism to apply to those who approve of homosexuality and its cultural normalization, and thus exhibit symptoms of fear, loathing and disgust for heterosexuality as a public and cultural norm: “heteronormophobia”.

  31. Men who are exclusively attracted to other men are a real phenomenon in the world, one that has existed long before it was specifically named.

    Yes, the claim (your claim, modern liberalism’s claim) is exactly that this way of categorizing is the right one, that this way “carves nature at her joints.” The claim is that human civilization for 10,000 years never noticed that this is how you carve her at her joints, and that a bunch of circus freaks in the 19th century figured it all out for us. How about you make some gesture towards lifting the gigantic burden of proof such a wild claim carries with it?

  32. Consider three cases of individual and the relative moral censure that might be applied across them: First, a homosexual who is tempted to indulge in homosexual acts (sodomy), but who consistently refrains from doing so out of conscience, despite potential opportunity. Second, a homosexual who indulges repeatedly in homosexual acts, either with or without accompanying remorse, but maintains a strict veil of discretion and makes no attempt to advocate for his condition in the public square. Third, a heterosexual – say, a man faithfully married with children – in a position of religious, educational or political responsibility, who has never been tempted to or engaged in homosexual acts, but who advocates for the normativity or moral neutrality of such acts in the public square.

    I would argue that the relative degree of moral censure to be applied is precisely in sequence of the cases presented. In the first case presented, such an individual can be readily pitied for their condition and respected for their fortitude without being condemned. In the second case, such an individual may be censured for their acts, but also exonerated in part insofar as their corruption of the larger society is at best indirect and may go entirely unnoted. In the third case, such an individual is not at fault for any besetting act of their own, but by their advocacy, they engage in far greater and more direct corruption of the larger society.

    To frame the matter another way, to publicly redefine a vice as a virtue is worse than privately indulging in that vice, which is in turn worse than being tempted but not indulging that vice. If, instead of a temptation to sodomy, one considers a temptation, say, to theft, fraud or self-injury and proceeded to examine the three cases above in those terms, the relative judgments are readily clarified. The entire argument for the normativity of homosexuality rests on the assertion of the moral neutrality or even goodness of homosexual acts, specifically sodomy. This assertion, in practice, is directly tied to the secularist worldview where homosexual activity – as much as heterosexual activity – is no more than, and nothing else than, animal copulation, perfectly morally neutral, and in fact escaping morality altogether, which of course does not apply in a strict materialist conception.

  33. modern liberalism’s claim

    This isn’t a liberal or conservative claim?

    BTW agreeing with a radical anti-essentialist and postmodernist like Michel Foucault suggests you don’t have a serious grasp on what is or is not conservative, anyway.

    human civilization for 10,000 years

    People have missed a lot of things, particularly when they had no way of testing for the deep causes of things. Real science didn’t really take off until the last 400 or so years.

  34. Should read: This isn’t a liberal or conservative claim.

  35. I’m increasingly taking this tack at my own blog, referring to the “modern” instead of the “liberal.” Most (convinced) liberals are moderns, of course, but some moderns are explicitly antiliberal — the Nazis and the alt-right being a good example.

  36. @The Man Who Was …

    Yes, the fact that both Michel Foucault and I claim that the sky is blue proves that I am a post-modernist, liberal agent of Satan. You caught me! [weeping]

    Oooooh, and tell me some more about Freud and his scientific buddies penetrating to them “deep causes.” I’m all hot and bothered just imagining!

    Real science didn’t really take off until the last 400 or so years.

    Or at least that’s what your middle school teacher told you. And she went to an Ed School, so what’s not to trust?

  37. That you even brought Freud into this discussion says a lot.

  38. I go back and forth on this, myself. I expect there is a lot of social conditioning (and hence fluidity) in our sexual desires, but it seems to have limits. I can imagine that years of exposure to sexy pictures of women wearing green would eventually make it so I started thinking that green outfits make women more alluring. On the other hand, I don’t think that any amount of sexy pictures of dudes would turn me gay.

    Those guys who “opportunistically engage in sexual relations with men” are fags.

    I agree that this isn’t a particularly conservative vs. liberal issue.

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