Saturday, June 30, 2012

All You Need is Love
[but first you need a woman]

[I've tacked on a brief afterword. Not sure it's important, though.]

Spoken as a man, of course, since I find that frame of reference not merely congenial but congenital, a fact of no small importance to the facts of life.

[This is the third and last installment in a series on Obama's embrace of Gay Marriage and the conservative quislings who agree with him. The first two installments are here and here.]

I ought to write a lengthy encomium to the role of women in marriage and the even more stupendously intimate part they play as bearers of life and nurturers of souls, but I don't want to start a fertility cult and besides I promised I wouldn't. Be lengthy, that is.

And there is also the hindrance presented by looking out my window yesterday after a week's rain dumped on Florida by a tropical storm that didn't know which way to go and seeing a lawn that looked like a sugar cane field in Glades County. It had to be cut, which then required European beer to rehydrate the body followed by pizza and more beer, and then having to write something through the pleasantly languorous haze induced by a full belly and alcohol from a Dutch brewmeister. It's a recurring problem with which regular readers are by now thoroughly annoyed. Sorry, if it helps.

So let's get straight to it and through it. In his article (page 2 of the online version), Jason Lee Steorts pauses briefly to admire Roger Scruton's understanding of sexual desire as explained in his essay "Sacrament and Sacrilege." He then says of the part he does not admire

Scruton thinks that, the sexes being different, the experience of homosexual desire is dissimilar — and, we are to assume, inferior — to the experience of heterosexual desire. This claim is separable from his insight about the nature of sexual desire, and I find it not very compelling. Presumably indeed the experience of homosexual desire is different from that of heterosexual desire, but this does not entail that the former is less directed toward or compatible with existential commitment, or that the categorical difference is greater than differences between couples of either category. No one can know for sure, since each of us is trapped in his own experience.

How convenient. It's all so painfully subjective. We can't know what's in another person's mind. How can we judge another's heart? Then comes that line that got Lydia McGrew's attention in the last post: "But homosexual and heterosexual persons show the outward signs of finding in committed romantic love the same kind of value. If we grant that they do -" But of course we don't. Let me make what I guess in today's atmosphere is considered a radical assertion: When a man looks at another man and claims to be in love with him, he is not saying the the same thing as I when I say it of my wife. He does not see what I see, nor feel what I feel. That man he looks at bears nothing in his being comparable to the femininity that a man must be smitten by to even begin to claim that he is in love - this kind of love that we call 'marriage'.

Any power of love we possess must be appropriate to its object, our capacity for it like a light filtered through a prism, its fractured beams falling on those objects - friends, parents, brothers and sisters, children, husband or wife, God Himself - with varying intensity, scope of feeling, and degree of duty. We even have names for all these strains of love, and there is only one that goes by "committed romantic love" - that between man and woman. Without the sex, that between unrelated men is called "friendship." This is why Steorts has to spend so much time defending that sex, because without it, what do we have? Who would take offense at a sexless male friendship? We still wouldn't call it marriage because then we'd have to call every friendship a marriage. But it is something we can respect. If the two men claim to feel romantic love for each other, their love may not be appropriate to its object, but at least the friendship is intact. Sex between them does not enhance that friendship, but violates it. Ruins it, in fact.

Unfortunately, sexual desire is not the same as love, nor controlled by it. It ought to be but it isn't. Like a wild animal, it looks about in many directions for the next opportunity. If one should be so fortunate as to encounter another with whom you think you might like to embark upon a "maximal eperiential relationship" in the form of "committed romantic love" (which I prefer to call a vow of temporal fidelity unto death), your love might learn to govern that sexual desire. You might even want to because you love that other so much that hurting her would feel like damnation to your soul. It is under the umbrella of CRL that Steorts would justify the sexual acts of homosexuals, confining them exclusively to the committed parties. Why this nod to the decorum of traditional morality is necessary, I do not know. The kinds of acts homosexuals engage in, sterile acts, are the kind that can be indulged by anyone. That's why we offer contraceptives to single people and even teenagers without parental consent: this kind of sex need not be exclusive to someone to whom you have pledged your whole life, body and soul, someone with whom you have promised to become one flesh. This is what happens when we separate our fertility in sex from our commitment in marriage. Sex then becomes 'whatever.' It is not that a man should desire that his wife conceive as the result of every instance of lovemaking, but that he has given his promise to the whole of her being, to all the possibilities of which she is capable, and only that kind of commitment will require exclusivity.

In Steorts's regime, as best I can tell, the propagation of the species really bears no importance to the idea of marriage. He generously tries to invest fertile marriages that issue in children with a really extra special intrinsic value, but remember his assessment of that value:

The traditionalist finds a criterion of a certain intrinsic value in the simple fact that a married man and woman engage in the generative act. He cannot condition this value upon the consequence of reproduction, since he sees infertile heterosexual couples as candidates for marriage; nor can he condition it upon the experience of sexual intimacy as the bodily dimension of romantic love, since this would make candidates of same-sex couples. Contra this, the revisionist sees no difference of intrinsic value between coitus and the sexual acts of same-sex couples.

It ought to be of no account to him whether another human being is ever born. The only intrinsic value is CRL, which validates the sex that naturally flows from it. The kind of sex doesn't matter.

This is the real insult to women, that their childbearing capacity is just one value relative to others. There are many reasons a man might want to marry a woman, and that he'd like her to be the mother of his children might be just one of those reasons, but it is inseparable from all the others. When he has sex with her, he expresses not just the romantic love exclusive to the two of them, but a love that embraces all of her, and the whole of the marriage vow, from conception to natural death.

This is no way to end, but I'm suddenly sick of it all. Why should I try to explain what is as plain as the nose on your face, and what any child can understand but highly educated people cannot? To claim that there can be such a thing as homosexual marriage is like telling us that when we wake tomorrow the Sun will be orbiting Mars and cows jumping over the moon. It can't happen without throwing the universe into convulsion.

I would just ask any homosexuals out there who haven't been thoroughly co-opted by the licentious death cult of modernity to please remember your Mom and Dad. You're here because they consented to it, probably thinking you a gift from God. If you are, then the sex they had is probably sacred too, and it's not something you can have with your same-sex lover. Just show a little decency, a little gratitude, and forget about marriage. Show that you know what the word means by honoring thy mother and thy father. If you can't honor yours, then honor mine.
[A brief afterword. I've kept the God talk to a minimum, I think, because Steorts never brings it up and I wanted to meet his arguments on their own terms as much as possible. He mentions "intrinsic value" a number of times, but I don't know how this is to be derived in God's absence. He never mentions that vast Christian theological and philosophical heritage which concludes that everything in God's creation, man most especially, possesses a divinely ordered telos, or directedness toward an end for which we were created and without which we cannot know our purpose in being. In the moral sphere, this means a right use of those faculties, including the sexual, to help us realize that end. But I imagine the reader can judge from the excerpts here presented - and further doubt that the reader needs much coaching from me - to see just how cut off from the past (from our mothers and fathers) and how violently anti-Christian a view it is. It does not build on the Christian inheritance (as did, for example, the abolition of slavery) but would rather overthrow and destroy it. And unless our country regains its sanity, that's the prospect before us.]


Paul Cella said...

I appreciate your hard work on this series, Bill. The thought of grinding through all this obfuscation and prevarication just fills me with fatigure.

William Luse said...

That's what they're hoping to do, tire us out. And they're succeeding.