Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gay Marriage: Obama, his conservative allies, and the denigration of women

Well, let's see how it goes. You know how it is with yardwork and beer. My wife's sense of neighborhood decorum requires the former, my body the latter. It is the natural consequence of a divine command. Jesus made wine at Cana, and I'm betting he drank some too. A while later he says: Let us make Bill in our image. Thus, it is not so much that I choose to drink beer (really good beer, as well) but that the beer chooses me. The only drawback is that Jesus knew when to quit and I almost do. Thus, rationality can elude at the very moment it's most needed. But I don't care. The people I want to criticize aren't all that rational either. And they probably have lousy taste in beer.

Anyway, some of you probably noticed when President of the United States Barack Obama (God, that gives me a headache) announced publicly his support for the same-sex caricature of marriage. Certain commentators called it an 'epiphany,' others an 'evolution' or 'progression.' That is, Obama had arrived at that point that sometimes follows years of earnest soul-searching, deep thought, and a thirst for truth. Like many a good penitent before him, he felt compelled to confess the error of his ways and to share that truth with the world. The theological bent of his mind had experienced a development of doctrine; he can now find permanent rest in the comfort of divine assurance.

It is from his own words that we know enlightenment came by way of an irrepressible Christian piety, for he saith: know, we [he and Michelle] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.

You know.

Using the Golden Rule to bestow upon homosexual sexual liasons his moral imprimatur puts our president firmly in that camp of theologians known as the avant-garde. However, since it is the theology of the modern "rights" regime, there is about it nothing particularly pioneering, though it certainly remains bizarre to people who take Christian history seriously. Frank Beckwith points out that

...the Golden Rule is not about merely protecting your neighbor’s preferences, but rather, advancing your neighbor’s good. The president, ironically, must rely on this latter, and ancient, understanding in order to make sense of the appeal he makes to his responsibilities as a “dad” and “husband.” For the received meanings of these terms are embedded in an inherited moral tradition that he did not invent, but now rejects.

Jesus places himself and his teachings squarely within that moral tradition: “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator `made them male and female’… `For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Jesus mentions no other options. No other options for marriage, that is. Beckwith also reminds us that Obama will not offer the benevolence of that Rule to the unborn.

Furthermore, to take Obama's understanding of the G.R. literally, as I presume he meant it, is to...well, let's just say that what some homosexual men would like to do unto other men, and have likewise done unto them, presents an excellent case for either ditching Jesus or letting the Rule slide.

Some of us, of course, never believed there was any presidential ephiphany or even any sort of gradual evolution toward his present position. I am among those. Some went further and asserted that he had been lying all along. I am also among those. And among those who don't believe that his Christianity led him there, or that he's a Christian at all.

But my purpose in beginning this post was not to pick on Obama by spending all my time pointing out the obvious. It's too easy. It was rather to point out a disheartening resemblance (in fact, an identity) between Obama's moral and theological revisionism and that of certain conservatives. I knew they were out there, but in perusing several websites in the wake of Obama's announcement, seeking the encouragement of like-minded conservatives, I was hoping not to run into them. Yet they kept popping up like zits on an otherwise promising countenance. I found that there is at least one regular blogger at The American Spectator who supports gay marriage even as he decries Obama's conversion as politically expedient. Did you know that John Bolton, a "hero to conservatives" according to Dennis Prager, also supports it? (The qualifications for 'hero' these days are minimal.) Jonah Goldberg, who thinks it "inevitable," seems to fall on the spectrum somewhere between sympathetic and 'I don't care.' Dick Cheney supports it. This writer calls us The Gay Old Party and proceeds to level charges against eminences like Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, and Chris Christie, the validity of which I don't have time to research. And now we find out from Rod Dreher that Maggie Gallagher's longtime "friend and mentor and one-time boss," David Blankenhorn, has thrown in the towel. (I've never heard of the guy but if everyone says it's a tragedy, I'll defer.) Says Mr. Blankenhorn, "Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness," wherein he, a conservative, finesses with liberal aplomb the bald fact that gays and lesbians do not "have" children. And he voices another oft-heard, to the point of nauseating, theme:

In the mind of today’s public, gay marriage is almost entirely about accepting lesbians and gay men as equal citizens. And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus.

This is a theme that can be traced back at least as far as Justice Kennedy's poignant protest in Lawrence v. Texas against that state's law's attempt to "demean" the "dignity" of the "private, consensual" relationships of homosexuals, which dignity appears to embrace the nature of their sexual activity. That's the real purpose of Blankenhorn's use of the word "animus," to protect that sexual activity. It's a very sweeping word, covering everthing from distaste for an action to hatred of a person. To oppose SSM renders one guilty of it in some degree.

Well, pardon me, but this is just crap. Not a single person I know who opposes SSM (and I know a lot of them) evinces 'animus' toward homosexuals. They do express a moral animus (which can range from mild discomfort to major disgust) against certain of their sexual acts and against the state's offering its moral approval in the form of a 'right' to marry. But as to that basic dignity innate to all humans made in the image of God, not a one denies it and is in fact at constant pains to affirm it. (The people I know do not hang with the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church.)

Still, it cuts no ice. I sense in virtually all of these 'conservative' apologias a preening concern for the emotional hurt inflicted upon homosexuals when the rectitude of their sexual behavior is impugned. Obama's shriveled version of the Golden Rule offers this same protection against emotional pain and moral insult; one cannot be offered without the other; thus, he and certain conservatives are in bed together on this one. So to speak. Homosexuals want marriage because they want approval of the sex that accompanies it, the same approval that heterosexuals enjoy. Without the sex, the controversy disappears, their 'romantic' relationships devolving (or evolving) into the chastity of friendship. Everyone knows this, but not many want to talk about it, forthrightly at any rate. There are certain conclusions conservatives need to come to, and certain things they must be willing to say about the nature of love and sex - if they would protect marriage, that is. I hope to say a few of those things in a follow-up. In other words, to be continued. Maybe. If I get to it.

It's possible because it's raining now, predicted to continue for several days thanks to a tropical storm in the Gulf. This puts yardwork and beer out of the picture, and you know which I'd choose if I had my druthers.


Jeff Culbreath said...

Blankenhorn a turncoat? Say it isn't so! He's done heroic work in the past on marriage in general and fatherhood in particular. He knows the score. He must have lost his mind.

William Luse said...

I could confirm your suspicion if I knew more about his cast of mind. I'll leave it to those who know him. Meanwhile, I guess you can pray that he'll change coats one more time.

Lydia McGrew said...

Jeff, look at the NYT article. Blankenhorn is unequivocal, and it's sickening. Here's a money quote: "But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness."

Wow. I'm sorry to be a bummer, but that's just as clear as clear. The "equal dignity" of sodomite sex is a trump card. Sickening.

I thought the Prager column was pretty disappointing too. First Prager goes on and on about how a high position in a Republican administration should be a matter of "values," then he says that even if someone supports homosexual "marriage," that shouldn't block him from such a position. Which is it? Oh, I see, it's if the person is a really _outspoken_ proponent of homosexual "marriage" that it would be a problem for a high position in a Republican administration. This is hair-splitting sophistry to the max.

Beth Impson said...

Maggie Gallagher wrote a good column about Blankenhorn's capitulation and noted that he seemed to be weary of the fight and bowing to what he considers the inevitable. I don't understand this idea that gay "marriage" is inevitable. Yes, the courts wish to impose it, but so far not a single state has approved it if the people got to vote. So it's not a done deal unless we are just going to give the country over to judicial rule.

"Do not be weary in well-doing." Thank the Lord for the Maggie Gallaghers who keep on.

Oh, and this is a great post, Bill. I look forward to a follow-up.

Lydia McGrew said...

I couldn't bring myself to finish the Blankenhorn column, but before I clicked exit in disgust I think I saw him blatantly using a bandwagon fallacy as an argument. To paraphrase all our mothers (I'm sure your mothers said something like this to you too), "If there were consensus for jumping off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?"

Lydia McGrew said...

I'd also say that if Blankenhorn is just war-weary he's doing a great imitation of being a true convert to the homosexual cause. War-weariness alone would be expected to produce silence, not paeans to "the equal dignity of homosexual love" (gag).

William Luse said...

The "equal dignity" of sodomite sex is a trump card..."the equal dignity of homosexual love"

This is what my follow-up will try to deal with, which I hope to have up by tomorrow. It is possible, even with papers to grade.

Beth, I need to go read Gallagher's piece, but could you provide a LINK?

William Luse said...

Never mind. I found it.

William Luse said...

Lydia, I forgot to say that I found the Prager column very annoying, too.