A blogger named Dennis Sanders has written about the recent controversy in Arizona from the perspective of a gay man (“married” and “a man of the cloth”, he says). There are two main ideas in his piece, one that is the centerpiece and another that is peripheral but also important. The centerpiece is that “marriage equality” advocates (I will call them same-sex marriage, or SSM advocates) ought to recognize that the refusal of orthodox Christians to participate in gay weddings is not necessarily or even often attributable to hatred and bigotry. Though SSM advocates may not understand or condone the religious and philosophical arguments we put forward, it would be better for society if people on both sides could stop assuming the absolute worst of one another. The peripheral argument is that this proposed change of tone and behavior on the part of gay marriage activists is necessary if they are to be gracious winners in the culture war. It is Sanders’ belief, shared by many on his side of the argument, that they have won this war even if we on the other side have not surrendered yet. His language is civil and conciliatory, though one still cannot help but feel that the main point here is “let the babies have their bottles.”
As far as the first argument goes, I am all for it. Though I am sure that Mr. Sanders would be deeply offended or perhaps just annoyed at my refusal to recognize his relationship with another man as a marriage, I have always been a proponent of true and authentic tolerance. Sanders quotes another writer on tolerance, and both he and this writer agree with me: tolerance is only possible in relation to something or someone we dislike. I dislike the “marriage equality” movement immensely, not simply because of some passages from the Bible, but because of its concentrated philosophical and political attack on the natural law foundations of Western civilization. Its incessant self-comparison to black civil rights struggles is as fallacious as it is nauseating; its core assumptions, taken to their fullest implications, are anarchistic and nihilistic. It is precisely because the vast majority of ordinary people rarely take their stated beliefs to their logical conclusions that I am able and willing to tolerate most of those beliefs. I believe we can have a pluralistic society, governed by the 10th amendment of the US Constitution, in which different people in different polities can establish different laws and customs by which they live. Furthermore, they can and should peacefully co-exist within the same American nation. Such was, I believe, the vision of our founding fathers.
Andrew Breitbart addressing pro-life students in February 2012 and explaining to them why he is pro-life. He died one year ago today, much too young. His keen insight for conservatives is that there can be no long lasting success politically if the culture is ceded to the other side. I think we at The American Catholic understand that and we do our small part in the struggle over the culture. May the ranks of conservatives who understand this basic fact swell and may we recall Andrew Breitbart as we engage the culture.
Tom Hoopes at CatholicVote.org recently posted his assessment of what lessons the “gay marriage” debate has taught those of us on the pro-tradition side. I was going to write about this myself, but I’ll go ahead and examine his four lessons as a starting point. My intention is be constructive, because as Hoopes correctly points out in his opening lines, the pro-equality side of this debate has been very successful at defining the parameters and central issues of the debate thus far. We need to assess and regroup. If Mr. Hoopes would like to reply to this, I would certainly welcome it.
“1. We learned that being grossed out by homosexuality hurts us.”
Hoopes recalls a discussion with someone raised by homosexual parents:
“What people like my mom see in the religious right is people who say, ‘Ooo, this is icky and disgusting and horrible,’ reflexively, without explaining why,” he told me. “Then my mom and her friend look at their own lives, at their sacrifice and friendship and generosity and say, ‘Well, these people are just hate-mongers.’”
“There is no reason we should feel special disgust at homosexual acts compared to any other sexual sin. And there is no reason we can’t appreciate the mutual friendship and authentic love in a long-term homosexual couple. If we know what marriage is, a thousand such couples shouldn’t in any way threaten us.”
“Disgust” is a very peculiar phenomenon in that it is neither irrational nor easily expressed with words. Animals in nature have the physical senses to warn them of potential dangers; human beings in society have certain social senses to ward of certain dangers as well. I can’t explain why rotting garbage smells “bad” (even if I can offer a scientific account of why it smells the way it does); I affix the label “bad” to it because it is something I want to avoid, and I want to avoid it because I have an involuntary gag reflex that triggers when I inhale the odor.
Homosexual behavior is repulsive to us because it is harmful to society (more on that later), and we are social beings. The comforting narrative that homosexual activists have developed – that any aversion to homosexuality on the part of a heterosexual is a sign of repressed homosexual desires – is a way of making their positions and lifestyles unfalsifable. If you accept them, great. If you don’t, it is a sign that you secretly do. There can be no legitimate opposition. If you think gay is gross, you probably are gay. A fascinating self-defense mechanism, but one not supported by a shred of serious evidence.
Next, homosexuals aren’t averse to displaying their hearty disgust with heterosexuality (their derogatory name for us is “breeder”) when it suits their own desires and interests. They also go out of their way to provoke anger and disgust with their unjustifiably obscene public marches through major cities, which I consider to be acts of violent ideological aggression against Western Christian civilization. So I’ll take their complaints about our disgust seriously when that word is publicly denounced and banished from their lexicon, and when they aren’t actively trying to provoke disgust in society at large. To imagine that you can deliberately dress, speak and act in ways that you fully know and intend to make people uncomfortable and offended and then complain about people’s discomfort and offense has a proper label: sociopathy. To acquiesce to it is a sinful act of cowardice.
One other thing is required: an acknowledgement that the pro-tradition side has developed rational, secular arguments in favor of its position, instead of a default assumption that it is all either based on “eww gross” or decontextualized passages from the Pentateuch.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation did not reverse course as many have thought, suggested, or commented all over the Interwebs today.
Even Austin Ruse President of C-FAM is not sure and has issued this press release:
Statement by Austin Ruse on the Susan G. Komen Foundation
“Today the Susan G. Komen Foundation made an announcement that appears that they have reversed themselves on funding of Planned Parenthood. While I do not believe they have reversed themselves, it may turn out to be the case. We do not know.
What happened this week was nothing short of a Mafia shakedown campaign by Planned Parenthood against the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Planned Parenthood told the Komen Foundation “either give us money or we will destroy you.” They were aided and abetted in this hostage taking by the mainstream media.
At this point, pro-lifers should cease their support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We should wait and see what happens. We know there are five more Komen grants to Planned Parenthood in the pipeline. If any more come up, we will know we have lost and Planned Parenthood has won.
I do not regret the work I did over the past days on this issue, neither should any pro-lifer. I only regret we could not have done more to make Komen strong and able to fight off the thuggish abortion giant, Planned Parenthood.
What the week has shown is that Planned Parenthood, an organization that is under criminal investigation all over this country, will stop at nothing to maintain their stranglehold on organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
We should continue to pray for Nancy Brinker and all of her colleagues at the Susan G. Komen Foundation.”
I know that there are those among you who do not like harsh rhetoric. Heck, one of my most recent posts was about the militaristic rhetoric of the president. Yet, sometimes we need to take a look around at what’s happening and realize that something like a culture war is truly raging.
There was no clearer demonstration of this fact than the HHS mandate regarding health insurance coverage of abortificants, contraception, sterilization, and other grave evils. The impact of this ruling has been stunning. Not only has the decision outraged conservative Catholics, but even erstwhile left-wing Catholic defenders of the president have taken this decision to be the last straw. Bishops, often reticent to enter the political fray, have issued clear condemnations of this decision, even suggesting that Catholics engage in civil disobedience. The mild-mannered visiting priest at our parish offered a blistering homily, discussing how this mandate violates the very principles that this country was founded upon. Like the ents awakening from their slumber, Saruman and his orcs – meaning President Obama and his allies – have awakened a sleeping giant.
But our anger is not enough, nor are our prayers. Patrick Archbold puts it all in perspective today.
As I said, this is just the latest battle, but it’s one we must win. We can’t win the war here, but we can lose it. And to win a war you don’t just need chaplains, you need generals.
In the wake of the Obama Administration’s decision to force contraceptives on Catholic institutions many Bishops have been calling for prayer and fasting, and that is right and just. But when faced with an existential threat, you don’t just pray the Nazis away, you have to fight on all fronts.
It is fine to pray that the Nazis will stop being Nazis, but it is also right and just to pray for good aim.
Our Bishops need to realize what is at stake here and act accordingly. Many Bishops have already written letters and made videos condemning the unconstitutional actions of the administration. That is good, but more is required. Open and vocal defiance is required. The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin issued a letter this Sunday in which he proclaimed “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.” That is a good start. Every Bishop needs to do the same. It must be made clear that we WILL NOT COMPLY.
Yet even more will be required. Some have called for very visible civil disobedience by the Bishops to the point of getting arrested. I think this may be a good idea. Yet even more. Kathleen Sebelius is at the spear point of this war on our Church promoting and now forcing abortion and contraception at every turn. If the scandal caused by this “Catholic” woman does not merit excommunication, the remedy is meaningless. Any Catholic who is complicit in this war must be held to account, publicly. This is a war.
We will not comply. We should never have to choose between being a Catholic and being an American. This is an existential threat for the Church in this country as well as for the life of the country as a whole. If we are to win the war, we must win this battle and we need generals willing to fight to the last.
It’s long been a trope of the “culture war” that the rich as social and religious libertines while the stolid middle class cling to traditional values. Or, as another portion of America sees it, that the educated elite have moved beyond the primative and prejudices social mores of the past while the uneducated cling to their guns and their religion. I would venture to say that for many of us reading here this may also to a stereotype which fits with our lived experience.
However, a report out from the Institute for American Values stands this set of stereotypes somewhat on its head, showing a educated elite which is going to church more and sleeping around less, while the broad middle class is going to church less, having more children out of wedlock and getting divorced more often.