Monday, July 2, 2012

How Christians Got Outmaneuvered on Gay Issues

I'll keep it brief.

* They treated "gay" as an identity and a cohesive group, instead of treating the subject as human beings who engaged in particular acts, or had certain proclivities. The moment same-sex attraction and sexual activity was no longer about action and instead was about actual existence - the moment it was no longer about "sodomy" but "gay people" - they set themselves up to be easily portrayed as persecuting a helpless group, rather than disapproving of particular behavior.

* They succumbed to using the language of the people who opposed them, forgetting that language determines sound bites, and sound bites determines how a lot of people think. "Opposing gay rights" is like "opposing women's rights" - even if the right in question is abortion, it sounds bad, and it cements the idea that what they're opposing is, in fact, a right. It also feeds into point one, where again the focus is on the people and not the acts. This is one reason why the pro-life cause has actually had some success - they refused to be "anti-choice", and when the opposition talks about "reproductive rights", the pro-life side talks about "abortion" and "murder in the womb".

* Working off 2, they shied away from explaining what they were actually opposing, possibly because of worries about language - allowing the opposition to be the ones to define what they were opposing. Oppose "homosexuality", and you're painted as (once again) picking on a group of people for having urges they had no choice in having - and yet, that's exactly what Christians allowed themselves to be painted as. Why? Because they treat the actual topic - sex and sexual activity - as off-limits, whether due to politeness or embarrassment. Which, in turn, allows their opposition to state things in the most dressed up ways without complaint. LGBSA groups defend "the right for two people, of any gender, to love each other". They never defend "fucking someone in the ass as sacred and pure". This is, even now, rather tough to defend.

* Working off 3, they blanket-condemned homosexual relationships without pointing out that, if you remove the sexual aspects, there's little to anything left to condemn. This is probably the most controversial part for any traditionalist Christian (and I am one myself) to accept in this post, and is no doubt in need of more clarification than I care to give at this point. But I stand by it. Remove the sexual aspects from a 'gay couple', and what are you left with? Pretty much, very close friends.

There's more to this, but these are the key points which bug the piss out of me. The language in particular, and I grind my teeth whenever I see a conservative Christian saying he "opposes gay rights". I know what he's saying, but he doesn't understand how it sounds, and what effect that has on his argument.

12 comments:

Cale B.T. said...

"LGBSA groups defend "the right for two people, of any gender, to love each other". They never defend "fucking someone in the ass as sacred and pure"

Judging by my past experience (on both sides of the debate), apparently All Us Modern Folk are supposed to know that "sacredness" "purity" "beauty" etc. are purely subjective phenomena. Any argument that sexual activity X isn't, for example, aesthetically beautiful is likely to be met with "So what? Some people find some pleasure in it and that's all that really matters (you nosy Puritan)" Or even worse, "I agree with you that this act is impure, but this is a "hardcore" or "naughty" feature of the act which might add to the pleasure."

Crude said...

Oh, I'm sure a defense of it can be mounted, along those broad lines. But notice that that becomes a vastly different debate. It's no longer an issue you can cast off as "two people love each other, and angry, hateful Christians despise them for that". The "love" aspect can be put aside and treated as not being the subject of any criticism.

I actually think the "sacred, purity, beauty" line is pretty easy to defuse, so long as you're willing to bring up some examples of vulgar acts. The problem is that most people are unwilling to discuss the vulgar - but sanitizing the issue hurts the Christian argument. I think there's a direct comparison again with the pro-life movement - imagine if pro-lifers thought bringing up abortion or 'killing infants' was rude, so they spoke in terms of how they 'are against certain reproductive health strategies'. They'd be blown out of the water. The frank talk, the vulgar talk, is necessary.

There's another, larger problem specifically with this particular leg of the strategy that is looming and needs to be addressed. I'll write about that more later, since I use this blog mostly to sketch out my thoughts on this crap.

darrenl said...

I usually have no issues talking to fact, that in the end, the homosexual act is attempting to use the human digestive system as a reproductive system...which is biologically incoherent. I always keep the topic steered in that direction and ask, "what is your biological case for the homosexual act. Tell me what purpose semen has in the large intestine?". At that point...since they have no reason...that's usually when the conflating of love and sex comes into the conversation. After that, my take is "what's love got to do with it?", and usually they get even more emotional and get extremely illogical.

If the conversation get's this far and they haven't called me every name in the book, natural law comes in. At this point, the person usually does not want to talk to me anymore. I once had this discussion with a "I'm OK, you're OK" homosexual pastor and after the discussion he said, "To hell with natural law"...and there it is.

Crude said...

I think natural law is fantastic here, but really, I think straight up "anal sex as an act of love" talk packs a serious punch too. I don't even mean talking about it in a demeaning sense, but not beating around the bush. The idea that someone's sexual likes and habits, so long as they're consensual, are A-OK shatters the moment you actually start examining the acts in detail.

And yeah. One reason the issue fascinates me is because it is the example of an issue that people have changed their minds over, and it having absolutely nothing to do with argument. In fact, pro-SSA people do their damndest to avoid actual argument and conversation. In the event an argument about the deeper details starts, my experience is that people do their damndest to scuttle the conversation on the spot.

darrenl said...

Oh...they not only want to "scuttle" the conversation, they want to make any and all opposition conversation illegal, that's the fun part. Just disagreeing with their world view is considered a criminal act in their eyes. During that same discussion with the gay pastor (...it was in a forum and I was outnumbered at least 20-1...), he told me that not only did he want to see the opponents of homosexuality defeated, he wanted them humiliated, publicly flogged, and ruined.

What I find fascinating about this is that the metaphysical and biological case against homosexual acts is as iron clad as any argument can be. This gives strength to the argument that we're dealing with a deep psychological issue here. Even more fascinating is that they've convinced others that their mental issues are perfectly "normal", despite it being the ultimate mind/body disconnect.

Crude said...

Well, if you're talking natural law, it's not just 'homosexual acts' - anal sex even among heterosexuals get axed too by the same arguments. And I think a lot of the blame falls on Christians - I outlined some of the mistakes I think were made, and it largely has to do with Christian responses.

You say that metaphysical and biological cases against these things is ironclad. I agree, or at least I'd agree the actual arguments that can be rallied are pretty damn powerful. But notice that nothing I outlined referred to any bad arguments. That's because, I really believe, arguments had nothing to do with this. It wasn't as if SSA advocates made some persuasive intellectual case, and Christians didn't know how to defuse them. Arguments were pretty much irrelevant to the transformation.

Kudos to you, by the way, for taking that stand in such a forum. That takes guts. I also want to point out, I think "gays" are victims here. Making one's SSA an identity is harmful. I think such people have been mistreated and singled out in wrong ways in the past (and part of that is, we turn a blind eye to plenty of "hetero" excesses). This is an issue that can be turned around, but we need discipline in our vocabulary and our thoughts.

darrenl said...

Oh, I don't even let them steer the conversation to heterosexual sex. I feel the two are not even comparable. The "they do it...so can we" track is just too tempting for them. They'll either use heterosexual anal sex as a justification or...and this is my favorite...they'll use behaviors in the animal kingdom. You are right though, the Church is consistent in sexual behavior across the board regardless of homo or hetero.

I agree that Christians don't know how to argue this issue...indeed....no arguments are being made at all. The prudish attitude that runs deep is at fault here...red faces abound I think. It's become an emotional issue for most....and both sides need to get over it and stick to the facts.

During that same discussion with that pastor, I brought up that he clearly identifies what he does (SSA) with who he is. He insisted that he doesn't and that most homosexuals don't. I was not convinced...but it points to a possible disconnect in the homosexual community, i.e. they don't know that they see no difference between what they do and who they are.

Crude said...

I'm surprised he'd deny it, since it's a pretty explicit plank in their thinking. I'd be more tempted to think he thought you could have made a good point if he agreed with you in that context, so he just denied it at that point. Not that I know anything about the exchange beyond what you're telling me.

Generally, the activists I've found are beyond reasoning with, and they're not top-tier important anyway. Even among people who support say... same sex marriage, for most the issue isn't a major concern to them, and they don't get lit up with offense at the idea that SSM is illegal in many states. Those are the people we can and should try to get through to.

Of course, I'm just one guy off in the corner of the internet, but hopefully someone will notice these problems.

Syllabus said...

Of course, the issue once again comes down to language. When someone asks me whether I oppose "gay rights", I have inevitably ask them what they mean, because they could be asking me one of several things. Slippery things, words.

Crude said...

I'll flat out refuse to use the words. There's always better, more accurate substitutions. But yeah, words are important.

Stephen R. Diamond said...

You mentioned in another forum that people resist the idea that opposition to gay marriage can be areligious. For an essay that no one will term religious, opposing gay marriage, see my "Is same-sex marriage coherent?" (http://tinyurl.com/crlvq4o)

Also, discussion of the subject on a posting about the Paterno scandal in Comments at http://tinyurl.com/c6bk3zq

I, of course, disagree that the basic problems concerning homosexuality are in the sexual acts. The problem is that the "LGBT" contingent have succeeded in convincing the country that homosexuals, apart from their attraction pattern, are no different from anyone else. They've dominated the so-called research on the subject and most importantly and critically, they dominate Hollywood, which is responsible for the popular perception of homosexuals. Hollywood has a very strong homosexual presence: narcissists are attracted to Hollywood and do well there, and homosexuals suffer from a developmental disorder that inclines them to narcissism. Strong theists who've spent time in Hollywood have had to make their peace with homosexuality, which accounts for the mildness of some opinions.

Crude said...

Following the dustup with cl, eh?

You take things from an interesting angle, I'll grant you that.

For an essay that no one will term religious

I am cynical. I think your argument is areligious, but it would damn well be termed it.

Either way, interesting argument - relies a lot on legal distinctions. But the last paragraph, I think, is the most important one.