Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Gay Issue

Recently I had the pleasure of having a back and forth discussion with cl over at the extremely well-titled The Warfare Is Mental. I owe him (even though he's released me from the responsibility) a secular argument against gay marriage, but for now, I want to respond to a question that came up.

Why the focus on gay marriage? Hell, why the focus on "homosexuality" whatsoever? There's an abundance of sin in the world, an abundance of hypocrisy, all kinds of worthy topics. Why does this particular issue draw so much attention? Why does it seem like this is one of THE trigger issues for Christians (maybe alongside abortion, which comparatively seems a lot more worthy of attention in terms of gravity)?

Cl speculates, to whatever degree, that bigotry is the cause. He qualifies this, he opposes gay marriage while at the same time being up in the air politically (Correct me, cl, if I misrepresent you here - you said Winteryknight's post flipped you on this, but I don't know how far that runs), he says he understands that a certain amount of backlash is involved, but he still thinks there's some bigotry in play. I imagine this is hard to quantify.

So, this post is dedicated to explaining why the issue fascinates me.

On we go.




Really, probably the single biggest draw for me on this subject is the sheer amount of manipulation on the side of "gay rights" advocates, the equally large amount of fumbling on the side of Christians and company, and the way the two are - to whatever degree - linked. I'm amazed that this group - "LGBT, Lesbians Gays Bisexuals and Transexuals" - has arisen, making their sexuality so constitutive of their very being that they have their own culture, identity tag, and more on the one hand. On the other, I'm amazed that Christians - even some very smart ones, even in the leadership - have allowed themselves, through a combination of stupidity, pseudo-bigotry, and just plain being buffalo'd by their opposition - to let their opponents define their own views again and again.

I'm appalled at how many Christians can be so goddamn naive as to let their opponents decide how they, the Christians, will speak about and talk about this subject. I'm appalled that Christians allow themselves to be described as "anti-gay-rights" or even "anti-homosexual", giving apparently no thought to what this communicates to third parties, how this makes them out to be against people rather than behaviors. I'm appalled that Christians, again and again, seem incapable of noticing that "LGBT people" are by and large individuals who have allowed themselves to be captured by a culture, rather than some distinct quasi-ethnic group in their own right. I'm appalled that so many Christians are for whatever reason - whether it's shyness, or politeness, or whatever else - are unable to speak frankly about what is condemned under their own religion's historical view: namely, sodomy, with same-sex sexual attraction being an instance of temptation arguably little different than any temptation to sin. I'm appalled that Christians, typically the on-the-streets ones, are seemingly incapable of delivering even a basic, quick understanding of sex and sex's purpose from a Catholic or Protestant point of view.

On the flipside, I'm amazed at the LGBT progress in the public consciousness. I am amazed at how they can drum up so much support, so rapidly, with so little intellectual effort. I am amazed at how far-reaching their hold on the media is, from Archie Comics to Funky fucking Winkerbean to just about every TV show of note to almost every movie. I am amazed at how they can strawman Christians again and again, presenting opponents of same-sex marriage or critics of same-sex sexual acts, again and again, as hateful monsters to be intellectually (or more physically) slain in medium after medium - with almost zero outcry from Christians. I am amazed at how they can again and again play, *as an organization*, the "dialogue" card with absolute sap Christians who will apparently sit down with anyone who, for thirty minutes, promises not to call them names - even if they'll immediately start doing so later. I am amazed at how the LGBT culture manages to be restless, willing to attack each and every perceived slight with such vigor (and so little reason) so as to keep people permanently on-guard. I am amazed that they've managed to get die-hard supporters willing to go to the wall for them in just about every business and organization, including the Boy Scouts, ready to strike down and fire or ruin the lives of anyone perceived as not wholly in favor of their culture and lifestyle.

I am stunned at the amount of strawmanning, emotional manipulation, the sheer and obvious baiting, the lack of reasoning that goes on on the pro-"gay" side. I am stunned at how effective it is.

I'm trying to stress here, this is not me merely expressing anger and outrage. I am literally amazed at how this sort of depiction of the argument between "gay rights advocates" and Christians can be made again and again. I am amazed at how when I read comics or watch cartoons, I have trouble finding a single Christian who isn't some kind of parody or a mouthpiece for liberal Christianity, but I see "gay" characters presented in one positive light after another. I am amazed at how Christians seem not to have noticed that they have been, as if by Stalin himself, edited out of contemporary culture except in forms that are useful to anti-theists and liberal quasi-Christians. I am amazed at how common these depictions are, while at the same time keeping the one thing that matters most from a traditional Christian perspective - the focus on the actual sexual acts - practically invisible as a point of discussion.

That's why I write about this issue a bit more often than the others. There is a wealth of education to be had by studying this issue. There is a tremendous amount to learn about our modern culture by focusing on it. There is much of just plain value in the topic, and much to be horrified about at the same time. It's a tragedy, it's a farce, it's a million things all at once, and this post has barely scratched the surface of what I'm talking about. Really, I haven't even gotten into why "gay marriage" itself is worth discussing prominently, because the simple existence of the "LGBT" culture and political machine, and the Clouseau-esque responses of Christians to it, is itself worthy of so much terrible awe.

So there. Now you know at least a sliver of why I focus on this: because it is of monumental importance that Christians learn from this, realize what they're doing wrong, realize what they can do write, put plans into action - rather than continue the course they are. There's just so much wrong here, but so spectacularly wrong, that I now and then simply have to dwell on it to try and understand it all better, and to figure out a proper response.

9 comments:

Cale B.T. said...

“There's just so much wrong here, but so spectacularly wrong, that I now and then simply have to dwell on it to try and understand it all better, and to figure out a proper response.”

I’ve been following the Chick-fil-A controversy unfolding in the US, and have been amazed at some of the behaviour surrounding this issue.
For example, I saw the following zinger:
“I wonder how many of yesterday's CFA supporters also purchased the US Weekly mags that celebrated Kim Kardashian's most recent marriage.”
retweeted on twitter, not by some basement-dwelling teenage Gnutant Ninja Turtle, but by a highly regarded anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist whose current area of academic research is the cognitive science of religion.

darrenl said...

You might like this blog entry, Crude:

http://www.christophersmith-op.com/2012/08/03/is-gay-marriage-about-granting-rights/

Crude said...

Cale,

Yeah, that's one major bit of importance. People underestimate just who's really, really pushing for this issue. The sheer extent of it. These idiotic barbs and strawmen aren't being presented by idiots - they are being presented by people who know better, or who should know better.

darrenl,

Thank you for the link!

See, I do like it and I don't like it at the same time. I like some of the sentiment, the direction of it, the awareness. But I don't like it in another way: it's trying to reason in the face of opposition that is anything but reasonable. It skips over some important, messy details - the closest he gets is mentioning "whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital".

Maybe I'm being overcritical. Probably because this is an issue where I obsess over communication, so all I can see are flaws everywhere.

Tony said...

I'll take you at your word that you are sincerely "amazed". But is it really that amazing to support equality for fellow citizens, sisters, brothers, friends?

You say, "I am amazed at how they can drum up so much support, so rapidly, with so little intellectual effort....I am amazed at how the LGBT culture manages to be restless, willing to attack each and every perceived slight with such vigor..."

Perhaps they feel that they are being discriminated against. Perhaps they are unwilling to lose any opportunity to mobilize support.

Your assumption is that supporters of gay marriage are fatuous knee-jerk instigators who have not considered all the arguments you proffer. Think again.

Crude said...

But is it really that amazing to support equality for fellow citizens, sisters, brothers, friends?

Not at all. Nor is it amazing that people would mistake "supporting equality" for exactly that, only due to repeating it over and over, when in reality what they're supporting is a lifestyle and a culture.

Perhaps they feel that they are being discriminated against. Perhaps they are unwilling to lose any opportunity to mobilize support.

Or perhaps they realize that perception and emotion are extremely important variables to manipulate. Yes, they are "unwilling to lose any opportunity to mobilize support". They don't need to even believe their cause is just to do so.

Your assumption is that supporters of gay marriage are fatuous knee-jerk instigators who have not considered all the arguments you proffer. Think again.

By and large? Yes, they are knee-jerk. No, they do not consider arguments - they avoid them like the plague, except for strawmen, by and large. They demonize their opposition, replacing fake arguments for real ones in their criticisms, and quite often express rage at the very idea that their desires require defense or - worse - that the political changes and social cultures they wish to promote may well be wrong.

Sorry, gent. I've got too many friends in this culture, I've known too many people, and seen the tactics far too often. This isn't about reason - it's about fear and, frankly, quite a lot of self-doubt on the part of many. Emotional manipulation, strawmen, and shit tactics are the reason for their success at this point.

And I'm willing to bet you know as much, even if you'd never admit it.

Tony said...

They don't need to even believe their cause is just to do so.

"They" may not need to believe their cause is just, but maybe-- just maybe-- they do feel their cause is just.

How would you portray sincere gay marriage advocates act in your manufactured drama? Would they just shut-up and allow you your neatly aligned society without having to think about icky homosexuality? Would they willingly work and contribute to government and employer benefits that will never protect their spouse and kids from penury?

You've accused me of being cynical-- which I readily admit-- but I sense even more on your part...but there's something else as well: is it a lack of empathy?

Crude said...

"They" may not need to believe their cause is just, but maybe-- just maybe-- they do feel their cause is just.

No doubt many do. I'm sure plenty of people can justify many acts of varying degrees of both "monstrous" and "wrong".

What I said here didn't question the existence of people who thought their means were ultimately justified by their ends. Why, they may even believe that demonizing their opponents, misrepresenting their arguments, distorting the discussion - all these things are justified. But nevertheless, they do what they do.

How would you portray sincere gay marriage advocates act in your manufactured drama?

What makes you think the people who erect strawmen, who threaten and bully people, who justify using any and every tactic to silence those they disagree with, are insincere?

Would they just shut-up and allow you your neatly aligned society without having to think about icky homosexuality?

Think about it? Good God, Tony. Thinking about it is the one thing they want to avoid. Consistently. Which is why "homosexuality" - preference - always get the focus, and always in the most neatly sterilized ways. Hand-holding and hugging.

Let's talk about anal sex. Let's talk about sex culture, including gay sex culture. Let's talk about the reality of sodomy, hetero and homo and bi and everything else.

They want you to think about strawmen. Actually engaging the argument? Actually considering the issues in detail? That's petrifying for many. That's why they've relied on media ploys, emotional pull, and utter lack of argument. It works, and it lets you put most of the difficult questions in the closet.

Would they willingly work and contribute to government and employer benefits that will never protect their spouse and kids from penury?

Sorry, but as even Chris said - false argument. Especially when it became clear the civil unions were not only not enough, but would never be enough. It was always a stepping stone, because the goal has little to do with "penury" and a lot more to do with sexual acts and behaviors. The things no one wants to talk about, especially advocates of LGBT culture, precisely because they are "icky".

Not in public, anyway. Not when the cameras are on, and people may actually listen, and their opponents may be able to make a point.

You've accused me of being cynical-- which I readily admit-- but I sense even more on your part...but there's something else as well: is it a lack of empathy?

Oh, I've got plenty of empathy, Tony. That's the problem. I know how people whip themselves into a frenzy. I know how they demonize people because of how strongly they feel. I know how they turn a blind eye to the wrongs they're committing because they want so desperately to not only push a certain narrative, but to believe it themselves.

See, in your world, "empathy" means "realizing someone feels strongly about something, which also means conceding to them, because the more emotional person wins". In my world, empathy means seeing something from a person's perspective - understanding not only why they think what they do, but recognizing what kind of mistakes they can make given their perspective. What they can justify. What they can lie about. What they can lie to THEMSELVES about.

That's why, oddly enough, odds are you're the guy who lacks empathy here. When you accuse me of a lack of empathy purely because I disagree with you and I'm pointing out how shitty the tactics in use by your comrades is, how poorly reasoned their ideas are, that indicates you don't understand what empathy really means. You view it as a shortcut to agreement.

Or you're bullshitting. Either way, it doesn't speak well of your approach on this subject.

Ephram said...

Crude,

You go the route of criticizing the functionally illegitimate sexual acts of homosexuals in your argument against "gay marriage"? But what about the route of, "Hey, men and women are essentially different, therefore heterosexual couples and homosexual couples are essentially different, and so 'gay marriage,' which pretends an equality between the two, goes against reality"? Do you find arguments along that line lacking in validity?

Crude said...

Ephram,

Lacking in validity? Not at all. One problem, however, is that when you talk about 'heterosexual and homosexual couples' and essential differences, you're going to very quickly start getting into sex acts as a topic. Subtract the sex acts and desire for sex acts from a 'homosexual couple'. What, exactly, is left that's objectionable? If the answer is 'nothing' or 'not much', you're going to see the problem, at least if the goal is to sidestep the sex acts question.

Either way, there's issues other than sex acts that are entirely relevant: the purpose of marriage, for example. The role of marriage in a family unit in society. Etc, etc. The reason I focus on sex acts is simple: practically no one mentions it, ever, on either side of the debate - despite it being a central objection from a natural law and traditional Christian/Catholic teaching point of view. Honest to God, to hear many people talk, you'd think that the big problem with "homosexual relationships" is that they hold hands in public - which, by the way, is pretty much the perception the LGBT culture wants to push.

There's some more problems. The "functionally illegitimate sexual acts" issue isn't limited to homosexuals - anal sex, by natural law and traditional Christian teaching, doesn't get sanctified just because it's between a man and wife, much less heterosexuals. But it's pretty central to explaining the real, biblical, philosophical, moral objections to homosexual behavior. I don't view it as an argument against Gay Marriage in and of itself, because you also have to talk about the role and purpose of marriage as well - not to mention the role of sex, period, which again touches on heterosexual topics as well.

Again, I think a lot of talk on this subject has been mangled. But I focus on the sex because it's central, and it's ignored. Is it because people are too shy to talk about sex bluntly? Is it because everyone, particularly nowadays, has temptations or likes in the closet, and they don't like thinking about that? Who knows. But whatever the issue is, I think it's necessary to get over it and be more explicit in conversation.