What's Love Got to Do With It

It's hard to say how big - and how firm - the iceberg is, but the tip of zealous anti-gay-marriage campaigners that we got to see in Sunday's Times Magazine augurs ill for liberal society. Russell Shorto's report from Maryland was too upsetting to read all at once; I had to put it down and glance through the Book Review. There was nothing really surprising in "What's the Movement to Outlaw Gay Marriage Really About?", at least not or me; I've been convinced that the defense of traditional sexuality has come to determine almost every Republican Party policy, from stem-cell research bans to environmental laissez-faire. I am also fairly sure that religion is a tool, not an inspiration. It is unlikely that anybody currently alive is following every command of the Bible; in many cases, doing so would be illegal. The Bible contains some of the oldest text in the world, and any attempt to follow it literally requires serious interpretive somersaulting. Anti-gay-marriage (AGM) activists cherry pick as well as any group. But the wellspring of their thinking is hardly unique to Christians.

The homosexual community would have us believe that marriage is simply about loving one another," said Rick Bowers of Defend Maryland Marriage. "I say it's about two human beings who are wired completely differently, one with estrogen and one with testosterone, living together in love but with the purpose of procreation. It's a lot deeper than love."

How could anything be a lot deeper than love? Doubtless Mr Bowers really means to say "more primitive." It's as though - and this is an amazing twist, considering the source - we're being reminded not to forget that, beneath our human superstructures, we're animals subject to the "purposes" of animal life. In any case, love is clearly secondary in Mr Bowers's quite secular restatement of marriage.

Religion is, nevertheless a very powerful tool. It is a tool that AGM activists chide their elders for not wielding against abortion thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, of course, the religious objection to abortion ran up against an even stronger faith in the First Amendment's rejection of state religion. It's that protection that I miss now. I miss the days when evangelism was out of sight, rustic and remote. I am horrified by the prospect of subjecting metropolitan diversity to a Biblical scourging, and I expect the government to prevent it. To the extent that the government does not, I see the decay of the Republic.

AGM activists don't rely on religion alone. They have their weird science - homosexuality is a choice; homosexuals live hedonistic, drug-addled lives that lead to early illness and death; the toleration of homosexuality in Scandinavia and the Netherlands has led to an increase in out-of-wedlock births. But these notions are unlikely to persuade anyone not already convinced of the evils of homosexuality. Mr Shorto points out that the AGM movement has made it possible, even respectable, for people to express their loathing of homosexuality, hiding behind a "love the sinner, hate the sin" distinction that can't mean much to those who are quite sure that they're loving, not sinning. The weird science is really nothing more than codified hate speech, as anyone sympathetic to homosexual individuals can attest. 

Perhaps religion is a branch of the weird science. Compare

For [Christians], the issue isn't one of civil rights, because the term implies something inherent in the individual - being black, say, or a woman - and they deny that homosexuality is inherent. It can't be, because that would mean God had created some people who are damned from birth, morally blackened. This really is the inescapable root of the whole issue, the key to understanding those working against gay marriage as well as the engine driving their vehicle in the larger culture war: the commitment, on the part of a growing number of people, to a variety of religious belief that is so thoroughgoing it permeates every facet of life and thought, that rejects the secular, pluralistic grounding of society and that answers all questions internally.

with the conclusion of Brian Racer, a preacher whose congregation meets in a rented multiplex theatre.

Around the same time, a close friend told me he was struggling because he was attracted to men. Over the next two years, I had two other people confide the same thing to me. For some reason, God was putting it in my path. I took a psychology course, and ever since I've seen it as part of my ministry to counsel people. I tell them that is part of God's challenge to them, and those temptations have to be fought off with spiritual weapons.

The arrogant presumption of this distinction takes my breath away. It can't be [inherent] because that would mean that God had created some people who are damned from birth - but God can (and does) "challenge" men with temptations. (I was brought up to believe that temptation comes from the other place.) Life is an opportunity to exercise responsibility (a notion that only gradually, and post-exilically, emerges in Scripture), and even God cannot deprive a man of his chances. The ancient Hebrews were just as certain that their God demanded occasional massacres of uncircumcised males - no questions asked. Those poor victims might be said to have been damned from birth by the simple fact of being gentile. I suppose that we are to believe that the current Deity is more loving.

His disciples certainly aren't. Whether they know it or not, AGM supporters are racists. It doesn't matter that homosexuals, in their view, don't make up a "race" but are volunteers; there has never been any objective truth to any concept of distinct human races, to any theory that some "races" are better than others. Races are everywhere and always either comprised of hated groups or defined by their exclusion. They are demonized by accusations of atrocities. In the old days, Jews drank the blood of Christian babies. Is that better or worse than what Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer asserts of "them":

They are attempting through the public-school system to teach not only that homosexuality is O.K. but that it's normal. ... And now they are going as far as teaching children how to engage in the act. I find that appalling and absolutely unacceptable.

Which should be no problem, because it's absolutely untrue.

Anybody who has reached this point without grasping that the author (me) sees rock-ribbed connections between AGM activitists - a set that, conveniently, intersects with that of "Christian conservatives" (Catholics included), thanks to the Arlington group, an AGM coordinator of sixty-one organizations; may I please be excused from using the muddle-headed and inapt phrase, "Christian conservatives" ever again? - and racist political organizations such as the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei needs to get out the contact solution. The writer is also under the impression that he, as an intellectual sympathetic to the establishment of equal civil rights for gay men and women, would not be a safe person to hang around with once the militants got really military. So pardon me if I'm somewhat entzündet.

¶ For the view from Andy Towle's Towleroad, click here.

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