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The Right to Do Wrong

Robert R. Reilly’s new book, [1]Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything [1], is about Nature, understood as that telos towards which every created thing seeks its perfection.

It’s also about sodomy, which behavior is clearly unnatural, and – as Reilly carefully, meticulously proves – it was always considered so. Look to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – Greeks, of course, whose culture is often (wrongly) portrayed as homophile – all of whom condemned sodomy as disordered.

The evidence of emerging American homosexualism has been before our eyes for decades, but most of us, seeing the signs, simply assumed the endgame was nothing more or less than that most durably persistent American virtue: tolerance. Who’d have thought – even twenty years ago – that the Gay Rights Movement sought a culture-wide transformation?

Heck, two years ago, one could say – with what now seems foolish confidence – that, after all, whenever and wherever American voters were asked to decide the issue of same-sex “marriage” the initiative always failed. But then the courts in their wisdom decided to straighten the crooked will of the people. How did this happen?

Western political philosophy split into two very distinct branches in the 18th century: one came from Edmund Burke and William Blackstone through the American Founding to modern conservatism; the other, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the French Revolution, led to contemporary liberalism. This second branch, the liberal, remains under the spell of Rousseau’s anti-teleological view and is further besotted by existentialism, multiculturalism, and other leftist enthusiasms. The first branch, the conservative – which retained teleology – has spent most of the last two centuries trying to figure out how, short of totalitarianism, to restrain the pagan passions unleashed by the second branch.

Because if Man alone is the source of meaning, if humanity does not see the moral ends inherent in Nature, given by Nature’s God, then, as Mr. Reilly writes, we have a paradox, especially for those who make a claim to “gay rights,” because . . .

 . . . the proponents of homosexuality are supporting a cause that can succeed only by obliterating the very understanding of Nature upon which our existence as a free people depends. . . .Their appeal to rights subverts the rights to which they appeal.
Why? “If Nature is denied, then justice will necessarily be reduced to what is willed, which, in turn, becomes right as the rule of the stronger.”

To say, after thousands of years of believing the opposite, that same-sex unions are normal “is to cast aside Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Old Testament and the New, Augustine, and Aquinas.” Reilly cites examples – in changing cultural mores and in recent court decisions – through which this casting aside has proceeded.

Of course, it’s not just sodomy that’s been released by this anti-teleological-determinism but contraception and abortion too. Also divorce, pre-marital sex, and perhaps, soon, pedophilia and bestiality.

Writing about the SCOTUS decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down a law banning “gay” sex, Reilly asks: “Why did it take more than two centuries for the court to discover the right to sodomy?” Because the Court decided the Framers simply didn’t understand liberty and “its manifold possibilities.” Reilly responds:

Neither apparently did the court in Bowers [v. Hardwick, a Georgia anti-sodomy law] only seventeen years earlier, when it declared that there is no constitutional right to sodomy.
The judges and their pep squad in the media have decided that tradition is most often another word for oppression. As for those of us who “cling to our gods and our guns,” the elites see us as lost in what Marx’s partner Engels called “false consciousness.”

And here’s Bob Reilly’s key insight about what ought to have been the Court’s rule (and that reveals its decadence): “Given that the state should not be demeaning the existence of homosexuals, should it also not be affirming their existence by showing ‘respect for their private lives’?”

     Robert R. Reilly

The government has been moved to action not so much because of compassion but more because of media and lobbying pressure. The same is true throughout the culture.

Such pressure led to the successful campaign in 1973 to have homosexuality removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the American Psychiatric Association’s bible of mental disorders, where it had been listed since 1952.

The liberal entertainment media have gone out of their way to populate movies, sitcoms, and talk-TV with homosexual characters intended to desensitize us to the “love that dare not speak its name.” Now the love that won’t give us a moment’s peace.

Making Gay Okay includes short chapters about the impact and consequences of same-sex parenting, LGBT “studies,” and the queering (to use the chic word) of the U.S. military, American foreign policy, and Scouting.

In the 1980s, I attended a dinner at which a homosexual activist expressed to some feminists the “absolute support” of “gay” men for abortion. I wondered why their interests coincided. I was too thick-headed – or naïve – to grasp their shared inversions of reality.

Perhaps this was because, earlier in my life, I briefly (but vigorously) embraced the enthusiasm known as “sexual freedom,” in some ways the prime inversion of truth. There are many Baby Boomers who feel reluctant to criticize sexual choices, having made so many poor ones themselves when they were young.

Time to grow up.

Making Gay Okay [1] is an education: in philosophy, psychology, history, law, politics, and science. Frankly, you’ll learn things you may wish you didn’t know: “bug chasing,” for instance. But to find out what that is, you’ll have to buy the book.

Brad Miner is the Senior Editor of The Catholic Thing and a Senior Fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute. He is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His most recent book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with George J. Marlin, is now on sale. His The Compleat Gentleman is now available in a third, revised edition from Regnery Gateway and is also available in an Audible audio edition (read by Bob Souer). Mr. Miner has served as a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA and also on the Selective Service System draft board in Westchester County, NY.