It is now about 350 years that the war against Christianity commenced in the English-speaking world. It began with Deism during the reigns of King Charles II (the “Merry Monarch”) and his brother James II. Newton and Locke were still alive in England. Cotton Mather was living in Boston. Benjamin Franklin had not yet been born. William and Mary were waiting in the wings.
Deism was a mild form of anti-Christianity. It allowed you to hold onto many of your Christian beliefs (e.g., the existence of God, the rationality of nature, the Ten Commandments, life after death) while dropping all of its miraculous elements (e.g., the divinity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection).
The next great attack began in England during the mid-Victorian age. It reached America soon after the Civil War. It was made up of three parts. (i) Agnosticism, a theory of knowledge according to which it is impossible for humans to know whether or not God exists. (ii) The “higher criticism” of the Bible, according to which many of the traditional questions of authorship along with much of the content of the Bible were thought to have been demonstrated to be historically erroneous. (iii) Darwinism, which, according to its anti-Christianity enthusiasts, refuted the idea that the vast and complex world of organic nature had been created by an immensely great Intelligence.
The most recent great attack has been atheistic. During the 1800s, atheism had flourished in continental Europe among a limited number of intellectuals, mostly in Germany (e.g., Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, Haeckel), and in the early 20th century, it was a popular thing in Europe among Socialists and Communists, especially in Russia.
But for the first half of the 20th century in the Anglosphere, atheism remained a very limited thing, mainly confined to a small number of intellectuals (e.g., Bertrand Russell in Britain and John Dewey in the United States). Atheism’s great breakthrough in the English-speaking world came in the second half of the 20th century, thanks mainly to the so-called sexual revolution, a thing of atheistic provenance and atheistic consequences.
If atheism is a common thing in America today (which it is, even though many de facto atheists call themselves by the softer name “agnostics”), and if atheism today has a great number of semi-atheistic fellow travelers among people who think of themselves as religious liberals or progressives, this is largely due to the sexual pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s who, teaching by both word and example, convinced younger generations that there is nothing morally objectionable about sexual freedom.
The chief argument deployed in support of sexual freedom has been, “Behavior between consenting adults is wrong only if it does harm to a third party; but consenting-adult sex harms no third parties; therefore, it is morally unobjectionable.”
To this day, this “does no harm” argument remains popular among advocates of an ever-expanding sexual freedom – despite the obvious fact that the sexual revolution has done an immeasurable amount of harm to third parties – beginning with children in the womb – and fourth and fifth (and nth degree) parties.
On at least one recorded occasion, Jesus – who, we should always keep in mind, did not have the good fortune to be acquainted with the wisdom of the 21st century, and thus on some questions, especially those pertaining to sex, lacked the good sense routinely possessed by today’s typical college sophomore—reduced all moral commandments to two: love God and love your neighbor.
Today’s atheists and sexual revolutionists have done better than that (who can be surprised?). They have reduced all rules of morality to one fundamental rule: Do no harm.
This explains, I suggest, the ferocity exhibited by moral progressives in defending, not only an unnatural phenomenon like homosexual intercourse, but also a downright weird phenomenon like transgenderism.
If you (an orthodox Catholic) express your moral or metaphysical disapproval of homosexuality or transgenderism, progressives reply with an indignation that is so great that it may remind you of the outrage an ancient Jew would have expressed at a Roman attempt to set up a statue of the Emperor Caligula in the Holy of Holies.
The trouble is, your disapproval has hurt the feelings – very delicate feelings – of gays and lesbians and transgenders (not to mention the hurt feelings of sophomores who deeply sympathize with homosexuals and transgenders). You have violated the One Great Commandment.
In his famous book On Liberty (first published in 1859), John Stuart Mill also enunciated a “do-no-harm” rule. But he limited the categories of potential harm to three: (i) bodily harm, (ii) harm to property, and (iii) harm to reputation. Mill mentions nothing about hurt feelings. The discovery of this fourth category of forbidden harm may well turn out to be the most significant contribution to civilization (or should I say “civilization”?) made by the LGBTQ+ movement.
There is a striking contrast here between the two principal sections of the sexual revolution – the pro-abortion section and the pro-LGBTQ+ section.
The pro-abortion people don’t demand that you (an old-fashioned Catholic) approve of abortion. You are free, as far as they care, to disapprove to your heart’s content. Just don’t interfere with those who wish to receive or perform abortions. Don’t enact anti-abortion legislation, and don’t hand down anti-abortion judicial rulings. Just get out of the way – and “getting out of the way” involves among other things allowing your taxes to pay for abortions.
By contrast, the LGBTQ+ people demand that you approve of the behaviors that are the definitive characteristics of LGBTQ+ people. Tolerance is not enough; they demand that you stand up and applaud. They demand that your approval be more than lip service; you must feel it in your heart of hearts. For if you don’t, you have hurt their feelings.
I have recently been reading an instructive biography of Stalin by Robert Conquest. As was well known, if you stopped applauding Stalin a moment too soon, you stood in danger of being shot.
LGBTQ+-ism has demonstrable totalitarian potential.
*Image: The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah by John Martin, c. 1852 [Laing Art Gallery, England]
You may also enjoy:
David G Bonagura, Jr.’s The Sexual Revolution and the Fall of ‘Roe’
David Carlin’s LGBTQ-ism