A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Right and Sex

One of the things that strike me about conservative arguments on homosexuality, is that they tend to focus almost exclusively on the biological aspects of sex.

Here's another piece bashing the idea of gays having children. It all revolves around biology: sex is about producing babies, gays can't do that through "natural" means, so this must be immoral. The idea of basing the morality of an act on this premise is odd.

Because there's nothing moral involved with biology. If there were, animals that produce an infinite number of offspring would be the most moral of creatures. The whole point of the Christian tradition is that there is something in us which is not simply animal, biological.

Rather we're created in the image of God, blessed (and sometimes cursed) with the possibilities of self transcendence, such that sexuality if it takes on any moral character will be more than simple biology. It ought to be a reflection of certain ideals and values that are choice worthy.

One hopes that the gay marriage debate actually does change our views on sexuality, not from norms to no norms as the right alleges, but from accident and biology to love and mutuality. Several feminist sites are working out what this means in helpful ways.

"And since homosexuals insist upon desiring limitless sexual activity, not governed by provincial rules and traditions, why would they want children?" This is the picture that the right lives by. Gay marriage is so scary for them because it ends up undermining this picture.

In many ways gay and lesbian parents are probably more mindful than the right because there's a valuing of marriage and children beyond biology. This may be a rejection of provincialism, but not of norms. It's from that context that more appropriate norms will develop.


At 9:28 AM , Blogger John Shuck said...

Thank you, Dwight, for talking about this on your blog. Have you read Mel White's Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right? It was an eye-opener for me.

At 7:44 PM , Blogger DavidD said...

I decided from years of trying to figure out what the main reason was that Bible-believing Christians attacked evolution that the arguments used to bash something progressive weren't necessarily why traditionalists did that. The arguments are just a way to dress up the rejection of something into an appealing form.

The passion with which traditionalists attack homosexuality is striking. The Episcopal Church may break up over treating gay clergy as normal. Clergy endorsing evolution or that abortion is sometimes a good thing didn't trigger that. I find it hard to believe that homosexuality is the real issue. People are making a stand about sin, why I'm not sure. Is it about making a stand for righteousness? Is it about people finding too much sexuality in the culture? I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons why homosexuals are being used as a scapegoat. It takes so long to get a straight answer about that. After a long time of talking with creationists, I think their real problem with evolution is that it means God's not the micromanager in their life that they want Him to be. All their arguments are contrived to dress that up into something less selfish and more compelling. Only the arguments don't work. Then what?

I think the arguments against homosexuality are beside the point. One can try to correct the association some make between gays and pedophiles, about gays and sex instead of love (which gays are almost as guilty of in their words), or about why gays and lesbians might want to have children. It all seems like a smokescreen to me.

Meanwhile there are some real issues about what makes for a good childhood. I was the child of adultery and grew up in a very angry home, because no one got divorced even though my existence betrayed this adultery. I can write a lot about how hard this was on the whole family, including my mother, including me. I value my life now, but my being aborted would have saved a lot of misery.

People don't care. They already have their stories for and against abortion. So too do they already have their stories about fatherlessness. Conservatives say kids do best with one mother and one father, as shaky as the data is for that. Progressives say only love matters, from similarly shaky data. I can tell you a loving father does matter. The effect may be hard to measure where there's plenty of material deprivation and other issues affecting outcome, but father do matter, as well as discovering that God is a good father, His lack of a physical presence being only a relative drawback.

But there's nowhere to talk about something real when people are determined to argue, to try to control some situation. It is human nature to do that. I wonder why. What's so great when flawed arguments win the day? Ah, there's something in biological, cultural, and spiritual evolution that explains that. I doubt I'll live long enough to decide what.


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