February 18, 2014

“Against heterosexuality” [Darleen Click]

A thoughtful and thought provoking piece by Michael W. Hannon, who agrees with “poststructuralist queer theorists in their vigorous critiques of the naive orientation essentialists”.

First of all, within orientation essentialism, the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality is a construct that is dishonest about its identity as a construct. These classifications masquerade as natural categories, applicable to all people in all times and places according to the typical objects of their sexual desires (albeit with perhaps a few more options on offer for the more politically correct categorizers). Claiming to be not simply an accidental nineteenth-century invention but a timeless truth about human sexual nature, this framework puts on airs, deceiving those who adopt its labels into believing that such distinctions are worth far more than they really are.

A second reason to doubt whether this schema is one that we Christians should readily use is that its introduction into our sexual discourse has not noticeably increased the virtues—intellectual or moral—of those who employ its concepts. On the contrary, it has bred both intellectual obscurity and moral disarray.

As to the former, orientation essentialism has made ethical philosophy in this realm all but impossible: It has displaced the old marital-procreative principles of chastity without offering any alternative that is not entirely arbitrary. The older teleological view measured morality against man’s rational-animal nature; in the sexual realm, this meant evaluating sex acts by reference to the common good of marriage, which integrated spousal union and the bearing and rearing of children. The newer heteronormative system, on the other hand, cannot account for the wickedness of same-sex sodomy by reference to anything but a conditioned and unprincipled gag reflex, and one which, left unjustified, has weakened considerably over time.

As to the latter result, moral disarray, the orientation takeover has counterproductively shifted our everyday attention from objective purposes to subjective passions. Young people, for instance, now regularly find themselves agonizing over their sexual identity, navel-gazing in an attempt to discern their place in this allegedly natural Venn diagram of orientations. Such obsessions generate far more heat than light, and focus already sexually excited adolescents on discerning extraneous dimensions of their own sexual makeup. This self-searching becomes even more needlessly distressing for those who discern in themselves a “homosexual orientation,” as they adopt an identity distinguished essentially by a set of sexual desires that cannot morally be fulfilled. […]

It is true that homosexuality may be distinguished by an inappropriate despair, accepting sinful inclinations as identity-constituting and thereby implicitly rejecting the freedom bought for us by the blood of Christ. But heterosexuality, in its pretensions to act as the norm for assessing our sexual customs, is marked by something even worse: pride, which St. Thomas Aquinas classifies as the queen of all vices.

There are practical reasons to be wary of heterosexuality as well. Because our post-Freudian world associates all physical attraction and interpersonal affection with genital erotic desire, intimate same-sex friendship and a chaste appreciation for the beauty of one’s own sex have become all but impossible to achieve. (Freud, by the way, was one of the most influential architects of the vicious orientation-essentialist myth.)

For “heterosexuals” in particular, getting close to a friend of the same sex ends up seeming perverse, and being moved by his or her beauty feels queer. To avoid being mistaken for gay, these days many self-proclaimed straight people—men especially—settle for superficial associations with their comrades and reserve the sort of costly intimacy that once characterized such chaste same-sex relationships for their romantic partners alone. Their ostensibly normal sexual orientation cheats them out of an essential aspect of human flourishing: deep friendship.

I have written about the latter several times. This kind of “close-friends-are-just-gay-lovers-not-out-of-closet” nonsense is deeply disturbing, not just the distraction of lascivious speculation on how Abraham Lincoln or Jesus were gay but its use to further isolate and demean boys.

The unfortunate history of “heterosexual” we have chosen to forget is that this word came into the English language as a label for a perverted sexual disorder that delighted in sterile sex acts. Usually such desires were for those of the opposite sex, but even that line was blurry, because as it turned out, once the generative purpose of sex had been severed, it often mattered very little who the heterosexual’s mutual masturbatory partner was. […]

However, despite the illogic of it all, “straight people” still tend to receive more societal advantages from their appellation, and thus the dismantling of the orientation schema threatens them far more than it does their “gay” and “lesbian” counterparts. As Jenell Williams Paris of Messiah College writes in her book The End of Sexual Identity, “Grounding sexual ethics in our humanity more than in contemporary sexual identity categories . . . comes at a cost to heterosexuals,” because “it puts them in the game as players instead of umpires.” For that very reason, though, it is self-proclaimed heterosexuals who may prove most effective in leading our chaste charge against sexual orientation, sacrificing their unchristian security blanket of “straightness” for the sake of caritas in veritate. […]

The Bible never called homosexuality an abomination. Nor could it have, for as we have seen, Leviticus predates any conception of sexual orientation by a couple of millennia at least. What the Scriptures condemn is sodomy, regardless of who commits it or why. And yet, as I have argued throughout, in our own day homosexuality deserves the abominable label, and heterosexuality does too.

Posted by Darleen @ 1:26pm
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Comments (36)

  1. Okay then. If people ask me (as they do, oh, forty or fifty times a day) whether I’m homosexual or heterosexual, I shall answer, “Neither. I’m normal.”

  2. who are these guys what have trouble making super bffs with other guys exactly

    this is not a real world problem really cause people like to make friends

    in my experience you just have to show people you care and then consume alcohol with them periodically

    also listening is very important

    plus hugs – but only if they’re from the south or the west – if they’re from the mid-west hugs can be very very unsettling and you’ll need to segue straight into the alcohol consumption

  3. The funny thing is that in Norway – where the gay activists have experienced their earliest and most complete victories – the gay activists insist that homosexuality is a simple “choice” in spite of the prevailing scientific theories:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J04bRx2MGi4

    I have a theory as to why, but I’ll let you all knock it around a bit first.

  4. Thanks, Darleen. This is a very thoughtful article and needs to be read all the way thorough (probably more than once).

    Michael Hannon’s vision of a return to Christian chastity is of a piece with Pope Francis’ thoughts on the matter.

  5. This kind of “close-friends-are-just-gay-lovers-not-out-of-closet” nonsense is deeply disturbing, not just the distraction of lascivious speculation on how Abraham Lincoln or Jesus were gay but its use to further isolate and demean boys.

    It ain’t doing women and girls any favors either.

    By the way, I suspect the then-13 year old girl was the aggressor here. If only because I have a hard time imagining a 30ish mother of three deciding she’s been attracted to teenage girls all along.* At least not absent the current cultural trend of sexualizing everything.

    And not that that excuses the adult for failing to act like a proper adult.

    *Or maybe I’m just obstinantly naive like that.

  6. Wow. Between Jeff getting his mojo back and happy feet actually making funny remarks again, this has been quite a day.

  7. Does anyone see the political problem with identifying a perfection with a norm? Model for an individual life, ok, sure, be my guest . . . but our modern political schema isn’t going to install such windy business in a seat of government, not, at least, on these grounds.

  8. The author’s point isn’t political.

  9. True, but mine is.

  10. sdferr

    With all due respect, Christianity doesn’t expect perfection in humans. Ever.

    And Christianity doesn’t believe humankind’s biggest struggle is with Climate Change or Big Oil or Plan 9 from Outer Space …

    Like Judaism, Christianity believes our biggest struggle is with ourselves.

  11. Christianity, at least as far as I understand it, is not based on a tragic view of human life, but far to the contrary, on the certainty that human life need not be tragic, but has salvation at hand in the person of the Man-God Jesus Christ.

    Our politics, by definite contrast, holds to an older view (through the modern founder, Machiavelli, who sought to revive that older view, and thus displace Christianity from its grip on politics in his time), that human life is inescapably tragic, most especially in regard to its political component, that salvation in this respect is not possible. So, I only wish to make the distinction, and with the distinction, the loggerheads, plain.

  12. I knew what you meant, sdferr.

    I read a funny quote the other day (attributed to Freud), “He who threw the first insult, instead of a stone, invented civilization.”

  13. Christianity, at least as far as I understand it, is not based on a tragic view of human life, but far to the contrary, on the certainty that human life need not be tragic, but has salvation at hand in the person of the Man-God Jesus Christ.

    That’s what the Hebrews Progressive Social Gospel Christians thought.

    Just exactly.

    If I may get my Marcus Brody on.

  14. Probably I misunderstand Christianity, which wouldn’t be a surprise, but without a doubt I have no idea what you’re talking about Ernst.

  15. Arius taught that God the Father and the Son did not exist together eternally. Arians taught that the pre-incarnate Jesus was a divine being created by (and therefore inferior to) God the Father at some point, before which the Son did not exist.[5] In English-language works, it is sometimes said that Arians believe that Jesus is or was a “creature”, in the sense of “created being”. Arius and his followers appealed to Bible verses such as Jesus saying that the father is “greater than I” (John 14:28), and “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work” (Proverbs 8:22).[6]
    Controversy over Arianism arose in the late 3rd century and persisted throughout most of the 4th century. It involved most church members—from simple believers, priests and monks to bishops, emperors and members of Rome’s imperial family. Such a deep controversy within the Church during this period of its development could not have materialized without significant historical influences providing a basis for the Arian doctrines. Some historians define and minimize the Arian conflict as the exclusive construct of Arius and a handful of rogue bishops engaging in heresy;[citation needed] but others recognize Arius as a defender of ‘original’ Christianity,[citation needed] or as providing a conservative response against the politicization of Christianity seeking union with the Roman Empire.[citation needed] Of the roughly three hundred bishops in attendance at the Council of Nicea, only two bishops did not sign the Nicene Creed, which condemned Arianism.[7]

    link

  16. Jesus died for so we could be saved

    by Grace alone

    you’re supposed to say thank you

  17. why do faggots die of aids?

  18. And accept that the answer to “Who killed Jesus?” is “I, a sinner, am guilty of that crime.”

  19. a mob killed jesus ax zimmerman

  20. Why do bad things happen to good people, nr?

    There is an entire niche market devoted to that question.

  21. Happyfeet forgot to mention that when he writes “bff”, he really means “butt-fucking friends”.

  22. “Why do bad things happen to good people, nr?”

    using the anus maybe a part of it. faggots uber alles

  23. “public health” be damned with the perverted commies

  24. without a doubt I have no idea what you’re talking about Ernst.

    Mostly I’m making a hammy Raiders of the Lost Ark reference as I agree with you in part and dissent from you in part, limiting my agreement with your characterization of Christianity to the Social Gospel movement of the Progressive era.

    Where I dissent is that I don’t think tragic/salvific dichotomy accurately reflects the Christian position, which is really Catastrophic/Eucatastrophic, to borrow from Tolkien. Euchatastrophe being a neologism (of his, I believe) for the catastrophe that ends in unlooked for, unexpected joy.

    In the context of politics, it seems to me the concept of original sin falls into the catastophic (or tragic) view of human life, and, thus Machiavelli was merely de-Christianizing what everyone already believed (overly generalizing here) anyways, just as they always had. Christianity was born in Antiquity, after all.

    But you’re right in pointing out that it was from a particular strand of Christian thought that the social reformers in a hurry learned to Immanetize the Eschaton.

  25. Jesus died for so we could be saved
    by Grace alone
    you’re supposed to say thank you

    Oh. Is that all?

    he deadpanned.

  26. What to make of the catastrophe in flood, and the apparent promise to Noah of an end to all that? Or do I simply misread again (or forget, whichever)? I’ve never heard of eucatastrophe as a thing, but it seems like a quite nice descriptor in a word of an unexpected gift the like of holy blood on a cross. As to Social gospel progressivism, never read ‘em and wouldn’t particularly look to do. Sounds boring beyond compare. And as to an immanitized Eschaton, who really gives a damn? Besides them that does, that is.

  27. What to make of the catastrophe in flood, and the apparent promise to Noah of an end to all that?

    If water world is only an embarrassment to Kevin Costner, then promise kept, right?

  28. newrouter says February 18, 2014 at 8:56 pm why do faggots die of aids?

    It destroys the immune system, IIRC. So an AIDS victim dies from some disease or infection they normally would have survived. Same thing happens to heterosexuals who die of AIDS.

    Oh wait, you weren’t looking for an actual answer, just venting yet again, right?

  29. > Same thing happens to heterosexuals who die of AIDS. <

    it was a homo thing mostly center in sanfrannan's sf district in the early '80s. eff the perverts,

  30. >Oh wait, you weren’t looking for an actual answer<

    yea cause ronald reagan caused the gay clown's problems?

  31. the “evolutionists” find dick into anus “evolutionary”

  32. Newrouter’s been sniffing the ether again.

  33. It’s something less like a vent or venting, Patrick, than it is a sphincter-like central nervous system crafting one verbal turd after another to be carefully squeezed out and plopped on to the blog-page.

  34. With all due respect, Christianity doesn’t expect perfection in humans. Ever.

    Perfection is a journey, not a destination.

  35. sdferr says February 18, 2014 at 10:34 pm It’s something less like a vent or venting, Patrick, than it is a sphincter-like central nervous system crafting one verbal turd after another to be carefully squeezed out and plopped on to the blog-page.

    Carefully?

  36. Well, we wouldn’t think such a manifest consistency arrives at complete random, would we? No more than that an object of care in every instance has to be somehow beautiful or worthy of care.

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