Damon Linker is wicked smart

When I grow up, I want to be Damon Linker. I consistently admire the intelligence and clarity of his writing, and sheepishly aspire to be half as thoughtful and incisive.

Anyhow, his recent blog post over at The New Republic is worth reading in its entirety. It's about social conservatives' obsession with homosexuality. I have a few thoughts of my own. Here he quotes Rod Dreher:
As he puts it in a recent post,

Gay-rights supporters typically believe people like me hold to our opposition to gay marriage and so forth because of some animosity towards gays. I know that it's true for a lot of conservatives, but in my case -- and in the case of most people I know who share my views -- it's not an emotional matter. We have gay friends, are comfortable around gay people, and simply don't share that visceral reaction that used to be commonplace in American life, and (regrettably) still is in many quarters.

I don't know Rod Dreher, so I can't really speak to his qualities as an individual. I am sure that his gay friends find much to recommend about him. Splendid. But I have very little patience and even less time for people who congratulate themselves for having gay friends, while simultaneously believing that said friends should be content with being second-class citizens. As though we should all applaud and be grateful that we're not getting burned at the stake, and go about our lives keeping in our place.

Linker sees Dreher's views about homosexuality as reflective of the Church's authority in general. The scriptures, Dreher states, are unambiguous on the subject of homosexuality, and thus believing Christians either accept the truth of the Church's condemnation thereof, or reject the authority of the Church to dictate sexual mores.

This is such a trite and facile argument as to be almost embarrassing. The Bible, turns out, says a whole lot of things. In addition to the clarity that the Bible supposedly contains about homosexuality, one can also find (in both Testaments!) justification for all kinds of fun stuff. Slavery, for example, is a breeze (Leviticus 25:44, Titus 2:9). Women, apparently, are useful commodities who should keep their mouths shut and do what they're told (Genesis 29:18-19, I Corinthians 14: 33b-36, Colossians 3:18). While I can find people who will actually defend that latter proposition (though I wouldn't really want to spend much time having a conversation with them), I (certainly hope I) would have a hard time finding anyone in contemporary society that would support the former.

Either we inhabit modernity, or we do not. Either we accept that historical Biblical teaching must be framed within the understandings of our current society, and allow for changes within that understanding, or we do not. Either we admit that reason cannot always be squared with Scripture, and can sometimes even take precedence over a literal belief in Biblical inerrancy, or we do not. Orthodox Christians, even fundamentalists, behave like the former but proclaim the latter. Regardless, let us not pretend that holding up the Bible as the perfect record of God's will, to be translated into law and policy, would result in anything other than a regression.


  1. I agree with your conclusions. While the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is wrong, I would like to suggest that the Bible’s prohibition on sex between men (homosexual activity) does not apply to men today when the sexual activity causes no harm. Also, the prohibition does not apply to men today because it applied only to the ancient Israelite and Greek-Roman cultures of Bible times. Reasons supporting these conclusions are given on www.gaysandslaves.com.

  2. I like Raycol's comments; the biblical passages are taken out of context, and the Bible doesn't deal with sexual orientation as we understand it today. I must check out the gaysandslaves.com website.

    Clarification of my post below about the Kennedys: I should have written "assassination" instead of "tragedy". The Kennedys have suffered numerous tragedies, but I was referring to the fact that Jackie, Caroline, and John, Jr. received much post-administration attention due to the fact that JFK was assassinated. And, of course, to the love affair the press has always had with the Kennedys.


  3. Eddie sent me the following:



  4. An observation: The Bible says nothing about female homosexual behavior. Lesbians are free to do whatever without condemnation from the Bible.

    The Bible is also approving of multiple partners in marriage, and I keep trying to get you guys on the bandwagon to advocate for polyamory and group marriage to be sanctioned by the government. Wouldn't want any second class citizens out there.

  5. Problem is, John, that I don't actually think you're being sincere. Somehow I suspect that you're being snide and ironic. Perhaps I'm wrong, and I'm being unfair. Please feel free to convince me otherwise. Until then, you're on your own with your cause.

  6. I live in Dallas and have to put up with Rod Dreher's rants in the Dallas Morning News (at least until my subscription runs out). He's a closet case, if I ever saw one.

    Look at his religious history--he switched to Catholic from whatever faith he was raised, then went to Orthodoxy, searching for a more conservative faith. That's kind of odd. He's looking for something. Maybe he's looking for a few good men, if you know what I mean.

  7. I thought you were for getting religion out of marriage! Single-partner marriage isn't the natural state of human behavior as a quick perusal of anthropology will confirm. Christianity, not Judaism, not Mormonism, not Islam, promotes single-partner marriage, and that's why our society has it and other societies do not. If you are uncomfortable with religious ideology denying you an equal opportunity to live your life as you choose with the partner of your choice, why not be consistent? How does it harm you if group marriage is recognized by the State? Answer, it doesn't. So why the opposition?

  8. John, dollface, you are equating silence with opposition. If you sincerely support polygamy as a policy, then I suggest you form a PAC and get to stepping.

    I would gently suggest, however, that a great many societies have single-partner marriage. This is neither an argument for nor against your position (which I still suspect you take for the sake of being contrary, and not because you genuinely support it). It is merely an observation.

    That is all I care to say, or hear, on the issue. Lest that is too subtle a statement, let me be clear that any further comments equating polygamy with same-sex marriage with be summarily deleted. If you think this is unfair, then I would urge you to avail yourself of the opportunity to create your own blog.

  9. Hey, I'm a guest here. You want me to leave, just say the word and I'm outta here.

    And I'm not being contrary, I'm being consistent in my beliefs about the role of government and religion in marriage and social contracts. I regret I have been unable to convince you that I am serious.

  10. John, I am willing to take you are your word that you are being sincere.

    I also believe that there is a serious argument that can be made against polygamy that it has been used throughout the centuries to treat women as chattel, and to keep them subservient to men. (It is notable that, while polygamy has been commonly practiced throughout human history, polyandry has not.) This is independent of any religious argument. However, I am not particularly interested in engaging in a debate about the legality of polygamy. The legalization of gay marriage is of deep personal meaning to me, and I am not eager to see it conflated with other arguments, particularly since "slippery slope" arguments about exactly those issues are frequently used by people who wish to stymie efforts to legalize gay marriage. (See also: Santorum, Rick.)

    I am just really not interested in having the discussion. I have a particular policy goal that I am pursuing, and I am loath to debate what I consider to be a distractor issue. I do not intend to be discourteous.