Monday, August 10, 2009

Homophobia is the easy way out

Matt Yglesias pretty much nails my thoughts on the Christianists' gay fixation:
Most of what “traditional values” asks of people is pretty hard. All the infidelity and divorce and premarital sex and bad parenting and whatnot take place because people actually want to do the things traditional values is telling them not to do. And the same goes for most of the rest of the Christian recipe. Acting in a charitable and forgiving manner all the time is hard. Loving your enemies is hard. Turning the other cheek is hard. Homosexuality is totally different. For a small minority of the population, of course, the injunction “don’t have sex with other men!” (or, as the case may be, other women) is painfully difficult to live up to. But for the vast majority of people this is really, really easy to do. Campaigns against gay rights, gay people, and gay sex thus have a lot of the structural elements of other forms of crusading against sexual excess or immorality, but they’re not really asking most people to do anything other than become self-righteous about their pre-existing preferences.

I think this holds true for men and abortion as well. Men never have to contemplate having an abortion, so it's easy to just take an absolute position. Women often face a much less clear-cut and agonizing decision, as anyone who read Sullivan after the Tiller killing knows.

The one caveat to all this is that the Bible can be read as being anti-gay. There are some verses that denounce certain sex acts. However, it can also be read as not being anti-gay. Considering that the conception of homosexuality has changed radically over the past century or so--now the big battles are over whether gay people should be able to seek stability within existing social institutions, and it's not a matter of families being broken apart but rather of new families being formed. I think it's entirely reasonable to say that the current incarnation of homosexuality isn't really what the Bible was inveighing against 2000 years ago, and that the sexual system that Paul proposed in his letters wasn't ever really workable to begin with. But it will persist, in the short term anyway.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.