Introduction to Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything (Ignatius Press, 2014) by Robert R. Reilly
Many people are puzzled as to why anyone would or should get exercised over the issue of homosexual “marriage” because, when seen in isolation, it may appear to be a small matter that affects only a very tiny proportion of the population. If homosexuals constitute some 2 percent, an even smaller percentage of them will avail themselves of marriage, if it is allowed. That is certainly the evidence from countries, such as Canada and Sweden, where it has already been permitted for some years. So why all the fuss?
The concern can be understood only when the issue is seen within the broader perspective of the false reality of which it is a part and, in many ways, the completion. The foundation stone of this false reality, as we shall see particularly in terms of Supreme Court decisions, was contraception, and the capstone is same-sex marriage. The progression from the one to the other was logically inescapable.
In my last year in college many years ago, I was discussing with a classmate the status of objective morality. He was strongly inclined toward moral relativism, and soon we got down to the bedrock principle of noncontradiction (i.e., that a thing cannot both be and not be in the same way, at the same time, in the same place). To my amazement, my classmate was willing to dispute this, stating that we do not know if this is true and speculating that at some point it might be shown not to be so. The conversation had to end there because there was no longer any basis upon which it could proceed.
At the time, I did not know that he was a homosexual. Later, while still a young man, he died of AIDS. Put bluntly, he denied the principle of noncontradiction, and the principle of noncontradiction denied him. Ideas have consequences, and so do actions based upon them. This is what is going to happen to us as a society if we put the capstone of same-sex marriage into place. We will be living a lie.
My thesis is very simple. There are two fundamental views of reality. One is that things have a Nature that is teleologically ordered to ends that inhere in their essence and make them what they are. In other words, things have inbuilt purposes. The other is that things do not have a Nature with ends: things are nothing in themselves, but are only what we make them to be according to our wills and desires. Therefore, we can make everything, including ourselves, anything that we wish and that we have the power to do. The first view leads to the primacy of reason in human affairs; the second leads to the primacy of the will. The first does not allow for sodomitical marriage, while the second does. Indeed, the problem is that the second allows for anything. This is what the same-sex marriage debate is really about—the Nature of reality itself. Since the meaning of our lives is dependent upon the Nature of reality, it too hangs in the balance.
This book is also about how to live rightly in respect to our sexual Nature. This issue is addressed within the opposing perspectives of a teleological and nonteleological human Nature. In Plato’s Gorgias, Callicles said to Socrates: “He who would live rightly should let his desires be as strong as possible and not chasten them, and should be able to minister to them when they are at their height by reason of his manliness and intelligence, and satisfy each appetite in turn with what it desires.” As he so often did, Socrates responded with a question: “And the culmination of the case, as stated—the life of catamites—is not that awful, shameful, and wretched? Or will you dare to assert that these are happy if they can freely indulge their wants?” (491e–492a). Is right the rule of the stronger, as Callicles asserted, and can one therefore freely indulge one’s desires? Or, as Socrates suggested, is there something in the constitution of human Nature that makes the sexual use of boys shameful because it is wrong? We will address these questions.