Homosexuality and the Logic of a Disordered Polity | Fr. James V. Schall, SJ | CWR
Robert Reilly’s new book, Making Gay Okay, is an objective and logical discussion of where certain ideas and actions must—and do—invariably lead
“‘But surely,’ someone will object, ‘it isn’t easy for vice always to remain hidden.’ We’ll reply that nothing great is easy. And, in any case, if we’re to be happy, we must follow the paths indicated in these accounts. To remain undiscovered we’ll form secret societies and political clubs. And there are teachers of persuasion to make us clever in dealing with assemblies and law courts. Therefore, using persuasion in one place and coercion in another, we’ll outdo others without paying a penalty. ‘What about the gods? Surely we can’t hide from them or use force against them!’ Well, if the gods don’t exist, or concern themselves with human affairs, why should we worry at all about hiding from them?” — Adeimantus, The Republic of Plato, II, #365c-d.
In my mind, I associate three books together—Hadley Arkes’ First Things, Jay Budziszewski’s On the Meaning of Sex [Editor's note: See CWR's April 2012 interview with Dr. Budziszewski], and Robert Reilly’s new book, Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. Together they constitute, as it were, a “trilogy” that makes intelligible our acknowledged or unacknowledged public disorder of soul. When Aristotle distinguished political regimes in his Politics, he pointed out that each regime within itself—monarchy, aristocracy, polity/tyranny, oligarchy, democracy, and the mixed regimes—manifested a certain order. This order, in its turn, revealed the souls and character of the citizens of the regime. In addition, regimes become better or worse through time. They change; they decline and fall, rise and ascend. The criterion of what is good and what is not is grounded in what is. Man discovers reality. He does not will it or make it, except in so far as he bases himself on being, to follow it or to reject it.
Changes in regimes always reveal and follow a certain “logic.” When polities change, they do so for a purpose found ultimately in the souls of the citizens that constitute them. Such changes, ultimately, are set in motion by the free choices of citizens about how they live. How they live follows on how they think. Political “structures” do not “determine” the virtue or vice of citizens. They follow and flow from them. There is a “best” regime, an “in-between” regime, and a “worst” regime. The steps by which one goes from bad to good, or from good to bad, are inherent in things themselves. These steps are open to the mind’s understanding. “Man did not make man to be man,” as Aristotle put it. He is already a “made” reality before he begins to think of why he is as he is.
What man makes of himself will thus follow the logic of his being, not the logic of his will alone. Yet, as St. Thomas pointed out in his Summa (I-II, 91, 5), there is an order in disorder. To think and act against the good leads step by step, whether we like it or not, foresee it or not, to that which is most opposed to the good of any order. One goes gradually and incrementally from good to bad one step at a time. Each change makes a further ascent or declination possible, even likely. But change is always in the direction of making man more or less human. He always insists that he acts to make things better, even when he is doing the worst.
Man is responsible for what he makes or allows himself to be. He cannot make himself to be non-human. But he can make himself to be good man or bad man. Aristotle said that man can make himself worse than the beasts. He was not criticizing the beasts. Being indirectly protects the good by punishing a disorder of soul in the very living of out of the disorder. Such disorder and its “punishment” can be seen and traced in objective terms; this is what sociology and political science are at their best.
This tracing of the human good as it systematically deviates from its essence is what Reilly's book does.
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