However, while I would like to see the old prejudices against gays laid to rest, I agree with Bryan that he should not be told to put his deeply held convictions on ice for purely political reasons. I’ve heard the arguments against gay marriage. I don’t agree with them, but I respect them and I know they come from deep thought and deep belief. They should be part of the right’s conversation.
The right should talk openly about these things — but it sure seems to me we might talk about them in a different way. Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson gave a perfect example of what I mean. Both Roger and I spoke out strongly in defense of Robertson’s right to say what he said in condemnation of homosexuality. But frankly, I thought it was baloney. This sample shows why:
It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.
Sin is not logical, and neither is that. Either sex is an expression of love that involves the whole person (not just his body parts) or it is a purely mechanical operation. If it is purely mechanical, then you’ll have to explain to me why one robotic sexual action is any more sinful than another. Penises don’t sin, after all; people do. If, on the other hand, sex is a spiritual act, then you might have an argument that some types of sex are sinful, but if you make that argument, you are advising a fellow spirit to forgo the consolations of romantic love. And if you want to condemn an individual to a life without romantic love, you better make a much more compelling case than Robertson’s! Just because thinking about some sex act or other makes you wrinkle your nose is no reason to condemn someone else to loneliness.
So my suggestion to the right is simply this. Don’t shut up. Argue your side. But argue it as if you were talking about human beings just like yourself. That is: people who live in a world of loneliness and suffering and death, people who fall in love and who look to that love for consolation, comfort and meaning. That’s who the debate on gay marriage is about: human beings. We should make our arguments — whatever they are — accordingly.
So often, the left wins debates by a flagrant and self-serving display of compassion. Their arguments are almost always wrong. But compassion itself is not wrong. In the political sphere, it’s required. Wherever we stand, we might put some effort into showing a little bit of that compassion when we make our case.
See also Roger Kimball, “That Awful Word ‘Social.’”