Chapter 3 - Future Generations Will Laugh About the LGBT+ Rights Movement
To be perfectly
honest, I was tempted to start the book with this chapter because of all the
crazy aspects of our culture, this is the one that will have future generations
laughing and blushing at our strange behavior. This is the issue where we have
all signed up to something that makes absolutely no sense. This is the perfect
picture of an emperor strolling around in the nude and every single person can
see it. The issue I am talking about is the LGBT+ rights movement. Lesbian,
gay, bisexual, trans, and ...whatever rights.
Everyone knows the difference between boys and girls (especially little kids) and everyone knows what sex is for (even the birds and bees) but ask those questions to an enlightened westerner and suddenly it becomes a complex conversation about identity, orientation, and social power dynamics. Ask a five year old about girls and boys and he will say, “boys have pee pees and girls have vaginas.” Ask that same question to an academic in the gender studies department, and you will learn that pee pees and vaginas have nothing to do with it and that big burly humans with pee pees can identify (and should be accepted) as women. Why do humans have sex? Any child who has had 'the conversation' with mom or dad will tell you that that is how babies are made. The whole old yarn about the birds and the bees is about procreation. The sexual appetite of humans is in place to ensure that we have babies. But do not ask an academic about that. Based on the focus of most gender studies departments, baby making has nothing to do with sex. It is all about liberation, fulfillment, and maybe the patriarchy.
But the emperor has no clothes!
The reason I did not start the book with this chapter is that the homosexual movement really can only be understood as a result of Western Civilization's experience with the black civil rights and feminist movements. LGBT+ came directly out of those movements. Given how badly we have understood race and gender in the West (see chapters 1 and 2), it is not surprising that we messed this one up too but in many ways this still doesn't explain it. Because there is a fatal flaw that should prevent any comparison between LGBT+ and race or gender. In fact, we really need to stop comparing them at all.
But if we did, there would be no LGBT+ movement. Because if there is one theme that pervades the discussion on issues surrounding homosexuality it is the idea that this debate is an analogous debate to the one we had on skin color in the 1960s. When homosexual activists were fighting for gay marriage in the early 2000s, memes flew around the internet comparing the fight for gay marriage and the fight for the end of Jim Crow laws. One that I remember showed a picture of an interracial couple from the 1950s and a gay couple from today side by side with a statement “both illegal marriages.” When Arizona tried to pass its “religious freedom bill” that would allow the religious to refuse service in some situations to homosexuals, the response was clear: ‘this is the new Jim Crow’. As a result, Jan Brewer vetoed the bill (probably fearing looking like the new George Wallace). Other states went through similar legislative actions with similar results.
But the comparison is a fatally flawed one. The cause of the African American should not be compared to the cause of the homosexual. They are nothing alike. To compare them is not only confusing but insulting to anyone who hates racial discrimination. The comparison is wrong for one reason: Behavior is not skin color.
People often argue that homosexual desire is innate. And if it is innate, they argue, it is like skin color (something we cannot change) and therefore worthy of the same sort of civil protections. But is this true? A moment's reflection shows the error of this thought. We are all born with a wide variety of innate impulses and desires (sexual and otherwise). Some of our innate desires and impulses are good and some are not. We all judge our desires and make decisions on when, how, and whether to act on them. These innate impulses are not behaviors. The fact that we have an innate desire/impulse in no way means that acting on that desire (behavior) must be accepted, licensed by the state, or endorsed by the public.
This concept is manifestly true based on the fact that we all regularly do not act on a whole host of our innate desires. We don't because doing so would often be socially unacceptable and sometimes illegal. Mindlessly acting on every desire is something criminal and psychopaths do. All well adjusted people are taught impulse control, behavior modification, and restraint. We are taught that only some behaviors are socially acceptable (depending on the culture, legal code, and situation). We then filter our innate desires and choose which behaviors are good and which are bad. Obviously then we cannot automatically assume that because a desire is innate the corresponding behavior must be accepted by all.....that is almost never true. Desire is not behavior. Behavior is not innate.
Very few behaviors are established as civil rights in our country and I have a hard time seeing why this one sexual behavior should be classified alongside skin color.
The current debates
(i.e. gay marriage, sodomy laws, and conscience laws and etc) are all about
behavior. No one is discussing thought control. The innate desires are
not being restricted – no, there are questions about behaviors. And such
discussions are appropriate and good. There is nothing hateful when we
determine to reject certain behaviors as bad (we all do that every day). In
fact, all desires must be evaluated, judged as ethical or not, and
rejected (or embraced) as part of living in a civil society. This is
fundamental difference between segregation skin color and behavior. It seems
obvious but our society continues to confuse the two. It is time this confusion
But here is the kicker.... it turns out... the desire is not even innate!!
I write these words
in the middle of the year 2020. Mid-2019, fifty years after the gay rights
movement really got its start, Science Magazine published a bombshell. If this
news came out in the late 1960s, there would be no LGBT movement. For fifty
years, we have been told by countless activists that, "we were born this
way." We have been told that using the term, "choice," with
regards to homosexuality is hateful because, "they did not choose
it." Pop singer, Lady Gaga sang, "Born this way." I remember my
grandfather telling me that he supported gay rights because he was convinced
that, "they are born that way." Books that spoke of the influence of
environmental factors like abuse or parental neglect were labeled hate speech.
Books teaching people how to change were banned from Amazon.
Fifty years ago, homosexuality was widely frowned upon. Many thought gay sex should be illegal. The idea of gay marriage would have garnered laughs from almost 100% of people. But starting about then and increasingly year after year we were told that they are born that way. It was innate. And, to hate something in the genes, is like being racist. And who wants to be a hater about something that is genetic? Nobody.
This argument - that it was genetically determined - became the very foundation of the homosexual movement.
And boy, was it effective. With the exception of some extremely religious people, the movement changed the social morals of the entire world. In the US, the population went from a strong majority of people thinking homosexual behavior should be illegal in the late 1980s to a strong majority thinking not only should it be legal but gay marriage should be recognized by the government in the 2010s.(1) I know many people who changed their minds on this. Almost every single one stated that they changed their mind because homosexuality is not a choice. We are born with our sexuality. Like skin color.
And let's just take
in how much American changed her views on this subject. A behavior that 50
years ago was considered very immoral is now considered just fine and in fact
something to be celebrated. Businesses and governments around the world
celebrated pride month every June. Trump got flak for not hanging gay pride
flags at the embassies. We have changed the way we teach morals. We have
changed the way we talk about families. Our entertainment industry almost
universally now includes gay characters in their stories. It is not strange to
see two men or two women holding hands or making out in public. Regardless of
your opinion on these things, you have to admit that this is a huge cultural
shift. To take something universally condemned and within a generation make it
universally celebrated is a pretty breathtaking achievement.
And it was all because we realized that they were born that way. Even as recently as the 2020 Presidential campaign, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (proudly advertised as the 'first openly gay presidential candidate') said, that God made him gay and that there were times in his life that, "if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife.”
Well..... [clears throat].... I have some embarrassing news for everyone. All this wonderful social engineering we did? Yeah, uh.... [clears throat]... it was based on a complete lie.
There. I said it. We social engineered our nation and the world for fifty years based on the idea that it people had NO choice over whether they were gay or not. We decided that trying to change people's sexuality was like trying to change their skin color. We decided that even asking them to refrain from sex was hate speech because they were born that way.
But we were wrong. They are not born that way. Sorry Lady Gaga.
Like most behaviors, genetics may play a part. Genes influence a lot of our behaviors. Alcoholism. Smoking. Violence. Risk taking. But this social engineering process was not about influence. If we said from the beginning that homosexual behavior was genetic in the same way smoking or getting loaded at the corner bar are genetic, I don't think we would have had fifty years of social engineering result. No. We said it was genetic like skin color, height, or gender. Our sexuality was DETERMINED by our genes. Not influenced. If it is simply influenced, then we can change it. By environment. By will power. By therapy. We do all those things with many behaviors we do not like. Smoking is hard to quit and is influenced by our genetics but we don't tell smokers they are born that way. We help them figure out how to quit. The case for homosexuality has always been that it is genetically determined.
But after fifty years of fruitlessly searching for a gay gene, the case for genetic determination of sexuality was completely undermined and debunked by a study released by Science Magazine.(2) The study should have been a huge bombshell but the media dutifully buried it before a holiday weekend and never spoke of it again. Further, and unbelievably, the scientists that released the study first allowed homosexual activists to screen it and make sure the language was crafted in a way that was acceptable. But despite being buried and carefully edited by homosexual activists, the study is a bombshell nonetheless. The New York Times summarized it, "The largest study of same-sex sexual behavior finds the genetics are complicated, and social and environmental factors are also key."
"Environmental factors?" Wut?
I am confused. I thought they were born that way? Lady Gaga, can you put a phone call into the New York Times? But the New York Times was reading the study right. As Inside Hook writes, "While the researchers said these gene variations cannot predict a person’s sexual identity, they can partly influence sexual behavior."
Huh. Wait.... genes do not predict sexual identity? But we just socially re-engineered pretty much the whole world based on this. But there it is. From the liberal New York Times: genetics do not determine your sexuality. Influence? Sure. Just as they influence smoking and cannabis use. But they do not determine your sexuality.
From the Science article's abstract [emphasis mine]: "In aggregate, all tested genetic variants accounted for 8 to 25% of variation in same-sex sexual behavior, only partially overlapped between males and females, and do not allow meaningful prediction of an individual’s sexual behavior..."
Genes do not allow meaningful prediction.... wow. And this is from a study of 493,001 individuals! After pouring through the genetics of almost a half a million people, they report that genetics play a small role and they acknowledge that social and environmental influences matter. Again from the abstract, "[Many] uncertainties remain to be explored, including how sociocultural influences on sexual preference might interact with genetic influences." It goes on to say,"These aggregate genetic influences partly overlapped with those on a variety of other traits, including externalizing behaviors such as smoking, cannabis use, risk-taking, and the personality trait “openness to experience.”
There it is. Right there in the abstract..... smoking? Cannabis use? Risk-Taking? We socially re-engineered our world for this?
Yes we did. Governments fell for it. Businesses fell for it. And, sadly, churches fell for it.
And we didn't
really need the study. Since the beginning we knew that identical twins did not
always have the same sexuality. Despite having identical genes and a very
similar experience in the womb, only a small percentage of people with a gay
twin are themselves gay.It has been right in front of us the whole time. Our
sexuality is not genetically determined. It is not like being black. It
is not like being male or female.
I started this chapter noting that even if our sexual leanings were genetically determined, the LGBT movement would not be warranted. But can we all agree that if it is not genetically determined the whole LGBT+ movement is a giant mistake?
The emperor has no clothes in spectacular fashion here.
Being Gay a Choice?
I have had a number of discussions with homosexuals since this study came out and they have insisted that they did not choose homosexuality. Whatever the cause, it is not a personal choice. Some combo of genetic and environmental factors made them this way. But not choice. Remember the Mayer Pete Buttigieg quote above, "if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife.” And you know what? I believe them. I believe that there was never a conscious choice for many gay people. In fact, I believe that for many gay people, they tried to choose not to be gay but found heterosexual attraction/orientation impossible to achieve.
But "choice" is a complicated word.
I smoked cigarettes from age 17 to age 22. Did I choose this? I can honestly say that I never consciously chose cigarettes. A friend offered me one, I wanted to impress, and then I just sort of developed the habit from there. It was super hard to quit. Never a choice. I have always loved pizza - specifically homemade pizza on pita bread with sautéed green onions and green peppers. Is this a choice? Not a conscious one. My dad made great pizza when I was a kid and developed a love for it that I haven't been able to shake (even when I thought it might be good to shed a few pounds). I love classic rock. Did I choose this? Well, my buddy in high school loved classic rock and got me hooked on it as well. But if I had a different friend, I might not have. I certainly never thought - I am going to love classic rock.
In fact, almost nothing I do in life was a conscious choice. The women I chased after. The style of clothes I have found attractive. The sports I have enjoyed watching. The fact that I spend hours every day on Twitter..... definitely not a conscious choice. And many things that people call choices, I honestly cannot quit doing. Anyone that has been on a diet knows how hard it is to stop eating so much..... but is eating certain foods really not a choice? If that is not a choice is anything a choice?
And that is key to this whole discussion. Why do LGBT advocates insist that their orientation is not a choice? Because choice is a way that we differentiate between changeable and unchangeable things in our lives. If a doctor told me that I had to cut out the pizza or die, I could probably change it (maybe). But if a doctor told me I had to change my eye color, I could not change it no matter how much I wanted to. When we say something is a choice, we are not claiming that there was some conscious decision at some point in time. We are not arguing that it is easy to change.
So maybe a better way to talk about stuff like this is to differentiate between behaviors and traits rather than choices or not-choices.
We can apply ethical standards to behaviors but not traits. Behaviors are things that we can call good or bad. Traits are things that just are and lack any sort of moral quality at all. My eye color is a trait. My pizza eating is a behavior.
Behaviors might be very difficult or even impossible to stop. Someone might become addicted to smoking and seemingly have no choice at all in continuing. But we can still say that this bad. In contrast, someone with red hair should never be told having red hair is bad - it is a trait not a behavior.
With this differentiator in mind, what category should we put sexual tastes in? I think that it needs to be put in the category of behaviors. Like the music we choose, the foods we like, and the clothes we find attractive, we might be attracted to certain humans. We might pursue certain people for romantic reasons. We might attempt to engage in sexual encounters with certain people.
And each one of these categories can be evaluated ethically. We can ask, should you be attracted to that person? And if that person is underage, or someone else's spouse, or a family member, we should say, "No, get that thought out of your mind!" And then we should do our best to never think it again. We say professors that pursue romantic interests with students are being unethical. We can say that sex between a psychiatrist and a patient is immoral. In other words, when it comes to our sexual tastes, pursuits, and behaviors, we can say, "that one is good and that one is bad."
That doesn't mean that someone can easily change those things. I know men that are addicted to porn. That cannot quit. That have gone to therapists. That have tried online filters and accountability software but cannot quit. Maybe not a choice. But it is an immoral behavior that they should quit. I know that there are nymphomaniacs out there that hate themselves for having promiscuous and risky sex. They cannot quit. Not with therapy. Not with tears and great regrets. Just cannot do it. But they should quit. With every sexual behavior we can apply ethics and ask, "good or bad?"
So.... homosexuality? Not sure how this does not fall in that same category. Maybe, like so many other things, it is not a conscious choice. Maybe it is something that is hard... perhaps impossible... to change. But we can evaluate it the same way we evaluate the man using porn or the nymphomaniac (or any other sort of behavior) and ask, "Should you be doing it?" Like all other sexual patterns, it can and should be evaluated through an ethical filter. Every sexual behavior is subject to this analysis. Some we say are fine (for example, a young heterosexual couple on their wedding night) and some we say are immoral (an incestuous relation between an uncle and a niece).
Homosexuality can and should be evaluated ethically. We can and should ask, is this moral? And that evaluation might bring different answers depending on where you think morals come from (more on this later). But it is obvious to me that there is nothing wrong with asking the question. And someone that concludes that it is wrong to practice homosexuality is not the same as someone that is racist or bigoted about traits.
What is the fall out?
The damage from this giant mistake is not small. In fact, it is a dark dark path that we have gone down. In the first two chapters (and you will read throughout this book) I argued that much of the good that we have in the Western can be attributed to the influence of Christian moral teaching. Christian teaching changed the way we thought about race, slavery, gender, and many other aspects of our culture. But the LGBT+ movement is a direct shot at Christian teaching. Christian sexual ethics are not a side part of the religion. As Christianity was starting, the church gathered together to present a unified message (read Acts 15) and the message basically was: don't be offensive to your fellow Christians (via the foods you eat and other behaviors) and don't be sexually immoral. The Romans had almost no rules around sex. As we talked about in earlier chapters, they could do anything they wanted with slaves and prostitutes. But the Christian religion instilled morals to our sexual behaviors and limited that behavior to sex between a heterosexual married couple. This family model built Western Civilization.
Why it Matters to Society
It used to be that
conservatives stood for 'family values.' Back in the 80s and 90s that was
something republicans talked about. Not any more. Now conservatives bend over
backward to show how open minded we are. Our pastors swear in their sermons. We
all like to brag about having lots of LGBT friends. We listen to Eminem. And
most of us are voting to legalize pot.
But I thought it might be good to remind everyone why family values should matter to Americans that want to keep a free constitutional society. And to remind everyone that destruction of family was a central tenet of Karl Marx's, "Communist Manifesto."
Family is hard and we all know that they are less than perfect. Dad is goofy most of the time and when he is not he is grumpy. And he is always sort of smelly. Mom is obsessive and naggy and doesn't know how to let anything go. You sister annoys the crap out of you. Your brother is okay most of the time but his friends steal your crap every time they come over. There are a lot of times when you sit around and wonder: what is family good for? Wouldn't it be better if we just reworked things? Maybe we could arrange society by mutual interests or freely chosen friendships? Live with who you like. Have Thanksgiving and Christmas with who you like. Stop with all this outdated stuff based on genes?
But family is not something we should be quick to set aside. And we should be pretty damn slow to start changing how it works. Dads are important. For whatever reason, that sometimes goofy and sometimes grumpy guy helps kids. Girls learn what it is to have a non-sexual relationships with a grown man. Boys learn what it is to be a responsible adult. Moms are important too. They teach girls how to be a woman and do all that stuff dads don't know (periods, personal care, etc) as well as how to interact with men. Boys learn to respect, love and learn from a woman. And those siblings are important too. They teach us to share, to deal with unreasonable people, and they are often our earliest playmates and the people we learn a ton of stuff from.
Of course, there are dysfunctional families. All families are to some degree. But the fact that no family is perfect does not take away from the fact that even imperfect families help us to be better people. Study after study shows that kids that grow up in households with married parents tend to be happier, healthier, and wealthier.
But more than just making us happier, families do something that no other institution does. Families pass on a heritage. History. Shared values. Religion. Morals. It is your mom that slaps your wrist when you are rude. It is your dad that yells at you when you punch your brother. It is your mom that tells your sister not to sleep around. It is dad that puts the fear in her not to. It is dad that scares you not to smoke pot. It is both of them that drag you to church. And when you are young, that all seems like a pain in the butt. But then you have kids, and you realize that your parents were not so dumb after all. You start teaching your kids the same things.
Heritage. Morals. These are the things that build societies. Destroy them, destroy society.
And lest you think this is just me talking, let me quote two different visions of the world from the people that built nations. The first vision is cast by the men who wrote the United States Constitution. The authors of the constitution ratified another document called the Northwest Ordinance (intended to provide guidelines for territorial expansion) and in the introduction it was written, "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind...."
Consider those words. They are saying that for a people to be free as they had envisioned in the constitution, the people needed to be moral. The people needed to be religious. The people needed knowledge and wisdom. In other words, the people that set our nation up.... the first successful democratic republic in history... said that HERITAGE was NECESSARY for this whole thing to work. Family values - parents teaching their children right and wrong.... were not side issues. They were central issues.
Why is that? Well, for a nation to be free, you need the government to be small and uninvolved. You don't need the government to be a nanny state. But what if the people are making up morals as they go and living wild and free? Well, according the folks that wrote the constitution, nothing would work. The state would need to get bigger and bigger to control an out of control populace. Freedom would erode.
But there is another vision. Karl Marx, the man whose ideas were used to establish the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and North Korea, wrote the following, “On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie.” He goes on, “The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.”
For Marx, the family is not critical... in fact, the family is a stumbling block. We need to get rid of it. All that heritage, keeps people thinking about property and rights. That is bourgeois thinking. It needs to go. The family needs to be destroyed for true socialism to work.
Two different visions. It is not surprising that Marx, who wanted a big centrally planned government did not like the family. And it is not surprising that the Constitutional Convention that wanted a small decentralized government did like the family.
Socialism works best without a family. Constitutional conservatism ONLY works with the family.
Now.... think about LGBT. Consider the fact that the movement for LGBT rights (legalization, civil unions, marriage, trans-bathrooms etc) has been a direct effort to redefine the family. It has been promoted not by conservatives but by people that leaned toward (or openly admitted to) being socialists. It was never about freedom (most conservatives do not care about what you do in the private of your home) it was always about changing morals and .... more importantly... destroying the concept of family. Every gay couple is a family without both genders. Either there is no dad or no mom. Marriage itself becomes a way not to have children and pass on heritage but a way to say, "I really love you and want to have sex with you alone." It changes everything.
And you don't think this is by design?
Why was the Science
Magazine study being buried? The LGBT movement continues stronger than ever.
Because this was never about truth. This was never about inclusion. This was
always about destruction. Destruction of the traditional family.
Family values are not a side issue in the political debates today. Family values are the central issue.
Is LGBT+ a new form of fascism?
When City Church
San Francisco was planted it was a fairly conservative Presbyterian church. It
held the historic Christian view of sexual ethics. But with time, its pastor,
Fred Harrell, changed his views and decided that homosexuality was not a sin. Then,
fairly abruptly, the church announced to its congregation that it had changed
its views and now would be an 'open and accepting' church. When World Magazine
did a story on these things, soon after the events, they interviewed City
Church members that were unhappy with the change. But something interesting
happened with these interviews. These San Francisco residents were unwilling to
go 'on the record' and include their names. Despite the fact that many people
from the church left, many more were unhappy with the changes, World Magazine
was unable to find people to publicly state their concerns. World said that
some, after initially giving their thoughts, called them back later and begged
them not to include their names in the story. They said it was reminiscent of
the reluctance of people under Nazi oppression to say anything negative about
And the comparison is not without some parallels. For simply holding the religious beliefs that they had always held, these Christians feared they would lose their jobs and be ostracized by their neighbors. They feared hatred and rejection by friends and family. They feared being doxxed. They feared violence.
Were they being silly? Were they being paranoid? No. There are many examples of all these things happening to people simply for affirming the historic Christian sexual ethic. For example, the Mozilla CEO was fired for opposing gay marriage.(3) Bakers who oppose gay marriage are being subjected to protracted lawsuits.(3) And death threats were made (4) to people who supported Prop 8 (a bill opposing gay marriage in California). Churches that opposed gay marriage have been vandalized.(5) I can tell you from personal experience on social media that many people view people who hold the traditional Christian sexual ethic to be deserving of any harm or damage that comes their way. Christians who hold the historic Christian sexual ethic are haters and should get what is coming to them.
Christians therefore were right to fear retribution for publicly stating their views. Every Christian knows that we have an option to stay quiet or face consequences.
When a religion cannot freely teach the ethics of its holy book, that is called oppression.
I know that many will say, "serves you right. You have been the oppressors in the past and now you need to get in line or suffer the consequences." And if that is what you say, you are part of the problem. Every oppressor justifies their abuse by saying that the people they are abusing deserve it. It's still oppression.
And it is not like Christians can just change. I became a Christian when I was 20 years old. At the time, I was in a bad spot in my life. Substance abuse and a sense of worthlessness in life, Christianity was both intellectually fulfilling and existentially satisfying. Since then, it has been a central part of my life. It has been a central part of my family. Our weeks are punctuated by prayer and the Christian sabbath. Our year is highlighted by Christian holidays. It is something I would die rather than set aside or betray. So, I am in a situation where a group of people are saying, give up something you would rather die than give up or suffer almost any punishment.
And this is why to
many Christians the 'Pride Flag' represents oppression not tolerance. When
"Pride Month"comes along every year every corporation is making posts
to show they are onboard. Every artist. The flag is flying on businesses around
town. Every politician is posting their pride statements. Every celebrity is stating
And while they may think they are just being nice, I think for many it strikes a more ominous tone. It says, 'we think you are a hater.' It says, 'hey, for this very complicated ethical and social question, we have decided you are wrong and that the other side should be celebrated.'
Homosexuality in Historical Context
The funny thing
about this whole cultural debate is that Western Civilization already had it.
2000 years ago. A common refrain among "liberal Christians" is
that the authors of the bible (and St. Paul in particular) did not mean to
condemn homosexuality as we know it today. Their condemnation was not against
committed long term gay relationships but instead the condemnation is simply of
a general going against your nature to do immoral stuff (although liberal
Christians are often very slow to define what that means or who should be
condemned). But they do make it clear that St. Paul didn't mean to condemn
people like presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg who is happily married
to another man (6) and claims to be a devout Christian.
Except that this is completely false.
relationships were not only common but they were expected. Historian Tom
Holland in, "Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar," discusses
the sexual mores of the Roman elites. An interesting passage comes when he
discusses the Emperor Claudius. Here is the passage:
"Those who wanted [Claudius's] ear, often made sure to exploit his sexual tastes, for everyone knew that he only ever slept with women. Like his concern that people should feel free to break wind at table, or his insistence on adding three new letters to the Latin alphabet, the complete lack of interest he had always shown in forcing himself on male partners marked Claudius out as a true eccentric."
So... males regularly at least experimented in same sex behavior all the time (to the point where Claudius was thought weird for not doing it) and many clearly preferred this (ie were gay by today's definitions). Some practiced homosexual sex exclusively.
And gay marriage was not unheard of either. Nero, for example, married a Eunuch named Sporus (more on this later). And the fact that Constantius II had to outlaw gay marriage in 342 AD shows that it was something that was a thing before that. So, Paul and the other authors of the New Testament lived in a world with a lot of gay sex and at least some gay marriage. St. Paul, therefore, cannot plead ignorance. He could have written, "we know some of you are inclined to homosexual sex and some are bisexual but you can only do these things in married relationships." But he did not say this. He said the opposite. St. Paul repeatedly lists homosexuality along with other sins. For example,
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
And in his letter to the Romans, he lists homosexual behavior as the prototypical example of a people turning away from God,
"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (Romans 1:25-27)
And it is not just St. Paul. The entire New Testament assumes that sex should only be practiced in married heterosexual relationships. For example, Jesus says,
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
And finally, all the New Testament writers, reaffirm the sexual moral codes of the Old Testament (Matthew 19, Romans 7, James 4, etc) that explicitly condemn homosexuality. Leviticus says,
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)
So, to recap... The ancient Roman world that Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John and all the authors of the New Testament lived in was full of homosexual behavior and even included some committed homosexual relationships/marriage. And rather than affirming this or giving guidance to it (ie 'only do it in married relationships') the New Testament clearly reaffirms the ancient Jewish teachings against the practice and in many ways adds to it (i.e. saying homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of heaven).
Now... it is true that the New Testament also preaches love and care for all people. Jesus famously told those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone (John 8). But when everyone had left Jesus told her to, "Go and sin no more." Love does not mean that we should not tell someone when they are sinning. Love does not mean that we need to affirm every moral choice anyone makes. As a matter of fact, those who take the bible seriously would argue that true love is warning people who are doing things that will cause themselves harm to stop.
But early Christians lived in a world with widespread homosexual practice and condemned it. They also condemned many other common sexual practices that were immoral. The condemned adultery. They condemned incest. They condemned pedophilia. They condemned prostitution. They condemned sex outside of marriage. Christians took a culture with few sexual taboos and imposed a strong sexual ethic on it.
Transgender as the Result of Decadence?
I've talked quite a bit about how the emperor has no clothes when it comes to what we think about gay and lesbian people but what about the T's? In the ancient world, this was called effeminacy or acting like a woman. It was not unheard of to modify genitals to imitate a woman's, it was called castration of the penis (something only skilled surgeons could do). But, in almost all cases, these sorts of things were things that were done to you not things that you would do yourself by choice. In fact, they were usually a sign of the most horrible results of losing a war.
For a free man, it was considered quite taboo to act effeminately. If you were a soldier, you didn't act like a girl. This is why it was considered shameful for a nobleman to be the 'receiver,' in a sexual encounter with a male slave. So even in a world where manly men didn't shy from taking a homosexual lover from time to time (even while also having wives), gender roles then were well established and violating them was considered shameful (or comical depending on the context).
Now, I should include the obvious note that the ancients didn't quite have what we have. Transgenderism in any sort of modern sense requires modern technology. Plastic surgery and hormones enable a transformation that simply was not possible just a century ago. But the idea of changing your behavior and getting some sort of surgery to change genders would have been recognized.
Let me provide a horrific example: Nero and Sporus. If you know anything about Nero, you probably know he was a monster and this story demonstrates that well. Nero's wife, Poppaea, was apparently the one human that he apparently cared for. But she made the mistake of coming into his presence while he was in a bad mood. Despite being his favorite human and despite being pregnant, Nero kicked her to death - nice guy. But relevant to our subject is what happened next. Nero was terribly distraught by what he had done. He wanted his wife back. He longed for her so much that he had his men scour the world for a lookalike. But no woman of her beauty and appearance could be found. But they did find a young man named Sporus who was a dead ringer. And, unfortunately for Sporus, Nero was fine with that. He had Sporus castrated and then married him. Sporus was transgendered involuntarily. And while Nero's perversion was uniquely public and decadent, he was not alone in taking sexual pleasure in castrated male slaves. It was not strange to take slaves, chop off their manhood, and then treat them like women.
Again... almost always involuntarily. But we do have at least one example of an emperor that would dress up like a woman. Elagabalus is listed by some modern scholars as a transgender emperor. But the ancients had a category for this behavior: decadent. It was viewed a sign of wealth and safety when men started acting like women. Spartans despised this sort of behavior.
And maybe this explains why Americans are now embracing this.... maybe effeminacy really does come with wealth and safety.... maybe it really is a sign of decadence. In the past 70 years, we have been going through a period of dramatic decadence. We have achieved wealth and technology that no longer requires much physical labor. Boys don't wrestle and fight as much. Kids are staying inside playing video games. We have not had a major war since Vietnam. A small percentage of men enter the military. We are a whole society that has achieved decadence that for the Romans and Greeks only belonged to the wealthiest citizens.
Now, I think that the rejection of the Christian view of the body plays a part. But I think we cannot dismiss what was once considered considered common knowledge: get rich, get safe, don't promote manliness, and you get effeminate.
LGBT+ is a glaring
example of the emperor not having clothes. The foundations of the gay rights
movement are based in logical errors, faulty genetic claims, and historical
ignorance. The errors of this movement are the sort that every little kid can
see. But we stand inside the courts of the emperor and politicians, academics, and
media elites are all nodding their heads, affirming that the emperor is indeed
wearing very fine clothing.
1 - https://news.gallup.com/poll/1651/gay-lesbian-rights.aspx
7 - https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2019/09/03/dioceses-reversal-on-same-sex-marriage-paved-way-for-pete-buttigiegs-wedding-at-south-bend-cathedral/