Thanks to the often shoddy and very pro-homosexuality agenda First Things blog, I came to know of this pastor, a great writer, and his article, because he was mentioned negatively (surprise!) in FT recently:
Unfortunately comments are closed! But there is a lot in the article and in the comments. Here is his description of what happened in a policy meeting (see his article for full text):
…We covered the very solid and long-standing research consensus on family structure. “Everyone does well or at least better when children are raised in married two-parent households.” Then the “thinking” in the tank turned political and strategic. The question of “gay marriage” surfaced. The room grew tense. Not because participants argued or tempers flared, but because everyone wanted to remain polite. People had opinions, but with the exception of one known conservative, most didn’t know where the others stood. Folks assummed, because I’m African American, that I would be supportive of a basically liberal viewpoint. Horror and surprise flashed over some faces when I made it clear that homosexual behavior was in no way comparable to the Civil Rights struggle, an analogy that was beginning to gain currency at the time.
Then it happened. The wind changed directions. If the wind could take steps, here they were:
Seize upon politeness. Turns out that being civil about indecency actually hurts the traditional cause. One of the attendees, a well-known openly-gay journalist, began to distance himself from other prominent gay activists. He rejected their militancy. He faulted their arguments as too frontal, too caustic, too beside the point. He “championed” traditional marriage and wanted it for gay couples for all the same beneficial reasons. He spoke of the research on family structure in friendly ways. He took the polite high ground and all the polite folks in the room were left with nothing but nodding.
Minimize conjugality. With most of the room nodding, he then began to divorce (no pun intended) marriage from its conjugal nature. All of a sudden, marriage was not about sex and procreation. “After all,” we were told, “there are heterosexual married couples who either cannot have or opt not to have children. So sex and procreation cannot be essential to marriage.”
Remove the “yuck factor.” Our advocate friend was keenly aware that any conversation about “what goes on in bedrooms” was death to his cause. So, he privatized those realities and their implications for what we view as “normal” or “acceptable,” and focused on other things (rights, etc.). He pointed out that most people have a visceral reaction, a gag reflex, when they think about sex between two men or two women. That deep-in-the-stomach gagging was symptomatic of an even deeper moral opposition to sodomy and other homosexual practices. He told us that this gag reflex should not and could not be allowed to affect the debate. The discussion needed to shift to other aspects of relationships. One of the great Houdini achievements of the gay rights campaign has been to take an issue all about sexual behavior and turn it into a discussion about everything but sexual behavior.
Emphasize love and commitment. Then the winds picked up. If marriage wasn’t about the conjugal relationship, what was it about? “Love and commitment” we were told. “What’s wrong with two people finding love?” Of course, this is a particularly manipulative question. The debate was never about “love.” And who can argue against “love”? But that’s the turn the discussion took in that room and would soon take in the broader public conversations. Gay marriage would be a celebration and affirmation of love and commitment, “the highest ideals in marriage” now that conjugal relationships were unimportant.
Call for “rights” and “equality.” If marriage was merely about love, and such love ought to be protected via government-recognized rights, then “gay marriage” should receive those same protections and rights.
What I’ve just described took place in about ten minutes, replete with objections answered and raised. Our homosexual interlocutor proved himself kind, winsome, insightful and reasonable. Most everyone, myself included, listened with a sense of appreciation.
Here’s what I tried to do, followed by what I did wrong:
Reject the unbiblical definition of love. I said, though it was very unpopular, homosexual marriage could not properly be called “love.” You could choke on the room’s tension. “How could I say such a thing?” I pointed out that the Bible teaches plainly that “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing” (1 Cor. 13). That the Bible also teaches that homosexual behavior was wrongdoing or sin. Consequently, though strong emotions and affections are involved, we cannot properly call it “love.” Love does no harm, and homosexuality clearly harms everyone involved. Despite the stares, I continued.
Reject the “rights” argument. It seems this ship has sailed. But a decade ago it was still in port, scraping off before the maiden voyage into public opinion. It was at this point in the conversation that I realized two things: (1) I’d been invited in part to address this particular aspect of the issue, and (2) most of the room gave me a fair amount of moral authority on the question. So I spoke as forcefully as I could about the wide difference between the sexual behavior we were now discussing and immutable skin color given by God. “Gay” was not the new “Black.”
But I wasn’t heard. Or, rather, I was heard as a paranoid alarmist. So-called “gay marriage” would not ruin marriage. Heterosexuals had already done that. Why shouldn’t homosexuals have their opportunity to ruin it, too?
Here’s what I failed to do then and I’m convinced is necessary now:
Return the discussion to sexual behavior in all its yuckiest gag-inducing truth. Now to do this, we’re simply going to have accept the fact that we aren’t going to be liked. We’re going to be branded “mean” and “bigoted.” We should not in fact be mean and bigoted. We should speak the truth in love. But the consequence will be a nasty brand from the culture. I should say branded again because we’ve already been given those labels simply for being Christians. So, we don’t have much to lose and we just might re-gain some footing in this debate.
What do I mean by returning the yuck factor?
Consider how many times you’ve read the word “gay” or “homosexual” in this post without thinking about the actual behaviors those terms represent. “Gay” and “homosexual” are polite terms for an ugly practice. They are euphemisms. In all the politeness, we’ve actually stopped talking about the things that lie at the heart of the issue–sexual promiscuity of an abominable sort. I say “abominable” because that’s how God describes it in His word. I think we should describe sin (and righteousness) the way God does. And I think it would be a good thing if more people were gagging on the reality of the sexual behavior that is now becoming public law, protected, and even promoted in public schools.
I don’t know if the tide will wash out on so-called “gay marriage.” But if it does I suspect it’ll happen because our moral conscience is aroused by sober consideration of the behavior we’re now viewing on prime time television, celebrating on court house steps, and teaching in public schools. Time for us to wake up and shift the discussion back to what this has been about all along. The good news is our conscience will side with what we already know to be right–even the conscience of those who oppose the truth will testify against them.
[end of excerpts from Anyabwile’s article]
I loved his writing style and content. No wonder the gay mafia at FT was upset and peeved.
I think @Benjamin Marsh is dead-on when he points to how our porn-saturated culture is impacting our views on gay marriage and, more broadly, on homosexuality. I think the gay marriage debate is benefiting from the nature and availability of today’s pornography — so different, as we’re often told, from previous generations’ “Playboy in dad’s dresser drawer” experience of pornography. It’s much easier to accept anal sex between two men when one watches graphic anal sex between a man and a woman. Or, at the very least, not acceptance but a guilty “Well, an anus is an anus, and I sort of like it, too. Is it really all that different?” I remember reading somewhere that doctors are seeing an uptick in damaging physical effects in women of anal sex — driven by the expectations of their male sex partners who view healthy sexual behavior through the lens of their online porn habits. And oral sex was once considered *more* intimate than vaginal intercourse, and a rarity (or at least not much discussed) even within the marriage bed. Today, it’s a less dangerous, less consequential, less intimate way to get one’s jollies without actually having sex. All that to say, I absolutely agree that porn culture has made gay sex more palatable/tolerable than it would have been a generation ago.
Add to that one more thing: Thabiti is right to point out the wrongness of “one man inserting the part of his body intended to create life into the part of another man’s body meant to excrete waste” but his argument hinges on that one word, *intended*. This assumes a teleology of the human body and sexuality that the broader culture simply doesn’t acknowledge. If they have one, it’s *pleasure* — and if one finds pleasure by putting one’s sex organs in any number of holes, then who are we to judge? How do we speak of intentions or correct use or good without a shared telos?
So beautifully well thought out and said.