Saturday, August 01, 2015

Aeon: "Why born gay is a dangerous idea" resorting to a biological deterministic defense thats precisely the opposite of what previous civil rights campaigns relied upon

African-American activists aggressively called out arguments about genetic and biological differences as legacies of racist, Nazi science. By contrast, the marriage-equality movement has embraced biological determinism. Gay and lesbian activists have led the way popularising the idea that identity is biologically determined

In evangelical blog contexts there's an idea that has not been discussed as much as it probably could, which is that when straight American evangelicals get married based on a kind of heteronormative biological determinism we may be looking at a culture in which, to borrow an old Catholic theological idea, concupiscence has gone from a reason to refrain from marriage to the most celebrated reason for straights to be married.  What was once potentially construed as an emotional/physical state to be found permissible within marriage, the sparks are expected to be there as a precondition of marriage.  Or, maybe we can let a commenter at Mere Orthodoxy spell it out.

12 days ago

I would agree that celibacy needs marriage. But that doesn't imply that the church can endorse any form of marriage and expect celibacy to thrive.

When Paul commends celibacy, he does so within a context where marriage would bear the following marks: (1) celibacy would be esteemed more highly than marriage; (2) marriage would be viewed primarily as a pragmatic institution whose value has no purpose beyond the current eschatological age; and (3) marriage is focused on the restraint of sexual desire, and not on the celebration of it.

American evangelicals have largely rejected all three of these marks in their practice of marriage. That is, after all, why Ryan Anderson has had such a difficult time getting folks to buy into his reasoning for denying civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Our culture jettisoned the conjugal view of marriage ages ago, and evangelicals and most Catholics have obliged without much of a protest. So, I don't think Justice Kennedy was proffering any kind of opinion as to what marriage should be in an ideal world. Rather, he was simply describing the institution as it has evolved in our American context, influenced as it is by post-Enlightmentment notions of romanticism and the Freudian tendency to suppose that all human attractions are fundamentally sexual.

I appreciate the discussion that Wes is trying to foster. Even so, we have to bear in mind that there's no reason to suppose that Christians can flourish within the institution of celibacy within the church context whose practices of marriage have departed sharply from the view of marriage that Paul commended as celibacy's companion.

I think we would do well to rethink what Christian marriage should look like, and should give some effort to extirpating the romantic and Freudian dross that has led to our current confusion. But evangelicals have invested heavily in propping up the current model, flawed as it is. I appreciated your effort to justify evangelicals' Freudian dalliance under the notion of an eros-focused view of marriage. Even so, I see nothing in Scripture that suggests that erotic attraction is an essential element of marriage. In fact, I Corinthians 7 would seem to suggest the opposite. ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. As a single Christian for the past 10 years, I've been made aware that the Evangelical church's view of singleness and marriage is at least, unbalanced. The light went on with "I think we would do well to rethink what Christian marriage should look like, and should give some effort to extirpating the romantic and Freudian dross that has led to our current confusion." My purpose and ultimate fulfillment in the Body of Christ, is not founded on my marital status or sexual fulfillment, nor is it a problem that needs fixing- a view that is almost pandemic among older, single believers- but instead rests solely on growing as a disciple of Jesus. This is a dialogue we can have with our brothers and sisters struggling with same sex attraction. Their value and mine are not in conforming to the Evangelical norm of marriage, but in the precious sacrifice of laying all our desires at the feet of Jesus and following the example of our savior and many of the heroes of our faith.