Regarding the little interchange on gay marriage you may have noticed going on between this blog and Dan Savage readers at The Stranger, it’s been a minor nuisance unpublishing the obscene, angry, abusive comments from gay-marriage advocates. From dealing with the Darwinist faithful, I was already used to that kind of thing. Certain views seem inextricably tied up with a weakness for petulant, uncouth public self-expression. Coincidence?
What made it all worthwhile was a wonderfully telling comment from one earnest gay man, a Stranger
reader who, bright guy though he seems to be, couldn’t see the distinction between what a person feels tugged to do and what he actually does — as if tugs and temptations, which we all have, of different kinds and to various degrees, were there not to be transcended but to be accommodated and worked into one’s “lifestyle.” For him, as for many people today, homosexuality means both the tug and therefore automatically
, because a person really has no choice in the matter of whether he follows his inclination or not, the activity as well. My assumption to the contrary he found “a bit disconcerting.”
How incredibly revealing of the sick times we live in, when belief in free will is largely rejected as a myth from the Iron Age. To one extent or another, we are all, myself included, infected by the sickness that causes us to doubt that we can tell ourselves: no. Among sins, homosexual activity is far from unique but it does stand out as a leading indicator of the Zeitgeist.
Gay advocates reason that because a man has a temptation to homosexuality, he has little moral choice other than to obey it. This view of morality goes back to Darwin, who reduced behavior to biologically determined instincts. In The Descent of Man he wrote, “At the moment of action, man will no doubt be apt to follow the stronger impulse; and though this may occasionally prompt him to the noblest deeds, it will far more commonly lead him to gratify his own desires at the expense of other men.” In his private notebooks, Darwin was more blunt, commenting that “the general delusion about free will [is] obvious.”
Darwin believed that “one deserves no credit for anything…nor ought one to blame others.” A dangerous thought if widely embraced, but he felt reassured that the “delusion” of moral responsibility was safely ensconced in the public mind. The masses would never be “fully convinced” that they were, in fact, not free but the playthings of nature. On that last point, at least, he’s been proven wrong.
Returning to the homosexual issue, I’m reminded of Rabbi S.R. Hirsch’s point about the Hebrew verbal root that means “to lift up” and, with the switch of a letter, “to test.” To test means “to place someone on a higher standpoint than that which he occupies so as to test him, whether he can stand there; for that is what every test is.” It’s clear that different people are tested in different ways. Some tests are more severe than others. Maybe you could argue that homosexuals are lifted up higher, making their test considerably more difficult than those which most other people experience.