Republicans Want to Make Gay Rights About Sex, Not Equality

Rob Shryock wrote yesterday at Religious Dispatches about the new anti-gay argument: “the gag reflex.” Apparently, the idea is that if they talk about the act of gay and lesbian sex – the actual nitty gritty of the sex act itself – people will be so turned off they will turn against marriage equality.

Baptist Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile says that, “That reflex triggered by an accurate description of homosexual behavior will be the beginning of the recovery of moral sense and sensibility.”

Who knew that disgust was the road to truth? As if what people believe to be true has anything to do with what is true.

Of course, effectively, perception is reality for most people and Anyabwile knows this. And what this bigot is doing is what the Christians used to do to the Jews, presenting them as parasites, trying to create a feeling of disgust in their Christian audience.

As Thabiti Anyabwile wrote on his blog last week, “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.”

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Interesting. The great Houdini moment of monotheism has been the creation of true and false in religion.

The thing is, the gay rights movement is not about gay sex at all. It is about gay rights. About everyone having the same rights as everyone else. Since sodomy laws are unconstitutional, says the Supreme Court, it can’t be about gay sex. Only sex-obsessed fundamentalists see it that way.

But now that he has his monkey by the throat, so to speak, this is what Anyabwile wants to do:

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.

It’s typically Republican thinking, but it left me wondering. Should we get down to the nitty gritty of public restroom monkey spanking? Will that serve to turn people anti-Republican? It might make some people lose their breakfast certainly, but will it affect voting trends? Should we have billboards illustrating monkey spanking in graphic detail?

The tendency of liberals and progressives is to dismiss crackpots like Anyabwile but Shryock warns against this:

Although it may be tempting to see Anyabwile as an outlier, he’s not the only one making this sort of argument. A small but determined wing of the Christian Right is trying to return the gay marriage debate to the subject of sex. The most notable is the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who said last week that he believes “90 percent” of Americans would find “gay sex” disgusting if they really thought about its details.

And he is right. This is another incidence of an example Right Wing Watch cited recently:

There is nothing “conservative” about “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’

Given the Republican Party’s rape culture, we might ask if putting your penis inside a woman who emphatically does not want it there, is wholesome and an example of family values. Certainly, comments like “some girls rape easy” test a person’s gag reflex.

According to Thabiti Anyabwile,

[H]omosexual marriage could not properly be called “love”…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.

The major problem with this argument is that it presupposes that what the Bible said matters. With regards to the United States Constitution, it does not. The Bible does not enter into the picture. That is Jewish – Mosaic – Law he is talking about, not American law. Anyabwile is free to be disgusted by gay sex. Frankly, I am disgusted by the idea of him having sex. Seriously: I am glad it’s been a while since I ate.

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Here’s the thing: the Bible isn’t the law of the land. Even supposing the Bible said what Anyabwile says it did, it is completely irrelevant. The essence of Mosaic law is that some people are more equal than others. The essence of American law (however imperfectly it is applied) is that everybody is equal. It doesn’t matter what you believe or who you love. You are equal. Anyabwile does not care about this.

As he writes in another blog post,

The world suppresses the knowledge of God and righteousness (conscience) in unrighteousness. That’s the plain argument of Romans 1:18-32. Specific to our discussion, Romans 1 describes homosexuality as a shameful leaving of the natural use of the body and is the only NT passage that addresses lesbian behavior in the same way.

I don’t personally care what the Bible says. It does not inform my behavior or my beliefs.

Anyabwile wants his beliefs to be privileged. He wants his beliefs to be law. He wants his beliefs to be your beliefs. And even if you chose not to believe it in your heart of hearts, he wants you to abide by his beliefs. In fact, Anyabwile cannot conceive of you not agreeing with him:

What we’re really talking about when we talk about “homosexuality” is not just sex gone wrong but wrong sexual behavior. Deep down we all-Christian and non-Christian, heterosexual and homosexual-know it’s wrong.

I have often thought that the chief trouble with conservative Christians is that they do not really seem to be aware that there are millions of people in the world who share neither their religion (doctrine and dogma) nor the attitudes born of their religion and/or culture. In the same way they cannot imagine anybody was ever seriously a polytheist in the old days, they cannot conceive today of people not deep down in their hearts wanting to be “saved” by their god.

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Anyabwile thinks his gag reflex strategy will gain traction. I think he might be surprised to learn how many heterosexual couples grind sex organs, and penetrate mouths and anuses. The feeling most of these people is not one of disgust but of pleasure.

Most of us too, I think, feel pleasure of another sort by knowing we are free to express our attractions for one another, whether sexual or otherwise, without creeps like Anywabwile poking their noses into our bedrooms.

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