Monday, August 04, 2008

Orson Scott Card: NOT a homophobe

Orson Scott Card’s latest anti-gay screed (via IOZ) is the equivalent of an early ’70s manifesto defending the restriction of the priesthood to non-blacks. The more out of whack with mainstream sentiment the cherished exclusionary position gets, the more passionately (and incoherently) it is defended.

Outspoken critics of positive social change like Card only serve to remind the younger generations who are behind the emerging consensus how ossified and absurd the institutional religious position is. A sampling:

Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show "gay marriages" as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory -- and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?

How long, indeed? Soon, dutiful parents will have no choice but to pull their kids out of public school and force them to watch the entire Left Behind series on an endless loop (or The Work and the Glory, for LDS nippers). [Image: PBS]

How dangerous is this, politically? Please remember that for the mildest of comments critical of the political agenda of homosexual activists, I have been called a "homophobe" for years.
This is a term that was invented to describe people with a pathological fear of homosexuals -- the kind of people who engage in acts of violence against gays. But the term was immediately extended to apply to anyone who opposed the homosexual activist agenda in any way.
How I revel in promoting the homosexual activist agenda. I sit at home at night thinking up ways to subvert traditional marriage and turn our beautiful suburbs by stealth into modern-day outposts of Gomorrah. Homosexual-activist-agenda-promoters weren’t content to let misguided anti-gay tropes that perpetuate a climate of fear and disgust and lead to anti-gay violence stand without challenge. So they pointed out how unreasonable and unsupportable opposition to equal rights for gays was. This was a step too far for some.

Remember how rapidly gay marriage has become a requirement. When gay rights were being enforced by the courts back in the '70s and '80s, we were repeatedly told by all the proponents of gay rights that they would never attempt to legalize gay marriage.

My personal goal is to require straight men across America to experience at least a year or two of gay marriage to give them a more empathetic perspective on the travails of adherents to the homosexual activist agenda.

I’m left wondering what distortion of common English usage Card has deployed to decide that same-sex marriage has become a “requirement.” Last I saw, same-sex marriage was still illegal in all but two states, one of which will not permit same-sex marriages between residents of the great majority of other states. Even in the two jurisdictions where it is permitted, gay couples are in no sense “required” to get married there. And straight people are certainly not “required” to gay marry.

These are the common sense meanings of the phrase “gay marriage has become a requirement,” but clearly no one is proposing that these absurd scenarios be legally mandated.

In using this terminology, Card seems to share Atrios’s fear that the government will “try to make me gay marry a dude.”

Here's the irony: There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.

Here’s the irony: Card carefully words his definition to permit the polygynous marriages that formed such a central part of the early LDS experience, and still feature in the doctrine of eternal sealing among family members (men and women receive differential treatment in the spiritual consequences of second marriages). Perhaps also ironic are the Old Testament heroes of polygamy, David and Solomon, who each had hundreds, if not thousands, of wives and concubines. In claiming that government cannot redefine marriage, is Card taking a stand in defense of polygamy? If so, more power to him—I see no compelling reason to legally preclude polyamorous relationships between consenting adults. But Card will quickly run into trouble if he condemns gay marriage while remaining silent on the topic of polygamy.

I’m always reminded in these discussions of the ignominious doctrinal walkback that Bruce R. McConkie performed on behalf of the LDS leadership after President Kimball’s seminal 1978 revelation sanctioning the priesthood for blacks. Rereading McConkie’s words, it’s not hard to transpose this debate onto that one, and wonder why, as in the perennial, illogical renovation of nativism in the immigration debate, our social institutions so rarely learn from past mistakes.

There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, "You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?" All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.