Sunday, September 30, 2007


I've had my little joke. I'm most likely not done with it. But there are some serious things to say.

Homosexuality, by which I mean specifically sodomy, is frowned upon by nature and by God. We cannot debate the God angle. It is what it is -- either thus because God says so, or false because there is no God, or no God who cares. Nature has its own imperatives. The lining of the colon is one cell thick, a thin easily torn tissue designed to hold solid waste out of the blood stream while allowing the absorption of fluids. The vaginal wall, contrariwise, is composed of thick and highly elastic muscle tissue. Nature does seem to have a preference. That the anus itself can stretch, or at least expand, to an accommodating degree is a necessary part of the excretory process, in order that fecal matter may pass in a well-regulated manner, and without undue leakage. But vigorous pumping or churning, as of an erect penis of any adult dimension, is clearly best accommodated by the birth canal rather than the alimentary.

This says nothing about genetics, or morality, or social mores or politics. It's just physiology. A penis can fit into any number of orifices, human or animal, biological or inanimate. Not everything that is possible, however, is conducive to health. That's all I'm saying.

Not all human conduct is governed by health concerns, or morality, or rationality or aesthetics. Desire, and compulsion, are too complex to be summed up in a simplistic formulation. You know this is true, because you feel desire and cannot explain it. She is beautiful is just another way of saying you are drawn to her. A tautology -- attraction is desire.

What would you do? If you were attracted only to your own gender, what would you do? I asked that of someone who is quite clear about his disfavor toward gays. What would you do, if you were aroused only by men? He did not answer. Maybe a joke got in the way. Well? What would you do? Act on it, whether or not you felt self-revulsion? Deny yourself the one sort of human contact that would satisfy your craving for something more than just the mere mechanism of an orgasm? Would you resign yourself with unflagging resolution to celibacy, or to impotence, or to a passionless marriage bed where arousal is the result only of secret fantasy? Some do so. The effort must be heroic.

An understanding heart must view such a soul with a combination of pity and admiration. Desire is not a moral consideration. Behavior is.

I've known, and worked with, and been friends with quite a number of gays. More than you. I don't care about their love lives, any more than I would care about yours. I just don't want to hear about the details. Even with my aloof social persona, I have been offered gay sex more times than I can remember. Scores, literally. This is back in the days when I still made eye-contact. Apparently I'm a type. It's sort of flattering. I'm not offended at all. Thankfully it's never been presumed that I would be the, uh, catcher. I think I'd be offended by that. But someone who just wants to feel wanted? We can at least be civil. I just can't get past the fact that it's an anus.

Some do get past that fact, and even to the point of justifying, of celebrating it. Pride. Hm. Must be using a definition with which I am unfamiliar. This of course is the difference between homosexual and gay. Gay is a philosophy, complete with social institutions and instruments. Homosexual is a behavior, devoid of ideological content. It is a useful distinction, that existed even before the term gay took on its present meaning. Those who embrace the various behaviors and feelings are gay. Those who fight them are not, even if they succumb. Young Chris Crocker is gay. Old Sen. Craig most likely is not.

Well then. Gay is no longer illegal in the United States. It wasn't long ago that it was. Is this a good thing? I see it as a measure of how little we have to care about other people's souls and private conduct. I don't care if someone has racist feelings. I care about their public actions, and a bit less about their public words. If I find out about their private beliefs, I may have to care about that, but most likely I won't have to do anything about it. It's the same with politics. I don't care if you disagree with me, or if I disagree with you. You might be right in your opinions, but I think I am. Maybe we'll have a serious and courteous discussion, but most likely not. That's okay. And it's the same with sex. Keep it to yourself and I do not care. Don't hurt kids, don't force adults, be reasonably hygienic, or at least scrub yourself down afterwards. I don't think of my position as amoral. I think of it as realistic. I've got enough going on inside my own head and heart, not to have opinions about your soul or your wisdom.

So when the student prince of Iran speaks at Columbia and says they have no gays over there, I'm sure he's correct. It's a beheadable offence. As for homosexuals, I'm sure they have more than enough. We can claim no, or very little high ground in this. A generation ago gays were lepers. In casual speech, among some people I know, they still are. And while it has always been relatively rare, murder for this reason has happened, and does. And gay bashing is a real phenomenon, if illegal. Iran uses law to enforce its theology. We use law to protect people against mob, vigilante, and individual violence.

Human nature is everywhere the same. The details of our temptations will differ, but the character and integrity with which we conduct ourselves determines who we are. If we could look past each other's eyes and deep into the soul, we would see a darkness more horrifying than words can express. We would also see sublime beauty. We cannot pretend one is real and the other a lie. We find rationality, and a capacity to continue on in this world, by treading the shadowline between the two, turning our backs on neither. We find meaning in the noise and darkness and music and light by opening our hearts, as much as we can but not too much, to gentleness and patience, and to honor as we understand it. There are no saints. There is only self control.


1 comment:

GUYK said...

Very Good.