Some of the plausible and specifically Christian arguments for socially sanctioned gay unions–I think Kaimi’s advanced it on this board–is that an irreducible core of the homosexually inclined simply do not have the choice to be chaste. Under the circumstances, the argument goes, perhaps its best that society encourage them to refrain from the sin of promiscuity even if they can’t be discouraged from the sin of homosex-uality.
Now Gordon has found a variant of the same argument: society should accept and discipline promiscuity into ‘polyamory,’ because some people simply do not have the choice to be faithful. I’m willing to grant that ‘because’. Certainly infidelity has a long, long pedigree and numerous practitioners. Some philanders really may not be able to help it.
Both arguments are in interesting parallel to arguments we made in defense of polygamy in the early days of the church–men are lustful creatures, we said, so a city can practice polygamy, in which second wives have a respected role entering into a sisterhood, or a city can practice degrading prostitution. That’s it. A good argument, I suppose. It must have annoyed the Gentiles intensely, which is why I’m inclined to think that this argument was more an attack aimed at exploiting Gentile thinking than it was a real justification for polygamy. At the time, many Gentiles thought that men just couldn’t help themselves, so a little mistressing, whoring, and sowing wild oats was no big deal, if a man did it.
We see some of that same Gentile thinking today. “A man has needs,” it starts, and goes on to justify a little p*rn, a little fling, a little fantasy, because it can’t be helped. Might as well get used to it. And you know, maybe it can’t be helped, but so what? Even if some philandering is unavoidable, I don’t think we have to welcome it (and the same is true for polyamory or gay unions too. Change the words in the following screed and I could be talking about any of them.) Here is why we don’t have to welcome it:
Let’s concede the point that some men just can’t help themselves. It’s probably true, even if only in rare cases. Men’s sexuality is more difficult to control than that of women, even when the social factors are filtered out. So I can see that some men, from biology or upbringing, might have a sexuality impossible to control. Fine. Here’s the problem. The majority of men can control their sexuality, though control might be difficult enough that they’d like to give in and claim it was impossible. And I can conceive of nothing more dangerous to the souls of this majority than occupying public space with messages of the inevitability, even acceptability, of their failure. A man tries because he thinks he can succeed. If society refuses to countenance the inevitability of failure, more will try and more will succeed. For the sake of the majority we need to act as if promiscuity were a choice and condemn it.
That’s the upside. Lets look at it from the other angle now. Some, from biology or upbringing, just can’t succeed, I’ve conceded that, and yes, I’m therefore conceding that some men might well go through life feeling like failures and suffering public condemnation, forced to do what they have no choice to do in furtiveness, shame, and sometimes scandal. Society will treat them as choosing their iniquity and will condemn them for it. There will be consequences. The majority will benefit from maintaining the norm and this minority will suffer and the groups won’t overlap. Can I really justify punishing the minority to benefit the majority? Where’s the justice? I can only say, and it sounds harsh to say it (but if God can let infants die I can say harsh things) that it is better for some men to die than that a nation dwindle and perish in unbelief. Better that some men suffer in promiscuity than many be feated for it.
I draw this consolation: I think of the resurrection day. I think of these miserable men, brought despite themselves to face the throne of Grace. I see the King there, asking them if they have any desire to end their sins. They turn their heads, thinking they are mocked. Of course they do! but its hopeless. He asks again. Some answer. And all in an instant the chains, the uncontrollable impulses they thought were as integral as bones, are lifted from them, they stand in wild surmise and freedom, can it be, can it be, and now for the first time they look up and see the tears in the Face. Their eyes are opened and they see a great concourse of Saints, of the holy and mighty ones, who are praising them and giving thanks, and they know that these Saints are those who were able to overcome the flesh while in the flesh, and they know in an instant that these Saints were saved because they, the chained ones, bore the burden of the sin on their own backs. Now the chains are broken. Now the backs are straight. Now they join the Saints.