Reilly’s insistence on the centrality of the act of sodomy to our culture war over marriage and sexuality is bound to be off-putting even to some readers inclined to his overall view. He has multiple chapter titles beginning “Sodomy and . . . ,” and he refers throughout the book to “sodomitical relationships.” But this blunt and fearless way of arguing only illustrates the Nietzschean “transvaluation of values” our society has undergone. It is now widely considered a violation of the norms of decency in civil discourse to remind people publicly of what were only a generation ago the norms of decency in private behavior as well as public life.
Reilly is right, however, to be tough and unyielding on this point. His touchstone is nature, and his argument is that nature has equipped men and women to enter into one-flesh unions that are both unitive and procreative (here he might have usefully referred to a book powerfully supporting his view, What Is Marriage?). We human beings have a nature both sexual and rational, and our flourishing and happiness cannot be achieved except in accord with our nature.
What distinguishes some persons from others where “sexuality” is concerned is not a different nature, as though “heterosexual” and “homosexual” were distinct human types or “identities,” but different desires, propensities, and, finally, behaviors. The choice to engage in particular sexual behavior is a matter of free will about which moral judgments can be made. Reilly relentlessly stresses the question of behavior, asking whether we are willing to consider sexual behavior, like other behaviors, as properly governed by the ends of human nature and human flourishing. Thus also his insistence on naming the behavior that one side in the “sexuality” wars wants approval for, and that the other side would rather not think about or talk about.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Culture news: Naming the behavior - The rationalization of sodomy
Matthew Franck has written a review of Robert R. Reilly's book Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. He notes the Reilly focuses on the behavior of sodomy and the manner in which this behavior runs counter to the procreative character of sex. He writes: