6 January 2013
Too important to debate
In the first piece that I wrote on the subject of homosexual marriage, I noted that in Judaism, Christianity and Islam condemnation of homosexuality was a dogma, signifying that it was too important to debate. The position is now reversed. For most of the Christian churches at least, homosexuality is no longer a very important issue, but for the secular state it has become the subject of a dogma which, as is the case with all dogma, is considered "too important to debate".
Thus there has been very little serious discussion about the Marriage Amendment Act in the mass media. In lieu of debate, the proposal for homosexual marriage has been advanced by way of black propaganda, political intimidation, emotional blackmail, casuistry and equivocation and deceit
The black propaganda has been most evident in the print media cartoons. For example the APN controlled "New Zealand Herald" ran a cartoon in which the religious opponents of homosexual marriage were depicted in a manner which suggested that they would have been racist opponents of black civil rights in the mid twentieth century, while the homosexuals are upholding the tradition of black civil rights activists. A Christian pastor sits in a bus glowering at Louisa Wall who is labelled "New Zealand's Rosa Parks". The Fairfax controlled "Dominion Post" published a cartoon which showed a Catholic priest condemning homosexual marriage, while concealing small children beneath his clerical robes, thus suggesting that the Catholic opposition to homosexual marriage comes from paedophiles and child molesters.
It will be argued that these are just cartoons, and an expression of one person's opinion which should not be taken literally. That argument is disingenuous. Particularly in the absence of serious rational discussion, cartoons do greatly influence public opinion. That is why cartoons were used so prodigiously by all sides in two world wars of the twentieth century. In its portrayal of the homosexual marriage issue, the New Zealand press has adopted the style of the anti-Jewish cartoons of the third Reich, and the worst anti-German cartoons of imperial Britain, and in doing so it has been entirely one-sided. There has been no cartoon representing Kevin Hague or Charles Chauvel as a debauched Emperor Nero "marrying" an adolescent male slave whom he had previously subjected to genital mutilation. On the contrary the homosexuals have received a very good press, with charming older men in (so we are told) permanent stable relationships being put up as "poster boys" for homosexual marriage and artists impressions of handsome young men glowing with love as they commit to a selfless, lifelong and exclusive union in holy matrimony. These are simply contrived stereotypes. There has been no analysis to show that homosexual relationships really are permanent and exclusive, and such anecdotal evidence as exists suggests quite the opposite. The New Zealand public has been sold a lie by a media which has steadfastly refused to provide rational analysis of the case for and against homosexual marriage.
Political intimidation has played out primarily within the parliament, where National Party strategist David Farrar has revealed the means he used to persuade wavering National Party members to support homosexual marriage. Farrar has enjoyed privileged access to the inner circle of the National Party, state institutions such as Radio New Zealand, and the mass media generally for many years. Farrar put six arguments to undecided National Party members of parliament which basically reduce to two broad categories. In the first category are arguments based on "weight of numbers" and in the second arguments based on supposed "historical inevitability". Farrar warned members of parliament that while homosexual voters may not change their party vote, a parliamentarian's decision to oppose "gay marriage" "will impact" the homosexual electorate vote. "And" Farrar ominously warns, "they have friends, and colleagues... Also the reality is that your primary opponent for the seat is highly likely to also support same sex marriage. They won’t be winning votes off you on this issue".
Farrar also used emotional blackmail, in particular the claim that homosexual marriage would influence many young homosexuals and lesbians against taking their own lives. He claims that there are "significantly higher levels of suicide amongst gay and lesbian teenagers... Knowing that despite their “different” sexual orientation, that one day they can love and marry someone will I think send a very powerful message to young gay and lesbian New Zealanders that there is nothing wrong in being different, and that the Parliament of New Zealand has said so by allowing same sex couples to marry." Farrar is insinuating that a vote against homosexual marriage will result in higher rates of teenage suicide. Yet there is no evidence that hostile social perceptions are behind the reported higher levels of suicide amongst gay and lesbian teenagers, and that "the Parliament of New Zealand .. by allowing same sex couples to marry" will significantly reduce the suicide levels, and there is no evidence that other kinds of intervention could not have an equal, or even greater effect upon suicide reduction. David Farrar is exploiting the suffering of adolescents to pursue a political agenda which will give them nothing of value in return.
Casuistry has been the media's normal means of dealing with the issue of homosexual marriage. It has put up selected cases of homosexual and lesbian couples who wish to "marry", with no attempt made to determine just how representative they may be, or the correctness of the description of their character and circumstances. Yet this decision should not be made on the basis of a dozen or so carefully selected cases about which we have limited knowledge. It should be made on the basis of general principles. The mass media claims that the underlying principle of homosexual marriage is "equality" yet neither the state nor the media consistently advocate equality as a general principle. Over the past decades while specific forms of "equality" have been promoted - such as workplace "equality" for men and women, or legal "equality" for homosexuals and heterosexuals - real social inequality has advanced dramatically, at the instigation of the liberal secular state, and with the implicit approval of the secular liberal mass media. The same regime which promotes "equality" for homosexuals has steadfastly refused to extend full political rights to all its citizens, and republicans are still prohibited from taking a seat as a representative of the people in the New Zealand parliament. There is no real principle of equality operating here. What we have instead is the false friend of equality, namely "equivocation".- calling things equal when they are not, or calling things the same when they are distinctly different. New Zealanders have been lead to believe that homosexual relations are the same as the relations between a husband and wife, that sodomy is the same as sexual intercourse, and that therefore marriage as an institution should be expanded to accommodate homosexual relationships.
Finally, there has been deception. The deceit in the very title of the Marriage Amendment (Definition of Marriage) Bill that "marriage" is in need of "definition" or "clarification", when it has been well-defined in the language for thousands of years. The deceit that homosexual marriage will have no repercussions for normal marriages or for the relationships between men in general, when the legislation is all about social engineering and changing the social perception of normal and homosexual relationships. The deceit that marriage is primarily concerned with love and commitment, when in reality, as the homosexual movement very well knows, its primary purpose is to sanctify sexual relations. The deceit that homosexual marriage is necessary to give legal protection to homosexual relationships, when marriage provides no protections that are not provided through civil union - all that homosexual marriage will provide is the benediction of the state, and that is the real object.
Some churches have taken the homosexual side, and at least one Anglican vicar attempted to stop her parishioners from hearing the other side of the argument, while those churches which remain opposed to homosexual acts have failed to mount any serious opposition. In some they may have remained silent out of self-interest. No longer is there a monolithic Christian church, although the Catholic church still approximates that old ideal. Among the protestant denominations there is a great variety of churches, many of which are distinguished more by style than by doctrine. Worshippers move from one church to another for reasons which may range from the profound to the merely whimsical, and since pastors can measure their income by the number of tithe-paying worshippers they attract to their churches, they hesitate to advance teachings which may offend or alienate members of their congregations. There are also broader doctrinal factors at work. The modern churches are predominately liberal. The argument that "all are sinners, and all can be saved in Jesus" has evolved into the tacit doctrine that "sin does not matter", and from there to the implicit belief that "there is no such thing as sin". Liberal Christianity is a happy place, free of condemnation and recrimination but it does nothing to save the world from folly.
Those who have the power to decide - the members of Parliament - have displayed a woeful ignorance of and shameful indifference to the consequences of the proposed legislation. In part that reflects the conventional belief that the consequences of any action are limited in scope and readily determinable. Thus the most common response from politicians has been along the lines of "Gay marriage will not affect my marriage, or the marriage of any other heterosexual couple". Many people believe this to be the case. Yet at the same time homosexual marriage is being promoted by people who sincerely believe that it will have wide ramifications and will give homosexuality a higher social status. What necessarily follows, but is neither stated nor acknowledged, is that traditional marriage relations, comprising husband wife and children will lose relative standing. The traditional marriage, in all its complexity, will be reduced to one of several "pair bonding" relationships, and the elements which distinguish it from homosexual marriage will come to be seen as merely incidental, while the elements which it has in common with a homosexual relationship will be seen as central. Husband and wife relationships will be perceived as equivalent to homosexual relationships, and that will affect the way in which those husband and wife relationships are conducted. The consequences may be subtle and intangible, but they will have a profound social impact. Similarly, the normal relations between men will influenced by homosexual marriage. Conduct towards other men which has in the past been dictated by general mores, ethics and rules of conduct will tend to be influenced by particular affections and alliances. No man is an island, and every stone thrown sends out ripples across the entire surface of a pond. Politicians have lost sight of those two truths, because of their adherence to a liberal secular ideology which fails to recognise the interconnectedness of all things, and which makes unwarranted assumptions about the human ability to predict the personal and social consequences of any action or administrative measure. This false assumption has given rise to an economic crisis for the western world, and it is in the process of creating a social catastrophe.
In the world of physics cause and effect is like thunder and lighting, a single effect following in short order from a single cause. In the world of humankind, causes and effects are like a braided river, many effects flowing from a single cause, and many causes combining to produce a single effect. We may follow a particular stream, but we do not know where it will take us. Only those who have been before can know whether a promising prospect will end in an impassable shoal or carry us safely to our final destination. How surprising then, that the politicians have such confidence in their own abilities to forsee the consequences of fundamentally transforming social institutions, or even to claim that there will be no consequences other than those which they have intended.
However we have a few clues. Western society has not tried to institute homosexual marriage since the days of the Roman Emperor Nero (whom David Farrar cites as an exemplar of "gay marriage"). In those days the Roman empire was opulent, powerful and innovative, but it was also in a state of moral, political and economic turmoil. The ascetism, democracy and patriotism of the Roman republic had been replaced by debauchery, political machinations and professional armies employed in the project of imperial conquest. The use of drugs and prostitution were rife throughout the empire. In ten years time it will not be possible to ascribe the general social conditions of New Zealand to any particular measure, such as prostitution, abortion, no-fault divorce, homosexual marriage, liberal alcohol laws, widespread illicit drug use, free-market economics and so on, but it will be possible to show how these phenomena are all associated with each other, and how all share the same ideological underpinning and flawed philosophical justification.
In New Zealand the ground has shifted under our feet. Over the past thirty years the language, the law, the relationships between classes and the sexes, our perception of the purposes of the state, and of life itself, have all changed in ways which are at least consistent with the adoption of homosexual marriage. We are living in Neronic times. It is too late to put a finger in the hole in the dyke, because the dyke has already been breached. We may pray for a miracle, but God does not deliver miracles to nations which do not have faith, and New Zealand does not have faith. Even the churches have adopted the ideals and principles of secular liberalism. There really is very little left to protect. The tide will turn, eventually, but the status-quo ante of the nineteen-fifties will not re-emerge from the ruins of the social revolution which began in the nineteen-sixties. The imperial system, the connection to Britain and the British crown, militarism, capitalism and the Christian churches have all been caught up in the neo-liberal revolution, and all will be dragged down in its fall.
At best, the response of the Christian churches has been ineffectual. Some churches have arranged poorly attended prayer meetings, where literally incoherent prayers have been offered to God. Other Christian ministers have advanced self-interested and easily accommodated objections that they may be compelled to marry homosexuals against their conscience. To the best of my knowledge none have come up with a serious critique of the case for homosexual marriage.
A one-sided propaganda campaign and the influence of a dominant liberal
ideology can be expected to overcome reasoned criticisms of the move to
homosexual marriage and thus to dictate the political outcome, but propaganda
and ideology will not avert the long term social consequences for the nation.