Review: Making Gay Okay
By Gail Deibler Finke
First, it’s not a “how-to” manual. It’s a “now what?” manual: How we got where we are, what it means, and what will happen next.
Second, it’s not encouraging. But it is lucid, thorough without being academic, and a compelling read.
Third, it uses the word “sodomy” more than any other book I’ve ever read. One of the things that makes the book so clear is that Reilly uses no euphemisms. Making Gay Okay is about whether or not sodomy is equivalent to normal sexual intercourse and, if so, whether or not it can be the basis of marriage and should be protected by the state.
As Reilly points out, deciding this question means identifying and talking about the activity (sodomy), examining whether or not it is engaged in by healthy people, determining if relationships based on it are or can be long-lasting and whether a household headed by adults who engage in it is one that is conducive to raising healthy children. It also means examining what sodomy as a “right” means for organizations and institutions.
If the sodomy is normal, healthy, and a right, Reilly reminds us, then there can be no halfway endorsement of it. The logic of accepting that position as true means that all institutions, from schools to marriage license bureaus, must not only accept it but must also celebrate it just as they celebrate romantic love, marriage and birth, and affection between lovers and spouses.
If “gay is okay,” then we are morally bound to admit and promulgate that truth, just as we are all truths. But if it’s not true and all people and institutions are required to assert and act as if it is, then we are accepting oppression and a lie.
This kind of plain talk isn’t common today, and after a chapter or so you may find yourself relieved rather than alarmed by the hard word “sodomy” rather than its many replacements (everything from “same-sex intercourse” and “alternate forms of love” to “homosex,” depending on who’s talking). At last, someone is not pretending.
Two views of reality
Reilly begins by contrasting two world views, that based in Classical philosophy with that of the Enlightenment. Not a new argument, it’s very well laid out here and will come as a revelation to many who have never heard it before: Classical philosophy teaches that things have a purpose that people must discover and cannot change, however much they might like to. The Enlightenment teaches that nothing has a purpose and that every person can (and should) do whatever he or she wants to do with whatever he or she has.
When it comes to sex and marriage, what this means is simple. Either bodies are meant to do certain things, which marriage is meant to keep in bounds and government is set up by married families to regulate, or they aren’t. In the latter case, people can (and should) do whatever sexual acts they want to do, marriage can be whatever they say it is, and government is set up by individuals to ensure that all their sexual and family choices will be equally respected and supported.
There’s no in-between. Either sodomy is “okay” — in which case those who prefer it must be affirmed and those who disagree must be considered bigots — or it’s not. American law now no longer recognizes it as an abnormal behavior that can be either outlawed (as was the case when the United States was founded) or tolerated in certain circumstances (as most cultures throughout the world have always done).
How it happened, what it means
The book is organized into two parts: How the rationalization for “making gay okay” works, and what that rationalization means for everyone. Each chapter is well-reasoned and could be read on its own: The chapter on Supreme Court decisions and how the invented “right to privacy” had to be expanded to all choices having to do with sex, is superb. The chapter and appendix on the known physical, mental, and emotional health of people who engage in sodomy will equally be an eye-opener to anyone used to hearing wishful thinking substituted for facts.
The second half of the book, which examines how the acceptance of sodomy as normal and positive affects science, parenting, education, private organizations (exemplified by the Boy Scouts), the military, and government, is not cheerful reading. In all these cases, Reilly shows, the logic of requiring people to accept and affirm what is a deviant behavior as normal requires ignoring reality, ensuring that unpleasant facts are buried, and silencing people who say differently. The wholesale adoption of “Pride Week” celebrations, programs and awards by the federal government, Reilly asserts, means that no one who thinks sodomy is wrong can work for the government any longer. We are far beyond that as a nation — so far beyond it that making sodomy a protected “right” everywhere is one of our foreign policy goals. All US embassies now promote Pride Week events and similar programs, whatever the beliefs and laws of the countries where they’re located.
And as Reilly points out, if sodomy is a right, then these things should be done. If not, then people are free to tolerate it or not, depending on their customs and beliefs. But if it’s not a right, yet people are compelled to act as if it is, then people are being made to live a monstrous lie — one that is harmful to all people, to all institutions, and to the rule of law.
Classical philosophy teaches us that reality always wins. If “gay is not okay” — whether proclivity for sodomy is an inherently destructive trait or merely a harmless but real deviance — then trying to make it the equivalent of the marital act can never work. In the long run, truth will out.
And if we destroy all our institutions and outlaw all our religions trying to make a lie true, the long run will come pretty quickly. What happens between now and then is not going to be easy, and what will come after may be very far from “okay.”
Gail Deibler Finke is Senior Editor of The Catholic Beat.
Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything. Reilly, Robert. Ignatius Press, San Francisco.
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