Ignatius Press, 2014.
There are a number of good books on natural law theory, and many good books on homosexuality. In this volume Reilly nicely brings the two together. He makes the case for why the rationalisation of homosexuality is wrong, based not on religion or revelation, but on the very nature of things.
Natural law thought goes back at least to Plato and Aristotle. The classical philosophers taught that all things have a natural teleological end – that is, things “have inbuilt purposes”. The human body for example has built-in teleologically ordered ends.
He contrasts the Aristotelian version of things with that of Rousseau. The former says that man is a rational, political animal for whom the heterosexual family is the basic unit of society. The latter rejected all that, and even urged that the family be replaced by the state.
The former spoke about the cultivation of virtue, both public and private, as our highest end. By living according to our purpose or end, we achieve the highest good. And since the good of society was based upon the good of the family, anything which detracted from that was to be opposed. Thus the ancient Greeks did not endorse homosexuality as a way of life.
Sodomy was in fact condemned. Temporary pederastic love was tolerated, but only amongst the upper classes. Natural law forbad homosexuality, and something like homosexual marriage would never have even been considered. Socrates and Plato “were unambiguous in their condemnation of homosexual acts as unnatural.”
Since family is the core foundation of stable society, chastity is the indispensable political principle according to Aristotle. But Rousseau “turned Aristotle’s notion of Nature on its head”. He rejected the importance of the family, claimed that man is by nature good, and that society takes this from him.
Because the family is artificial in its origins, it can be changed at will. Instead of recognising the essential and in-built heterosexual nature of human beings, and the basic pillar of the virtuous society being the heterosexual family, Rousseau saw all this as a constraint and an impediment to human freedom.
And it is in this contrast of visions that the modern culture wars over homosexuality is now playing out. In the rest of the book Reilly looks at various ways in which this ideological and philosophical war is being manifest. Consider basic biology. Sex is ultimately procreative in nature, and men and women are different but complementary to realise this end.
Heterosexual intercourse is a perfect biological fit. Homosexual couplings are not. The human body is simply designed for the one, but not for the other. “If one insisted on using a highway exit as an entrance, one would be told that this is extremely hazardous to one’s health and safety and to that of others. Why is this so difficult to state when it comes to human anatomy?”
Homosexual acts are an obvious misuse of the body. Homosexuality is of course fully unnatural in that sense. It is not just an infertile relationship, but an impotent one. Going back to Aristotle’s distinction between essential and accidental properties, Reilly writes, “Homosexual relations are essentially sterile, intrinsically unfit for generation, while heterosexual relations are intrinsically generative and only accidentally infertile.”
And this is hugely important in the marriage debate. Marriage has always been about the regulation of human sexuality and the care of any children produced from such heterosexual unions. Nature knows of no procreative sodomy. “An infertile couple can still consummate a marriage; an impotent [homosexual] one cannot.”
Reilly looks at how the mindset of Rousseau has wreaked havoc in the institutions, be it science, law, education or the military. Consider how the militants simply bullied, intimidated and coerced the American Psychiatric Association to recognise homosexuality, and change its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
It is a familiar story for those in the know, but most don’t know. It was not science but militancy that caused the APA to back down and change its policy. The activists simply disrupted meetings and employed fascist tactics to intimidate the APA into change.
Reilly quotes homosexual activists who admit to using storm trooper tactics as they sought to “create a truly fascist organization. We conspired to bring into existence an activist group that … could effectively exploit the media for its own ends, and that would work covertly and break the law with impunity.” Thus the APA back down was never a medical or scientific decision, but one based on fear and coercion.
He also challenges the phony claim that homosexuality is immutable. Not only is there no proof of a “gay gene” but countless individuals have changed course here. “Why is Gay Pride Day any less absurd than an Alcoholic Pride Day would be? Both conditions exist as aberrations, as abnormalities in the light of what is normal by Nature. To substitute an abnormality for normality destroys the distinction between the two and closes off the path to recovery.”
And we have even now gotten to the place where in some parts of the West, those who want help in leaving their unwanted same-sex attractions are effectively forbidden by law to receive such help, as in the 2012 California Senate Bill 1172.
Such laws will presumably not ban therapists from helping straight kids to become homosexual however. “The totalitarian impulse underlying the rationalization of homosexual behavior is here revealed in the attempt to forbid those seeking help from obtaining it.”
Even some pro-homosexual scientists were appalled at all this coercion and thuggery. As one said, “The APA has permitted political correctness to triumph over science, clinical knowledge and professional integrity. The public can no longer trust organized psychology to speak from evidence rather than from what it regards to be politically correct”.
As a result, “society as a whole is now being invited, or rather coerced, into the double life of the big lie – to pretend what is, is not: and what is not, is. There is something worse than disease; there is the denial of its existence . . . The worst thing, Socrates warned, is the lie in the soul about what is.”
Following on from the wisdom of the ancient Greek philosophers, Reilly closes his important volume this way: “Evil is particularly contagious when it is institutionalized. The institutionalization of immorality leads to more moral disorder, not to its attenuation, and then to political disorder and eventual collapse. There is a kind of Gresham’s law of morals: just as bad currency drives out good currency, so bad morals drive out good morals.”
I invite everyone to grab this book, read it carefully, and then pass it on to a friend. It is a much needed and thoroughly rational antidote to all the lunacy being spread in the debate about homosexuality. If you read just one book on this topic this year, make it this one.