Robert Reilly will be familiar to regular MercatorNet readers. He has studied Islam extensively and written two books on the subject. He is a music critic. He was a spokesman behind the green line during the Iraq war, a former head of the Voice of America and, as a young man, a special adviser to President Reagan. He has never shied away from tackling complex or controversial matters.
Last month his new book, Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behaviour is Changing Everything, was published but, despite its high-interest subject matter, it met with a media blackout. Neither The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or even more conservative publications wanted to review the book – not even to tear it to shreds, as some partisan websites have done.
Why are they all so afraid of it? Alvino-Mario Fantini interviewed Robert Reilly recently to find out.
What is the connection between sexuality, contraception, and same-sex marriage?
Once you separate sex from diapers through contraception, you’re on a slippery slope. In the U.S. legal system, we went from a Supreme Court case that first allowed contraception only for married couples, to a case that then allowed contraception for all adults, to another case which legalized contraception for everyone, including minors and children. In tandem to that, in Roe v. Wade the court said: If your contraceptive has failed, you oughtn’t be penalized by the child that is then so conceived and you may, therefore, eliminate it. The capstone came with the U.S. v. Windsor decision a little more than a year ago in which the Supreme Court said that sodomy basically can serve as the basis for marriage.
There was also the Lawrence v. Texas case in which the Court overruled a Texas law against sodomy and, in so doing, overturned a prior U.S. Supreme Court decision seventeen years earlier that said there is no constitutional right to sodomy, and said there basically is. So once you have a right to this behavior, why can’t you sanctify it? Why can’t you make it the basis for marriage? In the Windsor decision they closed the loop. And now the federal district courts are knocking down, one after the other, every state constitution that defines marriage between a man and a woman.
The chain of logic in this is inevitable. If you separate sex from procreation and turn it into a form of entertainment — and the act of sodomy doesn’t even require a contraceptive — then why can’t people do it? The answer has been: There’s no reason why not. So once you lose your moral moorings regarding man’s sexual powers, this is where you end up.
How could the legal understanding change so dramatically and so quickly?
A fish rots from the head, as the Chinese say. It happens by the hollowing out of legal reasoning and the complete separation of morality from law. We can now see that the majority of our justices are legal positivists — so they see no relationship between morality and law. They have repeatedly said there is no rational case against sodomitical marriage, so opposition to it must be a matter of prejudice — although there are ample Supreme Court decisions from the 19th century spelling out beautifully what the role of the family is. In fact, it’s done in a very Aristotelian way. But the courts never even addressed these issues. They have just said: “This is prejudice” and moved on. So what has happened is that the justices have become historicists and they have abandoned the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” on which their authority rests. They are basically surrendering Nature to History and, in so doing, undermining their own very authority to make these decisions. It’s a kind of legal — and moral — suicide.
But what if someone disagrees?
George Orwell said: “The more a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” So anyone who has the nerve to speak against the rationalization of homosexual behavior becomes an object of obloquy and harassment. It’s a “career crusher”, as someone once called it, to speak out against this now. And we have seen court actions in various states against people who have refused to participate in the rationalization for religious or moral reasons. This is a huge difficulty because every major religion teaches sodomy is a profound moral disorder and evil. So all of those people — whether they are Catholics, Jews, Christians, Protestants, or Muslims — if they take their faith seriously, are going to be in for a very rough time.
People cite studies that say ten percent of people are ‘born this way’. The data seems irrefutable. Don’t the data undermine your arguments?
If you’re born this way is irrelevant to the moral character of the act of sodomy, just as for an alcoholic, a genetic predisposition to alcoholism doesn’t excuse him from getting drunk. He still chooses to get drunk. Unless of course, we’re condescending to homosexuals and are saying: “Oh, you poor dears. You can’t exercise self-control. You no longer have free will, so why don’t we just leave you alone in a moral pigpen?” This is tremendously condescending! So even if they are genetically predisposed that doesn’t obviate the moral problem of choosing the act.
Second of all, there is no proof of a gay gene. Homosexual scientists searching for it have been very, very frank in saying: “We haven’t discovered any such thing, though of course there could be genetic components in the pre-disposition.” But there are genetic components in almost everything, so that’s not saying much. And the figure used of ten percent is complete nonsense. It was cooked up from the speculation that when you’re young, before your sexual identity is solidified, it can be fluid. But that fluidity disappears in late teenage years and there’s nothing like ten percent. It is more like two or three percent.
I am convinced that a number of homosexuals have this predisposition through no fault of their own. It is often the result of a childhood trauma, of sexual abuse, of the total absence of any love from their father. And they go about compulsively seeking that love from other males in inappropriate ways. So they are due a great deal of compassion for this compulsion, which is not a product of theirs; it was something done to them. But I would have to say that it is not an act of compassion to tell them that their disorder is an order, that everything is okay, that they just need to affirm themselves and this will be fine. It won’t be fine. And not telling them that it won’t be fine is an act of disrespect.
Homosexuals who do want to change have a significant rate of success in changing with the right therapies. It is a sign of how far the rationalization for homosexual misbehavior has gone that two states now forbid therapists from treating teenage homosexuals who want to change their orientation. That’s like telling a teenager that if they injured their eye, they can’t go to an ophthalmologist! The denial of reality has gone that far. And it is young people who are the ones who are going to suffer from it.
But the rationalization of immoral behavior and the denial of reality go beyond sexuality. All sorts of people — like drug users — deny reality. Philosophically speaking, what is going on?
I think you’re very right to point out that drug users and others create rationalizations for their behavior. We all do that whenever we do something that’s wrong. And we all have disordered appetites and passions. That’s not something unique to homosexuals. And every time we indulge a disordered passion, we create a false reality to justify it.
As Aristotle said in the Ethics, a human being is incapable of choosing something unless he presents it to himself as ‘good’. And we do that: We create an alternate reality in which an evil thing is a good thing; but usually we recover from that when we admit our guilt, repent the action, and acknowledge it as having been evil. And then moral order is restored. But if someone chooses to base their life on an immoral act — say you want to be a professional thief or you want a sodomitical marriage or sodomitical relationships — then you have to construct a more permanent rationalization that can withstand the repeated attempts of your conscience to interfere with it and to tell you that you ought to feel guilty about what you’re doing because it’s inherently wrong.
For this rationalization to succeed, not only do you have the convince yourself, but you also have to convince those around you. They must share in the rationalization because, if they don’t, they are potential sources of rebuke and they may cause that guilt to come crashing in on you. So people who are engaged in rationalizing their moral misbehavior are not in ‘a search for truth’ when they engage others in discussions about their behavior; they are engaged in protecting the rationalization and universalizing it in order to protect the behavior they wish to continue. And that is why they vilify anyone who opposes them and use every means they can to shut them up. It’s not a search for truth. It’s a search for self-justification.
Of course, to speak of truth, or the good, or even of virtue makes no sense to the vast majority of people today.
Which is why we’re in the position we’re in today: because a slew of prior rationalizations have taken place among heterosexuals — who have justified their promiscuity, their pornography, their extramarital affairs, etc. — so they find themselves as natural allies with active homosexuals. The psychological dynamo works like this: “If you’ll justify my rationalization for my sexual misbehavior, I’ll support your rationalization for your sexual misbehavior.” Therefore, the sources of support for this are huge.
And when you mention something like “virtue”, you’re back in the Aristotelian version of reality in which we have in-built purposes in our very nature, in our essence, which guide us in our behavior. So we know what man is for: Aristotle tells us he’s for happiness, and happiness consists in virtuous actions, and virtuous actions are actions according to our Nature. In other words, we use the things we have (and ourselves) according to the ends for which they are made.
This becomes very clear when we examine our physical parts: that our eyes are for seeing and our ears are for hearing. And when our eyes are not seeing, we know how to diagnose the reason, and doctors may be able to repair them and restore sight. Thus, we know the purpose of the eye is to see.
But today, when we get below the waist, people seem to say: “Well, whatever could these sexual organs be for? We have no idea what their purpose is.” But Nature tells us very clearly what the purposes of those sexual organs are because they are as in-built as sight is to the eye. It tells us that they have both a unitive and procreative purpose. That unitive and procreative purpose is only met in heterosexual marriage.
Certainly we know from the Socratic dialogues that male love was highly prized. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with male love — so long as it is not sexualized. The question to ask in any loving relationship is: “If you sexualize the relationship, can it be either unitive or procreative?” If the answer is “no, it can’t physically because the sexual organs are not complementary in the case of homosexuals,” then that’s Nature’s way of telling you that the love you have is not spousal and, therefore, you should not sexualize it.
This is very clear both from Socrates and Plato, who celebrated male love but loathed sodomy. It’s also very clear from Aristotle in the Politics, though he does not address the subject directly, because he begins not with a single individual but with a man and a woman as husband and wife in a family — without which there is no foundation for political order. The family is the pre-political institution that makes the village possible and then the village makes the polis possible. Therefore, Aristotle concludes: What is the principle of the family? The principle of the family is chastity, which regulates the exclusive sexual relationship between a husband and a wife.
Now, Aristotle goes further and says since the family is the foundation of the political order, the political principle is chastity because a violation of chastity undermines the family and, therefore, can undermine the polis. And that’s why Aristotle spoke so strongly and vigorously against adultery: not only for the moral wrong it represented but for the political threat it poses.
It’s important to note that Aristotle never discussed the possibility of a homosexual family because it would’ve violated the principle of non-contradiction. You can’t take an act such as sodomy, which is unchaste, and make it the basis of an institution the principle of which is chastity. That’s a violation of the principle of non-contradiction. But that is precisely what we have embraced today. This is what is meant when we say homosexuality is against Nature and you cannot claim as a natural right an act that is unnatural.
So marriage has been set up to protect those ‘unitive’ and ‘procreative’ aspects?
If it’s unitive, it has to be permanent. Sexual intercourse bespeaks a union that is permanent. That is why people who engage in extramarital sex or premarital sex inevitably feel a sense of betrayal: The sexual act expresses a union that should be permanent and when it is not permanent, the sense of betrayal is inevitable. And the other aspect — the unitive side of sex — means there is an institution within which the procreative side can prosper and when a child is conceived there are parents to raise the child.
That’s the other reason why Aristotle starts the Politics with the family because the community can only continue because of the family’s procreative powers. A so-called homosexual union has no such powers and, therefore, could not be the basis for a polity. So to give to other forms of relationships the goods that are proper to marriage is an act of injustice. It is giving to others something that is not due to them because their relationship is neither unitive nor procreative. That’s not, by the way, to condescend to sisterly love, or brotherly love, or parental love. Those are all, of course, wonderful and proper according to what they are; but they’re not spousal. This is what one must insist upon.
Homosexuals may be two to three percent of the population. And on the evidence of the past fifteen years from the Netherlands and Canada, we know a very tiny minority of them will actually want to get married. One reason is that promiscuity is inherent in the vast majority of homosexual relationships — which isn’t a surprise because the act is unchaste to begin with. So people may say: “Such a tiny majority! Why should that bother you? Why don’t you let these people do it?” The answer is: “Why don’t you let someone interject counterfeit currency into the system of the U.S. dollar? Why should that affect anyone else?” A phony currency will devalue the real currency, just as a false conception of marriage will devalue real marriage. On top of which you have the enormous injustice of children being bred by homosexual couples deliberately denying the child either its father or its mother — and this is a serious act of injustice.
In the book, I do have the testimonies from some people who have been raised by homosexual couples. But I would simply recommend that you Google the name “Robert Oscar Lopez” who was raised by two lesbians. He is one of the most eloquent voices on this subject. Read his material on Public Discourse or elsewhere, and you will get a very sharp taste of the unreality and the injustice which these people undergo.
Isn’t your critique of homosexuality an affront to the identity of a significant minority in our society?
I’ve worked in the arts for almost forty years, as a consequence of which I’ve known and worked with many homosexuals, particularly in the classical music world. I recall having dinner with a cellist who was already a superstar, a young man, and someone raised the subject during dinner of his homosexuality. He quickly dismissed it and said: “That doesn’t identify me. Drop the subject.” I have a lot of respect for that. My book is really dealing with those who make their disorder their identity.
In order to show how massive the distortion of reality becomes when they use that disorder as an identity, all you have to do is offer analogies to other disorders. For instance, the alcoholic: I’ve known many alcoholics and the ones who have made it in life usually do so through Alcoholics Anonymous. I emphasize the latter of those two words: anonymous. In other words, they don’t come out of the closet as alcoholics and say: “I’m alcoholic and proud of it.” They deal with it privately, in a private therapeutic organization, where they can say they’re alcoholic without announcing it to the world. It’s nothing of which they are proud. They are dealing with it because they know how self-destructive it is. So there are no ‘Alcoholic Pride’ days. There are no announcements of alcoholism or embraces of alcoholics reassuring them that their alcoholism is perfectly fine and saying, “why don’t we all go down to the bar and have a drink?” But that would be the equivalent of the way active homosexuals are being treated today, with people saying “that’s just wonderful” or “let’s sanctify the sodomy in which you are engaged in a so-called marriage.”
Why are more people not talking about this? Why is your book not getting reviewed in more publications?
They’re afraid, as someone said, of the homosexual mafia or they themselves have, at least partially, bought the rationalization for homosexual misbehavior because they have a rationalization for their own misbehavior.
So I’d say: fear and infiltration. We can look throughout history — certainly in the 20th century — and see when rationalizations have seized societies (these were the ideological ones in the 20th century of both national socialism and international socialism) and see how people were shut up if they said ‘no, these are lies about who man is’. The reason Benedict XVI spoke of the dangers of ‘totalitarian democracy’ is for this very reason. Speaking the truth is going to come at a very high price.
Complicity is demanded — but it must be refused or we will lose our own souls.
Robert R. Reilly is a well-known foreign policy expert and communications strategist. He has taught at the National Defense University, served in the Reagan White House as a Special Assistant to the President (1983–1985) and served as the Director of the Voice of America (2001–2002). He was also Senior Advisor for Information Strategy for the U.S. Secretary of Defense (2002–2006). He is a member of the board of the Middle East Media Research Institute.