Monday, 4 August 2008

FROM HOMOPHOBIA TO HOMOPHILIA...

The fact that Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, described gays as “lower
than dogs”, tells me nothing about gays, but everything about His Grace the
Archbishop. Nor can one doubt that the Archbishop of Kenia meant every word when
he proclaimed that - a propos the gay US bishop Gene Robinson - “the devil has
clearly entered the church”. If Africa is a Third World country pretending to be
a First World one, moral values are derivative and invariably relativistic.


In Africa, the homosexual has automatic low-life associations because sexual
taboos largely determine the social morality and behaviour of the tribe. While
in Spartan Greece, by contradistinction, ideologically charged homosexual
eroticism and sexuality were cornerstones of its elitist male-bonding culture.


Here, then, is the heart of the matter:


The taboo was not only a normative form of law but also, like a fervently held religious belief, the
guiding code for modes of behaviour that were its biological counterpart. Some
societies are more evolved of course, than others and, in any case, few taboos
still exert their original spell. But no community is favourably disposed
towards the apostate who is seeming to compromise the communality of the group,
and if it cannot bend him to its purpose it obviously become preferable to
ostracise him in what is essentially a manifestation of the communal faculty for
self-regulation - properly speaking, the jurisdiction of the man in the street -
which is fundamental to all anthropological thinking. Conformity to the tribal
habit expresses communal integrity. Transgression is tantamount to apostasy. The
logic is subtle, but also compellingly simple. In a word, to throw in one’s lot
- in the mythology of anthropology - with the proscribed forces of the universe,
is simply to perish with them.


But I was saying...


Fatuity being one of the worst symptoms of our present state of confusion (rather than of decline), or at any rate a power unique for its blinding opacity, the authenticity of the civil union, celebrated in Gene Robinson’s own church just six weeks ago - as distinguished from the passion of its participants - seems to be proof enough these days that not only men’s reasoning and intellectual capacities, but their instincts and emotions, too, are subject to two mutually antagonistic conceptions of love. For when two standards of judgment, of moral convention, of
human perfection no less, are fending for the right to forge the social and anthropological conditions of our future heritage, without question something very enormous indeed appears to be happening.


It is not, of course, impossible to imagine that posterity may have a different opinion. We must wait and see. What matters for the time being, however, is the degree to which the
ethical content of the multicultural world itself is being subjected to change;
that it is not even clear anymore which standards, whether moral, psychological
anthropological or otherwise, can be agreed upon for good or ill by all rational
human beings. And this, whether we like it or not, is the crux of the whole
perplexing business.


Dreamy



5 comments:

All Shook Up said...

Interesting that many of the taboos that were formerly the subject of dire social stigma, such as gambling, drinking, sex before marriage... began to become more acceptable once society (and individuals) acquired the means to deal with them in terms of wealth, medical care and benefits. Just shows that for something to be immoral or sinful it must be deemed critically damaging to the social group. Maybe explains the attitude to homosexuality in more primitive (or insert correct pc wording here) communities

it is not even clear anymore which standards, whether moral, psychological anthropological or otherwise, can be agreed upon for good or ill by all rational human beings.
Strongly agree with this bit.

Jonathan said...

'If Africa is a Third World country pretending to be
a First World one,'

On the contrary many African Christians, in terms of morality, see the attempts by liberal Anglicanism to impose liberal, non-scriptural perspectives as a new form of imperialism! Ironic, of course, given that it was imperialism that brought them the Gospel in the first case (well at least recently and in some places), but never mind.

I have read that before Christianity arrived homosexuality was more common in Africa than many Africans would like you to think. As for the truth of that...

'Some
societies are more evolved of course'

This is a very modernist presupposition, no?. I had thought you maybe didn't believe in the blithely optimistic liberal belief in 'progress'. Societies can degenerate in some ways, even thought they advance in others.

You are right that societies have needed to expel and ostracise certain of their own members to maintain internal cohesion. Liberal PC fascist hegemonies would do that as much as old fashioned societies did. You don't have to look very hard to see the 'banishing' tendencies at work in the Liberal zeitgeist. But what I love about England is that it does actually harbour an uncanny ability to integrate the lunatic, the eccentric and the space cadet. Why, it even allowed me to grow up in its midst, after all:).

'our present state of confusion (rather than of decline)'

Wow, do I discern optimism and hope
here?

There's not much of it about.

The breakdown in a moral consensus is tied in with our spiritual myopia and blindness, the deadness of our consciousness, I believe. Remove the scales and it is easier to see the outlines of what constitutes the form of a healthy humanity.

It also explains our frenzied obsessions with celebrity superficiality and with money and the economy. They seem to be the only things we can talk about with a certain shared sense of a consensus understanding. How the vicious cycle of the closing of the western mind whirls.

The central irony involved in the Church's prohibition on homosexuality is that Jesus commanded above all else that people, of whatever gender, should love one another. This is no doubt not lost on homosexual advocates of same sex sex. But a sexual application of this is irrelevant to the debate if one recognises that love is not centrally sex - which it is hard to do in a reductionist, materialist age.

Selena Dreamy said...

"But what I love about England is that it does actually harbour an uncanny ability to integrate the lunatic, the eccentric and the space cadet."

Agreed. Extraordinarily so. In fact, I would go as far as saying that that is the single most distinguishing characteristic of England's Englishness...

Selena Dreamy said...

“Interesting that many of the taboos that were formerly the subject of dire social stigma, ... began to become more acceptable once society ... acquired the means to deal with them”

Hence, it seems mildly ironic, to have it unacknowledged that, occasionally, our virtues are inseparable from what appeared to be, in the eyes of the past, our vices...

mutleythedog said...

Still.. Id shag him anyhoo!