Saturday, April 2, 2016

#1635: Robert Gagnon

Presbyterian theologian Robert Gagnon does not like gay rights. And he has an explanation for why others do: It’s in part because of “heterosexual guilt”. Says Gagnon: “A lot of heterosexuals have, you know, we’ve not done all that well in some areas of sexual ethics. That includes issues of divorce, remarriage, that includes premarital sex, includes abortion. And if you can give a pass on the issue of homosexual practice, in effect it’s a way of exempting our own guilt, and it’s accommodating in a way that’s self-serving.” One is almost tempted to admire his brazenness: If you support marriage equality, it’s because you are trying to downplay your own moral shortcomings by excusing others’. Gagnon himself, on the other hand, need no such self-deluding, self-serving excuses.

He has also compared homosexuality to incest, but “[w]hen I compare homosexual practice to incest it is primarily to make the point that if we are opposed to the latter we should also be opposed to the former, since both involve a union of persons who are too much alike on a structural (formal, embodied) level: too much sameness as regards kinship (incest) or gender (homosexual practice), not enough complementary otherness.” Which might be an argument against intra-racial marriage if it weren’t so abysmally stupid on its own terms. But at least we can appreciate how much his arguments reveal of his own personality. (For the record, Gagnon actually thinks that homosexuality is a worse sin than incest.)

No wonder Gagnon has become a leading voice among those who oppose gay rights and churches that fail to condemn them (Here, for instance, is the ex-gay “Sunday school documentary” Such were some of us that he appeared in). He has offered some more traditional arguments, too, however. Gagnon has for instance asserted that same-sex relationships are doomed to failure because two men, without a feminine counterpoint to their hyper-sexuality, will become promiscuous, adulterous and contract sexually transmitted infections. And two women cannot have a stable relationship and will develop mental illnesses because they don’t have a man in their lives to keep their needy, demanding personalities in check.

But really, to make sure you don’t misunderstand him and thinks he just care about the quality of your relationships, he has been crystal clear that Christians who don’t warn their friends to abstain from gay sex, and thereby let them go to hell for their sins, will be judged by God for failing to warn them. Here is Gagnon claiming that homosexuality is a declaration that your “maleness is only half intact.” He has also received some attention for his defense of updating older religious texts to make their anti-gay message more explicit.

Diagnosis: And among his gang Gagnon’s arguments seem to be considered to be among the more “intellectual ones”. Words fail.