Two articles seem to illustrate the state of the conversation.
Message 1: The church should accept that some people are hardwired towards attraction to the same gender and should regard same sex relationships on a moral par with heterosexual relationships. This is typified by the “Christian Rockstar” piece.
Message 2: Gender binaries are an artificial construct that should be discarded with other forms of oppressive patriarchy and tradition bigoted moral constraint. Society (and institutions like the government and the church) should accept and celebrate whatever form or (consensual) love that feels authentic to the parties involved. This is typified by the Kristen Stewart piece. It’s also illustrated by articles like “Why Straight Men have sex with each other?”
The generational demographic pressure on the church is that it had better embrace Message 1 or it will “lose its young people”. This change is imagined to be a small and common sense adaptation that costs the church nothing. (Here’s a piece about some of my doubts about that assumption.)
The Queue in the Progressivist Imaginary
Progressive assumptions are deep within this social movement. The imaginary of this system is always leaning towards “change” and “what’s coming tomorrow”. Once SCOTUS enshrined Message 1 (with very traditional and religious language) it was already out of date with the hipper, “next thing” elements of the progressive movement asking “OK, what’s the next thing”. The net was filled with articles like this the day and the week of the decision. “What’s next”.
So the queue looks something like this in the progressivist imaginary:
- Stage 1: We used to believe that heterosexuality was the norm and same sex attraction an immoral corruption. Institutional sanctions should come against violators of the norm.
- Stage 2: Then we believed that heterosexuality was the norm but same sex attraction a biological abnormality (born that way) so compassion is in order and perhaps some concessions (therapy, treatment, accommodations, etc.)
- Stage 3: Then we believed that while heterosexuality was the majority case same sex attraction is a biological variation revealed to us by science. Fighting against it is like trying to make left handed people right handed. Modern institutions should simply regard the minority variation as legitimate and make common sense adjustments to their social and moral categories. Same sex marriage is simply equivalent to hetero marriage. Institutions should regard them as equal. This was the SCOTUS decision.
- Stage 4: Gender is a social construct that should transcend the biological sex of the person. Enlightened, elevated and evolved persons transcend their biology to construct an authentic gender for whatever life stage, biological situation or social circumstance they are in. The biological circumstance of love may be a complication or a serendipitous delight but it is immaterial to the relational/spiritual connection that love between two beings ought to be in whatever moment it happens. Society and its institutions (government, employers, medical providers, churches) should be supportive, affirming and celebratory (upon request) to the most authentic expression of this most transcending of human experiences.
Allies of Social Convenience in the Culture Wars
Culture wars incentivize binaries. What this means is that groups from Stages 1 and 2 will ally against groups in Stages 3 and 4. Many who see themselves in Stage 4 celebrate Stage 3 but regard it as a primative or unevolved or unenlightened position compared to their own, similar to how each “higher” stage regards the former. Remember this is a progressivist imaginary. The progressive nature always gives a pull “upward” to what in the social imaginary is supposed to be the “next thing”.
A Stage 4 person might regard someone having the experience of being “gay” as authentic. They should be free to pursue relationships according to their own desires, but in their system the truly evolved person overlooks biological sexuality in embracing the deeper person within whose personhood transcends their biology. That is the “spiritual” or truest self.
Just as Stage 2 persons can easily socially and institutionally mix with Stage 1s Stage 4s can do so with Stage 3s.
The Church Wars
The battle lines in churches currently are between Stages 1 and 2 and Stage 3. This reveals the assumption that churches (and other institutions) are slow to progress and are assumed to continue to embrace increasingly obsolete systems. Stage 3s will strongly try to bring these institutions into the “modern” world.
Stage 4s will watch the fight but in their opinion regard this battle as fighting for the typewriter market or to see what will happen to Blackberry. Buildings, titles and liturgies might have some value but to them communities that attempt to enforce legal and biological constraints are repulsive.
If you want an interesting read by a neo-ancientist check out Melinda Selmys’ Sexual Authenticity. She is a Canadian woman who first came to the conclusions she was a lesbian only later to convert to Catholicism to marry and have children in a traditional marriage. She mockingly deconstructs Stage 3 in her post on “The Gay Roman Emperor Gene”
She is in a sense a Stage 4 who says that we are all gender flexible and relationally unfaithful but made by God for faithful commitment to him.
Does Fighting the Stage 3 Battle Still Make Sense?
Why pause at Stage 3 when “the young people” are all going to be in Stage 4 if chasing the approval of a demographic group is really what we are supposed to be doing?