Thanks for your response.  I enjoyed it immensely, and I believe you will understand that this is debate as it should be, not the invective that often substitutes for intellectual vibrancy these sad days.

One of the pitfalls of this point in history is that everything ends up reduced to discussions of “slavery.”  One single institution is used to paint the entire past with a broad brush as “oppressive.”  With such an attitude, a society is forced to spit on the graves of its ancestors, and no civilization that does that can survive.  Slavery has been practiced in various historical contexts; in Western civilization it has never been a norm, and during its relatively brief existence in the American South, it was vehemently protested against by such poets as William Cowper and William Blake in Britain as well as the whole abolitionist movement.  If you ever look into some of the writers in Chronicles such as Clyde Wilson, you’ll find that the South would in all likelihood have phased the practice out without the Civil War occurring; of course, we cannot know for sure.  But everything cannot be reduced to this alone.  Even giving women the vote is legitimately controversial; the whole feminist argument about women being collectively “oppressed” is ahistorical and open to rebuttal.  As early as 1910 G.K. Chesterton wrote a brilliant essay called “Feminism: The Mistake About Women.”

The whole attempt to frame history in terms of the oppression of one “group” by another derives from Marx.  It goes no further back than that.  And because counter-Marxist arguments are not systematically presented to your generation of students, you are left taking for granted what is in fact highly contentious.

On the question of homosexuality, the cultural left, joined by the libertarian right, have swallowed the claim that people are “gay” by nature, as they are male or female, black or white.  Are they?  What is “nature”?  And what happened to free will, without which we are not even human?  It has been argued that there is a certain chromosome which causes a man to engage in criminal activity.  Does that mean the activity—robbery, murder—must be condoned?  Of course not.  We all agree that if a man has a biological urge to do something agreed to be wrong, he can and must mortify or suppress it.  So the real question is whether the action or behavior is wrong.  Robbery?  Murder?  We have a solid consensus that they are wrong.  What about an urge or desire to have carnal relations with someone else of one’s own sex?  Down through the ages, and virtually universally, it has been considered to be wrong.  Exceptions, such as the philosophers’ cult of homosexual relations with boys in ancient Greece, or the samurai cult of homosexuality in medieval Japan, prove the rule in the sense that neither of these was fully or openly accepted by the societies in question.  As C.S. Lewis pointed out years ago, the ancient Greeks always referred to it, on the rare occasions when they did, with a “snicker,” and in Japan Ihara Saikaku wrote a series of hilarious parodies of the samurai cult in the 17th century.

Like all conservatives, I prefer not to argue on the basis of “rights,” as sooner or later one right will come into conflict with another, and there will be no way to determine the conclusion except by placing arbitrary decisionmaking power in the hands of the judges who happen to be sitting on the bench at a given moment.  This puts inordinate power in the hands of a few individuals.

Where does that leave us, the first generation in the history of the world with a “movement” to legitimize homosexuality in the public square?  It looks as if the argument that “gayness” is a natural part of personal identity won’t work, because we universally reject any claim that kleptomania, even if granted to be “natural,” is an aspect of identity.  We still cling to the insight that men possess free will.  So, is the behavior morally acceptable?  For the first time in history, there is a critical mass ready to answer “yes.”  This is an argument for tolerance in the true sense.  (I think something is wrong but will look the other way.  If I see nothing wrong with the thing, I can’t be said to “tolerate” it; I fully accept it without question.)  It is no argument for what the “activists” are pushing for, and are actually achieving incrementally, largely on the strength of the argument that homosexuality is “natural,” “biologically” driven.  (In publications aimed solely at fellow “gays,” some activists openly acknowledge that they think it is a choice—and defend it on those grounds.  “Let us do what we want to do!”)  To have public, legal, institutional validation of what has been considered an aberration throughout history is to act foolishly.

If you have no problem with homosexual acts, then there apparently is no problem for you.  What about me?  Could I have a lifelong friendship with someone who is “gay”?  Yes, I could and have.  Because we shared a great love for Chinese art, of which he was an internationally famous collector.  We simply avoided talking about his perversion.

Down through the centuries, society has dealt correctly with the situation—generally speaking, silence in public and tolerance in private.  We now have a truly bizarre reversal, with homosexual activists saying to those opposed, “We are coming out of the closet; you must take our place.”  And that includes a photographer fined $6,000 for refusing, on religious grounds, to take a “wedding” picture of two men.  (These are not the only grounds for considering homosexuality to be wrong; a card-carrying atheist can think so as well, because the male-female polarity is foundational in nature.)

We are now left with a simple power struggle in the political sphere.  I stand with those who uphold the traditional understanding of marriage, male and female, usually monogamous, sometimes polygamous, sometimes polyandrous (in other cultures).  Every individual may enter into marriage.  Two men do not and cannot constitute a “marriage”; they have no “right” to redefine basic concepts.

This is probably much more on the subject than you wished, but you see how as an intellectual community we have been forced into a false position: unquestioningly accepting a framing of the “debate” by one of the two sides.  Without clearing the air of this error, there can be no proceeding to a deeper level of discourse.  And that is a great shame.