Betsy Clarke’s informative and readable review of In Search of Love and Beauty by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Chronicles, Nov. 1985) raised the question of how we ought to regard homosexuality. Talking of the homosexuals on parade in Jhabvala’s novel, Clarke writes, “By stressing the fact that fathers were absent from the early homes of these deviants, the author even suggests a cause for their frenetic and sterile sexuality.” I think “contributing factor” rather than “cause” might more accurately describe the relationship between absent father and homosexual son.

More important, though, than deciding what kind of home life is statistically most likely to foster homosexuality, we must assess the moral and religious questions posed. In a lot of our current talk about “homosexuality” there is a blurring of things that should be kept distinct.

The media-fostered craziness on the subject of “gays” and “gay rights” has got a lot of us flummoxed, but really it’s our own fault for being unfaithful to tradition. Take as an example homosexuality, or what used to be called “sodomy,” meaning not just a particular mode of physical connection but the whole business of same-sex fornication.

Sodomites were, the Bible says, people who, out of self-willed lust, wished to couple with several handsome young men who turned up in tow. (The young men happened to be angels, but the Sodomites didn’t know that, no doubt because lust tends to make you spiritually blind.)

God’s judgment on these people, the Bible indicates, was that they were guilty of serious sin. He appears not to have excused them for having been born in the wrong family environment.

There is a “disposition” or tendency toward erotic attachment to one’s own sex. This is—Old Style—a temptation. More or less vigorous, perverted sexual activity is something else. This is—Old Style—sin. A lot of forms here: masturbation, adultery, “sodomy,” etc. For sodomy it is now probably best to use the euphemism “active homosexuality” (one is here mostly talking about the male side of the perversion, but it’s all the same on the female side). Practitioners of this sin call it by a great many colorful names, of which “faggotry” is one of the few that is printable.

None of all this stuff is gay, in the original meaning of that word. Gay, among inverts, rose up as a shorthand way of positioning someone in “the movement.” “Is he gay?” meant “Has he progressed to faggotry (overt) from homosexuality (latent)?” It is a kind of tenet of the movement that all reasonable people have plenty of the latent homosexuality.

So, you see, traditionalists (people holding to Old Style morality) would have to accord all rights to homosexuals, who are simply fellow human beings who find themselves tempted to same-sex erotic activity. But what rights does sin have? Only the old right it has always claimed: I am, therefore I am right. If you agree with the sinner that because he is tempted he must sin, how can you deny overt pedophilia, adultery, abortion, parricide, or anything else?

But then our age sees no sin anywhere, defined either as disobedience of natural or revealed law or as violation of one’s own essence. We see only psychic or social inconvenience, often to be made less inconvenient by rerigging the social machinery (“gay rights,” etc.).

As a journalist and inveterate reader, I deeply resent the apparently irreversible ruin of one of the happiest and best basic three-letter words in the language.

        —Tom White
Honesddle, PA