Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The fallacy at the heart of the "Benedict Option"

As we have discussed before, conservative columnist Rod Dreher has proposed "The Benedict Option", whereby conservative Christians withdraw as they can from society, mainly because of LGBT people. Indeed, Dreher refers to LGBT rights (and same sex marriage) as “LGBT activism [as] the tip of the spear at our throats in the culture war.”

Which apart from its appalling hyperbole, will be news to the many faithful gay Christians I know.  Further, I have got news for Rod Dreher.  When it comes to marriage and the integrity thereof, let alone sexual morals, I am pretty darned conservative.  The difference is that I recognize that others may not share my particular view of morality.  My morality does not depend upon theirs, nor do I seek to impose mine upon them.

But I digress. Dresser has now written a book about this, called The Benedict Option which is getting some attention.

Over at the NY Times, David Brooks comments,
Maybe if I shared Rod’s views on L.G.B.T. issues, I would see the level of threat and darkness he does. But I don’t see it. Over the course of history, American culture has tolerated slavery, sexual brutalism and the genocide of the Native Americans, and now we’re supposed to see 2017 as the year the Dark Ages descended?
But Dreher thinks that Brooks has missed his point.
the thrust of the book is not about persecution, but about the loss of Christianity. It’s not a book about how to resist Robespierre as much as it is a book about how to keep your kids and your church from turning into Rachel Held Evans, which would be a precursor to losing the faith entirely.
Ouch. Rachel Held Evans is a prominent former-evangelical-now-Episcopalian liberal Christian. Don't you just hear the love in Dreher's snark?  He doesn't consider liberal Christians to be Christians at all.

The site Women in Theology brings up a certain...shall we say, inconsistency in Dreher's end-times views. attempting to prove that orthodox Christians are not obsessed with LGBT people, Dreher ends up admitting that orthodox Christians are in fact obsessed with LGBT people. Dreher’s analogy would exonerate orthodox Christianity of any special anti-gay bias if it conformed to the facts. In truth, however, the legalization and cultural acceptance of divorce long preceded any substantive gains made by the LGBT rights movement. Following the logic of Dreher’s analogy, LGBT rights would seem to be the caboose on the freight train steam-rolling orthodox Christian liberty, not its engine.
Yet as Dreher’s own writing attests, orthodox Christians only recently began fearing a future in which they were treated like racists. 
To Progressives, this seems like an unfair double-standard. One wonders why orthodox Christian entrepreneurs yearn for the right to fire only LGBT employees and not also divorced and re-married ones? Why do orthodox Christians assert the right to decline service to LGBT customers but not divorced and remarried ones? Why do orthodox Christians fear that priests will be forced to preside over marriages between LGBT people but not divorced ones? ... 
This discrepancy does not reflect LGBT people’s status as the first line of attack. If traditional marriage refers to a union that is not just heterosexual, but lifelong, then orthodox Christians should have been sounding the retreat eighty years ago. But they did not."
And isn't that the crux of the issue?  The conservatives want the right to deny LGBT people not only wedding cakes, but public services, in the name of religious freedom.  Yet, somehow, these denials are uniquely applied to LGBT people, and not to others of whom the faith might disapprove.

Let us (again) consider the issue of divorce in the Roman Catholic church.  The church is opposed to remarriage following divorce in church.  It denies Holy Matrimony to second marriages of this sort if they lack an annulment (as most do).  Pope Francis is in hot water with conservatives for even suggesting some mercy in offering Communion to the remarried.  But Catholics in the civil polis do not attempt to deny civil marriage to the previously married.  They do not deny them goods and services, ranging from baking cakes to renting them hotel rooms.

Somehow, then, the LGBT folks are particularly tainted.  And therein lies their hypocrisy of religious freedom, for if it were about that, they would be consistent about all sins.  No, this is about the "ick" factor-- the revulsion against LGBT people.

Women in Theology also writes,
LGBT people perhaps understand orthodox Christians’ fears even better than they do: the reality that LGBT people have already lived in fact proves much worse than the future Dreher fears. In addition to being fired, ridiculed, and hunted by state agents, LGBT people continue to endure evils that do not appear even in Dreher’s worst nightmares such as being beaten and killed, ostracized from and even kicked out of their families of origin, denied housing, unable to visit sick partners in hospitals, and disinherited. ....

I want this same protection and acceptance for orthodox Christians like Dreher, should they become an endangered minority. I do not want orthodox Christians to experience any of the injustices inflicted upon LGBT people. ....

Will orthodox Christians like Dreher pledge to do for LGBT people of all religious backgrounds what I have pledged to do for orthodox Christians?

1 comment:

Erp said...

Catholics and the Catholic Church in the US do not oppose civil divorce; however, that does not hold true in some other countries such as the Philippines (no divorce unless you are Muslim) and until recently in Ireland (re-allowed only in 1995 [it had been allowed before independence] over the vehement objections of the church hierarchy) and Malta (2011 again over the hierarchy's objections). In the US it seems that the right to discriminate in the public sphere (and not just within their religion) is their current false cross.