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The Religion Of Sex

We are living through a clash of religious visions: Christianity vs. the New Gnosticism

Sorry for the light posting today. I had to run into Baton Rouge this morning, and on the way back got caught in a massive traffic jam because of a gas spill. It took forever to get re-routed and back home. When I did return, I got the statistics for this blog’s readership for the past month, and the second quarter. We have had a record-setting year. For that, I thank you all.

Now, to business.

Sherif Girgis has a great piece in First Things about Obergefell and the new sexual gnosticism.” Even if you celebrate same-sex marriage, it’s an important read to understand better why orthodox Christians believe as we do on this issue. Excerpts:

For decades, the Sexual Revolution was supposed to be about freedom. Today, it is about coercion. Once, it sought to free our sexual choices from restrictive laws and unwanted consequences. Now, it seeks to free our sexual choices from other people’s disapproval.

That’s a sharp turn—but it was inevitable. The ideals of the Sexual Revolution call for it: That is one lesson of the year that has passed since the Supreme Court imposed same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. Most of Obergefell’s lay supporters were simply moved by concern for our LGBT neighbors—a worthy and urgent concern that the Church must be the first to heed, as Wesley Hill has beautifully reminded us. But the Court’s ruling itself depended on a broader sexual progressivism; and its cultural fallout has made clearer that sexual progressivism is illiberal. Absorb its vision of the human person wholesale, and you will soon conclude that social justice requires getting others to subscribe to that vision.

I’m so glad to read this put so well. It is at the core of the Sex & Sexuality chapter I’ve written for the Benedict Option book. It is impossible for orthodox Christians to separate sexuality from what the human person is. As Sherif explains, this is also the view of the Sexual Revolutionaries. The Sexual Revolution is best seen as like a different religion — a Gnostic one. He is not being snarky here, but explaining what this looks like from the point of view of traditional Christianity. I’m not going to quote it at too much length, but I strongly urge you to read it. He’s exactly right. Exactly.


It’s not that the New Gnostics are an especially vindictive bunch. It’s that a certain kind of coercion is built into their view from the start. If your most valuable, defining core just is the self that you choose to express, there can be no real difference between you as a person, and your acts of self-expression; I can’t affirm you and oppose those acts. Not to embrace self-expressive acts is to despise the self those acts express. I don’t simply err by gainsaying your sense of self. I deny your existence, and do you an injustice. For the New Gnostic, then, a just society cannot live and let live, when it comes to sex. Sooner or later, the common good—respect for people as self-defining subjects—will require social approval of their self-definition and -expression.

This vision of the self explains otherwise novel and puzzling ideas: e.g., that you can’t be authentic without acting on your sexual desires, and that a physically healthy biological male might have been a woman all along. And its consequent illiberalism—the impulse to police dissent—explains an otherwise astonishing development. It explains how the status of absolute orthodoxy—which same-sex marriage advocates fought for decades to secure, and still achieved with astonishing speed—was transferred to transgenderism virtually overnight.

This is why we have the new blasphemy laws and heresy trials. It is why progressives and their right-wing fellow travelers on LGBT issues cannot recognize that equating homosexuality with race is a massive category error, and trads don’t understand why progressives don’t see what is obvious to us.

We are living by two different religions. But progressives, who are the new American mainstream on LGBT issues, don’t understand their view of what a human being is as essentially religious. They think it’s simply normal. But it is a religion: the New Gnosticism.

That’s why they will not stop until orthodox Christians are all thoroughly subjugated and dhimmified. The Sexual Revolution was more profound than the Reformation in its social and political effects, as we are now seeing. How well did life work out for Catholics in Protestant states in the Reformation era, and vice versa? This is why Christians can be as “winsome” as they like, but it won’t make one bit of difference. This is a religious war, and they are always the ugliest kind.

UPDATE: Earlier this week, I had meant to blog a link to Mary Eberstadt’s piece about the religion of secular progressivism, but it got lost in the shuffle. Read it! Excerpt:

The bedrock of contemporary progressivism can only be described as quasi-religious. The followers of this faith are, furthermore, Kantians regarding these beliefs, in the sense that the philosopher’s categorical imperative applies: Exactly like followers of other faiths, they believe both that they are right, and that people who disagree are wrong — and that those other people ought to think differently.

The so-called culture war, in other words, has not been conducted by people of religious faith on one side, and people of no faith on the other. It is instead a contest of competing faiths: one in the Good Book, and the other in the more newly written figurative book of secularist orthodoxy about the sexual revolution. In sum, secularist progressivism today is less a political movement than a church.



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