Gay-Hatin’ Gospel (pt. 2)

Gay-Hatin’ Gospel (pt. 2) October 18, 2007

The Bible gives us the word “shibboleth,”* but the Bible is more than a book of shibboleths. So how did gay-hatin’ come to be the “most-common perception” of Christianity?

Theory No. 2: Inner Demons

This theory has the virtue of being true. Or, at least, of being true in some cases — some very notable, high-profile cases.

The idea here is that many of the loudest, angriest and most single-minded preachers of the anti-gay gospel doth protest too much. They are self-loathing closet cases, denouncing homosexuality because they are homosexuals and they hate this about themselves. From Roy Cohn to Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, there are dozens of verifiable examples of this dynamic — and many, many more suspected but unconfirmed cases.

Only Sayin’ provides an excellent summary of this theory, along with a rundown of some of the more notable recent examples, in a post titled, “Why Social Conservatives Can’t Keep It in Their Pants.

But for a succinct summary of this dynamic, you can’t beat this from Ted Haggard himself:

“There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life.”

So, clearly, this is a real phenomenon. We’ve seen so many examples of this lately, so many self-loathing closet cases exposed as members of the anti-gay leadership, that it reminds me of that scene in The Man Who Was Thursday, when the protagonist succeeds in infiltrating the secret society of anarchists only to look around the table and realize that every single member of its leadership is, like him, an undercover police officer

Yet despite the startlingly large number of cases, it’s surely not quite as pervasive as Thursday’s dilemma. It can’t be true that every officer in the anti-gay army is secretly a member of the group it seeks to oppose. The religious right/social conservative movement certainly seems to include a larger-than-average number of closeted homosexuals in its leadership, but even if the movement is gayer than Disney World, we’re still only talking about a minority of its leaders and followers (a significant minority, but still less than half).

A significant number of leading social conservatives also seem to be warring against inner demons that have nothing to do with homosexuality. These folks are tormented by an impressive variety of freaky heterosexual appetites. Consider Sen. Vitter’s alleged diaper-play with prostitutes. Or the deeply sad case of the former aide to Jerry Falwell who was found dead due to a baroque autoerotic asphyxia mishap.** The interesting thing about these folks is that instead of lashing out at those who share their particular appetites, like Ted Haggard did, they turn their animosity toward homosexuals too. I can’t begin to explain the psychology at work in this bit of substitution, but in their case it seems something like a mix of the inner demon theory and the safe target theory is at work.

The repressed and tortured psyches of Ted Haggard and David Vitter also don’t explain why so many have been willing to follow these leaders in their “warring against” their inner demons. They can’t all be self-loathing closet cases. Nor does this theory explain why others with apparently milquetoast, plain-vanilla sexual appetites — people like Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell — should be even more vociferous in their condemnations of the Big Gay Menace. For them it seems less a matter of self-loathing and projection than simply your garden-variety hatin’ on the outsider.

So while I’m certain that the inner demons theory is valid in many particular cases, I think it’s more of a contributing factor than a sufficient explanation of the entire phenomenon of gay-hatin’s newfound prominence as the central perception of American Christianity.

Next up, the theory favored by the gay-haters themselves: The Innocent Backlash.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* The condensed version of the story, from Judges 12:

“Art thou an Ephraimite?”
“Um, no?
“Say ‘shibboleth.'”
“Sibboleth.”
Aha! Die Ephraimite!”
“Oh sit.”

** At least we can say, as they always do of mountain-climbers or skiing casualties, that he died doing something he loved. General rules here, kids: 1) Always have a spotter, and 2) If it takes more than 10 minutes of prep time, you’re probably doing it wrong. The intricacies of this poor soul’s preparations calls to mind a line from Prick Up Your Ears:

“Have a wank? Have a wank? I can’t just have a wank. I need three days’ notice to have a wank. … It’s like organizing D-Day. Forces have to be assembled, magazines bought …”

Of course that story didn’t end well either. Both are tragedies posing as black comedies. The Rev. Aldridge, after all, didn’t really die doing something he loved, but something he hated, yet couldn’t stop himself from doing. (The second wet suit, after all, suggests that the first one wasn’t really doing it for him.) Unable to come to terms with his own inner freak, he declared war on everybody else’s. Misery loves company, they say, though the sad truth is misery is pretty miserable no matter how much of it you manage to inflict or project on others.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • every fertilised egg presumably goes to hell
    Is it wrong that I’m thinking jokes about eggs fried in hellfire?

  • From the Catechism:
    1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.”63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
    In short: Good heathens can go to heaven. Maybe.
    In shorter: God decides, and God isn’t an asshole.

  • Drak Pope

    Is Dante even a good source for Catholic doctrine?

  • Drak: Is Dante even a good source for Catholic doctrine?
    Probably not, but I couldn’t resist the Narnia joke. My bad.
    cjmr’s husband: In short: Good heathens can go to heaven. Maybe.
    In shorter: God decides, and God isn’t an asshole.

    If you wanted to convince me, the 1260 line certainly strongly suggests your interpretation: the 1263 line suggests that no matter how good a heathen you are, if you’ve heard the gospel and prefer the faith you were born and brought up in, you’re going to hell, sunshine.

  • Ember Keelty

    Jesu: Didn’t the Catholic church recently do away with Limbo? I think it did away with Purgatory a while back, too. I’m not sure whether that means I get promoted or demoted.
    Cjmr’s husband: Maybe. My (Catholic) stepmother’s minister has told her that her it’s okay, her stepfamily can get into Heaven. But he also approves of birth control, so he’s a known heretic.
    In short: Good heathens can go to heaven. Maybe.
    How comforting.
    In shorter: God decides, and God isn’t an asshole.
    I disagree. I think someone who would condemn anyone to eternal torture without possibility of parole for crimes committed throughout a finite space of time is, to put it bluntly, an asshole.
    If you wanted to convince me, the 1260 line certainly strongly suggests your interpretation: the 1263 line suggests that no matter how good a heathen you are, if you’ve heard the gospel and prefer the faith you were born and brought up in, you’re going to hell, sunshine.
    Agreed. I’m certainly aware of what Christians consider the necessity of Baptism and of the reasoning behind it, but I’ve still chosen not to accept it.

  • cjmr

    No, they haven’t done away with Purgatory.
    If you wanted to convince me, the 1260 line certainly strongly suggests your interpretation: the 1263 line suggests that no matter how good a heathen you are, if you’ve heard the gospel and prefer the faith you were born and brought up in, you’re going to hell, sunshine.
    Yeah, that interpretation is pretty much spot on. (That’s not line 1263, though, the 63 is a footnote for the quotation. 63Gaudium et spes sec. 22 para. 5)

  • cjmr

    Oh, and Purgatory isn’t a final destination, it’s a temporary one.

  • Ecks

    I think I’m cool with God doing a certain amount of judging. Any functioning society has to have a bit of judgment thrown in. But I spose it goes back to wanting the punishment to be commensurate to the crime. An eternity of damnation and torture seems a little incomensurate to any but the most horrendous of crimes, and even then, what about a good hundred years of damnation and torture, then a bit of forgiveness. I mean, I guess there are psychopaths whom it would take a miracle to turn into upright citizens, but then miracles are sort of God’s basic department, right.
    The other element of this is that from my atheist materialist standpoint beliefs are somewhat secondary to reality (I can believe what I want but if I try to put my head through the “imaginary” brick wall it’s still going to hurt a lot), and beliefs are somewhat changeable things always open to evidence (to some extent anyway – it’s a good ideal). As such, it seems a bit harsh punishing someone really severely over just BELIEVING the wrong thing. From a theological point of view I can see how beliefs could be relatively more important, but still, ETERNAL punishment just for believing the wrong thing seems a little stiff. Especially if you get the punishment without any particularly convincing warnings first. If God wants to lift me up in a beam of light, show me the eternity and the glory, give me a whirlwind tour of the pits of sulphur and ends on “smarten up kid,” then I can see it being my own dumbass fault for getting it wrong. But just sending a bunch of human messengers to preach at me, mixed in with a bunch of other human messengers preaching totally wrong things, who seem no more or less credible (at least on the surface of things) is really giving me a bit of a crapshoot to come out right. Even a lengthy stay in purgatory before I’m let up to heaven seems a bit unreasonable under those circumstances.
    Flashing back to the Rowan Atkinson sketch where he’s playing the devil with a clipboard welcoming everyone to hell. “And Christians, stand over there please. I’m sorry, I’m afraid the Jews were right. I bet you all feel a bit stupid now.”

  • Ember Keelty

    Thank you, Ecks, for saying what I might have said if I weren’t too lazy to be eloquent. Except for the part about materialism, but that’s a bit beside the point.

  • Ecks

    I meant materialism as in scientific positivism, not as in ‘I want a big shiny car’. But whutever :)

  • Ember Keelty

    Give me some credit. I know what materialism is – it’s a type of monism, where all that exists is matter, and everything we perceive as metaphysical can be reduced to something physical.

  • Ecks

    Except ice cream headaches. Those are totally extrusions from another world.
    Stupid ice cream headaches.

  • I know what materialism is – it’s a type of monism, where all that exists is matter
    Well, and forces.

  • Oh, and Ecks: I emailed you about having something to put up on Right Behind, but it’s possible I don’t have your correct eddress.
    Would it be possible for you to get back to me at wintermute115 [at] gmail [dot] com?
    Thanks.

  • Raka

    Jesurgislac: Is it wrong that I’m thinking jokes about eggs fried in hellfire?
    Yeah, because the sulfur-based smell of cooked eggs is so pleasant already and just begs for the complementary redolence of brimstone.
    Granted, that smell is characteristic of over-done galline ova. I have no idea if the same would hold true for human… caviar. Roe?

  • Ursula L

    Vaguely on-topic for this thread, it seems that Dumbledore is gay: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/20/AR2007102000186.html (Thanks to Making Light for the link.)

  • Ecks

    Saw your message last night wintermute (sorry for the slowness, I only check that address periodically). You should have an invite in your inbox. Let me know if anything went wrong.

  • You should have an invite in your inbox. Let me know if anything went wrong.
    It doesn’t appear to have made it. I cleared out the spam folder last night / this morning, so it’s possible (depending on exactly when you sent it) that it got routed there, and I just didn’t see it amongst the various emails telling me that my new penis is waiting for me (which, frankly, makes me not want to check the mail when I get home…). But, either way, can you resend, plz?
    Thanks.

  • Ecks

    No worries, it’s resent (so blogger assures me).
    No money back if your penis doesn’t get bigger, tho.

  • Ecks

    Folks, looks like wintermute’s story is up.. Check it out.

  • “I imagine they’re still projecting their shame for being ‘deviant,’ but can’t find the chapter and verse to condemn their kinks.”
    And so the small group of Christian help groups try to bumble their way through the job. Why isn’t there a stronger ministry out there? Or am I just not looking hard enough?

  • Conscience

    I just had a thought (that ties homophobia and female genital mutilation together): what if it’s fear of performing inadequately?
    In my experience, the most homophobic males are also the ones who engage in sexual assault against other men.
    In his little marriage manual that he and his wife wrote Lahaye said one of the reasons a woman shouldn’t have sex before she’s married is because if she goes with someone good in bed, it might create expectations that her eventual husband won’t be able to live up to.
    So what if that’s it? The people on top of these little heirarchies want to convince the people below that there’s something immoral/degrading/painful about sex, so that they’ll just think of it as a nessecary evil and not to expect any pleasure out of it at all?
    Don’t know how coherent I was in communicating what I was thinking, so comments are appreciated.