I love C. S. Lewis’s stance on sexual morality. I would now like to take some of his words out of context, and think about the notion of gay pride. Don’t get me wrong – C. S. Lewis states quite clearly that he believes homosexuality to be a perversion and that the biological purpose of sex is children. I would disagree. But consider this section:
Modern people are always saying, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.’ They may mean two things. They may mean ‘There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that humans reproduce in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.’ If they mean that, they are right. Christianity says the same… But of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of’.
If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.
– Mere Christianity, p. 98-99
I find this is really apt and applies to much of sex culture. It just worries me that many gay people find that having a niche sexual identity gives them all the more license to live it out. This is often presented as a rejection of mainstream culture – but C. S. Lewis was writing in the 1950s and if anything, sexual liberation has just gotten more and more ingrained since then. I think chastity now represents a far greater break from the norm. It takes a lot more courage to be chaste than to be ‘sexually free’ and that, in fact, it probably saves you more pain in the long run (see my comments on Mumford and Sons’ White Blank Page).
The wearing of the badge, the label, of ‘gay’ holds similar problems. What are you really declaring yourself proud of when you come out? I struggle to come out as gay, partly because my sexuality is more complicated than that, but also because telling someone you’re gay usually brings up images of wild parties, lots of sex, vanity, possibly effeminacy, and a certain willingness to display your body.
If you say, ‘Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of’, and by gay you mean a preference to be in a relationship with someone of the same sex, I think you would be right and Christianity would be on your side (many would agree, and I think the number is only increasing). If you say, ‘Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of’, and you mean ‘The behaviour and lifestyle of many gay people is nothing to be ashamed of’ I think you would be wrong for precisely the reasons Lewis outlines above. There is an unhealthy obsession, an improper centring on sexuality in much of gay culture.
This, more than anything else, is what causes the conservative extremes to turn against the LGBT community. And it is in itself an extreme. On that note:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5.43-45