Mecosta, MI.  A FPR reader has written a fine essay dilating on a theme introduced in my own most recent piece (which was, in fact, largely a set of links to insightful reflections on the nature of homosexuality and of marriage in light of New York State’s recent legislation).  As it happens, the author’s argument is one that I thought deserving of its own essay, but since he has already provided one, I shall recommend it and fall silent:

Much has been said recently of the vote in NY to refashion marriage to be inclusive of those who call themselves homosexual. Interestingly, a demographic that accounts for roughly 2% of the national populous has managed to seize headlines every day since the historic legislation. No other group so small – for instance, farmers – has been able to garner such a vibrant spectrum of coverage in regards to their imperiled interests. Apparently, the Media determine the causes they will themselves champion.

However, in spite of the barrage of reports, stories and commentary, neither wing of the Media seems willing to break the only real taboo in this discussion around this homosexual orientation; in other words, what does homosexuality, as a lifestyle and an orientation, do to the human soul?

The group of individuals who comprise a phenomenon known simply as “ex-gays” is one that is highly scorned by the Left and somehow ignored by the Right in the public debate. We have become so convinced as a culture that homosexuality is somehow normative that to even suggest the possibility that a person might not want to be gay is scandalous. When such a person actually overcomes – or at the very least, acts contrary to – his homosexual orientation, it is treated as if he were the one going against his nature. The vitriol once reserved for practicing homosexuals themselves by a “homophobic” mainstream culture has been redirected to spew only upon those who are so bold to deny that they are biologically homosexual, created by God to be as such, and happiest when living out the proclivity. In short, they are the true pariahs.

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James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on subjects ranging from art, ethics, and politics, to meter and poetic form, from the importance of local culture to the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty. Wilson is also a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, whose work appears regularly in such magazines and journals as First Things, Modern Age, The New Criterion, Dappled Things, Measure, The Weekly Standard, Front Porch Republic, The Raintown Review, and The American Conservative. He has published five books, including most recently, a collection of poems, Some Permanent Things and a monograph, The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (both Wiseblood Books, 2014). Raised in the Great Lakes State, baptised in the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas, seasoned by summers on Lake Wawasee (Indiana), and educated under the Golden Dome, Wilson is scion of a family of Hoosiers dating back to the early nineteenth century, and an offspring of Southside Chicago Poles whose tavern kept the city wet through the Depression (and prohibition) years.  He now lives under the same sentence of reluctant exile as many another native son of the Midwest, but has dug himself in for good on the margins of the Main Line in Pennsylvania with his beautiful wife, dangerous daughter, and saintly sons. For information on Wilson's scholarship and a selection of his published work, click here. See books written and recommended by James Matthew Wilson.


  1. Maybe I’m wrong but I did not think the purpose of this website was to indulge in highly sectarian postings, or yet more culture wars bloviation. Might I suggest you take this unhealthy obsesson you have with homosexuality and indulge it over on, say, First Things where you will find mainly like-minded people, rather than the more diverse community (in reagrds to opinion) this blog draws.

  2. How is homosexuality seperable form the rest of Modernity any more than food is? If we are not going to discuss our sexuality we might as well give up front porch republic.

  3. @JonF. Diversity of opinion is the point not the exception.

    On a side note, readers may want to investigate Eve Tushnet and John Heard for some insightful treatment on sublimated same sex attraction (SSA). In short, these people are conservative Roman Catholics who accept their biological disposition towards SSA but choose to live chaste and celibate lives. Thus, they do not fit into the author’s category of “ex-gays” and, therefore, add more complexity to the discussion.

  4. James, Thanks for providing this link and for your earlier essay. The links in the “Ancient Struggle” essay are also worth reading, including the NYT story.

    It’s important to state the truth–whether it’s welcomed or not. “Speaking truth to power” is a good progressive slogan, but most progressives will not admit where the power lies in our society. Obviously there are those who are abused by knuckle-headed jerks for being “gay,” or for being perceived as “gay.” This is stupid at best, evil at worst.

    But if we’re informed and honest, we ought to admit that “gay rights” is just another trendy cause foisted upon us by the power elite. That accounts for the prolific and favorable nature of its press coverage and academic writing. It’s a steady barrage of propaganda coming down from on high. Every elite institution is on board, from Wall Street to the corporate media, from the psychological establishment to the Episcopal Church. On the macro level, it has nothing to do with science or reason, with conscience or ethics, with compassion or sensitivity. It’s about trendiness. I guess that’s one reason I find the propaganda tiresome. It’s banal and predictable and deeply un-progressive (i.e., reactionary) in a socioeconomic sense.

    Yes, it’s progressive in the sense of being trendy, but it’s really just an old error going full-speed ahead in the wrong direction. Cheered on by our social betters, who self-righteously condemn the self-righteous and intolerantly excoriate the intolerant. Precluding a more nuanced and less one-sided discussion.

  5. Anymouse,

    Homosexuality was not invented during the Summer of Love. It’s been around for an exceedingly long time. It’s no more “modern” than religion or art are inherently modern.

  6. Thomas,

    Obviously the author has a certain POV on the matter of homosexuality, and other posters on this site agree or disagree with him (it seems to be about 50/50 from recent threads). My complaint with Mr Wilson is that practically everything he posts is on this subject, dircetly or indirectly. That sort of obsessiveness with a single topic (and one which in the full scheme of things is rather trivial) is not healthy, either to his own character or to the general debate.

    I have not heard of John Heard, but I have read Ms Tushnet, and she beings an interesting perspective to matters. Something for readers to conisder: Celibacy used to be considered the more honorable state, albeit one which only true spiritual athletes could aspire to. Nowadays it’s more taboo than incest. I rather wish we could return to the older wisdom that those who can transcend the cravings of the flesh are to be honored not regarded as freaks, though without denigrating the rest of us.

  7. “Homosexuality was not invented during the Summer of Love. It’s been around for an exceedingly long time. It’s no more “modern” than religion or art are inherently modern.”
    Precisely.And if we are going to discus food we might as well discuss religion art and homosexuality as well, and determine whether the modern conception of those things should be embraced, or a more traditional conception should be put in it’s place.
    “I rather wish we could return to the older wisdom that those who can transcend the cravings of the flesh are to be honored not regarded as freaks,”
    I would agree. But that doesn’t happen without sexual standards that are not based on materialism and individualism.

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