John C. Wright on sex in society

John C. Wright is apparently a science fiction writer. I’ve never read any of his books, but now that Scientists Considering Christianity is defunct and Jim Kalb seems to be posting less and less often, Wright’s LiveJournal has become one of my main sources for intelligent conservative Christian writing. (I try to read such material regularly as a counterbalance to my natural tendencies as a clueless liberal atheist.)

Recently, in response to a deluge of comments from gay activists who accused him of (among other things) being opposed to homosexuality solely for religious (read: irrational) reasons and questioned whether there could be any other reason for such opposition, Wright has posted a six-part secular defense of marriage and traditional sexual morality, explaining the train of thought that led him to become a sexual traditionalist before his conversion, when he was still a passionate atheist.

It’s given me a lot to think about, and I intent to return to it at my leisure and spend some time thinking about each of his points. So, for my own future reference (and for anyone else who is interested), here are links to the six parts, with summaries of what each covers:

  • Part I: On self-control. On the objectivity of morals. On virtue. Law and custom. Do as thou wilt. The bounds of the question.
  • Part II: Is marriage a contract? How pliant is human nature? Is sex entertainment? Men are jerks.
  • Part III: The sex act. Passions related to the sex act. Prudence related to the sex act. Humans are altricial. Bastards and cuckoos. Permanence. Exclusivity. Polygamy. Violence between sexual rivals.
  • Part IV: Third parties to marriage. The father of the bride. The grandparents of the child. The investment of the interest in virginity.
  • Part V: Matrimony and fornication. Prudence regarding matrimony.
  • Part VI: What does this have to do with science fiction? A personal note to Mr. Charles Stross. A general challenge. Christian modifications to this position.

Although triggered by an argument about homosexuality, Wright’s essay isn’t primarily about that topic. It mentions it only as a sort of postscript, and my initial reaction (as I said, I plan to reread it later and take some more time to think about it) is that his case against homosexual acts isn’t nearly as strong as his case against premarital and extramarital sex. (As I mentioned in the course of my discussion with A. C. Grayling, I just don’t think sex-like acts other than actual copulation are anywhere near as morally serious as the act itself; because they are disconnected from the possibility of childbirth, less is at stake.) I’ll come back to this topic later after I’ve had some time to digest and dissect his arguments.

Incidentally, the barrage of angry comments from homophobophobes to which Wright was responding was triggered by another post (since deleted) in which he made some sarcastic remarks about this news story: It seems the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) releases an annual report grading TV networks on their depiction of gay, lesbian, and otherwise sexually atypical characters, and that Syfy (formerly Sci Fi) got an “F.” Predictably, the network executives fell over themselves to apologize and earnestly insist on their commitment to diversity, and Wright, being in the science fiction business himself, was understandably worried about the precedent set by GLAAD’s ideological bullying and Syfy’s groveling submission.

What, you may ask, did Syfy do to deserve an “F”? Well, you see, their shows featured only two gay characters this past year — sympathetic characters both (as far as I can gather, not having actually watched the shows in question), but still only two. That’s it. That, according to the bozos at GLAAD, is defamation. You’d think they’d give at least a “C+” for a marginally positive portrayal, but apparently these guys take the idea of “damning with faint praise” very seriously: If you say gays are cool, but you don’t say it often enough or loud enough, you’re serving the Dark Side.

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