My first thought has been, the essays are well worth taking the time to read and soberly reflect on. At least, if we want to understand what is happening in our time as a radical and destructive secularist innovation, the homosexualisation of marriage under false colour of law, proceeds apace across the world like a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut in the name of "equality" and "rights."
(I speak so sharply, as it is manifest already that such is an obvious, cynically calculated and unnatural manipulative counterfeit of a foundational institution for civilisation, designed to exploit our feeling that we should be free and should -- notice the double appeal to OUGHT, i.e. this rhetoric implicitly depends on the objectivity of morality . . . -- enjoy rights. All the while, it artfully twists rights out of their proper meaning and context; wrenching them off their proper foundation. It is the spirit of Anti-marriage (that is, of Anti-Christ) in action. It, predictably, will therefore undermine marriage and the community at large, will do much harm to children, and will directly lead to scapegoating and criminalisation of people of principled conscience through enactment and enforcement of oppression under false name of law. Such has already begun to happen. So, this little study, painful though it may be, is important -- as opposed to entertaining. Part of our due diligence of citizenship and leadership in our region and beyond. It is so, even though it may well bring down a tidal wave surge of wrath and abuse upon our heads, on the twisted and patently false accusation that only Nazis and religious bigots could dare deny people their "right" to "marriage equality." [Indeed, it will turn out that those three words will each repay closer, diligent and honest examination. If we want to avert shipwreck.])
My second reaction is, that it would be well to take in as background, some snippets from Rousseau's First Discourse, -- aka "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences" -- the 1750 prize essay submission to the Academy of Dijon that first won Rousseau notice as a leading "light" of the "Enlightenment."
Let's go there first, as it is the underlying context for where Reilly is coming from:
Has the restoration of the sciences and the arts contributed to the purification or to the corruption of morality? . . . . Europe had fallen back into the barbarity of the first ages. People from this part of world, so enlightened today, lived a few centuries ago in a state worse than ignorance. Some sort of learned jargon much more despicable than ignorance had usurped the name of knowledge and set up an almost invincible obstacle in the way of its return. A revolution was necessary to bring men back to common sense . . . .That is the double-context for Rousseau's well-known declaration that Reilly focuses upon: “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.”
The mind has its needs, just as the body does. The latter are the foundations of society; from the former emerge the pleasures of society. While government and laws take care of the security and the well being of men in groups, the sciences, letters, and the arts, less despotic and perhaps more powerful, spread garlands of flowers over the iron chains which weigh men down, snuffing out in them the feeling of that original liberty for which they appear to have been born, and make them love their slavery by turning them into what are called civilized people . . . .
One does not dare to appear as what one is. And in this perpetual constraint, men who make up this herd we call society, placed in the same circumstances, will all do the same things, unless more powerful motives prevent them. Thus, one will never know well the person one is dealing with . . . No more sincere friendships, no more real esteem, no more well-founded trust. Suspicions, offences, fears, coldness, reserve, hatred, and betrayal will always be hiding under this uniform and perfidious veil of politeness, under that urbanity which is so praised and which we owe to our century's enlightenment.
Reilly's first key points in his essay on natural law vs rights are:
Ineluctably, the issue of “gay” rights is about far more than sexual practices. It is, as lesbian advocate Paula Ettelbrick proclaimed, about “transforming the very fabric of society … [and] radically reordering society's views of reality”.He is right.
Since how we perceive reality is at stake in this struggle, the question inevitably rises: what is the nature of this reality? Is it good for us as human beings? Is it according to our Nature? Each side in the debate claims that what they are defending or advancing is according to Nature.
Opponents of same-sex marriage say that it is against Nature; proponents say that it is natural and that, therefore, they have a “right” to it. Yet the realities to which each side points are not just different but opposed: each negates the other. What does the word Nature really mean in this context? The words may be the same, but their meanings are directly contradictory . . .
We are dealing with a radical revolution. Not one at the obvious point of a gun in the hands of some wild-eyed revolutionary with an unkempt beard, but one by Alinskyite, subversive manipulation of our institutions and our perceptions. One designed to install a new order by dominance of the means of influencing and making decisions, policy and law in our civilisation. The cynical radical in the Prime Minister's suit or the Judge's robes or sitting in the News Anchor's seat, or standing at the professor's lectern, is all the more dangerous as we have been taught to habitually defer to such.
And at the heart of the issue is a battle of worldviews.
(Let us never, ever think that philosophy is an ivory tower game that is irrelevant to practical affairs. On the contrary, to think so is to imagine that because it does not do any obvious thing, the foundation of a house is an irrelevant and costly expense. But, leave it off or fail to build it soundly, or allow it to break down or crack, and: crash!)
So, our battle starts with: what is our true nature, what is true enlightenment, and what is a genuine right? One that pivots on what it means to be "equal."
Here, for at least a moment, I separate myself from Mr Reilly; who seeks Greek antecedents.
Let me instead go to the pivotal passage in John Locke's foundational Second Treatise on Civil Government, c. 1690, in Ch 2 Sect. 5, where he sets out to ground freedom, law and justice for what would emerge as the modern democratic state, and I will also incorporate a more extended citation from "the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker [in his Ecclesiastical Polity]" who does bring aboard Aristotle but is fundamentally Creational in his focus:
Fundamentally, our nature is that we are the creation of God, made in his image and under moral government; driven by the fact that we are each and all EQUALLY made in his image and EQUALLY valuable, owing one another mutual respect under our Creator. No other foundation for morality will work, no other foundation will be strong enough to stand the test of our times, and the pivot of morality is exactly the same conscience-stamped Golden Rule that Moses, Jesus and Paul taught us.
I particularly like the form given in Rom 13, as it is in the direct context of good citizenship and good government (indeed, it applies to both):
Rom 13: 4 . . . [The Civil Authority] is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer . . . .But, rebellious men chafe under such requirements of our Creator.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]
No wonder, flying the proud flag of Big-S Science, agenda-obsessed radicals and their fellow traveller naive dupes are busily trying to unseat God from his throne, the better to seize unlimited control of society and its institutions to push it whither they will. They would not be "God's servants to do us good."
Which should warn us.
Only, it seems we have become deaf to warning bells and blind to flashing alarms.
So, let us hear the chill warning implicit in Cornell Professor William Provine's frank words in his keynote address to the University of Tennessee Darwin Day celebrations in 1998:
The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .Without freedom of choice, however, our ability to think and decide reasonably and to the good collapses, crash.
Duty, now overwhelmed by inability to think and the force of impulses driving our feelings follows, crash.
Morality, having no supporting foundation, now becomes a matter of the push and counter-push of the factions in the community, leading to radical relativism and "might makes right" nihilism a la Nietzsche, crash.
Civility and civil society follow in the collapse, crash.
Anarchy and chaos follow, crash.
And, then the magical political messiah appears to save us from our woes amidst a media halo, and we end up in veiled or open tyranny, crash.
Those who retain principles or the memory and feelings of principles soon find themselves isolated and scapegoated then persecuted, crash.
Freedom is now gone -- and to recover such is always a long, arduous and costly, likely bloody, process -- crash.
Our civilisation has been lost to a new barbarianism, crash.
A LOT is at stake.
The homosexualist push is simply one part of a much wider process, one that seeks to radicalise and break down sexual ethics and limits, and to disintegrate the family. Once Creation-order, naturally evident marriage and the family have been marginalised and undermined under false flags of "rights" and "equality, those who object will be criminalised and scapegoated as bigots and worse. As is already happening.
However, the point is, that coming to the true light on what nature is and particularly what our nature is, are indeed pivotal to understanding where we are and why the now rapidly advancing homosexualisation of marriage is such a dangerous sign.
That's not hard: Nature is Creation.
Creation, built by the One who is Reason Himself.
So it is an intelligible, ordered system of reality.
Cosmos, not chaos.
This is evident to observation, hence the role of true science that seeks to learn principles of that order and use them for benefit.
However, as we can see from Rousseau, ever since the Enlightenment, men have chafed at that Creational understanding of our world and our selves, and have sought another -- one that (conveniently) better excuses living by impulses and disregard for consequences to others.
So, we come to the deep-rooted myth that prior to the Enlightenment -- what a pretentious and arrogant self-appellation! -- we lived by a false and en-darkened, oppressive religious system. (The myth of the Dark Ages before The Age of Enlightenment by Pure, Unaided powerful Reason is another bit of false light that we need to dispel; cf. Rodney Stark's corrective here as one starter. [The clips here from his The Victory of Reason are also very useful.] And on the roots of modern science, Nancey Pearcey's sleeper essay here will also repay a read. Also, here on, on the sins and blessings of Christendom, will help. So, will this in context, on reformation)
And, even in the midst of "enlightenment," Rousseau says, there are too many restrictions; there is too much false fronting. He chafes to toss off all restraints and revert to nature. Having evidently forgotten, that we are not Creation as it should be, but fallen, finite, morally struggling, too often ill-willed rebellious sinners.
Do you hear the echo of the French Revolution's slogans on "liberty, equality, fraternity" in this?
And the foreshadowing of the horrific reality of the Terror and the Guillotine?
Much is at stake, in short.
Much, where blunders can have horrific, bloody, murderous consequences, if we are not careful indeed to head off dangers well before they hit.
(Of course, many will pooh pooh such as overblown and alarmist and suggest that such cannot happen here. To that, I ask, after a century marked by one bloody revolutionary tyranny after another, what makes you so sure? I think Chesterton has the wiser policy: an axe-blow, says he, can only be parried while it is still in the air.)
I think instead, we would be well advised to heed Jesus' warning on true vs false ambition and enlightenment:
Matt 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.If you will not hear Jesus, then at least read and listen to Plato's Parable of the cave of false shadow-shows vs true enlightenment, which I believe Jesus was in part responding to:
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. [ESV]
Likewise, in case you think that all is simple and well founded "proved, certain scientific fact" in the insistence on naturalistic evolution as the explanation of how we got here, let us hear Harvard professor Richard Lewontin give his notorious summary from an article in the New York Review of Books, January 1997:
. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people's heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .In short, by the ideological imposition of a priori materialism, science has been censored and tamed to make it the handmaiden of atheistic naturalism. Big-S Science is effectively applied atheism, and science itself needs urgent reformation.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. (And if you are inclined to w=swallow the dismissive talking point that this is a piece of misleading "quote mining," kindly cf the fuller citation and annotations here on. This discussion here on will help provide balance on origins science.]
Now of course, stubborn, closed minded ideologues who censor the mind and science like that, will hardly be impressed by mere verbal corrections. They will ignore or try to poison the atmosphere so that such will not be heard or heeded, at least, until the a priori ideological materialists and their fellow travellers have been decisively exposed and defeated.
So, we need not trouble ourselves with the futile effort to try to persuade those who will never listen until they are defeated. Instead, we must speak to the reasonable, who will at minimum be inclined to hear the wisdom of Jesus as one of the World's great teachers.
Let us therefore return to the teachings of Jesus, to understand Marriage as an aspect of Creation order for humanity -- which turns out to be something that is biologically quite obvious.
Let us note, as he teaches on divorce:
In short, the nature of marriage and family are built into Creation, and are evident from our being made male and female multiplied by the long term commitment required for sound child nurture. So, if we will not heed something this obvious, our problem is not reason and evidence or rights -- does anyone owe us a duty of marriage? is it not rather wiser to speak of the freedom to marry, in accordance with our nature as male and female? -- but instead willful en-darkenment of mind, heart and conscience.Matt.19: 1 . . . Jesus . . . went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?”
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]
This surfaces, what a true understanding of a right is: a fundamental right is a binding moral expectation that others will respect us as we are all equally made in God's image.
No other foundation for understanding rights will be sustainable in the teeth of what is upon us. And as a consequence, we cannot have a legitimate "right" to pervert things out of accord with our nature. No more than a fish taken out of water, can imagine it has a right to try to live out of the water. Such a foolish fish will perish. And a tribe of such deluded fish will die out.
Reilly speaks to this, in the context of the debate on natural law (properly, the law of our nature as morally governed creatures) vs. so-called natural rights:
There are two basic, profoundly different anthropologies behind the competing visions of man at the heart of the dispute over same-sex marriage . . . The older anthropology is Aristotelian, which claims that man is by Nature a political animal for whom the basic societal unit is the family. The newer is Rousseauian, which claims that man is not a political animal and that society in any form is fundamentally alien to him . . . .In short, we see here some idea- roots of radical relativism and nihilism, leading to chaos.
According to Henri Frankfort in Before Philosophy, it was Heraclitus who first grasped that the universe is an intelligible whole and that therefore man is able to comprehend its order. If this is true – and only if it is true – man's inquiry into the nature of reality becomes possible. The very idea of “Nature” becomes possible. How could this be? Heraclitus said that the universe is intelligible because it is ruled by and is the product of "thought" or wisdom. If it is the product of thought, then it can be apprehended by thinking. We can know what is because it was made by logos. We can have thoughts about things that are themselves the product of thought . . . .
By natural law, in terms of living things, we mean the principle of development which makes it what it is and, given the proper conditions, what it will become when it fulfills itself or reaches its end. For Aristotle, “Nature ever seeks an end”. This end state is its telos, its purpose or the reason for which it is. In non-human creation this design is manifested through either instinct or physical law. Every living thing has a telos toward which it purposefully moves. In plants or animals, this involves no self-conscious volition. In man, it does.
Anything that operates contrary to this principle in a thing is unnatural to it. By unnatural, we mean something that works against what a thing would become were it to operate according to its principle of development. For instance, an acorn will grow into an oak unless its roots are poisoned by highly acidic water. One would say that the acidic water is unnatural to the oak or against its “goodness” . . . .
Contra Aristotle, Rousseau asserted that man by nature was not a social, political animal endowed with reason. Unlike Aristotle, Rousseau does not begin with the family, but with an isolated individual in the state of nature, where the pure “sentiment of his own existence” was such that “one suffices to oneself, like God.” Nature becomes a secular substitute for the Garden of Eden. Yet this self-satisfied god was asocial, amoral and pre-rational . . . .
Here is how Rousseau stated his thesis in his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality: “… this state [of nature] was the least subject to upheavals and the best for man, and that he must have left it only by virtue of some fatal chance happening that, for the common good, ought never to have happened. The example of savages, almost all of whom have been found in this state, seems to confirm that the human race had been made to remain in it always; that this state is the veritable youth of the world; and that all the subsequent progress has been in appearance so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, and in fact toward the decay of the species”.
In our time, that has been multiplied by the implications of evolutionary materialism, which as we saw, run along the very same lines. And with the dominance of such in the name of Big-S Science, no wonder we repeatedly fall victim to the sort of ruthless nihilistic factions Plato warned against in The Laws, Bk X, c 360 BC, 2350 years ago:
Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .All of this sounds ever so familiar, ever so saddeningly familiar.
[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.
Nor, can we properly call on Plato et al as a supporters of homosexualism. This, Reilly draws to our attention in his earlier essay:
It is ironic that the proponents of homosexuality so often point to ancient Greece as their paradigm because of its high state of culture and its partial acceptance of homosexuality or, more accurately, pederasty [that is the corruption of boys by older men] . . . . The idea that someone was a “homosexual” for life or had this feature as a permanent identity would have struck them as more than odd . . . .Of course, Socrates and Plato here played with fire. The kind of love we need to focus is not eros but instead that which the Apostle Paul used the word agape to describe:
In Phaedrus (256 a-b), Socrates makes clear the moral superiority of the loving male relationship that avoids being sexualized: “If now the better elements of the mind, which lead to a well-ordered life and to philosophy, prevail, they live a life of happiness and harmony here on earth, self-controlled and orderly, holding in subjection that which causes evil in the soul and giving freedom to that which makes for virtue…”
By their chastity, these Platonic lovers have, according to another translation of the text, “enslaved” the source of moral evil in themselves and “liberated” the force for good. This was the kind of mentoring relationship of which Socrates and Plato approved. On the other hand, “he who is forced to follow pleasure and not good (239c)” because he is enslaved to his passions will perforce bring harm to the one whom he loves because he is trying to please himself, rather than seeking the good of the other.
In the Laws, Plato makes clear that moral virtue in respect to sexual desire is not only necessary to the right order of the soul, but is at the heart of a well-ordered polis. The Athenian speaker says:
“… I had an idea for reinforcing the law about the natural use of the intercourse which procreates children, abstaining from the male, not deliberately killing human progeny or ‘sowing in rocks and stones’, where it will never take root and be endowed with growth, abstaining too from all female soil in which you would not want what you have sown to grow.“This law when it has become permanent and prevails—if it has rightly become dominant in other cases, just as it prevails now regarding intercourse with parents— confers innumerable benefits. In the first place, it has been made according to nature; also, it effects a debarment from erotic fury and insanity, all kinds of adultery and all excesses in drink and food, and it makes man truly affectionate to their own wives: other blessings also would ensue, in infinite number, if one could make sure of this law.” (The Laws 838-839)The central insight of classical Greek philosophy is that the order of the city is the order of the soul writ large. If there is disorder in the city, it is because of disorder in the souls of its citizens. This is why virtue in the lives of the citizens is necessary for a well-ordered polis. This notion is reflected in the Athenian’s statement concerning the political benefits of the virtue of chastity.
The relationship between virtue and political order is, of course, par excellence, the subject of Aristotle’s works. It was a preoccupation of not only philosophy, but of drama as well. Just read The Bacchae by Euripides. Euripides and the Classical Greeks knew that Eros is not a plaything. In The Bacchae, as brilliantly explicated by E. Michael Jones, Euripides showed exactly how unsafe sex is when disconnected from the moral order. When Dionysus visits Thebes, he entices King Penthius to view secretly the women dancing naked on the mountainside in Dionysian revelries. Because Penthius succumbs to his desire to see “their wild obscenities,” the political order is toppled, and the queen mother, Agave, one of the bacchants, ends up with the severed head of her son Penthius in her lap — an eerie premonition of abortion.
The lesson is clear: Once Eros is released from the bonds of family, Dionysian passions can possess the soul. Giving in to them is a form of madness because erotic desire is not directed toward any end that can satisfy it. It is insatiable. “That which causes evil in the soul” – in which Plato includes homosexual intercourse – will ultimately result in political disorder.
And so, we come back to the pivotal insight Reilly draws up from the Greeks:
1 Cor 13:1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends . . .
If there is disorder in the city, it is because of disorder in the souls of its citizens.There is indeed much disorder in our civilisation, and it is racing out of control.
So, we must apply to the Great Physician, for a cure of our souls, seeking through repentance, renewal, revival and reformation, to restore our churches, communities and civilisation to health before it is too late.
Where, already, the hour is patently late, very desperately late.
Let us act now, lest it becomes irretrievably too late. END