Sexuality and Gender

You Can’t Tear Down the Norm and Then Be Surprised by What Comes Next

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 05/23/2023

Andrew Sullivan has an article titled “The Queers Versus the Homosexuals” that’s insightful about the destructive danger of queer ideology but blind to the role he and other same-sex marriage advocates played in its rise to power.

Here’s what he says about his earlier advocacy for homosexuality and same-sex marriage:

Its case for equality was simple and clear: including us in existing institutions needn’t change anything in heterosexual life.

But of course it changed everything. It denied the objective truths our bodies speak about sexuality and marriage, and it denied the existence of a grounded standard we ought to conform ourselves to. Queer theory simply takes those ideas to the next level, as we can see from Sullivan’s description in the article:

The core belief of critical queer theorists is that homosexuality is not a part of human nature because there is no such thing as human nature; and that everything is socially constructed, even the body. Because heterosexuality is the overwhelming norm, and homosexuality the exception, and because society is nothing but a complex of oppression, homosexuals are defined by their rejection of heteronormativity. To be queer is inherently to exist on the margins; to be odd, peculiar, weird, queer, hated, oppressed, and in revolt and rebellion. To be queer is to be dedicated to subversion, to mock conventions, to deconstruct language, to dismantle the human body, to defy “nature” and, above all, to liberate humankind from the prison of gender.

Sullivan doesn’t like where his advocacy ultimately led. He wants to quarantine his ideas inside the arbitrary boundaries he prefers, but he’s not capable of stopping others from using the same reasoning for their preferred societal changes that he used to change the definition of marriage. The reasoning behind his advocacy logically led to more extreme advocacy.

The key point of his piece is this:

If you build a movement on queerness, there is no limit to the norms and safeguards it won’t seek to destroy.

This is true. But if you start by rejecting the objective standard grounded in the truth of our bodies’ design and purpose, you’ve already destroyed the foundation for sexual norms. At that point, it’s only a matter of that reasoning working itself out in a logically consistent manner over time. This is what we’re seeing now, and Sullivan has no ground to stand on by which to critique it…except to say he doesn’t like it.

He wanted to create an exception from the norm just for himself, but norms don’t work that way. They require grounding. When you deny the grounding, you destroy the norm.

Sadly, instead of coming to the realization that conservative Christians were right to defend the objective norm dictated by the truth of our objective bodies—instead of realizing we could see the societal disaster that would logically follow from a rejection of that norm—Sullivan’s article indicates he’s still convinced Christian opposition to same-sex marriage was merely papered-over hate and bigotry. He’s surprised he’s now facing the same charges of hate and bigotry from those who hold to queer ideology, but he shouldn’t be. Those in the same-sex marriage movement summoned the “bigotry” defense to counter all arguments against them, and they can’t now expect to be able to keep it on a leash.

The irony is that in the absence of an objective foundation, Sullivan’s preferred norms really are just that—preferences. And what right does he have to insist his preferences for society are better than the preferences of those who reject his norms? If he has already rejected the objective witness of the body as to its nature and purpose in sexuality and marriage, how are his objections to queer theorists’ preferences not mere bigotry?

Nothing that’s happening now is surprising to Christians who argued for keeping the opposite-sex definition of marriage. We had principled reasons for opposing same-sex marriage that had nothing to do with hate and everything to do with truth and the good of our society. This will become more and more clear over time, but that’s cold comfort in light of all the suffering queer theory will cause before it’s finally crushed under the weight of reality.