John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Brave New World

Posted on March 28, 2013
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In 1931, Aldous Huxley wrote his satirical novel about a world divided into castes, where recreation, not procreation, was the primary purpose of sex, where children were mostly created in test-tubes, where society was managed by a big world government that enforced harmony through drugs, and where the global population was capped at two billion people (which you can do when everybody is born in a test-tube in a central, government-sponsored lab).

We are a long way away from the Huxley’s Brave New World, but then again, he described how things would be 300 years from now.

We still have time to get to Huxley’s bleak world.

The Gay Marriage thing enters us more firmly into a Brave New World.  Maybe not Huxley’s world, but it represents a significant break from the past.

For five millennium, marriage was made for procreation.   That was the point of it all.    That’s our history, at least.

In fact, if you couldn’t procreate in the context of marriage, many religions would invalidate the marriage.  The Catholic Church would allow a couple to annul a marriage if they couldn’t have kids.

That common practice has been changing as of late.

Older people get married without the hope or the expectation of having kids.  And some couples get married without any desire to have kids.  Outside of money, I bet you disagreements about whether to have kids or not is one of the top reasons couples split up.

But the gay marriage thing is a radical departure from that.    The primary reason for gay marriage is not procreation.

Of course, gay couples can adopt kids.

And lesbian couples can have kids, although the lesbians themselves have to import the sperm from elsewhere.

But the idea of joining together as one for the sole purpose of creating a family is not what gay marriage is all about

Some might scoff at the idea that marriage is all about having kids.  Indeed, it is now common practice to laugh at that entire notion.

It’s all about love, love, love, not about kids, kids, kids.

But once again, that is a radical departure from the past 5000 years of human existence.

Several major religions have been built on the concept that men and women marry and produce children.

Those major religions, by and large, have done their best to encourage only sexual relationships within the context of marriage, and only for the purposes of procreation.

And within the context of those religions, sex outside of marriage, and especially homosexual sex, has been strongly discouraged, sometimes by law and sometimes by social ostracism.

Indeed, if gay relationships were bad, premarital relationships (especially for women) were equally troublesome.

Several religions (including Islam and Mormonism, and in the early days, Christianity and Judaism) allowed men to have more than one wife.   But homosexual conduct was banned under the law in almost everyplace where the Christians, the news or the Muslims ruled.

That is changing in the parts of the world where religion has weakened the most, more specifically in Western Europe and urban and suburban America.

Sex is now a recreational activity, not a procreational activity.

Sex that results in accidental pregnancy is no longer a social disaster in these same parts of the world.  Sadly, all too often, that “accidental” pregnancy is terminated, and the baby is cast aside.

Sex sells products.  Sex is infiltrating our society at a younger and younger age.   Victoria’s Secret is marketing sexy underway to pre-teen girls.   For the marketers, sex is fun.  It’s not about making babies, baby.

Mike Bloomberg, the New York Mayor and the country’s professional nag, launched an advertising campaign aimed at pubescent fornicators.  You have unprotected sex and you end up with some big problems.  That’s his message.

Of course, the other message coming from the cultural elite is that if you get yourself pregnant, the best thing to do if you are teenager is to get an abortion.   I don’t particularly think killing little babies is a good public policy.

It is awfully hard to put the Genie back in the bottle.

Homosexual sex has about as much chance of being actively discouraged as a part of public policy as masturbation.    The culture has changed too much too quickly for that to happen.

From a cultural conservative perspective, all of this must be pretty troubling.    Conservatives don’t like change and this is a whole bunch of change, in a big, big hurry.

There is probably a bunch of deeper reasons why the nature and the purpose of sexual relationships have changed dramatically in the last half of the 20th century.  Technology, population growth, culture, the shift from a rural to an urban based social society, and the dramatic decline of the power of the religious elite, all have played a significant role.

But now we are at this moment in history, and conservatives have to grapple with it the best they can.

Is there anything useful that can come from the concept of gay marriage?

Of course. Gay marriage, like heterosexual marriage, can play a tremendously stabilizing force in society.   If gay people can find a way to couple off, and take care of children who would otherwise not have a home, that is very useful.

The idea of lesbians having children from the sperm of men that they don’t know might make conservatives nervous, but it has been common practice for a couple decades in America.  That ship has sailed.

Gay marriage might also prove to be the one thing that saves the Catholic Church from itself.  For generations, the Church has been the place that those who weren’t the marrying kind went to find respect.  As it turned out, many of those priests turned out to be homosexual, not all and maybe not as many as we might think, but certainly more than the Church has admitted to.

Giving homosexuals an institution (like marriage) that can get them out of the closet and help them to live full lives, might help the Church confront the fact that not allowing married men to serve as priests has been a disaster.

I am for proceeding cautiously on gay marriage.  I could see myself supporting it, but I believe gay people who get married will have different legal needs than heterosexuals who get married.

I don’t think gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage.  But I also don’t think it is the same thing.

We are hurtling towards a Brave New World.  Hold on to your hats.