Eclipse of the Normal

|

Nearly a century ago, G.K. Chesterton wrote of “the modern and morbid habit of always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal.” Today the very word normal is almost taboo. Perish the thought that there is anything abnormal—let alone sinful, vicious, perverted, abominable, sick, unhealthy, or just plain wrong—about sodomy. (Unsanitary? Let’s not go there.)

As one T-shirt legend puts it, “I’m proud of my gay son.” Sure you are, lady. I’ll bet when he told you, you blurted, “O darling, you make me so proud!” I mean, like, who wouldn’t? And then you went out and bragged to all the neighbors.

And do you enjoy picturing what he and his “partners” do together? If you’re curious, you can probably get the idea from a DVD. Just go into an “adult” DVD store and ask where the anal-sex section is. This should make you just burst with maternal pride.

Let me lay my cards on the table. I’m what they call homophobic, and I believe God loves me just the way I am. He may even regard homophobia as one of my finer qualities. To a much lesser degree, I’m also lesbophobic. I realize that lesbianism is also a form of sodomy, but that strikes me as a rather technical point, because, in my rather limited experience, it doesn’t involve the sort of repulsive practices male sodomy does. How often have you heard of a lesbian dying of AIDS?

This is hardly the place to discuss sexual practices in clinical detail. Such discussions are freely available, indeed unavoidable, elsewhere. To add to them here would be, as the old saying has it, carrying coals to Newcastle.

But I digress. (I wondered when you’d notice.) Most people realize that God made two sexes. Even the phrase gay and lesbian is an attempt to ape the natural symmetry of nature’s (two and only two) sexes. Male and female homosexuality are only superficially parallel; in fact, they are wholly different and dissimilar maladjustments. The male brand is madly promiscuous and indiscriminate; the female brand tends to be monogamous. This will surely be borne out by the upshot of the craze for same-sex “marriage”—an absurd contradiction in terms if ever there was one. (You might as well expect two bulls, or two lions, to form a lasting union.)

We are witnessing what might be called the eclipse of the normal—an eccentric phase of modern history in which huge numbers of people feign ignorance of what is perfectly obvious. The polite taboos on calling abortion “killing” and sodomy “perversion” are mere symptoms of this; Barack Obama, with his sycophantic solicitude for “gays,” is typical of the modern liberal mind-set. “Who is to say what is ‘normal’?” is now thought to be an insoluble conundrum.

Well, who is to say that, in all the fantastic abundance of nature, there are only two sexes? Or is that another tough one? After all, members of some species of marine life can even change sexes. It’s clear that anybody who can’t answer such questions just doesn’t want them to be answered. All sane people know the answers, and it’s a waste of time arguing with a man who pretends not to know, even if he’s the president of the United States. This nonsense has been going on far too long.

Who could have imagined, a generation ago, that organized Sodom would achieve such cultural and political power in the United States? And so soon, at that! “We are all sodomites now,” exults Andrew Sullivan, and he has a point, at least a semantic one. The word sodomy, as he notes, used to comprise all sexual perversions, including contraception within marriage. The real sexual revolution came to pass quietly, when contraception became generally accepted as a legitimate part of marriage. After that, it became hard to argue against virtually any sexual practice, inside or outside wedlock, short of rape. The revolution in morals occurred almost before anyone noticed it. And today it is taken for granted.

Few of us can now remember how sternly nearly all Christians disapproved of birth control before 1931, when the Anglican Church opened the floodgates with a few seemingly innocuous exceptions in certain cases of hardship. By now the old standards of chastity have melted away like ice in August. In today’s terms, they are well-nigh incomprehensible.

Modern man is thoroughly cut off from his past. He and his ancestors would be total strangers to each other. The essential problem is a new form of hypocrisy in which we all feel pressure to affect ignorance of things everyone used to know—and which most people still do know.

To put it bluntly, our moral standards would horrify our forebears. They would gasp in disbelief at the things we now accept as normal, for the simple reason that any civilized society would recognize those things as highly abnormal.

This article first appeared in the April 2010 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. By Joe Sobran.