In Tuesday’s post I commented that Christopher Hitchens is always reliable when writing about religion. As if to prove my point, the new issue of Free Inquiry turned up in my mailbox that night. It features an essay by Hitchens addressing the looming schism in the Anglican Church on the subject of allowing openly gay priests. Sadly, the article does not seem to be available online, so I have taken the liberty of transcribing its conclusion below the fold. Enjoy!
Not having space to go on about all that – much as I would like to – I merely point out that the same dilemma results in complete chaos in the religious interpretation. If homosexuality is alien to God, or to “nature,” then how can it be that a creator, or the “natural” world, has always allowed for a large homosexual margin within the natural order? What kinds of orders and commandments are these? “Hate the sin and love the sinner,” say the oily, monotheistic casuists. That’s a distinction without a difference, and it exposes the moral emptiness at the heart of religion. Try loving someone in spite of a “sin” that is part of his or her very identity. Or try hating just the identity and then loving the person. Untold misery has been caused by this idiocy, and it’s a sour joke that the misery was (and still is) so often inflicted by clergymen who had a repressed and dirty-minded share in what they ostensibly condemned.
As in all cases: make the assumption that we are a somewhat-evolved animal species, and no problem of moral fanaticism, or claim to impossible knowledge, can arise. Room can be made for all manner of “deviations” from an unknowable “norm.” Make the opposite assumption, that a god created us one way and then commanded us to be another, and you will have to redefine stupidity as well as prepare yourself for the tongs and pincers of yet abother perfectionist inquisition. I hope the Anglicans have their schism and that it wrecks their church and later wrecks all its competitors.