The Culture War Is Over: Conservatives Lost

Gay Marriage will not wreck traditional marriage, Rod Dreher argues.  Instead, the rapid mainstreaming of gay marriage simply proves that traditional marriage was wrecked long ago.

In his recent piece in The American Conservative, Dreher channels Philip Rieff to argue that conservative Christians have already lost the culture wars.  The notion that people exist first and foremost as individuals replaced a sense of people as part of a Christian community long ago.

The current debate over gay marriage only serves as a mopping-up action by anti-Christianity.  The Christian sexual ethic, Rieff argued back in the 1960s, was not merely one rule imposed by Christianity.  Rather, the Christian sexual ethic represented the core of Christianity’s revolutionary anti-pagan cosmology.  Sex was not merely an expression of individual desire, but of God’s cosmic plan.  When Western culture abandoned that sexual ethic, Rieff argued, it offered nothing in its place.

Homosexuality and the issue of gay marriage, Dreher notes, do not change this pattern, but only complete it.  Dreher bases his case on data from Robert Putnam and David Campbell.  These political scientists noted in their 2010 book American Grace a striking demographic correlation between acceptance of homosexuality as morally neutral and a rapid decline in church membership.  When young people see homosexuality as just another way to be sexual, they do not switch to a liberal church.  Instead, they leave institutional Christianity altogether.

As Dreher argues,

Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.


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