Now that LGBT dreams of “marriage equality” have been fulfilled with last week’s Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, what comes next for LGBT activists? In this New York Times piece, Jodi Kantor reports a “twinge of loss” that comes with this historic victory for their cause. After all, theirs is a community that has defined itself in terms of its oppression and thus as an “outsider culture.” While Kantor’s article merely contemplates this question, I think it is worth considering the likely next step for the LGBT activists: counter-oppression. As we have seen over the last several decades, with each victory in the legislatures and courts, LGBT activists have only more aggressively sought further legal changes in their favor. Should we expect them to proceed any differently now? On the contrary, I think it is more realistic to expect that with the backing of federal law, they will be emboldened to ensure that their “oppressors” (i.e., proponents of traditional marriage) be made the new “outsider culture,” even if this must be done by force.
Hints of this direction appeared in another New York Times article a couple months back, this one authored by Frank Bruni. In this op-ed, Bruni quotes gay philanthropist Mitchell Gold as proposing that church leaders should be made to “take homosexuality off the sin list.” Bizarre as this suggestion is, Bruni declares that “his commandment is worthy — and warranted. All of us, no matter our religious traditions, should know better than to tell gay people that they’re an offense.”
Perhaps this will be the next rallying point for LGBT activists—to fight for censorship of those who would question the moral legitimacy of same-sex relationships. If achieved, this would entail severe proscribing of religious freedom. Perhaps this is why four of the Supreme Court justices issued such dire warnings in their dissenting opinions in the Obergefell case, announcing the dangers this decision represents for religious traditionalists, with Judge Scalia even calling the decision “a threat to democracy.” Strong, chilling words.
In a Time Magazine piece in response to the Supreme Court ruling, Rod Dreher has suggested that Christians “must now learn to live as exiles in our own country.” What this amounts to, says Dreher, is taking the “Benedict Option,” as described by Alasdair MacIntyre in his prescient 1982 book After Virtue. In other words, we must essentially go underground in order to preserve the values of our community. The trouble is, of course, that things are very different for 21st century U.S. Christians than they were for 6th century Benedictines. Socially, economically, and technologically, we are too entangled to achieve anything like a true Benedict Option. To paraphrase the great boxer Joe Louis, we can run but we can’t hide.
What this means is that if LGBT counter-oppression is coming, we’ll simply have to face it—with as much courage and integrity as we can manage. For many, such courageous resolve will be too demanding. And this will undoubtedly mean a sudden realization that, well, the sexual pluralists were right after all. For 4000 years of Judeo-Christian history all of the greatest ethicists and theologians in our tradition were mistaken about same-sex relationships, as are the overwhelming majority of orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims today. With this admission, the forbidden conviction will be “off the sin list,” just as ordered, and gone will be any worries about persecution from legal authorities.
For others who stand firm, this may mean loss of jobs, the death of businesses, the end of educational institutions, jail time or even worse. There is, after all, a price to be paid for certain convictions in a culture where the “oppressed” become the oppressors. And where decades, even centuries of suffering under the tyrannical rule of a majority opinion can justify imposing even greater suffering on those who persist as proponents of that same opinion when it has become, at last, a vulnerable minority view. Or so some may reason. All for the sake of “justice,” of course.