Yes: I have tricked you again. You were expecting the Best of Phil and rather you got me spouting off about something which caught me late in the week and it needed to be set straight. (A turn of phrase which, after you have read this post, will be very funny)
Also: warning. Adult topics ahead.
The Huffington Post has been experimenting with me for LiveStream chats because they don't know any normal conservatives and they ran into me one week hoping they could find a stereotypical rube they could use to say they have diverse voices. You can imagine how that turned out -- but they do keep calling me and somehow the video never makes it to the web. In their defense, the first video had to be scrapped because one of the other bloggers interviewed did the LiveChat without headphones on, and the reverb through his/her computer ruined all the audio; the second video was a little stilted because they invited the guests for one topic and sprung another on us after we were all linked in -- it's hard to say anything useful when you're caught flat-footed and the host is a harridan.
Now, here's the thing: this week HuffPo ran what I would call an Op-Ed on the question of why there was a media kerfuffle over the fact that Anderson Cooper's boyfriend was caught out-out in NYC with someone other than Mr. Cooper. Here's the money quote from that essay:
If monogamy works for you, more power to you. If you and your girlfriend want to sleep with other people on occasion (or invite someone home with you at the end of the night), do it. If three men want to live as a throuple, let them live as a throuple. If a husband and wife want to take separate vacations and sleep around while they're apart, who is anyone else to say that that's unsavory?Now, when I found this, I threw a line to soon-to-be-published atheist chaplain Chris Stedman to see if he would be helping us find out why we would be better together with that kind of thinking. His feedback:
I'm not saying that everyone is -- or should be -- throwing key parties or hunting for a plot of land to start a sex-based commune with 40 of their closest friends. I'm saying it's time to start breaking down our antiquated ideas about romance and relationships, many of which are largely based on ideas of control and fear, and start talking openly and honestly about what really works best for each of us.
@frank_turk Not sure I'll write on it - I have a bunch of essays I'm still trying to finish up. But I do think it's a valuable discussion.
— Chris Stedman (@ChrisDStedman) August 15, 2012
Which, as we say around here: Aha!
This is the valuable conversation which, it turns out, nobody wants to have. Look: I sort of gave Maury Povich the side-eye last week in pointing out the kind of morality which, allegedly, nobody wants to have. We can watch Maury parade legions of self-destructive relationshipwrecks out of the docks and we can say in every case, "Wow -- at least I'm not that screwed up." We can, on the surface, agree that whatever it is we think we want out of our emotional and family lives, it ain't that. That, as they said in the gauzy and Rockwellian past, is wrong.
Think about this: last week, I did in fact state that the LGBT lifestyle was personally dangerous to the people in it -- and spelled out the public health reasons why. But under those health reasons, there are clear and present emotional reasons that this lifestyle is hazardous -- as made transparently-clear by Noah Michelson at HuffPo. And those reasons, frankly, are not because people like me object to this behavior or because we hold to an antiquated moral code which isn't relevant to our advanced society. They are because that lifestyle is, ultimately, in the psychological and intellectual thrall of the reasoning Michelson has spilled upon the readers of HuffPo.
Listen: years ago, when the sadly-deceived Lisa Miller sprung it upon us in the pages of Newsweek that, in fact, it was the Bible which was foisting upon us a definition of "marriage" which looked a lot more like a loose polygamy for the sensually and spiritually weak, or a vehicle only for the satisfaction of urges one cannot control for the fulfillment of promises one doesn’t think God is willing or able to keep, of course, she said: nobody really wants that.
And yet it seems that such a thing is exactly what the editorial staff at HuffPo says should be utterly blasé -- and they are a significant infotainment company. They are allegedly main-stream.
Now, to wrap this up: so what?
There are a lot of things wrong with this. This is the internet, after all. But the thing which, it seems to me, must be mulled over immediately is the fact that the darkly-funny claim that people like Chris Stedman make about the ways we can be "better together" is suddenly exposed as desolately vacant. I have asked him (often) how exactly we can establish any kind of common ground when the most-essential issues of interpersonal relationships cannot be part of our common ground. How do I know what is and isn't even courteous let alone morally virtuous and exemplary when we ought to make moral equivalence between sleeping around and 50 years of monogamous hetero marriage -- both are fine, apparently, for whomever's boat is floated? And when we find an example like this, where the rubber meets the road on that claim, he has other things to do.
But while there might be a demand for this breadth of activity to be accepted as patently bourgeois, the problem that these are really not morally equivalent has to rear its ugly head. If not, Maury will go out of business: the shocking and subtle self-aggrandizing salve for our conscience dries up if these people entertaining us with their moral tragicomedies are suddenly not morally-entertaining at all. There's no comfort in it if we are not better than they are. If being joined as one flesh until death do you-all part ought to be just as acceptable as treating others' emotions and well-being like yesterday's newspaper, we might as well substitute a wet whoopee cushion and an inverted trash can for the brass and timpani in "Fanfare for the Common Man," adopt that as our anthem, and see what other innovative, open, and honest best practices we can concoct for our society.
Let me say this plainly: this is the kind of so-called "good" people figure out without God, especially the naive ones who are on about how they can definitely be without God. The Bible says this is what seems right in our own eyes. And it's the grand obstacle to having a purely-secular discussion about what we ought to do to improve our society: we don't know what's best for us, and we trade the true God for a fake god of our own creation, and we worship the god we desire instead of the God who made us.