It’s that time of year again when couples celebrate their love (out of obligation or desire) and singles wallow or embrace their singleness. Looks like our favorite Ryan T Anderson is in the wallowing camp. His “woe is me” is indirect though, and not obvious unless you’re familiar with him.
He wrote this piece on the topic of love for Valentine’s Day: Does love really equal love? I’m going to be honest, I only skimmed it. Ryan says the same things over and over again in slightly different ways, so if you’ve read a couple of his pieces that’s all you really need. This one was more of the same: love is not all equal, same sex relationships are different (meaning inferior), oh heavens to Betsy! Oh, and straight people ruined marriage and opened the door for those pesky gay people to get married. Damn straights!
Who is Ryan Anderson? He’s a man in his mid 30s who has never been married and does not appear to even be dating. He’s Catholic, but he’s not a clergyman. He’s educated, employed and a decent looking guy when he’s not letting his beard grow out of control. Why is it that he’s single and had no discernible history of romantic relationships?
Hmm. One wonders. My theory, (and I’m stating unequivocally this is just a theory based on reading and observation, I have no proof) is that he is same-sex attracted, and is choosing not to act on those attractions. He chooses to live a life of celibacy, and therefore doesn’t consider himself to be gay. Because he is doing so, he has probably convinced himself that homosexuality–which in the mind of most conservative Christians like him is a matter of actions rather than feelings–is a choice. So (again this is theory) since his desires are going unfulfilled, he tries to shit on those who aren’t choosing to deny who theirs.
Ryan devotes his career to wrapping his conservative Christian beliefs in a thin intellectual veneer (he’s got a Ph.D. don’t ya know?) to try to make them more palatable to those less convinced by religious arguments, particularly today’s increasingly secular youth. He has been at the forefront of fighting against marriage equality and protection against discrimination (on the basis of “religious freedom”). One of his favorite things to write about is living in “a pluralistic society” and how that means we should let people discriminate arbitrarily (well, against gays anyway). He also loves talking about the “truth of marriage” so much that he adapted it to title his book Truth Overruled.
In general I have great sympathy for anyone who is LGBT but struggling or living in denial because a dusty old book and some flamboyantly dressed old men told them it was wrong. I can’t relate because I wasn’t raised that way, for which I’m eternally grateful. But I know it can’t be easy. However, when that self-loathing, denial and despair is directed outward at others, that sympathy starts to turn to anger pretty quickly. You can choose to live a life of celibacy for any reason whatsoever, and I’m fine with that. But that doesn’t fundamentally change who you are on the inside, and it doesn’t mean you can work to deny rights to others because you feel you are unworthy of them.
Ryan, I hope you can some day accept who (I surmise) you are. Until then, quit trying to keep the rest of us down just because it sucks to be you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Ouch, Josh. 🙂 When I started reading this post my first question was ‘who the heck is Ryan T Anderson?’ Now I’m curious – did he just write a book or does he actually have any influence?
Btw, as an [ex] Catholic, I’m not sure I’d dismiss ‘not acting’ on desires as simple denial. In fact, I think it’s one of the few humane bits of dogma the Church ever came up with. You see, it recognizes that people, unlike saints, are never going to be all good. Thus being human and wanting to take an axe to that guy down the road is okay…so long as you don’t actually /do/ it.
That’s the Church’s moral standpoint – that being tempted is okay. Unfortunately, humans also lie to themselves all the time, so this dogma can also be used to justify sticking one’s head in the sand and leaving it there.
I wonder how many influential men in the Church have done/are doing exactly what you think Ryan T Anderson is doing. And I wonder whether that hasn’t indirectly influenced the Church’s continued refusal to accept homosexuality – a kind of, ‘if I had to suffer why should you?’ type thing. Or perhaps they’re just afraid they’ll be turned into pillars of sand. 🙂
Fair point about denial vs not acting. There is a difference.
In terms of influence, I wouldn’t say he has a lot, but he gets invited to speak as an expert on panels and on mainstream television news and punditry shows. He’s a prolific writer of op-eds, blog posts and the like. But as I said, it’s mostly the same thing over and over. It’s hard to judge how many people are swayed by him as opposed to people who are already firmly on his side. The biggest threat he poses now is if he can help in getting discrimination enshrined (or staying enshrined in some cases) into law under the guise of “religious freedom”.
And I wonder the same thing, really.
‘Religious freedom’…. a contentious concept if ever there was one. As an atheist I’m all for religious freedom, except when it’s used to oppress others. And we all know what history tells us about most religions in the West. 😦
Many religious arguments were used to justify segregation and anti-miscegenation. Pointing that out now usually results in a hand wave and “Oh that was different!”
People like Anderson are pushing a perversely named First Amendment Defense Act that essentially gives the specific religious belief in one man-one woman marriage special status in the law above other beliefs.
Ah…I see. But surely his chance of success is pretty slim? I mean the world has changed a great deal in just the last few years. I can’t see it going backwards to that extent. At least I hope not.