One basic theme that runs through the Reilly book is the passage from Aristotle that “revolutions are caused by disorders in the souls of men”. Our country and civilization are going through such a revolution, though it will not be acknowledged as wrong. It is presented as good and necessary, as all change either for better or worse always is. In other words, this revolution arises from the effort to make the world conform to a disorder of soul. We will to do what we claim we want to do. In this sense, Reilly’s book is a treatise on the habits that are vices, in Aristotle’s sense. A vice means that repeated acts have so reordered our souls that we can no longer see the good. The result is that we must explain why what we do is the real good. This point touches the Socratic foundation of our civilization, that it is never right to do wrong. But if we insist that it is “right” to do evil, we find ourselves overturning the basic foundations of the human good.
At the start of this essay, I cited an insightful passage from The Republic of Plato. It occurs in the second book wherein Plato’s brother, Adeimantos, is explaining how the poets and politicians tell us that good men suffer evil and bad men achieve good. So if this is true, “Why be good?” Adeimantos’ explanation of how those who choose evil win out is remarkably like Reilly’s book’s explanation of the transforming the gay agenda into laws and institutions. First of all, separate clubs and institutions must be set up to live and advocate a separate life. This separation was the historic status of most homosexuals in history. They did not seek to make their way of life universal or force everyone to call it normal.
But clever teachers could seek to pursuance the assemblies, congresses, and courts that this change was a mere extension of “rights.” Once this inference was accomplished, then a combination of persuasion and force could be used to prevent any analysis or criticism of the now public way of life. And what about the “gods?” If they really exist, which is doubtful, they can be bought off. They really do not worry about such human affairs. One might suggest that this route is a pretty accurate description of how many a religion has come finally to accept the proposition that the gay life and all it implies is simply human or normal.
The heart of Reilly’s book is that this “revolution” is, at every step, based on lies. It is not true that
divorce, contraception, abortion, the homosexual life, and the rest have no dire consequences for the individual citizens involved or the society. Indeed, in the overall logic, one leads to another. That is what is so fascinating about this whole subject. Its philosophical roots go back to the understanding that, if we are going to justify these steps and ways of life, we have to get rid gradually of the idea or reality that there is an order in nature—including human nature. It is only when we are assured that nature has no intelligibility of its own that we can conceive ourselves as “free” to recreate ourselves to make those acts and ideas that are metaphysically held to be wrong over into what is right.
If one major theme of Reilly’s book is that all revolutions begin in the souls of individuals, the second theme is that once we accept a vice as a good, we cannot stop overturning society until it not only reverses all the laws in its favor but silences any opposition that would judge it to be wrong. We find here a certain well worn-pattern, as Reilly has pointed out, in the declination of our moral and political life from good to evil. It generally begins with the common agreement that something is evil. No one questions this proposition at first. But here is where the notions of sincerity and compassion come in. We can be sincere about and compassionate for the evil as well as for the good.
We begin to feel sorry for someone caught in a vice. The person is sincere. We feel sorry for him. We begin to overlook what he does. But if one person can be excused, so can others. We have to tolerate such deviations. We cannot stamp out all vices or command all goods. The next step is that those who are seen to be excused or tolerated claim they have a “right” to be the way they are. If they have such a “right,” then obviously others have a duty to protect that right. But if someone has a duty to recognize a vice, it cannot be a vice; it must be held to be a good. But if it is a good, it is wrong to object to it or criticize it. Those who try to recall the original virtues are said to be hateful. The public then silences any criticism of the vice. It becomes established as a right and a good. The one who practices the vice has now silenced any opposition or criticism of what was once a disorder.
Throughout modern times, this pattern has been repeated again and again from contraceptives to abortion to euthanasia to “gay marriages”, as Reilly shows. The “logic” of a disordered society is not the product of the free mind concocting free notions of being. Rather it is a systematic creation of a parody of good that overturns the real human good intrinsic to the original good now overturned and ejected from political and civil society. It is the thesis of the Reilly book that we have reached this end. We have reached it by the energy of those who deviate from the good and by the cooperation of those who are unable to or who refuse to see what in reason is at stake for the human family and its future. This book is succinct, to the point, and well-reasoned. Few people, especially those who have cooperated in bringing it about, will notice this overturning of the order of the good in our public life. But this is where we are and this is the thesis of this book by Robert Reilly.
Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everythingby Robert O'Reilly
Ignatius Press, 2014
Hardcover, 250 pages