Matthew Parris is wilfully refusing to give his readers his opinion about the recent “gay wedding” and about relationships between the church and homosexuals generally. He says, “When it comes to the church, synagogue or mosque, if you think the whole thing ridiculous, its hard to get excited about the ridiculousness of a subset of it. I should feel the same if morris dancers or the British Astrological Society tried to exclude gays.”
So, for Parris, the views of billions of Christians, Jews and Muslims worldwide are of no more consequence than a couple of obscure sectional interests. From what point of privileged judgement does he thus discount 4000 years of civilisation? The great world religions have survived the criticisms of far more intelligent and better informed opponents than the ignorant upstart Parris. There is a whole history and literature of distinguished apologetics for religious belief, but Parris will attend to none of it – sufficient only to attract his disdain is mainstream religion’s disapproval of homosexual acts.
Since Parris will not dirty his hands by entering theological discussions with his readers, perhaps I might answer for religious believers in the purely utilitarian terms which even the lofty Parris is bound to engage with. We disapprove of homosexuality because it is clearly unnatural, a perversion and corruption of natural instincts and affections, and because it is a cause of fatal disease. The AIDS pandemic was originally caused by promiscuous homosexual behaviour. Such promiscuity is itself an evil because its perpetrators merely use others indiscriminately for their own gratification, treating their fellows as sex objects and as means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. I should have thought that Parris, having rejected religious belief, might want to construct his moral beliefs on this Kantian humanistic imperative. But I suspect he is not really interested in morality of any kind – except as a special plea to excuse his lust for gratification at whatever cost to human dignity and the sanctity of human life.
It is time that religious believers began to recommend specific utilitarian discouragements of homosexual practices after the style of warnings on cigarette packets: Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS. In addition the obscene “gay pride” parades and carnivals should be banned for they give rise to passive corruption, comparable to passive smoking. Young people forced to witness these excrescences are corrupted by them.
Let me continue the comparison with smoking which is banned in most public places. Those committing homosexual acts in public places – such behaviour being a crime in any case under the Homosexual Reform Act of 1967 – should be arrested, tried and punished. Parks, open spaces and public lavatories would at once become more wholesome places. There ought to be teaching films shown in sex education classes in all our schools. These would portray acts of sodomy and the soundtrack would reinforce the message that it is a filthy practice ending with the admonition: “We do, after all, know the importance of washing our hands after going to the lavatory.”
But I should like to turn Parris’ disdain for religion back on to him. If I consider that homosexual practices are vile, why should I concern myself with subsets of their aspects? I might as well concern myself with other minor irrelevancies such as the Doris Day fanclub and polo-neck sweaters