A work of compassion and reason
I recently interviewed Robert R. Reilly about his latest book, “Making Gay OK: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything.”
He’s taking on what, in the Year of the Lord 2014, is now touted and spouted as Gospel truth — that Gay is OK?
Is he nuts?
No, actually, his motivation is compassion and truth, rooted in experience and reason.
He comes at it from the vantage point of a former actor, who knows the world of the theater, and its subculture, where gays make awe-inspiring contributions, but who are oh so vulnerable when the curtain comes down; and later as a principled conservative in the Reagan White House, who believes “ideas have consequences,” and knows Socrates and Aristotle and argues from their perspective of reason. The counterpoint is Rousseau’s thesis, centuries later, when Man was supposedly so much wiser and capable of transforming himself into whatever he wants — irrespective of the Nature with which our Creator endowed us. A rather lofty task. But if anyone is up for it, Bob Reilly is.
How has your book been received in the popular press? Have Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart invited you on their shows yet, Bob?
There’s been a blank-out on the book, not just in the general press but in the conservative press. In most cases they have refused to review it and that includes National Review, The American Spectator and, as far as I know, The Weekly Standard, which has never responded. The first two definitively said that they would not review it. I think they are running scared.
Now, maybe they didn’t read your introduction because I was really touched. You know I’m in the arts as well, and you have this statement in your introduction that “this critique of the homosexual cause is not an attack on homosexuals, nor is it generated by an animus against them.” Can you expand upon that?
Yes, I was both a professional actor in my youth and I have written about classical music for 35 years as a consequence of which I have worked with many homosexuals, particularly in the music world — some truly great composers. And, indeed I have published interviews with them in Catholic magazines to promote their work. And, I have occasionally been asked, "Why don’t you say anything about their being homosexual?" My answer has always been: because they didn’t. If they told me there was something homosexual about their music, then I would have had to address the subject. But that has not happened in any single instance. And I respect that. So, though I felt impelled to write this book, in all my years, I have never been accused of discriminating against homosexuals or being a homophobe.
Now you make a distinction between the person and the behavior.
Yes, exactly. It’s not my job to judge someone. That’s God’s job. That does not mean we cannot know, through our reason, the goodness or evil of actions; whether they’re moral or immoral. And, as I make the case from natural law and reason in the book, sodomy is an inherently, morally disordered act.
And, this goes back to Socrates. I may be getting ahead of the story.
No, that’s a good place to begin because Socrates and Plato were unambiguous in their loathing for sodomy. Socrates said some things about male love and, of course, some of the great poems in the world have been written about male love. But, he deplored sexualizing that love and found it completely inappropriate. So the people who try to idealize classical Greece as some sort of homosexual heyday really misunderstand the situation and ignore the fact that the creators of philosophy found from their own rational powers the moral standards by which to judge that act as morally odious.
What did Aristotle say about the subject?
Aristotle really doesn’t address the subject of homosexuality except in a brief sentence when he remarks upon its disorder. But, one thing Aristotle did emphasize was the virtue of chastity as a political principle, meaning he understood that the family was the foundation stone of the polis and the principle of the family is chastity — the exclusive sexual relationship between a husband and a wife, which virtue must be protected for the integrity of the family in order to protect the integrity of society and ultimately of the polis. So Aristotle is very strict, particularly about infidelity in marriage and said it should be thought of and treated as tremendously shameful. In fact, he goes into some detail and says should a husband be unfaithful to a wife when she is pregnant, this is particularly disgraceful.