Being the delightful young homosexual that I am, I have a particular taste for topics that are relevant to the gay community. The male gay community, if I am to be precise. Amongst my more ‘pro queer’ friends, (keeping in mind that queer is used to describe a cacophony of divergent sexual orientations) there is a particular contempt held for the heteronormative. This is naturally understandable, as the nuclear family with approximately 2.3 children does not seem particular appealing. There is also the view of the detrimental impact of the heterosexual influence within the lives of those that consider themselves to be queer. As a response to this notion it has be theorised that queer people should celebrate their divergent sexual practices and not to allow the heteronormative to influence our sex lives and even our relationships. The rejection of monogamy and the acceptance of open relationships being the pervading result in a good chunk of male homosexual interaction. In this quasi-intellectual article, I cherish the opportunity to deal with these notions and perhaps relate them to secular and logical morality.
It was once said in my social circles, that to have an open relationship, one is just asking for trouble, and in all honesty I simply must agree. Inviting other parties into a relationship, whilst an honour for the outside party, is calling for division within the original bond. Humanity is a jealous species; this is reflected in the pervading social taboo against cheating on partners.
Open relationships remove the idea of jealousy, and is most commonly justified with the ideology that sex and love, or perhaps not even love, sex and emotion are separated for the purposes of ensuring the longevity of this particular kind of relationship. To put it in colloquial terms, you can fuck whoever you want, so long as it remains, sex and only sex, and you remain emotionally ‘loyal,’ to your partner. Does this or not raise a few eyebrows, or is it justified?
Those in favour of open relationships might suggest that in committed monogamous situations there is a subconscious or conscious objectification of humanity. That is, a mentality of one partner to the other that they are indeed their property and in sexual terms no one else is allowed to ‘play’ with them. But this is simply not apt. Commitment being a two way street implies a form of equality, or perhaps mutual objectification that is agreed upon with the consent (albeit subconscious) of both parties. This would naturally mean that partners in committed relationships are afforded the same freedoms and responsibilities as the other. Naturally my own sense of devil advocacy says that this would mean that people in committed relationships are lesser people than their single counterparts. Why? – As they are not provided the same freedoms, surely there must be some price for an emotionally stable, healthy relationship…and let’s not forget the guarantee of sex.
Power is also a massive element of each relationship, it even has made its way into the social vernacular with the ‘reacher,’ and ‘settler’ complex. The power play evident within any relationship, keeps the bond interesting, constantly evolving. Allowing the freedom, of both partners to sleep with whoever they wish, immediately brings this power relationship into disrepute. Whilst this might seem positive, to ‘break the bonds’ of some ridiculous power struggle, it merely allows it to move into the wider community. Power then becomes about the amount of men or perhaps the sexual appeal of those that a partner will sleep with. I would ask, does this appear beneficial in the long run? In my opinion it speaks as a lack of respect for our partners as individuals not to mention the additional sexual partners who are merely being used as some form of leverage in order to gain the respect of, or to spark interest by a partner.
Moving to a matter of personal development, I wanted to speak briefly of the role of sex in a relationship. Every heterosexual relationship evident on television some-how manages to always display the long running joke of one partner (usually the female) withholding sex from the other in order to achieve what they desire. In reality, there is a distinct lack, except for perhaps the usual jibe at the idea of withholding sex for a particular purpose. The usual reason behind a lack of sexual activity is a combination of lifestyle factors and emotional issues between the partners. To place the ability to achieve sexual gratification outside a relationship is to advocate for laziness in a relationship. It is to allow sexual pleasure to be provided to a partner that may require a certain period of introspection in order to better themselves as a person. Additionally this also means that a partner has no beneficial action of working on developing (or perhaps repairing) their relationship as sexual gratification can be found elsewhere.
As a way of attacking the heteronormative, I find open relationships the most trivial and ridiculous manner in which to do so. A scattered, unorganised, string of private relationships hardly creates any notoriety against the dominant heteronormative.
I always have found it ridiculous those who always desire to attack the heterosexual dominance of society, or perhaps view its pervading nature as an attack on our right to be different. Honestly, honestly? How absurd a statement! At last glance majority of these people were created from the heteronormative, I cannot understand rationally why so many people desire to bite the hand that feeds them! Like it or not, the heteronormative has numerous institutions that will assure its longevity long into the future and if some queer people lack the capacity to understand this, then they, by all means deserve to be screaming and constantly frustrated for the rest of their lives. The fact of the matter is that heterosexual dominance in society is sound, but this does not mean that there necessary need be homophobic hate speech flung around on the streets.
The notion of transvaluation provides us with a solid resolution to the issue at hand. In order to gain what we desire, what the long speculated ‘gay agenda,’ states, i.e. equality, then a process of putting a new slant on old ideas and traditions is necessary. Furthermore it is simply not possible for this to occur if all the queer community does is shout at the top of its lungs at the woeful inequality still evident in our society. It is not necessary to distance ourselves from our heterosexual brothers and sisters, stooping our souls in bitter brine over the taunts received in high school. The value of this lesson lies in human connection. People lack the capacity to fear something they are informed of; perhaps the best way to achieve equality is to spread ourselves amongst the ‘straight,’ community. To move away from the gossiping cliques and inconsequential drama of the ‘queer,’ community and stand amongst every member of our society allowing them to view us, exactly for what we are, human.
In all honesty, I despise being politically correct. Something within my own being manages to provoke it. Thus, I am left constantly frustrated by my own sense of conscience, ridiculousness or perhaps morality. As if it were important for one’s closest friends to realise that I were a liberal humanist, and let me stress liberal with the lower case ‘l.’ What possible value could this internal notion have upon anything exterior, except perhaps for a solemn espousal of a belief in equality?
Truth is I am weary of harping on and on about personal, objective or religious morality. But the fact of the matter is, it has, at the very least, a small impact on the physical world. Personal belief, influencing our actions and dealings with other people then would naturally have to have some social impact. Our concept of political correctness then becomes far more essential than it was once thought. But how much of an impact justifies a tightening of our own social behaviour comparative to that of an uptight television code of practice executive?
To delve a little further into this question, in essence, what I am examining is the manner in which humanity treats one and other. Equality, bigotry, racism, are all mere terms to describe rather simple interaction between people. But to over intellectualise and politicise behaviour takes away our capacity for empathy. If we are to understand sexism on an intellectual level does that not lessen our capacity for understanding the pain of such an act?
Humanity is a peculiar species, with as many idiosyncrasies as there are grains of sand on the earth, but one thing I have been constantly reminded of in recent months is, quite simply, how terribly we interact. How disjointed, violent and bigoted we treat our brothers and sisters. The fact that I even use these over politicised words speaks wonders for the way in which a social mentality deals with trauma. Perhaps it would be easier to reduce it to two irreducible components of the issue:
What is it that causes people to turn on other people with such force and brutality that virtually all remnants of conscience are completely erased?
Readers, I want to share something with you, it can be viewed as a vulnerability, strength or just simply an attribute. My capacity for emotion when experiencing a form of empathy is, quite frankly ridiculous. I become the most pathetic blubbering mess, crying for something I seemingly cannot do a thing about. All I manage to blurt out is “Why are people so terrible to each other?” It is disgusting how many situations that statement is applicable to. I cannot fathom what break down of basic human decency leads to such indiscriminate suffering across the world.
It seems a staple in any news broadcast to see a middle-eastern nation having suffered some form of attack, and a distraught woman screaming about lost loved ones. But this does not tend to effect people past the point of a brief conversation stating that it is terrible, but there is nothing we can do. Perhaps it is not viable to empathetically connect with that human for fear the pain would elicit too powerful a reaction. The numbing of hearts is a sad practice, whatever its cause. At what point of absolute decimation of human life is necessary before these events elicit a true emotional reaction amongst the Western world?
Forgive me for being naïve, however I thought a mother screaming, “My child, my child,” stooped over the body of her mangled son would be enough for a significant few to shed a single tear.
But I shouldn’t restrict this only to those living within a warzone. Perhaps the alleged rape of an eleven year old girl, by at least eighteen other boys and men in Texas, would speak for the inept manner we treat the species. The Aboriginal Intervention evident in Australia, where the law is being applied to a group in such a particular way it might as well steal their once held rights from right under their nose.
But it doesn’t even need to be such horrific and heart shattering events such as those aforementioned to evidence the insane manner we are treating our own kind. That is, discrimination, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, bigotry and all the over intellectualisations to distract us from the greater truth, that majority of our interaction is morally inept. To smirk at the failure of an enemy, to celebrate the death of Al-Qaida leader, to rejoice in our success knowing it is built on the crushed spirits of those beneath us. Therefore I must reiterate, people are terrible to each other.
That personal feeling of isolation and helplessness when confronted with a distant tragedy need not exist. The world ripples, it is covered with water, thus an act of kindness, a forgoing of a politically incorrect statement or the proud espousal of equality eventually creates waves. Idealistic, I know. But here is the crux of the argument. I set out to answer the simple question, whether it is worth monitoring our own behaviour even amongst friends. I say it is necessary, to espouse disdain, leads to dislike, leads to discrimination, which is not just. Fast forward twenty years and you have a mass grave of deceased for seemingly no purpose. But history will tell us that.
I leave you beautiful people, with the solemn hope for you to simply soften your hearts of stone. To look upon your human counterparts accomplices not adversaries’.
What is the relevance of tradition and ritual in a modern context? How has this morality changed, and what purity can be gained from a history of impurity? In this time of joy or polite indifference for Australia’s five million Catholics, Mary MacKillop becomes canonised as Australia’s patron saint. But should this even matter? MacKillop, an incredible woman to be sure, now to be inducted into the holy order of saints, compromised of approximately three thousand men and women. Surely this diminishes some of the power behind an elevation to sainthood itself. Nevertheless we press on to examine the numerous rituals of the Catholic faith and their relevance in a modern spectrum.
Catholicism at its core, whilst meant to celebrate the life of Christ and his teachings, is a complex melding of belief, politics, power, monetary value and morality. Funnily enough, Biblical texts have not been updated or reformed to an enormous degree for a good chunk of time… five hundred years at the very least. Surely this cannot suffice with the mass production of new technology, which thereby create new moral problems. In the past 100 years modern issues have plagued the Church, including contraception, abortion, being same-sex attracted. As this particular faith system refuses to modify its current benchmark of morality, people are leaving the Church and with good reason. Some informed readers may cast their minds back to the Second Vatican Council which attempted to modernise some Church practices, yet despite widespread belief this council did not, alter any Church doctrine, as…wait for it, Church doctrine cannot change. Impervious to change. New faiths and off-shoots of the same basic belief have been created in an attempt to remedy the situation, but this does not change the fact that immovable doctrine from one of the largest religion’s on the planet is a slightly disconcerting idea. Especially considering some of the barbaric law evident within the Bible.
When speaking to Christians, I often hear the phrase, “But that’s in the Old Testament, so we don’t pay as much attention to that.” To this I reply, “You actually consider yourself a Christian?” I hate to offend but Jewish tradition and Scripture remains just as valid to Christians as it is to the Jewish. Followers of Christ believe in his teachings, therefore it is necessary to look at the finer aspects of the faith.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17
Therefore, the Law, of the prophets, the Law of a barbaric ancient world must be adhered to. The eternal subjugation of women must be respected, execution of homosexuals, adulterers, and those that do not adhere to strict fashion codes [“Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.” Deuteronomy 22:11]. Then again, there is the issue of slavery, wherein one of the most cloudy and contradictory elements of holy doctrine is presented. Biblical texts clearly accept and sanction slavery [“Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.” Leviticus 25:44-46]. Yet the Catholic Church condemns the practice, this is evidenced by the numerous holy father’s over the decades:
In 1462, Pope Pius II declared slavery to be “a great crime.”
Urban VIII forbade it in 1639.
Gregory XVI condemned it in 1839.
Pius IX branded the “supreme villainy” (summum nefas) of the slave traders. [Just to name a few].
This provokes another idea, if Church doctrine has not changed, why has this been the case for slavery? Especially considering majority of basic morality and governing systems still seem alive and kicking. Even if numerous contradictions do exist within the faith, let us go back to the notion of the divine being made flesh, the Christ. If he did indeed believe in such Old Testament law, then this makes the saviour, the divine flesh a misogynist, racist, homophobic, man preaching about how one must love thy neighbour? Personally I simply cannot consider it viable to worship such a being, as I find racism, misogyny, homophobia and the death penalty inherently immoral.
It is at this point I ask, what is the use of ritual, especially within a Christian context when we either do no provide a full view of the faith as a whole, are hypocritical or simply downright secularly immoral. In any case it is a detrimental cycle, as religious moderates are theologically misled, and fundamentalists, those true to their faith, if given their way would surely be arrested for crimes against humanity.
At this point in time it is necessary to ask the question, why then, should the notion of sainthood even be given the light of day given the barbaric nature of the ancient church? To be fair, the corruption of one institution does not necessarily discredit the good work of one individual. But venerating the individual with miracles thereby proving their holiness is not the way to decide whether one is holy or not fit for veneration.
In any case the issues of paedophilia within the ranks of the clergy, in addition to the sexist nature of Church doctrine hamper the faith. The rejection of homosexuals, the deionisation of those that have undertaken abortion [This is absolutely insane, as there are instances where physically, psychologically emotionally a mother simply cannot handle a child, should these people be made to feel guilty for the fact that they rid the body of cells and chromosomes that would ultimately kill both them and the child?] in addition to the rejection of contraception especially with the still raging HIV/AIDS virus evident within third world countries all mean that the Church is losing, and has lost touch with fundamental elements of our society.
“I am secular,
I am human.” – Braiden Dunn