What sufferers of Fatwa Envy wish their faith could still inspire.
‘Fatwa Envy’ is a terrific but underused term that describes a disorder which seems to be increasingly prevalent amongst Christians. I first encountered it several years ago on Pharyngula. If a Christian has ever angrily responded to some point or other you’ve made against Christianity with “you wouldn’t dare say that about Islam” then they’ve suffering from Fatwa Envy. What they’re really saying is that “I wish that like Islam Christianity still had the ability to inspire murderous intolerance and had the cultural power necessary to make failing to show deference to Christianity the preserve of the brave and foolhardy. Why can’t it be like it was back in the good old days when Christians had enough faith to burn heretics?” As it happens I do “say that about Islam” but the absurd over estimation of the dangers of criticising Islam in the West isn’t the subject here, Fatwa Envy is.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien recently felt the need to compose a hate-filled article opposing the government’s equal marriage plans in which he charmingly called them “grotesque” and confusingly compared equal marriage to legalising slavery. This reminded me of a similarly unhinged screed the Archbishop of Guam wrote and circulated back in 2009 when Guam was considering equal marriage. The letter is so crazed you feel the need to read through it a couple of times just to make sure you didn’t imagine it and it is far and away the most extreme case of Fatwa Envy I’ve witnessed. A PDF of the letter can be seen here, an OCRed version can be read here. I’ll be discussing excerpts from the letter below but I’d recommend you read the whole thing, it’s not that long and is a wonder to behold.
I’ll start with the section of the letter which just reeks of Fatwa Envy:
The culture of homosexuality is a culture of self-absorption because it does not value self-sacrifice. It is a glaring example of what John Paul II has called the culture of death. Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice. Terrorism as a way to oppose the degeneration of the culture is to be rejected completely since such violence is itself another form of degeneracy. One, however, does not have to agree with the gruesome ways that the fundamentalists use to curb the forces that undermine their culture to admit that the Islamic fundamentalist charge that Western Civilization in general and the U.S.A, in particular is the “Great Satan” is not without an element of truth. It makes no sense for the U. S. Government to send our boys to fight Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, while at the same time it embraces the social policies embodied in Bill 185 (as President Obama has done). Such policies only furnish further arguments for the fundamentalists in their efforts to gain more recruits for the war against the “Great Satan.”
The admiration for the ‘self-sacrificing’ nature of one of the most murderously intolerant regimes ever to have existed aside, it’s rather telling that whilst he might step back from endorsing suicide bombing as a means of furthering the Vatican’s dark age social agenda, the Archbishop doesn’t distance himself from the way Islamists “repress such behavior by death”.
The mind also boggles that someone could condemn homosexuality as “the culture of death” and then immediately go on to compare it unfavourably to Islamic Fundamentalism which is at least a “culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers”. Now if the latter isn’t a ‘culture of death’ then what is?
One almost has to admire the gall it must take to at one moment endorse the notion that your country may indeed by the “Great Satan” and then the next try to adopt a patriotic note with talk of “our boys”.
The upfront admiration of the Taliban aside, the letter is your standard batshit insane religious right homophobic statement.
- a belief that sex and marriage have only a single legitimate purpose namely procreation – check
- a fixation on male homosexuality, sodomy and it’s supposed risks – check
- no mention of lesbianism and the fact that it is the safest form of sexual activity – check
- evidence of repressed homosexuality on the authors part – check
- a hysterical belief that homosexuality and/or civil recognition of civil partnerships will somehow destroy society – check
The letter starts and repeatedly returns to the idea that:
marriage is a union of a biological couple who unite themselves until death so as to be able to put their mutual love in the service of life. In this view, conjugal love and the generation of children are so intrinsically connected that to attempt to separate them would end up destroying them both. Given this presupposition, it should be no surprise that the Guam Code recognizes marriage only between a man and a woman since only they are capable of the marital act that begets children.
The popularity of this argument amongst those opposed to equal marriage has always confused me as it is so obviously a false one. When I got married I wasn’t asked to prove my fertility or vow a firm intention to have children, procreation wasn’t mention at all in the ceremony. Infertile people are allowed to marry, post-menopausal women can marry, men who’ve had vasectomies and women who’ve had their ‘tubes tied’ can marry. Not only that but as a (so far as we know) fertile married couple we get free contraception from the NHS. As it happens in the near future we do intend to have children but that was in no way a condition of us being allowed to get married.
The Archbishop then doubles down on the “intrinsic connection with the begetting of children” in a side rant against contraception:
Firstly, the culture of contraception denied that marriage has any intrinsic connection with the begetting of children. One may legitimately separate out making love from making babies. Once this link was broken, the intelligibility of biological gender was lost. Once marriage was simply about making love, the necessity for limiting sexual relations to persons of the opposite sex no longer appeared convincing.
Impressively once again managing to fail to notice the multitude of existing heterosexual, even Catholic marriages, for which this “intrinsic connection” simply doesn’t exist.
Later the Archbishop launches into some rather eccentric musings upon the nature of homosexuality:
The simple answer is that homosexuality is based on the notion that sexuality exists in order to get pleasure.
Really? I thought it was ‘based upon the notion’ that some people love people of the same gender.
An individual ought to be free to satisfy his sexual appetites with the preferred object of his sexual orientation. The partner appears only as the preferred object of sexual satisfaction, not as a person to be valued in his own right. The notion of self-donation to the other in pursuit of a good that transcends both parties and to which they mutual subordinate their private interest simply does not appear in homosexuality. In place of self-donation there is only self-gratification, self-interest and self-absorption.
This is a surreal argument against equal marriage, that seems to equate it with simply hooking up for a bit of casual sex, which is of course the polar opposite of why homosexual couples want to marry. Just as with heterosexuals they want to marry precisely because they do regard their husband/wife to be “a person to be valued in his own right”. If it was merely about hedonistic sex, why would marriage even be on the agenda?
Once homosexuality becomes a validated principle of civil law, the inversion of sexuality that it proposes will spell the eventual end of Western Civilization.
That’s too silly to really require a response.
Since homosexually is about receiving, not giving, its institutionalization will lead to the victimization of all those who are induced to embrace this lifestyle.
Is it just me or could only someone having difficulty repressing their own homosexual desires worry about people being “induced to embrace this lifestyle” should gay marriage be legalised?
The Archbishop then launches into an extended attack upon homosexual adoption:
When one has two fathers, he is condemned to be a motherless child. Moreover he will also be a fatherless child. With two men who present themselves as his fathers, with whom can he bond as his [emphasis in the original] father?
Such is the Archbishop’s fixation with hot and sweaty guy on guy action, the notion of lesbian couples never even crosses his mind, to him it’s all about men. This preoccupation with men having anal sex is further underlined in the following paragraph on the dangers ‘sodomy’ poses to ‘public health’.
A culture cannot flourish when a significant portion of the population is suffering diseases as a consequence of having been encouraged by the structures of civil law itself to expose themselves to the risks inherent in sodomy.
If the Archbishop could stop thinking about guys doing each other for a moment, he might have learnt that lesbian sex is significantly safer than heterosexual sex, which rather undermines this whole line of argument. Strangely he’s aware that the “self sacrificing…suicide bombers (women as well as men)” aren’t entirely of the male persuasion. Female suicide bombers, yes that he can comprehend, but female homosexuals on the other hand (whom I would suggest are rather more prevalent), well that’s just inconceivable.
The Archbishop tries to sign off with another appeal to patriotism, attempting to argue that legalising gay marriage will lead to the West losing its “struggle with Islamic fundamentalists”. Even so he can’t quite repress his admiration for the likes of the Taliban and the zealous way in which they fight the “forces that oppose marriage and the family”.
The West today is engaged in a struggle with Islamic fundamentalists who are not always in sympathy with democratic values that the West holds dear. They are resisting with all the force at their command those forces that oppose marriage and the family. If we do not do the same, they will win the contest by sheer numbers alone. History will judge your desire to secure your private self-interest at this moment in Guam’s history as appallingly petty in view of the damage it will do to the common good of Guam. By adopting Bill 185, you will have contributed to the end of Western Civilization.
The Archbishop’s reasoning is seemingly reliant upon the assumption that should gay marriage be legalised the birth rate will plummet as millions of people who would otherwise get heterosexually married and dutifully produce Christian Soldiers will be unable to resist the lure of homosexuality. Again it’s difficult to see how anyone but a repressed homosexual could possibly make such an argument.
Tragically gay marriage was considered and rejected in Guam, you’d hope that was despite not because of the almost comically OTT homophobia and fatwa envy of the Archbishop. To help make sure that the outcome is different here, if you haven’t already done so I urge you to go to the Coalition for Equal Marriage’s website, sign their petition, follow the link to the Home Office Equal Marriage consultation (it took me under 10 minutes to complete) and email your MP.