A New Explanation for the Rise of LGBT Leads to a New Strategic Response
For at least a decade now, I’ve been trying to discern the forces that advanced the LGBT movement so rapidly. I was astonished at the speed with which transgenderism was adopted — especially by American business leaders. Darel E. Paul’s First Things article on “Culture War as Class War” has helped me understand it as well as anything I’ve seen.
Entry into society’s elite has always required signing on to some set of social norms, says Paul. In early to mid 19th century in America, those norms were largely conservative Protestant and anti-Catholic. Later they shifted toward liberal Protestantism. In the early 20th century they were largely defined by acceptance of contraception.
That didn’t last, though. Paul tells us, “In his popular anti-Catholic book American Freedom and Catholic Power, published in a second edition in 1958, Paul Blanshard noted that ‘birth control has won both acceptance and respectability in the United States. Almost all well-to-do people in the country practice it.'” Note: “well-to-do.” Contraception became nearly universal, however, which stripped it of its value in defining elite status.
As late as Blanshard’s 1958 book, elites supported “eugenic sterilization” of those who are “diseased, feebleminded, and a menace to normal community life.” But eugenics became disreputable and embarrassing. Hardly anyone remembers today how popular it once was.
The New Elite-Defining Value
So something else had to replace these values in defining the elite. Fast forward to today: Moral acceptance of homosexuality and transgender has become one of the clearest means to distinguish between the elites and the “deplorables.” It’s no coincidence that the first time Hillary Clinton slipped up and spoke this word in public, she was at a meeting with LGBT supporters at an elite New York restaurant.
Support for LGBT has become essential to acceptance into elite circles. Which explains a lot.
It certainly makes sense of big business and even big sports jumping on board with it. ESPN has fired commentators who have resisted. The NCAA and dozens of other businesses cried “Boycott!” when North Carolina called for sane bathroom policies. Sports and business may both have conservative heritages, but they’re also run — in their corporate offices and perhaps especially on their boards — by people who crave elite acceptance.
The Great and Deceitful Motivator
It’s an extremely powerful motivator. As C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Inner Ring,”
I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. … “Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.” A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.
It is a motivation, Lewis suggests, which leads men to become scoundrels. Not suddenly, not obviously, and certainly not from any motive to scoundrel-hood, but simply not to be excluded from the elite.
The essay is brilliant enough, but to catch the full weight of what he’s saying, you must read his novel That Hideous Strength, which portrays a young man’s struggle with the “inner ring” impulse. It should be required reading in Christian high schools and colleges, for just that reason.
So Teach Humility, Too
C. S. Lewis aside, Paul’s article suggests that we would be wise — especially with our youth — to wage our fight for true morality on two fronts, not just one. We do need to tell them what Scripture says is right and wrong. We need to explain the same thing from natural law, which is just common human experience combined with careful reflection. These two combine as one front in our battle: teaching what’s morally true and morally good.
Along with this, though, we must also teach Christian humility. The urge to join the Inner Ring is deceitful, as Lewis shows, for there is no such thing as arriving there and being satisfied. The humble know this already; if the proud ever learn it, it’s the hard way.
It’s also unloving in ways no Christian mom or dad could possibly want their child to become. For the Inner Ring cannot exist without an outer darkness for the majority who don’t quite measure up, people who “aren’t quite as good as we are,” people to look down upon. Deplorables, in a word.