Freedom: They Keep Using That Word…


Some guy named Trevin Wax, part of something called the Gospel Coalition, offers an amusingly idiotic article entitled Sexual Freedom Always Curtails Other Freedoms. And he offers a rather bizarre definition of freedom while simultaneously confusing cause and effect. But let’s start here:

The dominant assumption is that religious people shouldn’t voice their opinions. Government should stay out of the bedroom. People ought to be free to engage in sexual relations with whomever they want whenever they want, as long as it’s not considered harmful to anyone. Even Christians who believe certain sexual activities (adultery, sex before marriage, homosexuality) to be morally wrong often grant the assumption that people ought to be free in their sexual decisions.

First of all, what is that first sentence doing in there? It has nothing to do with the other things he’s talking about. I agree that the government should stay out of the bedroom and that people ought to be free to engage in sexual relations with whomever they want whenever they want as long as it’s not harming anyone. That does not mean I think religious people shouldn’t voice their opinions. I just think their opinions ought to be better informed by reason. Unfortunately, Wax doesn’t seem to be very good at that kind of thing:

But there is no such thing as absolute freedom when it comes to sexuality. The moment we celebrate or endorse certain behaviors, we curtail freedom in other areas. This is the nature of freedom.

Male Friendships

Here is an example.

  • 100 years ago, men were known to be openly affectionate with one another.
  • Men like Teddy Roosevelt wrote letters to other men that expressed great love and tenderness, to the point it makes modern day readers feel uncomfortable.
  • Men took pictures of themselves holding hands and demonstrating physical affection.
  • Abraham Lincoln was open about sharing a bed with Joshua Speed. Though some revisionists have sought to refashion this friendship a homosexual relationship, Lincoln biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin is most certainly right: the fact Lincoln spoke so openly about Speed is a clear sign that his male friendships were just that, friendships.

Today, there is little freedom for men to be physically affectionate toward one another. Writing an affectionate email might be seen as “girly” or “unmanly,” although it’s hard to imagine Teddy Roosevelt as a wimp.

Uh, no. Writing an affectionate email or hugging another man might be seen as girly or unmanly, but it isn’t because we’ve stopped putting gay people in jail. In fact, it seems rather obvious to me that the people who are likely to see that as girly or unmanly are precisely people who think like Wax does, who think that being girly or unmanly is a bad thing because it makes them think that person might be gay. For those who don’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay, it’s completely irrelevant.

And what the hell does that have to do with freedom? Absolutely nothing. He keeps using that word; I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

Comments

  1. hunter says

    “Freedom” and “Liberty” are the latest fashionable buzzwords on the teabagger right. They mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean, which is usually something the rest of us would typify as either “license” or “lack of social skills.”

  2. Michael Heath says

    Trevin Wax writes in the first sentence Ed quotes:

    The dominant assumption is that religious people shouldn’t voice their opinions.

    So the first step is right down the rabbit hole.

    When I see such a lie from a conservative Christian I presume that their frustration is that Americans exist who oppose these Christians fighting to infringe upon our liberty rights based on behavioral prohibitions that comes directly from their religion. Partly because it creates threatens cognitive dissonance.

    They’d prefer a world where they can proclaim, “the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination full stop. While simultaneously claiming they’re also the sole defenders of the Constitution and freedom.

  3. Ellie says

    “Today, there is little freedom for men to be physically affectionate toward one another. ”

    Which is why you never see football players touching each other in any way.

  4. John Hinkle says

    The dominant assumption is that religious people shouldn’t voice their opinions.

    I think what he means is that Christians should have no say in legislating morality – even though it happens all the time – and that they have lost the power to dictate, through legislation, what goes on in other people’s bedrooms.
     
    And you know what? He’s right.
     
    I like how he conflates “curtailed freedom” with “things that make me feel uncomfortable.” I have men friends that I hug, and obviously none of us feel uncomfortable about it. We haven’t gotten to kissing yet, but hey.

  5. josephmccauley says

    Geez, we used to be awfully huggy back in the ’70s. Some folks thought it was fine, but I’m sure some people stared. Nowadays we have entire football teams holding hands in the huddle. Who could bring themselves to worry about it?

  6. Rodney Nelson says

    Years ago I was in Vietnam. It was a matter of faith among many Americans that Vietnamese men were homosexuals because they would walk arm-in-arm or even hold hands. Of course in their culture those were signs of friendship and didn’t signify a sexual relationship. I’ve been told by a couple of gay Vietnam veterans that 1960s Vietnamese were at least as homophobic as 1960s American soldiers.

  7. kantalope says

    wha? So if “those people” are allowed to express their sexual feelings for one another somehow this interferes with other people’s right…not…to…express other feelings? or something – don’t these people have editors or at least let their dog read it before posting?

    weird

    Usually though it just comes down to: letting “those” people have freedom interferes with the Gospel Coalition’s right to take those freedoms away. See…zero sum game.

  8. Sastra says

    Today, there is little freedom for men to be physically affectionate toward one another. Writing an affectionate email might be seen as “girly” or “unmanly,” although it’s hard to imagine Teddy Roosevelt as a wimp.

    What he seems to be suggesting here is that if some ‘reprehensible’ behavior X is so far in the closet that the general public is completely unaware that it exists, then nobody will think “hmm, is this X?” when people display behavior that LOOKS like X. A harmless hug in public will never be misinterpreted.

    And a hug that is anything but “harmless” can be done in public and pass as normal. The wicked will not be discovered. Gay men can hug, kiss, live together, sleep together, and pretty much do anything but give each other a blow job on the street — and it’s all good. The general public just nods and smiles. What good friends.

    You know, this anti-gay argument has a problem. I’m not so sure bigots like Wax would really want to go back to the Good Old Days when sin slipped and hid under the radar. From what I can tell they’re the ones who were responsible for revealing the horrors under the radar in the first place, screaming about how they need to be eliminated.

  9. mobius says

    Wax starts off with,

    The dominant assumption is that religious people shouldn’t voice their opinions.

    which I think is a false statement and shows his Christian persecution complex.

    I think a more accurate statement would be…

    “The dominant assumption is that religious people, or anyone else for that matter, should not force their opinions on others. They may state their opinion all they want.”

    At least that is how I feel about it.

  10. frog says

    Can I get a magical wish granted? “Please let all people understand the difference between ‘The right to voice my opinion’ and ‘the desire to voice my opinion and not have anyone comment upon what I said.'”

    I just– I don’t– GAH! How do these people manage to hold down jobs and purchase goods and services and go about their lives without suffering fatal accident due to massive stupidity?

  11. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I just– I don’t– GAH! How do these people manage to hold down jobs and purchase goods and services and go about their lives without suffering fatal accident due to massive stupidity?

    Clever engineers, mostly.

    …we THOUGHT we were doing the right thing… ;(

  12. says

    He seems to be saying that because we, as a society, have become more tolerant towards homosexuality, we’ve become less tolerant of men expressing affection toward one another than we were in the 19th century. But there’s a major problem with his timeline: society actually became less tolerant of men holding hands or hugging in public first, then we started having a modicum of tolerance toward homosexuals. He’s putting supposed cause after the effect.

  13. zmidponk says

    kantalope #9:

    So if “those people” are allowed to express their sexual feelings for one another somehow this interferes with other people’s right…not…to…express other feelings?

    You’re not thinking like a true wingnut. Allowing ‘those people’ to express their sexual feelings for one another actually allows the existence of homosexuality to not be a thing only discussed in hushed whispers behind closed doors, which may make a person who thinks that homosexuality is wrong to be sufficiently aware of the existence of homosexuality to leap to the conclusion that any affection between two men that is anything more than a formal handshake is a sign of being gay. This is a bad thing because this will, in turn, lead to many false accusations of being gay, which then leads to less affection in general between men for fear of such a false accusation. Therefore, it’s much better if gay people basically made a great pretense of not existing (or, preferably, simply actually stopped existing) so that us decent, normal people could carry on with our lives without the risk of being accused of the heinous act of being gay simply for showing affection to another man (two women doing it is A-OK because that’s HAWT).

    Of course, this argument only actually makes sense if you start from the assumption that being gay is a dirty, shameful thing that any decent person would not want to be accused of, and refuse to even consider the possibility that this assumption is wrong.

  14. sc_833a715d1632e157fb79984c4b8aa285 says

    I always find it amusing that the most homophobic of the xtian right have no problem putting bumper stickers that say “Real Men Love Jesus” on their vehicles.

  15. says

    The dominant assumption is that religious people shouldn’t voice their opinions.

    I think it’s fine if they want to self-select for ridicule. The problem is that they want to voice their opinions and magically be taken seriously. That’s a bit tricker, when your opinions are indefensible bollocks.

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