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Sex and Tolerant Conservatism

Monday, February 4, 2019

Many moons ago, I was introduced by John Beeler to the notion of Tolerant Conservatism, to wit:

Charity and discretion about people’s failings while at the same time not making excuses for those vices either.

The point of the Catholic Faith is to demonstrate what sin is and thus show people who have ears to hear how they have sinned. It is also very much supposed to be a reassurance that, despite one’s sin, God’s love always offers a way back without damnation. We can always be restored to righteousness with no conditions except that we desire to be restored to righteousness wholeheartedly.

I find this incredibly healthy. Even today, I see too many people sit in judgment over other. This judgment is not the same as God’s Judgment: Man’s judgment springs from law which can only say where we have gone wrong; God’s judgment puts things right.

This is why I am so wary of the Liberal movement and its successor – the Progressive movement – both within the Church and in secular society. If by Liberalism, we mean the pursuit of freedom of opportunity for everyone to follow their conscience and excel in what they do, then I am in full favour and a proud Liberal. But that is not what being Liberal means now. Being Liberal now seems about being free to be who we want to be and to be free from the demands of others which may prevent that. The former is more conducive to the cohesion of Society and the latter conducive to its division.

I find it ironic that proponents of this Modern Liberalism only apply it to those who agree with them. As a proud conservative Christian – i.e. one who holds to the traditional teaching of the Church, in particular men and women being substantially different within humanity and fornication being inherently sinful and with all the consequences therefrom– I am judged to be illiberal and therefore not allowed the freedom to be who I am because it impinges on other, more worthy, freedoms of others within Society. I am judged to be homophobic, transphobic, and misogynist and must therefore be censured, censored lest I incense the ire of decent members of Society. This Modern Liberalism is intensely illiberal.

Let us, for example, look at the current question of surrogacy. You may know that the diver, Tom Daley and his (male) partner have had a baby by surrogacy. What we do not hear about is the person who carried that baby in her womb for nine months. We do not hear about her involvement despite the fact that this child bears her DNA. The woman has been whitewashed out of that relationship. The fact of the matter is that two homosexual males have an inherently sterile relationship UNLESS a woman is involved. What we will soon see is that women in poverty will be encouraged to be surrogate mothers for payment. What if the baby is not satisfactory, or disabled, or dies in the womb? I have already heard of a case of a single man who entered into a surrogacy agreement with a woman of little economical means who subsequently bore him a child with Down’s Syndrome. He refused to take the baby or to pay the sum due leaving a woman in penury with a completely dependent child. Is it any wonder that my mind is turning to the Handmaid’s Tale?

Liberalism needs to ground itself in basic facts: we simply cannot be what we want to be. Such a freedom is always going to encroach upon the same freedoms of others. The same desire that wants to see women being regarded as equals within the human genus is actually seeking to define women out of existence because it refuses the basic facts of the sacredness of being a man and the sacredness of being a woman and the intransigence between the two. As a man, I cannot know what it is like to be a woman, and Society doesn’t seem to get this. Society confuses being and doing grotesquely. Look at the retail industry: blue for boys, pink for girls; trucks for boys, dolls for girls; heavy shoes for jumping in mud for boys, pretty princess shoes for girls. Whether or not we have a visceral reaction to a boy playing with dolls, it’s clear that the boy is still a boy and that his preference for playing with dolls does not change what is written in every cell in his body.

Likewise, a stay-at-home father is often regarded as doing “women’s work.” He is not. He is doing his own work in looking after his children and playing a different role from his wife who is earning the money. The work does not rewrite DNA: DNA is a fact, not an opinion and Progressivism needs to ground itself in inalienable facts if it is to do justice to the human condition.

And this is where I am proudly conservative because I regard tradition highly and seek to preserve the corpus of human experience. It seems to me that the Revolutionary Spirit found in the present swathes of Social Justice Warriors seems out to deny the human beings of the past their own existence which has been completed. They are who they were and they were who they are. We have to share solidarity with all humanity throughout all ages because, despite the proud claims of the Progressives, humanity has not changed morally-speaking. Thinking that we have progressed will lead to the Progressives becoming ironically the cause of an enslaved society. It will be the Modern Liberals that will bring about the reality of the societies found in the Handmaid’s Tale, the Hunger Games, 1984, and even the Time Machine.

We can look, say, at the Carry On films which are probably being derided once more. They seem to have gone up and down in popularity since their time due to how politically correct their humour is found to be at the time. However, they are never allowed to be of their time. No, gawping at a woman’s chest is tacky and yet, the heterosexual male naturally finds the female figure attractive. The figure of Sid James lusting after Barbara Windsor is horrific in that Babs is being dehumanised, yet it is also tragic as Sid dehumanises himself as an animal on heat, and it is comedic in that this is how humanity is. That is something that has been expressed in all human culture from the beginnings of human culture. It has always been the source of comedy. Human experience finds much comedy in the figure of the man in the thrall of sexual desire because it is a common experience which conflicts with manners.

It is absolutely abhorrent for a man to force his attentions upon women, and rape is a disgusting way to treat a human being. Yet it is impolite and degrading to remark upon a woman’s body in a way that will make her feel uncomfortable and less-than-human. The comedy arises in this tension between the male animal seeking gratification of his desire and the homo sapiens seeking to rise above his animal instinct and treat a woman with the respect and dignity she deserves. And yet, comedy is the thin median between tragedy on the one side and horror on the other. Conservatism should seek to keep the boundaries by which this line is apparent: tolerance should allow someone forgiveness when they transgress this line and, having transgressed, render remorse, apology and transformation. Every human male should learn to feel disgust at the thought of a woman being raped and seek to check his natural instincts. Every woman should indeed call out any activity that she finds infringes her body autonomy. Both sexes must also recognise that mistakes happen, sometimes with terrible consequences. There needs to be the capacity for forgiveness but it must be recognised that this forgiveness may take a long time to complete and at a cost commensurate with the offence.

Conservatism ensures that we keep to the same standard as always even though some societies have gone against that. Conservatism keeps that ideal standard going above the changes and chances of this fleeting world and, for me, engages in a reflection of the Divine Nature. Conservatism recognises that there are moral absolutes and objective moral values. These values turn Hume’s “ought”s into concrete “is”s. In recognising both the immutability of these values and also the brokenness of human nature, we see Tolerant Conservatism as being a fully Christian view of politics. I don’t doubt that Christians can take other political stances: it is the Christian Royal Priesthood that will sanctify politics. However, the Christian does need to make room for the King of Kings as a king and thus recognise the limits to which human beings are truly free. The fact is that we are free to be the people whom God has created us to be, not whom we create ourselves to be.

The seeds of dystopia are always in our society and they always will be. We need to learn about all kinds of Fascism. Conservatism has its own Fascism as the Nationalist movements of the last century show us; Socialism has its own Fascism which fell largely at the end of the Century and yet still afflicts countries today; we need, therefore, to be on our guard against Liberal and Progressive Fascism which is beginning to build up in our youngsters disillusioned with any ideal that disallows themselves to define themselves as they desire. Once the generation of old-style conservatives has lost control, the Social Justice Warriors will succeed them. They have a chance to see how their politics could become intolerant and alter their stances accordingly. I pray that they will take this chance.

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