The Daily Beast contributor Amy Zimmerman recently penned an encomium to R&B crooner Frank Ocean (never heard of him). In her rambling piece, Zimmerman gushes about the seemingly limitless frontiers of the so-called LGBT(etc.) movement, with Ocean serving as its best ambassador. The entertainer refuses to place his sexual identity or limit it, so he goes with “dynamic” to describe his preferences. To get a taste of the article’s thrust, here’s an excerpt.
Ocean’s sexuality is, as he describes it, “dynamic”—a self-assessment that hasn’t stopped journalists from pigeonholing him as bisexual or gay. This refusal of conventional terms is becoming more and more common among younger generations, who increasingly reject binary constructs. Dynamism is at the heart of both the artist and his oeuvre. It’s also part of an ever-evolving definition of queerness. . . .
. . . queerness is less of a location or endpoint and more of a horizon. In the words of queer theorist [??] José Muñoz, “Queerness is not yet here… Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness.” Here queerness is defined not by a destination or a term, but by constant motion.
If you’re scratching your head after reading that trippish Brave New World explanation, you’re not alone. Although you may increasingly find yourself in a minority. But what is it really saying? What are the implications? The removal of an “endpoint” in the arena of sexuality is noteworthy. The classical and scholastic schools of philosophy (which formed Western thought) posited that telos (the end for which something exists) is an essential element in the equation of knowing why something is the way it is. Things large and small exist for an end. Aristotle asked what the goal of human life is, and arrived at the conclusion that it must be happiness, understood as contemplation. So if happiness is the end, there must be a way that is universal to man in achieving it, and that way is through a life of virtue. So ethics, the study of how man is to act according to the use of reason, is an essential part of the human condition. Thomas Aquinas would add to this Aristotelian formulation with the assertion that God Himself is man’s end (which will certainly make us very happy/blessed), and the means by which we attain Him is through a life of virtue, aided by God’s grace and the sacramental life of the Church.
Against the radical individualism of our day, as articulated by Zimmerman and Ocean, both Aristotle and Aquinas believe that a common human nature is shared by all and, as a result of this, we share a common end. It also implies that we are obligated to obey the laws of that shared human nature, which is oriented toward that one end. This is where the study of ethics enters into the equation. How are we to act? What is the morally right thing to do in this or that circumstance? But once the shared end of man is jettisoned, ethics itself and any understanding of a universal norm governing human behavior, must unravel.
Untethering sex from any “endpoint” (like procreation) gives us the absurd formulation articulated in Zimmerman’s article. As others have noted, the seed of this understanding was planted with the introduction of and widespread reliance on contraceptives, which severed sex from procreation. The traditional understanding of why sex exists was tossed out the window. The confusion we see today in sexuality, with the introduction of different genders, etc., is a logical consequence of that first bifurcation of sex from procreation. Sex can take place in any context and the only condition (for now) is that it be accompanied by free consent. And it looks like the sky’s the limit as for how bizarre it’s going to get. What won’t be off limits?
The “dynamism”/experimentation-without-end view of sexuality clashes with the traditional understanding presented by the Church. Bill Maguire wrote an excellent essay on that view. Here’s a rundown.
The central tenet of the traditional Catholic understanding of the human person and human sexuality is that man—male and female—is created in the image of God (imago Dei). As Creator, God made a decision that the human person should always and only exist as a man or a woman. Consequently there are not multiple genders, as LGBT gender theory asserts, but only two: male and female. Our gender (or sex) is determined by the sex of our body: a person with a male body is a man and can never be otherwise; a person with a female body is a woman and can never be otherwise.
. . . according to the traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality there are not multiple sexualities [i.e. “dynamic”], as LGBT gender theory asserts, but only two: male sexuality and female sexuality. Consequently, there are only two sexual orientations. The sexuality of a man is oriented towards—is designed by God for—nuptial union with a woman. The sexuality of a woman is oriented towards—is designed by God for—nuptial union with a man.
It’s safe to say that in this context, another word for sexual “dynamism” is anarchy. And anarchy is usually followed by revolutions and other unpleasant realities. True revolutions, like the French, Bolshevik/Communist and sexual revolutions, are complete and (typically violent) rejections of tradition and previously held ways of understanding the world. A new world order is the true desideratum. Blood is shed for the sake of the revolution’s success. The life of the individual is expendable for the good of the Cause. The traditional view of morality and a shared, universal human nature are inconvenient impediments to the ruling power, so they are rejected and replaced with a “might makes right” utilitarianism. It happened in France under the guillotine and the Terror. It happened in Russia under Stalin, and elsewhere in the world under violent Communist dictators. And more recently it happened in the West, with abortion and the loss of tens of millions of unborn children. The end of revolution is always a dark age.
Why we aren’t more alarmed in 2016 when we hear enthusiasm for the rejection of traditional ways of understanding fundamental human acts is deeply troubling. In light of the last century’s numerous run-ins with totalitarians who railed against the “old way” of doing/seeing things, you’d think we’d have learned our lesson.
(Featured image: FILMMAGIC)