In mythology, Hercules was a half-mortal, half-god with immense strength. Born from one of Zeus' many illicit affairs, Hercules was hated by Zeus' wife, Hera, who tried to kill him but failed due to his great strength; so, instead of confronting his strength directly, she caused madness to fall upon him; and then, in that mad state with his sense of reality twisted, Hercules used his strength to murder his own family.
You see, you don't have to be stronger than your opponent. You don't have to be faster, or smarter, or wiser. You don't have to face them directly at all. The only thing you have to do is warp their sense of reality. Cloud their vision. Hide the simple truth of reality behind an artificial concept that isn't really there, causing them to mistake good for evil and evil for good. Then you can sit back and watch as they themselves tear their world apart (using their own strength!) while you laugh and laugh and laugh.
That's an apt analogy to describe what is going on in our world today, a world whose own goodness is being used to tear itself apart. As I discussed in my essay "The War Between Identity and Behavior", there are two opposing worldviews about sexuality: the Identity View and the Behavior View. I recommend you read that essay for the full description of the two different worldviews, but here is a brief summary: The Behavior View is based on the reality that some behaviors are simply wrong and should be rejected no matter how difficult that might be. The Identity View, on the other hand, is ruled by illusion. At its core is the idea that people are their attractions, that humanity is divided into three separate subspecies (gay, straight, and bisexual), that morality itself must be bent to fit within the confines of the Identity View's flawed vision. The Identity View is a fantasy, a powerful fantasy used to manipulate our society, and it has proven very effective these past years. Many of those who hold it are good people, strong people, people whose strength cannot be confronted head on; so instead, like Hercules, their reality has been purposefully twisted so that now they are using their own strength against themselves.
To really understand the Identity View, you must first understand identity shells. The idea is simple: You take a behavior (any behavior) and you hide it within an outer shell of identity. This is the artificial concept I referred to earlier. The identity shell isn't really there. It's only been put in place to hide the behavior, to change the conversation from "What I do" to "What I am."
And that's where we are in the conflict over same-sex sexuality. The Behavior View says "Same-sex sexuality is morally wrong," but the Identity View responds "Some people are gay. That is who they are. You can't tell them to not be who they are." And then you sprinkle in the weaponized guilt left over from the civil rights victories of the 20th century, and suddenly those who consider same-sex sexuality to be morally wrong become "anti-gay", "homophobes", and "bigots" while those who consider same-sex sexuality to be morally right are fighting underneath such banners as "gay rights" and "marriage equality". Because "love is love", right?
Except there are others watching the drama unfold and thinking "Hey, you could use this trick with any behavior, couldn't you? That gives me an idea ..."
And that's the point: Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior.
A Semi-Serious Example
Let's take a step back from that and consider an example. In "The War Between Identity and Behavior", I mentioned the example of the must-lies from my satire "The Honor Code on Trial", but an identity shell could be created for any behavior, so let's consider a different example.
I have spent a lot of time saying over and over again that what some people are doing is wrong, but there are many today who seem to believe that telling someone that what they are doing is wrong is a sin (the only remaining sin, it seems). So, let's say I continue telling people that what they are doing is wrong, and this bothers someone who considers that action of mine to be a sin. Let's call him Fred. So, once again I tell people that what they are doing is wrong; and Fred, full of righteous indignation, tells me that it's wrong to tell people that what they are doing is wrong. In response, I look at him strangely and wonder how long it will take before he realizes how silly he is being, but, other than that, life goes on. I continue performing a behavior, and Fred continues disagreeing with that behavior.
But what if I decide to deploy the tactics of the Identity View and enclose my behavior inside an identity shell? What if I say that I'm not choosing to tell people that what they are doing is wrong? What if I say that I'm someone-who-is-only-happy-when-he-is-telling-people-that-what-they-are-doing-is-wrong? That's what I am! You can't tell me to not be what I am! And suddenly, opposing my chosen behavior has now become an act of unjust discrimination. Before, Fred just opposed my behavior, but now suddenly he opposes me. He's been transformed. Before, he was someone who lacked introspection and the ability to logically think through what he was saying. Now, thanks to my identity shell, he might as well throw a white sheet over his head and join the KKK. Aren't identity shells fun?
No? Well, welcome to the life of those who subscribe to the Behavior View. We oppose same-sex sexuality, but thanks to the identity shell constructed by the same-sex movement, instead of being considered as people who oppose a behavior, we are wrongly smeared as "bigots", "homophobes", and "anti-gay". It's absolutely ridiculous. And if you disagree that it's ridiculous, may you live long enough to someday have the weapon of identity turned against you. Only then will you understand how incredibly annoying the tactic is. And don't think for a moment that that day will never come. Humanity is synonymous with hubris, and it never stands still. It's constantly moving in one direction or another. We think we are at the end of change, but then society moves one step further than you're willing to go, and suddenly it's you wearing the white sheet over your head. Enjoy.
The Identity Shells in Society Today
There are two main identity shells being used in society today: sexual identity and gender identity. Let's break this down and separate the behavior from the identity shell that is hiding that behavior and forcing its acceptance.
Behavior: same-sex sexuality
Identity shell: gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual
Behavior: claiming to be a gender that contradicts your physical reality
Identity shell: transgender
The term "LGBT" is an identity shell used to encompass both of the above behaviors.
But it won't end with this. Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior. If you allow an identity shell for sexual identity, then you will allow an identity shell for other behaviors as well. Haven't you noticed how quickly the social pressure has shifted from compelling everyone to accept sexual identity to compelling everyone to accept gender identity? One identity shell follows another, follows another, follows another ... It never ends. Any behavior can be romanticized. Love! Happiness! Fulfillment! There is always a new identity shell to push, always a new behavior to force you to accept. It won't end until you reject the Identity View, until you realize that people are not behavior, that behavior is a choice, and that wrong choices are wrong even if some wish they were right.
Our Strength Is Used Against Us
Why are identity shells so effective? The answer is a tragic one. They are effective because, like in the example of Hercules, the false vision of reality they provide causes us to use our own strength, our own goodness, against ourselves.
Here is the reality: Some behaviors are right, and some behaviors are wrong. If you agree with that, then you must also understand that there will always be some people who want to do wrong, and they will always try to convince you that what they are doing is actually right.
But identity shells hide this reality. They change the conversation. Now, it's not about behavior at all (because the behavior is hidden). Now it's about affirming the person. It's about allowing them to be themselves, to be the person they were born to be. If you accept the identity shell of sexual identity, you likely see nothing wrong with what I just stated, but here is what you are forgetting: Same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior. One identity shell follows another, follows another, follows another ...
Let's consider the example of the must-lies from my satire "The Honor Code on Trial". The behavior is lying, and the identity shell is must-lies, those who must lie, those who aren't happy unless they lie, those who aren't themselves unless they lie, those whom you must allow to lie or else you are discriminating against them. And here is where the damage comes: You can't both believe in that identity shell and also oppose lying. At least, you can't do so for long. The identity shell is designed to destroy your rejection of lying. It's designed to destroy your moral standard using your own goodness: your compassion; your desire for equality; your recognition of the wrongness of racism, in other words, your recognition of the wrongness of opposing people themselves.
And so, bit by bit, your goodness tears apart your moral standard. You want to accept these people. You want to show them love. You want them to be happy. But how can they be happy when you are telling them that a core part of their personality is wrong? How can they be equal when you are forbidding them from communicating in the way they were born to communicate? Bit by bit, your moral standard is chipped away. Bit by bit, the identity shell becomes the only thing you can see. We must affirm the must-lies! We must be their allies! It's bigotry to believe that lying is wrong! Bit by bit, bit by bit …
"But same-sex sexuality is different!" responds the Identity View. "That is who they are! That is what they were born to be! You are forbidding them from being themselves! You are requiring them to reject a core part of who they are!"
My reply: You could say that about any behavior. You could say that about any sin.
Smash the Identity Shell
When the identity shell of sexual identity is discarded, what are we left with? What is the actual reality that is being hidden?
Here is the reality: There are people who feel the desire (same-sex attraction) to do something that is wrong (same-sex sexuality). There are people who lack the desire (opposite-sex attraction) to do something that is right, and who therefore are trying to convince us it's okay for them to do wrong instead. But that is not something we can agree with, because same-sex sexuality isn't special. It's just a behavior like any other behavior. And a lack of desire to do right does not justify doing wrong. If it did in this case, then it would in all cases, leaving us with no moral standards whatsoever.
Ending on a Personal Note
Imagine Hercules is your friend. Imagine you are there when madness clouds his vision. You try to reason with him. You try to help him understand that what he is seeing, what he is reacting to, isn't real. But it doesn't work. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, it doesn't work. You try, and try, and try, yet his madness persists. Imagine how frustrating that would feel.
If you can imagine that frustration, then you can imagine how I've felt these past years as I've tried to write reason about same-sex sexuality and tried to convince people that the Identity View offers a false vision of reality.
Yet there's something more I've felt recently, something besides the screech of fingernails dragged across chalkboards that fills my mind when people describe the world from the warped vantage point of the Identity View. There's something different now, something more than annoyance or aggravation. I see good people, strong people, people who would never permit a direct attack against their moral standards. I see these good people trapped within the confines of the Identity View. I see them interacting with identity shells as if they were real. And I see the goodness of these people turned against themselves. I see the cracks that are appearing in their moral standards, cracks that they themselves are causing because, with their view of reality twisted, they mistake good for evil and evil for good. I see this and I try to stop it. I try to open their eyes—but I can't. And I want to weep. It's more than frustration now. It's more than aggravation. I feel powerless, and I want to weep.
I am not clever enough. I am not charismatic enough. I am not persuasive enough. I am not powerful enough. These good people are walking beside me, but their eyes are clouded by a false reality, and I'm powerless to do anything about it. I want to weep.
And I wonder if the words I write are capable of changing the mind of even a single person. I wonder if I can cause reality to click for them, if I can help the identity shells to crumble away. I wonder if I can do that for even one of these good people, and I have my doubts. Have they simply gone too far to reach? Is the distance between them and reality too great for my limited talents to pull them back?
Oh, I try. It should be obvious that I try—tens of thousands of words in stories and essays, years and years of effort, thousands of dollars invested in the hope of making a difference. Yet, after all of that, the most I can say of myself is "I try." That's it, just "I try." And so I feel powerless, and I want to weep. These are good people, so many good people, yet there seems nothing I can do, nothing besides try. Still, I continue on—because that's how I was made to be. On, and on, and on into the approaching night.
• The War Between Identity and Behavior
• How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion
• I Am the Absence of Homophobia
topics: sexual identity | gender identity