Everything’s Bent: Rethinking ‘Normal’

How long until homosexual marriage is legally enshrined in your country? British PM David Cameron has come out in support of ‘Marriage Equality’. So, too, has US President Barack Obama. Everything is topsy turvy in the land Down Under: PM Julia Gillard has cautiously allowed a conscience vote, but still contends that marriage is technically a life-long commitment between a man and a woman. But with the Marriage Equality movement gaining momentum, and yet another wave of Senate Inquiries to hit our shores, many wonder if Gillard will drown in a deluge of anti-discrimination.


The rhetoric is at fever-pitch. Take our morning TV program, Sunrise. On a cold winter’s dawn, hundreds gather out front of the studio waving over-sized placards. “I Do!” “Children Need a Mother and a Father.” “End the Discrimination!” They’re gathered for ‘The Great Marriage Debate’. The contenders autograph t-shirts like MMA sluggers before taking their corner. You can feel the heat on youtube, even if the fight generates no light. Each waits a turn to call the other crazy.

My favourite placard was “1 in 10.” This rally-cry is of course a throw back to Alfred Kinsey’s highly questionable social-science statistics, claiming one in ten people are gay. With all the international press, it’s not surprising that many think it’s more like one in four. Our 2011 Census data pegs it closer to one in forty, a number sure to stay in the closet. Ironically, the only stat for 1 in 10 is the number of Aussies preferring to live alone. From all accounts, even when homosexual marriage is legislated, fewer than 10 percent of gays actually want to tie the knot.

So why all the fuss? Genuinely, I don’t mean to be dismissive. Atrocities have been committed against homosexuals. I’m glad there are already equal rights for gay civil partnership. I recognise that over 60 percent of Australians consider the Church’s attitude against homosexuality a blocker to believing in Christianity. My question, though, is this: given that only about 0.2% of the population want to marry someone of the same sex, why is this particular issue such a powder keg? I may well be wrong, but I sense it’s primarily a fight over one word.

Normal.

What is normal? And who’s to say? In an age of autonomy, surely I have the right to self-definition—particularly as it relates to my core identity as a sexual being? One man’s meat is another man’s poison, so don’t judge. Besides which, perhaps I was born this way? We can’t fight nature, can we?

Is it just semantics? Gay vs. Straight? We need to rethink. What if everything is bent? Let me explain this in my next post this Friday.

Dave Benson


[1] C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (HarperCollinsPublishers: London, 1938), 170-81 (Chapter 20).

[2] Lewis comically explores our disproportionate desire for sex in Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 5. See here.

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