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A Social Dilemma

 

CHARLES writes:

I am a traditionalist and a fan of your blog.  I find it to to be full of thoughtful and perceptive comments written by learned and thoughtful people.

I am afraid that I will soon be forced to confront a very awkward and uncomfortable social problem of the type frequently discussed in your blog.  I thought that my quandary might be of interest  and that it might be helpful to solicit your views and those of your contributors on the underlying issue and my proposed response to it.

Allow me first to furnish the stage:  My wife and I are members of an informal social group of about 15 couples in our late 50′s and early 60′s who meet monthly in a member’s home for purposes of enjoying good wine (65 million Frenchmen can’t be all wrong!) and discussing topics of mutual interest.  The membership consists of well educated and successful upper middle class white couples who could be characterized (with one exception) as basically apolitical suburbanites who always vote Republican, probably by default and without giving much thought to it.   Nice people, nice homes, nice manners, nice clothes, otherwise preoccupied and utterly clueless  –  you know the type.

The exceptional couple are trendy left-liberal childless professionals who occasionally get in your face about some silly left wing issue of one kind or another.  This does not happen very often often, but it occurs often enough that you definitely know that they are hard core lefties who take their politics very seriously.  I am not sure why this couple was asked to join our group in the first instance, but the fact of the matter is that they are members and they are about to drop a stink bomb that I will be forced to deal with.

At the last gathering of our group, I happened to overhear the left-wing couple mention to another member that they intend to propose for membership an openly homosexual couple who were recently “married” and with whom they are friends.   I know this homosexual couple very casually and they are successful, educated and socially presentable people  –  we are not talking about grungy, emaciated, tattooed and pierced social freaks here.  Nevertheless, the thought of a homosexual couple joining our small and highly congenial group simply turns my stomach.

I strongly suspect that most of our members would prefer not to have to face this issue and, if they were to give much thought to it, would be mildly opposed.  I am also quite certain that almost every one of them will be unwilling to express any opposition toward or to vote against this membership proposal for fear of being thought to be mean spirited, prejudiced, small-minded, backward and/or homophobic.  Thus, if the membership proposal is made by the lefty couple, it will be a “done deal,” no matter what I do.

I know that Western Civilization is already well advanced along the road to Hell and I realize that, as a practical matter, there is probably not much that I can do change things.  Still, I could not live with myself if I were to allow this membership proposal to proceed without comment or opposition.  There are two problems with this from my standpoint.  First,  three or four other couples who are members of our group are close friends with whom my wife and I frequently socialize independently of the group.  I am very concerned that by opposing the admission of the homosexual couple, I will offend my friends and adversely affect my relationship with them.  Second, if this were to occur, I can also be certain that I will severely adversely affect my relationship with my wife  –  who will condemn my decision to speak against the membership proposal as a pointless, ineffectual, arrogant, selfish, and self-indulgent act that may needlessly injure or sacrifice one or more of our valued friendships.  This seems to me to be unfair, but at some level, it is possible that she may be correct in this assessment.

As you can see here, the lefty couple is likely to put me in a very difficult position and I need to be certain that I handle it with the utmost care.  Here is what I propose to do. I think that my initial move must be to raise the issue privately  with the husband of the lefty couple (with whom I have had a very slight professional relationship). I would explain to him briefly that I find homosexuality to be morally offensive and ask him to abandon the idea of proposing the homosexual couple because proceeding with it would needlessly create a very awkward situation for himself, for his wife, for the group, for my wife, and for me.  I would further tell him that if he proceeds to make the nomination, I will oppose it and, if it is approved, I will quietly disengage from the group.  We all know that a lefty is not likely to respond well to such an appeal and that it will probably accomplish little beyond provoking a towering, self-righteous dudgeon.  Nevertheless, because a successful appeal to the lefty’s conscience (however unlikely) is the one approach that I can identify that will lead to an entirely satisfactory result, I am inclined to give it a shot.

If, as I expect, my appeal to the lefty is unavailing, then I will oppose the nomination when it is presented to our group.  My comments will be very brief and I propose to say something along the following lines:

“Forgive me, but I find homosexuality to be morally offensive and I must speak in opposition to this nomination.  Please do not misunderstand me  –  I do not hate homosexuals any more than I hate any other poor soul who suffers from a severe mental or physical handicap.  I tolerate homosexuals, of course, as is my duty in a liberal society, but I do not choose to socialize with them (as is also my right in such a society) and I will not do anything that could be construed to normalize or endorse homosexuality.  Inviting this homosexual couple to join our congenial little group does both.” 

I will say nothing further on the matter and will decline to be drawn into a debate  –  which is guaranteed to be both nasty and unproductive, given the presence of the lefty couple.

I do not think that my appeal will carry the day, but at least I will have had my say in a way that I believe is well calculated to make my point, while minimizing hard feelings amongst the group and potential damage to my friendships and to my marriage.  If the homosexual couple is nevertheless admitted to membership, I will thereafter make only a brief appearance at an occasional gathering of the group sufficient to maintain our status as members  –  so that my wife will be able to participate in future gatherings on her own if she desires.

As I am deeply troubled by this conundrum.  Perhaps someone in your audience has wrestled with this issue before?  I would be very grateful for any constructive comments that you and TTH’s contributors may wish to make.  I would particularly appreciate suggestions for improving my proposed comments in opposition to the nomination.

Please keep up your good work  –  Western Civilization needs all of the help that it can get these days!

Laura writes:

Thank you for your support.

Obviously you are right. You shouldn’t participate if the homosexual couple joins. You write:

I will say nothing further on the matter and will decline to be drawn into a debate — which is guaranteed to be both nasty and unproductive, given the presence of the lefty couple.

Very wise. Anything you say will be used against you.

If I were in your position, I would simply say, “Millions of men have died prematurely as a result of homosexual behavior. I’m not going to stand by and act as if this is normal. We should help people overcome homosexuality, not encourage it. I object to the inclusion of this couple.” Period.

I don’t see how your action would be selfish. To the contrary, it would be uncharitable to do otherwise. If your wife is not aware of the terrible physical and psychological consequences of homosexual behavior, I recommend Jeffrey Satinover’s book Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. Here’s one report challenging the idea that attraction to the same sex cannot be overcome. I hope your wife joins you in distancing yourself from the group if it comes to that. Perhaps others will too.

—- Comments —

A reader writes:

Two things:

1.  Homosexuals are fanatical and relentless.  Injecting a couple like that is clearly aimed to take the group deep into the abyss.  The leftist couple is an enemy force.
2.  This group is full of nice people, soft and ripe for a takeover.   If they go for it, they are incapable of resistance, and are doomed.

Roger G. writes:

I think Charles’ first priority – in this particular situation – has to be not weakening his relationship with wife. I strongly agree that there are issues for which even that relationship would have to take a back seat, but I don’t think this is one of them. If doing anything indeed would weaken the spousal relationship, then I think he has to do nothing. Not even speak first to the lefty husband. Not even cut back on his attendance.

However, if Charles can win his wife over, then he should take his stand. Having to give up participation in the group would a very worthwhile price to pay for taking advantage of this opportunity to make a public statement – even in such a small way (i.e., with only 30 or so people). Every little bit helps – or at least doesn’t hurt.

Laura writes:

I think he should talk to his wife and respect her concerns, but he should definitely not participate even if she objects. In the long run, I believe she will come to understand.

Roger adds:

Lefties and homosexuals are always forcing the issue. Of course this isn’t fortuitous. The lefty couple and the homosexual couple have an ulterior motive here; this is an act of aggression.

Laura writes:

Of course. Nothing can remain untouched. Everything is a stage for activism. And, yes, it is an act of aggression.

Roger writes:

Charles wrote:

(M)y wife…will condemn my decision to speak against the membership proposal as a pointless, ineffectual, arrogant, selfish, and self-indulgent act that may needlessly injure or sacrifice one or more of our valued friendships. This seems to me to be unfair, but at some level, it is possible that she may be correct in this assessment.

It would indeed be unfair. She would not be correct in this assessment.

Gretchen writes:

Perhaps Charles might speak privately, before the next meeting of the group, to the couples with whom he is closest, to let them know of his opposition to the upcoming proposal for membership of the homosexual couple. Perhaps if 10 or so members have the understanding that someone whom they like and value is against it, they’ll be more inclined to reject the new members.

Liberals are relentless. If the leftist couple is not checked, they will eventually destroy this little group, by bringing in more people like themselves. The convivial and congenial atmosphere that Charles and his wife so enjoy will be politicized and destroyed.

Buck writes:

I can’t imagine what the “topics of mutual interest” discussed by Charles, a traditionalist, his wife and fifteen “well educated” white couples could be. Especially if their all enjoying good wine.

Has anyone – ever – mentioned same-sex “marriage”? Or, the homosexualization of their country? Are you kidding me?

This group sounds like a cast of unfamiliar extras on a bad TV show. Do they re-introduce themselves each month? Are these real people?

Sure they are. Too real. And their going to be okay with a “gay” “married” couple who, stereotypically, will be experts and entertaining on French wine.

The fact that the idea of warmly welcoming a pair of male homosexuals into this group, means that this group represents modern liberalism in full. Who is going to have the guts to uninvite them? Who is going to make that phone call?

The fact that Charles brings it up for discussion means that it is a done deal. The fact that Charles did not stop the idea in its tracks IMMEDIATELY, means to me that Charles is terminally infected with modern liberalism himself, and he identifies as a traditionalist in name only. He, like most of us, lives outside of himself, as a modern liberal in order to socialize in a modern liberal world.

This group has no choice. The choice has been effectively removed from them. Unless this group is a lot more intimate and of like mind then just their preferences for wine and casual “mutual interests,” they lack the courage and conviction necessary to exclude what they should find repugnant to their own good order and the good order of the society that they intend, if that is what they intend. Perhaps it is not even a question for them – welcome!

This is not a difficult question. The fact that Charles has posed his question – as if our larger society is something altogether apart from this small group – reveals the overwhelming weight that tolerance places on us, on his relationship with his wife, on what is natural, and on the measure of value that he places on this group of “mutual interests”.

This is “where the rubber meets the road.” If not here, then where?

Laura writes:

One clarification: Charles overheard talk of the homosexual couple being invited. So he reasonably couldn’t stop the idea in its tracks because it had not really been proposed yet.

I guess I would agree with Buck that if no one in this group has ever discussed one of the most momentous changes in our society ever then probably most are not particularly opposed to it. But it would be worth finding out.

Buck writes:

The fact that Charles has posed his question – as if our larger society is something altogether apart from this small group – reveals the overwhelming weight that tolerance places on us, on his relationship with his wife, on what is natural, and on the measure of value that he places on this group of “mutual interests.”

Excellent observation.

Mark Moncrieff writes:

Charles, I do not think you should speak to the leftist husband, I think you should speak to the other husbands and find out their feelings on the matter. If you are to stand any chance of opposing this, and I think you should, then you need to do some networking. Ideally you should meet with them one on one or in small groups. Go to their house and find out their opinion and tell them yours. Often people are afraid to stand out from the group even though they oppose something because they think they are the only one who thinks that way. Start with the men you know best or who you think are the most conservative. Tell them that the group is small and comfy, ask them if they want to be discussing the latest social controversy every meeting or only every other meeting, then let them think about it. If you have time use that time.

I hope this helps.

Laura writes:

That is similar to Gretchen’s suggestion and I think both are good ideas.

There’s one problem however. Members of the group may be too “nice” for such behind-the-scenes conversation. They may feel they violate the spirit of the gatherings and may fear any political conversation. That is very common — simply a complete ban on all discussion of these sensitive issues.

Texanne writes:

Charles describes what is happening every day all around the country — not just with friends, but within families.  It is straining marriages, causing children to quietly withdraw from social interaction or be shunned by their peers, destroying bonds between generations in families.  What is love without truth?  To love is to want the best for the other, and that is not always what the other is demanding as a sign of our love.

Perhaps when we used to read the gospels about sons turning against their fathers and mothers against their daughters, we were thinking of petty arguments, childish behavior, meddling mothers-in-law — all of which we thought could be overcome by trying harder to be kinder and gentler, patient and understanding, turning the other cheek one more time. We thought we could all just get along and peace would reign. A few short years ago we could never have imagined the violence with which that sword would be literally sundering hearts, families and bonds of love.  Now we know better.

Charles writes:

Thanks so much for publishing my inquiry and thank you also for your comments.

I read the thread of responses this morning and, interestingly, I find that the responses reflect the fundamental underlying tension between the ideal and the practical so neatly framed by my dilemma:  do I do what is “right” and risk injury to my friendships and to my relationship with my wife or do I do the practical thing and basically punt on the issue?  I was hoping that there might have been an aspect to all of this that I had missed in my analysis and that there might have been a “third way” that would allow me to the right thing without adverse consequence.  That no such approach seems to exist is hardly surprising.  Here, as with everything else in life, there is no free lunch.

I would like to clarify one final issue.  I think that my wife appreciates the foul nature of homosexuality, as well as the far reaching and destructive consequences of homosexual behavior; she may not react to it with quite the level of revulsion and horror that I do, but she knows that homosexuality is morally repugnant and wrong.  The difference is that I am the idealist and she is the pragmatist in our relationship.  She knows that there is absolutely nothing that either of us can do to to change the direction of things and, consequently, she cannot understand why I would risk damaging several rewarding friendships by taking a stand here.

At least I have 2,000 years of Western Civilization on my side and I find comfort in that.

Laura writes:

I understand her view. However, it could be those people will agree with you. And even if we cannot change the direction of things — and of course it could never change if everyone in such circumstances was silent — we can refuse any personal complicity in normalizing homosexuality.

You say your wife knows that homosexuality is “morally repugnant and wrong.” I wonder if she more closely looked at the physical suffering homosexuality has caused if she might come closer to your feelings of repugnance.

Buck responds to Laura’s point above:

Whether or not Charles can stop an idea that obviously was not automatically dismissed by others, or leave a group that is not automatically closed to it, is up to him. Hearing about it directly, or overhearing it by chance, changes nothing. Charles now knows about it.

Either challenge it immediatly upon hearing about it, however he hears about it, or challenge it quickly in private. Or severe the relationship if at odds with it. If he gets any response other than “no way”, then Charles now knows something substantive about this casual group of wine drinkers. What happens now is up to him.

Matthew Hess writes:

The first remark suggested by Charles is a little too sharp. In situations like this, you have to take great care to hate the sin and love the sinner.  When traditionalists are opposed to things like gay marriage and gay adoption, it’s not because we view homosexuals as lesser beings and wish to put them down. It’s because we want to protect and preserve traditional marriage and the traditional family.  We also feel sorry for homosexuals who are caught up in their destructive lifestyle.

 But you have to realize that this group of ordinary people has been conditioned by society to equate any opposition to homosexuality with hatred and intolerance.  The idea that homosexuality is no different from any mental or physical illness will seem outlandish to most people. While I share his belief that it is a mental illness, ordinary people will see this remark is hateful.

 So I would respectfully suggest that Charles adopt a tone that is bluntly honest, but cannot be construed as hateful. For example, something like this:

 “I am opposed to homosexuality on religious grounds. My objection to it is not only religious, however.  I believe that homosexuality is a destructive force in our society that hurts its practitioners, as evidenced by their promiscuity and rates of mental illness.  I also believe that homosexuality tears the fabric of society.   Moreover, while I am aware that there is currently a trend in society which encourages us to accept that homosexual marriage is equivalent to traditional marriage, I do not agree with this.  I do not believe that gay marriage is the same as real marriage. Nor would I wish to see children raised in a gay marriage. While I’m sure that many gay couples would make fine parents, and am aware that there are some heterosexual couples who are poor parents, all else being equal I would certainly not wish to see children raised by homosexuals. I do not want to pretend that a homosexual couple is the same as a heterosexual couple. To me, they are not the same. If a homosexual couple joins the group, I will feel very uncomfortable because I will be forced to pretend that everything is normal.  But it isn’t normal, and I refuse to act as if it is.

You are my friends.  I don’t know this new couple and, while they persist in living in a phony ‘marriage,’ I don’t want to be forced to pretend to accept and validate their choice, when the truth is that I don’t.  I am strongly opposed to gay marriage on religious and philosophical grounds.  If this places me at odds with the prevailing trend, so be it.  If a couple claiming to be engaged in a homosexual “marriage” joins the group, I will decline to participate.  My wife may stay, but I will withdraw.”

Matthew adds:

Also, I’ll bet that a lot of the couples in the group are quietly uncomfortable with the idea of a gay “married” couple in their midst. But they will never say so. That’s why Charles has to take the lead and speak bluntly and honestly. My guess is that if he does this, the others will not reject him. On the contrary, it may draw them closer to him. My guess is that no one will speak out in opposition to Charles, the knuckle-dragging bigot in their midst, and in favor of the “married” gay couple. Instead, they will just quietly let the issue drop.

Laura writes:

Unfortunately, there is  at least one very determined liberal in the group. Your statement above, which I think is basically very good, will be, in the mind of at least that person, an open declaration of war. I think Charles’s instinct that he must work on this quietly and without drawing attention to himself is based on his understanding of the social dynamics here and the concerns of his wife.

W. G. writes:

Here is the likely scenario that Charles will face when his leftist couple friends make the pitch to the group concerning allowing the homosexual couple to join:

*  Charles will make his speech, giving a summation as to his objection to the couple joining the group.

*  Leftist couple, most likely the husband, will call him a close-minded homophobe.

*  This will put Charles in the position to have to defend his objections.  This reconfigures the frame of the conversation as if the default position of the group was to accept the “couple”.

An alternative approach would be to frame his response in the form of an interrogation to the leftist couple.  Within this frame, leftist couple will be put in the position to defend their request and make the case for the admission of the homosexual “couple.”  This is called the “Socratic method,” in which one dismantles his opponents case through a series of seemingly innocent questioning.  Instead of positive arguments, one becomes a doubter, giving the impression that he could be persuaded.  Ben Franklin employed this approach when debating.  If employed effectively, this method would draw leftist couple into a position in which they cannot escape without looking foolish.  The likely result, if this were to happen, would be that leftist couple would leave the group, in which the group is not really the worse for it.

Leftists tend to use labeling as a way of putting their well-meaning opponents on the defensive.  Commonly, however, they tend to hijack words and twist the meanings to suit their needs.  Pick any label with negative social connotations, such as “racist,” “homophobic,” or “misogynist” (my personal favorite), and the definition of the word will likely have no application to the target.  We, as traditional people, must liberate these words and apply as they should be.  For example, I find that feminists are misogynists by virtue of their efforts to socially ignore natural sex differences, which leads to different roles for each gender.  As misogyny is, by definition, “the hatred of women,” it more properly applies to the feminist, most of whom abhor what it naturally means to be a woman.  Those who kowtow to the homosexual pressures are the true homophobes, as they apparently fear homosexuals enough to bend to their demands.

Laura writes:

Interesting.

I like that idea.

Peter writes:

Here’s some advice for Charles in regard to his fine fine wine and dine dilemma.  Rather than making himself the locus of dyspeptic disruption, a spoil sport to social grace and mood, he needs to put the onus back on the would-be perpetrators of gastric grievance. In a word, Charles needs to confront those trending trendies of all things new with a question: “So, my dear gauche gastronomes does this mean you’re vouching for these stallions?  Are you willing to put your reputation and place at the table on the line to bring them in?”  Ok, so it’s either two questions or one question with two parts…

It is a drama much like America’s recent past.  The left, having anointed itself to the role of cultural referee, exposed their fellow citizens to unknown and unassimilable aliens. Yet still, the right has till now been far too polite in pointing out the predicament this has wrought on us.

But Liberals have forgotten this inescapable fact: change the game – change the rules – change the rulers.

Jack writes:

There used to be an almost universal rule in social clubs, usually unwritten, that neither religion nor politics should be discussed by the members. This was to preserve the comity that these clubs were intended to provide. Homosexual marriage is among the most divisive of issues in society at large, and I wonder if Charles might more effectively present his concerns to his fellow members without getting into the issue itself. If I were in his situation, I would suggest in private to sympathetic members that by introducing this couple into the group, politics and religion would start to dominate conversation, as people would now be more likely to have these topics on their minds; the agreeable social atmosphere would suffer, and the reason for the group to exist in the first place would be lost. Why put a good thing at risk when there is nothing to be gained by it?

 Laura writes:

But by rejecting the couple for any reason, the group would be taking what would be viewed as a political stand. I don’t think the left-wing couple is going to take rejection without demanding an explanation and accusing the group of “homophobia.” It truly would be an act of aggression on their part.

Hurricane B. writes:

Charles wrote:

“Forgive me, but I find homosexuality to be morally offensive…”

Charles, drop the “Forgive me, but.” It’s wrong on every imaginable level to start your otherwise good presentation that way. You’ll come across as weak – and that’s just for starters.

Anyway, good luck. Hope you’ll report back. Things might pan out in a way nobody suspected, or the group might have to dissolve. If it does, you could try to find a discussion group that doesn’t revolve around consumption of alcohol.

Charles writes:

It seems as though my inquiry has prompted a fair amount of attention, including some comments that are critical of our social group and, by implication, of me.  No doubt, some of these criticisms are valid, but allow me to make an observation.  Not everyone can be a soldier in the culture war and it is unrealistic to expect that all of my friends will share my deep concern for the decay of contemporary society.  The fact of the matter is that, for most of us, life is a struggle.  Most ordinary and decent people do the best that they can in the circumstances of their lives and seek peace, beauty and serenity wherever they can find it.  The vast majority (I think understandably) choose not to fight battles over issues that they only vaguely understand and that they do not perceive to be immediately threatening.  This is especially true in the case of a battle that offends the canons of political correctness, given that the mere expression of a politically incorrect sentiment can these days result in dire consequences, including the loss of a job, an income tax audit and Heaven only knows what else.  I think that it is unfair for this reason to be critical of me because I have friends who are not engaged in active opposition to the forces of social corruption.  In a related point, I also agree with Buck that society today forces most of us to tolerate the intolerable, but we do not live in a perfect world and, being social animals, we need our friends.  I try to choose my friends wisely, but few of them agree with me on every important contemporary issue.

Several commentators have made interesting points and I would like to comment on a couple of them.  First,  W.G.’s suggestion that I employ a Socratic interrogation on the lefty couple is brilliant.  I am well familiar with this technique and in the hands of a skilled interrogator it would be devastatingly effective.  There are only two major problems with it, the first being that I am not clever enough to pull it off.  The second problem is that it just wouldn’t work very well in the context of an informal social group whose members would be properly offended if one of our gatherings were to be turned into a lengthy and contentious fight over an issue that most would prefer to simply ignore.

I think that Matthew Hess is entirely correct in advising with respect to my statement in opposition to the nomination that I should avoid equating homosexuality with physical or mental disability because it would be deemed to be hateful  –  truth, of course, is these days irrelevant.  Similarly, I agree with Hurricane B. that I should not preface my comments with the phrase “Forgive me.”   Accepting these helpful suggestions, I intend to modify my statement as follows:

“I find homosexuality to be morally offensive and I must speak in opposition to this nomination.  Please do not misunderstand me  –  I do not hate homosexuals.    I tolerate them, of course, as is my duty in a liberal society, but I do not choose to socialize with them (as is also my right in such a society) and I will not do anything that could be construed to normalize or endorse homosexuality.  Inviting this homosexual couple to join our congenial little group does both.” 

It is absolutely imperative for the reasons that Mrs. Wood and others have identified that my opposition not precipitate a debate on homosexuality.  For that reason I intend to add the following to my statement:

“I do not intend to be drawn into a debate this evening on the morality of homosexuality  –   beyond observing that my position is a reasonable one and is supported by the weight of 2,000 years of Western Civilization and the 3,000 years of Judaic tradition that preceded it.” 

I am grateful to each of you who have taken the time to respond to my inquiry.

Laura writes:

Thank you for your response.

That is a perfectly fine statement to the group. I wish you the best with this. I do think there is a strong possibility that even with this brief statement you will be drawn into an awkward and uncomfortable debate.

I would like to comment on your point that not everyone is a culture warrior. Unfortunately, there are two culture warriors in the midst of this group. And it is their act of militance, not yours, that threatens to upset this congenial club. Perhaps your friends can live separate from the world around them much of the time (though I doubt it because I expect at least some of them have dealt with this issue in other contexts), but this couple is forcing them to take a stand. That is not your doing.

It is not asking your intelligent and congenial friends to be culture warriors to expect them to announce politely that the group is for married couples, in the normal sense of the term. In any event, you seem like a gracious person and so I think you should be honest and open as planned, and then discreetly back away if they decide to have the homosexual couple join. There is most definitely a point to your doing this even if you fail to convince others. You will show other men in the group how to be firm and gracious at the same time. You will show them it is possible to resist.

Also, serenity and beauty have always been things that must be defended. Always. There has never been a time or place where they weren’t threatened or where they just “happened.” It is the role of some to be more vigilant on their behalf than others.

A reader writes:

I propose that the vote to be taken be done by secret ballot.

Laura writes:

Great idea. Charles should suggest that.

Earl writes:

I would take the upper hand and oust the lefties before they can propose their motion. Charles admitted that they have been a problem in the past and he doesn’t know who invited them in the first place. Many commenters skated around the truth that the 1st order problem is the leftist couple. They must be disinvited from the group on grounds of needlessly politicizing the meetings, giving examples of past transgressions. The leftists are only doing what they do: sickening the host, like a harmful parasite. Do we try to argue with the neighbors about raccoons being a nuisance because neighbors don’t put a brick on their dumpsters, or do we just shoot the damned raccoons?

Samson writes:

I want to thank Charles for writing in about this, and Laura for entertaining the question. It’s the kind of almost-impossible-to-believe scenario that any of us might face these days.

Please do keep us posted, Charles. I will pray for you about it, although I fear, as someone else mentioned, that the destruction of the group may have become inevitable when the leftist couple was invited to begin with, and at this stage, there may be no likeable outcome. That is how leftism operates: it destroys from within, intentionally or not. As with whole societies and nations, so too smaller organizations go through their cycles of birth and death.

As my friend Bruce Charlton noted some time ago, things are coming to a point. The homosexual question is dividing sheep from goats like nothing else in recent memory. Thus although I’m not advising being intentionally offensive, I believe the time is far past for worrying that simply stating our position will be offensive.

J. writes:

I assume from Charles’ writing that he and his wife are Christians. If that’s the case I am surprised by his attitude toward leading his wife. I think the Bible is clear that he, as the head of his household, must take the lead in matters like these.

I commiserate with his sorrow at the prospect of losing the camaraderie he has in this group, but when I re-read his own description of its members I wondered if he mightn’t be better off without them anyway. Iron sharpens iron.

Part of the liberal and homosexual agenda is to destroy everything for the ‘others’ and such semi-Traditional groups as this are a perfect target. Daniel Greenfield’s recent article on trumped-up accusations of abuse of homosexuals is similarly upsetting.

One argument that could be made to members of the group is contained in Charles’ descriptor – congenial. The meetings are very pleasant precisely because (with the exception of the leftists in its midst) the members are so similar. Bringing in a much younger or older or poorer couple, or single people, would be similarly harmful to that congeniality.

If what he fears eventuates, Charles can say something akin to ‘As for me and my household…’ and start another group with equally good wine and a greater degree of religious similarity or complementarity.

I wonder if this is something we will be pushed to more and more as the liberal cancer spreads – cleaving based on religious and explicitly anti-liberal lines, rather than loose affinities based on education and wealth.

One last point – language frames our world and is fiendishly well-exploited by the left for its own purposes. When we stoop to using the word ‘gay’ in this sense we not only dignify the lifestyle but also drag ourselves down a bit. Traditionalists should expunge ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ from our vocabularies in place of ‘homosexual woman’, or – even better – ‘woman leading a homosexual lifestyle.’

I wish Charles all the best.

Joe A. writes:

There is nothing wrong with America that couldn’t be resolved in 48 hours if her men would simply stand and say, “Enough!”

Charles, your time has come: man up and do your duty.

Dec. 6, 2013

Buck writes:

I just got back to this discussion. I have mostly skimmed it. It seems to have grown into a “progressive” discussion of ways of getting at or around the issue, without appearing to be mean or intolerant. Intolerance is the only course of action, if the goal is to re-establish a standard once held. If that standard is now deemed too strict, too mean spirited and too intolerant, then the discussion will never end. We seem to be engaged in an effort to manage a situation that has already become the norm for the majority. And it is this small minority, one which consistently has the most to say about what and why the homosexualization of America is so wrong and anti-human, that is now discussing weak defensive measures that might politely allow us to avoid the certain, unqualified, direct rejection and confrontation that is necessary. We are now the last integral part of the very problem we’re trying to resolve.

Don’t do anything, Charles, that might weaken your marriage. Quietly, under cover of darkness, seek a coalition, Charles, to discover if there is sufficient support and will to do the right thing. Establish a secret handshake.

Is “punting” on this “practical” or is it cowardly submission and total surrender? We can middle-ground this to death. Modern liberalism wins, hands down, if “married” sodomites join Charles’ group. “Period”, as our POTUS says. ML wins if the group splinters into smaller groups, or simply disbands.

What is being discussed here, by the very people who regularly appear here to articulate the good and who appear to know better, is the same, regularly address topic: what to actually do when the time comes, about this perfect example of the very issue at hand – a perfect opportunity to take a stand against what we decry as unambiguously wrong and destructive of our personal and family’s wellbeing, our society, culture, country and our faith. Why do we put off what we know is inevitable as if we know that the inevitable has nothing to do with us? Especially, when it appears that it is only “us” who pretend to the mind and professed desire to stop it.

We are all cowards, as Attorney General Holder said. Some more than others. Self-interest is the power behind the throne of modern liberalism.

 Laura writes:

Please, speak for yourself. When you say, “We are all cowards,” that’s just not true. Many times, I have risked friendships to speak out, in fact I do it everyday, and I have lost friends because of it. Like most everyone else on this planet, I like having friends, but we can’t have everything we like. One of my good friendships ended when I told a friend point blank at a party that same-sex “marriage” was selfish. Did I regret saying what I said? Not for a minute. I wouldn’t do it any other way. Gee, I even take a stand against divorce, which really puts me at odds with those around me. In some cases, I have simply put a distance between myself and others. It is often very painful because I like these people and I am a social animal too. But we can’t affiliate closely with those who approve of open sinfulness, even if they do so out of ignorance. You repeatedly make this point that we are essentially doing nothing, that we are in a position of total surrender. I cannot tell you strongly enough how much I disagree. Please don’t tell me these small acts of defiance don’t mean anything. We must save what we can.

Now I would not be part of the group Charles describes. I simply don’t enjoy voluntary gatherings with people who are so unconcerned about the world around us and aren’t clearly alarmed that their future grandchildren are going to inherit moral chaos. But I recognize that not everyone perceives that chaos as clearly as I do, so I think it is legitimate to entertain this discussion of how Charles could maintain these friendships to some degree while expressing his views. Besides, darn it, I just like Charles. There is something gracious and movingly sincere about him. I want to help him work from the real starting place where he is.

That said, I basically agree with your point that the conversation here has gotten off track by making his situation appear more complicated than it is. Charles has a very simply choice, to stand for what is right or not. It is not pointless to make a stand against same-sex “marriage” in this case. It is very important. But there is no question that something serious is at stake. It is a serious marital issue that his wife might continue to be part of this group if he left after taking a stand. It should be approached with care and forethought, but care and forethought will not remove the risks or the costs of his taking a stand.

J. writes:

I continue to be struck by the degree of implicit and explicit support in this thread for the idea that Charles shouldn’t be able to (indeed, HAVE to) guide his wife in this matter and make a decision against her preferences if necessary. I come at Traditionalism from the Christian perspective, but surely even those who don’t share my religious beliefs would agree that a husband’s headship is part of the traditional arrangement of families, and is necessary for them to function well?

There are two main points I see in this very interesting discussion – the need for him to act in a principled manner on the topic of the homosexual pair (in this I think he should aim to be direct and persuasive but not forceful, laying out the reasons for his conviction and his resolution), and the issue of the power balance in his marriage. A Christian man with what seems to be Charles’ temperament can remind himself and his wife that in the matter of headship his and her hands are tied – the Bible is clear on the point. The husband has a responsibility and cannot shirk it.

I do not want to come across as lecturing, or trying to be ‘holier than thou’, but I humbly submit that in this situation, if serious marital disharmony is a possibility then something is awry. Certainly he and she may be sad at the thought of losing those pleasant evenings, but he shouldn’t have to fear his wife’s response to him if he does have to remove them from that group.

I agree that Charles seems an intelligent and sensitive man, and I hope to hear that things go well for him. I hope my thoughts will not be taken as criticism, as they’re not intended as such. I have found his situation thought-provoking and sobering. Many of us may face variations on this theme in coming years. I for one am going to have to grow in courage and rhetorical skill significantly.

Laura writes:

Only one person here has said that the “first priority” is Charles’s relationship with his wife, and that was Roger G.

The rest are working on the assumption that Charles will indeed do what displeases his wife. After all, she would rather him not do anything to rock the boat. Commenters are almost unanimous that he should express his views. When I said the situation with his wife was a serious matter, I did not at all mean that he should refrain from making a stand and from leaving the group if the homosexual couple is accepted. But it is important that if there is anything he can do to obtain his wife’s support, he should do it. That’s why I suggested he talk to her more about homosexuality.

Buck writes:

If coward is too strong a word for people who flinch and withdraw when action is required, or fall silent when they should speak, then I’ll stop using it when not speaking about myself. We’re all afraid.

You are a particularly exceptional woman, perhaps the strongest voice that I have ever encountered. I readily take counsel from you. I certainly don’t consider you a coward: certainly not “a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things”. Your courage is inspiring.

You write of me: “You repeatedly make this point that we are essentially doing nothing, that we are in a position of total surrender. I cannot tell you strongly enough how much I disagree. Please don’t tell me these small acts of defiance don’t mean anything. We must save what we can.”

You said something similar to me in an exchange at the end of this entry, after a similar misunderstanding.

I have never said that “small acts of defiance don’t mean anything”, or that anything at issue here is meaningless or worthless. I don’t think that, and it’s not true. I’m not sure how I got you there.

Every act of defiance is good and necessary. But, clearly, I argue, they are too few. Too few gain us no ground against a modern liberal machine that is dominating us in almost every sphere of public life. Every day the evidence of that continues to mount, and the challenges increasingly greater, as is superbly documented here. Our private battles, as noble and as personally worthwhile as they are, don’t measure up as sufficient a force against an oppressive modern liberal behemoth that stands on our necks if we stick them out. Charles’ situation is a case in point. There should be no debate, but there is. There should be a simple and immediate answer, but there is not. Why was it even a question? Why was it posed as an entry? So it could be discussed it and the truth gotten to.

Why are traditionalist conservatives so carefully and closely scrutinizing strategic approaches to dealing with Charles’ dilemma? Why is it a dilemma in the first place? It’s a dilemma, rather than an automatic “NO! Are you nuts?” reflex because we are, most of us, subject to every form of modern liberal wrath, and we know it. That’s what this is about. We fear it. Charles fears his wife’s reaction, his friend’s reaction, the group’s reaction, the lefty’s reaction. He’s probably uncomfortable with the “married” sodomite’s reaction. Is any of that not true?

When I say, as I often have, that “we are all cowards”, I realize that that’s a provocative broad stroke. I assume, as has been discussed countless times elsewhere, that most honestly self-identify, at least to some degree, with what I mean. I mean it broadly in an extreme sense.

None of us say or do what we think or feel at every social opportunity, or even at most social or public opportunities. We don’t often act as we wish we had when confronted with something offensive; certainly not in unfamiliar or unsafe surroundings. Why? Clearly we are afraid of something.

We’re social creatures who make regular trade-offs for our own good. We don’t react to everything for the greater good. We wouldn’t survive. Is that a strength or a weakness? I also, almost always, tag on to that phrase, in order to add further context; a reference to Attorney General Holder’s notorious speech on race relations, where he called us all essential cowards. Holder is proved more correct than not, on a daily basis, certainly within our public institutions.

I don’t know anyone who I would call out as a coward in the worst sense of that word, for anything at issue here. I did not mean it in it’s worst sense. I apologize to anyone who took it that way.

 Laura writes:

Okay, I think I understand. I apparently misunderstood in ascribing a sort of hopelessness and cynicism to what you said. I misread your point. I also shortened your previous comment, purely because of length.

J. writes:

Laura, your comments about his approach to his wife are sensible although I wasn’t clear on your thoughts about what he should do if he decides to withdraw and she does not want to?

I was making an observation about what seems to me to be a prevalent attitude among the commenters i.e. that Charles doesn’t have a right or responsibility to keep his wife from the ungodly environment that would arise if the homosexual pair join the group.

Here are the parts that caught my attention, some of them from Charles admittedly, but not including Roger G’s:

  • “I hope your wife joins you in distancing yourself from the group if it comes to that.”
  • “If doing anything indeed would weaken the spousal relationship, then I think he has to do nothing. Not even speak first to the lefty husband. Not even cut back on his attendance.”
  • “…do I do what is “right” and risk injury to my friendships and to my relationship with my wife or do I do the practical thing and basically punt on the issue?”
  • “… If a couple claiming to be engaged in a homosexual “marriage” joins the group, I will decline to participate.  My wife may stay, but I will withdraw.”
  • “I do not think that my appeal will carry the day, but at least I will have had my say in a way that I believe is well calculated to make my point, while minimizing hard feelings amongst the group and potential damage to my friendships and to my marriage. “

Charles’ wife’s feelings and harmony in their marriage are important, and I would urge him to show his wife why he is so concerned in the hope that they end up on the same page, but in a venue like your blog I thought it important to draw the distinction between what would be desirable (his wife coming to share his view and supporting his decision for them both to withdraw if it comes to that), and what is vital (that they both withdraw even if she is displeased), in my opinion.

Not all Traditionalists may agree, but in my view, ‘equality’ and the demonization of male headship is one of the most powerful destructive forces at work in the world today. Perhaps we can have a discussion about it here.

Laura writes:

I strongly agree with J.’s basic point here. Both Charles and his wife must act together. And Charles must insist that if he withdraws, his wife does too. I should have made that point from the very beginning, but I think I was more focused on how Charles could articulate his message to the group. There is no reason why his wife should remain part of the group if he withdraws. For her to do so is a form of public disrespect of him. It would undercut him and undercut their marriage. He must insist that his wife respect his wishes. What is more important to her? Their marriage or her friends?

Roger G. writes:

In James Clavell’s novel Shogun, his protagonist John Blackthorne is about to charge through a shōji wall, with loaded pistols, to stop the despised Buntaro from beating his wife Mariko.  Blackthorne’s consort Fujiko is desperately trying to stop Blackthorne, because in this society Buntaro is completely within his rights, and by such action Blackthorne will destroy himself and probably his whole household, including Fujiko.  When Blackthorne won’t be dissuaded, Fujiko motions for him to wait, retrieves and unsheathes his sword, and prepares to follow him through.

Now by God, that’s how a wife should act.

I admit, and I’ve always gladly been willing to admit, that I may be wrong in having concluded that in this instance – because what is involved is a monthly discussion and wine tasting meeting – Charles should take no action, if he can’t persuade his wife to do what’s right.  I think its fair to ask in return, of those who disagree, to come right out and give a direct yes or no answer to the following two questions:

1)  Should Charles take action against his wife’s wishes, even if it will “severely” (his adverb) disrupt marital harmony?

2)  Should Charles take action against his wife’s wishes, even if it will bring about a separation or divorce?

 Roger G. writes:

As long as we’re all making suggestions as to what ought to happen, I have two more:

The women should all get together and agree, no marriage, no sex.

The men should all get together and agree, no wifely submission to authority, no marriage.

Laura writes:

It is a compact based in human nature and tradition.

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