While conservative Christian groups refuse to recognize same-sex marriage, there is more to their debate than biblical literalism or nostalgia for simple gender roles. Investigating why conservative Christians are so energized by an issue that, according to their own statistics, affects only a small number of Americans, Ludger Viefhues-Bailey confronts a profound theological conundrum: conservatives of both sexes are asked at once to be assertive and submissive, masculine and feminine, both within the home, the church, society, and the state.Focusing primarily on texts produced by Focus on the Family, a leading media and ministry organization informing conservative Christian culture, Viefhues-Bailey discovers two distinct ideas of male homosexuality: gender-disturbed and passive; and oversexed, strongly masculine, and aggressive. These homosexualities enable a complex ideal of Christian masculinity, according to which men are both assertive toward the world and submissive toward God and family. This web of sexual contradiction influences the flow of power between the sexes and within the state. Notions of sexual equality are joined to claims of "natural" difference, establishing a fraught basis for respectable romantic marriage. Heterosexual union is then treated as emblematic of, if not essential to, the success of American political life. Far from creating gender stability, these tensions produce an endless striving for balance. Viefhues-Bailey's final, brilliant move is to connect the desire for stability to strategies of political power.
- Publication Date:
- 13 / 08 / 2010