Stone’s Alexander May Teach A Lesson…
…though it may be one different than intended. When I first heard about Alexander I was naturally interested as it was an historical epic and history is, after all, one of my main interests. (Granted, I know how Oliver Stone tends to treat historical fact, but I’m still interested in the film.) Now, the current “controversy” around the film seems to be centered around the very-much historically accurate fact that Alexander the Great had a male lover. However, the controversy may be a smokescreen. It seems as if the writing may not be so good, and that the movie may be so bad that some are trying to use the “controversy” over the homosexual content as an excuse for a potential box-office flop. So why did I bother to bring all of this up? Well, the whole discussion over the homosexuality of Alexander got me thinking about the history of homosexuality.
It is a well-accepted fact to say that Alexander was bisexual and had male lovers throughout his life (as did many Greeks). Homosexuality was considered normal in the Greek culture (as well as many others). That leads to a question: did these male lovers ever marry? Some have sought to find examples of gay marriage as far back as antiquity, though what they have really done, for the most part, is to find something they define as being akin to marriage, which they classify as same-sex union. However, others have claimed to have found examples of the Catholic or Orthodox Church condoning marriage between same-sex couples. These assertions have been criticized as examples of “false history” and an attempt to justify aspects of modern culture by reading their antecedents into the past. Additionally, it is also a fact that many of these particular types of homosexual relationships were examples of pederasty, or a homosexual relationship between a young boy and an older man.
Homosexual relationships also existed in Japan, China, Korea and many Islamic cultures, as well as the Sambia of Papau New Guinea. Not only did such relationships fulfill the desires of the two participants, they seem to have been considered a step on the way to manhood, at which time a man took a wife and had a family. This itself implies that the expected role for a mature male was that of a father and husband married to a woman. (With this in mind, there has been scholarly argument over the “social construction of homosexuality” and whether pederasty and homosexuality are necessarily the same thing).
Homosexuals have been fighting for widespread social acceptance throughout history. By the 1970’s, they were redefining their goal from that of mere social acceptance of their own self to social acceptance of their “lifestyle” choice. (From “love the sinner, hate the sin” to “love the sinner, accept the sin,” if you will). With these arguments now essentially won (for the most part) homosexuals are now devoting their energy to social acceptance of their relationships. However, they don’t seek just legal acceptance, rather, they seek to redefine an institution. (Note: Justin has written extensively on the gay marriage debate).
In all of the historical examples of homosexuality and gay marriage (or its approximation) cited by proponents, a careful reading reveals one component missing: there is never a mention made of children. It is widely accepted, though largely understated, that children need parents of both sexes to provide a basic solid social groundwork. To some of us, this seems like common sense. Yes, there is divorce, loveless marriages, single mothers, successful gay or lesbian parents, etc., but a family with a father and a mother has been shown throughout history to be the best and most basic social construct for proper child development. Marriage is more than a bond between two indivuals, it is also society’s way of providing the best environment for child-rearing. Just because some do not aspire to the ideal does not render the ideal obsolete. I hope that we don’t let the exceptions make the rules.
ADDENDUM: There are other arguments to be made against gay marriage. (For example, I attempted, somewhat poorly, to provide a “rational” argument for the alternative of civil unions, here. Much of what I said then I still believe, but I think the more convincing argument centers around the raising of children, as mentioned above.)
Marriage History Rewritten
Over on Anchor Rising, Marc takes controversy over Oliver Stone’s new movie as a springboard to write about history and homosexuality. My favorite instance of historical gerrymandering with respect to same-sex marriage comes from Andrew Sullivan’s Same…
Anchor Rising: Stone’s Alexander May Teach A Lesson…
I found Marc Comtois’ excellent essay at Anchor Rising on homosexuality noteworthy in almost every way. I was somewhat surprised at his casual treatment of recent history, though I would say this has come from the perspective of third-person hindsight….