Earlier this month, controversy erupted over the decision of an Eastern Orthodox Christian hockey player. Alone among his teammates, Ivan Provorov chose not to wear a Pride-themed jersey during warmups. When asked why he didn’t express support for LGBT+ causes in this way, Provorov said he respected “everybody’s choices” but that he’d chosen to “be true to himself” and “his religion.”
Provorov’s comments didn’t prevent the onslaught of criticism. Even his coach was confronted and asked why he wouldn’t change the lineup that night. The subtext was shared by many others: Surely you will punish this player. There must be consequences! One commentator broke down in tears on air—overcome, I suppose, by the unthinkable horror that someone somewhere who occupies a place in polite society dissents from sexual revolution ideology.
Place of Dissent
Thirty years ago, social pressures like this were fodder for comedy, as seen in the Seinfeld episode where Kramer refuses to wear a ribbon in support of AIDS victims and gets bullied and beat up for failing to fall in line.
Today, dissenters face pressure to abandon their position, unless the cause is seen as courageous. When NFL players took a knee during the national anthem a few years ago, many of the same people excoriating Provorov defended the players’ right to silent protest. Over time, peer pressure flipped the other way, to the point where some players stood out by going against their teams and choosing not to kneel.
There’s much we could say about the politicization of sports and double standards. We could look at the demise of the “live and let live” mindset once promised by advocates of same-sex marriage. We could look more closely at Ivan Provorov’s defense and how he turned to the language of expressive individualism and “being true to himself” to explain his position.
But what intrigues me most about this most recent dustup is why there’s so much pressure on everyone to affirm the self-conception or sexuality of someone else.
Why Dissent Must Be Quashed
Why are these battles so heated? Why do so many in our society demand everyone show their support for LGBT+ causes? Why the insistence on preferred pronouns? Why the expectation there will be “consequences” for someone who, out of religious conviction, respectfully dissents from the prevailing view?
It’s because the only way the LGBT+ cause makes headway long-term is if dissent is quashed. The whole movement is built on a magnificent lie—the idea that gender distinctions are irrelevant to marriage and sexuality. Repeat the lie enough—through the tautology of “love is love” or singing along with Macklemore’s “Same Love”—and you may begin to think there’s no substantial difference when it comes to sex between a man and a woman and sex between a man and a man.
But slogans and songs don’t eliminate the truth.
The truth is simple: male and female bodies are designed for sexual union that leads to procreation. Say “love is love” all you want, but only one kind of lovemaking carries the potential of bringing another person into the world. Only one kind of coupling results in children.
Design of Sex
Nature discriminates. It doesn’t matter how “in love” a couple may be. When a man goes to bed with a man or a woman with a woman, the result is intrinsically sterile. There’s no possibility of children.
But, some might say, what about heterosexual couples who can’t have children? Are we saying their love doesn’t matter? Of course not. But this objection reiterates the reality of sexual difference and bolsters my point. Why do we see infertility as a tragedy? Precisely because we expect and desire children as the fruit of a man and woman who come together in love. It’s because the design of this coupling is oriented toward new life that we grieve when children don’t come.
Today, the design of sexuality is the grand truth that must be suppressed, because the moment we acknowledge or highlight the differences, we may begin to wonder if there are rational, natural reasons why we might see these couplings as, well, different. And that would lead us to treat relationships with a natural ordering toward children as (gasp) different, which would then take us back to the primary reason why every society in human history up until a few decades ago saw marriage as exclusively male-female.
Pressures of Conformity
Questions and debates about sex and marriage have a storied history. We could look at the many reasons why same-sex marriage makes sense to people today in a way our great-grandparents would have never understood. We could trace the trajectory of marriage’s diminishment, the obscuring of marriage’s public function and societal responsibilities, or the contraceptive mindset that severs sex from its intended aim.
But all that is merely background to my main point: Christians will continue to face mounting pressure to signal our support for LGBT+ causes, to say “love is love,” to display the Pride flag—whatever pinch of incense will satisfy today’s Caesars. Why? Because unless everyone everywhere pretends there’s no substantial difference between male-female marriage and same-sex relationships, the spell is broken. The charade doesn’t work. It’s why the wars over pronouns and bathrooms are so heated. Unless we all play along, the jig is up.
Ivan Provorov’s dissent exposes the lie at the heart of the sexual revolution. And let’s face it: now that transgender theories are mainstream, we’ve moved beyond the question of morality. At the center of controversy today is the question of nature and the meaning of embodied reality. Why is there such pressure to fall in line? Because unless we all act like gender difference is superficial and irrelevant, the ancient view of marriage will persist and the newly invented view of marriage will be seen as the imposter it is.
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