Summary of Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything by Robert R. Reilly

Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything by Robert R. Reilly, Ignatius Press, 2014.

Before I summarize this book, it’s important to highlight 2 preliminary notes Reilly makes.
  1. “I make no case from religion or revelation in this book, only from reason as it discloses to us the Nature of things” (xiii). Pretty clear. This is a philosophy book, not a religion book. In addition,
  2. “This critique of the homosexual cause is not an attack upon homosexuals, nor is it generated by any animus against them… it is about those who insist not only on defining themselves in this way but on defining the rest of us as well” (xiii). Unless we are willing to make the vital and proper distinction between the nature of an act and the person performing the act, Reilly’s apologia will be hard to believe.

Reilly’s thesis is that there are two fundamental views of reality.

  1. Things have inbuilt purposes. This leads to a primacy of reason in human affairs and does not allow sodomitical marriage.
  2. Things do not have inbuilt purposes. This leads to a primacy of will and allows for anything, including sodomitical marriage.

“This what the same-sex marriage debate is really about – the Nature of reality itself. Since the meaning of our lives is dependent upon the Nature of reality, it too hangs in the balance” (xii). In other words, our society will be living a lie – immersed in a false reality – if the capstone of moral relativism – sodomitical marriage – is put into place.

“This book is also about how to live rightly in respect to our sexual Nature” (xii).

Part 1: The Rationalization and How It Works
1: The Culture War


SSM debate is dependent upon the Nature of reality itself.

Homosexual acceptance – homosexuals wish not only to be tolerated in terms in their private sexual behaviour, but to have that behaviour publicly vindicated and recognized as normal. No one is interfering with any union that homosexuals or lesbians might wish to form. There are no legal prohibitions to doing this. But that is not sufficient. What they want is legal recognition that obliges everyone to recognize the legitimacy of their act –> to transform the very fabric of society so that government and society affirms their lives as healthy, natural, and normal –> that sodomy is morally equivalent to the marital act.

The power of rationalization – Why is this happening?

Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives” – Aristotle

Why? Because of the intimate psychology of moral failure.

For any individual, moral failure is hard to live with because of the rebuke of conscience. Habitual moral failure, what used to be called vice, can be tolerated only be creating a rationalization to justify it.  Anyone who chooses an evil act must present it to himself as good; otherwise, he would be incapable of choosing it.

We seek not to become just, but to justify ourselves. – J. Budziszewski.

Habitual moral failure, however, can be lived with only by obliterating conscience through a more permanent rationalization, an enduring inversion of morality.  When morally disordered acts become the defining centrepiece of one’s life, vice can permanently pervert reason, and the inversion of reality becomes complete.

The homosexual movement shares in the larger rationalization of the sexual revolution and is invested in its spread. The acceptance of each variant of sexual misbehavior reinforces the others. The underlying dynamic is: “If you’ll rationalize my sexual misbehavior, I’ll rationalize yours“. Entrenched moral aberrations then impel people to rationalize vice not only to themselves but to others as well.

The homosexual cause moved naturally from a plea for tolerance to cultural conquest because the rationalization upon which it is based requires the assent of the community to the normative nature of the act of sodomy. Since failed rationalization means self-recrimination, it must be avoided at all costs. This is why the rationalization is animated by such a lively sense of self-righteousness and outrage.

The legalization of pornography prepared the way for the homosexual cause. If heterosexual sex is only a form of play or recreation, what could be wrong with a little sodomy? Or even incest?

Natural law and happiness

“The natural law is nothing else than rational creature’s participation in the eternal law.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

“Happiness is an activity of the soul in accord with virtue.” – Aristotle.

Happiness is not whatever we say it is, but only that which is consistent with our Nature that truly makes us happy.

The central insight of classical Greek political philosophy is that the order of the city is the order of the soul writ large. If there is disorder in the city, it is because of the disorder in the souls of the citizens. The relationship between virtue and political order is the main subject of Aristotle’s works.

Without households – meaning husband and wives together in family – there is no state. In this sense, the family is the prepolitical institution. The state does not make marriage possible; marriage makes the state possible. The state has a legitimate interest in marriage because without it, it has no future.

Rousseau’s inversion of Aristotle

Aristotle said that Nature defined not only what man is but what he should be. Rousseau countered that Nature is not an end – a telos – but a beginning: man’s end is his beginning. Rousseau’s program was to politicize society totally, and his first target was society’s foundation – the family.

If the family is artifical in its origin, as Rousseau claimed, then it can be changed and rearranged in any way the state or others may desire.

Is sodomy reasonable? We can answer this only by addressing the Nature of sexual acts. Our human bodies are designed for heterosexual intercourse. Only the unitive act can be generative, and only a generative act can be unitive – in that only it makes two “one flesh.”

So what is sex for?

  • The end of sex is to make “one flesh.” By Nature, only men and women are physically capable of becoming “one flesh.” Those who misuse its powers are saying, in effect: We will take the pleasure, but not the thing toward which the pleasure is directed. If you cannot become “one flesh” with the person you love, that is Nature’s way of telling you that the character of your love is not spousal, but something else. Love has its proper expression according to its subject and object – sisterly love, parental love, conjugal love, and the love of friendship are each distinct and expressed accordingly.

So what is sodomy for?

  • If sodomy is an expression of “love”, how does it bring about the perfection of the person performing it or of the personal on whom it is performed? Is there an objective good toward which it is intrinsically ordered? Sodomy is purposeless in that it serves neither unitive nor procreative ends. Its only good is pleasure, but it is pleasure contrary to what is right in the action – as the action itself is ordered to the unitive and procreative.

The Argument from Justice 

What is justice? Justice is giving to things what is their due according to what they are. Without this knowledge, once cannot act justly. The end of the thing then determines whether an action toward it is a use or an abuse. This is where the matter of justice comes in. Justice in no way pertains to how we feel about things but rather to what they are.

The modern premise, so evident in the campaign for same-sex marriage, is that any preexisting rational end constitutes a limitation on human freedom. Therefore, freedom requires the denial that rational ends inhere in things. Things, being without ends in themselves, have only the purpose we choose for them. Therefore, we give them whatever names we desire.

“The old original sin was one of knowledge, the new original sin is one of non-acknowledgement.” – Igor Stravinsky

The magnitude of the injustice involved in the redefinition of marriage comes most clearly into view in regard to children, in whom justice is also owed. They are deliberately denied the possibility of being with both parents. Parents come to owe obligations to their children not because they are parents, but because they choose to be parents.

“Which parent do I not need, my mom or my dad?” – Grace Evans, during Minnesota House Civil Law hearing on redefinition of marriage

The adoption of children by same-sex couples completes the rationalization for them since children are the fruit of real marriages.

 The Lessons from Biology 

How are we to discriminate between the real and the unreal in this matter of marriage? Primarily, it has to do with  the procreative and unitive powers of our sexual organs. Today we seem to know the purpose of every part of our bodies except our genitals.

People have found a great deal of pleasure in smoking cigarettes. This has shown to be a misuse of the lungs, because the tar and nicotine from the tobacco smoke cause lung cancer. Therefore, we can say with some confidence that the end or purpose of the lungs is not pleasure from smoking. The purpose of a thing cannot be fulfilled in an action that leads to its destruction. On the basis of this, the government has taken vigorous steps to dissuade people from smoking.

This is likewise true of the male genitals and the anus. Human generative organs are perfectly matched, the male for penetration, the female for reception. The matching takes place only in heterosexual intercourse and is a perfect biological fit, which causes no physical harm to either party. There is no anatomical fit in same-sex couplings. There is and can be no union of sexual organs in any same-sex act.

Unlike the vagina, the anus is solely an excretory organ; it is an exit, not an entrance. One of the indications of this improper use is the physical harm that it brings. The risk of anal cancer soars by 4,000 % among those who engage in anal intercourse. Male homosexuals lost up to 20 years of life expectancy, while cigarette smokers lose on average about 13.5 years of life expectancy. Also, suicide rates are 3.4 times higher.

Why, then, are there no warning labels?

There are no warning labels because they would disturb the rationalization for homosexual behavior by inviting the observation that there is something in Nature itself that rebels against it. The focus is transferred from the homosexual behavior that spreads AIDS to the virus itself.

This is like fighting lung cancer while remaining silent about the danger of smoking. Condemn the cancer and justify the smoking.

The purpose of medicine is to restore an organ to health, not to allow its continued abuse.

To look for technology to substitute for our own lack of self-rule.

Promiscuity – heterosexual couples are 41 times more likely to be monogamous than homosexual couples. A 1997 survey of 2,583 sexually active homosexuals reported that 82% had over 50 partners and 50% had over 100 partners. This level of promiscuity is pornography in action. It is insatiable. It promises something it cannot deliver.

What is the point of insisting on homosexual marriage when promiscuity prevails? The answer is simple: to complete the rationalization of their misbehavior, they must sacramentalize it. Anything short of this would not be acceptable. The purpose is to reach the ultimate rationalization – the sanctification of sodomy.

“Nature itself seems to reward chastity with health, and punish promiscuity with disease. It would certainly seem that nature has an interest in the morality that is conducive to the family, and punishes behavior inimical to it.” – Professor Harry Jaffa

(will be continued…)


  1. Jeff Crosby says:

    Hi, at the end of this article you say “will continue”. Did you ever summarize the second half of the book? Thanks, Jeff Crosby

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