This week’s episode of “House” dealt extensively with the topic of homosexuality, and in a thoroughly modern way. The consensus among American cultural elites is that one’s “sexual orientation” (a loaded relativistic modern term) is determined at conception. Like skin color it is immutable, and thus any attempt to “change” it is as unnatural as Michael Jackson’s skin was. And if anyone expresses any moral qualms about homosexuality, they are considered akin to a racist and a bigot.
Fortunately, “House” often deals with contentious issues in a fairly nuanced way, and you could tell in this case the writers were trying hard to not be absolutists about the issue. In fact the title of the episode is called “The Choice.” But it was also clear that without any true North, any real moral compass, dealing with the issue of homosexuality is a confusing mess. All you are left with is assertions. I say, you say; whatever.
The story starts at the altar where the bride and groom are taking their vows. As the groom is ready to say “I do” he passes out. Once it is found out that he has had a same-sex relationship in his past, it is asserted by various characters that his inability to affirm his vows to the woman he loves is subconscious confirmation of his true nature as a homosexual. It is clear that every character on the show basically believes that “sexual orientation” is an ontological certitude; it is something that is the essence of your being.
Yet one of the characters, Dr. Hadley (aka “Thirteen”), appears and has been accused of being confused about her sexuality. Is she a lesbian? Bisexual? Who knows. But even this character affirms, hypocritically, the underlying belief that there is such a thing as a “sexual orientation.” Who or what sex you are attracted to is what you “are.”
In typical fashion for the “House” writers, they don’t just leave it at that. Although not done convincingly in my estimation, because there is no religious or philosophical rationale for it, they try to give the groom his dignity back by allowing him to assert that his sexual orientation is his choice. From his hospital bed the groom declares over and over that he is not gay. No one believes the poor guy, not even his fiancé, who leaves him.
You are not even sure he believes it. But before she leaves he desperately tries to convince her that human beings have the power of choice, and he chooses to be heterosexual and to love her. She doesn’t buy it or doesn’t care and walks out. End of story. Yet we can be grateful that in American popular culture there is such a popular TV show that tackles such provocative issues as being, certainty and choice.
Let’s take the issue of sex out of it, and say in my past I’ve stolen something. Does that make my unchangeable essence a thief? How about if I’ve lied in my past; does that make my unchangeable essence a liar? And you could multiply the examples. Of course it doesn’t, because I have the choice not to steal or not to lie. We who have a moral compass that lies in a religion that asserts that morality applies to sexuality, realize that the sexual choices we make don’t necessarily mean that is who we are. We have the power to choose.
Men are by nature not monogamous creatures. It is simply a fact for most men that if they could have consequence free sex (thus the sad reality of the pornography industry) with multiple women they would. So if we accept the arguments of most of the characters on “House” then not having sex with multiple women means we are not being true to ourselves, to the essences of our being. Damn right we aren’t! And our wives and families and friends are grateful for it.
But without a moral true North, why not “be true to ourselves” and do what comes natural, do what we feel like doing? In such a state of moral relativism that’s an argument with ourselves that is not easy to win. On the one hand those with any kind of same sex attraction are pounded by every cultural institution that sexual attraction is the same as skin color and should not be denied. On the other we have a conscience and know that certain things are right and wrong, not just because we have an opinion about something or make assertions about it, but because that is the nature of our being.
The true hero of this “House” episode, and I give kudos to the writers for at least trying to get this right, is the groom. He simply didn’t want to be a homosexual, no matter his past, no matter the inner confusion of his sexual attractions. It cost him his fiancé, but not his dignity nor his integrity.