I was on the phone last night with R. talking about this post and his comment in reply. R. is Catholic; I'm pretty non-religious although I come from a Catholic family.
He of course points out that Catholic theology on marriage is based more on Paul than it is on Jesus, considering Jesus said:
For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.
("Eunuch" being better translated as a man who doesn't want to marry than a castrated man as we would think of the term nowadays.)
I replied that such theological pronouncements, the idea that marriage is for everyone, that there is one standard-issue family, one singular way of being that everyone should live up to, is more of a product of Western Rationalism after the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution than it is a product of Christianity, in my un"educated" opinion. I don't mention that Karen Armstrong describes the post-Axial Age religion of Europe as not monotheism or Christianity, but as Rationalism. This sounds about right to me, and cultural history of the West reads more easily if one looks at it as monotheism imposed on a Rationalist society, as the latter seems to shine through at the most defining moments of European history after the fall of the Rome (colonialism, industrialism, Enlightenment, etc.).
But I do say that I have a problem with the West's epistemology imposing one way of life on everyone in the world and believing that if a people isn't thinking or living the way some ideal that we aren't even living, then they're a good candidate to become more "advanced" like we are, to be molded in our own image. It's not too hard to see how this turns into the "natural" argument against gays - that us queers are turning against our own natural heterosexuality and violence can be imposed to free us from our own sinful ways. The violence of colonialism, especially in the Americas, stems from the idea that Native people could be made into replicas of Westerners and was seen everywhere from violent conversions of Natives to Christianity to the boarding schools Natives in the States were forcibly sent to make them more "American".
"Where do I take that grievance?" I ask R. Who do I go to when I have a problem with what is the foundation of thought for the hundreds of millions of people who live around me? Can I go to Canada? Is this one of those problems that going to Canada can solve?
I think aloud that I should send this all into an advice columnist and see what sort of response I get. Dear Abby, I'd write, I have issues with Western epistemology and I don't know what to do. I haven't ever lived outside this fundamental worldview, so I don't know if I can even imagine a world without it or if that world is worth living in. But there has to be something I can do about this massive ennui. What do you think? -Post-textual in Indiana. Dear Abby always depressed me, so I don't mention that I'd send this in to her, especially since R. already knows that I find her column to be filled with gloom and doom. No matter, we're already talking about something else.
But the worst part about this whole thing is that I act like this is some kind of flirting.