Here is an idea I’ve had about the Great Bathroom War of 2016, which may be quite wrong for all I know:
Perhaps it is an argument about what should be public, and what should be private.
From my perspective (which according to the Attorney General of the United States is one of Hitleresque bigotry possibly mitigated by stupefied, quivering fear of change) gay marriage is absurd, because there is nothing public about homosexual sex acts or the feelings homosexuals have for one another. There is nothing public about whatever feelings straight couples have for one another either but their sexual relations and stable legal contract do result in a very public good, the production and education of children, which is the only reason why the legal contract known as marriage exists.
(Of course I realize my understanding of marriage existing for the sake of producing children has been antiqued since the invention of the pill and that marriage nowadays means nothing more than “an expression of love” according to which by contract a man’s life is ruined if his wife decides to leave him, but we are talking theory here, not concrete realities.)
So, if homosexual relationships are by essence private they ought not be ratified by legally enforceable contracts. What are they ratifying? Sex acts?Feelings? As far as the broader society is concerned, those things are nobody’s business.
Take the transsexual movement. If anything is private and none of the business of the broader community it is a man’s feeling that he is somehow, deep down, a woman. As far as the public is concerned he is a man. If he puts on a dress and asks his friends to call him Caitlin they might humor him because they like him and don’t want to hurt his feelings. Asking to be legally recognized as a woman, however, is an absurd imposition of the private on the public.
Religion, on the other hand, is by essence public. That does not mean it must be subsidized by the state or that among the duties of the king is the suppression of heresy, but that religion is a large scale communal activity. It implies group worship, group rules of behavior, and group education in a specific tradition. It is, and must be, institutional, which is the only way a community can persevere across generations. Because it comprises a group and because it regulates group behavior, it inevitably influences the broader society. Religion of an individual, or shared by a couple of individuals, is an impossibility.
My opinions, which were common sense and held by everyone until about last week, seem to be the inverse of what the powerful people in business and government think.
What we see nowadays is an inversion of public and private. People are encouraged to publicize their private lives and lobby that their private realities be enshrined in law. In order to achieve this public communities like churches and schools must be made to submit. (Again, by “public” I don’t mean government entities.)
The victors are atomized individual and their private desires, the losers are organic communities.