Jordan J. Ballor, Associate Editor at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty responds to Walking with Friendships (earlier today):
C.S. Lewis has some useful and entertaining responses to those who hold the “theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.” It appears in his little book, The Four Loves, in the chapter on “Friendship” (pages 60-63 in the 1998 Harcourt softcover edition). Lewis writes, “The dangerous world really is here important. To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicitly homosexual would be too obviously false; the wiseacres take refuge in the less palpable charge that it is really—unconsciously, cryptically, in some Pickwickian sense—homosexual. And this, though it cannot be proved, can never of course be refuted. The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two Friends does not disconcert the wiseacres at all: ‘That,’ they say gravely, ‘is just what we should expect.’ The very lack of evidence is thus treated as evidence, the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden.”
Lewis goes on to demolish such arguments from silence, comparing them to such things as a man looking at an empty chair and asserting that there is an invisible cat sitting in it. He concludes that the “homosexual theory therefore seems to me not even plausible.” The historical cases of pederasty, for example, ought not be denied, but when determining “where it crept in and where it did not, we must surely be guided by the evidence (when there is any) and not by an a priori theory. Kisses, tears and embraces are not in themselves evidence of homosexuality. The implications would be, if nothing else, too comic. Hrothgar embracing Beowulf, Johnson embracing Boswell (a pretty flagrantly heterosexual couple) and all those hairy old toughs of centurions in Tacitus, clinging to one another and begging for last kisses when the legion was broken up...all pansies? If you can believe it you can believe anything.”
And so Lewis gives us some help in addressing such theories. And they, of course, abound today, as shown in your post about the appearance and interpretation of “man dates.” It strikes me too that such a priori theories are at work in such revisionist history as the “gay Abraham Lincoln,” and certainly in such homoerotic interpretations of Jesus (occasioned by The Last Temptations of Christ). But elements of such theorizing are at work too in such things as the recent “gay SpongeBob” controversy, in which a Los Angeles Times article stated, “SpongeBob holds hands with his starfish pal Patrick, and likes to watch the imaginary television show ‘The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.’ Evidence enough, to Dobson at any rate, that the guy’s a menace.”
To be honest, I have not followed the SpongeBob controversy. I do wonder: if the only evidence that can be cited are things that might be acts of friendship (in some countries straight men will sometimes hold hands walking down the street; in my Orthodox archdiocese, men will “greet one another with a holy kiss” on the cheek—that took a little while to get use to, but it never seemed “gay,” just “different”), then we may be making our kids way too sensitive about showing any innocent, natural signs of affection between friends, lest they appear to be “gay.” What a loss.