The author of Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, the Gospel, and the Church joins us to reflect on Coca-Cola’s “Love is love” ad campaign. Is all sexual love equal as the campaign suggests?
Cy Kellett: Is all love equal? Karlo Broussard next on Catholic Answers Focus.
Cy Kellett: Hello, and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I’m Cy Kellett, your host, and Karlo Broussard is with us today. We’re going to talk about the “Love Is Love” campaign and about an article that Karlo produced for Catholic Answers Magazine online, in that regard. Karlo, welcome back.
Karlo Broussard: Hey, Cy. Thanks buddy.
Cy Kellett: It’s always good to have you here at Focus.
Karlo Broussard: It’s always great to be focused on Catholic Answers stuff.
Cy Kellett: So what prompted you to write an article about “Love Is Love,” because it seems obvious to me that love is love. That almost seems tautological so what’s the problem here?
Karlo Broussard: Yeah. Isn’t that the new mantra, right, of our culture? It’s sort of the moral wisdom of the age.
Cy Kellett: Okay, yeah.
Karlo Broussard: You might even say it’s, as my wife said, “It’s the battle cry of a movement led by those not so wise as a sage.” In order to channel my Dr. Seuss there.
Karlo Broussard: Yeah. So what happened was, so the slogan “Love Is Love” is something that’s prevalent within the culture that’s being used by the LGBTQ community in order to promote their agenda, and their view of human sexuality and sexual love. And this was the campaign title, you might say, in Hungary by Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola had a “Love Is Love” campaign in Hungary. And they peppered throughout the train stations and billboards and on their Hungarian Facebook page, their ads featured both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples in the ads drinking Coca-Cola with the campaign or the slogan, “Love Is Love.” And the campaign came days before this year’s “Love Revolution”-themed Sziget Festival, which is sort of a week-long music and art event held in Budapest.
Karlo Broussard: And so the question is, well, what does the slogan mean? Right? What is the intent behind the slogan? Well, obviously it’s a no-brainer: male or female, the idea is, who cares, right? Because love is love and it’s all good, type of thing.
Cy Kellett: It’s not, like you have to know the current cultural struggles to get that this is not just a statement of fact, but a slogan. But the idea is that, okay, a man and woman love each other. That’s love. A man and a man love each other. That’s love. Love is love. It’s all the same thing.
Karlo Broussard: Yeah. And actually Coca-Cola stated in an email dated August 4th of this year, 2019 that the ads do indeed try to convey a message. This email stated, “Our belief that everyone has a right to love and that the feeling of love is the same for all.” So notice it’s this appeal to equality, that everybody has an equal right to this kind of love and to express this love because it’s the same kind of feeling for all, whether you’re male or female, it doesn’t matter.
Karlo Broussard: So that’s the point, or the intent behind the slogan. Now, interestingly enough, recently as we were recording this podcast here, there was a petition signed in Hungary that received over 41,000 signatures, right, requesting that Coca-Cola remove these ads, sort of expressing their opposition to these ads, promoting same-sex sexual activity and unions, etc. And there was a partial win because it was reported that Coca-Cola actually replaced the posters that included the same-sex couples, sort of in a very sexualized way, drinking from the Coca-Cola bottle type thing, right, and hanging on each other and whatnot. And so what happened was, Coca-Cola actually removed those posters and simply replaced them with the “Love Is Love” slogan campaign posters, which were peppered throughout Hungary as well, in particular Budapest. So there was a partial victory due to the pushback from the people there.
Karlo Broussard: And what was interesting, Cy, is the mayor, right, in commenting on this, I mean listen to the language and the lingo from the Mayor of Budapest and other authorities: they wanted to “keep the phenomenon of homosexual lobbying within limits so has not to jeopardize public morals.” You wouldn’t hear that around here, right?
Cy Kellett: Wow. That’s, you can’t talk that way here, no.
Karlo Broussard: And then they said the petition called for this withdrawal, because, “The homosexual content advertised on the posters threatens public morals, as homosexual relationships run counter to natural moral law and the family as the basis for the nation’s survival.”
Cy Kellett: So it seems like basically what you have then is a battle. I think the Coca-Cola company would like you to think, “Well there’s good and bad here,” but what there really is, is a battle over what constitutes public morals. I mean, what is moral and what’s immoral?
Karlo Broussard: Yeah, you’re hitting the nail on the head because we’re getting to the issue there. And here’s the problem, I think this is how we can set it up: the problem with the “Love Is Love” slogan is that it’s extremely ambiguous as to what love is. So whenever the slogan is slapped on a poster or said in the culture, it’s ambiguous as to what love is. “Love” is not often defined. And whenever it is, whenever there is an attempt to define love, such as what Coca-Cola did, it’s often expressed as a feeling of love, just sort of this generic idea of sexual love and everybody has a right to it, and it’s the same feeling for all. But the problem with that, Cy, is that it’s so easy to hijack the term “love” and justify almost anything.
Cy Kellett: That’s the thing is, not all love is equal.
Karlo Broussard: That is correct.
Cy Kellett: And you use an extreme example in your article, to kind of focus people’s attention: look, it’s a fact. Not all love is equal. So tell us about what you used as an example.
Karlo Broussard: Yeah, so I used the example of the grotesque North American Man/Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA for short, right? They actually seek to justify sexual acts and activity between adult males and young boys in the name of love. Right? So here’s a quote from their website: “NAMBLA’s goal is to end the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships, by educating the general public on the benevolent, the loving nature of man/boy love,” right? So notice NAMBLA’s appealing to love in order to justify this form of sexual activity, sexual behavior.
Karlo Broussard: And that’s the same reasoning adopted by Coca-Cola in promoting the “Love Is Love” slogan and trying to promote same-sex sexual activity. Now, of course, somebody who promotes same-sex sexual activity is inevitably going to snap back and say, “Well, obviously what NAMBLA’s promoting is not authentic human sexual love. That’s bad.” Right?
Cy Kellett: And they’d be right.
Karlo Broussard: And they would, right. Amen to that. And they might appeal to the fact that maybe a minor is not mature enough to make full consent to engage in that activity. Of course, NAMBLA would simply respond back and say, “Well, wait a minute, we’re appealing to consensual relationships, right? We don’t, we don’t acknowledge or promote sexual coercion. We look to consensual relationships between adult males and young boys,” as gross as, and immoral as that is. But nevertheless, they’re appealing to consensual relationships.
Karlo Broussard: But let’s put that off aside right now. The point I want to make is that when push comes to shove, right, those who live by the “Love Is Love” slogan, don’t really think all sexual love is equal.
Cy Kellett: No.
Karlo Broussard: Okay? So that’s what we want to tease out, right? That’s what we want to try to show. Even to those who promote “Love Is Love” slogan, not all sexual love is equal. So if biological age has something to do with determining appropriate or inappropriate sexual behavior, well then why not biological sex? Why is biological sex for some reason exempt from the moral evaluation of sexual activity?
Cy Kellett: Yeah. I gotta stop you right there, because here is what you’re trying to do is have a reasoned discussion. And at this point, I think we would go back to the appeal to feelings like, “Well that’s how you feel, Karlo. But we feel that everyone should have the feeling of the feeling of love.”
Karlo Broussard: Once again, if you appeal to the feeling, well all we got to do is simply point to the NAMBLA association and say, “Hey, they appeal to feeling, too.” So there has to be something other than feelings, in order to evaluate appropriate sexual love and what is authentic sexual love. Right?
Cy Kellett: Right.
Karlo Broussard: And so this is where the rubber hits the road. This is where the discussion has to take place: whether same-sex sexual activity actually involves authentic love in the sexual arena. And the only way we’re going to figure that out is to get a grasp on what love is: to will the good of another.
Cy Kellett: And that is why you will not get someone saying, “Okay, Karlo, let’s have this discussion.” They will say, “You are a bigot even for bringing this up.” And I think that’s, it’s a short-circuiting of conversation. You say, “Well, we have to have a discussion about what real love is and does homosexual sex fit in with real love or not?” And then people say, “You’re a bigot just for bringing it up.”
Karlo Broussard: Yeah. To which I would simply respond and say, “Well, it appears to me that you’re the one reacting based upon emotion rather than reason, and that’s the very essence of bigotry: to have a negative opinion without any sort of reasonable foundation.” So I’m trying to offer reasons why same-sex sexual activity doesn’t fit the love bill. Right? It doesn’t fit within the framework of authentic love, when you understand love as willing to good of another. So the true question that we have to ask is whether same-sex sexual activity involves willing what’s good for the beloved concerning his or her sexual powers.
Karlo Broussard: Because, Cy, if it’s not, if same-sex sexual activity does not involve willing what’s good for the other concerning his or her sexual powers, well then to engage in same-sex sexual activity would be to reject what’s good for the other. It would be to reject the order of good inscribed in the very nature of that person’s human sexuality. It would be seeing that person’s good as an evil to be avoided and/or supplanted. So consider this analogy that I point out in my article, Cy: consider the perversity of such behavior in the example of a doctor, right? The purpose of medicine is to bring about healing.
Cy Kellett: Okay.
Karlo Broussard: Okay? So let’s say you have a doctor who’s going to engage in the practice of medicine, the practice that by its very nature is ordered, directed to bring you about healing, but actually uses the power of healing or the medicine to cause illness in somebody. We would say, “That’s a bad doctor,” right? Because that doctor recognizes the order of his powers, right, of his ministry or his activity as a doctor, recognizes that it’s ordered to healing. That’s the order of a good doctor, but that doctor is going to reject that order and see it as an evil to be avoided and supplant it with an order to something that’s evil. So that merits the charge of an evil doctor.
Karlo Broussard: Similarly, with regard to our sexual powers, if the classical understanding of human sex that it’s ordered to procreation and unitive love, if that’s true, to engage in sexual activity that willfully and voluntarily thwarts the achievement of any of those two ends is going to entail a rejection of the order of good, inscribed within the nature of our human sexuality. And to reject what’s good for the other, especially within the arena of our sexual powers, that can only merit the charge of what, to use the words of Pope Saint John Paul II, as Karol Wojtyła, said: “An evil love,” right?
Cy Kellett: Yes.
Karlo Broussard: Rather than promoting what’s good and living in accord with what’s good for the other, it’s rejecting what’s good. It’s an act against what’s good, seeing it as an evil to be avoided and supplanted, and so that can only merit the charge of an evil love, so it will not be authentic human sexual love. In fact, it would be something contrary to it.
Cy Kellett: It seems like our job then is just to get people to a point where they’re willing to have a discussion about this-
Karlo Broussard: Yes, that’s the challenge, because if-
Cy Kellett: … because right now, there’s no willingness to have a discussion on it.
Karlo Broussard: That’s right. Everybody’s going based on emotions, because if I challenge your behavior and I critique your behavior and say, “It’s immoral,” that’s going to generate unpleasant feelings within you. Rightfully so. Yeah, and I acknowledge that, but here’s the problem in our culture, once again, it gets back to love.
Karlo Broussard: Love in general is perceived as generating pleasant feelings in other people. So if I don’t generate pleasant feelings in you, by critiquing your behavior and saying it’s immoral and you shouldn’t do it …
Cy Kellett: That means I don’t love you.
Karlo Broussard: That means you’re going to perceive me as hating you or not loving you. So in that regard, it gets back to what is love in general, in friendship, right? And the love of friendship. In the case of our sexual powers, it’s there is a false understanding of sexual love and what love demands of us concerning the use of our sexual powers. We need to be using our sexual powers in accord with nature’s plan for human sexuality, not abusing our sexual powers.
Cy Kellett: I noticed that you don’t say that, like homosexual men for example, have to just stay away from one another. You’re saying you can’t use your sexual powers in that way, but there are many forms of intimacy and friendships that are perfectly well-ordered.
Karlo Broussard: And this gets back to distinguishing those different kinds of love where you can have a legitimate love of friendship that doesn’t necessarily involve romanticism or romantic love. Right? And this is the type of love that two men can have and too women can have, right? Where they recognize what’s good in the other, they are attracted to that goodness in the other. They enjoy being in the presence of that other person and they have very deep feelings for the other person, within the framework, within the boundaries of friendship. It’s whenever those feelings begin to draw us to a romantic form of love, to where we begin desiring some sort of romantic relationship with the other person of the same sex, that’s when we begin crossing those boundaries of what nature intends for our human sexual powers, because the desire for romantic love necessarily involves the use of our sexual powers.
Cy Kellett: Got it. Karlo Broussard, thank you very much.
Karlo Broussard: Hey, thank you, Cy. God bless, bro.
Cy Kellett: Thanks to everybody who listens to Catholic Answers Focus. Glad to have you with us. Say, you can find Karlo’s article by the way, just go onto catholic.com and type in the words “Love Is Love.” Karlo’s article is the one that pops up right on the top there when you do that, and if you wouldn’t mind, could you give us a like or maybe share this podcast wherever you get the podcast. That is how we grow here at Catholic Answers Focus. We’ll see you next time on Catholic Answers Focus.