Jane Austen Wasn’t Gay

Was the English novelist Jane Austen gay? Yes, says an essay by Stanford professor Terry Castle. Castle, writing recently in the well-known London Review of Books, suggests that Jane Austen's letters to her sister contained an "unconscious homoerotic dimension." This came as a surprise to fans of Pride and Prejudice. Austen enthusiasts flooded the newspaper with protests. But amid all the fuss one important issue was never raised: Why is there a concerted effort to portray famous writers, artists, and musicians as sexually deviant? It has become a disturbing trend. Jane Austen isn't the only victim. Lewis Carroll, author of the classic tale Alice in Wonderland, has been accused by recent biographers of having an "improper fascination" with little girls. Duke University professor Reynolds Price has recently written a novel entitled The Promise of Rest. In the book a gay character reels off a list of supposedly homosexual geniuses, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Handel. All of these creative masters have fallen prey to a historical revisionism that is determined to make sexual perversity the wellspring of creative genius. C. S. Lewis writes about the exaltation of unfettered human autonomy that characterizes contemporary art, music, and literature. "We certainly have a general picture," Lewis writes, "of bad work flowing from conformity and discipleship, and [conversely] of good work bursting out from certain centers of explosive force . . . which we call men of genius." The message is clear: Liberation from restraint leads to creativity—and perverted sexuality is the greatest expression of freedom, and therefore creativity. The true source of creativity, however, is not debauched sexuality but God Himself. Humans are creative because they are made in the image of God. After all, if the son of a great violinist shows a talent for music, no one is really surprised. As children of the God who breathed life into us, we share a family likeness to Him. And above all, God is creative. The Bible begins with creation—and ends with re-creation. Humanity has inherited this talent for creativity from the Father of mankind. J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings, writes: "Every writer . . . wishes in some measure to be a real maker . . . So great is the bounty with which he has been treated that he may now . . . assist in the multiple enrichment of creation." So let's give credit where credit is due. Not to deviant sexuality but to the God who has given us one of the most valuable aspects of His character: the ability to reflect His creation. After all, as Lewis wrote, "no author should conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody . . . some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom." So beware when modern scholars try to explain creativity as a by-product of perverted sexuality. That's a sure tipoff that the one doing the explaining doesn't understand—or won't admit—that man has a family likeness to God. So no, Jane Austen wasn't gay. She simply takes after the Father who created her.


Chuck Colson


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