FredTownWard's Reviews > I Loved You First

I Loved You First by Reena Jacobs
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's review
Jul 18, 2011

really liked it
Read in September, 2011

NOT the Political Correctness You Were Expecting,

One could be forgiven for assuming this novel would be the worst sort of politically correct garbage based upon the premise: girl secretly in love with her BFF who just happens to be gay -- yeah, yeah, cue the sad violins. However, very much to Ms. Jacobs' credit, it is not. In fact this is a thoughtful (and thought provoking) novel about the timeless problem of unrequited love, its costs, its consequences, and the necessity of finally dealing with it in a clear-eyed fashion. The homosexual angle is merely a modern complication on an old, old theme, though it did pretty much rule out any surprise happy ending.

In addition it is very much to Ms. Jacobs' credit that she has the guts to portray a less than attractive gay character, especially in this day and time. A one word summation of said secretly gay BFF Seth Richards' character would be "selfish". Oh, he has better excuse for selfishness than most, but that's all it is, an excuse. In order to maintain his cover Seth is a serial emotional abuser of the young women who are attracted to his considerable good looks, stringing them along for awhile and then dumping them like yesterday's garbage, apparently without any trace of remorse. Now to his credit Seth refuses to so use his BFF Alex Carmichael (even though she wants him to), but he doesn't hesitate to use her in other ways or to take advantage of her affections. Even his motivations for staying in the closet are primarily selfish: in order to make things easier for him in his dealings with (and showering with) his teammates, and if his seemingly planned coming out of the closet upon his sports career retirement were to cause former teammates any grief, there's no reason to believe selfish Seth would give them a second thought. Even Seth's disastrous "outing" is the logical (though of course unjustified) consequence of his selfishness; he finally uses and abuses a girl who decides to get even instead of just getting mad.

(Frankly, in this incident IMHO Ms. Jacobs' is a little bit guilty of stacking the sympathy deck in favor of Seth. If a heterosexual boy even under the influence of something he did not knowingly ingest were to do what Seth did to a girl instead, would we not call it sexual assault? And if she had kicked him in the groin when he was incapacitated, how much sympathy would readers have felt for him?)

That aside throughout the book Ms. Jacobs handles the issues and her characters a whole lot more evenhandedly than one could possibly have expected these days. Only at the very end does she get a little bit preachy (and, no, I'm not talking here about her "Afterwards") and fail a bit in fairness, when she fails IMHO to cut her football players the necessary slack. To put it bluntly, people forced by circumstances to get naked in front of strangers are ENTITLED to be a little uncomfortable with homosexuality. They're not entitled to beat anybody up, of course, but it isn't right to turn people in that situation into sex objects against their will or without their knowledge, else we'd compel the cheerleaders to shower with the football team. (Football players might like that so much they'd quit whining about having to shower with gays. Cheerleaders? Probably not so much.)

Later, in the aforementioned "Afterwards", Ms. Jacobs gets even more preachy, and I don't have a problem with most it, but I have some nits to pick. Yes, it is a terrible sin to hate homosexuals, clearly every bit as much a sin as it is to hate people who believe homosexual behavior to be sinful. (H'm, I wonder which sin is the more prevalent today? Might be kind of close.) However, Ms. Jacobs is wrong when she suggests that Christians are simply supposed to ignore it. Though clearly not the worst of sins, homosexual behavior is one of the most often condemned sins in the Bible. (It is almost as if the Bible was inspired by an omniscient God who somehow knew that one day homosexual behavior would be the first sin with an advocacy group, and He wanted to make His position on the subject crystal clear.) It is not of course the duty of Christians to judge homosexuals, but as part of our duty to lead people to Christ, it is necessary to point out and condemn the sins that make Christ's salvation necessary in the first place, especially when said sins are approved of by society. (Christians needn't spend a lot of time condemning theft and murder. Most non-Christians "get it", probably even most thieves and murderers "get it", but homosexuality is another matter. When the modern world says that homosexual activity is "just another lifestyle", Christians must respond that, according to the Bible at least, it is just another sin for which the penalty is eternity in Hell. We should do so in love rather than anger of course, but we should certainly continue to do so.

Ms. Jacobs is also wrong when she contends that providing equal rights to the LGBT community is not detrimental to our families because, leaving aside the whole touchy area of what providing such "equal" rights might mean or result in, HOW the LGBT community is going about getting those rights is EXTREMELY detrimental to our families and to ALL of our rights because LGBT activists are "cheating" by relying on judicial activism.

As contrast, remember how women got the right to vote in this country; they got an amendment to the Constitution passed, despite being unable to vote for any of the people who would have to make this happen. They had to do this because the Constitution as written clearly did not grant women the right to vote so it was necessary to go through the long, arduous process our founders set up for changing the Constitution (and thus protecting it from sudden whims and political winds). Facing this, it is awful tempting to resort to the backdoor method of constitutional change: get a majority of supreme court justices to misuse the power of judicial review in order to pencil in anything they want (and cross out anything they don't like). Besides being SO much easier, this method also prevents your opponents from easily doing anything about your shameless shredding of the Constitution unless they are willing to stoop to your level...

or below it. That was the problem presented by the most outrageous case of judicial activism in US history: not Roe v. Wade, but Dred Scott v. Sandford. In this infamous case a slavery sympathizing Supreme Court majority took the opportunity of a challenge to the Fugitive Slave Act in order to invalidate all of the congressional compromises limiting the spread of slavery into new states, thus leaving the slavery opposing majority of Americans with no legal, political(, or peaceful) recourse, so they were forced to find another one.

Sure enough some number of years and 600,000+ dead later Dred Scott v. Sandford was finally overturned. Now, it is unlikely that any possible upcoming judicial activist Supreme Court rulings will come at quite this high a price, but if you think you've seen hostility to the LGBT community's agenda before, wait until some future judicially activist Supreme Court pencils in gay marriage on the entire country over the overwhelming opposition of the people every time they've been given a chance to vote on it.

Constitutional amendment passages tend to settle issues; judicially activist cram downs tend not to. (Remember how well Roe v. Wade "settled" the issue of abortion?) In addition Supreme Courts that are able to "make up" stuff you agree with are also able to "make up" stuff you disagree with when your opponents get control of them as they inevitably will. Finally, oft oppressed minorities would be wise not to trade the protections offered by a written constitution in favor of an uncertain future in which their rights will be determined by whomever currently has judicial control over the Etch A Sketch of the United States.

Note: For full disclosure I received this ebook in return for agreeing to review it.

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