Atrios has an interesting post today which asks this:
The question isn't why for Sullivan or me or anybody else it's "always about the sex." The question is why in contemporary society much of religion is all about the sex, and especially gay sex. Last I checked there were all kinds of sins and all kinds of sinning going on. The Church may never stop considering homosexuality to be a "moral evil." But, they consider lots of things to be "moral evils." Why the obsession with hot gay sex?
The fundie churches are indeed very focused on sex and on fertility. There is the right kind of sex (in marriage and resulting in more believing babies) and the wrong kind of sex (everything else). The cynical explanation for all this single-minded focus on sex is that churches want large markets, they want to have lots of little believers which will grow up to be big believers, because large numbers mean more money and more power and influence. Indeed, I think that this is a major part of the true explanation.
But linked to the market area concerns are the concerns about how to keep traditional structures in place and what such structures mean. If fundie churches have control over sex they have solved a large chunk of these problems. For example, women who are continuously pregnant or lactating will not have time or energy to question their place or to demand perks such as the right to be priests. In fact, they will be pretty unable to leave the home much at all. As old Ratz the pope, for example, thinks that women should be at home all this works out just dandily.
Abortion, contraception and gay sex are all threats to this plan. Abortion and contraception can be controlled because the tools used in them can be controlled. But gay sex is much harder to regulate this way, given that no specific aids are needed. Gay sex will not produce more believers. What's more worrying, gay sex confuses the big traditional gender issue of who's to be the submitting bottom. No longer is it possible to decide this on the basis of sex! And horror of horrors, perhaps the same kind of thinking might spread to heterosexual couplings! Traditional structures would groan and shake and then...! NO. The fundie churches can't allow that.
So though I exaggerate just a teeny bit here I think that all the talk about sex is not about sex at all. It is about power and keeping people in their proper places, especially women. That's why old Ratz doesn't attack just the gays and the lesbians but also and especially the feminists.