The current dismay among religiously and socially conservative appreciators of Wendell Berry's work is understandable. Mr. Berry has spoken about his support for same-sex marriage.
Early in his remarks he seemed to anticipate the kind of storm he was likely to stir. And there has arisen some turbulence, which I won't replay here. But you can find links to some examples of it HERE.
My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Mr. Berry has come to accept that which most of his conservative readers cannot—that, as gay Catholic theologian James Alison puts it, homosexuality is simply (or not so) "a regularly occurring, non-pathological minority variant" within the human species. In other words, homosexuality is as natural for some of us as heterosexuality is for most of us. This position, which appears to be more generally accepted by science, is far from being accepted in either the Catholic church or numerous conservative Protestant churches. In fact, it seems to be foundational for "the liberal position" so regularly condemned by the Right.
For my own sanity's sake, I try to get outside of left/right thinking as much as possible. Alison (openly an advocate for his side) offers some help … or, at least, something that helps me think through the problem.
Accepting or rejecting this anthropological understanding of homosexuality would seem to be fundamental to whatever position one takes on the matter. It's the crux of it. A traditional and conservative reading of Scripture possibly will not get one there on its own. Why not? Probably because the divinely inspired yet historically and culturally embedded authors of Scripture didn't have the wherewithal to study and test the facts so as to grow toward understanding the thing itself.
The naturalness of homosexuality is either true or it is not. Here is a key paragraph by Alison, whose point I find compelling:
In the last fifty years or so we have undergone a genuine human discovery of the sort that we, the human race, don’t make all that often. A genuine anthropological discovery: one that is not a matter of fashion, or wishful thinking; not the result of a decline in morals or a collapse of family values. We now know something objectively true about humans that we didn’t know before: that there is a regularly occurring, non-pathological minority variant in the human condition, independent of culture, habitat, religion, education, or customs, which we currently call “being gay”. This minority variant is not, of course, lived in a way that is independent of culture, habitat, religion, education and customs. It is lived, as is every other human reality, in an entirely culture-laden way, which is one of the reasons why it has in the past been so easy to mistake it as merely a function of culture, psychology, religion or morality: something to get worked up about rather than something that is just there. (James Alison, "The Fulcrum of Discovery or: how the 'gay thing' is good news for the Catholic Church")
This matter is not something I care to argue about. It is certainly not anything about which I wish to judge or condemn other people. Perhaps the advocates of one side or the other are ignorant or deluded or self-serving, intent on foisting some evil bit of social engineering onto all of us or on casting us back to the Dark Ages. But I prefer to think not. In fact, I really don't think so.
Everyone has an agenda. We are all people with points of view and desires that have been informed by our upbringing, our culture and historical moment, and I hope, our own mature and thoughtful consideration—our own intelligence. I trust that Mr. Berry, as in all other issues to which he has given thought, has used that intelligence in coming to his understanding of this matter.