Originally posted by epiphinehas
Personally, I believe that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon, and disagree with the notion that it is possible to show Christlike love to a gay person while also refusing to accept their homosexuality.
I'm going to try to make this a one-poster because I've found that trying to
discuss things rationally with Whodey and especially Jaywill to be a literal
impossibility (cf. Whodey's rejection of animal sexual practices but his appeals
to nature as a standard for morality
). I'll respond to you directly or any
other serious inquiries, but the 'down-from-on-high' moralists, I'll probably
ignore since the content of my posts are essentially ignored by them in the
other related threads.
I'm going to straddle both fences -- the scientific side and theistic side,
since I don't find it difficult to reconcile the two.
I believe that it is impossible to say where homosexuality comes from. The
common oversimplification is 'it's genetic.' I do not believe that it is that
simple; very few aspects of personality are affected by a single gene (in
this case, a 'gay' gene). The urge for sexuality is obviously universal
(otherwise species would not procreate), and I would say that opposite-sex
attraction is normative. However, I believe that something genetic contributes
to having the predisposition to express that universal sexuality in unorthodox
ways. Some are more predisposed to opposite-sex attraction, others are
less so. That is, sex is pleasurable so it encourages procreation, but it's
pleasurable first, procreative second (as far as 'nature' is concerned). If
it weren't pleasurable, it would not yield to procreation.
We know that children undergo several developmental spurts, that certain
neurological pathways become closed after certain points. I believe that
sexual attraction forms in one of these early points. And, if one is predisposed
towards same-sex attraction and sees something pleasant in male-male
relations or unpleasant in male-female relations, the child will express his
sexuality as 'gay.'
As I reread this, it may give the impression that people are 'made gay.'
That's not an accurate summary of my position. I'll try to give an analogue
to clarify: As a man, I'm sure you have had conversations with other men
about famous women about the measure of their attractiveness. For example,
many people think that Jessica Alba is to-die-for hot. I do not. I recognize
that she is very attractive, but I am not sexually attracted to her. By contrast
I think that Helen Hunt is more attractive though most people think she is
only fairly attractive (not remarkably so). I'm sure that, among your male
friends, you've had similar conversations -- Paris Hilton, Jennifer Anniston,
Jessica Simpson, Debra Messing: some men would rob a bank for these
women, some just shrug and say 'Yeah, I guess she's pretty.'
Those whom we find attractive are formed pretty early in our childhoods,
even before the onset of puberty. I don't think people are 'made' to think
redheads are hot; it just happens. I don't think parents 'do something' to
make big butts attractive, some men just end up liking them. I don't think
some specific experience lends itself to finding sharp facial features sexy;
somehow it just arises.
And I don't think any one or a handful of experiences 'make' a gay person.
It just arises from predisposition and is nurtured inadvertently by the
experiences that the child has as it grows up.
This is what I believe, scientifically. I don't think it's purely genetic or
purely experiential. It arises from a confluence of experience outside of
the control of the child and largely invisible to the parent. However, I do
believe that, once it's formed (and I believe it forms early), it's hardwired
in (just like my attraction to big-butted, sharp-featured redheads [p.s., don't
tell my wife...she's not a redhead, and her butt is average-sized...!!!]).
Short of brain damage, nothing could happen to change these proclivities;
they are natural to me. Similarly, I don't think that homosexuals have any
more control over to whom they are attracted than I do. As such, I find the
idea of persecuting them on the basis of their attraction the height of
As it pertains to Christianity and how it should negotiate orientation: The
Bible is relatively unequivocal in its condemnation of same-sex attraction,
both in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. If you want to maintain that
the Bible is an eternal handbook for behavior, then one is obligated to
reject homosexual behavior. I think that there can be no dispute about
However, as I've pointed out, such a stance weds you to other moral positions.
As I have cited from I Peter and I Timothy, one is required to reject those
women who braid their hair or wear gold and fine clothing. As I have cited
from I Corinthians, one is required to reject women who wear their hair short
or men (like me...) who wear their hair long. One is to look at divorced
men and women as perpetual adulterers. And so on.
Some on this site have even gone so far as to suggest that they would
have no problem with the reinstating of Levitical Law, permitting slaves and
I find such perspectives to be decidedly anti-God. To couch things in a
Christian language, I think that revelation is an ongoing process, that it
is never closed. I think that the authors of the texts of the Bible (and
authors of any text at any time) express that revelation to a greater or
lesser degree. When St Luke penned the Prodigal Son, I think he was
inspired. When the editor inserted the story of the woman caught in adultery
into St John's Gospel, I think he was inspired. I think that when St Matthew
added the story of the sheep and the goats to his narrative, he was inspired.
I think when St Paul wrote his famous chapter on love (I Cor 13), I think
he was inspired. And the list goes on and on. I think those people in
those moments looked at the world in a different way, saw what it could
be if they embraced Godlike virtue, and wrote of it. I think that no one
can sustain this level of insight for long.
St Paul was unable to see homoerotic expression as loving because it was
unfathomable to him. The homoerotic displays he saw were the hedonistic
Roman ephebophelic exchanges, which were not loving and often not
consensual, or through male prostitutes, living desperate and loathsome
lives. The idea two men sharing a life in which the virtues of sacrifice,
compassion, devotion, and sensitivity were prevalent was simply unimaginable,
and it isn't hard to see why. He was also unable to imagine a world in which
men had long hair, or women braided their hair because the associations
he had with these actions were inseparable from what they signified. For
St Paul, braided hair meant
prostitute, women with short hair meant
shame, and men who had sex with other men meant
desperation. The Spirit could not prompt him to transcend these associations,
to look past the signified and see the act itself.
Because in sexuality we are often at our most vulnerable, it's often a taboo
topic. Even though we know our parents had sex, many shudder to imagine
our parents in the throes of ecstasy; even while we want the best for our
parents, the idea of 'mom having an orgasm' creeps many people out. By
contrast, I'd like to think my parents had sex -- good sex -- regularly.
If, in the context of a traditional marriage between two, opposite-sexed
consenting adults who were married in a church and have been unfailingly
faithful to each other, we cannot talk openly about sexuality, how much
more difficult is it to imagine that non-normative sexual practices will be
The question for me is: Today, can we see what St Paul couldn't? Can we
see in two men the kind of love which empowers and inspires? Can we
see the spark of the Divine in the experiences that two men have? I think
we can. I think the Christian church needs to recognize that the authors
of the Christian texts could only look with their 1st-century eyes, that their
personal biases interfered with their ability to channel the Divine in their
There is an ancient Roman hymn which is (or at least ought to be) chanted
on Holy Thursday: Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est, which translates, 'Where
charity and love (are), God is there.' (As I do not think that the canon is
ever closed, I take such statements as having the status of revelation.)
A priest I know constantly states, 'God is not simply a noun; God is a verb.
God has a unique duality, He is both something in which we believe, but
He something that we, as the faithful, are called to do.' This priest takes
the dogma 'God is love' and responds with, 'How can we do
God?' He takes
the notion of 'seeing Christ in one another' and 'being Christ for one
another' as a call to compassion.