Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Initial Take on Homosexuality

I think (hope) we can all agree that sexual orientation is not a choice. While we have yet to determine any one cause (I personally doubt there is one), it has been proven that there are definitely biological differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. For example, studies have been able to prove that in nonhuman mammals sexual differentiation of behaviour is mostly determined by hormone exposure while in utero. It isn't so easy to replicate these studies in humans because subjects need to have their fetal hormone exposure levels measured and then be followed for several decades in order to determine their sexual orientation, however preliminary studies do indicate that lesbians have been exposed to higher levels of male sex hormones while in the womb when compared to straight women.

So, I have to ask, how can gay people be held responsible for "missing the mark" if God created them this way to begin with?

Now I know that the argument a lot of Christians give is that God expects us to "act" a certain way (heterosexual) despite our (homosexual) "feelings". This, in my honest assessment of the situation, is bullshit. God is truth and truth calls on us to look at ourselves honestly; not deny or repress that which He created in us. I think telling a gay person to act straight would be comparable to telling someone with a beautiful voice to sing off-key for the rest of their life. It is uncomfortable, unnatural and unnecesssary. Not only that, but it devalues that which God created. God made gay people gay. He literally knit them together in their mother's womb -all of their biology right down to the last gene and chemical is His doing.

I suppose the flip side to this is the idea that we are no longer created as God intended us to be. That we have inherited sin from Adam and Eve through The Fall. Therefore we are imperfect beings even before we leave our mother's womb. Okay, I don't think I believe that doctrine exactly as it is understood by most Christians today, but following that thought process through, do we tell someone who is born tone-deaf that they shouldn't sing because surely God wouldn't have intended such imperfection and they're offending us with their voice? Or how about people born with birth defects or chronic illness? Do we shun them because they are living evidence of our fallen world? No. We attach no shame or blame. We tell them that God created them this way and we encourage them to accept and love themselves just as they are.

I have many more ideas and questions swimming in my head on this topic. Any thoughts so far?


Sandra said...

just that I've had those same thoughts.

I grew up thinking that gay was a lifestyle choice of rebellion. Not knowing any non-heterosexual well enough to have discussed their "gayness", I never really challenged that thought. I did think that everyone deserved to be treated with grace and courtesy regardless of whether I believed them to be "living in sin" or not.

Then about 15 years ago, I was researching reproductive endocrinology during a struggle with fertility and I ran across the statistic that women of DES mothers (mothers who took a specific drug during pregnancy that has previously been linked to multiple birth defects including bi-partate uteruses and infertility in the daughters) have a statistically significantly higher probability of being lesbian than women born to non-DES mothers.

I know that stats can be manipulated to demonstrate any given perspective but I wasn't reading about homosexuality, the papers I was reading were on fertility. It just really struck me for the first time that it would be really unlikely that women of DES mothers would be significantly more likely to "choose" homosexuality. And the whole choice theory dissipated like so much smoke in the wind.

I still wonder about the version you mention that homosexuality is a mutation resulting from our fallen world, not as God created it--much like those bugs or animals that developed a preference for acid rain--but it is such a theoretical question that matters so little in actual life. Regardless of whether God intended or God allowed or whatever, individual people rarely determine their own sexuality to any great degree and THAT is the fulcrum on which our public policies and private opinions and social behaviors need to move.

Anonymous said...

You have hit upon the reason why so many fundies like to claim that gayness is a "choice." Then they can put it into the same category as celibacy and other "life" choices. It is most assuredely not a choice as most of us know...

There are something like 5 places in the bible where some form of homosexuality appear. (the word was not coined until the 1800's btw). In Liviticus, they refer to the purity codes meant to define Jews as different from their neighbors. They don't apply to Gentiles in any case.

Paul's remarks refer to temple prostitution where-in men acted "like women" for religious purposes and had ritual sex required by other "gods".

Timothy was assuredly not written by Paul and was written much later, near the 2nd century, and reflect a "tightening" of Pauls' doctrines to promote a "quieter" less threatening faith to the existing pagan world.

Jesus said not a word about same-sex involvement, and of coruse spent most of his time with the outcasts of his society.

I think your analysis is excellent.

Michelle said...

Sandra, that's interesting stuff about the DES connection... I've never heard that before. Amazing how one insight like this can completely change our perspective about things. And I think you're right, this theoretical stuff (about living in a fallen world) shouldn't be the basis for how we treat others.

Sherry! I think you got ahead of me. You must have read the note I was writing to myself about stuff I want to bring up re: homosexuality but instead of hitting "save draft" I hit "publish"... oops! You're bringing up all kinds of stuff I want to explore :)

jss said...

I think that in our searching, which for us Western society-type people must include an examination of western-type Christianity we tend to get lost in the details, or rather the rules and regulations of Christianity - and Judaism and Islam for that matter. We like rules and regulations because they're clear. They give us a definitive path, they tell us what to do, what not to do. It does make life easier doesn't it?

Was a time, back in the day when women were supposed to wear a head covering to church. Men didn't have to but women did. Even as a young child it seemed pretty damn silly to me that God cared about women wearing hats to church.

I would like to say that I think God is actually very different than what we think he is. We think he thinks like us. I seriously doubt that is true. I doubt that our classification of sinfulness is even valid. In fact I think the whole manner in which we define 'spirituality' bears but a small resemblance to what really is.

But we need definitives and so we grasp at the rules and regulations and hold onto them with all our might. Doing so enables us to rid ourselves of ambiguity. We do hate ambiguity don't we?

God hates fags...

and women who go to church without a hat on.


Michelle said...

It's damn near impossible for most people to live in the mystery for any real length of time. In order to function as a community (the church) we seem to need/want very well defined rules. I can understand that, but we've made the rules for who's in/out more important than our purpose for gathering in the first place. I mean, why do we gather?

The 10 commandments didn't say anything about homosexuality and yet we seem to think being gay is a bigger sin than lying, stealing, coveting, keeping the Sabbath holy... well, let's just say most of them!

jss said...

That's very typical of us. Allow the existence of the institution to supercede the needs of the constituents it is supposed to serve.

Pippi said...

I have wondered about this question for a while but never been comfortable discussing it. When I left home and realized that most of the people I felt some connection with independent of parental influences were gay, it really threw me for a loop. Then years later when I remembered that I have been molested as a small child, I chalked it up to my belief that a large percentage of homosexuals have been molested as children and that is why I find so many I connect with. I still think that is the reason for the connection, but I don't know how I feel any more about whether it's a leading cause of homosexuality. I do know that I meet a much higher percentage of homosexuals I would instinctively trust with my kids than I do straight people. Particularly when it comes to males.

I mostly struggle with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. My personal opinion, though, is that there was a whole lot more going on in that place than just homosexuality. It sounds like there was just a total abandonment of all moral standards in general and complete absorption in gratifying fleshly desires, no matter what those were. I think it was their sick and predatory behavior towards all creatures, and their perverted cruelties, that brought such a singular punishment down on them.

I don't know that I am ready to say I find nothing wrong with it. For one thing, I have to admit I find the idea repulsive on a simple human level. But then again, it took me a very long time to overcome my revulsion at the idea of sex itself. So that doesn't really mean much.

Michelle said...

Pippi I applaud you for being so open and honest! I'm sure there are a lot of people who could relate to what you shared.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one I plan to study/blog about soon Pippi.

Thanks so much for your comments!

Reason's Whore said...

I have never understood how the fall is supposed to get god off the hook. If god is omniscient, he knew that the people he created would eat the apple, yet he put the tree in the garden.

Moreover, since Adam and Eve had not yet eaten the apple, they (according to the myth) did not understand the difference between good and evil. So how would they be able to judge that disobeying god would be a bad thing? They couldn't.

Then, too, people like to blame "free will" for our earthly troubles. At the same time, they claim we will have free will in heaven without sin. Doesn't make much sense, does it?

But then, I'm an atheist these days, so I no longer accept any of this malarkey.

Michelle said...

Not sure if you have read these posts already, but I too have shared some of those same thoughts:

Anonymous said...

1% of the global population is genetically left handed, but 10% of the global population in countries where it is not a cultural taboo are left handed. [There is little research on the effects of cultural belief on handedness.]

90% of left handed people "choose" to be left handed. Illness, injury to the right hand, loss of the right hand, and brain damage are some commonly held reasons for that choice.

The evidence that some people are born predisposed to unhealthy behavior is beyond a doubt. The genetic predisposition to alcohol is an example. However, an alcoholic is one who chooses to engage in the abusive imbibing of alcohol, and not simply one predisposed to alcoholism.

The term "homosexual" is defined in more than one way which makes discussions concerning it difficult. It is used to define a predisposition: Being aroused by and attracted to others of the same gender. And it is used to define a choice: Engaging in sexual activities with others of the same gender.

We determine our activities by choice.

The Bible only deals with homosexual choices, not desires.

Also, I was not aware that Noah was a Jew.

Michelle said...

I don't follow the Noah not being a Jew comment?!

Anonymous said...

I think homosexuality is not beautiful. I think it is ugly and harmful. The people who are hurt by it are not just those who engage in it, but also their family, friends, and neighbors.

I think the same of alcoholism.

I am horrified at anyone suggesting that alcoholism is a God given, beautiful thing. That encouraging the alcoholic not to drink is like encouraging a beatiful singer to sing off-key the rest of their life.

Do you really think homosexuality is a beautiful thing? Are you a homosexual? Do the homosexuals you know think it is a beautiful thing?

2) witshadow says, "There are something like 5 places in the bible where some form of homosexuality appear. (the word was not coined until the 1800's btw). In Liviticus, they refer to the purity codes meant to define Jews as different from their neighbors. They don't apply to Gentiles in any case."

And I was trying to figure out for what reason Noah cursed Caanan? At least there appeared to be homosexual overtones present in that. I still don't think Noah was a Jew.

Anonymous said...

I think sexuality is varied, and people that have sexual desires have many choices as to how they want to live and express (or repress) their desires.

I think repression of desire is not a wrong choice for sexually aware individuals.

Michelle said...

I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree with this one Tragedy.

I don't know how you made the leap to alcoholism. I don't think anything that is destructive to yourself and others should be encouraged or considered "beautiful" but I guess that's where we differ -I don't view the sexual preference of another to be offensive. It doesn't concern me what others do in their bedroom. I don't go to a dark place and make it ugly.

In fact, I find a lot more to be offended by from a heterosexual perspective: the objectification of women for starters...

Anonymous said...

Your argument is:

Homosexuality is not a choice.
Homosexuals do not choose to be homosexuals.
Therefore, homosexuals should choose to be homosexuals.

Maybe I missed something?

As a christian, I believe the scripture teaches homosexuality is immoral, a sin. It also teaches heterosexuality outside of marriage is immoral, a sin. The objectification of women by christians is tied, in my opinion, directly to the acceptance of heterosexual activity outside of marriage by christians. Celibacy is the only sinless scriptural sexual activity for unmarried christians regardless of sexual orientation.

Michelle said...

I suppose what I'm trying to say is homosexuality is not a choice, people are either sexually oriented one way or the other, and we should not encourage people to repress their sexual orientation.

I think it is unethical and dangerous to tell a homosexual they are sinners who need to repent and change. They can read the Bible and should ultimately choose for themselves how to approach the issue. It is between them and God.

There are very few verses that deal with homosexuality in the Bible, but many that ask us to love and encourage our brothers and sisters to love them, not condemn them. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

There are FAR more important issues we need to address as Christians: caring for the poor, forgiving one another, etc.

Gay people have become targets for attacks that are very unJesuslike. I think those attacking gay people, either physically, through bullying or spiritual abuse will have far more to account for come judgment day than the homosexuals they feel compelled to condemn.

Did I really love my neighbours or was I just wanting to point fingers at everything that was wrong with them? God knows my heart. Bringing the Kingdom to earth, truly being what Jesus calls me to be, means focusing on the right things.