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Feb 07, 2005

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Billy

JW, good attempt at answer to Dr. Harding's questions, though I don't necessarily agree, as I'm sure you know. But thank you for taking to time to answer. B

bls

A question: why does homosexuality need to be shown to be "biologically innate" in order for it to be acceptable?

Why isn't it enough to note that homosexuality is by itself morally neutral; that many gay people are highly productive members of society; that committed and caring homosexual relationships bring joy to those involved, and thus are in fact highly beneficial (and certainly not harmful to anyone else); and that "ex-gay" treatment does not work in the vast majority of cases, even if gay people wanted to change (which I must tell you that most of us don't, because we think we're just as God intended for us to be)?

bls

(IOW, why do we have to jump through hoops to "prove" something that should be obvious to even a casual observer? I don't get it.

We don't have to "prove" that we can eat pork and that women don't have to keep away from the cattle during their menstrual cycles. We don't have to "prove" that women can be fine religious leaders. We don't have to "prove" that people shouldn't be put to death for working on the Sabbath.

What's so difficult about this issue that it should take more than 30 years for people to get the point that gay people exist and that many of them are and have been wonderful priests?

And when is anybody going to acknowledge that lesbianism is not forbidden in Scripture? Ever?)

bls

I'd also like to know why people can't seem to tell the difference between adultery and incest on the one hand, and homosexual relationships on the other.

Does it really need to be explained why the former two things are not good for individuals or for society, and why the latter has nothing in common with them? Do we really need Leviticus to be able to figure this sort of thing out?

Leander Harding+

I have just put up a reply on Titusonenine that touches on some of the issues here.

SALT, I am unsure of your answer to my question number one. You seem to say that we cannot know God's plan for human sexuality if there is one but that same sex relationships may be part of God's plan. This seems inconsistent.

I suspect we do differ over whether the Bible is a dependable revelation or rather the cultural artifact of the struggle of previous generations of people in their encounter with God.

It is unclear to me if you believe homosexuality a matter of simple biological determinism and if so what authorities you find persuasive. You seem to rule the question of the origin of homoseuxality off limits. I can see how you can argue that we don't know what causes homosexuality and how you can argue that it is God given. I don't see how you argue both of these things. I am not sure I understand what you are saying here. Surely if the thing is intended by God that implies it arises entirely from a divine blueprint and not as a result of something gone wrong. Why should we refuse to invetigate this issue. This seems to me a very strange marginalization of reasoned investigation. Ruling an investigation out of court before it is begun looks like an ideological move to me.

My question about bi-sexuality is to test the idea that homosexuality is God given and intended, part of the original creation like the creation of male and female. If we must bless same sex relatioships because they are God given then the same logic applied to bisexuality would require that we honor this divine ordering of sexuality by blessing threesomes etc. If bi-sexuality is not part of the divine ordering of creation then this begs the question of what is God's purpose for male and female. I do think that answering the question about bisexuality helps understand the tho

JOhn Wilkins

Dr. Harding, I am actually quite pleased that you think that studying the etiology of human sexuality is worthy. I welcome such an investigation. I don't yet know what moral claims we would make from that - we'd have to explore it some more.

Your logic regarding bisexuality requires a bit more parsing and consideration than I can grant here. I think that there is an economy to the household that monogamous couples engage in that is efficient. Although I'm intuitively adverse to the ideas of threesomes, I don't know if it would be logically prohibited.

Roland

Leander,

Why do you define "Bi-sexuality" this way (i.e., as those who actually engage in relationships with multiple parties of both genders, rather than as those who simply experience attraction to both genders - the latter seems to be the generally accepted definition of the term in the secular arena). And is there anyone on the "revisionist" side who believes that multiple partners should be accepted?

You ask: "If bi-sexuality is not part of the divine ordering of creation then this begs the question of what is God's purpose for male and female." The obvious purpose for God's design of male and female is reproduction - no one questions this, but that doesn't mean that those who engage in physical intimacy without reproducing are sinning! Or is this the view you hold to?

I responded on your blog with some other questions. I honestly try to understand the arguments made by "reasserters", but arguments like this don't do much to impress me.

bls

Surely if the thing is intended by God that implies it arises entirely from a divine blueprint and not as a result of something gone wrong. Why should we refuse to invetigate this issue.

Continuing to ignore the evidence of one's (and others') eyes and experience (not to mention the direct testimony of the individuals involved) does not bode well for this "investigation."

More such evidence: all of the major American mental-health organizations stopped classifying homosexuality as a disorder - most at least 20 years ago. If "something has gone wrong," where, precisely, then, has it gone wrong? Are all of these organizations - experts in the field - deluded?

Leander Harding+

I believe that the decision to take homosexuality out of the DSM was a political and not a scientific decision. I don't believe it was made on the basis of research and would be greatly helped by being referred to actual studies or scientific papers that argue a different point of view.

The editor of Psychology Today has recently come out in support of a patients right to choose Reparative Therapy. http://www.narth.com/docs/defends.html

For a scenario of how male homosexuality could arise see http://www.narth.com/docs/pieces.html

LSH+

it

The idea that "bisexuality" means "threesomes" is a frequenet misconception. People who identify as bisexual are just as monogamous as any hetero- or homosexual. Their identification as bisexuals simply means that they may be attracted to same or opposite sex for their relationship. NOT that they want both at once.

Second question, why do people "opposed" to homosexuals think that we would choose to be this way? (Unless they suspect that gay sex is a lot better than straight sex! ;-) Why would anyone choose to be reviled, hated, threatened, and hurt? Being gay/lesbian is like having blue eyes or being left handed. It just IS. IT's a variation in many species, and in all human cultures. It's not about recruiting, or agendas. It's just variation. Do we want our kids to be gay? Heck no--we just want them to be happy. But if they ARE gay, we don't want them to deny the truth of themselves, or live lonely and unloved.

Third, IT"S NOT ABOUT SEX. Speaking as a lesbian in a committed, monogamous, same sex relationship: my relationship with m y partner is not reduced to the sex act. It is about us as a couple, raising our children, paying taxes, and working just as hard at making our relationship work as any other married couple. We are in it for the long term. We love each other deeply. We honor and respect our straight neighbors, they respect us, and we all mow the lawn on weekends.

Neither we, nor our similarly committed gay or lesbian friends, supports promiscuity, sexual disrespect, or the lunacy of some of the gay fringe. BUt you know what? I don't support or approve of the promiscuity I see in my straight college students, who reduce their frequent sexual congress to something like scratching an itch, rather than the joyful physical union of a committed loving and monogamous couple. If you're offended by the gay promiscuous fringe (I am), then take a look at frat row of any university. That offends me too.

My partner will take her guitar to Mass on Sunday and play. The Church doesn't want her, either, but on the other hand, she understands that faith is bigger than laws made by men . She'll worship amongst all sorts of people, including divorcees and adulterers and those who use contraception, who will find welcome there. And she knows that God made her, too.

Peace.

roland

"I believe that the decision to take homosexuality out of the DSM was a political and not a scientific decision. I don't believe it was made on the basis of research and would be greatly helped by being referred to actual studies or scientific papers that argue a different point of view."

RIGHT. What exactly is your basis for making that statement, other than the fact that a PROFESSIONAL organisation disagrees with your religious dogma? Or did this knowlege come from the same place that you got your definition of "Bi-sexuality"? As a professional myself, I can tell you we don't make decisions that way. Sorry, Dr Harding, you write a lot of good stuff on your weblog, but on this issue you're all wet.

John Wilkins

Professor Harding, after reading the sites you mentioned, I wonder if male homosexuality is, perhaps, God's gift to individuals to resist a society that lacks the opportunities for deep male affection and organizes male relationships generally on rivalry and physical status [hard for weak men to have social status in this country]. Still, the papers you mention merit some consideration, although the theology behind them [or their moral worth, for that matter] remains to be unpacked.

Erin

I gotta say, I also don't see why bisexuality has anything to do with sexual greed. My partner is bisexual, in the sense that he's had crushes on boys before and maybe even fallen in love with a man once, but he's most definitely monogamously committed to me now. I had a crush on a girl once, too, but that doesn't mean I'm about to chase her while I'm with my partner. And I don't identify as bisexual, though I guess it would be okay if other people called me that. It just sorta seems to miss the point. I don't claim to fully understand what governs who I'm attracted to, but I'm pretty sure it's not all about the genitals.

Leander, you seem confused about how it could possibly be okay for someone's preferences not to fall neatly along male/female lines if sex and love are part of God's plan. All too often I think people overlook the fact that male and female, too, are categories that do not encompass the whole of creation. Some people are born intersex. Some animals are hermaphroditic; others can switch sexes when population pressures dictate it. And of course there are plants - the reproduction of which I confess to never having understood, but some of them are sexual and some can fertilize themselves and it's really quite strange.

My understanding of the sex literature is that sexual preference, too, is continuous, not binary. I don't understand why a variable like sexual orientation has to be binary to be part of a divine plan, or to be biologically determined. Most variables that people think of as the result of "a gene" flipping one way or another are actually multiply determined and afford an infinite array of variation - this is part of why the world is so wondrous! Why should sexual orientation be any different, or any less miraculous?

John Wilkins

Erin, although I share your opinion that bisexuality is morally neutral, where some have critiqued it is around greed, which is clearly not a sin confined to bisexual people. I appreciate, also, your affirmation of variety and the wondrous - it seems to be that these are parts of God's life also. To be fair, that Dr. Harding is even willing to consider outside literature as helpful is a very important move in contrast to the other arguments which claim biblical warrant.

Erin

(N.B. I just wanted to say for the record that in my comment above, I was using the term "boys" and "girls" loosely - neither I nor my partner is a pedophile!)

Fr. Salty, I know that some people criticize bisexuality as being about greed, I just still don't understand why... the two things are completely unrelated. It makes about as much sense to me as criticizing vegetarians for talking too loud.

IT

Bisexual = greed? Crazy. Like saying that people who are attracted to others of a different race are greedy (for not sticking with their own?)

But you see, that's what the "antis" are reduced to saying.

I actually pity the hatred they feel for gays. I celebrate my straight friends' weddings. It is incomprehensible to me and my straight family, how my "marriage" (in all but law) threatens anyone else.

John Wilkins

IT - I think that what Christians should condemn is Greed. It is not any more of the set of sexuality than any other characteristic of human society. I personally think that this is a confusion that conservatives have - when they condemn sexuality they confuse the two: or they genitalize sexual attraction [which is another conceptual problem].

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