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An Exploration of Same-Sex Attraction
"The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this." - John Stuart Mill
Consensual Same-Sex Relationships
Is being same-sex attracted unnatural, disgusting or harmful? Does the Bible condemn it? Are people born gay, and should it matter either way?
Throughout their lives, most gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are confronted by many unfavourable opinions concerning same-sex relationships. These negative views can result in significant hardship, which involves a lifetime of ongoing discrimination and social stigma. Consequentially many gay, lesbian and bisexual people become estranged from family and friends. Furthermore, constant exposure to these negative messages may result in an individual involuntarily accepting and believing them. These negative self-beliefs can have a devastating impact on a person's self-worth, mental health and overall wellbeing.
Dr John Corvino, a writer, speaker and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, U.S.A., offers the following compelling arguments to address many of the common objections to same-sex relationships, including those based on religion, nature and harm. LGBTI and supportive heterosexual people may find it helpful to familiarise themselves with these progressive and convincing views when exposed to the many negative common viewpoints concerning same-sex attracted people.
Addressing the Common Objections to Same-Sex Attraction
"The Bible condemns homosexuality."
The book of Leviticus indeed says, "Man shall not lie with man, as with woman. It is an abomination unto God". Interestingly, the book of Leviticus calls a number of other things abominations that we don't tend to pay much attention to:
The book of Leviticus says that eating shellfish is an abomination unto God.
The book of Leviticus says that wearing clothing of mixed fibre is an abomination unto God.
The book of Leviticus says that touching the carcass of a dead pig is an abomination unto God.
The Bible suggests that slavery is morally acceptable. This is from Leviticus 25:44-46: "You may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession forever".
It's not just the book of Leviticus, and it's not just the Old Testament:
St. Paul says, "Women must remain silent in the churches".
The Bible suggests that those who divorce and remarry should be put to death. Why? Well, because the New Testament defines divorce as adultery and the Old Testament prescribes death for adultery.
St. Paul says in Ephesians, "Slaves be obedient to your earthly masters, in fear and trembling, in singleness of heart as you obey Christ".
So, what is a believer do with all of the above? Perhaps one could consider that the Bible is wrong about certain things. This does not mean that God is wrong. Instead, maybe human beings have been wrong in discerning God's word. After all, we should not confuse complete faith in God with complete faith in our ability to discern God's voice. And, in fact, any honest look at history tells us that we should be wary of people who are sure that they speak directly for God.
Some people will insist that the Bible is God's word. The Bible is infallible. The Bible contains no error. And, an appropriate response would be, "The Bible contains no error? What are you going to do with those slavery passages?" When we look at those passages, we have to admit that the prejudices and limitations of the Biblical authors crept into the text, and if they did that concerning slavery, then it could have happened concerning homosexuality.
"Homosexuality is not practised by other animals."
This isn't true; it can be found in 450 different vertebrate species. And, some actually form homosexual pair bonds. However, even if it were true, animals don't wear clothes, brush their teeth, or undergo surgery. We, therefore, shouldn't take our cues about how to live from animals.
"Homosexuality is unnatural."
What might people mean when they say this. One thing they might mean is that most people don't do that; it's statistically abnormal. Well, that's true. Most people don't engage in homosexual relationships. Then again, most people don't play the mandolin, most people don't pilot planes, and most people don't read Sanskrit. The fact that most people don't do something doesn't make it wrong. So, that doesn't seem to be morally relevant.
"Homosexuality is a choice which opposes natural desires."
How many of us choose our sexual feelings? Ask yourself whether you've ever been attracted to somebody that you wish you were not attracted to. Maybe the person was already involved with somebody else. Maybe you were already involved with somebody else. Maybe the person just didn't like you. We've all had these kinds of experiences where we've had these feelings and wished we could get rid of them. We can't. Or, the other side sometimes happens, where we don't really have the feelings and wish we could. So-and-so is nice, we had great conversations, but the spark is just not there. We don't have that kind of direct control over our feelings. But if we don't have that kind of direct control over our feelings for particular individuals, why would anyone think that we would have that sort of control over our feelings towards men in general or women in general? And, why would anyone choose to be gay in a society that stigmatises homosexuality?
"Homosexuality violates the natural function of the sex organs."
Many body parts can be used in multiple ways, often in ways that deviate from their natural function. For example, the nose is not to hold up reading glasses, but it is not immoral to use it for that purpose. What about the sexual organs? Obviously, one purpose of the sexual organs is procreation; nobody denies basic biological facts here, but is that the only legitimate purpose?
Heterosexual people often have sex, even if they don't want children, don't want children yet, don't want any more children, or can't have children. Why? Because there are other purposes for sex, such as expressing love, giving and receiving pleasure, and enhancing a relationship, even if, in doing so, you're not using the body part according to its natural function.
Concerning sexual acts, it is important to note that not all homosexual people engage in anal sex and that some heterosexual people do. Furthermore, both heterosexual and homosexual people commonly engage in oral sex.
"Homosexuality is disgusting."
Many disgusting activities are not considered immoral, such as eating snails, performing autopsies, and cleaning toilets. So being disgusting is not sufficient to label something as immoral. At best, it gives us grounds for an aesthetic judgement, not a moral judgement.
"Homosexuality exposes you to the risk of contracting AIDS."
A virus causes AIDS, and that virus can be passed along by homosexual activity, by heterosexual activity and by some activities that are not sexual at all. Furthermore, if AIDS risk were somehow supposed to be the barometer of morality, lesbians would be the most moral people in the world because, from the standpoint of AIDS risk, lesbian sex is the way to go.
"Homosexual people lead miserable and unhappy lives."
Evidence-based research does indicate higher rates of depression and suicide amongst the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities. However, it is society's poor treatment of LGB people rather than sexual identity itself, that causes depression and suicidal ideation.
"Homosexual relationships are less rewarding than heterosexual relationships."
There is no evidence to suggest that this is true. Even if it were true, lesbian and gay people are only attracted to same-sex individuals, with the alternative being celibacy. Surely a homosexual relationship is more rewarding than celibacy. After all, sex is pleasurable, and sex is a means to emotional intimacy within a personal relationship.
"Exposing children to homosexuals increases the likelihood that they will become homosexual."
This argument is circular as homosexual people are mostly exposed to heterosexual people, which does not make them heterosexual. Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence to support that exposure to homosexuals causes children to become homosexual themselves.
"Gay men are more likely to be paedophiles."
This claim is just false. The evidence does not bear this out. Interestingly, whenever a heterosexual person does something terrible such as molests a child or rapes a woman, society does not think of this as reflecting on all heterosexual people. Why, then, when we read in the paper about a man molesting a boy, this somehow becomes a fact about all gay people?
"Homosexuality is a threat to traditional heterosexual marriage."
Do we honestly believe that if we support gay and lesbian people in their relationships that heterosexual people will stop having relationships and all become gay? Furthermore, forcing gay people into heterosexual marriage's that they're not suited for is damaging to them, their spouses and their children.
"Homosexuality harms society by diminishing the rate of procreation."
So does celibacy, but nobody seems to think that being a priest is immoral. This argument also appears illogical in an overpopulated world. Society only needs some and not all people to procreate.
"Homosexual activity is all about perverted sex."
When we talk or think about homosexuality, we typically focus on the sex part of it. However, like heterosexual activity, it also involves dating, holding hands, romantic dinners, caring for each other and long-term fulfilment.
Additional Articles About Sexuality
Find out more about a range of sexual orientation issues and how talking to a counsellor who specialises in sexuality issues can help:
Gay Counselling in Perth
I hope you will find some of these progressive and convincing opinions useful when confronted by the many adverse viewpoints expressed about same-sex attracted people. If you are concerned about any aspect of your sexual orientation or need support with how best to work through any social or relationship pressures, please contact me to arrange an appointment. Talking to a counsellor is an effective way to manage and gain a better understanding of your concerns. My approach is warm and respectful, and I offer you a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space to support you through your struggles.