I hope this is useful, helpful, true.
The Truth About Homosexuality
Using Dialectic Reasoning to arrive at conclusions about homosexuality.
“The dialectical method is discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter guided by reasoned arguments.” (Wikipedia)
Dialectic discourse is an effective, proven way to arrive at truth. The intent of such discourse is shaping beliefs. It requires the ability and willingness to change one’s mind. The goal is not to prove one side wrong and one side right. The goal is truth. This is (obviously and unfortunately) radically different than what happens in an argument, or what happens in modern intellectual discourse. In dialectic discourse, all participants anticipate that either, or both, sides will change their beliefs. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic for the interesting back-story and more information.
For the sake of creating a dialogue, I will be presenting both sides.
First, the arguments commonly used to justify homosexuality: “I feel this way.” or even: “I have always felt this way.” cannot be used to justify anything… because they can justify everything.
That is true. But I don’t know anyone who chooses their sexual orientation. I do not know any heterosexual that can point to the day they decided to be heterosexual. The same is true for homosexuals.
But some people do decide to “try” homosexuality for a variety of reasons.
Sure. People try all sorts of things. Some things fit, some don’t. Those who “try” homosexuality (for curiosity, attention, shock, defiance, etc) account for a small percentage of homosexuals.
So are people born that way or not?
I don’t know. Is anyone born a “way”? I don’t know any children who are sexual.
Well, we have found no biological causes for homosexuality. Therefore all causes are psychological. As far as we know, a common cause of homosexuality is lack of bonding with the same-sex parent. Another common cause is abuse. Sometimes a same-sex abuser will convince the child that what is happening is good and right. Sometimes the abused child will feel pleasure (even climax) from the molestation; this causes confusion and torment. Sometimes a same-sex abuser will be viciously cruel and confuse the child. Sometimes being abused by an opposite-sex abuser causes the child to be repulsed by heterosexual sex, yet the abused still feels the powerful, natural need for love and physical intimacy. They will then sometimes look to their same gender to fulfill those deep, unmet needs. Since homosexuality is caused by psychological issues, shouldn’t we try to heal the issue rather than celebrate the effect?
First, we need to talk more about parenting and abuse. The title of my book on parenting is, “Better Parenting Will Save the World”. We are long overdue for better parenting. We can and must work toward healthier homes. Too many families are war zones.
Second, what else should we expect those experiences to produce?
Homosexuality is likely caused by personal experiences and how each person makes sense of the experience. What behavior isn’t? If you want to help people with psychological issues, good for you. But every single person that has ever lived has some sort of psychological issue. Will you also “heal” heterosexuals whose sexual appetites are affected by psychological issues?
Also, there are countless factors in a person’s sexuality. It stands to reason—and is supported by observation—that human sexuality is complex, and the spectrum is wide, and there is more to it than the narrow scope we are taught growing up.
Finally, we can try to help mental disorders, but those are different from psychological issues. Our psychological makeup is the biggest part of who we are. Why would we want to change that? Psychological issues don’t automatically need curing.
Wouldn’t the child be happier and healthier is he/she had bonded with his/her parents and been heterosexual and avoided pain, confusion, guilt, and bullying?
Some yes. Some no. Would Edgar Allen Poe have been happier and healthier if he hadn’t been melancholy? Probably. Would he have been Edgar Allen Poe? No. The same is true of Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Cobain, you, and I. Who they are is who they are.
Which brings up a key point: conformity is death. Insisting, or even hoping, that everyone be heterosexual is as absurd as insisting that everyone be bossy. It fits some, but not all.
If it is caused by abuse, shouldn’t we try to help the abused?
By all means. Let us work toward healing the hurt. But it does not follow that their sexual orientation needs to be changed anymore than what music or cultural dishes they like needs to be changed.
Doesn’t the fact that homosexuality is “created” by our experiences—and that it is a deviation from the original, “normal” state—prove that homosexuality is wrong? Asked another way: would ideal circumstances (no abuse, no neglect) never produce homosexuality?
Nature and Nurture are inextricable, but at least as much of our behaviors and personality are created as are “natural”. We can create—for example—leadership, insecurity, independence, hopelessness, etc. Are those created attributes “wrong”? Should we hate people who are affected by their experiences? Or forbid them to marry? The answer, of course, to each question is “no”. Again, not all sexual preferences can be traced to “creating” factors.
There are all manner of unhealthy or un-ideal sexual appetites. Certainly there are homosexuals whose sexual preference is caused by unhealthy factors. But the same is true for other sexual appetites. That does not mean that homosexuality or heterosexuality are inherently unhealthy.
Some argue that homosexuality is unnatural because gays cannot conceive a baby.
Neither can any infertile heterosexuals.
It is worth noting that the desire for a baby is different than the desire for sex. A lot of sex acts that cannot produce a baby (hand, oral, anal, toys) are within the “normal, healthy” range.
Well, here’s the primary opposition: Homosexuality is a sin in every religion.
Religion is often a source of hope in difficult times… which human life is full of. And religion enables people to be a part of the “correct”, “winning” group. All religions believe that not only are they right here and now, but they are the only way to win in the afterlife. Religion can also serve as a personal guide. However, it can and does lead to hatred and stagnation. And, because no religion can be proven or verified, religion cannot be used as a political or legal guide. In other words, we cannot make something illegal because a religion (or even most religions) says it is a sin. Plus, we could probably find religions that don’t say homsexuality is a sin. In fact, if we looked far enough, we could probably find a religion that had homosexuality as part of its rituals.
Additionally, religions label a lot of behaviors/desires as sin. Should we scorn and vilify everything that religions commonly call sin, such as envy, lying, disbelief, etc?
We do scorn and vilify those things.
No we don’t. Look around.
The hypocrisy of our beliefs is not enough to condone homosexuality (or any behavior).
True. Forget about human hypocrisy. There are simply no arguments against homosexuality that hold up to reason.
But can you understand how difficult it is for religious people to accept homosexuality when all they have known since birth is to abhor it?
Yes. It is tragic. If you were born into a religious home, you have no option but to be religious. The nature of religiousness is that no other beliefs are right… in fact, all other beliefs are worse than wrong, they are evil.
The good news is that beliefs can change in a moment. One experience, one bit of information can change a belief. They are different from habits in that sense. However, beliefs cause habits—such as hating—and habits are hard to change.
Also, imagine how difficult it is for a homosexual who is born into fundamentalism. Imagine the inner conflict and the external chastisement.
Yes, there is no easy way to reconcile homosexuality and religion. The Bible, Quran, Torah, etc could not be more clear on their position on homosexuality.
This is a challenge for religious people. Either they hold to fundamentalism and hate all the things they label sin, or they evolve their religion (but fundamentalism by nature is locked firmly in the past), or they reject religion. Is it possible that religion has outlived its usefulness? Religion fosters hate. There is no getting around that. Even when religious people try to be loving, they are required to call some behaviors “sin”, and sentence to hell everyone who doesn’t belief. Humans need to weigh the benefits of religion against the harm it causes.
But religion does evolve. Not all adherents are fundamentalists.
Useful point. Also, in all religions there are homosexuals who are devout adherents. However, as mentioned, the religious texts cannot be reconciled with homosexuality (or anything labeled as sin). The fundamentalist holds to the text, and it supports his or her stance. The progressive religious adherent is in conflict with his or her sacred text.
But religion asks abstinence of other people: priests, believers during lent, etc.
It is not possible to think of worse examples. Look what happens in all those instances. Instead of resulting in self-disciplined, chaste people, it results in the opposite. It results in horrors. The sex instinct is more powerful than reason, emotion, or beliefs. Child abuse in the catholic church is systemic and an epidemic.
But without religion, what would we use as a moral guide? On what would we base our laws? Is it possible to be moral without religion?
Useful questions. Regarding the first and second: I would submit some balance of Reason and Intuition would guide us better. There are many cultures today that are not religious. And all of them embrace things (prostitution, euthanasia, drug use, etc) that are difficult for religious, or recovering-religious, people to accept. Most of those things fit the criteria of: “If it doesn’t harm yourself or others, why is it my business?” But not all of them do. Hopefully humankind will advance in our humanity, and not just our technology, and we will be able to satisfactorily answer questions of morality without relying on primitive mythologies. This indeed warrants discussion, but it does not prove, or even suggest, that homosexuality is immoral.
Regarding the third: Some philosophers have argued that acting good because you have been commanded to (by a religion) is not being good at all. Some have argued that religion actually gives people license to be jerks or at least never grow, because you can just ask a deity for forgiveness and you’re magically better than other people. Practically speaking, however, humans need arbitrary boundaries. At least until they reach a certain level of maturity… which most people never reach. One problem with religion as a guide is that religion is locked in the past. Religion holds that humans have strayed from the perfection they once had, and religion is an attempt to go back. All truth is timeless, and ancient religions and philosophies hold a great deal of truth. But it is absurd to think that all truth exists in the past, much less at one time, or culture, or book of the past. If you doubt the absurdity of that, think about how each religion views all other religions: as absurd.
But humans need a standard of conduct, practically and theoretically. And the more universal, the better.
Yes. That is one reason religion will never go away completely.
Even ancient cultures considered homosexuality wrong, even though it existed—or even was prevalent—at times.
We simply don’t know enough to know what ancient cultures thought of it. The Bible is one side and perspective of ancient history. Hopefully we are aware enough to recognize that the other side always tells a different version of any story.
Although homosexuality has been around as long as any of the other psychological responses, homosexuality becomes prevalent in times of affluence and ease. Therefore it is a product of hedonism and excess and should be rejected.
Two points. First: A lot of things are a product of hedonism and excess—including gluttony. 1 in every 3 people on the planet are considered starving. That is a staggering statistic. Yet you and I still eat for pleasure and throw away a lot of food each day. The amount of entertainment we consume, clothes we own, and conveniences we insist on are all the product of hedonism. Are you ready to reject all those things?
We agreed that hypocrisy is not valid support.
True. The point was that we don’t reject any of the products of hedonism or excess. Why would we single one out? Second: Is hedonism bad? You only live once. Why not enjoy the sh*t out of that one time?
One problem with hedonism is that it puts personal pleasure above the needs or rights of others. Another problem with it is that it is an affront to those who suffer—which, statistically, is almost everyone. A third problem with it is that self-control and self-restraint do good and are valued. Lack of those things neither does good nor is valued.
That is a good point regarding self-control and self-restraint. Harming others or yourself is always wrong and is cause for concern and intervention. However, if someone is into something that does not hurt themselves or anyone else, why would I care if they do it? And why would it be any of my business?
That seems like a key point: “If someone is into something that does not hurt themselves or others, why should I care?” But what about this:
Sometimes people are gay just to fit in. For example, girls (especially when in college) will do lesbian things for attention or to be considered “hot”. Their talk and actions often violate their beliefs—just to conform. It sounds tragic that people will mess with the most personal aspects of themselves (their sexuality) just to fit in or be accepted. Homosexuality, especially lesbianism in young women, seems to be a fad these days. Conformity is always concerning. As you said, “Conformity is death.”
It is sad that humans are so desperate to conform. Two points. First: female sexuality is a bit different than male. Women are generally more comfortable with physical contact from other women than from men. For example, both men and women would rather be massaged by a woman. Furthermore, women can recognize, and admire, the beauty (even the “hotness”) of other women without it being a sexual thing. Women are, as everyone knows, inherently beautiful—the most beautiful form known to humankind. What appears “gay” to a man, might not be as uncomfortable for a woman. Second, acting lesbian might be better than other things girls do for attention. Making out with another girl for attention will produce less guilt and pain than getting yourself in a situation—out of a need for attention—where rape, unwanted pregnancy, and/or violence are possible. And those things are a horrific epidemic, especially among the college-aged.
Finally, do you realize how much of human behavior is simply to fit in? The brutal reality (that we ought to talk more about) is that almost all human behavior is conformity. But that does not mean that homosexuality is wrong any more than Dickies are wrong when they “catch on” and people that don’t need them for work begin to wear them.
Actually, homosexuals know a little something about this. For most of history—in every culture—hating homosexuals was the “fad”. It took tremendous, rare courage to be openly gay. That is still true. Even today, many groups of people feel ignorant, intolerant hatred toward homosexuals. As noted lover of life and the body, ee cummings said:
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
But wouldn’t acting or talking lesbian just cause confusion and make a mess for the young lady? Doesn’t a preoccupation with the beauty of other women cause insecurity, comparing, and competition? And isn’t that perspective fostered by men (in the cosmetic and fashion industries) who sell dissatisfaction and insecurity out of pure greed?
That certainly could cause confusion. Life is messy at times, and our messes are generally our own doing. We get integrity and maturity with time and pain. Girls like to have fun and are beautiful and are comfortable with physical contact with girls, so it might not cause confusion. It might be devoid of sexual desire. Let us wish them the best, and wish them someone to talk with.
Comparison is unavoidable with something as fittingly nebulous as beauty. But, yes, the less women obsess over the beauty of other women, the happier they will be. But, obviously, that makes no direct case against lesbianism.
Greed is certainly the motivation for selling dissatisfaction and insecurity. But it’s not just foisted by men. There are more women leaders in those two industries than in any other industries.
Isn’t it unhealthy, even dangerous, when sexual appetites get out of control, or when people become overly obsessed with sex? In other words: freedom is not the freedom to do whatever you want; that actually causes chaos and bondage.
Yes. There is a wide range that is healthy on the spectrum of sexual appetite/behavior, but outside that range is definitely unhealthy, dangerous, even terrifying.
People with a lower libido always think people with a high libido are out of control. And, if they were honest, the people who live a more straight-laced life—the ones who complain about the immorality of others—are probably secretly envious of those who are more wild. Life is to be lived and enjoyed, and kept healthy with self-discipline.
The point remains: sexual wildness is a slippery slope. (See our earlier point about self-control and self-restraint.) But that doesn’t have anything to do with homosexuality directly.
Porn produces homosexuality. And that is sad. Sex is an appetite that grows as it is fed.
Does porn create anything, or does it only destroy? Regardless, there are a variety of things that can fuel homosexuality. For example, the need for intimacy or sexual release is so strong that when it is not available heterosexually, people will turn to homosexuality to find it. Prison is an obvious example of this; as is the college dorm. The need for sexual release (even separate from intimacy) is so powerful that people will go against their upbringing, morals, reason, and even emotions to satisfy it. Furthermore, human sexuality, and the factors that shape it, are as complex as you would expect it to be (considering how complex humans are). Finally, it is true that sex is an appetite, and that it grows as it is fed. Porn obviously feeds that appetite, and will increase the appetite from “too low” to “healthy” to “heightened” and even to “dangerous”. But why is it sad that someone finds a form of sex that brings them pleasure?
It is sad because they were shaped by porn. Young girls see their father subscribing to, or addicted to, porn. And the girl quickly believes that what she sees in porn is what it means to be a grown, attractive women. Porn also produces lust, and the young girl’s sexuality will be inflamed and altered from what it would have naturally been. Solely because of the insidious effects of porn. That doesn’t seem like something we would wish for anyone. Being shaped by porn is different than enjoying porn or enjoying sex without porn. It is also sad because an increase in sexual appetite always causes a decrease in meaningful intimacy.
We happen to be living at a time in history that has swung toward heightened, “open” attitudes and appetites for sex. It is not the first time in human history that this has happened. Nor will it be the last. Humans will likely swing back the other way; we always have. (After a generation or two. After we react to the consequences of our excesses). It is useful to be aware of the age we live in. It is likely useful to avoid porn. I have said, “Things work best when the girl has seen more porn than the guy. And things work best when the guy has not seen any.”
Your last point is terrifying. The culture we live in has elevated sex to a position that it does not deserve and cannot fulfill. Sex is the ultimate experience… but not always. Sometimes it is traumatizing. Sometimes is it boring. Sometimes it is confusing. Our “new”, open attitude about sex will not, cannot, bring fulfillment. Indeed, more people are complaining about not feeling loved, even as more people are experimenting with sex.
But that doesn’t have anything to do with homosexuality exclusively.
But that is not what we see, even in a climate of open sexuality. We see men gorged on porn.
One of the great tragedies of modern life is that we have raised lustful men and passionless women. Girls are taught to be good-little-girls; to be chaste. We have vicious names for girls who are passionate. But boys are taught to feed their sexual appetite until it is unreasonable, even dangerous. We have complimentary names for boys who sleep around. We congratulate them.
How are those two (the passionless woman and the lustful man) supposed to get along?
But don’t those attitudes make sense? Aren’t women the treasure worth pursuing and men the a creature driven to pursue by instinct and by the desirability of the prey? I have heard it crudely stated with this metaphor: “A key that can open many locks is a master key, but a lock that can be opened with any key is an poor lock.”
It is true that males and females are different. “Vive la différence.” as the French say. Women are beautiful; but they are more than their beauty. It is also true that male and female sexuality is different. Men and women even love differently. But the key/lock metaphor does not apply well to humans. Have we strayed from the point?
We have not strayed in the least. It is impossible (or at least pointless) to talk about sexuality without talking about all the connected factors and parts. And we desperately need to talk about these things. Yet we avoid talking about them. We go to absurd lengths to cover it up.
That is the most important point so far. Humans will talk their whole lives about celebrity gossip or sports or what happened on a TV show, but they will never talk about sex or secrets. This also needs to be talked about: the primary reason we don’t talk is religion.
Religion has told us that sex is naughty, and that not only should we not do it, we should not talk about it. One reason for this is that what religion says falls apart when examined, so we dare not ask questions. Another reason for the gag-order is the guilt that religion fosters—no, requires.
The need for intimacy, passion, and sexual release are as powerful as any other need. Most of us are told to suppress and ignore those needs. We are told those needs are sin. We will act (externally) that they don’t exist. But they are so powerful and basic that Maslow listed them in the foundation of his hierarchy. They are so powerful and basic that we will violate reason, emotion, and beliefs in our fantasizes, dreams (which happen unconsciously), and we will do (or think about doing) such violations when the opportunity presents itself. We must talk about these needs. We must ask our questions. Maybe not in public, but at least in private. Maybe one-on-one with a trusted person. Maybe alone with a journal.
Doesn’t the fact that we swing back toward morals, and when we do homosexuality decreases, mean that homosexuality is wrong?
It means that excess is wrong, but it doesn’t mean that homosexuality is wrong, anymore than fashion or eating or entertainment (other common excesses) are wrong. Humans, in their own lives and especially in mass, swing between extremes. Perhaps this will decrease in the future.
“Open” attitudes about sex result in an increase—and acceptance—of sexual perversions. For example, if you ask for (or allow) a sex free-for-all, you will get an increase in child molestation. Furthermore, sexual perversions are difficult-to-impossible to cure, and they are terrifying. This is not to say that all homosexuality is due to excess, but that an anything-goes attitude toward sex brings with it undesirable, horrible behavior.
Sex is fun and fantastic. More so than eating. We allow people to be really into food and have a variety of appetites, but we don’t allow people to be into sex and have different appetites. However, as you point out, a sexually-charged atmosphere—a sexual free-for-all—results in abuses; it results in harm to ourselves and harm to others. As always, balance is the ideal. Aristotle showed us that “virtue lies between two extremes”.
But even if we clamp down a culture’s morals (especially regarding sex), homosexuality will still exist. Though there might be less of it.
If tightening morals reduces homosexuality, doesn’t that prove that it is “wrong”?
It proves that some excesses in sexual behavior are due to a climate of excess. And while we know that sexual perversions are improper, this does not prove that homosexuality is a perversion. Homosexuality involves common romantic and sexual acts—ones that heterosexuals engage in. Plus, there is more to homosexuality than sex. Homosexuals feel physical AND emotional attraction, exactly like heterosexuals. Those desires (as already pointed out) are shaped by psychological reasons. Why should one person’s psychological makeup trouble me or be my business?
Furthermore, personality (what I call Interpersonal Dynamics) can “create” homosexuality. A good number of homosexual and heterosexual relationships happen because the dynamic of one person’s personality deeply hooks another person, regardless of gender. For example, someone who is a “Taker” might meet someone who is a “Giver”—in fact, due to human nature, such a connection is likely—and an inescapable, symbiotic relationship is created. Someone who controls might meet someone who serves. Through the force of personality, many people are bound to each other, regardless of gender. The “Dark Triad” is powerfully attractive to certain women (and men), not because it benefits the woman in any way. (She will always be miserable in such a relationship.) But because her psychological needs compel her against her reason. Maslow’s Hierarchy explains all human behavior.
It appears that we have identified these causes of homosexuality: childhood experiences, conformity, physiological need, and psychological dynamics.
As far as we know. And, of course, those factors cause everything. Not only sexual orientation.
Isn’t sex different from other preferences, though? It is more physical, personal, and deeply connected to identity. If someone has a preference that makes others uncomfortable, should they keep it to themselves, or should everyone else be forced to accept something that is outside (or violates) their preferences? Especially with sex? Sex seems to be the one area where we need to draw boundaries. For example: there are food perversions, but they do not cause innocent victims. Sex perversions, on the other hand, are deadly serious.
We see all kinds of behavior everyday that is outside our preferences. Rudeness, gossip, unfaithfulness, etc. Those might not be as personal as sexuality, but living civilly among people who are different from you is not optional.
Homosexuals do not stick their sexuality in your face anymore than heterosexuals do. Excessive flaunting of any sexuality makes most people uncomfortable, whether by frat boys, serial cheaters, gold diggers, or sluts. I imagine there are pedophiles who flaunt their sexual appetite. But that doesn’t mean that homosexuals cannot be in love (or even lust) and show it.
We do need to define the line with sex. And we have: under age 18 is off limits for anything. Over 18, have at it. As always, we absolutely must talk about the issue and why we behave the way we do. We can revisit our beliefs and laws—to tighten or loosen them. Carefully evaluating them is healthy.
Conversations like this one—not arguments or silence—are absolutely necessary.
Here is a fitting conclusion to this conversation: A gay woman recently said this to me, “The bottom line for me is: I love (name of partner). I just love her.”
Can’t we let people love? Can’t we even wish that for them?
So… what can we conclude? What truths have we exposed?
- Being “into” something does not always make it good for you.
- Being opposed to something does not always make it wrong.
- Almost all humans, for whatever biological or psychological reasons, are desperate to fit in.
- Our experiences, and how we make sense of them, shape us.
- We can oppose homosexual marriage only if we also oppose marriage for anyone with psychologically-caused preferences. Meaning: everyone.
- Religious fundamentalism fosters fear, guilt, and hate.
- Excess is unhealthy.
- History says that humankind will swing to fully embrace homosexuality. And then swing back the other way, decades later.
- Sex is an appetite that grows as it is fed.
- Sex is personal. And meaningful sex can be the ultimate experience.
- There is more to homosexuality than sex. Just like heterosexuality.
- Some people are homosexual. Some people are uncomfortable by homosexuality. We should be gracious to both. Ideally, we will not care about the differences. If hatred and/or violence raise their ugly heads, we should intervene for the persecuted.
- There are no reasonable arguments against homosexuality. To be clear: there are zero reasonable arguments that support condemning homosexuality.
- Humans must talk it out. There must be more conversations like this, about important topics, where the goal is sense, or truth, not “winning”.
UPDATE: I can see one thing the “discussion” is missing: solutions or answers. I have some of those. But I don’t know if I will squeeze them into the dialogue, or write them out in a separate essay, or share them in a public talk.