Saturday, August 4, 2012

Is/Ought Fallacy of Human Sexual Identity

We remember the humorous story when George Costanza got his massage from a handsome, blond male, and how something happened that disturbed George.  The close contact of the masseur's hands near the divergence of George's body caused a modest, yet significant enough sensual reaction in him, with the result of George's questioning his sexuality.  Jerry confirmed with George that no, only a response to direct convergence affirms that one is a homosexual.  George, you're off the hook! Just because something "is" (an experience), doesn't mean it "ought" (a practice) to be that way. 

It is an understatement to say that human sexuality is complex.  Humans are complex beings with a mind, under which operate the will, emotions and conscience.  Sometimes, our emotions dictate to us what we do, and sometimes, we "will" ourselves to do certain things.  Even when our bodies are tired, we don't "feel" like doing something that we "know" would be good.  For example, a person might not "feel" like getting flowers for his wife, but he does it anyway by a sheer act of the will, because he knows (mind), that such a thing is good, and will have positive results in terms of relationship.  Moreover, the emotions that were not present in obtaining the flowers may come along for the ride, after the will has done its work.  The conscience is also renewed by adding to it the experience of the wife's joyful response at the reception of such a gift.  In short, there is a moral development that occurs in such an act, encompassing the whole being.  Since humans are so complex therefore, we should be careful to define sexual identity based upon neither desire nor reaction to certain experiences.  Why? 

First, we need to be careful at labeling ourselves as having a "sexual identity,"  noting that such labels are not helpful.  Why identify yourself this way?  Are people only sexual beings?  Are they not so much more than that?  Alas, here we are with such labels, and labels do help us communicate our ideas.  So, I may say I'm a heterosexual, but that doesn't define who I am, and I certainly don't introduce myself to people as a heterosexual.  Neither does this label exhaust my sexual behavior, as it has perimeters.  I'm a person, first and foremost, who is in a committed, monogamous relationship with a female of the same description (a wonderful woman, in fact).  As Christians, we call it a covenant of marriage.  Now, I find in myself desires that, as a person who is attracted to females, I must use my conscience, will, emotions, and body and bind them in a fixed point of contact and commitment to my wife.  I am not permitted, just because I have attraction to women in general, to have relations with other women, for I have made a covenant with her.  Desires of mine do not dictate to me how I should act.  What is (desire) does not of necessity declare what ought (action) to be.   There are times when we feel angry, silly, or aloof, but that does not mean we should act on those emotions or desires.  We shouldn't throw things or hurt people when we are angry.  We shouldn't act like a goofball at a funeral just because we're hit with a sudden wave of silliness based upon a memory that flitted into our minds from a movie we recently saw.  We need moral development as human creatures, and we therefore are to discipline ourselves as adults and not act as children. 

Secondly, we shouldn't base our sexual identity on experiences and punt to "nature" because of the fact that we are sexual beings.  Unfortunately, some people think that is all that we are.  Nevertheless, just because a boy or a young man in his teens has a homosexual experience that produces physical reactions of arousal or pleasure, that does not mean he is to practice homosexuality.  It doesn't even make him a homosexual.  One's desires do not dictate who they are as persons.

Popular today is the idea that people are "born" homosexual.  Having no recourse to scientific data or proof of this, as no "gay gene" has been found, advocates of homosexuality resort to their innermost feelings or desires.  A good question is asked on the part of the one with homosexual desires: how can I deny my feelings and desires, and this attraction to members of the same gender?  Wouldn't that be denying who I am?  No, because you are not what you desire.  But, if you do have these desires, you can get some help in counseling, and you can control your desires by putting perimeters on them, just as millions of other people do.  But why should you do that?  Why put these desires to death?

Well, I'd say that biology and nature give us a good clue that our bodies have sexual organs designed for a purpose: they fit very well with members of the opposite gender, and in general, they produce life.  History would not happen if humans did not act according to their biological design.  Now of course, many of us are taught that our biology isn't designed at all, that we are a mere accident, popping into existence for no purpose.  This is the Darwinian view of evolutionary biology.  But even on the Darwinian paradigm, homosexuality does not make any sense at all, for biological, macro-evolution bespeaks of the survival of the fittest, and the desire of all animals to propagate themselves and further the species.  This cannot be done, granted a homosexual lifestyle.
Ok, so biology says one story, but my intrinsic desires tell another.  What should I do? Which should have more power: the biology or the innermost desire?  In fact, I feel like my biology is my desire.  How do I handle these emotions, and the conflicting information of the biological data?
Two things.  First I would commend you to consider that if the grand story of biological reproduction is without exception male-female interaction, then this is a fixed point.  You may feel like a ship in a storm, but the fixed point is the design and purpose of your body.  Our emotions and desires are another thing, however.  They are like the waves on the sea: sometimes they rage and swell, and sometimes they lie flat and calm.  The emotions and desires are subject to change, but the ship of biology holds fast to its course, with its sails in the westerly winds.  It shall reach its destination.  Your desires therefore, are the ones that are unfixed, and therefore skewed.  You may know that up until 1973, the American Psychological Association considered homosexuality as a mental disorder (a neurosis), but homosexual lobbyists pressured the APA to change it.  It is common knowledge now from numerous studies, that homosexual behavior is linked with high levels of depression, suicide, and behavior that risks death by disease (HIV/AIDS) in order to obtain sexual pleasure.  Lesson: don't let your desires dictate your behavior.  Perhaps, after all, your desires are in need of repair.  And this may be a life-long management, just as people have to live with anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, ADD and so on.  It's part of being a flawed human.  It stinks, I know.  Trust me, because I struggle with some of the things (and more) in the 3rd sentence before this one.

Secondly, I would commend to you that human sexuality is sacred.  If someone rapes another person, that rape victim feels violated.  That is because our bodies are sacred, and created by God to be treated as sacred.  God created us for his own glory and his pleasure with us is to dwell with us and befriend us, serving us in love and instructing us in the way of the good, the true and the beautiful.  When a man and a woman are together in a healthy marriage where the two serve each other in mutual respect and love and produce children after themselves, that is a beautiful thing.  How could we deny that it is so beautiful, good, and true?  Of course, if you do not believe in God, then please consider the previous paragraph, for even on an atheistic, evolutionary account of human origins, homosexuality does not comport with natural selection.

A clear example of the is/ought fallacy is found in the assertion that those who are most opposed to homosexuality are really homosexual, and are simply repressing the natural (as it were) desires deep inside the human heart.  It is saying that because someone has an inclination toward homosexual action, that they must obey this inclination, because it is "only natural" to do so.  But we have seen that just because someone has desires for something, that does not mean they should act on them.  The power of sex often overrides this, however, as we are not merely cognitive creatures who deliberate based upon the light of nature and reason (knowing that nature tells us something about the created order, created by God), but we tend to act in ways of which we are later ashamed.  Christian teaching is that humans are noble creatures, made in God's image, but that we are also deeply flawed and marred, like a warped mirror.  We reflect the glory of God only barely, because of our flawed nature.  We tend to act in ways that are inconsistent with our convictions, our desires, and what nature and reason tell us.

In addition to the "repressed homophobe" argument is the argument from the animal kingdom.  We are told how thousands upon thousands (or maybe hundreds) of animal species practice homosexual sex.  Male sea horses give birth, and certain kinds of primates practice homosexual intercourse.  Well, again, it may be the case that some species in the animal kingdom do this.  The sea horse example however, is a non sequitur, because odd behavioral change here is for the purpose of reproduction, something homosexual sex cannot accomplish.  Now what about the fact that some animals practice homosexual sex?  Didn't I say in the paragraph above that nature should instruct us in terms of our sexual behavior?  If the animals do it for pleasure, why shouldn't humans?

This is a good and a fair question.  After all, perhaps homosexual humans are content to not mate and pass along their genes.  But is this what we see in the animal kingdom?  Do we see animals that are exclusively homosexual?  No.  We don't, do we?  In fact, that's impossible, because animals have an instinct to reproduce.  So, what can we learn from nature?  More specifically, the proper question is, what can we learn from biology?  Biology tells us that certain body parts perform certain functions, and that they are designed that way for a purpose.  It's too bad that Darwinism has told us the lie that their is no purpose or design to our biological systems, because it is evident that they are.  Another thing to consider in the "nature observation" argument is that animals also kill their young when they are gimps, destroy the weak (euthanasia), eat each other, abuse one another in order to gain a mate, and fight to the death.  Should we do the same?

It's funny, odd, and damnable that we do: we abort Down Syndrome babies, as well as healthy ones.  We abuse our children.  We make them sexual slaves and murder them.  We euthanize the elderly and "unproductive," we oppress and murder.  We lie, cheat and steal.  What a terrible lot mankind is!  We're fallen creatures in need of redemption.  

In my short life of 40 years, I've seen a lot of brokenness in terms of sexual sin.  I've seen marriages end because of adultery and/or abuse.  I've heard of cold wives due to the abuse they received as little girls, and I've heard of resultant sex-starved husbands who are leaders in their churches but see prostitutes on the side.  I've seen marriages break up because a man leaves his wife for another man.  I've seen my own life troubled by guilt and shame from my past exploits in sexual sin and pornography as a young, foolish hedonist who's now trying his best to be faithful in heart, soul, mind and body because of my love for Jesus Christ, my love for my wife, my love for the Church.

Were you born this way?  Maybe.  We all have our propensities; we all have desires that are not necessarily healthy; we all have longings for things we can't and shouldn't get.  Just because we have desires for something, or just because we "feel" it in our "genes," that doesn't mean we should act on them.  I may have a propensity for polygamy or polyamorous relationships, but that doesn't mean I should act on them.  My body is sacred, and so is yours.  My sexuality is sacred and so is yours.  What is, is not necessarily what ought to be.  In fact, often what we find is, is what ought not to be.  Hence, the cross of Christ to redeem us from the miserable state in which we find ourselves. 

God bless you,
Chris Van Allsburg

Downloadable free book by Dr. Niel Whitehead, of New Zealand,  "My Genes Made Me Do It: Homosexuality and the Scientific Evidence."

No comments: