Friday, October 11, 2013

Homosexuality and choice

I was born heterosexual, but there is nothing about my heterosexuality that requires that I perform heterosexual sex acts at any time during my lifetime. I can either engage in heterosexual behavior or not. And the same applies to homosexuals.

So, even if a person has no choice about whether or not to be gay (I must say that is certainly true in my case, and I am inclined to think that it is true in the case of at least some homosexuals), it is possible to freely choose or not choose to engage in homosexual behavior.

While sexual orientation is many cases not a choice, it has to be a choice sometimes, otherwise there would be no bisexuals.

20 comments:

B. Prokop said...

As shown in this article, it appears that contrary to what certain posters have said on this website, bigotry and hate can exist on either side of the SSM debate. All too often we hear (usually unjustified) cries of "homophobe", but seldom do we hear of the extreme intolerance of those supporting SSM.

Jeremy Erickson said...

Bisexuality does not imply that orientation is a choice. I'm bisexual, by which I mean that while I often find myself attracted to women, I also often find myself attracted to men. I don't really choose who I find myself attracted to, even though like anyone else I choose how to respond.

In a sense, I do certainly have more choice in terms of how I respond to my orientation, since I could choose to become romantically or sexually involved with someone of either sex. But that's sort of like how as a heterosexual you can decide which particular person you're attracted to that you want to pursue a relationship with.

For what it's worth, I am a Christian with a pretty traditional view of sexual ethics, so in practice I'd only be open to pursuing a marriage-type relationship with a woman. However, I still have feelings that make me different from a straight person.

B. Prokop said...

Jeremy,

Having "feelings" one way or the other is not an issue. Behavior is. I, as a heterosexual male, could easily have "feelings" toward multiple women, but it wouldn't be right for me to act on said (hypothetical) feelings.

By the way, the strongest argument I've heard in favor of SSM is that it would discourage multiple sexual partners, and thus be helpful in preventing the transmission of certain diseases.

However, I believe that such concerns need to be considered in light of factors such as those brought up in the article I linked to. Also, I have yet to hear any really good argument against civil unions.

Jeremy Erickson said...

I wasn't trying to respond to your comment or to argue one way or the other regarding the SSM debate. I was simply objecting to one particular point that Victor made in the original post. He correctly pointed out that it is possible to be homosexual or heterosexual without having sex, and that there could be an involuntary aspect to that. I was pointing out that a bisexual orientation can be similarly involuntary, and it doesn't reduce to choice or behavior.

I'm a virgin as a result of my convictions. You don't need to preach to me about behavior. I'm just making a point about the nature of bisexual orientation.

Crude said...

Jeremy,

I've got a question for you, if you don't mind.

Do you find the treatment of bisexuals to be pretty shitty by LGBT groups? It always strikes me that 'bisexuals' are more or less entirely invisible to them, and I run into a lot of gays who have the attitude that bisexuals are "faking it" or something.

Victor,

While sexual orientation is many cases not a choice, it has to be a choice sometimes, otherwise there would be no bisexuals.

I think this could technically be disputed if someone were to play the card that bisexuals are also genetically determined, as has been mentioned. But I do think there's a good reason to think that 'sexual orientation' can, at times and to degrees, be influenced by choices. Not in the sense that 'all gay men chose to be gay', but in the sense that some people have literally developed sexual inclinations during their life.

I suppose one could cite prison behavior as a possible instance of this.

Papalinton said...

Bob your argument about whether to have multiple heterosexual relations is indeed a social and moral question and one based on choice. Men can and do, as do women, have multiple sexual relations at whim, if so chosen. You are free to do so of course, depending on your regard towards social responsibility and personal moral understanding of the one-man/one-woman cultural convention our society has developed. A single-partner relationship is the normally agreed limit.

However under that rule you personally are not excluded from ever having a sexual relationship with one woman, at least at any one time, ever, and living out and physically expressing your sexual fantasies and thoughts.

But by your mandate, you are condemning a gay from having sex, which is a natural, basic human need and drive, even if it falls within the convention of one partner at a time, forever. Why? The only conclusion that I can arrive at is because the bible says so and your personal reaction to the idea says so. Jeremy Erickson's comment confirms my claim: "I am a Christian with a pretty traditional view of sexual ethics, so in practice I'd only be open to pursuing a marriage-type relationship with a woman." And he is one very lucky man because he too under the convention he is not proscribed form ever having sex even if it is only with a woman. Your solely religious, not your secular or scientific perspective is the predominant driver in this case. But it does not accord in any way with the biological, scientific evidence, knowledge and understanding of the reality of homosexuality, and what's more, is a naturally occurring and widespread feature across species. This confirms homosexuality is not simply a matter of choice. It is far more complicated and deeper than just a matter of moral choice.

Your demand seems to be one terrible price for gays to pay, to quell, to quash, to suppress, their most natural and basic human need for expressing love for another person. And from your POV to stamp out, to eliminate gay sex wherever it might be because it offends your Christian sensibilities.

I think that is why communities, region by region, State by State have wrested this dilemma from religious hands, because for two thousand years it simply sat on its hands, and are circumventing the age-old impasse. Equity,equality, justice and freedom of association are the fundamental keys underpinning this groundswell of movement away from institutional religion and religious demands.

I do find your objection to homosexual relationships unconscionable and a most unreasonable demand.

B. Prokop said...

"You don't need to preach to me about behavior."

I apologize if what I wrote came off as "preaching". That was certainly not my intent, but I am not always the clearest writer in the world. I was just stating my opinion - throwing it out there. That what we do here on this website!

Papalinton said...

" ... but in the sense that some people have literally developed sexual inclinations during their life."

I think there is little evidence of this naturally occurring. And as you say 'in a prison environment', not a fine example of free association, one could engage in homosexual sex. But this would be simply to vent out their natural sexual impulse in a most unnatural environment. HERE is a broadranging article on the issue of masturbation in the priesthood and its relationship in homosexual activity in the church. Homosexuality affects every sphere of life:

"One report suggested that since the mid-1980s Roman Catholic priests in the United States were dying from AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than that of the general population; with most of the cases contracted through same-sex relations, and the cause often concealed on their death certificates. A followup study done the next year by the Kansas City Star found AIDS-related death rate among priests was "more than six times" the rate among the general population in the 14 states studied.[19]" Wiki

In addition:

"Exodus International, the prominent Christian ministry which for the past 37 years has helped men and women leave the homosexual lifestyle, announced June 19 that it is closing its doors. The organization's president, Alan Chambers (shown), also issued an apology to the homosexual community, telling the Associated Press that the organization had inflicted “years of undue suffering” on homosexuals it had reached out to. “The church has waged the culture war, and it's time to put the weapons down,” Chambers said after announcing at the annual conference of Exodus that the group would cease operation. “While there has been so much good at Exodus, there has also been bad. We've hurt people.”" SEE HERE

It would seem to me any continued support aimed at preventing homosexual people in our community to enter into same-sex relationships is misguided and unfair.

Jeremy Erickson said...

B. Prokop - no worries. Misunderstanding is definitely all too easy when it comes to online communication.

Crude - most of my experience with LGBT groups is highly biased. Celibate gay Christians tend to be pretty accepting and understanding of me. I have had the occasional gay guy outside that community complain about how I just needed to make a "choice," but I haven't been invested enough enough in secular or affirming Christian LGBT communities to really have much relevant experience.

Papalinton said...

I might add that the AIDS-related article should not be mistakenly read as proof that homosexuality should be banned. Rather that it should be put front and centre out in the open. Just as one has with syphilis and other STDs. Openness is the key to combating illnesses and disease.

Crude said...

Jeremy,

Crude - most of my experience with LGBT groups is highly biased. Celibate gay Christians tend to be pretty accepting and understanding of me. I have had the occasional gay guy outside that community complain about how I just needed to make a "choice," but I haven't been invested enough enough in secular or affirming Christian LGBT communities to really have much relevant experience.

Alright, thanks for the reply. That's one of the aspects of the whole thing I find pretty fascinating.

Ape in a Cape said...

Jeremy,

In my experience, sexual ethics is something that people tend to talk more about than practice. Even though many may not share your views on this matter, kudos to you for sticking to your guns and attempting to live authentically.

Ape.

vultureofcritique said...

In the past I have agreed with most of the posts on this blog. However, I disagree regarding the genetics of homosexuality and bisexuality.

As far as I can tell, the science is very murky, but some scientists have suggested that bisexuality is an adaptive mutation that is carried on a gene that can be inherited from either parent. It has been speculated that if both parents give a copy of the bisexuality gene, total homosexuality results in the offspring.

I believe this theory is from Robin Baker in ISBN-10: 0465081797; ISBN-13: 978-0465081790.

I find myself amazed by Papalinton's assertions, which I consider to be entirely unsupported.

Your solely religious, not your secular or scientific perspective is the predominant driver in this case. But it does not accord in any way with the biological, scientific evidence, knowledge and understanding of the reality of homosexuality, and what's more, is a naturally occurring and widespread feature across species.

In the first place, Papalinton is claiming to understand the blogger's motivations without showing any kind of justification. In the second place, Papalinton claims that the blogger is violating scientific consensus, without any kind of citations or arguments to back up his opinion of what scientific consensus might be.

The phrasing of the last clause,"homosexuality, and what's more, is a naturally occurring and widespread feature across species," is very misleading. The first time I read it I could not determine the writer's intended meaning, but he appears to be asserting that homosexality is widespread across animal species. The first time I read it, I thought he was claiming that the blogger's religious motivations are widespread across animal species.

Papalinton said...


"In the first place, Papalinton is claiming to understand the blogger's motivations without showing any kind of justification. "
That's exactly what I am saying. What other motivation is there?

"In the second place, Papalinton claims that the blogger is violating scientific consensus, without any kind of citations or arguments to back up his opinion of what scientific consensus might be."

Quote: "Fifteen hundred animal species practice homosexuality" See HERE at News-Medical.net.

"Your solely religious, not your secular or scientific perspective, is the predominant driver in this case. And it does not accord in any way with the biological, scientific evidence, knowledge and understanding of the reality of homosexuality. What's more, homosexuality is a naturally occurring and widespread feature across species."

Clearer?

Ilíon said...

VR: "I was born heterosexual, ...

While sexual orientation is many cases not a choice, it has to be a choice sometimes, otherwise there would be no bisexuals.
"

When I was a neophyte major in psychology and sociology (*), the reigning dogma of the time was that *everyone* is "born bisexual" -- somewhat in the manner that today's reigning dogma is that certain persons are "born 'gay'" ... if they say they were (**).

(*) Before switching to 'computer science', as I was not insane enough to remain with that double major.

(**) The former dogma, now utterly disreputable, for it is terribly Politically Incorrect, was at least consistent. In contrast, today's dogma holds that "gays" are "born that way", whereas "straights" can be "turned".

Ilíon said...

VR: "I was born heterosexual, ..."

And you know this, how?

Understand, I am not making any sort of insinuation.

B. Prokop said...

"... not that there's anything wrong with that!"

Ilíon said...

Yeah, that too.

Ilíon said...

Homosexual behavior is a choice ... but so is homosexual orientation.

I did not say, nor imply -- as we can surely expect the almost immediate strawmanning to dishonestly claim -- that every man or woman who suffers same-sex attraction, one day says to himself, "You know, I think I'll become 'gay', 'cause that would be so fabulous!"

Rather, homosexual orientation is established by a whole series of choices and reactions and relationships between the "gay" person and those who have a hand in his moral development, including other children, in the context of their society and culture.

Back when I was a psychology/sociology major, our culture was still explicitly and deliberately aimed at fostering that all its children should develop a "straight" sexual orientation. Today, just half a lifetime later, our self-selected cultural elites have managed to convince enough of us to go along with, or at least to STFU about the contrary, remaking our culture into one which fosters homosexual development in the children and youth – our whole public culture has become one that deliberately grooms the children toward homosexual attraction.

As I mentioned above, back in the mid-seventies, the elite dogma was that everyone is “born bisexual” – the reason for that dogma at that time, in contrast to the dogma of this time, is that in a culture that made no bones about homosexual behavior being disgusting and dishonorable, they couldn’t get from that culture to today’s culture without first convincing most of us that it would be no big deal to change the culture’s orientation.

That previous dogma wasn’t right, but it wasn’t entirely wrong, either … especially if you get them while they’re young.

im-skeptical said...

"our culture was still explicitly and deliberately aimed at fostering that all its children should develop a "straight" sexual orientation."

And I suppose you think it worked. Ignoring those who are different is more like it.