Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Five Logical Errors of Born Gay Ideology

Published 07.31.08 at Townhall.com and Crosswalk.com.

It is core doctrine of pro-gay orthodoxy that homosexuals are born gay. Though science has yet failed to affirm or deny this, the vast majority of gays and their supporters are convinced of it. Sexual orientation is seen as something discovered, not chosen. Instead of debating the merit of this assertion, let’s grant the premise that sexual orientation is determined prior to birth by genetic, gestational, or other factors. The question is whether any valid conclusions flow from this. I don’t think so.

Error 1: If I was born gay, my sexual orientation cannot change.

If present at birth, sexual orientation could come from either biology or psychology. If biological, then a medical procedure may be discovered to alter it. Science gushes with the ability to change things we were born with, especially conditions which past generations considered permanent. We can treat genetic diseases, repair cleft palates, perform height-enhancing surgeries, and even change genders.

Similarly, if the issue is psychological, treatments may be possible. Many traits people believe to be fixed about themselves can be adjusted by good counseling or psychopharmacology. Simple induction concludes that if medicine goes looking for a treatment for homosexuality, it might find one.

Many gays will be outraged at this line of reasoning. But why? We’ve been told that homosexuality can’t be a choice because no one would be foolish enough to choose it. Clearly some gays would relish the power to turn their unwanted condition into an optional one. And why shouldn’t other gays be happy for those who would then be truly free to choose? After all, they’re happy for sex-change operations, which make it possible for transgender persons to undo the birth nature they think was mistakenly given them. How can gender be so fixably wrong but sexual orientation so unfixably right?

Error 2: If I was born gay, then I have no choice about how I behave.

There are two kinds of inborn behavioral tendencies: the resistible and the irresistible. Unless we are supposed to believe that homosexuality is so involuntary that every gay sex act is literally a matter of biological determinism, we are left with the more plausible alternative: the desire to have gay sex does not compel anyone to actually ever have gay sex. One may not be able to control who attracts him, but he can certainly control who he has sex with. Consider the non sequitur of a gay man offering to explain last night’s particular sexual encounter by saying, “Well, I was born gay, you know.”

Free will is precisely the capacity to resist a carnal urge. If a gay person can refrain from sex even once, he has shown such free will. Thus, his sexual choices devolve to him, not to his inborn disposition. Straight people deny their sexual impulses all the time. I would be shocked to discover that gay people lack such an elementary capacity for urge restraint.


Error 3: If I was born gay, then acting upon it must be good.

No one denies that gays have extremely strong desires to be sexual with like-minded, like-bodied others. But strong desires do not justify behavior. Otherwise the study of ethics would be nothing more than the articulation of our impulses.

Some men may be born promiscuous (and perhaps most are), but this doesn’t legitimize adultery (or polygamy, for that matter). Since morality involves precisely the question of which desires are good to act upon, gay behavior cannot be justified merely on the grounds of experienced gay desire.

Error 4: If I was born gay, then this is simply who I am.

In gay doctrine, being gay isn’t seen as an important part of one’s identity. It’s seen as the definitive center of it. But why should this be so?

I am a Christian, a talk-show host, a baseball fan, right-handed, a philosopher, red-headed, from St. Louis, and heterosexual. None of these is the sum or limit of my identity. However, the ones I’ve chosen or chosen to act upon define me far more than those I happened to be born with. Thus, though choosing to have gay sex is certainly a key part of one’s identity, being born with the predilection to do so is not.

Error 5: If I was born gay, God must have made me this way.

Of all the untenable conclusions drawn from the born gay premise, this is the most scandalous. Whereas claiming that God has His hand in the creation of every child is uncontroversial, alleging that every element of that child’s physical, emotional, and even sexual state at birth are all intended by God is quite another thing. If this pattern of inference were allowed, we would have to believe that God desires every birth defect, handicap, psychological disorder or behavioral tendency we can trace to early childhood. God may allow such things, but that is theological miles from saying that God wanted them.

Yet there is a much deeper blunder embedded in this particular claim. The idea that people have inappropriate inclinations from birth is not unique to the born-gay meme. In fact, it’s so far from unique that it’s actually a cornerstone premise of Christian theology. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants all agree about this one key concept: mankind suffers from original sin, a polluted condition that makes every one of us desire immorality from our birth.

Thus, in a very real sense, one might say that we’re all born gay, although the historically preferred terminology is that we’re all born sinners. We are surely born with corrupt desires, but that doesn’t mean God intended us to be this way.

Conclusion

Although I have serious doubts about the claim that sexual orientation is determined at birth, the issue is largely academic since nothing important hangs on it. Being born gay doesn’t prevent change, prohibit choice, justify behavior, form identity, or implicate God. It just means your moral challenges are different from mine.

3 comments:

Daniel "Theophage" Clark said...

Hello Andrew, I decided to branch out to your other blogs, though this is really the only post so far I've come across that caught my eye and really prompted me to reply.

"Sexual orientation is seen as something discovered, not chosen."

Did you discover that you were attracted to women, or did you simply decide that women were where it's at? Me, I discovered that I was sexually attracted to women. It was a feeling from deep inside. In the same way, I have no doubt that a gay male discovered that he was sexually attracted to other males, etc. Why do you consider (if I'm reading you right) this incorrect?

Regarding error 1: Strawman.

Whether an inborn condition can be changed later or not is irrelevant to whether is should be changed later on. The reason for arguing that homosexuality is an inborn trait is not so is can be claimed that it "cannot change" like you imply here, only that it's existence is something deeper than a mere decision of who to sleep with. The fact is that the attraction felt is real, and being inborn is simply one (good) explanation of why it is there in some people, but not in others.

"We’ve been told that homosexuality can’t be a choice because no one would be foolish enough to choose it. Clearly some gays would relish the power to turn their unwanted condition into an optional one."

Yes, but at what cost? What would you go through to change some inborn part of yourself to be more socially acceptable? That is a choice an individual must make about themselves. The social acceptance factor is one reason why some people still hide their feelings and try to convince themselves that they aren't real. Ted Haggard, anyone?

Regarding error 2: Strawman.

I don't think there is anyone out there who is claiming that because some people have a sexual attraction to the same gender, that they somehow have no choice in how they behave. The fact that so many homosexuals are "closeted" shows that the exact opposite is true.

Its a lot easier to knock down strawmen than deal with real arguments, isn't it?

Regarding error 3: Strawman.

Who argues this? Sociopaths are probably born sociopaths, but I don't think that anyone thinks that acting in a sociopathic fashion is "good". The question of whether or not it is "good" for two homosexual people who are attracted to each other to act out their desires is completely irrelevant as to whether those desires are inborn or not.

I'm going to stop here and post what I've written so far, continuing the rest later. So far, your arguments aren't looking too good.

Daniel "Theophage" Clark said...

Here we go again:

Regarding error 4: Not a strawman (Surprise!) just plain ignorance.

A person's sexuality is indeed an important part of their identity. As you wrote, it is part of your identity too. You then ask why a homosexual's preferences should be more important (even central) to their identity than yours is to you. The answer to this is really (almost blindingly) obvious: They are discriminated and persecuted for it.

Let us go back to those heady days of the 1960's. I'm sure you remember them better than I, since I was only born in '68. There were alot of black people then who made a very big deal about the fact that they were black. Why would they make such a big deal? It's just a skin color right? It's not like its the very center of their identity.

They did so because the society they loved in discriminated and persecuted them for being black. Their skin color didn't have to be the center of their identity, but it was a commonality that they rallied around to produce change in the society. So it is today with the homosexuals. Once the majority of society doesn't show such a perverse interest in singling them out, I'm sure that their sexual preference will cease being so important to them (other than for finding a date, that is).

Regarding Error 5: You may be right, you may not. (Shame we can't just ask God directly and get an audible answer, isn't it?) :)

Since I am an unbeliever, what some people claim God did or did not have a hand in is fairly irrelevant to me, but I enjoy the hypothetical reasoning.

It seems to me that if you change "made me this way" to "allowed me to be made this way", you really aren't changing the argument.

If a Christian homosexual argues that "God allowed me to be made this way, therefore it is good that I act this way", then I can see where you would rightfully disagree. But if they use the argument that "God allowed me to be made this way, therefore the fact that I am this way is still acceptable to God as long as I am also saved" seems to me to be less defensible.

Yes, God considers homosexuality a sin. But God accepts that people still sin as ling as they are saved. They should try not to sin because they love God and want to live by his rules, but if they cannot God doesn't necessarily revoke salvation. Or something.

Eh, its all nonsense to me anyway.

Regarding the Conclusion:

I agree with you that nothing important really hangs on the question of whether one's sexuality (of any stripe) is inborn or not. It seems to me that the evidence is in favor that it is, even though we don't have anything definitive (e.g. an indentified "gay gene") yet. Why you would doubt it puzzles me.

Of course, why you would argue the conclusion that we both seem to agree with here (and I'd be willing to bet most gay people do as well) by a series of really bad strawmen and ignorance puzzles me as well.

To clarify:

* Being born gay doesn't prevent change, but it means that change is certainly a bigger deal than "I think I'll go for the opposite sex today for a change." It is such a big deal that individuals have to decide whether it is right for them to undergo such a change, if such a change is even currently possible.

* Being born gay doesn't prohibit your choice, but it explains why some people choose certain things even when it would otherwise seem to be detrimental to them socially. It should also be noted that some choices are much easier to make and stick to than others, and for some (addictions, etc) the person trying to change may never be successful. (Yes, it is quite possible to have conflicting desires)

* Being born gay certainly justifies behavior in the sense that it explains it and gives reason for it, but not in the sense that it makes it morally right. That which is certainly does not entail that it is that which should be.

* Being born gay certainly does form part of one's identity, but it is society's reactions to one being gay which may cause it to become more immediate and central. It should be noted that things that we aren't born with can also form our identity, so this one is really irrelevant.

* Being born gay implicates God indirectly rather than directly. If you allow something harmful that is under your control and that you can easily change, it is called negligence. But since there is no such being as a God as far as I know, you can have it however you want.

jgapinoy said...

Dan:
intro--you read him incorrectly
1) A--wrong--it's no strawman, it's OFTEN claimed.
B--better to do what's right no matter the cost
2) ridiculous. you must live in a bubble. no strawman
3) who argues this? almost every defender of homosexuality. no strawman
4) you're getting sillier. there's a difference between "a part of one's identity" and "the definitive center of one's identity".
5) Of course Andrew's right. the Bible is God's Word, the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, the Bible teaches that God leads no one to sin.