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The reasons behind the denial of sexual orientation, and why they are not working

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2010

One common theme found in anti-gay rhetoric is the dismissal of sexual orientation. This can be seen from Exodus’ statement that “the opposite of homosexuality is godliness” to the Family Values Coalition’s redefinition of sexual orientation to include all paraphilia to the obsessive use of “homosexual lifestyle” by virtually every anti-gay activist.

And the reason is clear. It is not overly difficult to condemn people for their lifestyle or even to justify executing them for their “behavior”, but few modern Americans are comfortable mistreating others based on an innate and immutable attribute.

And they know it. Consider this aptly named piece in OneNewsNow by virulently anti-gay writer Peter Heck: Why we’re losing the ‘gay’ debate:

Because of their ceaseless onslaught of propaganda, a majority of Americans (some even within the church) have come to believe in the existence of a group of people whose natural state is “homosexual.” We now casually use this terminology, assuming that there are “heterosexuals” and “homosexuals.”

When we accept this baseline, we have detached ourselves from rational thinking. We have allowed the debates over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marriage rights, hospital visitation and other legislative objectives like adoption privileges to become ones of civil rights and fairness. And once those advancing homosexuality have successfully framed these debates in this way, those holding to traditional morality are helpless. They are easily portrayed as cruel, discriminatory, hateful bigots unwilling to extend the rights they want for themselves to others who are not like them. Needless to say, this is all by design. It has been the stated strategy of the homosexual agenda from the start.

Heck argues that the only way they will win is if they convince the populace that they are not discriminating against people but discouraging behavior.

But since what they do sexually is always chosen behavior, it has nothing to do with their identity. Who a person is, is different than what a person does.

Heck is right that they are losing, and why, but he’s wrong about the solution. Rebranding homosexuality as a behavior rather than a trait will not and cannot be successful for three reasons:

1) The horse is already out of the barn. Regardless of how you feel about gay people, virtually everyone already recognizes that such a group exists.

Even rabid anti-gay activists who rant about there being no such thing as sexual orientation distinguish between those who are gay and those who are not. In fact, anti-gay activists are among the quickest to assign category and announce differences. They’ve spent years ranting about the imagined mental illness, criminal activity, diseases, and predatory nature of the ever feared homosexual, and now it is too late to declare that such a creature does not exist.

Even Heck, in a desperate effort to avoid any suggestion of an innate trait, talks about “men having sex with men”. Not as a descriptive act, but in substitution for “gay men” or “homosexuals”. It’s kind of amusing once you recognize it.

You can call us gays and lesbians or “men having sex with men” or “those struggling with same-sex attraction” or “militant homosexual activists” or queers, fags, deviants, or dykes and ultimately the effect is the same. Gay people exist, are a distinct population, and everyone already knows it.

2) The attempt to distinguish between behavior and identity, if it were possible, would only work in the favor of gay rights.

One of the more bizarre aspects of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was that it pretended to be based on behavior. And part of the definition of “behavior” was having “a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts”. In other words, being a gay person was behavior. And there we are right back in a great big circle.

So assume for a moment that Heck’s imagined distinction were law. Suppose we took him at his word that “the debate should be held over whether or not those who do serve should be banned from participating in certain sexual behaviors.”

OK. Ban gay sex and not gay people… And just how would you go about enforcing such a law? Sex police?

Anti-gay discrimination in America has never really been about behavior. No gay person is fired from their job for having sex in the breakroom (or if they were, they should have been). And if you want to ban adoptions based on who uploads home porn to x-tube, you might even convince me.

Homophobes almost universally say, “I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your bedroom,” they just don’t want you to “shove it in their face.” And by that, they mean that they don’t want you to be a gay person. Because they don’t really truly care if you are engaging in homosexual acts, as long as you aren’t gay.

It isn’t behavior that is behind the adoption ban in Florida, or marriage in 45 states, or denial of benefits for federal employees, or denied hospital visitation, or any other anti-gay discrimination. A ban on “behavior” wasn’t enforced – or enforceable – in the states that had sodomy law before Lawrence v. Texas.

And behavior is not really Heck’s issue. He’s no more fond of the celibate single gay man that doesn’t sleep around outside a relationship than he is of the guy who is getting it on several times per day. In fact, he’d by far prefer a closeted shame-filled sexually active gay man sneaking off to the bathhouse than he would an out and proud celibate gay man.

It’s not really the behavior to which anti-gays object, it’s the kind of people who might possibly do that behavior, and especially the kind of people who aren’t ashamed of it.

3. Efforts to try and deny sexual orientation only make you look extreme, hateful, and lunatic.

The best thing that an anti-gay activist can do for us is loudly proclaim the ridiculous. It discredits them and those with whom they associate.

With each passing day, more people get to know their gay family, neighbors, friends and coworkers. And claims that “they’re not really gay, they’re just choosing aberrant behavior” are so far from their experiences that they fall on deaf ears.

Anti-gays are, on a rather rapid pace, losing influence on the culture around them. Now it seems that only like minded people will listen, and this reinforces extremism and positions that are further and further from the mainstream.

The more that they ratchet up the rhetoric, the less their positions are given credibility.

But what else can they do? I’m not sure that Heck or any of the others can really come up with a strategy that can, in the long run, allow them to implement or retain anti-gay legislation and discrimination.

As gay people are becoming more recognized as a demographic, a unique people with an innate and immutable attribute known as sexual orientation, the more that discrimination seems to be unAmerican and unChristian. And those who espouse it do, indeed, began to be seen as cruel, discriminatory, hateful bigots unwilling to extend the rights they want for themselves to others who are not like them

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

“And once those advancing homosexuality have successfully framed these debates in this way, those holding to traditional morality are helpless. They are easily portrayed as cruel, discriminatory, hateful bigots unwilling to extend the rights they want for themselves to others who are not like them.”

He certainly got THAT right. Stopped clocks and all that,

Hazumu Osaragi
June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Can transgender please be included in this? To a rabid anti-gay, I’m just a super-effeminate male who’s too ashamed to be a garden-variety gay man, so I went and got my ‘manhood’ lopped off…

Lynn David
June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

You nailed it, Timothy. Many a time I have seen the attempt made at these tired and well-worn arguments and more and more I am seeing them fail on message boards among straights themselves.

Neil D
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Tim had me nodding my head up until he said discrimination was unChristian.

“Praise be to Allaah.

Firstly: The crime of homosexuality is one of the greatest of crimes, the worst of sins and the most abhorrent of deeds, and Allaah punished those who did it in a way that He did not punish other nations. It is indicative of violation of the fitrah, total misguidance, weak intellect and lack of religious commitment, and it is a sign of doom and deprivation of the mercy of Allaah.”

And from our Jewish friends:

“As human beings and fellow Jews, individuals created b’tzelem elokeem, in the image of God. Judaism may disapprove of homosexual activity, but not of the homosexual himself. “He is as beloved in God’s eyes as any other Jew, and is as responsible as any Jew is in all the mitzvahs,” according to Rabbi Shraga Simmons of Aish HaTorah.

Nobody’s perfect; we all sin — and when we do, we are expected to do teshuvah, or repentance. The same holds true for this particular variety of sinner. “He need not feel irreparably and irretrievably stigmatized,” wrote Rabbi Barry Freundel of Congregation Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C. “Above all, he need not feel excluded from the community.”

The dynamic might change, however, if the individual insists on taking a public, activist approach that seeks to legitimize inherently unacceptable behavior. In that case, he would run the risk of distancing himself from the community — as would, for example, any Jew who publicly and explicitly promotes, say, the desecration of Shabbos or the wanton violation of other Jewish laws.”

Now certainly there are Christians, Jews, and Muslims who might disagree and say that our behavior is not sinful. It’s pretty clear, however, that a significant part of all the major religions consider our behavior sinful.

I think we should stop pretending its possible to be gay and religious.

Neil D
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Sorry – forgot the links:

http://islamqa.com/en/ref/38622

http://www.jlaw.com/Commentary/homosexuality.html

Timothy (TRiG)
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Discrimination against gay people is neither un-American nor un-Christian. It is, however, immoral, unethical, and unjust.

TRiG.

DN
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

This line from the ONN piece is a good one too:

“A person’s natural state is that of male or female. From there, people choose what kind of sexual behavior, if any, to participate in.”

I’m sure he meant to say “from there, people choose whether or not to engage in sexual behavior.” But he didn’t. He said – in those exact words – that everyone chooses their sexual proclivities. It’s a sad cliche of a question, but when do we think straights choose to be straight?

Anyhow, as soon as I read that, I knew this guy was a lightweight. The fact that he hosts an AM talkshow in Kokomo, Indiana doesn’t lend him any credibility either :)

Paul in Canada
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Neil D – are you on crack? Holy wackadoodle, dude!!!

Timothy – “The more that they ratchet up the rhetoric, the less their positions are given credibility.”

uh… yup!

Jason D
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

“I think we should stop pretending its possible to be gay and religious.”

Tell that to the unitarians, buddhists, pagans, wiccans, MCCs, Quakers, and other groups who embrace gays and lesbians as ordinary members, not as sinners in need of fixing.

It’s not “pretending” to admit reality. There are gay religious people.

Swampfox
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Yes, they are losing the argument. Good.

Priya Lynn
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Neil said “I think we should stop pretending its possible to be gay and religious.”.

Roughly 70% of American gays are Christians so its obviously possible.

Regan DuCasse
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

To add to DN’s point, this is something I don’t understand and never will.

For the most part, we are dealing with people who are giving the impression they are well read, experienced and have carefully thought through the issue of homosexuality.

Yet, if confronted with some very basic questions of ethics towards another human being as an individual or group.
The historical context of religious abuse against people regardless of genetic attributes.
That should put them off being so eager to abuse gay people and isolate them to the extent that the truth is harder to reveal.

And most of all, the fact that homosexuality and homosexuals have been a part of all mankind, regardless of background, would tell anyone thinking about it, that it’s NOT a behavioral issue, but one of biological origin.

Another challenge is for people like Heck to try and think about what it would take for HIM to not be heterosexual. What disciplines or sacrifices would he have to make? What about living in a world of affectionate, supported and intimate adult couples, then being coerced into personal denial of ALL of that for himself. That he should live his life not even having the luxury of a kiss or hand holding in public.

Why would anyone like him think this is a healthy way to live, when every credible mental and medical health professional will say that being isolated, love deprived and held to standards your biology contradicts isn’t healthy.

I’m done with the people who demand that gay people BE sacrificed and make all the sacrifices. Respecting homosexuality and homosexuals as part of a two of the same thing among human sexual orientation doesn’t require that he make much of a sacrifice, if any, at all.

So why DO people like Heck, Maggie Gallagher and so on, posit such equal standing as if they’ll be victimized by it, rather than the reality that with each attack, with each shove against gay people, gay people MUST defend themselves.

It’s like a bully who finally sees that the laws and public have to stop them, then they whine about how unfair it is that they can’t continue to hit their target.

Even a public vote on gay lives is essentially an unfair advantage. And they know that too, while crying how unfair it is, that they don’t get to have that advantage.

They aren’t simply trying to keep gay people from being sexual, because, as Tim pointed out, a sex life doesn’t have to be in evidence for discrimination and bigotry to deny inclusion in the workplace and other situations.

I wish I could laugh at how absurd straight people look arguing the issue of sexuality being chosen.

Don’t these people ever look around at the natural world and all it’s VARIATIONS and DIVERSITY?
Who else would live in the midst of all this and say: there is only ONE ideal sexuality, and God says so.
Someone not interested in being honest, or…unselfish.

Richard Rush
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

With Super Christians, it’s always ALL about THEM, isn’t it? THEY must be satisfied and pleased with how everyone else is conducting their lives. THEY are uniquely qualified to set the standards that the rest of us must live by. THEY have special insights about the nature of homosexuality. THEY deserve to be satisfied by women’s reproductive choices. THEY assume the authority to decide what others read or view. THEIR religion deserves an official designation as superior to all others or none. THEY have been given divine authority to mandate that public schools teach Intelligent Design Creationism as the best explanation for life. THEY are the final arbiters on all moral questions. And THEY expect government to help THEM achieve the satisfaction and pleasure that THEY so richly deserve.

But if anyone dares to challenge THEIR authority, then it is THEIR religious freedom that is being infringed. It was several years ago when I finally had the epiphany wherein I realized that the Super Christian definition of “religious freedom” is literally THEIR divinely ordained freedom to have dominion over everyone else. So, as long as the rest of us accept THEIR notion of religious freedom, we can all coexist quite nicely.

Richard Rush
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

And I’ll add that people, such as Peter Heck, think THEY are being perfectly reasonable in asking us to choose to live lonely loveless sexless lives in order to please THEM. Apparently, a perfectly fine choice would be to please THEM by deceiving an unsuspecting op-sex partner into a marriage so we can live a scripted fairy-tale lie of a life. After all, living a lie to please THEM is preferable to an honest life.

Remember, it’s ALL about THEM.

Mark F.
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

“I think we should stop pretending its possible to be gay and religious.”

I love it when atheists tell religious people how to be religious. The no true Scotsman fallacy…

No true Christian is pro-gay!

Jason D
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Richard, and of course, they do all this and take ZERO responsibility, throwing it all at God’s feet saying, “He told me to!”

Our society makes you responsible for your own choices.

Several serial killers have said that God made them do XZY and nobody says their religious rights were trampled. They still get arrested, tried, and convicted of multiple murders.

God’s an easy target, as she/he is conveniently too busy to stop and correct the wild claims and commands attributed to him.

Neil D
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Here is an excerpt from a letter the USCCB (catholic bishops) recently sent to congress:

“The Catholic Church makes an important distinction between actions and inclination. While the Church is ardently opposed to all unjust discrimination on the grounds of sexual inclination, whether homosexual or heterosexual, it does teach that all sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman are morally wrong. The Catholic Church’s teaching cannot, therefore, be equated with “unjust discrimination,” because it is based on fundamental truths about the human person and personal conduct. Homosexual conduct is categorically closed to the transmission of life, and does not reflect or respect the personal complementarity of man and woman. In contrast to sexual conduct within marriage between one man and one woman—which does serve both the good of each married person and the good of society— heterosexual and homosexual conduct outside of marriage has no claim to special protection by the state.”

http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=2923

My point in posting this commentary from the most popular religions in the world is to help you understand the nature of your enemy. You seek approval from these people and I think that is a waste of time. It is right, I guess, to create your own religion where gay sex is not “morally wrong” and I wish you good luck with that.

It seems to me that you demand the rest of us put up with your need for acceptance and we, frankly, pay a price for it. I’m kind of tired of that.

Joe Carlin
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

These are also people who claim both A) Being gay and a choice and B) They can’t figure out why anyone would choose to be gay. And yet somehow their heads don’t explode!

Timothy Kincaid
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Neil,

You have a grave misunderstanding of both the intentions and desires of religious gays and of the broad variations in religious beliefs.

There is no need to create one’s “own religion”. Supportive religion already exists.

The largest branch of Judaism in the United States is active in its support both of gay people and of gay rights.

Several Christian denominations fully accept and include their gay and lesbian members as equals and do not teach that gay sex, per se, is morally wrong. They include the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and many congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Friends (Quaker), American Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and many many more.

You can hunt for intolerance and find it easily. But that does not discount those who are supportive. And it is both inappropriate, intolerant, and obnoxious to insist that everyone agree with you.

I suggest that it is you who are putting demands on “the rest of us”, not the other way around.

Richard Rush
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Neil D,

I can’t speak for others, but I don’t “seek approval,” however, I do seek civil equality under the law as a U.S. citizen.

When you say you, “frankly, pay a price for it,” and you are “tired of that,” what exactly is the price you are paying? Is it that you just cannot coexist with people who refuse to live according to your dictates?

It’s all about YOU, isn’t it: YOUR need to feel satisfied and pleased with how everyone else is conducting their lives. How YOU are uniquely qualified to set the standards that the rest of us must live by. And how YOU would feel more comfortable if only gays would live a lonely loveless sexless existence, or at least restrict their relationships to dark back alleys so that you (the good people) don’t have to be offended.

And as far as “approval” is concerned, I don’t approve of your religion. But I don’t seek to deny you civil equality. However, I would like to roll back some of the special rights accorded to religion.

So, once again, what is the price you are paying?

Timothy (TRiG)
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Religion is, fundamentally, not really a choice. Religious affiliation may be, but religious belief isn’t. I could no more choose to believe a god exists than I could choose to believe the sky is green. And religious people too cannot simply choose to stop believing. And, frankly, I’d be suspicious of anyone who simply chose the beliefs that suited them.

I was brought up religious, and I think I stayed with the Witnesses longer than I would have done if I wasn’t gay. I wanted, you see, to be sure that I was leaving for the right reasons. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t leaving simply because it suited me to leave. So I hung around, until I was sure.

I agree with you that gay people should leave religion. So should everyone else. Religion is a mistaken belief about the world, and it does far more harm than good (not least by teaching that “faith”, belief in the absence of evidence, is a virtue). In Utopia, everyone is rational. We don’t live in Utopia.

But people should not — emphatically not — leave religion because it doesn’t suit them. To do so is unethical. People should leave religion because it’s untrue.

(That said, I hope that if I truly believed in the Calvinist God I would have the courage and moral fortitude to spit in his face.)

TRiG.

Neil D
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Richard Rush – I fear you misunderstand my position. I am in agreement with TRiG. I’m gay and certainly wish for you a happy healthy life full of friends and family.

If it is obnoxious to point out that you are enabling your very own enemy by calling yourselves Christian, well, the “truth” hurts sometimes. Mr. Kincaid himself just posted a similar statement today saying, “It does appear that opposition to employment and housing discrimination against LGBT people may be becoming part of Mormon values.”

So it is also true with the Catholic Bishops. The letter I linked to expresses their opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

There you go – there is the price I’m paying. Something we’re doing is generating a serious backlash among the major relgions. What is that? Don’t you even want to explore that? It’s wonderful that some sects have embraced us as full members. I wonder, though, if they would still condemn as sinful the behavior of some gay men who “hook-up” online for sex. Where do those sects stand on that issue? Do you dare ask.

And why is it “inappropriate, intolerant, and obnoxious” for me to advocate for a position in the comment section to this blog? Isn’t that what we are all doing? Is there a list of acceptable political positions in your comment policy?

Otherwise, it is truly facinating to see the angry responses. I must be hitting a nerve somewhere.

werdna
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

“Otherwise, it is truly facinating to see the angry responses. I must be hitting a nerve somewhere.”

Hitting a nerve doesn’t mean what you’re saying is right or worthy of being taken seriously.

Timothy (TRiG)
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Otherwise, it is truly facinating to see the angry responses. I must be hitting a nerve somewhere.

Be careful, Neil. You’re beginning to sound like a gadfly.

TRiG.

Jason D
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

“Religion is, fundamentally, not really a choice.”

I absolutely have to disagree with you on that. Exhibit A is the many converts to and from various religions.

“Religious affiliation may be, but religious belief isn’t.”

You’re splitting a hair here. Religious affiliation is based on what? Oh yes, Religious belief. One would not, for example, believe that Jesus was the savior of mankind yet choose to be a practicing Jew. People choose affiliation based on their chosen beliefs.

“I could no more choose to believe a god exists than I could choose to believe the sky is green.”

False analogy. The sky can be proven to be a color, the existence of God is still very much up for debate. There is no evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists, and none that confirms a lack of existence either. Remember, science cannot be used to prove a negative. The absence of evidence for God’s existence (at this time, given current technology and methods) is not evidence of absence.

“And religious people too cannot simply choose to stop believing.”

See Exhibit A above. People do in fact choose to stop believing.

“And, frankly, I’d be suspicious of anyone who simply chose the beliefs that suited them.”

Then you should be suspicious of a lot of people.

For my own example, my parents tried to raise me Catholic for a number of years but I found the whole premise lacking and the whole experience at church to be mind-numbingly boring.
Since then I have explored other avenues and have found zero of them a suitable replacement. I chose to be an atheist for awhile, but came to the conclusion that it was also lacking. Agnosticism seems to fit me best, as it makes the most sense.

All the atheists I’ve ever met or read about have CHOSEN that belief simply because the evidence presented to them regarding the existence of God was not convincing. Being unconvinced, that chose to sever any religious affiliations and chose atheism.

Faith, belief, all comes down to opinion. And our opinions are choices we make, to accept or reject what is presented to us. Religion is absolutely a choice.

Timothy Kincaid
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

TRiG,

First, I disagree about religion. One can choose whether to act on one’s beliefs, whether to be religious or not. Plenty of folks who never darken a church doorway believe in God.

But I do agree to an extent that one cannot exactly choose to believe what one doesn’t. We are wired to accept our experiences (including what our parents tell us) as evidence of truth.

But one does choose whether to question one’s beliefs, to seek evidence, to ponder the options.

I have a great deal of respect for those who have chosen to ask themselves the hard questions and come to a conclusion. This includes those who have come to believe in a deity, those who conclude that there isn’t one, and those who conclude that they just don’t know (along with those who still have not come to a conclusion).

My respect is also not diminished for those who choose not to question their beliefs, as long as they do no harm. Be they an ethical believer or nonbeliever, I feel no compulsion to insist that they allocate the time and resources to “really know, man, really know, ya get me?”

The ones I do not respect are those who insist that they are right, be they religious or nonreligious, and that I must agree with them or live according to their beliefs. These often include folk who have never thought much about their position and have never questioned their assumptions. And much of their insistence that I adhere, I suspect, is based in the fear that if they really looked too closely that they’d come in for a shock.

Priya Lynn
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Trig said “But people should not — emphatically not — leave religion because it doesn’t suit them. To do so is unethical.”.

I’m not following you at all here. There is nothing unethical about leaving religion because it doesn’t suit you.

Trig said ““Religion is, fundamentally, not really a choice.”.

Yes it is. Many years ago I found myself falling in love with a deeply religious woman. I seriously considered converting to religion to be closer to her.

Jason D
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

“But I do agree to an extent that one cannot exactly choose to believe what one doesn’t. We are wired to accept our experiences (including what our parents tell us) as evidence of truth.”

Tim, I’m not following you here. Could you elaborate?

My parents tried until I was about 12 to get me to accept what they told me as evidence of truth and I just did not accept it.

Priya Lynn
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Jason, many scientists believe that accepting what your parents tell you is an evolutionary adaptation. Like most, if not all such adaptations it isn’t an absolute and only works in general. That the religion one believes is geographically dependent is strong evidence that in general children unquestioningly accept their parents religious beliefs.

Jason D
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, are these scientists ignoring the years from 13-21 wherein children rebel and or have personal experiences that negate their parents influence?

Priya Lynn
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

No, I don’t think so Jason. I’m not real familiar with the scientific thinking on this issue but its my impression that the belief is that the stage of unquestioning acceptance is early childhood, before the age of perhaps 11 or so and that its acknowledged that in the teenage years children may rebell against their parents and their beliefs. If religious belief isn’t firmly implanted in you as a very young child of perhaps 4 to 8 I don’t think it is surprising that you might choose to reject it as a teenager.

Timothy Kincaid
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Jason,

Priya Lynn provided more useful information, but to add further clarity on my comment:

Your parents tried to instill a certain belief system in you. It didn’t work.

The reason it didn’t work probably was due to other influences: a lack of evidence in favor of the belief, perhaps other folk whom you respected who didn’t believe, maybe peer pressure, or even that you didn’t respect your parents or their opinions very much.

But something in your experiences caused your mind to identify a conflict between Catholic teaching and that which it observed as “true”.

Others may have found agreement, it is based to a great extent on what we experience. Folks who have had what they describe as a religious experience tend to believe in a deity or in the divine more easily.

And as we age and grow we may come to translate or interpret our experiences and come to different conclusions. Or we may choose not to inspect them very closely at all, opting instead to appreciate what comfort, community, and structure they bring.

Does that help clarify my comment?

Richard Rush
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

The discussion of “choice” is fascinating. I suppose that some of the answer to this question is how we choose to define choice. ;-)

The older I get the more I lean toward believing that many choices we make may have some inevitability about them. Imagine that you could press an undo button and take yourself back to the moment of birth, or better yet, to the moment of conception. Then imagine that you go through your life journey again with every biological trait and external influence EXACTLY the same. Would your choices along the journey be different? The obvious big problem with this imaginary scenario is that if you make one different choice, everything necessarily changes moving forward.

But anyway, I think there is an enormous amount yet to be learned about the nature of choices. Going forward, I suspect that evidence will show movement in the direction of more things being viewed as non-choices, than vice-versa. We all seem to recognize that the combination of all our life experiences plus biology determine who we are, but at the moment of a decision we characterize it as a choice. But how much inevitability is there in that choice?

Religion (particularly fundamentalism) has certainly always lagged way behind in the acknowledgement of evidence concerning the reality of almost everything. Maybe that’s part of why fundamentalists cling to the notion that people choose to be homosexuals, although the more rational ones (if there is such a thing) have shifted the notion to mean the choice of acting in accordance with one’s orientation. But I’ve always suspected the fundamentalists chose to present the propaganda of homosexual choice because it is virtually required politically. But did the fundamentalists really choose, or is it just part of the hard-wiring compelling them to promote their beliefs by any means at their disposal?

Jason D
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, yes, you and Priya definitely clarified.

A little humor.
I think boredom was the x factor. Honestly. As a child, church bored me to tears. Stand up, sit down, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel. Pray, sing, etc, etc, etc. Why are we doing this? Why am I here? Why does that kid get to bring a book? That kid has toys! No fair! This guy is boring, he talks like he’s bored. People are singing like they’re bored, too. I think I owe Church some credit for my wonderful and active imagination. It was my only escape. The Catholic Mass became so predictable, no matter where we lived(we moved a lot) that I could do all the standing, and sitting, and kneeling while paying zero attention to content.

Priya Lynn
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

I can relate to that Jason. My parents forced me to go to church every Sunday and Catechism every Wednesday. Beyond that they never talked about religion and to this day although there were many “lessons” in Catechism I can’t recall a single thing we were supposed to have learned. They were both just a tedious thing that capricious parents forced on unwilling children.

Burr
June 4th, 2010 | LINK

It’s wonderful that some sects have embraced us as full members. I wonder, though, if they would still condemn as sinful the behavior of some gay men who “hook-up” online for sex. Where do those sects stand on that issue? Do you dare ask.

Uhh.. you do realize they would condemn that as sinful for heterosexuals to do also, right? WTF is the point of this? Your hook up habits have nothing to do with your orientation.

Neil D
June 5th, 2010 | LINK

Burr – of course I realize they would identify hetero hook ups as sinful. I’m just curious if gay christians are ready to condemn their sexually active (outside of marriage!) brothers and sisters for leading that lifestyle. Is that what you are suggesting? For me, sex with friends, partners, dates, or even strangers is right and beautiful.

This thread is probably dead, but I’ll leave you with one more cautionary tale about a gay catholic. It’s really sad to see a gay christian condemn the rest of us. This is another price we pay.

“As the hundred or so daily readers of eve-tushnet.blogspot.com, and a larger audience for her magazine writing, know by now, Ms. Tushnet can seem a paradox: fervently Catholic, proudly gay, happily celibate. She does not see herself as disordered; she does not struggle to be straight, but she insists that her religion forbids her a sex life.

“The sacrifices you want to make aren’t always the only sacrifices God wants,” Ms. Tushnet wrote in a 2007 essay for Commonweal. While gay sex should not be criminalized, she said, gay men and lesbians should abstain.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/us/05beliefs.html?hpw

Burr
June 5th, 2010 | LINK

For me it’s not necessarily a problem either unless you’re hurting people in the process of your exploits, but frankly I could care less if people are condemning others sleeping habits as long as they aren’t trying to put the force of law behind it. Certainly there is room to discuss and recommend some kind of voluntary code to adhere to, whether justified by spiritual or pragmatic belief. I don’t consider myself oppressed by people saying it’s not a good idea to be sexually active.

As for Tushnet, she’s advocating against our equality, so she’s already crossed the line into using the force of law. If she just wants to close up shop and tell other people to do that, fine. It’s rather ridiculous and sad but go for it.

Richard Rush
June 5th, 2010 | LINK

From NYT about Ms. Tushnet: “While gay sex should not be criminalized, she said, gay men and lesbians should abstain.”

Obviously, Tushnet thinks it is perfectly reasonable to declare that gays should live loveless sexless lives in order to please HER. So the duty of the rest of us is to live our lives in a manner that provides HER with comfort and satisfaction (which presumably includes providing her with some validation of her views).

Personally, I think Tushnet is a loon, but in general I can coexist well with loons as long as THEIR pursuit of happiness doesn’t require control over MY life to provide THEM with fulfillment. But for millions of people, that’s the way it works, doesn’t it?

Neil D
June 5th, 2010 | LINK

“Certainly there is room to discuss and recommend some kind of voluntary code to adhere to, whether justified by spiritual or pragmatic belief.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. I was hoping that my comments would lead to this. Perhaps Mr. Kincaid would like to open up a nice gay christian/conservative discussion about a “voluntary code” so we can explore this in more detail.

Ben in Oakland
June 5th, 2010 | LINK

” fervently Catholic, proudly gay, happily celibate. She does not see herself as disordered; she does not struggle to be straight, but she insists that her religion forbids her a sex life. ”

so she’s a nun?

Ben in Atlanta
June 6th, 2010 | LINK

“Now we’re getting somewhere. I was hoping that my comments would lead to this. Perhaps Mr. Kincaid would like to open up a nice gay christian/conservative discussion about a “voluntary code” so we can explore this in more detail.”

There’s plenty of that on the Internet already. Why bring it to Box Turtle? It would seem to exclude those in non-Abrahamic faith traditions. The “Mission Statement” doesn’t mention any exclusivity.

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