...on homosexuality, choice and nature.
Last week I read Mark Baer’s The Cause of Homosexuality Is Irrelevant, an articulate writing that fails to meet the expectation of its title. You can read it for yourself, but I want to highlight two points.
First, failure to prove what the title asserts. Baer says that the cause of homosexuality is irrelevant. He writes that “[m]any people seem fixated on the fact that the actual cause of homosexuality has not yet been established with any degree of certainty.” But his point that the cause is irrelevant only applies if we accept his dismissing of certain causes, leaving only the “right” causes as being possible causes and therefore irrelevant. In Baer’s mind the cause of homosexuality is genetic, environmental, or some combination of the two. It cannot be a “lifestyle choice.” He seems willing to allow it to be a choice in the case of bisexuality, but will not allow it in cases of heterosexuality and homosexuality. How strange.
Baer points to a story by Lee Thompson telling of his father’s point that no one would “choose a lifestyle that included discrimination or being subjected to violent acts.” That is just foolish, and contrary what anyone might easily observe – human beings regularly make choices that they intellectually know can and will yield bad results, even discrimination and violence toward them.
Contra Baer and Thompson, choice is clearly and explicitly relevant to all our sexuality, as far as acts are concerned. Inherent and learned behavior may affect how one thinks about sex, but whether and with whom one has sex is a choice – usually a consensual one made by two or more parties (except in cases of rape, in which case the choice in only made by the perpetrator.)
In addition to his comments about cause and choice, Baer ventures into the field of nature, writing, “If something is occurring in nature and cannot be changed, I'm afraid that it is natural.” Supporting this, he references Arash Fereydooni in Yale Scientific Magazine, "Currently, homosexual behavior has been documented in over 450 different animal species worldwide."
Nature does not determine what is spiritual or moral. Without contradiction, heterosexual sex is “natural” in a way homosexual sex is not and can never be. Heterosexual sex is as natural as parking your car in the garage rather than the bathroom or the kitchen. Beyond that, Christians err in establishing heterosexuality as moral and homosexuality as immoral based on nature. As a purely physical act, sex with an opposite sex (hetero) prostitute is just as “natural” as sex with an opposite sex (hetero) spouse. It may be just as natural. It may be just as consensual. But it is not just as moral. Morality is not established by a simple appeal to nature.
So, one argues that since homosexual acts are found in nature, so it is natural. And so it may be, in that sense of the word “natural.” It may also be natural for a bull to take his fill of all the cows in the pasture, if he is the biggest and baddest. But do we wish to take that as our guide for human relationships? It may be natural for a dog to hump his master to relieve his sex drive (it’s probably not consensual!). But do we wish to take that as our model? Nature alone cannot be our model for proper sexual morality. We must look elsewhere. In the Christians’ case, we must look to the Bible as our rule of faith and practice. When we do so, we are bound to come up with different results from those who look elsewhere.