He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fair Questions: How Do You Perceive Homosexuality?

I was asked recently by a friend to explain how I perceive homosexuality.  This is a far better question than is usually asked.

The more common question is, "How do you feel about homosexuality?"  That's not a very good question to ask me because I don't really feel anything about homosexuality.  I don't know what it's like to be attracted to members of the same sex.  I also don't know what it's like to be attracted to My Little Pony characters.  This is why (in both cases) I don't feel anything about it aside from the natural confusion that results when we just don't understand something on an experiential level and we make a futile attempt to do so.  I don't understand and I probably never will, so I tend not to really think about it much.

When one of my friends informed me that he was attracted to members of the same sex, I really didn't feel anything about that aside from mild surprise that it was the case because the evidence hadn't pointed that way so far as I could tell.  I had no visceral reaction that would lead me to want to keep my distance from him or otherwise damage our friendship.  Perhaps this is because I reject the contemporary cultural training that tells us so much of our worth is bound up in our sex lives and sexual proclivities.

The fact that someone is attracted to members of the same sex is about as interesting to me as the fact that someone is attracted to members of the opposite sex; I am aware that people have these proclivities and that I have sexual proclivities as well.  I don't define my life based on my sexual desires, and I also don't define the lives of others based on their sexual desires.  My choices are what define my life; my desires do not define my life.  I tend to think that is true of other people as well, which is why I balk at the contemporary tendency to define everyone that way.

How Do I Perceive Homosexuality?

As you have probably already gathered, I perceive homosexuality as a part of a broad spectrum of sexual proclivities.  Some people are attracted to men, some to women, and others to both men and women.  Some people are attracted to teens, children, middle-aged folks, or elderly folks.  Some people are attracted to people with more melanin in their skin, less melanin in their skin, dark eyes, light eyes, and various hair colors.  Some people are attracted to animals, cartoon characters, superheros, prison inmates, psychotic dictators, etc.  I can't catalogue all the different sexual proclivities there are, but hopefully you get the idea by now.

I see sexuality in general as a complicated result of such interacting factors as genetics, epigenetics, hormonal changes, cultural training, family behavior patterns, and chosen habits.  I don't think that it's clear at all that homosexuality (or any other sexual proclivity) is purely genetic or purely a choice.  This tends to put me at odds with some people who are strongly in favor of same-sex marriage and believe that homosexuality is genetic.  This also tends to put me at odds with some people who are strongly against same-sex marriage and believe that homosexuality is a choice.

I'm accustomed to taking positions that are unpopular with people on both sides of an issue.  Which is in part because I take the view that Christians should not allow same-sex marriages in their Churches and I also take the view that the state should allow secular same-sex marriages (and other kinds of civil partnerships) as a means of spreading the availability of health insurance and providing financial and social stability.

But all of this doesn't really answer the question most people really want to know, and it says a lot of about us and our narcissism as a society that this is the most important question to us: "Do you think it is morally good when two men or two women have sex with each other?"

To be very clear, I don't think homosexual sex acts are morally good.  Incidentally, I also don't think that very many heterosexual sex acts are morally good either (either before marriage or after marriage).  In both the case of heterosexual sex acts and homosexual sex acts, our hedonistic society has reduced sex to a recreational act and a nice bonding experience that's a lot like how we see playing tennis or some other sport.

My view of sex as something sacred and something so profoundly intimate that it should only be shared between two people who are open to new life and are not doing it primarily for their own pleasure is a perspective that will continue to amaze and confuse both my friends who have heterosexual proclivities and my friends who have homosexual proclivities so long as Cyrenaic hedonism continues to be the default moral stance in our culture.

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