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Technomancer and troubleshooter by trade. Programmer by choice. Creator of Deviant Paradigm, somewhat by accident.
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Monday, January 29, 2007
It is time for me to write another long winded essay, and it seems this sort of topic weighs heavy on my mind. I would guess that this is partly because I have a few gay friends and I would very much like to see them in the afterlife, and partly I write to seek my own redemption through them. Maybe I'll speak more on that bit in a different post. So in respect to New Jersey's recent (granted, forced) decision to become the third state to provide homosexual civil unions and the World News Daily's rather remarkable inability to do scientific reporting, essentially announcing that red-state, conservative Nebraska's three main exports are beef, corn, and gay; I dedicate this: an essay on God and our natures. As a warning, this post contains subject matter and some language that is inappropriate for the young. And, as usual, if you have something to add, please do so; I read all my comments and enjoy a spirited debate. I'm not right about everything, after all, I just try to be. <grin>
Let's start on the us thing, our nature, with a scientific bit instead of a theological one. This is really a side topic, but I think it's something that should be noted. Most of the analogies between human sexuality and animal sexuality are wrong. This is because of one simple thing – near as I am aware, human sexuality is unique in the entirety of the animal world. I do not have exhaustive knowledge, so if anyone knows differently and can back it up with a link or two (not Wikipedia please, I want something authoritative), please let me know, I welcome the knowledge. By 'unique,' I mean that human beings are the only social animal I am aware of that prefers to form monogamous relationships. Most of the cultures in the world practice serial monogamy. This is not true of all of the animal world that I am aware of, certainly not true of the other primates. It is very popular to bring up the bonobo, or pigmy chimpanzee, in relation to human sexuality. Bonobos are not our closest genetic relative, but they do demonstrate a human-like sexual proclivity, in that they seem to have sex purely for the pleasure of it. Not only that, but they often engage in homosexual activities. This has led a number of people to the conclusion that these things; sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and having sex just because it feels good, are natural things (that is to say, they are things which happen commonly in nature, and thus following these impulses is good). I would argue that this conclusion is false, simply because the principle is not entirely true. From what I have read, bonobos predominantly use sex as a form of conflict avoidance and resolution, largely unlike humans (excepting the human tendency for couples to have sex after a fight). To wit, bonobos use sex as a way to express “no hard feelings,” the way we humans do with a handshake. Anytime they do, or could, get into a conflict about something, they tend to have sex. Among members of the same sex, this amounts to rubbing each other. If we decide to make this analogous to human sexuality, it's okay for Joe and Ted to jerk each other off after getting into an argument, but most of human homosexual practices are right out. I've never read anything concerning bonobos (or other animals for that matter) engaging in oral or anal sex. Since those seem to be the big draw for homosexuals, bonobos might not be the best representatives from the animal kingdom to champion the human cause.
Just to drive home how unique human sexuality is, let's look at our closest genetic relatives, the common chimpanzees. Humans have this odd thing – females do not enter a visible estrus. In other words, despite the wishes of many of those of the furry persuasion, women don't go into heat (no, I am not speaking of my own personal opinion on this particular matter -- in honesty, I have not formed one). For those of you who have had unspayed dogs or cats, you know why this is probably an advantage for us in the end. This is likely tied into our strange obsession with monogamy, but I do not have the background necessary to do more than speculate. Now, when a chimp goes into heat, all the eligible males in the troop have sex with her. This is for one good reason – this way they cannot identify the father. If the males all have an equal stake in the offspring, that is to say, it has a relatively equal chance of being theirs, they will protect those offspring. Otherwise the males have a tendency to engage in infanticide (which is fairly common among animals), to give their own offspring the best advantages. Note that infanticide among human cultures is based on wholly different reasoning. Humans instead form monogamous relationships to give the males the necessary psychological belief that the children are theirs (among other reasons). This is not something common to other social animals. We humans have a unique sexual nature.
And on that note, let me get to the meat and potatoes of the post. As you all should be aware, I am a Christian by creed, and a Lutheran by denomination. Most Christians believe homosexuality is wrong. Some believe it is evil. Regardless, the majority can agree it is wrong – a sin. But just as you will hear that many homosexuals do not know a time when they were not gay, you hear many Christians disbelieve them, claiming they do not believe that God would “make someone gay” or allow someone to be born gay. My question is “why?” Why do Christians say this? At the risk of having some people misunderstand this analogy, allow me to continue; Why do we Christians believe in a God who is willing to tolerate suffering in this world, even to allowing children to be born with horrifying diseases, but we will not believe in a God that allows children to be born so that they will grow up to have desires for those of their own gender?
I, instead, will argue the opposite. Because we believe in a loving, just, and good God, we must believe in a God who will permit suffering, even that of the innocent, and a God who will permit those to be born with homosexual desires. These things go hand in hand. Please note here that I do not say that God “makes” people suffer or “makes” people into homosexuals any more than he “makes” people into race car drivers, furries, or insipid bloggers with a tendency to prattle on. God permits these things. There is a large difference between permitting something to happen because you feel that it must; and causing it to happen. This is not to say that He cannot make someone into something, it is that He chooses not to. Odd that the greatest stumbling block for atheists to believe (that a good God allows suffering) is the same as the greatest stumbling block for Christians to accept gays (by this I do not mean “accept their lifestyle as good,” I mean, “accept them as fellow human beings, no better or worse than ourselves”). Consider this: God wants us to love him. Love cannot exist without choice; God has no use for human beings who are simply robots. But as my old science teacher used to say, “Choices have consequences.” We have free will so that we can choose God, choose to love him. Without choice, without free will, there is no right or wrong, no good or evil, no justice or injustice. All these things need free will. But some will always choose the wrong path, and introduce suffering to this world. From the Christian perspective, that was done long, long ago, with the very first humans. And even the suffering of the innocent can bring people to God; he is able to use suffering.
Why is there suffering? Why do we make poor choices sometimes? Because, as Paul wrote, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” (Romans 3:22b-23). Much of Romans deals with this topic. We sin because it is in our nature to do so. We are sinful by our very natures. This is something which every Christian should be able to agree on. The common confession is “we are by nature sinful and unclean, but God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God does not express much differentiation in sins, most sins are equal before God. He paints sin with a broad brush. Homosexuality would be lumped in with the rest of sexual immorality, the same as prostitution, adultery, lust, pornography, and fornication. A broad brush indeed. So our sinful natures have a very large palette they can use to express themselves. We can easily note that for some, their natures lead them to lie, for some to steal, for some to rebel against authority (you know, breaking laws; everything from doing drugs to speeding), for some even to kill. So why is it so difficult to imagine that it is simply by the nature of some that they are homosexual? God did not make us sinful. Our natures cause Him enormous pain. But He is left with the choice of allowing us to be sinful and able to love, or perfect but incapable of love. I know that I am sinful by my nature, in many ways, some of them are things I do not even recognize as sins, or care to recognize as sins. But I am glad that God has given me the opportunity to stumble, for without it, I would not be able to stand back up. So I am willing to accept that I have a sinful nature, one that leads me to my own set of temptations and unnatural desires. (Okay, now that makes the sentence sound strange – my nature provokes unnatural things <grin>). I accept this of all people (I have stated before that President Bush and I are in complete agreement on this point). We are all sinful and have fallen short of God's will. That is the way human life is. But obviously, even though we are all sinful, we are not all sinful in exactly the same way (or I would not have the difficulties finding certain things when I look for them). Then it follows logically that all kinds of sin are provoked by the natures of different people. As soon as this is recognized, it becomes evident that some people would simply be homosexual by their nature. For some, this may be flexible, for many others it is not. So trying to “convert” a homosexual into a heterosexual has no guarantee to work (or vice versa) no matter how much some of us would like to believe it. Nothing in their lives necessarily made them gay. Not soy, not being nurtured too much or too little, and not watching the Teletubbies. Some people were born with homosexual proclivities. Just some food for thought, especially the next time you hear someone state that they can't believe that God would let a person be born gay.