This article was inspired by the fairly recent news story that the US Vice President’s own wife taught at a school that had an anti-LGTBQ policy. Naturally, this is because it is a Christian school. Having gone through an evolution of thought on this subject as I lost my faith, I though it was time for a discussion.
Let me go back over 25 years. I was in discussion with a parole officer, who said something about a particular group of people that she dealt with in her profession. She said they struggled with their very identity and their self, knowing what they were doing was wrong, but also feeling compelled at the same time. She was talking about pedophiles.
Now, please don’t turn away and yell at me because I said the word “pedophile.” I am in no mind to give a damn about their feelings when it comes to horribly scarring children, and give them no cover for their crimes. If they hurt innocent children, they deserve the punishment that comes to them.
However, what I grew to realize is that human sexuality is not simple. It is not black and white. And it is, other than eating, probably one of our most compelling instincts. Many pedophiles know all too well the harm they can cause, and thus are torn apart by the starkly competing forces of their desire and their humanity.
Now, it doesn’t take long, in the age of the internet, to realize that there are a pretty wide variety of things that turn people on. There is almost nothing that doesn’t appeal to someone’s interest, kink, desire, love, or fetish. And if we listen to the Christian point of view, it’s because people just want to sin. Basically, they are saying that if you wish to be good, you won’t have these desires. Those that do are allowing themselves to stray.
But let’s flip the script for a moment. There are a whole host of things (again, easily found on the internet) that don’t turn me on even for a second. Full disclosure, I do not feel any particular restraint on exploring my sexuality. But there are things that I still do not find, in any way, attractive. There are some things that I wouldn’t do short of threat to my life, and there are others I would not do even then. This is a pretty compelling counter to their claim. I am willing to commit the ultimate sin of renouncing god. Hell, I think I do that on this blog nearly every article. I’ll do it again. Fuck God of the Bible, and fuck his impotent, worthless son! But yet, good luck getting me to try a sexual act I find repulsive.
This thought experiment can be done with any Christian, or anyone else for that matter. For example, in the world of BDSM, a submissive (one that is willing to be used for sexual pleasure) will draw up a list of okay acts, not-okay-for-now acts, and hard-not-okay acts. The dominant (the one that controls the action) is expected to rigidly adhere to this list.
Now, this is not a community that judges others on their sexual desires. This is not a community that would bat an eye if someone wanted to engage in acts involving any particular combination of people, toys, fantasy, control, pain, or fluids. Yet even they recognize that each individual has certain things they do not enjoy, or even find repugnant. Even they realize that every person has their own sexual blueprint. So no, people are not gay because they want to sin. They are gay because that is how they feel. It’s what excites them. It’s what turns them on.
But it isn’t “Natural”!
I heard this argument hundreds of times. Of course, it only makes sense in a distorted evolutionary framework, but that doesn’t stop creationists from using it. Then again, creationists don’t spend a lot of time engaged in critical thinking, so who cares. But many Christians accept evolution, and an evolutionary mechanism would seem to suggest that being gay would be a self-correcting trait.
But like we must do with any problem, we must widen our scope a bit lest we make hasty judgments. We must look at the whole picture. First, it is always important to remember that variety is what drives evolution in the first place, and there is no intent. There simply is variety, and that variety can help, hinder, or not affect a population’s ability to survive. Secondly, this assumes that human sexuality is purely genetic. I am not a scientist, and certainly not in the area of human sexuality. But my limited understanding is that early uterine development plays a significant part in the development of sexual orientation. And if it isn’t genetic, then evolution doesn’t matter.
And lastly, since the comparison is against nature, why don’t we look at nature? Every species of animal known has homosexual and hermaphroditic members. So yeah, it happens naturally. Further, homosexuality was considered a normal thing in many cultures throughout history, including the Greek, Romans, Chinese, and the Native Americans. Now, the highly modified and politicized version of history would let you believe that sexual freedom was the downfall of the Roman empire. Naturally, this is just dumb, and void of any honest evaluation of the reality of the rise and fall of nations. No, sexual freedom didn’t do in Rome in any more than it contributed to the continued success even today of the Chinese. It’s just a tall tale that plays well in churches.
Screwing like animals
One last discussion on human sexuality needs to be had before we wrap this up, and that is the idea of humans acting like animals when they have social sex. And of course, this is again a ridiculous oversimplification.
First of all, sex for pleasure is fairly unusual in the animal kingdom. Now, I’m not going to say a pig doesn’t enjoy the sex, but the only time a boar is going to get it on is when the sow is ovulating. To be sure, we have learned of various animals that have sex with more or less pleasure, or more or less during ovulation. But on the whole there’s a pretty limited number of species that engage in sex other than for procreation. Further, because of our evolved brain, humans are only one of a couple of species that have sex with any social connotation. This can be no better demonstrated than in our physical structure. Only humans have a penis with the distinctive “mushroom” shape, and it turns out it evolved that way because it is excellent at pumping semen out of the vagina from previous males. In essence, the winner of the evolutionary race wasn’t the male that manages to find a mate, it was the male that managed to be the most recent or most popular mate.
Yes, if we wish to discuss the “natural” element of human sexuality, it would seem that plenty of screwing with various mates is par for the course. Our bodies are literally built for it. Sex for procreation “only” is a trait of the “animals”, and only an organization dedicated to lying to you would tell you that offspring is the only purpose for sex.
The entire argument of “one male and one female” marriage is based on this idea that it leads to procreation. But if that were true, then marriage should only be for a “fertile male and fertile female”, otherwise the entire exercise is pointless. Women past menopause, sterile males, women that had hysterectomies, people with various injuries, and many others would all be on the chopping block for marriage if procreation is the point. But we don’t have arranged marriages anymore because we all recognize that marriage is about love, not about sex or making babies. Even if the man is shooting blanks, two people can love each other. And even if it’s two men, they can still love each other.
Oh, and don’t bring up biblical marriage if you think it says “one man and one woman”, because not only is that bullshit, I also just don’t give a damn what the bible says. It says slavery is okay, so I’m not interested in using it for my moral compass.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, to harm another human is to earn the disrespect of me, of our communities, our laws, our culture, our values, and our morality. This applies to a sexually desired person, friend, neighbor, employee, and pretty much anyone at all. But that doesn’t mean sex is bad, no more than friends are bad or neighbors are bad. It is human social interaction.
Sex is not a mystery, nor is it a magical act. It is about fun. It is about love. It’s about being an adult. Maybe the churches should grow up.
The Spartan Atheist