Christians often argue that homosexuality is unnatural. That is, the purpose of man/woman sex is clear—it’s what propagates the species. Any other kind of sex simply isn’t using human anatomy for what it was meant for. There’s only one way to properly fit the jigsaw puzzle pieces together.
The Catholic Church is a vocal proponent of this idea that homosexuality is unnatural. Let’s pause to savor this for a moment—that’s a community of celibate men, if you can imagine such a thing, calling another lifestyle unnatural.
But the fact is that homosexuality is natural. It’s widespread in nature and has been observed in 500 animal species, including all the great apes, of which humans are a part.
The science that explains homosexuality is immature—homosexuality might be the consolation prize, for example, or maybe it’s nature’s way of reducing competition among males—but why isn’t the point. It’s clearly natural, and that’s been recognized within society. We’re decades past the time when homosexuality was categorized as a mental disorder.
But natural doesn’t mean good, the Christian will say. Rape, violence, and cyanide are natural, and they’re harmful.
That’s true. Then let’s move the conversation from natural vs. unnatural to where it should be: good vs. harmful. Rape, violence, and cyanide are inherently harmful, but homosexuality isn’t.
Saying “I have homosexual inclinations, so I should act on them” is like saying, “I have alcoholic inclinations, so I should act on them.”
Once again, the issue is harm. Alcoholic inclinations cause harm, and homosexual inclinations don’t. What’s the problem caused by consensual homosexual sex (besides offending the Old Testament god)?
Homosexuals can be treated. They can become un-gay.
In 2012, Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, then the largest ex-gay organization in the U.S., said:
The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.
The organization disbanded less than two years later.
No, there’s little evidence that someone who is gay can become un-gay. And why would that be a goal, anyway? I love desserts and, frankly, it would do me some good to become an ex-lover of desserts. There are health benefits to doing so. But why become un-gay? (I mean, besides avoiding all the artificial obstacles homophobes erect against gays.)
But if everyone were homosexual, the population would die out!
Yes, and if everyone were female, the population would also die out. So what? No one’s saying that being female is bad or immoral or unnatural. It’s not the case that everyone is female, and it’s not the case that everyone is homosexual. No problem then! Anyway, animals have apparently been gay since forever, and evolution stumbles along just fine.
I’ll close with something that I wish I’d said:
Homosexuality exists in 500 species.
Homophobia exists in only one.
Which seems unnatural now?
I fear that we [Christians have] lost not only the culture wars,
but also our Christian identity,
when the “right to refuse” service has become
a more sincerely-held and widely-known Christian belief
than the impulse to give it.
— Rachel Held Evans
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/26/12.)
Photo credit: Gabludlow