“Natural” January 30, 2013


There is a Christian arguement against being gay that claims it is “unnatural”. You know, Men and Women belong together. Heterosexuality is the normal natural way to be. Tab A fits perfectly into Slot B and all that. The argument is that most people are straight, gay people are just a small percentage of people who have fallen into unnatural desires.

Conservative Catholics in particular love this “natural law” argument, because they feel that it is non-religious in nature, and therefore in their mind applies to everyone. And yet, growing up as a conservative Christian, I was told to be different, part of a peculiar people, to stand out from the crowd and avoid the majority culture by remaining pure before marriage.

As a single Christian, sex was something to be avoided at all costs. We were supposed to suppress all sexual urges and remain pure. Even sexual thoughts were considered sinful, to the point of being considered pretty much the same as having actually acted on a sexual desire. I read books on how to cover up my body, distract or re-direct sexual energy, and resist temptation at all costs. If you were truly godly, you would be a pure sexless being until you were married to someone of the opposite sex, at which point you were supposed to be able to morph magically into a sexual being, and sex between husband and wife was celebrated and encouraged (as long as you followed the rules.)

Recently I’ve begun to see how these ideas are contradictory. On the one hand they argue that the majority of people are straight, and thus this is natural and good. On the other hand, they call being unnaturally non-sexual a good thing.

Pardon my nerdiness, but only gets more confusing when you come to find out that there is a minority of people out there that do actually consider themselves asexual, as an orientation. So now we have Christians glorifying and calling this minority sexuality (and therefore “unnatural” by their argumentation) as good and right, but at the same time condemning the “unnatural minority” sexual orientation of homosexuality.

In one instance, “natural” “majority” behavior is encouraged and used as “non-religious” evidence to bolster their case. In the other, it is used as a synonym for sin that must be avoided. And in yet another case, minority sexual behavior is good and right and encouraged for the asexual. What gives? How can they argue out of both sides of their mouth?

Heterosexual, homosexual and asexual people all appear consistently in time and culture, which seems far more “natural” than arbitrary religious dogma masquerading as “natural law”.

I’ve lived all three. I was a single person, striving with all that was in me to ignore and suppress and deny an sexual thoughts or desires. I read books on how to be chaste, I learned how to dress, walk and interact in ways that were as non-sexual as possible lest I be mistaken for flirtatious and therefore sexual.

I was a married person in a “god approved” sexual relationship. Suddenly put in the place where I had to develop all the sexual thoughts and actions I had fought against for so long, where sex didn’t always come from place of natural progression and interest, but from rules and duty and desperately trying to measure up to the “natural” way taught so clearly by all the Christian resources I encountered.

And now I’m in a place where I can do and be what comes naturally to me for the first time. No more questions and self-doubt and shame. No more trying so hard to do things the “natural way”.  If I don’t feel like having sex, I don’t have to feel obligated or ashamed. And sexual actions come out a genuine desire and natural progression of intimacy between me and my wife.

It still puzzles me how (Catholic) christians present the contradictory and confusing “natural law” argument as non-religious and universally applicable. It seems more like a sexual hierarchy of “good”. Asexuality (even though a minority of people have this orientation) is the best way to be. Heterosexuality is a majority orientation and is therefore also good (within their set rules), and Homosexuality  is a “minority” orientation and is therefore unnatural and bad. This doesn’t seem natural and objective, but rather arbitrary. It is almost like they want to present their unique religious sexual  ideals as if they are the natural order of things to control other people. The problem is their sexual ideals aren’t the way things actually happen and exist in the diversity of earth. Natural law is a religious belief and that is fine, but I don’t see how they can claim that the government’s laws should be grounded in it or that it is objective truth through reason.


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