A Play Set for Game Design
Metaphors, Make-Believe & Mythology

Was Gay Ever Sinful?

I Love Her Was it ever a sin to be gay? This question cannot be adequately addressed by denying there is such a thing as sinfulness altogether, for there are billions of people for whom the hermeneutic of sin is an important aspect of their understanding of life. This kind of outright denial is like trying to persuade a bank to let you off a debt by convincing them that money is just a fiction: you may be right, but you certainly won’t convince the bank.

Kierkegaard suggested that sin could be understood as despair, the “sickness unto death” that can only be conquered by faith, specifically faith in oneself. He saw this despair as originating in an intensified weakness or defiance; a failure to be what one knew one truly was, a hopeless longing to be what one is not, or a denial of one’s true nature. Sin for Kierkegaard was the heightening of despair, and this is a reading he was able to develop well within conventional Christian doctrine. He particularly noted the verse in Romans (14:23) which says “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin” and thus observed that the opposite of sin is not virtue, but faith. Faith in oneself was the antidote for despair and – for Kierkegaard and any other theist – faith in oneself had to be anchored in God, or at least in one's idea of God.

(I personally find a gainful parallel in Kierkegaard’s account with the Dharmic concept of karma and karmic burden, but this is not the time to pursue this thread).

What I find particularly interesting in connection with the question being asked here is that on a reading of sin that follows Kierkegaard being gay was sinful, at least for many people whose sexuality was of this nature from the mid-twentieth century backwards through history until at least ancient Greece. Being gay for all but a precious few in those sadly restrictive times inevitably meant either denying one’s true nature or despairing of expressing it – gay meant being in despair, which for Kierkegaard is sin. It’s easy for us, looking back, to rage against the circumstances that caused this suffering, but it doesn’t change the despair that gay people living in these times had to endure.

But now the dignity of homosexuality has been renewed and with this has come the possibility of two lovers of the same gender declaring their love publically, and committing to a loving bond on the strength of their faith in each other. Faith, according to Kierkegaard, is the one cure to despair, and the very opposite of sin. And as long as gay lovers have faith in each other, then their love cannot be sin.

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I had a few problems following the convolutions here, in particular the relationship between your comments about self, each other, and (implicitly) the society in which self and each other live.

I think I've read it that:
1) Sin = despair
2) Societal restriction => despair => sin
3) Faith in each other => ¬sin

I don't follow how 2 and 3 relate?

Sin is a religious concept, I think, it can´t be seen apart from it´s religious context.

According to many Christian theologians sin (or at least serious sin) can only be committed in full knowledge that what you are doing is wrong.
So sin in this sense is a matter of perception. Despair or regret is therefor a consequence of the perception of having done something wrong.

On the other hand most Christians believe that the Church or the Scriptures do have the authority to define certain acts as sinful.
Some protestant churches do no longer define homosexual acts as sinful under certain conditions.
For the Catholic church homosexual feelings are not sinful, homosexuals acts are.

The question is, does the Church have the moral right to define homosexual acts as sinful, if homosexuality is natural?

And what, if homosexuality isn´t something you are born with?
What if it is a perception of reality and not reality itself?
Is it ethical to ask this question?

How could theoretically such a perception occur?
Here is the theory:
During puberty young people experience an enormous surge of hormones, causing a volatile up and down of emotions often accompanied with depression and a yearning for acceptance by one´s peers.
Yearning and unfulfilled desires cause a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. High dopamine levels subsequently increase the levels of sexual hormones. In this physical state of mind all unfulfilled desires can now become sexualized.
Most homosexual adults I know or I´ve read about describe themselves as lonely outsiders in their youth who felt rejected by their peers.

The desire to be like an admired same-sex person or accepted by this person might now be sexualized.
This sexualized feeling will suggest to the young person that he or she is indeed homosexual. If he or she subsequently has a homosexual experience with a partner, this will then be seen as proof of one´s homosexuality.
And so the homosexual "nature" is born as a personal perception.
Once this perception is held for a long enough time, it can no longer be changed, since the perception has become an automatic brain response.

That this theory might be true is suggested by the success some Christian therapies have with young men who feel homosexual, but have not yet had any physical homosexual experiences:
The therapists suggest an increase of positive social experiences, non-sexual contacts, including contact sports with other males especially in the family and the Christian community.
By reducing and diminishing the pressure of unfulfilled desire for male acceptance, thoughts towards other males will no longer be sexualized and sexual desire can now be directed to female persons.
According to those therapists the approach works.

According to this theory despair is not only the consequence of a sinful homosexual act but also the very reason, that is the despair of getting one´s social needs and desires fulfilled. And faith would indeed be the remedy, since social desires can be fulfilled within the community of the faithful. If homosexual feelings are a matter of the interpretation of hormone surges in the brain, it is the community which will strengthen the respective interpretation which then will form the person´s sexual identity.

Of course this theory is unproven, on the other hand neither is the theory that homosexuality is genetically caused actually proven.

The question is, what positive or negative consequences have the acceptance of either theory on the individual or on society.

Peter: let my clarify (although converting this argument into a mathematical form is bound to blur the discussion to the point of incomprehension!). According to Kierkegaard, sin is despair, or "the heightening of despair". This kind of despair happens as a result of a lack of faith, specifically a faith in oneself to be true to oneself (in Kierkegaard's case, with a conception of God, but this is a wider point).

What I argue here is that the mutual faith of a loving couple is a means of maintaining that faith in oneself - and that this claim is not dependent upon the gender of the individuals concerned. In this way, genuine love between two people is an "antidote" to sin, since the support of the relationship helps the individuals to be true to themselves.

The point about societal restriction leading to despair is more subtle... the point is not that the societal restriction is the cause of the sin, however, but that the pressure from society makes it harder for people to be true to themselves, and in so doing this causes "intensified weakeness" (in Kierkegaard's terminology), i.e. a failure to be what one know's one is/can be. So here what I'm saying is that the societal restrictions make it easier for one to fall into despair/sin, not that those restrictions *cause* sin.

Hope this clarifies!


Notsylvia: I agree that sin is a religious concept - but Kierkegaard, in "The Sickness Unto Death", provides a way of understanding sin *within a Christian perspective* that I am using here to mount my argument. Much of your discussion doesn't accept Kierkegaard's approach to sin, and as such is tangential to my approach. I will still respond to a few of your points, though.

"On the other hand most Christians believe that the Church or the Scriptures do have the authority to define certain acts as sinful."

You may be right, although I think "many" would be fairer than "most", which is harder to test. And I defend to the death such people's right to have their own religious beliefs. But I am arguing here for Kierkegaard's account of sin, in the hope that it might be persuasive to those many Christians who have a wider perspective, and are open to a new way of understanding what sin means. There is a growing number of people within the wider umbrella of Christianity who are not content to let scripture be the beginning and end of discussions of their faith (and this especially includes Catholics, who have long been more flexible in understanding scripture).

"For the Catholic church homosexual feelings are not sinful, homosexuals acts are."

Yes, but I do not believe the case for this within Christian or Catholic doctrine is particularly strong, and I tend to believe that within the next century the Catholic church's position on this will shift. But I don't expect this assertion to dissolve discussion, I mention it only for context. :)

"The question is, does the Church have the moral right to define homosexual acts as sinful, if homosexuality is natural?"

Within the perspective of freedom of belief, they have the right to make such a defintion; a bigger question for me is whether to do so is in the spirit of the ministry of Jesus and the moral values of the Catholic church, and in this regard I am unconvinced.

"And what, if homosexuality isn´t something you are born with? What if it is a perception of reality and not reality itself?"

This to me doesn't matter. Making this issue revolve around whether such-and-such is a matter of birth or otherwise affords too much weight to the state of a person at birth. For me, this is a non-issue. People's religious beliefs are not set at birth, but that doesn't change the reality of those beliefs in their life.

Your reference to Christian therapies beings up a highly contentious issue - I don't think arguments of this kind hold much water, since people's attitudes to these practices vary according to the axioms of the individual concerned. If one beliefs homosexuality is wrong, it becomes easy to accept these practices as 'therapeutic'. To anyone who doesn't believe this, these practices are 'brain-washing'. (This critique actually runs far deeper than just the issue of homosexual identity, but this isn't the time to discuss this point in detail).

For me, the fact of the plasticity of behaviour is of very limited relevance to this issue, and the question of whether any kind of behaviour or identity is set at birth is entirely irrelevant. We walk a very dangerous path if we assume that there is some idealised biological path that is "right" and that deviations from this path are "wrong" - this is not supported by the biology of any organism, and to get to such a conclusion one must have prior ideals in mind. This whole issue is one in which prior beliefs dominate the discussion, alas, making it difficult to resolve.

I support your right to hold your views on homosexuality, even though I suspect that these views are in some sense against your value of equality. But I disagree with your view in the context of Christian beliefs - I don't think the case against homosexuality within Christianity is strong, and I believe it is principally sustained by traditional forces. This is a topic ripe for reconsideration, and I look forward to a "Vatican III" in perhaps fifty years time that might offer a new perspective on this issue for Catholicism, while simultaneously recognising than no change is on the horizon any time soon.

As I see it, the ultimate question any Catholic must ask about homosexuality is: how does this issue seem to God? And this answer cannot be known, and thus must be taken as a matter of faith. You follow conventional Vatican II doctrine on this matter, as is your right. But I argue for taking this issue on a reading based on Kierkegaard, and reach a different conclusion, one equally compatible with Christian faith (although, obviously, not compatible with current Catholic doctrine), and - it seems to me - closer in spirit to the ministry of Jesus.

I welcome further discussion on this point, but I am also doubtful that either of us has the power to persuade the other of the merits of our respective beliefs. :)

Thanks for your comment!

Thank you so very much for answering all my comments, especially in so much detail. Thank you for your broadmindedness. I wasn´t sure how you would react on sensitive issue like homosexuality.
From what I have read on this site so far I thought you might be tolerant enough to accept a different belief, but from my experience with liberal peoples´ tolerance has rather strict limits. "You ugly bigot" is the normal reaction to a traditional Catholic viewpoint.

Now I don´t expect you to answer allways so extensively, since you surely have a lot else to do. I just enjoy thinking about what I read and being able to express my thoughts, although I´ve still trouble to see a text as a whole. Instead I pick out pieces which I can connect to and disregard the parts I feel I don´t understand. (Since you don´t believe in general gender differences I won´t argue that this is typical female, as far as I´ve read, women see the details, while men see the far distance and the big connection :)
- and I used the word "despair" as a possible reason for a homosexual indentity, just as it might have been - according to Kierkegaards definition of sin - in earlier times a consequence of homosexual acts. Although I guess you´re quite right, this is not the way Kierkegaard understood the word.

Now, I do not intend to convince you of my beliefs in this regard. I just want to be able to honestly state them without being rejected as a worthless person.

And it isn´t so much the personal rejection I´m worried about. What bothers me most is, that issues like homosexuality (and abortion), because they are dealt with mainly on the name-calling basis make cooperation between traditional religious people (both Christian and Muslim) and liberals, left-wingers and many libertarians very, very hard.
And worse, the issue is even used to get liberals on the boat for a future war against Iran (if the false nuclear weapons claim shouldn´t work).

In the last 10 years I have slowly but certainly come to the position that our western system is in a terrible state and we are on the way to extremely dark ages of either a centralized global totalitarian regime or a world war using destructive capabilities of unprecedented proportions - and quite frankly this scares me a lot.

As far as I can see, the only way that this could be prevented a miracle, a world wide change of heart towards cooperation against the oligarchic elite currently pushing for this outcome.

I call this a miracle, because I don´t see the kind of mindset that would be necessary for this cooperation very often. The Christians I know keep to themselves, refrain from thought about and involvement in most political issues except the few concerning Christian morals. When they join anti-war or social justice causes they get alienated by the secular members and often pushed out by their insistence that pro-abortion and gay issues must be included in the cause, issues most Christians feel have nothing to do with the cause at hand.
Constantly being accused of bigotry doesn´t help either.

(Online I´m a member of a libertarian site. To have my posts linked to and so presented to a wide readership I must refrain from any positive mention of the Church or my religious beliefs. As I said, freedom goes even for libertarians only so far.
I also must endure regular pretty hateful attacks on my faith and Church without being allowed to even try to set the record straight by bringing in information I have that might put a different light on certain matters.
On the leftwing sites where I would like to submit, I can´t even get an answer to any submission I write, it´s either my lousy English, my female pattern of communication or the fact that I have written about a few
controversial issues on my blog)

There are one billion Catholics in the world, most of them conservative. There are also one billion Muslims, most of them conservative. A global anti-fascist and anti-war coalition must include the bulk of Sunni and Shiite Muslims as well as the majority of Catholic Christians. Other Christians and other religious groups should of course be included, but in comparison they are a minority.

I believe that, while many good ideas can come out of small groups, these good ideas can only make positive changes if they are freely accepted and embraced by the majority. If minorities impose their will arrogantly on the majority (because they have the economic or military power or the means to manipulate and falsify information), the end-effect will not be good

On a different comment I´ll tell, if you are interested, how I came to my present rather despairing views of our political system, here I just say that the Church is the only organization in the world I still trust.

I used to be more liberal on sexual issues, just like the European liberal world around me. And you are right while I thought, that being gay was something a person is born to, being opposed to gay marriage stands in contradiction to my equality ethics.
But this world and liberal western society have lost my trust, while the Church has gained more and more of my trust. And since I cannot live without fundamental trust I had to make a choice.

I choose to believe that Church was founded by Jesus Himself, and that she is let by the Holy spirit.
Everything I read coming out of the Vatican in recent years has confirmed my trust. The egalitarian and universal ethics the Church teaches coincide with my personal ethics.

And although I know that in the past some of the Popes were indeed very corrupt (sinful) individuals, not in tune with the Holy Spirit at all,I find comfort in the promise of Christ that the Church will not be destroyed to the ends of time. And I can see that God has prevented the Church from self-destruction many times over.

I figure it like this:
God does not force goodness and truth on any humans. Even times of corruption and serious mistakes can teach us necessary lessons by the inevitable consequences which follow. And the individual or the community ready to learn and accept the lesson taught will emerge stronger and morally improved.
Every time of great corruption in the Church also fostered a spiritual renewal movement which eventually became so strong that it overcame the corruption.

Even the recent "pedophile scandal" is a case in point:
The Church learned that relaxation of sexual morals will lead to criminal behavior of some individuals (far, far, far more than at times when the morals are clear cut) and injury to the reputation of the Church as a whole.
(I doubt that there will be any Vatican III any time soon where the Churches position on sexuality will be changed, the lessons drawn from the scandal at the moment will make this unfeasable)

Although the scandal felt rather painful to me, it actually increased my trust in the Church, since the way it was used by the mainline media, twenty, thirty and forty year old cases being rehashed over and over again, made it quite clear to me, that the Church (or the Vatican) is not "in it", as some other conspiracy theorists think.
The Church is not in bed with the fascistoid elites and she has no secret agenda, only a public one which anyone can access.

The Church today sees herself as a moral authority, a teacher in the way of Jesus. She is not a political institution with the police power to coerce people into her thinking. Some from all levels of society will listen to her ethical teachings, others will not.
This is the way Jesus did it. He was teacher not a ruler, the One who suffered violence not the one who perpetrated violence. Following Jesus means to reject worldly power and the use of violence for oneself.


I basically trust the Church, but I also reject any form of blind obedience. And therefor I have to find logical reason to understand the Church´s position on some issues:

I believe that God is Love and that He loves us. He wouldn´t give us commandments just to make us unhappy.
My personal reading on neurotransmitters, behaviorial addictions and violence as well as on health issues suggests to me that sexual rules (banning promiscuity hetereosexual and homosexual alike) exist to prevent suffering of individuals and the community.

My personal research brought up evidence that convinces me, (although I do realize, that the same evidence might not seem logical to you at all):

First of all, as I mentioned above, for several reasons I believe that a homosexual identity while it can´t be "healed" after it has fully established, it might be prevented before that time.

Second, a homosexual life-style is on avarage far (by statistics accepted and often provided by the gay community), far more promiscuous than a hetereosexual one.

Large scale promiscuity is a serious health risk. The more promiscuous the life style, the worse are the health consequences which lead to loss of life expectancy by over and above twenty years in male homosexuals.

Although for many years now condome use is being promoted by gay community leaders, it seems like on many occasions gay people rather risk their health (AIDS is only one of those many health risks) than play it safer with condomes.
Besides loss of life expectancy the health problems also bring on a serious loss of life quality for the sufferers (being constantly on some form of strong anibiotic or antiviral medication, or some pills to manage the side-effects of the medication).

Third: From articles and book excerpts I read which were written by gay people, the male homosexual community in general is far more concerned about physical beauty than the heterosexual males. They judge each other relentlessly on their physical attrictiveness and have a strong aversion of signs of aging (a bit like single women who are also feel being judged according to their physical attractiveness)
But gay men, even those who are in permanent relationships cannot relax their fears of being judged and their judgement of other men.

And this leads me to the crux of the gay marriage issue:
According to one statistic I read - 90% of gay couples who are in legaly binding relationships have sexual encounters outside their relationship already in the very first year.
And there is absolutely no comparison between this and hetereosexual marriage. While in hetereosexual marriages some people cheat on their partners, this cheating, if it is discovered, is considered a serious offense and often leads to the break-up of the marriage. It rarely happens in the first year and practically nobody enters a hetereosexual marriage with the intend of having sexual encounters outside of this marriage.
A hetereosexual who feels he or she can´t commit to a single partner for the rest of his or her life, just will not get married.

For hetereosexual couples marriage means more than just a sexual union - it´s a place to raise a family, it´s an economic union where you share financial resources and it´s a social and psychological support system where you can grow old securly with all the problems of aging.
But it also is a promise of sexual fidelity. And for nearly all hetereosexual married couples this is one the most important points.
If in homosexual culture marriage does not mean a promise of fidelity and an expectation that this promise is kept, how can it be expected by the hetereosexual majority culture to call a homosexual union a marriage?

Notsylvia: thank you for bringing these points into our discussion. I do appreciate a lot of your concerns, and although we disagree on many subjects, we actually agree on many more.

In particular, I find the bigotry amongst the so-called liberal end of the political spectrum to be just as rampant as at the conservative end. The targets change, but the hate remains the same. For this reason, I have moved progressively further away from my liberal political roots, and have become more accepting of conservative views (although I am not, myself, especially conservative about anything).

I agree with you that liberals and left-wingers find it almost impossible to engage in an open discussion with orthodox Catholics, since it will rapidly deteriorate into name calling. The degree of moral certainty that certain liberally minded people express is as terrifying to me as the conservative mirror image.

I would say: beware of using statistics to generate rhetoric. It is dangerous to approach any situation solely from the perspective of isolated statistics...

(Incidentally, the idea that a homosexual identity can be "healed" is one I find questionable - since this presumes heterosexuality is "healthy". A hetrosexual identity can also be "healed" i.e. changed. I prefer not to make any kind of assertion as to what identity people shall be allowed to take).

It is broadly the case that the gay community as a whole is rather promiscuous at the moment, but I feel it is grossly unfair to assume that this permits a generalisation that "gay people are promiscuous". Many are. Some are in committed, loving, long-term relationships that have lasted for years. Should the validity of their loving relationship be brought into disrepute solely by the actions of people of the same sexual identity? If so, then must we not condemn all hetrosexual marriages for the high incidence of divorce (and many other equivalent statistical imputations)?

Regarding the question of sexual encounters outside of a committed relationship - I confess that I am open to the idea of a long term commitment that is still polyamorous i.e. that is not sexually exclusive, although it is not something I personally have any interest in. But again, I do not want to enforce my concept of identity on others - and, as it happens, I don't think doing so is consistent with the form of living together espoused by Jesus (although this is probably a tangent...).

I feel your argument that in the case of heterosexual marriage extramarital sex is perceived as something wrong presupposes the ideal of monogamy. You are entitled to this ideal, but not necessarily to enforce this ideal on others. I know of heterosexual married couples who have "open relationships" of the kind you are looking down upon here, so your critique extends far beyond the issue of sexual identity.

But this, again, is by-the-by. The question for me is not *how many* gay marriages meet some ideal standard but whether there are gay couples that have a relationship that is functionally equivalent to marriage. And this, I do believe. Indeed, I know some, including a lesbian couple in Tennessee that have had a child via a sperm donor.

As far as I'm concerned, if there are *any* gay people who have a relationship with their lover which rises to the criteria of marriage (whatever it may be), then gay marriage is a legitimate concept. Furthermore, I am disinclined to set myself up as the arbiter of what criteria marriage shall be judged by. As Jesus said: "Judge not lest ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1). Who are you, I, or anyone else, that we might adjudicate the private affairs of others?

All the best!

I agree Chris, that what people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is really none of my business. If it is a sin, then the sinner will feel, that he has done something wrong, and this is between him and God.

I would not want to criminalize sexual acts unless somebody gets hurt as in a rape or a sexual child abuse.
On the other hand campaigning for recognition of a homosexual relationship as a marriage, makes it a public concern.

If in the gay community for about 90% of the members marriage means something different than for over 90% of the heterosexual community (that is monogamy and a promise and expectation of fidelity)then marriage is not the right word to use for a homosexual union.
The meaning of a word is normally defined by how it is used by the majority of its users.

Another point is, that some American gay activists have stated loudly and clearly that their real intention in seeking gay marriage recognition is to destroy the traditional institution of marriage. This sounds nearly like a declaration of war on the value system of the majority population (not just conservative Christians)

This said, the issue of gay marriage isn´t a very important political issue for me (while the matte of abortion is very important for me indeed)
I don´t think that gay radicals will ever succeed in destroying heterosexual marriage, no matter what they try. The institution is rather old and established.

I just brought it up to explain that the Church´s position and my support of it can be justified (at least in my mind) on ethical grounds,not just on theological ones.
(Homosexual acts aren´t mentioned in the Gospels, the Apostle Paul, however, clearly called them sinful. So the position of the Church isn´t just Old Testamentarian)

As I said, I see a homosexual life-style as a health issue. Allowing a young person the option of not falling into this life-style gives him a better chance for a life without these life-style connected health issues. And that´s a good enough reason for me to provide this option by promoting an alternative explanation for the origin of a homosexual identity than the one, that it´s genetic. (Especially since I think, that the alternative explanation is more likely objectively true).

As for Jesus: you and I seem to have a different image of Jesus.
Jesus said we should not judge, but He also said that we should care about our neigbour´s wellbeing both physically and spiritually.
Jesus forgave the adulteress, but He also told her to "go and sin no more".
Jesus ate with sinners (prostitutes and tax-collectors) but when challenged on the issue he said that not the healthy need a doctor but the sick. And He saw himself as the ultimate physician for the sickness of sinners and His message, which included a call for repentance and reconciliation as a healing balm.


"Hope this clarifies!"

Yes. I still think there's quite a tension when the couple choose something that the society in which they live outlaws, however.

Notsylvia - can I ask a couple of stupid questions?

1) If a society chooses to regard belief in the Abrahamic god as a mental illness, do you believe that mental health practitioners in that society should be able to apply therapeutic procedures to a Christian to change their (clearly delusional) beliefs? Why or why not?

2) Can you point me to the primary sources of your figures for promiscuity among heterosexuals and homosexuals? As these appear to form the basis for your health argument, their legitimacy is crucial to that argument. I'm particularly interested in the population from which the study samples were drawn, the dates and locations of the studies, and the exact form of the questions that were asked.

You can ask whatever questions you like. Chris is an open-minded person and this is his blog.
I´m far less open-minded, I guess (since my ethics are derived from organized religion), but I think the rule of the game here on this site is to open one´s mind to the other person´s view-point, where-ever the other person might come from.
These are my answers to your questions:

1) There were societies who tried that approach, namely the Soviet Union and China, or a more drastic therapy resulting in the death of the patient (religion being considered "opium of the people", and the state´s approach a kind of "war against drugs".
And just like the American "war against drugs", it didn´t work.)
Abrahamic religions might seem delusional in your mind, but it is your mindset that makes it so. Since religion can´t be proved or disproved in the physical world, there is no objective way to declare it delusional.

As for the homosexual identity, I can´t prove that my theory of an psychological origin during puberty is right, but the genetic origin is a theory as well.

The therapy I was talking about is not grabbing gay men from the street and using electro-shocks on them.
It is a therapy for teenage boys who seek counsel together with their parents. Most are Christians or they wouldn´t go to such a counseling session.
And as I said, the advice given is to hug more among male relatives, spend more time together, participate in contact sports in the context of Church or family outings (sports for fun not for competition), this will (according to experience) satisfy the desire for social acceptance among male peers, this social desire will no longer be connected to sexual thoughts.

The comparison would be:
a teenager from an atheist family being tempted by a Christian belief system, and he and his parents seeking psychological counsel to remove this temptation from his mind.
And the process would be:
more socially satisfying contact with atheist relatives and atheist social groups. It would also mean not demonizing the teenager´s Christian feelings but calling them natural but temporary.


2)I only have secondary sources, like the two below, to be sure. I´m not a researcher in these issues, just an ordinary person, trying to understand certain issues in the context of my experiences and my faith.

The organizations, who did the analysis are surely biased. However, the sources they cite, from where they took their statistics, are quite obviously not biased, some of the researches being re-printed in magazines by and for homosexuals.

http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS04C02
Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married (heterosexual) Couples

Excerpts:

- The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year.
- Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners.
- In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in the Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that "the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101-500." In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1,000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than one thousand lifetime sexual partners.
- A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than one hundred sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than one thousand sexual partners.

And here from a Catholic source:
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0075.html
The Health Risks of Gay Sex

Excerpts:

"Monogamy"

Monogamy for heterosexual couples means at a minimum sexual fidelity. The most extensive survey of sex in America found that "a vast majority [of heterosexual married couples] are faithful while the marriage is intact." The survey further found that 94 percent of married people and 75 percent of cohabiting people had only one partner in the prior year.

In contrast, long-term sexual fidelity is rare among GLB couples, particularly among gay males. Even during the coupling period, many gay men do not expect monogamy. A lesbian critic of gay males notes that:

"After a period of optimism about the longrange potential of gay men's one-on-one relationships, gay magazines are starting to acknowledge the more relaxed standards operating here, with recent articles celebrating the bigger bang of sex with strangers or proposing 'monogamy without fidelity'-the latest Orwellian formulation to excuse having your cake and eating it too."

Gay men's sexual practices appear to be consistent with the concept of "monogamy without fidelity."
A study of gay men attending circuit parties showed that 46 percent were coupled, that is, they claimed to have a "primary partner." Twenty-seven percent of the men with primary partners "had multiple sex partners (oral or anal) during their most recent circuit party weekend . . . ."

For gay men, sex outside the primary relationship is ubiquitous even during the first year. Gay men reportedly have sex with someone other than their partner in 66 percent of relationships within the first year, rising to approximately 90 percent if the relationship endures over five years.

And the average gay or lesbian relationship is short lived.
In one study, only 15 percent of gay men and 17.3 percent of lesbians had relationships that lasted more than three years. Thus, the studies reflect very little long-term monogamy in GLB relationships.

And here is the attitude of the Catholic Church (in the USA and Canada) towards homosexual individuals cited in the introduction of the article:

"The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."

Notsylvia: Thanks for continuing our discussions!

"The meaning of a word is normally defined by how it is used by the majority of its users."

True enough that a word can be understood by how it is used - this is a tenet of Wittgenstein that I stand by. But marriage can be fundamentally understood as a promise between two lovers, and a public recognition of that love. I'm not sure that questions about what goes on between the two lovers after they are married bears on this issue directly... There are plenty of heterosexual couples who have 'open marriages', and this does not bear on whether heterosexuals are allowed to be married.

"Another point is, that some American gay activists have stated loudly and clearly that their real intention in seeking gay marriage recognition is to destroy the traditional institution of marriage."

Well this is sad and silly. I can't support this kind of nonsense. That just plays directly into the hands of Gay prejudice... a foolish overreaction. But the reason for doing or not doing things can't be that foolish people say such-and-such - we have to make these decisions on their merits.

"As for Jesus: you and I seem to have a different image of Jesus."

This is hardly surprising. :) But I think perhaps that an important aspect of Jesus' ministry was the idea that everyone is in the same boat with respect to sin; there is not some group of people who are somehow immune from it. I have found Kierkegaard's approach to sin helps me (at least) make sense of this aspect of Jesus' teachings.


Peter: as you know, I'm highly sceptical of attempts to make questions of personal identity and belief into questions of health. Following Illich, I am sceptical of what the ideals of "health" can be used for when they become negative ideals rather than positive ideals - perhaps even the positive ideals are problematic, especially when people are labelled as "suffering from a disease" because of their circumstances (e.g. autistic people). Your parallel of the case of theism against the case of homosexuality is an interesting juxtaposition.


Notsylvia: A few comments... For context, Peter is a long-time regular of the Game, and indeed a long-term friend of mine. He often brings an interesting and dispassionate perspective to the table which can be refreshing, or occasionally slightly disturbing! :)

"Since religion can´t be proved or disproved in the physical world, there is no objective way to declare it delusional."

Isn't the same true of homosexuality? This is a matter of personal identity, it isn't subject to empirical verification - any more than heterosexual marriage is subject to empirical verification. And woe betide the society that tries to work on this kind of principle - get your love biochemically verified before you can get your marriage certificate... *shudder*

I think it may be important to seperate sexual promiscuity from homosexuality - it may be the case that promiscuity is common among homosexuals, but if the concern is promiscuity this isn't a prima facie case against homosexuality, since promiscuity is in no way restricted to gay people. Perhaps your focus should be more on addressing the question of promiscuity and less on addressing homosexuality? This would make you much more welcoming to the gay community than perhaps you currently appear.

You would probably find in this situation that there would be people even within the gay community that would be supportive of this kind of stance. I for one know several gay and lesbian couples who have been together in an exclusive loving relationship for many years, although I have never discussed this kind of issue with them - I've not felt the need. Their relationships speaks for themselves.

For me the existence of *any* gay couples who fit a common understanding of marriage as a "union of two souls" (to speak poetically) is a justification for extending the institution of marriage to homosexual people. However, this said, I would expect each society to forge its own path on this issue.

I'm rather sceptical of this claim that "a vast majority [of heterosexual married couples] are faithful while the marriage is intact" - the statistics I've seen put the rate of incidence of infidelity between 10 and 60%, which is quite a range! See this piece on the subject of the difficulty of getting accurate data on this subject:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/health/28well.html

I'd also like to suggest that one of the reasons for widespread promiscuity in the gay community is precisely because they have been marginalised. Having been placed in a situation that is frequently opposed to "conventional morality" opens the door to make up something ad hoc to take its place. It's difficult for any purported source of moral guidance to influence a community that it is simultaneously condemning... In this respect, one could make a (tenuous!) case that the ostracising of the gay community was a factor in its leaning towards promiscuity.

Finally, it may be the case that less commonly recognised sexual arrangements are accepted in the gay community - but it would be a mistake to believe that these kind of living arrangements don't exist in the heterosexual community. It may be that these kind of situations come to light more easily in the gay community than in the straight community because once you are "colouring outside the lines" it becomes easier to acknowledge what you are drawing. This has certainly been my experience.

Best wishes!

Sorry for the delay in responding, life got a little interesting!

Chris: "as you know, I'm highly sceptical of attempts to make questions of personal identity and belief into questions of health."

I agree. As you both no doubt noted, I was reacting to Notsylvia's use of health / illness / sickness, and (I hope) gently pointing out that all of these terms are not absolute, but relative to the observer.

"Your parallel of the case of theism against the case of homosexuality is an interesting juxtaposition."

That was the plan, yes.

"He often brings an interesting and dispassionate perspective to the table which can be refreshing, or occasionally slightly disturbing! :)"

Only occasionally? Rats! I'll have to try harder ;-).

Notsylvia: "I´m not a researcher in these issues, just an ordinary person, trying to understand certain issues in the context of my experiences and my faith."

I'm also not a researcher. However, I *am* a skeptic (small s), as Chris will tell you, and I rather like the adage "Always look for the calculations that go with the calculated risks" :-).

Thanks for the sources, I'll chase them up. I was asking because my experience of my peers (30-something and 40-something, generally highly intelligent, generally professional men and women) doesn't match the sources you quote. Many/most of the gay couples I know appear devoted and monogamous (I accept "appear" isn't necessarily the same as reality); a significant minority of the hetero couples I know are in open relationships; and there's the usual undercurrent of folks who're interested in whatever's going.

"As for the homosexual identity, I can´t prove that my theory of an psychological origin during puberty is right, but the genetic origin is a theory as well."

Agree entirely - see, for example, Chris' piece on Popper. Generalisations of observations of the world can't be proved; they're *all* theories and can only be disproved. As a quick check: what happens to the above if you replace "homosexual" with "Christian", "puberty" with "early childhood" and "genetic" with "divine"? And do I need to run away and find my flame-proof suit yet? :-)

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