The most common homosexual myth of all – and there are many – is that homosexuals are born that way, and cannot help being the way they are. We don’t judge a person born left-handed, or red-haired, they argue, so we should not judge a homosexual either.
There are plenty of problems with this argument. The main one is the fact that tens of thousands of homosexuals have left the homosexual lifestyle, and many have gone on to heterosexual marriage and family. It may be difficult – all sexual addictions are hard to kick – but it can be done.
But let’s just suppose for a moment that the homosexual activists are correct in arguing that this is all just a matter of genetics, with no choice involved. What follows if we accept such a proposition? If we really are the result of genetic determinism, and we have to simply accept the hand that nature has dealt us, then this must have implications for all of us.
Indeed, what about so-called homophobes? Homosexual lobbyists regularly condemn those whom they label homophobic. It is wrong to be homophobic, they argue, and all homophobes must be willing to change, and no longer engage in homophobia.
But if we accept the determinist arguments of the homosexual lobby, then surely we must see all behaviours as having a similar genetic component. If homosexuals cannot help being homosexual, perhaps homophobes cannot help being homophobic. That is simply what nature has handed out, and they are stuck with it.
So if the homosexuals are right to argue that it is a waste of time to seek to convert a homosexual out of his homosexuality, then it must also be a waste of time to seek to convert a homophobe out of his homophobia.
Makes sense to me. And it also makes sense to Andrew Tallman, who recently penned a piece entitled, “Perhaps Homophobia Isn’t a Choice Either”. He too has some questions and concerns about the determinism argument. He begins this way:
“For as long as I can remember, homosexuals have been explaining why gay people have no choice about their orientation. And it finally dawned on me that their arguments explain why being anti-gay is also not a choice but an innate predisposition beyond our power to restrain. This led me to embrace my convictions and stop trying in vain to repress who I am. Since millions suffer from this same condition, I’m hopeful that my epiphany will help others accept themselves and their convictions, too.”
He then offers some insights based on this newfound understanding of determinism and homophobia. Here is one helpful insight: “If we can’t control whom we love, that’s because we can’t control our strong passions. But passions can be both for and against. And, just as gay love is a passion which is impossible to control, I now know that my passionate anti-gayness must also be impossible to control. I might wish I could change, but it’s hopeless. My judgmental tendency draws me as irresistibly as their same-sex affection.”
And another helpful insight: “I used to think that restraint was the key differentiator between animals and men. But then it was explained to me that sexual urges are such a deep element of real human nature that it’s wrong to suppress them. This led me to realize that moral urges are an equally deep aspect of human identity, and it must be unhealthy to try to suppress them, too. Just as someone may feel a deep desire to have same-gender sex, I often suffer the seemingly irresistible urge to espouse my views on sexual ethics. In fact, my desire to express my beliefs is so deeply human that even the First Amendment to our Constitution explicitly protects it. So it must be truly unhealthy to try repressing something as innate as opposition to homosexuality.”
And yet another insight: Homosexuals claim that they have no choice in their sexuality: after all, who would choose a lifestyle that attracts so much criticism and rejection? But with our new understanding of determinism, things become clear:
“Who would choose to suffer discrimination, fear, alienation and family discord? I used to worry that this argument would prevent disapproving of any behavior at all, since it seems to entail the unusual conclusion that the more despised something is the less anyone can be blamed for it. But then I realized that I have been ridiculed, called intolerant and fired from an academic post for my beliefs on this subject. In fact, I’ve often thought how much easier my life in this culture would be if only I could lay down the burden of believing in traditional morals and embrace homosexuality. Since no rational person in the United States in 2008 would choose to be anti-gay if he didn’t have to be, it must not be a choice.”
The liberating vision of determinism helps in other areas as well: “The realization that no one (straight or gay) ever consciously flips a switch to set their sexual preference led me to the recognition that I never chose to be anti-gay. It’s not like I went to bed one night thinking supportive thoughts about gayness and then woke up the next morning committed to opposing it. It’s more accurate to say that one day I just sort of realized, almost to my horror, that I thought gay behavior was wrong. I felt like I had been suppressing my innate moral voice because of social pressure before finally coming to terms with it. On top of my parents both being pro-gay and having lots of gay friends, I had actually taken a seminar on gay theory from Richard Mohr, one of the county’s most prominent gay philosophers. I would gladly have been homo-endorsant if I could have been. But all to no avail. And I clearly can’t un-choose what I had never chosen in the first place.”
Gee, it is indeed liberating when one comes to understand just how natural (and therefore determined) our behaviours and lifestyles are. I no longer have to feel guilty about my homophobia! That is tremendous news. I no longer have to deny or repress my true nature – I can just express it fully, and not care about those who would judge me. I can finally be true to myself.
Now let me conclude by admitting that of course Tallman and I are using a bit of humour here to make our case. But the point being made is quite serious indeed. Either we buy the logic of the determinists or we don’t. If being a homosexual is genetically determined, then presumably all sorts of other behaviours are biologically and/or genetically determined as well. In which case, if those concerned about homosexuality should just shut up, then perhaps those concerned about homophobia should just shut up as well.