How to refute “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” argument

As you know I posted about the controversial back and forth in the Diocese of El Paso.

I have just watch a video of a TV "debate" between Fr. Rodriguez and a homosexual activist.

The activist put forward the usual cant: Jesus was accepting, the Church needs to be up to date, blah blah blah.   

The activist claimed in absolute terms that he was "born this way", but he didn’t want to get into the "nature v. nurture" debate.  His proof seemed to be his own interpretation of his own experiences and choices.

It occurred to me that were I pressed to weigh in on the nature v nurture debate, I am not sure I could propose good arguments.

Perhaps we could have some intelligent discussion here.

As a preamble, it seems to me that even if people are "born" homosexual (the nature argument), that would not make any difference.  There is clearly a male sex and female sex in human being.  The implications are pretty clear.  Same-sex attraction among human beings is therefore an aberration, a departure from the norm of nature regardless of whether this or that individual would be "born" homosexual or not.  Thus, being "born" homosexual would not make homosexual actions "normal", even for that individual.  The argument that there is same-sex attraction or even parthenogenic reproduction among other species in the animal kingdom impresses me not at all.  They are critters.  We are humans.

The point is that sometimes people try to justify their sinful homosexual behavior with the argument that they were made to act that way.  I think we need good arguments which can refute this.  I am sure there are studies on both sides of the question.

This is going to be a more and more important issue for Catholics to do with in the future.

I know that this topic is likely to draw in some folks who think they don’t have to self-edit or, because they are hiding behind anonymity think they can say anything it pleases them to say.  My suggest to such people is, from the onset, don’t.  I will use the delete feature if comments go in a direction I think is unhelpful.

Commence with care and think before posting.

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84 Responses to How to refute “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” argument

  1. Mark01 says:

    The only argument I would make is that it does not matter if you were made that way or not. I, as a heterosexual male, was made to want to have sex with women, and given my fallen nature, a lot of different women. Were I to look at it from an evolutionary standpoint, I was made to want to have sex with a lot of different women so that I could pass down my genetic code. This does not mean that it is pleasing in God’s eyes, or a good thing to go around having sex and children with a lot of different women. We are not animals, we are supposed to follow God and with his Grace rise above our animal insticts, to move away from our fallen natures (whether they are hetero or homosexual).

  2. sejoga says:

    I’m a staunch supporter of the idea that nature has a larger impact on who we are than nurture, but I certainly don’t think that invalidates Church teaching on anything, and if anything it only supports the Church’s teaching on the inheritedness of sin (original sin, that is).

    I often like to point out that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality isn’t even exclusively about “men shouldn’t have sex with men and women shouldn’t have sex with women because that’s not how our bodies were made.” It’s all part of the much larger teachings on how humans relate to one another; how our relations with one another help us to relate to God; how our highest calling is to rise above our fallenness, which natively inclines us to violence, selfishness, cruelty, etc., in order to “die to self” before we can “live in Christ”.

    Our natural inclination, because of the effects of sin, is to express our sexuality in ways that are contrary to God’s purpose, and this is true regardless of being male or female, “gay” or “straight”, or any other dichotomy. But we are ALL called by God to one of two states in life: celibacy or marriage — and in either of these states we are called to chastity. I often point people to the statement of Flannery O’Connor (who ought to be canonized, and I mean that seriously) that “the Church’s teaching on birth control is her most spiritual teaching.” O’Connor didn’t really go into details on what she meant by that, but I think I understand it, and it’s true of the Church’s teachings on sexuality generally.

    What she meant was this: Sexuality, from a Christian perspective, isn’t about our bodies, or our nature, or the physical expressions of lust and love; it’s about how we relate to God, especially how we relate to God through each other. And for this reason, all the discussion in the world of gonads and genetics and the physiological effects of sex on the mind misses the point. We are called to ask ourselves how our sexuality draws us closer, in charity, to God and to each other. And the Church has always taught, and the proof of time has always shown, that the greatest expressions of charity in sexuality have been through the chaste expressions of celibacy or through the family life of the devoted man and wife.

  3. skellmeyer says:

    I refuted this argument several years ago in a published opinion column written for my local newspaper. The argument was in a slightly different form, pointing out that whiptail lizards were naturally not only homosexual, but parthenogenetic, and that grizzly bears sometimes have two mothers.

    It’s a confusion of the words “natural” and “good.” Arsenic is natural. It isn’t good, at least, it isn’t good for us. Mallard drake ducks “rape” female ducks, as do dolphins. Large monkeys chase down, tear apart and eat smaller monkeys.

    So, if we wish to argue that “natural equals good”, then we must admit that rape is acceptable (ducks do it, dolphins do it), and murderous cannibalism is good (monkeys do it).

    Or take it another way. There is at least as much evidence that alcoholism is genetic as there is for the genetic predisposition for homosexuality. Worse, alcoholism is universally recognized as a real disease. Despite this, it is absolutely illegal to exhibit evidence of your disease while driving heavy equipment, like a car. It can even be illegal to be publicly drunk. People who have TB can be arrested and jailed for failing to take all of their meds and for spitting on the sidewalk (both contribute to the spread of the disease).

    Whether or not homosexuality is considered a disease is not the point. The point is, naturally occurring conditions are not necessarily good conditions. People are born deaf, blind, missing limbs, etc., all the time. This doesn’t mean any of it is good.

    The implicit “nature equals good” argument really only works in a society which is partial to nature religions, or becoming so. Christians fought against this concept, which is why technological advancement and scientific discovery is found almost entirely in Christian cultures, and are still-born everywhere else (hat tip to Fr. Stanley Jaki for this insight, RIP).

  4. Pedantic Classicist says:

    Good, thoughtful post, Father. You are right that this is going to become important. My take has long been that categories of “orientation” are, like many things, constructs that in this case do more harm than good. That is why I am no more comfortable with the designation “straight” than I am with “gay,” and I try to avoid using all such terms in conversation, though heaven knows it’s difficult. Sexuality is a mystery (bound up ultimately with procreation) that I think is cheapened by talk of orientation. Life would be easier if we did not try so hard (as some of us do) to prove that we’re “straight” or (alternatively) to assert and protect our status as “gay”.

    OTOH, I have recently been impressed with the writing and thought of Eve Tushnet, who identifies openly as “Lesbian” but stresses the importance of chastity and of the concept of passionate and chaste friendship (sorry, Eve, if I’m not quite doing your position justice: but I do think you’re awesome!). I think she is on to something, and while I’m not completely convinced it’s ideal for her to identify as Lesbian, she certainly is giving me plenty of cause for rethinking my position a little bit.

  5. QMJ says:

    While I don’t deny the possibility of genetics, physiology, etc contributing to a homosexual orientation, I firmly believe that those who suffer from this disorder do so mostly because of environment. Taken as a whole studies are incredibly inconclusive concerning being “born gay” but even those studies which support that hypothesis do not exclude psychological factors. At the end of the day though I do not think any amount of research will disclose the cause of homosexuality. All the studies indicating contributing factors also present people with those same factors but who are not homosexuals. In the end I think it is fear that keeps people with this orientation from looking objectively at the issue. If it’s nurture and not nature then that means they have serious healing to go through that will involve people who are closely related to them. For more information on this issue I recommend Fr. John F. Harvey’s “The Truth About Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful.” He takes a serious look at the homosexual condition, is faithful to the Church’s teaching, and offers concrete ways to work with homosexuals according to the Church’s teaching.

  6. ghlad says:

    Change the discussion from homosexuality to any other thing the Church teaches against, say, murder (for ease’s sake).

    “I was born angry, and often times, I wish I could take a brick to the face of people who anger me.”

    “But you can’t do that. It would be wrong. It would be murder.”

    “But I was born that way…”

    The argument is very flimsy. We’re all born with natural inclinations that demand to be suppressed for our soul’s sake.

    The reason that many homosexuals feel like they are inescapably active homosexuals is because of the freedom and license that our society gives them today from the moment they self-identify as homosexuals. Just like a young man today can succumb to pornography and solitary lustful sins to the point where it is a terrible and nearly uncontrollable habit, so is the habit of homosexual sin. Repetition forms habit, which chains man to sin.

  7. Guglielmus says:

    The “born” argument presented defies logic, because all homosexuals are called to celibacy. If “born” means liberty to engage in same sex actions anytime at whim, then “born that way” cannot be a major premise in the argument. “born that way” does not appear to be a proven scientific fact. Thus, also, such a major premise has no certainty above opinion.

  8. FrCharles says:

    Indeed, ghlad. People are born with all kinds of disorderliness. Someone might have a tendency to depression or alcoholism, another a susceptibility to some physical illness that runs in the family. Far from leading us to the conclusion that such things are therefore right and good, and ought to be defended and privileged, they lead us to notice our fallen condition very much in need of renovation in Christ.

  9. loyalpapist says:

    As far as the “nature” arguement, I don’t buy into it. I think we are given certain variables, if you will, for our lives that enable us to use our Free Will to choose God. Saying “I was born this way, so that is just the way it is.” or “God made me this way, so it must be ok.” is a copout. God endowed us with free will to choose Him, to choose Love, to choose Life. Maybe having a same sex attraction is really a gift to help us choose Holiness. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mt 26:41

  10. Patikins says:

    This definitely interests me since I work in (very liberal) academia and have coworkers who live an openly homosexual lifestyle. They are good workers and I can see the good in them. They’re fellow human beings who are seeking happiness (though in all the wrong places).

    I usually avoid the topic of “sexual orientation” if I can but I worry that my silence is seen as acceptance. I also don’t want to lose my job for being “intolerant.”

    It seems to me that we all have inclinations to do things that are not good for us. Perhaps it is laziness, inappropriate anger, greed, drug abuse or same sex attraction. All are bad but some are more serious than others.

    It’s easy to want to continue in our sinful ways — it’s easier than choosing the right path. We all must work to overcome the temptations in our lives, no matter what sins tempt us.

    But how do we help those entrapped in this particular sin recognize (or admit) that they are in fact prisoner of the choices they’ve made? How can we show them that there is a way out? How can we show them that getting out would be good for them?

    I know I must pull the huge plank out of my own eye before having any chance at being effective in these endeavors. Perhaps more prayer on my part would be more effective than getting into debates.

    I think the “it’s my nature” argument has wider implications. We are not animals without the use of reason and self control. The same people who argue that homosexual behavior is normal because they’re “born that way” also often argue that teens cannot abstain from sex and that recreational drug use is not harmful.

  11. Marcin says:

    We should also bear in mind that death and disease (including developmental diseases) are the results of the Fall. Yes, we are being born in an image and likeness of God, yet ‘outside of Eden’ so to speak.

    BTW. Couple days ago there was an interesting discussion on First Things about ‘gay gene eugenics':
    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/08/gay-gene-eugenics

  12. Marcin says:

    @Patkins

    The same people […] also often argue […] that recreational drug use is not harmful.

    While not endorsing recreational drug use, particularly among youth, I must ask whether recreational use of beer and wine is harmful. (Habitual certainly is.) I guess much depends on the definition of ‘recreational’.

  13. Christina says:

    I think it’s interesting that the homosexual activist didn’t want to address the nature vs. nurture debate at all. From what I’ve picked up in other discussions, it seems that this is often the case because engaging in the argument always puts the homosexual in a bit of a catch-22.

    On the one hand, if homosexuality is indeed a natural, especially genetic, phenomenon, then we see from the arguments above that it can be labeled as a genetic weakness, disease, or perversion. What with psychiatrists today and genetic therapy advancement looming threateningly on the horizon, the homosexual activist fears that if homosexuality is labeled as genetic, parents and society might then try to cure the disease. We already know how poorly homosexual activists think of curing homosexuality.

    On the other hand, if homosexuality is not naturally occurring, but is instead brought on by environmental factors, then parents and psychiatrists would also work to cure the problem because it’s really all in the mind, anyway. Besides, no one can reasonably argue that heterosexuality is unnatural, so if homosexuality is unnatural, it is likely that the homosexual is somehow sexually repressed and confused and it is in his best interest to become free of his mental block.

    Both sides end up with negative consequences for the homosexual agenda, so it’s best for them to shy away from the nature vs. nurture debate or adopt the (probably correct, anyway) position that it’s both.

  14. Christina says:

    Marcin,
    Thanks for the article! Just what I was fumbling about to say, but Mr. Carter did a much better job of it.

  15. asophist says:

    Some people are born as hermaphrodites. There we have an obvious “nature” issue. The question that arises is: for a hermaphrodite to be sexually moral in his/her sexual behavior, what is he/she to do? I think this fits in with the discussion, though I apologise to Fr. Z if it is a twist he doesn’t followed in this discussion. I certainly don’t pretend to have the answer. [I dealt with the point you described in comments, above. This would be an aberration. As such, it doesn’t help us with what normal is.]

  16. Marcin says:

    @asophist

    To continue your point (even though it doesn’t concern sex attraction per se) it is important to recognize that gender identity IS a complex issue, as various aspects or layers of it can be distinguished. There is a psychological gender (identity, role) and several levels of biological gender (secondary sexual characters, genital, hormonal, gonadal, chromosomal). Sometimes they aren’t aligned properly at all. That would be ‘nature’.

  17. smallone says:

    Re: ghlad’s “I was born angry” example…

    The counterargument to that is “But you are arguing for the right to harm others because of the way you are. We are not harming anybody.”

    I would argue that conditions that don’t cause apparent harm to others can be very damaging. For example, I have what might be called an anxiety disorder with OCD tendencies. It’s pretty mild, and I take medication and see a therapist. However, it interferes with my life to a certain extent — I get sick more often, I have more distressing physical ailments that aren’t related to an actual illness, I get tired very easily, I spend a lot of time ruminating and agonizing over things over which I have no control, etc.

    I can’t view this as a positive trait. Though being cautious does have a plus side in life (I would never try to beat the train across the tracks), it limits me in many ways. It also causes me a great deal of suffering. And, I’d also argue that it has some detrimental effects on others. For example, I don’t always do things with my children that they might enjoy, simply because I can’t endure the assaults on my senses for very long.

    Conventional treatment as well as meditative prayer and trusting in God help, but I still feel like I need a giant sign on the wall of my office that says, “WHICH OF YOU BY WORRYING CAN ADD AN HOUR TO HIS LIFE?”

    I have no doubt that I was born this way, but it is a cross to bear.

  18. Incaelo says:

    Like others above, I don’t think that “I was born this way” carries much weight in the debate. Maybe the person saying that is right (although I suspect that in many cases they are not). We can all agree that the existence of same-sex attraction is an established fact. That is no matter of debate.

    It is how we act (or don’t act) upon that attraction, how we incorporate it into our life, which is at the core of the issue. I’m writing this as a Catholic in the Netherlands, so your experience may differ, but too often I notice that one’s sexual orientation is consider the defining characteristic of a person. People identify themselves simply by stating, “I’m Bob. I’m a homosexual.” From that follows the ‘logic’ that ‘Bob’ should do everything sexual he can think of, because not doing so diminishes him as a person. That is of course nonsense, but I fear too many people (consciously or not) follow this ‘logic’.

    The question remains: what am I called to do with what was given me? And the answer goes beyond what merely feels good for a while.

  19. teomatteo says:

    Being born with a disorder is not the same thing as being ‘born with a behavior’. Tendancies and very strong disordered tendancies demand our understanding to be sure but succumbing to unnatural behavior is not automatically the only or best option.

  20. greg the beachcomber says:

    We all get our crosses. What they’re called isn’t as important as how we bear them.

  21. lofstrr says:

    It is really very simple. Homosexuals do not tend to reproduce. It is not that they can’t. They could grit there teeth and get the job done if they decided too but, for the most part, they don’t tend to reproduce and pass their gay genes on to a new generation. Natural selection is therefore selecting against these genes. The gay gene is logically not the fittest gene. Therefore, if homosexuality is genetic and they don’t tend to pass the gene on, it must therefore be an abberation, a mutation. I doubt they want to be known as mutants.

  22. chironomo says:

    My problem with the argument as a whole is that, unlike the situation with an issue like race (where you are most certainly “born with it” and there is no real controversy about it), the issue of sexuality is bound up with an additional aspect of behavior as well as such things as “inclination” or “predisposition” etc…

    Even if one were to be biologically “gay”, it is nonetheless possible to only engage in heterosexual acts.

    It is also possible to be “non-gay” and engage in homosexual acts.

    My question is, if considering the above two cases, which is “gay” and which is not? Is it predisposition or actions that determine this?

    We are all born with desires and behaviors which seek them. A man born with the desire to have immense wealth is not a “bilogical millionaire”, and it would be futile for him to claim that it is his right to be one simply because he is born desiring it.

    My point is this… even if you are “born that way”, you have to choose to act that way, unless of course you resign yourself to being controlled by your desires.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    We are all born in Original Sin. Not being children of God is our natural state without Baptism and the Mercy of God.

    There has been years of study to find a “gay gene” and even pro-homosexual supporters in the medical field cannot find one. http://www.jpands.org/vol10no3/lehrman.pdf

  24. wolskerj says:

    my 2¢

    1. The “nature argument is ultimately just a high-tech version of “the Devil made me do it.” Substitute “paedophilia” for “homosexuality” and see how far the argument will run: “I was born this way. I have a desire to have sex with children. God made me this way. How dare you call me ‘disordered. I have a right to sexual fulfillment just like everyone else.”

    Natural or not, the real issue is whether our actions are right or wrong, good or evil. That issue can’t simply be sidestepped this way.

    2. The evidence for “nature” or at least the genetic argument seems remarkably thin. And it’s contradicted by equally good evidence against it, e.g. twin studies that show NO genetic correlation with sexual “orientation” even in genetically identical individuals.

    What genetic correlation may exist can be just as easily attributed to differences in libido. i.e. those with stronger libidos are more likely to experiment sexually.

  25. skellmeyer says:

    smallone is correct.

    In order to refute the “natural is good” argument, you also have to point out that homosexual activity is positively harmful. That’s why my column not only pointed out that “natural” is NOT the same as “good”, it then went on to document the actual harm homosexual action had upon its practitioners and on society as a whole.

    Otherwise the argument is “well, natural may not always be good, but it isn’t harmful in this case, so leave us alone.”

  26. Peggy R says:

    I am not sure that science has been able to provide a demarcation point between nature and nurture influences that produce an individual’s instincts and personality and such.

    While the homosexual activists don’t like it, I find myself relying on the comparison to alcoholism. Now, we really don’t know whether certain individuals are predisposed to alcoholism, but we can see how some folks might sadly fall into alcoholism as a result of some tough life conditions. [But not every body with a hard life does. Why? Hardwired personality types?]

    In any case, the inclination of an alcoholic to drink is not good. It is sinful and destructive to oneself and others. And people who have resolved to stop drinking need the constant support of one another and faith in God to stay sober. [I don’t wish to endorse the various approaches to “faith” that arise in AA these days. The basic text anticipated Christians and Protestants mostly, and encouraged folks to return to their faith with a renewed vigor.]

    I don’t see the homosexual inclination as being too different, whether hard-wired or not. It’s a temptation that must be kept in check like any other, hardwired or not. Those who suffer SSA need the mutual support and spiritual direction to resist the temptation to sin. And that is what I understand the Courage movement is about, and that it is based on the AA program of recovery with specific Catholic influences and practices.

  27. Andrew says:

    Lots of good arguments can be made (and many above are excellent) but it seems to me that at some point we have to acknowledge that beyond all reason something confronts us and we recognize it but we cannot explain it. We know that lust is wrong but there is no practical explanation. Let’s say that I lust for another person in my heart: nobody sees me, no one knows, no one is affected but me in the privacy of my mind. I know it is a sin, but how do I know that? And why is it a sin? And how do I know that God sees me and that my thoughts are displeasing to Him? If I didn’t have some inner compass to guide me I would not be guilty. Cats and dogs and pigeons are not morally responsible, but I am. It’s a given that as a human being I am not a blank slate: something had been written into my nature: something immutable to which I cannot take any exception. Fr. Hardon SJ said on some tape I’ve listened to once that chastity is a mystery. Only in heaven will we understand it fully. But in this world we have to trust that all men, suffering from the same titillations, have an appreciation for chastity. Somehow we have to dig deep and (as God’s instruments) strike the right chord in other people’s consciences.

  28. mibethda says:

    I am not certain that homosexuality should necessarily be viewed in monolithic terms. While I am not prepared to deny that some persons may either be born with those elements of personality which will eventually tend toward same sex attraction or acquire those personality characteristics at an early stage of their development as a infant or young child, I think that there is substantial cause to believe that a not insignificant number of persons who follow an active homosexual lifestyle do so as the result of youthful sexual encounters. It is well-established from statistical evidence that minors who suffer sexual abuse face a high likelihood that they will engage in deviant or non-standard sexual behavior themselves at a future date. There were even some small scale studies in the 60’s and 70’s that suggested that there was an increased likelihood that young males who experienced sexual encounters with older – though not always adult – males would assume a homosexual lifestyle as they approached or reached adulthood. I don’t believe, however, that this subject has been pursued in more recent times as the topic is viewed as inconvenient in some quarters. The usefulness of these older studies is somewhat limited by their scale and by the fact that respondents were not always as willing to openly discuss such matters as they might be today, a generation later. At an anecdotal level, my own experience has tended to support this fact. Over the past 20+ years, I have had the not very pleasant experience of defending several dozen abuse claims mostly brought against governmental agencies and schools (none of them Catholic). Several of these claims involved multiple alleged victims. While some victims or alleged victims were still in their teens or near teens at the time suit was brought, a large number had become adults or near adults before resolution. With few exceptions, those who had been abused in a homosexual encounters, by the time they approached adulthood, were pursuing a homosexual lifestyle, and those who had been abused in a heterosexual relationship were engaging in risky heterosexual behavior.
    Thus, while I would not necessarily rule out the possibility that someone might be born with same sex attraction – or develop it as a result of early childhood development, I think that there is good reason to believe that many practicing homosexuals have been drawn into that lifestyle by youthful experiences – usually with older youth or adults.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    Three members of my family were abused as children by priests and not one became a homosexual. In fact, all three have long and happy marriages and many, many children.

    What is wrong with psychological studies is that these start with deviancy and then try to prove that the deviancy is connected to whatever, while perfectly normal and healed individuals, either of Faith or with courage or both, have dealt with the problems of abuse.

    Because psychologists only deal with the abnormal, they tend to create statistics from a very small group. Society has allowed deviant sex and one of the reasons for the rise of homosexual behavior is that it is accepted.

  30. RC2 says:

    Or you could try Mark Shea’s argument, which has the advantage of getting around some of the emotional sensitivities with humor: here

  31. basilorat says:

    The fact that I was born with a slow metabolism doesn’t mean I have every right to get fat, be fat, is an excuse for fatness. It means I must adjust accordingly. Nor does it mean that I can eat the same as everyone else.

  32. When I was appointed to my present job as a school chaplain one of the classes I had to teach had an openly homosexual lad in it (he was only about 14!). From the start I resolved to treat him with the same respect as any other student and yet not shy away from teaching the Church’s teaching. Not easy but I have developed one argument to use that does not depend on any appeal to scripture or philosophy. Simply: Biologists tell us the species has a biological imperative to continure itself (hand on its genetic information) through sexual activiy. Thus men and women are attracted to each other. What use then to the species is a homosexual individual (if he/she is the product of natural/normal factors)? He/she has no desire for the opposite sex and will not normally hand on their genes. The question arises automatically: what’s wrong with them that nature is taking them out of the ‘progression’ of the species? That line of reasoning could take us in a very dark direction. I then point out that Catholic teaching sees homosexuality as a learned behaviour which falls far short of God’s plan. Instead of bringing a man and woman together to share their mutual love through conceiving children homosexuality turns the sexual act into its own end and teaches people to put themselves at the centre and not God. It’s always important to emphasize that while the Church considers homosexual acts as intrinsically evil (no situation or circumstances can make them good) we also are taught to treat everyone with respect, patience and kindness while speaking the truth in love. A lot of the young people I meet think that because the Church thinks the act is sinful and orientation is disordered that therefore homosexual persons are automatically damned. It’s very hard to get that out of their heads! Most go along with the ‘I was born this way’ argument not becuase it is persuasive but out of sympathy. Today nobody wants to be thought intolerant or prejudiced. Interesting post about a important topic!

  33. sejoga says:

    I’ve been reading Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited” which deals pretty extensively with issues relating (explicitly) to Catholicism and (more implicitly) homosexuality, and I think it interesting that I came across this passage just in the course of the last hour:

    Julia used to say, “Poor Sebastian. It’s something chemical in him.”

    That was the cant phrase of the time, derived from heaven knows what misconception of popular science. “There’s something chemical between them” was used to explain the overmastering hate or love of any two people. It was the old concept of determinism in a new form. I do not believe there was anything chemical in my friend.

    (Sebastian is the character who clearly struggles with tendencies to same-sex attraction, and deals with it by drinking to excess and cutting himself off from his family and their strong attachment to Catholicism.)

    I already stated above that I tend to favor the nature arguments over the nurture arguments explaining human behavior, but it’s worth pointing out that people these days have the idea that it’s a new debate that the Church has somehow failed to take into account. Already in the 1940s Waugh was treating it as a passé fad of popular science to dismiss behavior as “something chemical”, and highlights that the argument is really just a variation on a timeless supposition that we don’t really have control over our spiritual lives and physical behavior.

    I’m sure this argument that homosexuality is permissible because it’s “how I was born” was tired even when Moses came down from the mountain with God’s commandment against it. Part of the reason Christ even instituted his Church was to give us a foundation for looking at these types of issues from the eternal perspective of God’s will rather than through the narrow lens of “misconceptions of popular science” and the like.

  34. sejoga says:

    Dang, the third paragraph up there is supposed to be italicized as well, but I didn’t realize that a line break would end the italics.

  35. SimonDodd says:

    I agree with Mark01: the best response to the “nature v. nurture” question is to recognize that it’s a red herring. The issue is conduct, not disposition. It really doesn’t matter whether my disposition to glance twice at the gorgeous redhead in the low-cut top comes from nature or nurture; it’s by my conduct—whether I act on that disposition—that I sin vel non. The origin of the disposition simply isn’t relevant to the question of whether acting on it is sinful. So I would reject the question as a diversion (if not a trap).

  36. SimonDodd says:

    Incidentally, what (beyond incredulity) can one do with someone who imagines a dichotomy between “religious” issues and “moral” issues, as Silva does in the video?

  37. Supertradmum says:

    sejoga,

    You misunderstand Waugh’s novel and his character. The chemical thing referred to by Julia is alcoholism, not homosexuality. There is not indications of homosexuality, and, non-British readers misunderstand the “crushes” young adults can get on members of the same sex, especially in public and same-sex schools, which even can happen or did, in Catholic all girls and all boys schools, which does not indicate homosexuality, but an affinity with one’s own gender, before one grows up and discovers the opposite sex. Sebastian’s problems are alcoholism and what is normally called a dependent personality disorder. Waugh’s character is meant to be a person who causes sympathy, and Sebastian’s end, which is only prophesied, by a monk, does not indicate a homosexual, but a person who does not fit in for many other reasons other than sexual.

  38. Larry R. says:

    I wrote the following on my blog:

    Now, scientifically, it has not been established that a person can be born gay. Researchers have been frantically searching for a ‘gay gene’ for years and have not found one. There does seem to be some correlation in terms of homosexual tendencies among siblings, but that could just as easily be due to upbringing and environment as a genetic cause. So, from the outset, it is not certain that having strong homosexual tendencies is quite like being born blind or with cerebral palsy. But, the prefect was simply stating Church doctrine: homosexual tendencies are fundamentally disordered and homosexual acts are intrinsically sinful. I think the relation to addiction is one that may hold some merit: there is no proof of one being born with an addictive personality, although it could be a factor among many. But let’s say that addiction is 100% genetic, and let’s say homosexuality is the same thing. What does that change? It is a sin to be drunk or loaded on drugs. That I have a very strong genetic or other predisposition to get drunk or loaded might mitigate some of my culpability, it is still sinful. Having a tendency to get drunk or high all the time is inherently disordered. But the fact that one may be born an addict does not suddenly mean they can go crazy getting loaded all the time and the Church will be just fine with it, “because they were born that way.” And there is no question that addiction is a fundamental, deep seated part of one’s personality, and once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. Not so different from the situation ascribed to homosexuality, at least on some level.

    And we can take the analogy a step further. Certainly, the Church spreads its arms wide to welcome addicts into Her fold, but I don’t know of any churches that have programs to keep addicts in active addiction, that embrace the “addictive lifestyle” and march in “addiction pride” parades. Why not? Isn’t this discrimatory? Shouldn’t we have Church groups catering to those in active addiction who have no desire to reform? Shouldn’t we have progams for parents that convince them that addiction is something their child was born with, and therefore nothing can be done about it? In fact, wouldn’t it cause more harm to “reform” an addict than to embrace their crazy, lovable drunk, drugged up ways?

    Any sane person would say, absolutely not. That’s crazy. But such things are argued within the Church in order to support a “change” in Church doctrine regarding homosexuality. I don’t think the analogy is too unreasonable. There are certain acts that are sinful. Homosexuals do have a particularly heavy cross to bear, but so do those who are called to the single life, and, thus, celibacy, as well as addicts who must maintain their sobriety, and others. We do not have “fornication pride” or “adulterer pride” groups in our Catholic churches, but I am certain that one day science will “prove” that we’re all born to have lots of sex partners and this idea of marital fidelity is an outmoded, antiquated construct.

    Church doctrine on homosexuality has been consistent for over 2000 years. In God’s prior revelation, before Christ came to establish the last age, prohibitions against homosexual acts were clear. It is only in the last few decades that there have been serious efforts to change this unchangeable doctrine. Those who cannot accept that God might create them having homosexual tendencies, and at the same time expect them not to act on those tendencies, have a great deal of company. Every human being has innate tendencies that are contrary to the Law of God. The answer is not to scream at God for making you this way (the created telling the Creator He did it wrong?) and demand that His Church change to accept your preferences. The answer is the universal call to holiness. The answer is to do the best you can and live for God, by the Truth He has revealed through His Church.

    http://veneremurcernui.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/chilean-cardinal-draws-ire-for-upholding-church-doctrine/

  39. Supertradmum says:

    PS Anthony Blanche, the real homosexual in Brideshead, is not a sympathetic character at all, but one seem as depraved and totally given over to vice. Blanche is there are a character to contrast with Sebastian and Charles.

    sejoga,

    I do not know if you are American.

    American men cannot understand or have a hard time understanding deep friendship without sexual overtones, which is why many people also do not understand John Henry Cardinal Newman and Augustus John. It is a failing of the American macho tradition.

  40. Supertradmum says:

    seen, not seem and as, not are-sorry.

  41. Lurker 59 says:

    Part of the underlying issue is a severe misunderstanding of love, affection, and attraction.

    There is in today’s modern society a very real notion that if a person is attracted towards X then the fundamental pinnacle outcome of that attraction is to have sex with X. We are attracted towards that which we perceive as good and valuable in other things. We have a natural inclination and affinity towards the good, though due to the fall our ability to order our actions according to the hierarchy of the good has been greatly damaged (this idea is directly opposed to the Protestant notion that we are inclined and have affinity towards the bad – hence everyone sins because that is their natural state. This idea has major repercussions in the homosexual debate for as is often the case with modernity, modernism and Protestantism have the same presuppositions. Thus in a debate about nature and homosexuality not only does one have to overcome the modernistic notions but also the comparative “Christian” Protestant responses to the topic and their joint presuppositions.)

    Again, the there is a serious assumption that the only proper response towards affection towards another person is to have sex with that other person, for sex is seen is the end goal towards which attraction and mutual affinity between persons is directed. It is not strictly crassly materialistic, for there is very much the notion that the only way to have a deep “spiritual” communion with another person is to engage is sexual activity with that individual — anything else causes the individual and the relationship to not reach fulfillment. Lack of achieving personal fulfillment, understood as giving oneself sexually towards that which one is attracted to is seen as a serious failure and quite often as a character flaw. Sex is expected. Here I would add another example that I have found. In some rather strict Christian households (observed personally from Protestant ATI families) have a tendency to teach their daughters that they cannot have attraction towards a male unless they are practically married (late engagement process) because the outcome of all attraction is necessarily sex within the context of marriage.

    In the above we have joined the homosexual disorder with the heterosexual disorders (promiscuity, adultery, etc.) THIS IS IMPORTANT for it does not segregate “homosexuals” as their own classification but places them within the context of the human family and points out their issues as something that heterosexuals share equally.

    What needs to be done is to completely re teach what attraction is and to break the connectivity between attraction and sex.

    When we are speaking about the disordered attraction in homosexuality, what is disordered is not that Steve thinks that Stan is awesome, wants to get to know Stan, and wants to build an abiding friendship with Stan, or anything of the like. What is precisely disordered is Steve’s view that the outcome of said attraction MUST be sexual in nature in order for the friendship to bring about personal fulfillment. This is the exact same thing that we need to teach Aaron about his relationship with Erin – that it is not necessary for his attraction and friendship with her to end up being sexual in order to be fulfilled.

    Granted there is a lot of other things that individuals with homosexual attractions are dealing with, but the above I see as a fundamental building block because it is treating the roots inclusively as something that both “homosexual” and “heterosexuals” deal with.

  42. lmgilbert says:

    Even though the “homosexual gene” does not exist, still it is triumphant.

    Fr. Z writes, “The point is that sometimes people try to justify their sinful homosexual behavior with the argument that they were made to act that way.”

    To me this is an amazing statement, because the fact is that this argument has thoroughly pervaded the entire culture, and in fact is no longer even an argument. It is the “received wisdom” of all but a minority. “They were made that way.” Period.

    Is it enough at this point to be right or to have the pithiest arguments? Probably not. IF this is going to be rolled back, it will probably not be accomplished in the same way that it was foisted upon us, through the mass media, since that mass media are largely in the possession of homosexuals and their sympathizers. Even while they are creating an ad for dish soap they can work in something that will advance their cause.

    It is very doubtful that the rapidly diminishing numbers of those who still have their heads screwed on straight on this issue have enough money to create an adequate anti-propaganda in the conventional outlets.

    However, with some imagination, some organization and a lot of zeal we could respond adequately in a substantially labor intensive campaign of posters, bumperstickers, and hand made signs posted along the freeway. For examples, see freewayblogger.com. Obviously, his enthusiams are not ours, but he and many others like him are not letting lack of funds get in the way of getting their message out. What would Catholicfreewayblogging look like?

    That plus the judgments of God may bring us to our senses.

  43. moon1234 says:

    You could see if this person supports planned parenthood, et. al. When this person says yes, which they eventually will. They you can tell them that under her ideal the homosexual would be killed in utero as an abberation to normal human behavior. I am not advocating this mind you.

    What if in the future it is discovered that someone born with a specific gene is predisposed to violence, alcoholism, pedophillia, etc. Should we change societal normals to allow for this “natural” behavior? The natural behavior for lions is to kill their prey or the weakest among them. We are not animals.

    We have sociatal norms that are there for the good of all humankind. Changing the norms because someone was born with a genetic defect is UN-NATURAL! If anything we would work towards correcting that genetic defect. Just like any child born with a disabling genetic defect we should work to correct it, not just say it is natural and let it loose to destory our society.

  44. Supertradmum says:

    Lurker 59,

    Your point about attraction vs. sex is what I tried to address in the misunderstanding about Brideshead Revisted. Attraction is a natural indication of many things, including a lead into friendship, but many get it confused with sexual attraction, only one type. We may be in such a post-sexualized age that normal friendships cannot be seen without suspicion.

    The only persons who need to be truly concerned are not puritanical parents, but religious and priests, who are not supposed to have “intimate” or “special” relationship because of the the need for holy objectivity. Such an objectivity may be a gift given to some lay people as well, but usually it is the gift of the celibate. Indeed, all of us are called to celibacy and chastity at some points in our lives, but denying attractions can lead to serious interruption of the growing up process. I assume that none of us would have had close friends in high school or college, without some type of attraction, and totally non-sexual.

  45. TravelerWithChrist says:

    SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE IS A MORTAL SIN.
    Why can’t the Church stand up and say that?? Sex between 2 men or women is still sex and is still wrong.. It doesn’t sound complicated, but I am coming to understand that they don’t see it as a sexual activity!!??

    Heterosexuals shouldn’t do it; neither should gays.
    (Perhaps that’s part of why they want to legalize gay marriage – they think it will put at ease the feeling in their head they won’t admit to that it’s wrong).

  46. Supertradmum says:

    Continuing the subject of the thread. When I was in college, I was studying philosophy and theology and the only girl in classes of about 21 boys, or young men, most of whom were seminarians taking courses at this particular college. I slowly but surely found out that seven of my best friends who were seminarians were acting as homosexual-almost exactly one-third of my class. I discussed this point with the ones that were open to discussion, five of the seven, at length over a period of three years. Two had been abused, severely, by men as adolescents and did not want to be homosexual, but had been confused. Two were totally depraved, one bi-sexual, and bent on manipulating people for their own needs, including sexual. The other three were rather ambivalent, and seemed to have fallen into it because of the seminary culture. Some dropped that proclivity and were going to lead heterosexual lives, as that was their real choice, having been healed of confusion. None, not one, said they were born that way, but stated they were made that way because of the minor seminary culture or other reasons.

    The more recent idea of “nature” rather than “nuture” is a more recent, last twenty-five years or so, construct, which homosexuals now use to justify behavior not accepted in earlier days in Christian cultures. This construct has been helped by the American Medical Association which dropped the idea of homosexuality being abnormal and a mental problem in 1973 (one reason why the priest scandals became worse). Once society began to be more accepting of this type of behavior, more men and women claimed to be homosexual or lesbian. The more a society allows for this type of behavior, the more it is accepted, the more young people will see the depravity as an option.

  47. Roman says:

    I have a very close friend I’ve known for about 25 years who is a homosexual (I’ll call him “T”). T and I knew each other from music school and our love for music was a bonding element of our friendship. I had known him for about 2 years before I learned that he gay. The reason he ended up telling me was because he felt like it was something he did not want to hide. He realized that he could have lost our friendship (I’m “straight”) telling me, but he took the risk. I respected that and also respected that he did keep certain things private that he rightfully did need to keep private. I’ve never seen him with anyone. He’s been “single” for as long as I have known him. We have been close friends since the mid 80’s.

    I can say that I’ve had quite a clear window into what he is like as a person and somewhat of what it is like for a person who is gay. Because he is a close friend, I have been able to ask him very direct questions (without scandalizing myself). He’s also answered honestly. I have no reason to believe he would feel like he needs to lie about anything.

    I asked him if his “orientation” was something he always had. As in, was he ever attracted to girls when he was a boy. He told me he never was for as long as he can remember his childhood. I don’t doubt him, so I tend to believe, that at least with some men and women, that an attraction of this type must be the result of some aberration of a biological or psychological mechanism. I can’t qualify any analysis other than to guess this though.

    I do know one thing. We need to pray for anyone like T, as we would for anyone else. I want to share something that surprised me one day. T is a self proclaimed “Buddhist”. I myself have not made any secret of my devotion to the Catholic faith to him and he is often in my prayers. One day we were talking about faith and he told me he had been praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I was quietly stunned and I asked him what prompted him to do that (being “Buddhist”). He told me he remembered how I had expressed my own devotion to the chaplet and something drew him to try praying it. He told me he had received a “favor” when he prayed the chaplet continued to pray it regularly. Not long after that he told me he had began to pray the Rosary as well (and watching EWTN). At first I didn’t try to lean on him about the possibility of becoming catholic, so I just continue to pray for him.

    I finally asked him one day if he had considered becoming catholic. He told me there was not much he felt that he could not accept about our faith, except the Churches strictures concerning sexual morality (sounds like other Catholics we know). I told him to reflect often upon the reality that the Catholic Church was founded and is nourished by (Christ’s) sacrifice. That the central principle of the catholic faith is that of sacrifice. Also, I especially encouraged him to continue to pray the Dvine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary. (He of course remains in my prayers)

    I also find it interesting that during unguarded moments in conversation he has admitted that there seems not to be anything natural about homosexual relationships. Interesting.

    Sorry for the long post.

  48. Supertradmum says:

    Roman, I am so glad you shared this, especially the comment that your friend admitted that there seems not to be anything natural about homosexual relations. This has been my experience as well, as some of the homosexuals I have known have chosen their sexual behavior because it is NOT normal and they wanted to be abnormal, that is depraved. Some people do chose abnormal or depraved behavior for many, many reasons, but being “natural” would not be one. It is hard for some people to understand that there are those who knowingly chose lifestyles because these are dangerous and wrong. There must be some type of thrill or high from being outside the norm, against nature, on purpose. People I have met who are witches sometimes fall into this category-they want to be spiritually different on purpose-rebellious may be the word.

  49. C. says:

    I think the best way to refute it is to live a chaste, celibate life.

  50. JonM says:

    Skellmeyer and C are both right.

    I would add that soy, hormonal additives, feminized culture/bad male role models in childhood, and plastics categorically mess up orientation. Obviously not all are susceptible to this (and not all homosexual inclination stems from these causes). But to some degree, some people have a hugely greater proclivity to this sin.

    But so what. It’s as if I tried to force the Church to accept my base passion to want to have sex with many different women. Seems to come natural and is enflamed by a culture whose god is money (thus will not regulate sexual expression at all.). But I know my proclivity is still evil.

    The difference between sinners is that some (both those with heterosexual and homosexual disorders) try through Mass, prayer, Confession, etc to overcome, by the grace of God, the sin. Others demand acceptance.

  51. Supertradmum says:

    JonM,

    Soy?? I cannot eat it because of thyroid medication, but I am afraid the connection between soy and homosexual behavior leaves me baffled.

  52. sejoga says:

    Supertradmum,

    Please don’t patronize me. Evelyn Waugh himself appears to have had a number of homosexual flings as a college-aged man, and it was not uncommon in the British university system and boarding school system historically. C.S. Lewis wrote a chapter of his autobiography that dealt extensively with the homosexual subculture of his years at boarding school. Various homosexual sex acts were even once named for the universities where they were most commonly performed. The Marchmain family is loosely derived from the Lygon family which had a notorious problem with homosexuality during the time period Waugh set the novel. One of the prostitutes in the novel when the boys get arrested calls them “fairies”. The homosexual implications may be merely implications, but they’re there, and they’re homosexual in nature.

    My degree is in English and I’m quite familiar with British literature, so I don’t appreciate being dismissed as an American rube who “can’t understand” platonic friendship between men. What seems to be much more common is people who read literature and find something distasteful about it, so they explain it away as being “something else”. It’s “not homosexuality,” it’s “alcoholism”… when clearly it’s both. Even devout and conservative Catholics like Waugh can have something of substance to say about things that go against the Church’s outlook on the world. Sigrid Undset wrote about a medieval Norwegian woman falling pregnant in a brothel while she was engaged to another man, going against her strong Catholic upbringing (Kristin Lavransdatter). Flannery O’Connor wrote a story about a Protestant man mistaking his feelings of lust as feelings of hatred for a criminal nymphomaniac woman his mother brings into their home, implicitly because he lacks the Catholic insight on the fallenness of all human nature (“The Comforts of Home”). It should not be shocking that Waugh would discuss homosexuality in a veiled and discreet, but largely unambiguous, manner.

    In fact, you’ve fallen into the parallel but opposite problem to what I was talking about. Modern day determinists like to imagine that they’ve discovered something “new” that the Church hasn’t considered. Many modern “traditionalists” like to whitewash over the fact that many of these contentious issues have always been contentious because they’re part of the human condition. These discussions are not because of being “in such a post-sexualized age that normal friendships cannot be seen without suspicion”. It has nothing to do with “the age”. Look to the cry of Cicero: “O tempora! O mores!” Even the ancients thought their own problems with morality were something new, something reflective of “the age”. Rubbish.

    As I said, these discussions were being had even when Moses came down from the mountain. These debates were even ancient then. Homosexuality is not something that sprung up from modernist rejections of traditional morality, or American machismo gone wrong, or anything like that. There were Sebastian Flytes struggling with their homosexuality and how to deal with it in Waugh’s youth as in mine, and they will still be there in my grandchildren’s day.

    To innocently avert your eyes from implications of homosexuality in Waugh’s novel is to deny the eternal nature of the struggle as much as the modern homosexual’s dismissal of the Church’s teaching from Waugh’s day.

  53. sejoga says:

    And sorry to belabor the point, Supertradmum, but the “chemical” thing is clearly a reference, even if a veiled reference, to attractions Sebastian has, not his alcoholism. Note the sentence: “There’s something chemical between them” was used to explain the overmastering hate or love of any two people.

    “Chemical” imbalances, like “humorous” dispositions in medieval popular science or “genetic” predispositions in the contemporary era, were used to explain away people’s temperaments, affections, behaviors, etc., not to refer to having imbibed too much drink.

  54. Supertradmum says:

    sejoga,

    I taught Brideshead as a novel for at least six years at ND. I did thorough research and found that the idea of Sebastian as a homosexual was the least favorite interpretation among straights. Men can have attractions and deep friendships that are not sexual, despite the television series emphasis on the homo-erotic. The idea of deep male friendships without sex is every old, and includes saints. What I have written is not a new idea. Again, the Blanche character is the homosexual who has given himself over to depravity. However, I shall be more professional and polite than you and beg that we must agree to disagree. I also have extensive experience in the British boarding school life. I know the culture, but I also know what seems is not always what is.

  55. Supertradmum says:

    By the way, Waugh converted to Catholicism and then wrote Brideshead. It would be wrong to assume he continued in any type of seriously depraved sin after his conversion. And, as a writer, he never condoned sin in a sympathetic character in any of the novels I have read (most), but was satirical about sin and bluntly critical of modern, sexual mores. What one is in one’s youth does not determine what one is in later life.

  56. There is one obvious fact that nobody has mentioned, but which must surely be taken into account: homosexual acts are unequivocally condemned in Scripture. That seems to me to blast the whole “nature” argument out of the water, though I realize that it will not convince those who do not accept Scripture as the inspired Word of God. God allows us to be faced with temptation, but I cannot think that He would hardwire into anybody the desire for acts that He so strongly and explicitly condemns.

  57. Kerry says:

    If the proposition is “It is natural therefore it is good” is the premise, I would ask then why is pedophilia not also ‘good’. I realize this argument then move into regions of consent, but then I will ask, “Why are there age of consent laws”? The picky question to ask here is, “Why consent at age 16, or 18, but not 15 years,364 days”? Alternately one might ask the homosexuals if promiscuity is wrong only for heterosexuals? Robbie George’s questions are if ‘Gender is irrelevant to marriage, by what principles are polyandry and polyamory to be prohibited? It seems to me that once human sexual relations move away from their purpose of procreation,and are merely the means to physical pleasure, (“I was born this way”), then excesses become virtuous.

  58. Supertradmum says:

    Kerry,

    Don’t go there. NAMBLA wants an age of consent at twelve and pushes for “natural” pedophilia. You are absolutely correct that this nature argument defines all depravity and makes all acceptable.

    Also, your points prove that what is not natural is sought because it is not natural, and is this not the sin of Lucifer? “I shall not serve.”

  59. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    The question “nature vs. nurture” has not been answered yet.

    I can’t think of any theological or philosophical argument which would exclude the “nature” possibility (correct me if I am wrong).

    If such a (theological or philosophical) argument really doesn’t exist, the question remains (and will remain) on the empirical level. In that case it will never be answered definitely. Empirical
    sciences (i.e., all sciences except for theology, philosophy and mathematics) never achieve definite truth. Their results are always prone to refutations (one counterexample is enough).

    Hence, if “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” is discussed, the “nature” possibility must be considered.

    If it must be considered, let’s consider it.

    Suppose that XY was born as homosexual. A “pure nature”, no other influence (yes, an unrealistic assumption, but – just suppose).

    Let’s analyze the statement “I was born this way and therefore it is okay”.

    Under our assumption, “I was born this way” means “God created me this way” or at least “God allowed it” (why God allows this and many other things is a different question…but even if we don’t understand, we can, everybody with his own problems, join St. Paul in Col 1:24). What God does or allows is okay (although the meaning of “okay” is a bit fuzzy). It means that, under our assumption, “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” is a true statement.

    But…what does the statement really say?

    (Father, I hope that your “what does the … really say” is not copyrighted and that I can freely use it :-) ).

    What does “I was born this way” mean? “This way” wants to say that XY was born with a “built-in” attraction to persons of the same sex. The statement says that the attraction (the attraction, nothing more) is ok. Exactly that says the Church, if we put “not a sin = ok”.

    But, as any other human being, XY was born as a baby. Most probably he was crying. Obviously, XY was not practising homosexuality at his birth. Therefore, the word “it” in “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” can’t refer to practising homosexuality.

    Hence, if the word “it” in “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” stands for practising homosexuality, the statement “I was born this way and therefore it is okay” is nothing but a false subjective justification of XY’s way of life. It contains a (not so) hidden false statement that “an attraction/wish/inclination/tendency/… gives the right to realize the attraction/wish/inclination/tendency/…”.

    So far the common sense. In addition, an analogy.

    Let XY be blind. He wishes to be a bus driver. Technically, he can drive a bus. He can use his hands and feet to manipulate (and pedipulate? :-)) ) the steering wheel and the pedals. But, of course, the job is out of the question for him. Inter alia, a blind person will never get a driving licence, because the authorities
    require – again inter alia – reasonably good sight. Without a driving licence, driving is illegal. The question whether XY was born blind, or whether he was born with weak sight and slowly lost it, or whether he lost sight suddenly in an accident, doesn’t play any role.
    Only when the person satisfies all conditions (e.g., he gains sight after an operation), he can get the driving licence and become a driver (and then he must respect all traffic rules).
    And even if I were convinced that blind people should be given driving licences (which would be, let’s say, a misjudge of driving),
    the authority decides and must be obeyed. I have no right to issue driving licences.

    Similarly, a necessary condition for a legal sexual intercourse
    is matrimony. Even though homosexuals are technically able to engage in sexual acts, their sexual activity is illegal (and the Holy Scripture uses moch stronger words). The question “nature vs. nurture” doesn’t play any role. The authority – the Catholic church – teaches that only a man and a woman can marry. A homosexual can try to change (with a help of prayers, fasting, medicine, psychology, etc.). If s/he succeeds, s/he can marry. But also
    within marriage all moral “traffic rules” of the Catholic church must be respected.
    And even if somebody is wrongly convinced that the Church should marry pairs of the same sex (which is a severe misjudge of marriage), the Church decides and is to be obeyed.

  60. Patikins says:

    Marcin:

    You asked:

    “While not endorsing recreational drug use, particularly among youth, I must ask whether recreational use of beer and wine is harmful. (Habitual certainly is.) I guess much depends on the definition of ‘recreational’.”

    I had in mind non-alcohol drugs that are illegal (here in the U.S.) or are misused prescription drugs. Some people do not see the harm in abusing drugs and want to legalize them. The abuse of alcohol (i.e. drinking excessively) falls in the same category in my opinion. Moderate use of alcohol can be good for many people.

    My point was that the permissiveness of the relativist culture encourages (or at least does not discourage) people to engage in many different behaviors that is not healthy (physically, emotionally and spiritually).

  61. Andrew says:

    On a practical level, one thing that bothers me a lot is women who befriend gay men and treat them as some sort of celebrities and shower them with lots of affection and approbation. They exacerbate the problem. Men, even gay men, are very sensitive to female approval/disapproval and women can do a lot by not demonstrating any sense of amusement or approval of gay men. If anything, women should be deeply offended by gay men going around and making a parody of all things feminine.

  62. cblanch says:

    Someone mentioned soy earlier in relation to hormones…maybe it’s because soy increases estrogen levels which is found in higher concentration in females. Also, studies have shown that estrogen pollution in our water is on the rise due to all of the women taking birth control…this is not filtered out of our tap water. Here is a link to a study that shows how these hormones in the water have affected the reproduction characteristics of fish downstream from a sewage plant in Boulder, CO. http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=42520 It is interesting.

    We are dealing with homosexuality in our family (please pray for my uncle), so I have been researching this topic a lot lately. Here is a link to an outreach website that offers root cause suggestions…I found it interesting that my uncle has fits this description to a tee. http://www.peoplecanchange.com/Root_Problems.htm

  63. JonM says:

    SuperTradMom,

    World Net Daily had a running serious that got into some pretty hard science dealing with soy.

    It’s not so much that it will change hormones in any quantity; rather, the amount is important. It has become a craze among some to guzzle soy milk and substitute soy for other ingredients (monstly because it is cheap filler.)

    Some researchers, who I believe have thoroughly proven their point, have produced theories that too much soy does tinker with our hormones. The contention is that after some point, estrogen levels in men start to get out of control.

    Soy can be good, but in small amounts. Personally I’m not interested in the plant estrogen much at all and think that its use in Asia has been far overstated, but obviously soy is not the culprit for all or even most men who fight homosexual temptation.

  64. Please… let’s move from the SOY issue. This is closed.

  65. revueltos67 says:

    Couldn’t “I was born this way so it’s OK” be restated as “it’s OK to sin if you’re tempted to do so”? Further, the more strongly you’re tempted the more OK it is. But isn’t that an absurd argument? The morality or immorality of an act is independent of a given person’s inclination toward it. We’re often inclined to evil acts and disinclined to good ones.

    A number of people have given good counterexamples, for instance ghlad at 11:36 cites: “I was born angry, and often times, I wish I could take a brick to the face of people who anger me.” “But you can’t do that. It would be wrong. It would be murder.” “But I was born that way…”

    As smallone at 1:01 notes: The counterargument to that is often “But you are arguing for the right to harm others because of the way you are. We are not harming anybody”.

    It seems the answer to that kind of statement is not to begin arguing about whether homosexual acts are or aren’t harmful. That’s really letting yourself be suckered into changing the subject since, at this point, the discussion is about whether same sex attraction makes same sex sexual acts OK. Instead, the answer to that kind of counterargument is to thank the person for making your point! They’ve just explicitly admitted that what’s important is the morality of the act, irrespective of the inclination to it and thus that it’s irrelevant whether they were “born this way” or not.

    Once that’s established, i.e. once the “born this way” argument is out of the way, it makes sense to move on to all the natural law/biblical/tradition arguments about the morality of homosexual acts in and of themselves.

  66. I owned and operated a Catholic bookstore for 13 years, and like a priest in the confessional heard many stories of sin and spiritual conflict.
    Rex was a regular customer. As an actor he had appeared in almost 60 movies. He retired from the business to care for his invalid mother.
    Over the years, we became good friends. Rex always purchased the mystical classics, such as St. John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, etc, and had a very deep spirituality.
    Early on in our friendship he admitted that he considered himself to be a homosexual. He had been living the life of a social hermit, because he sincerely believed that homosexual activity was morally wrong. He believed that he had been given a cross to bear, and that if he were to get to heaven, he had to live a celibate life.
    In one way, I felt sorry for him; in another, I admired his courage and respected him. To Rex the gain of heaven was everything.
    Each of us are given crosses to bear, how we deal with them, shows the depth of our love for God.

  67. mndad says:

    I think Father is right this will continue to be a very important issue for our church.
    And I sense that Father understands his fellow american better than i do – but as a non American I continue to be amazed how much this wonderful nation likes change.
    Currently we all witness a shift towards more acceptance of homosexuals.
    Arguably the church has been there for a while – arguably the church has always been a rather
    comfortable environment for person with same sex attraction since the societal pressure to progreate can be sidestepped for celibate Priests, monks and nuns.
    it will continue to be interesting and I do not think any slam dunk type arguments will emerge.
    Catholic Parents of children with same sex tendencies will make sure that they can continue to love and embrace their children. Same for quite a few of us with gay friends and colleagues.

  68. TonyLayne says:

    Check out the website for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) for more information and links on the “nature v. nurture” argument.

    The fact is, although the essentialist (“born that way”) argument continues to be the default position/received wisdom of the APA and NIMH, there is very little evidence that SSA has any biological basis. Frankly, it’s too common (because too easy) to retroject one’s adult perspective and motivations into one’s childhood, to alter or even repress memories that might otherwise countervail one’s self-image/operating rationale. And the “born that way” argument seems to offer an ironclad excuse not to change; nowhere is it written that rationalizations have to be logical and philosophically deep, so long as they offer comfort.

    Science is on our side … even when many scientists aren’t.

  69. thesheepcat says:

    As a former gay activist, I’ve had to deal with this question frequently.

    Not that I am entirely free of homosexual temptation now, but it has been many years since I stopped defining myself by a gay identity.

    I was prepared to remain celibate for the rest of my life if necessary. However, through therapy and Eucharistic Adoration and the Rosary and other helps, I was blessed to find myself attracted to women. One woman in particular made quite an impression. Mrs Sheepcat and I are now happily married.

    Though in the old days I didn’t hold precisely that I had been “born that way,” I used to insist quite vehemently that being gay was a fixed part of my essence. Time and prayer and sacrificial “offering it up” on the part of my now-deceased father eventually proved me wrong, thanks be to God. So how many people can say with certainty that they’re born that way?

    This doesn’t mean, I hasten to add, that all, or even most, people who face homosexual temptations will come to experience substantial orientation change in this lifetime. But even if homosexual inclinations were necessarily a permanent condition, that still wouldn’t mean anyone had to give in to them.

    In 2006, at which time I didn’t know if I would ever marry, I wrote this post about the Catholic Catechism’s teaching on human nature and sexuality. I copied it to my own blog shortly before our courtship began.
    http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/the_sheepcat/2008/07/born-that-way.html

    One caution: let’s recall that the Catechism says homosexuality’s “psychological genesis remains largely unexplained” (CCC 2357). When we challenge the many people who believe that a gay gene has already been proven, let’s not leave ourselves vulnerable by making claims against “gay genes” in a way that goes beyond the evidence. Traditional moral teaching does not require us to discount the possibility that genetic factors predispose some people to homosexual attraction.

    In the end, correct arguments will go only so far. For a long time I dismissed the possibility that the Church spoke the truth about homosexuality. What opened my heart and mind was unconditional love.

  70. nzcatholic says:

    As a catholic that expereinces deep seated homosexual tendacies I want to throw my two cents in.
    I see such attractions as the cross that God has given me to carry, part of original sin. But by my own actions of being involved in “gay” culture and having alot of homosexual activity I have made that cross heavier.
    I dont think I was born this way however, I think due to not having a father and having a very strong Mother who overly protected me can be thrown into the mix of why I have the attractions I expereince.
    Also I was a boy , went to an all boys school but I never felt like a boy. I always felt different. That was because I was insecure with my own masculinity, I come from a Rugby loving family yet I was the only one who didnt even like watching the game let alone playing it.
    Is it ok because I am like this to have sex with men? NO as dispite my attractions sin is still sin and its not a natural vice like alcohol or tabacco or even girls but an unnatural vice. Even though I may have homosexual attractions God is not forcing me to have sex with men, that is my own will not his.

  71. pfreddys says:

    I think the worldly argument boils down to: If I have no choice but to act this way it cannot be a sin as I’m not responsible.
    There are many things which argue against this one of which is the witness of so many people leading celebate lives. The whole MSM media wall to wall coverage of the clerical abuse charges was timed to first try to knock out the Church from the whole homosexual “marriage” debate, but also to leave the impression in peoples minds that celebacy leads to perversion.

  72. Rob Cartusciello says:

    If homosexuals are “born this way”, the reverse corollary is that all heterosexuals are “born this way”. If both statements are true, why would bisexuals exist?

    Furthermore, the “born this way” equation does not account for homosexual activity in ancient Greek and Roman culture – where men slept with boys and women. It also does not explain why, though homosexual activity was condoned, it was discouraged.

  73. Okay, this is my very simplistic attitude towards this whole thing: we are created as either man or woman.
    For whatever reason (biological considerations may be, in fact, something to consider; with the present findings, it seems,no, nevertheless) some men and some women find themselves sexually attracted to the same gender.
    There are all kinds of studies that indicate that “nurture”, i.e., the way that the individual is raised, with all of the variables and existential realities present…in other words, over-bearing mother, distant father, lack of proper relationships with the same sex, inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex (too much identification with either female or male sexual identity) can “form” one to be attracted to the “same sex” for developmental reasons (lack of proper fathering; lack of peer-acceptance; coddling with the mother or female relationships).
    If it’s genetic or if it’s lack of proper development, who cares?
    Homosex is not going to fulfill anyone; it’s going to destroy society…
    we have to be compassionate, yes; we have to offer help and assistance, yes (esp. in this environment of complete sexual “anarchy”).
    But marriage between two men or two women?
    When has this EVER been the answer? History shows the opposite. We have to reach out and assist our brothers and sisters who suffer, mightily, I might add, from this affliction;
    but to somehow “canonize” or “regularize” this as normal?
    No way.

  74. thesheepcat: What opened my heart and mind was unconditional love.

    Could give me few words on what you thought of the pieces by Fr. Rodriquez and Bishop Ochoa?

  75. admoni says:

    Mark01: “The only argument I would make is that it does not matter if you were made that way or not. … we are supposed to follow God and with his Grace rise above our animal insticts…”

    This is the only argument that makes sense to me. What is wrong with homosexual activity? Would it be right to say that it is on par with any sexual activity outside of sex in wedlock? I’d argue that homosexual sex is not a sin in the sense of the word that would paint the homosexual as an evil hobgoblin, but that this act is a sin in that it is a purposeless animal activity. God laid out the path we must follow and that path does not include engaging purposeless sexual activity. If you want to follow God you have to cast those desires aside for something greater.

  76. janetinSanDiego says:

    A conversation I had with a self-professed “gay Catholic” went very well. He was calling to complain about a full-page ad for Sienna in the newspaper I worked for at the time. By the grace of God, I listened to his complaint. Then, I explained, with respect and dignity, that the Church in her wisdom calls him to chastity, just as I am called to chastity. When he realized I was serious there were more questions, and he never did cancel his subscription. He left the call with the contact info for Courage, the faithful Catholic ministry to those in the lifestyle. The notion that there were equal rules to chastity for all men and women was news to him. The “you’re okay in your lifestyle” ministries are feeding the ignorance. His people are starving for lack of knowledge of Him. Courage chaplains are the best resources! http://couragerc.net

  77. Girgadis says:

    I don’t pretend to know why some people suffer from same-sex attraction, but I think that our increasingly hedonistic society is at least partially to blame. Sexually experimenting is acceptable and even encouraged and a person who may not have suffered from homosexual tendencies can find themselves entrapped. Also, our society has deteriorated to the extent that being gay is no longer a matter of shame but something to be celebrated. I’m old enough to remember when the term “coming out” meant a young woman was emerging from childhood and early adolescence and ready for her introduction to society. Now it means something immoral and sad, yet look at the reaction when the latest celebrity “comes out of the closet.” I don’t deny for one moment that same sex attraction is a very real problem for some people, but for others, it’s a descent into a lie that’s been sold as a fad. The same way abortion has been sold as a right and a choice to women. As was noted on a previous thread, Jesus may have eaten with prostitutes and tax collectors, but after their encounter with Him, they converted upon His admonition to sin no more. That’s my response to the misinformed who like to throw the “Jesus accepted everyone” retort in my face. I would no sooner endorse or seek to legalize a person’s “right” to destroy their soul as I would their “right” to kill their own child or take their own life.

  78. janetinSanDiego: God bless you for your compassionate and truly Catholic response to this man struggling with same-sex attraction issues.
    The best kept secret, which somehow we have to make very, very clear is that chastity is for EVERYONE: single, married, celibate, same-sex attracted, etc.
    And that is is, in fact, a liberating and sane way to live.
    The real “untold story” in this whole issue is that many, many men and women are left abandoned, rejected and “outside” the mainstream of the “desirable”…the youth culture is predominate, esp. in the “gay scene”…unless drugs and alcohol are involved, there is little for the “ordinary” person; and this only adds fuel to the fire of the feelings of rejection, abandonment and defilement; the love of Christ is the only answer and we have it…in the Catholic Faith, we HAVE IT!
    No one need be rejected or abused; Jesus gives us His Own Life in the Sacraments…and those who struggle with the Cross of same-sex attraction have the real opportunity to live virtuous and holy lives by giving themselves to Jesus; to being His Alone and living their baptismal call to holiness by lives of self-sacrifice and self-giving.
    It’s not a dead-end, at all.
    Not at all.

  79. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    If this is heading off topic, please excuse me and help re-target it if that seems possible. But I wonder if we can bring in the matter of the 21 August post on “dangers of Western Secularism” together with the matter of this post?

    Girgadis noted a connection with the “same way abortion has been sold as a right and a choice to women.”

    Would it be true to say that with abortion there has been a convergence on ‘rights’ (‘human rights’ – whether as ‘natural rights’ or in any other sense) of ‘arguments from nature’ and ‘arguments from choice’? (Supposed arguments from ‘nature’ would include a variety of things like ‘when are we talking about a distinct human being?’ but also like ‘look at how many spontaneous miscarriages or failures to implant there seem to be': as if such considerations justify deliberate killing – in ‘uncertainty’!).

    Is there a comparable convergence on ‘rights’ where marriage and sexual activity are concerned of arguments from ‘nature’ or ‘givenness’ (like, ‘that’s the way I am’) and arguments from ‘choice’ – but with the arguments from ‘choice’ not being given the public attention as is given to those from ‘nature’ (or ‘nurture’, if we see ‘nurture’ as conditioning ‘choice’)?

    There have been people emphatically attacking and categorically rejecting any idea of ‘human nature’ for decades, also in the service of homosex activism. There is, then, on some level a ‘theoretical’ battle going on, but one hears little about it. Where ‘biology is not destiny’ was a popular feminist ‘war-cry’, with homosex what prevails tends toward ‘biology is destiny’.

    If this is so, is it largely ‘tactical’ or ‘stategic’ (which is not to say the result of lots of formal coordination)?

    If the argument of ‘human rights are being denied which with an eye to nature should be respected’ were to succeed, would we begin to hear more of a ‘right to choose’ anywhere along a range of what was once (I think) called ‘polymorphous perversity’?

    There are those now confident enough not only openly to treat abortion as killing, but to treat it not as ‘unfortunately, tragically sometimes necessary’ killing, but to celebrate it as killing by choice as a ‘gift of God’ – such as the head of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.

  80. colospgs says:

    I’m sorry that I was unable to read all 80 comments before making my remarks, and I hope even though this thread is getting a bit long in the tooth, someone may still read this.

    I am in my upper 40s and am heterosexual. For some reason unknown to me, and known to God, women want nothing to do with me, as far as any kind of meaningful relationship goes. (I’m even good-looking!) I did not ask to be “born this way” but I realize that I must live out this vocation because it is God’s will for me. I could, if I wanted, go out and indulge in heterosexual behavior and claim it’s just who I am. But I realize that that would be just as sinful as as the homosexual who indulges in that behavior.

    What the homosexual, and also I, must do, is realize that we have been given a heavy cross to bear. We must recognize it for what it is, and bear it courageously and faithfully, and if we fall, we must confess and repent, and move on. We must never ask family, friends, or society to accept any sinful behavior on our part. It takes outstanding strength, and if we perservere, we will be rewarded for it. I like to think the heavier the cross, the greater the glory we give to God in the end.

  81. joan ellen says:

    The summary, in my mind, of the above, so far:
    1. Each of us is born spiritually weak with tendencies to sin – nature;
    2. God and His Church are strong and offer us grace to help protect us from sinning;
    3. ‘Sales Soap’ in some of the cultures movements weaken
    our decisions to not sin -nurture;
    4. Some of our sins reduce the population -result.

  82. thesheepcat says:

    Could give me few words on what you thought of the pieces by Fr. Rodriquez and Bishop Ochoa?

    Thank you for asking, Father.

    The one thing I would quibble about with Fr Rodriguez’s column was his statement that support for homosexual acts is a mortal sin. While homosexual acts themselves are objectively grave matter, so the sin of scandal in deliberately leading people into it would also be grave (CCC 2284), full knowledge and full consent can’t be presumed.

    But for Bishop Ochoa to dismiss previous columns (the others to which he may be referring are now behind a firewall) as representing only personal opinions without his specifying what might be wrong about them is, with all due respect, irresponsible. The effect is to call into question the whole of Fr Rodriguez’s column, which is otherwise quite sound.

    Why the bishop finds it necessary to repeat his “dignity and respect” refrain would be easier to understand had not Fr Rodriguez included the first of these two sentences: “I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect. At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls.” At one time I would have found the priest’s column arrogant and lacking in compassion, yes–how John Paul II used to make me sputter!–but anyone used to having their ears tickled (2 Tim 4:3-4) will almost necessarily find the truth unpleasantly bracing.

    Some of Fr Rodriguez’s readers will certainly reject his remarks. At least he has planted some seeds that may grow later, whereas the bishop’s platitudes are unlikely to lead anyone to repentance for anything.

    Sometimes the most pastoral approach towards a prodigal son is to allow him to wander to the far country and discover for himself how barren it is. I think of this testimony by a man who left his homosexual partner to return to the Catholic Church thanks in part to then-bishop Burke. When the man had a hissy fit and renounced the faith, Burke let him go and yet assured him he was welcome to return home to the Church any time.
    http://clmagazine.org/backissues/2008marchapril_40-42comingoutofsodom.pdf
    A true father isn’t cowed or manipulated by his sons’ and daughters’ fury at being disciplined. So I see Fr Rodriguez as the more genuinely loving and pastoral here.

  83. TonyLayne says:

    @ sheepcat: Thanks for your lucid, eloquent testimony.

    “When we challenge the many people who believe that a gay gene has already been proven, let’s not leave ourselves vulnerable by making claims against ‘gay genes’ in a way that goes beyond the evidence. Traditional moral teaching does not require us to discount the possibility that genetic factors predispose some people to homosexual attraction.”

    Fair enough. With your kind permission, I’ll rephrase my final paragraph: “While there is some evidence of biological predisposing factors, as such they aren’t absolute determinants of sexual orientation, and are insufficient to back the essentialist (‘born that way’) argument that the APA and NIMH have adopted as their default position.” While I’ll grant that the tradition doesn’t require us to discount predisposition, there is a line between predisposition and the “hard-wiring” required by the “born that way” argument that gets blurred—if not obliterated—in the public forum.