Recently the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing same sex marriages to be recognized in many others states in the US. This has become quite an interesting landmark for US politics and society’s definition of marriage. I want to concentrate on homosexuality for another post, and why as an Orthodox Christian, I have to maintain loyalty to the idea of the acts associated with homosexual behavior (particularly sexual acts) are sinful in and of themselves. It is a difficult thing to rationalize on non-Biblical and non-Patristic terms, but before I explain why, I do want to explain the easiest refutation of LGBTQ community on this issue, and that is the idea that a genetic predisposition to the behavior excuses the behavior.
And so I want to share a specific article. There are many articles and scientific publications on genetic predispositions of many things. I could say that there are genetic predispositions to many diseases, but it could be argued that these are physical conditions, and that there is no “sin” in them, just misfortune. And certainly if “God made that person that way”, then it could be argued He is nothing but a cruel God.
I could say there are genetic predispositions to many psychiatric diseases, like depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. The same argument would apply here, although treatment involves also on how to deal with these symptoms as well as medication. Once again, cruel is the God who directly has a hand on predisposing individuals to these maladies of the mind.
I could say there are genetic predispositions to diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity. One can say that these individuals are taught healthy diets, take medications to adjust whatever levels in the blood need adjusting, and exercise. And if the obese fails, there are also surgical treatments as well. Perhaps, there is a bit of cruelty in this, but there are preventative measures this individual can take, and it could teach them perseverance.
Genetic predispositions to alcoholism, criminal behavior/anger, and sociopathy have also been shown. This too is interesting because now you see a certain behavior pattern that can only either be satisfied by succumbing to the actions of the behavior (which is very easy to do), or dealing with them in some way through therapy (which is more difficult). Nevertheless, “I was born this way” would not apply here because you do not want to encourage that behavior as it is self-destructive and destructive of others as well. And it seems to hit a bit closer home, although it can be argued homosexuality is neither self-destructive or destructive of others.
But the closest to hit home is sexual preferences of predispositions. Yes, homosexuality is one of those (more so in males than females in fact). I suppose transgender is another behavior as well that might be genetically predisposed. Polygamous men seems to have a strong genetic predisposition (yes, men are genetically “pigs”; and this could lead me to a political argument on this discussion). But the one that really hurts the most, and really is offensive to the argument that “I was born this way” is the genetic predisposition to pedophilia:
New research has shown that pedophilia is not stemmed directly from childhood sexual abuse. Some of the new information on the disorder comes from the Center for Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto, where studies have been conducted on convicted sex offenders.
Increasingly, pedophilia is seen as an intrinsic disorder rather than a trait developed after suffering child sexual abuse. Genetic predisposition may delineate potential pedophiles: 30 percent are left-handed or ambidextrous, and many are about an inch shorter than average, with a 10 point below-average IQ. The disorder has been found and researched almost exclusively in men.
I am not going to discuss God’s role in any of these, and neither am I going to discuss scientific or legal implications. I am simply concentrating on the fact that those who say “I was born this way” needs to stop saying that crap. It is perhaps one of the most dangerous and ignorant arguments you can make about your sexual predisposition. Say “there is love between two consensual adults”! Fine! But do not repeat the unintelligent argument of “God made me this way.” Even if you an atheist, you should agree how stupid people sound when they say “I was born this way”.
And why? Because there are so many things that involve genetic predispositions, including sexual preference of minors. Now, one should listen to the audio interview in this website I quoted, because it tells us exactly how we should not prejudge these people to condemnation. Genetic predispositions should mean we should be a lot more sympathetic to these folks and have them get the psychological care they need.
Decades ago, the same was said about homosexuality, but I suspect it was not a scientific consensus that changed the DSM guidelines, but a political one (in fact this was done by a “vote” and pressure from sociopolitical changes, along with thoughts of compromising the language at first–and changing the language of other disorders is still done today). One simply thought that in an age when consensual sexual relations does not impede on one’s societal function, it is “okay”; it is just a variant, not a disorder. There will however come a day when one might lower the age bar (ah, you thought I forgot about the “destructive of others” part), considering the fact that our community has also become nonchalant about teenage sex, so long as they use protection. As the comedian Dave Chapelle once said in a semi-serious bit of his stand-up, “how old is fifteen really?” (WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE USED!!!) How old is old really? I think it is rather telling that we are approaching somewhat of a moral and juridical decline, and if there is a consensual teen with a consensual pedophile, one wonders, do they also “deserve rights”? (In fact, some states, with parental permission, do allow marriage of minors; so I am not way off on this) As the article continues:
While many perpetrators of child sexual abuse are motivated by violent tendencies, and usually choose relatives as their victims, pedophiles are more likely to see children as romantic partners. Their sexual preference may be as biologically innate as any other, and although many pedophiles struggle with their desires, many are able to control their sexual urges.
Does my argument sound offensive? Well it should offend you. It offends me too that you say what you say because the reality of the advocates of the retarded “I was born this way” argument leads one to think that way.
This last part that gives us a glimpse of the therapy is also important:
Most psychiatrists have stopped trying to change pedophile’s sexual orientations, instead opting to help their patients find the best ways to control their sexual desire, sometimes through therapy and sometimes with hormone treatment.
I think this is key, and very telling. In the audio interview that I highly recommend you listen to, it mentions of the fact that you should not “feel guilty” for having these feelings, and the therapy here is directed at exercises of self-control. In other words, this is not going away. There is no “change your orientation” therapy, as well as guilt-tripping someone into those feelings. I think that was the point of rightfully outlawing the famous Protestant “sexual orientation change therapies”. The damaging effects and failures it lead when you keep hammering in the person how sinful and guilty they should feel and how “change is possible” is reprehensible. I could imagine when decades ago, this was tried on homosexual individuals, the same was probably tried on pedophiles, both probably lead to the same damaging effects. Except also this has been used as an excuse that because one has homosexual tendencies, that it is okay to act upon these impulses. If you think of the pedophile tendencies, once again, the scientific community would probably endorse to say that it is okay to have these tendencies, but not to act upon them. In that vein, that is pretty much what Catholic and Orthodox churches have endorsed in homosexuality (and really any thing that the Church defines as “sin”), and they too take a much different approach than the Protestant “change” approach that has lead to so many problems.
Biblical food for thought: And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7 NKJV) We all have our thorns in the flesh, but as we suffer these “thorns”, whether they be physical or mental, when we learn to deal with them, we are made stronger, wiser, and humbler. Again, I am not going to concentrate on why God has allowed these thorns to exist, but I am going to say that these things can and do make people better persons; it is both ironic and mysterious, but the best way forward for hope I know.
Therefore, next time someone tells me, “I was born this way”, I am going for the jugular: “so are pedophiles”.
PS I recognize the fact that there are ignorant voices, even from clergy, out there who make an association between homosexuality and pedophilia, that a gay person also has the propensity to be sexually attracted to a minor. To which I say, no, I do not agree with that association, neither have I insinuated as such. What I am saying is the argument “I was born this way” makes pedophilia (among other genetically predisposed behaviors) justified.