Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Born That Way

A common argument used in defense of homosexual behavior is that people are born that way. It is not my purpose here to deal with the issue of homosexuality, but I think there are problems with this defense that go beyond the question involved. There is a problem when we start seeing our behavior as wholly determined by our genetics. It is one thing to say people have a tendency toward a certain type of behavior. But to have a tendency toward a certain behavior does not justify it. There can still be a moral principle superior to the tendency. We can, in spite of these tendencies, still be responsible moral agents who can choose not to follow our inclinations. But if any behavior is wholly determined by our heredity, we cease to be responsible moral agents. For it is difficult to see how anybody can be partly a moral agent and partly genetically determined. So if our behavior is genetically determined, we destroy all moral responsibility, making all moral principles meaningless. It has been claimed there is a genetic tendency for alcoholism or even violence. As long as these are tendencies that can be fought, this is not a problem. But once you accept the idea of absolute genetic determination, where do you stop? Also, what we think and what we know depends on our choices, on what we decide is true. If those choices are determined by our genetics rather than an intelligent assessment of the facts, we cannot know anything. Including the fact that our choices are genetically determined.

I understand that certain kinds of desires can be strong and compelling and difficult to overcome. I have battled the desire to view pornography since I was old enough to have such desires. I can bear witness that such desires can be strong and compelling. I can also bear witness to the fact that such desires can be successfully fought against through the power of God. But if we justify everything that has a strong and compelling desire, it is hard to avoid justifying pedophiles, serial rapists, and serial killers. Now some of the confusion here comes from misunderstanding what is meant when it is said homosexuality is a choice. For example, very few people sit down one day and decide to become alcoholics. They generally start off slow and drink more and more until, often without full awareness, they cross over the line. It is not so much one thought-out choice as an accumulative number of small choices, many times not consciously thought through. But it is still a choice. However, if there is no choice involved, we are merely preprogrammed machines, and there is no point in discussing the issue anyway. Or anything else for that matter.

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