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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not a Choice

"I didn't choose to be gay." That's the claim. That's the certainty. That's the given. "Gay" is "born that way". Everyone knows that. How could you question it? Why would anyone choose to go through that stigma, to endure that lifestyle, to suffer the prejudice and difficulties? No, no, it's not a choice.

That's the claim, and nearly everyone agrees except the hard-nosed ultra-conservative Christians who see it as an assault on God and an assault on Christianity and, therefore, by virtue of that attack status, cannot be so. I'd like to question the claim that it is not a choice, but I'd like to do it from a different direction. I've never seen it as a threat to the faith or to God, but I still need to examine the question. Is it a choice?

The problem for me is that we're making assumptions before we ask the question. What is "gay"? What is the definition of the concept (not the word -- I know what the word means, and it's not that)? To our current culture "gay" is defined as homosexual, a sexual attraction to the same gender. Merriam-Webster lists that as the 4th definition. Others put it right there at the top. Homosexual -- "same sex". But the culture has defined it as something more. A homosexual doesn't have simple attraction to the same gender; he or she is defined by it. It isn't a desire, but an "orientation". It is held distinct from "heterosexual", an attraction to the opposite gender, and "bisexual", an attraction to both genders. It is further confused by throwing in "transgender", a sexual identity confusion. (I don't mean to sound unkind here. Just pointing out that it's confusing. If a male sexually identifies as a female and is attracted to other males, is that homosexual or "heterosexual"? What makes him female ... or male? And so on.) And the American Psychological Association now argues that all of this is "normal". So at this point we have made the assumption that "gay" is a definition of a person.

Given that this is a definition of a person, we would then realize that persons have rights and some of those basic rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus, it would be a violation of human rights to prevent someone who is defined by their sexual attractions to be prevented from pursuing those attractions. Isn't that clear? Isn't that obvious?

I would beg to differ because I would not be willing to take the first steps. Let's assume for the moment without argument that people do not choose to desire sexually whom they desire. I'll let that stand. I certainly didn't choose to desire women sexually. But I'm afraid that's where I have to end the agreement. You see, all the rest is problematic. How, for instance, does someone get immersed in adultery, fornication, sexual sin? It is not "by birth". It is by choice. Conversely, we admire folks who control their sexual desires and limit them to one person, one spouse, regardless of where else their desires might go. Self-control is a virtue. And limiting those desires is assisted by not going places that would threaten those limits. A married man at a strip club is a recipe for disaster. A married man devoted to his wife would avoid those places. He wouldn't argue "I'm defined as being attracted to the opposite gender and, therefore, should be allowed to indulge those attractions as far as makes me happy." It doesn't work. I am not defined as "heterosexual". I'm defined in other ways, but I'm classified as "heterosexual" merely because "homosexual" has reared its head as a definition when it never was before.

Here, try this. Let's see if a simple substitution will work. If "gay" is morally neutral -- an accident of birth -- then this shouldn't work at all. Will it? "I didn't choose to be gay." Okay. Substitute something else. "I didn't choose to be adulterous." No, that doesn't work. But "adulterous" isn't an attribute, it's an action. So let's try something else. "I didn't choose to be lustful." Okay, fine. I buy that. But ... clearly you can see that the phrase demands another step. "I didn't choose to be lustful but I will choose how I respond to it." You see, "sexual attraction to the same gender" may indeed be outside of the choices and control of the individual, just as lust, greed, gluttony, or any number of other sinful desires might be, but that's not the issue, is it? The issue is what you do with the sinful desire. If you prevent it, stop it block it, don't feed it, don't allow it to define you, then it stops at the "temptation" level. If you indulge it (choice), feed it (choice), allow it to be your definition as a person (choice), then it reaches the level of sin.

I think, in fact, that this error will take people places we don't want to go. If "my sexual desires" is "my definition" and "my definition" gives me the right to pursue my desires as a matter of human rights, where does it end? If an adult has an uncontrolled desire for sexual relations with minors, ought we allow it on the grounds of human rights? Obviously the answer would be "No", but on what basis? How do you prevent one while allowing the other?

I will allow that the desires any individual has are not under their control. We all want things. We rarely want things by choice. Whether or not a given desire is sin or not is a key question. Indulging desires that please the Lord is a good thing to do. Fostering desires for that which He finds abominable is foolish. And it is not the fault of God, Christianity, the Bible, or judgmental Christians when we choose to feed desires -- any sinful desires -- that are opposed to His delights and suffer from it. At no time has God said, "As humans you should be allowed to indulge whatever your desires may be; that's your right." Nor does being born with (or acquiring them at a young age) sinful desires make them "of God" or "good". The choice is yours.


Dan Trabue said...

Just in case you're not familiar with the actual argument being made...

1. Homosexuality is an orientation, like heterosexuality. It is the inclination to be attracted to the same gender. It is not a choice, it is an orientation.

2. What we DO with our orientations (gay or straight) can be good or bad.

3. If you're straight (or gay) and say, "God made me attracted to X gender, therefore, I'll forcibly take sex from that gender any chance I get..." that is not a healthy or good use of that orientation. Obviously. Doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, rape is not justified by the fact that you have urges.

4. If you're straight (or gay) and say, "God made me attracted to X gender, therefore, I'll engage in sex as much as I can with as many folk as I can, with no commitments beyond, 'let's have a good time...'" is not a healthy or good use of that orientation, most folk would agree. The specific orientation (gay or straight) isn't what makes it wrong, it is the selfishness of personal pleasuring as a higher goal and the lack of a commitment that makes it wrong, most of us would agree.

5. If you're straight (or gay) and say, "God made me attracted to X gender, and I would like to enjoy my sexuality in a responsible way - and a marriage relationship seems to be the healthiest, most loving and responsible way to express that natural sexual orientation..." this IS a healthy and good way to express that orientation.

The goal, then, is healthy and good, loving and committed, expression of a natural orientation and it seems obviously moral and good whether or not you're gay or straight.

That is the actual argument generally being made.


Stan said...

Since that was precisely the argument I addressed, apparently you didn't understand.

The choice is what we do ... just like you said. But you've managed to completely ignore the question. Is our orientation good? That "orientation" may be sexual or otherwise. A man may find himself attracted to women ("born that way"). What he does with that orientation is his choice. He may indulge it or he may control it. An adult woman may find herself attracted to a minor. What she does with that attraction is her choice. A person may be born with an addictive personality. What he or she does with that predilection is his or her choice.

Your argument ignores morality. If the goal "is healthy and good, loving and committed, expression of a natural orientation" and that fellow's "natural orientation" is an attraction to young boys, you would not suggest that it is good even though he is seeking a "healthy, good, loving, committed" relationship. He would say (because they are saying it), "You're applying your limited morality to me without considering my natural inclinations, the fact that we love each other, and the necessity of marriage equity." And you have not demonstrated that "gay or straight" is "obviously moral and good".

There is always a choice, regardless of "natural inclination", as to what we do with it. That is the point. If Behavior A is immoral and Person B is inclined to it, the "God made me this way" argument is fallacious and pointless. There is always a choice, regardless of "natural inclination".


David said...

It is quite clear that Dan T. didn't bother to actually read your post, aside from the title and first paragraph or two. His bullet points were ALL addressed by your post. You broadened what I've been saying for quite a while, whether or not being born gay or straight is a moot point. It doesn't matter. "Natural inclination" does not necessarily mean "good" or right. Psychology says that serial killers are "wired" that way, and yet we know it is bad for them to act on that wiring. Scripture does not equivocate on whether or not homosexual activity is a sin. Thus, acting on those inclinations are sin, thus being born that way doesn't mean good.

Stan said...

There is, within the general culture, an argument floating around that "born that way" = "made by God that way" = "good". What an amazingly bad line of reasoning!

Marshall Art said...

Regarding Dan's point 5, there is no Biblical justification for this notion whatsoever. As is common in Dan's belief system, he twists Scripture to accommodate an earthly desire. Regardless of how 100% of Scripture's references to marriage and family refer to one man/one woman and father/mother, and 100% of Scripture's references to homosexual behavior is that it is sinful, he will suggest that the manner in which the sin is perpetrated defines whether or not it is sinful. He will refer to Paul's teachings about whatever is lovely, kind, etc., as justification for supporting "committed, monogamous" homosexual relationships. This, however, assumes that what God has called an abomination, males laying with males as they would lay with females, can at the same time be a positive thing He would bless.

Dan Trabue said...


Your argument ignores morality. If the goal "is healthy and good, loving and committed, expression of a natural orientation" and that fellow's "natural orientation" is an attraction to young boys, you would not suggest that it is good even though he is seeking a "healthy, good, loving, committed" relationship.

Perhaps you have a problem understanding the concept of "good." Look it up.

I recognize we agreed on the first few points, I was just stating it to be clear (and because you seem to have a hard time defining "homosexuality," in a direct manner). The "what we do with it" question is where you all miss the boat.

You have a hunch based on religious and cultural biases that a loving marriage between gay folk is bad (yes, yes, I know, you don't believe in such a thing, no matter how real it is, I get that, but let me rephrase...)

You have a hunch that sex within a loving marriage relationship between gays is "bad," but it's based entirely on your hunches about what God thinks and not a single thing that is tangible or real. You're welcome to your hunches, but you can't expect other people to bow to them or make law abiding by your hunches IF you have nothing beyond your hunches to support them.

I can point to dozens of ways in which marriage for gay folk is objectively healthy, wholesome and marvelously moral. You can point to none.

That is where your reasoning fails, gents. That's why you've lost this argument and are appearing to be on the immoral and illogical side of the debate.

Just sayin...

Stan said...

I understand, Dan. You define "good" different than I do because my "good" begins with God and yours begins with "no harm".

I understand that you (and most others) define homosexuality different than I do -- not that I have trouble defining it. You see it as a defining reality and I see it as ... an urge, a desire.

I understand that plain biblical texts with plain words with amazingly unparalleled agreement throughout Church history as to the meaning is irrelevant to you. It is only "religious and cultural biases" and "a hunch". I understand that you don't have hunches, but informed opinions while I don't seem to have the same.

I understand that a biblically continuous perspective on the subject is irrelevant as long as you think the practice (whatever it is) is "good" because it does "no harm" as defined (apparently quite loosely) by you.

I understand that "tangible or real" necessarily excludes Scripture in your thinking. I understand that you cannot see the panoply of Scriptures on God's concept of marriage (man and woman), the importance, the intent, even the definition because Scripture is not your primary source; your feelings on the matter are.

And I noticed a wonderful point of agreement. I can point to not one way in which the illogical, contradictory concept of "gay marriage" is objectively healthy, wholesome, or moral. You're absolutely right.

And I understand that we have "lost this argument" because you and those like you have decided that the Bible is a "guidebook", not a "rule book", and that God's Word is useful only for "hunches" (as long as they disagree with your view) and certainly not actual, God-breathed, undeniable, reliable truth, the actual position that all genuine Christians will take.

Just sayin'.

Stan said...

One other thing, Dan. It appears that your experience with "loving, committed, responsible" homosexual relationships is way outside the norm. When nations have moved to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, less than 10% of them get married. Of those that do, their divorce rate is far higher than heterosexuals. The gay community itself has indicated that they have largely redefined "monogamy" to mean "one at a time".

Marriage (the kind I understand and recognize) is at an all time low both in occurrences and in longevity, but the gay community far outpaces the heterosexual community in promiscuity, multiple partners, failure to commit, and failure to remain committed. Given that roughly 2.5% of the country is "gay" (using your definition) and the remarkably few within that extreme minority that are actually in any way what you refer to as "loving, committed, responsible", we're talking an extremely small value here rather than the large, sweeping number suggested in these conversations.

Marshall Art said...


It is clear that you use the term "good" to express what YOU believe constitutes " morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious:" (as defined by Our understanding of the term is based on Biblical expressions of goodness revealed by God. In this way, you twist the notion of goodness by pointing to the manner in which people you think you know engage in their sinfulness. It would be no different than having sex within a loving adulterous relationship. The fact that the two engaged in the sinful act "love" each other has nothing to do with whether or not the act in which they consent to engage is sinful or not. Thus...

" You have a hunch that sex within a loving marriage relationship between gays is "bad," but it's based entirely on your hunches about what God thinks and not a single thing that is tangible or real." a ridiculous and deceitful thing to say. It is no hunch as Scripture is crystal clear that homosexual behavior is an abomination and makes absolutely no allowances for the context in which it might occur. As such, we don't need to imagine what God might think about the issue, as He has so clearly revealed His thoughts on the subject to us. The Leviticus verses on the subject are quite tangible.

What's worse, your position on "gay marriage" doesn't even rise the level of a hunch. It is too steeped in conscious twisting of Scripture for that.

Bryan said...

Dan, I would like to urge you to go home and read your Bible. Search God's word for answers to these issues. The Bible is God's word to us - infallible, and perfect. He gave it to us through holy men - 2 Peter 1:21 "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

I promise you, if you earnestly seek the one true God, you WILL find Him.

Dan Trabue said...

Bryan, since you don't know me and are addressing me specifically, let me first of all THANK YOU for the kind admonition.

Secondly, let me let you know that I HAVE and DO read the Bible. I've been a Christian for 40 of my 50 years and had the Bible read to me by my parents and Sunday School teachers before that. I LOVE the bible and regularly prayerfully seek God's ways. It's how I reached my current position: Prayer and Bible study and meditation upon God's Ways.

Thanks for the suggestion, it's one we all should embrace.

I do earnestly seek God and do regularly find God, thank you very much.

We are just Christians who disagree on a behavior, it happens.

On the topic here, though, I stand by my assertion: Until such time as you all can make a rational,believable case as to why two people wedding in a loving, adult, monogamous marriage relationship is wrong, you will continue to lose this argument in the popular culture.

The downside to your position (one which I held the first ~30 years of my life) is that, even though you are sincerely seeking the good and moral and Godly, you will keep coming across as irrational and immoral, unless you can offer some reason other than human tradition and religious biases.

Something to consider as we all seek God's will...


Stan said...

Dear Dan,

We've already lost the argument of biblical morality in popular culture. Biblical morality would require marriage before sex. Popular culture doesn't question that; it rejects it outright as foolish. Biblical morality requires considering others as more important than yourself. Popular culture thinks that's dumber than a box of rocks.

Sad, to me, is the position that people who classify themselves as "Christians" take to say, "If you can't come up with an argument other than the fact that the Bible says so, then you can't come up with a good argument."

Dan Trabue said...


Sad, to me, is the position that people who classify themselves as "Christians" take to say, "If you can't come up with an argument other than the fact that the Bible says so, then you can't come up with a good argument."

Except that's not what I was talking about and not what I said.

In many instances (myself, for instance) you all lose out in the argument BECAUSE of what the Bible says. In short, I don't think you're understanding God aright in your hunches about how best to interpret the passages on these themes.

I was a conservative traditionalist and for years, I accepted tradition. But the more I looked into what the bible said, the less I found your (my, at the time) traditional interpretation to be biblically or logically sound.

So, you are losing the argument on a broader scale because you are coming across as irrational, culturally biased and holding an immoral position. We haven't started supporting gay marriage because we thought, "Hey, it would be fun to spit in God's face..." We support it because it seems the most moral, rational position to take.

And for at least some of that, we GOT THERE by way of Bible study and prayer.

Which isn't to say that we couldn't be mistaken (any more than you should say that you can't be mistaken). I'm just pointing out that we disagree in good faith and NOT because we don't love God's Word or don't want to follow God.

Making that sort of suggestion ("Sad, to me, is the position that people who classify themselves as "Christians" take to say, "If you can't come up with an argument other than the fact that the Bible says so, then you can't come up with a good argument.") is PART OF THE REASON you are losing the argument, as well. Not only does your position seem immoral and irrational, the way you disagree comes across as pharisaical and presumptuous.

Which is not directed towards you nearly as much as it was towards me, back when I believed as you do.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

There is also a very rational secular reason why society shouldn't support same-sex fake marriage, which Dan refuses to acknowledge.

The fact is that true marriage is the foundation of society and therefore is supported and fostered by the social institutions because of its benefits. Homosexuality has no benefit to society and therefore should not be promoted or supported in any way, shape, or form. It is destructive to society - which is proven by looking at the countries who have promoted it and noticing how the family unit has disintegrated and no one is getting married any more.

But we've been through all this before and Dan marginalizes any evidence provided. He is in abject denial.

And for Bryan's sake - all you need to know is that Dan only loves the Bible when it agrees with him, and then he twists the rest so it LOOKS LIKE it agrees with him. He has demonstrated by his teachings that he is no more a Christian than Mitt Romney.

Stan said...

Dan Trabue: "... not what I said ..."

What you did say: "Until such time as you all can make a rational,believable case as to why two people wedding in a loving, adult, monogamous marriage relationship is wrong, you will continue to lose this argument in the popular culture." That is, "Because the Bible plainly states it is not a rational, believable case."

You are apparently unaware that the Church throughout its entire history, the public, and even the gay and lesbian society at large all understand that the Bible is morally opposed to homosexual behavior. It is a very, very small, hardcore, elitist few that have tried to prove that the entire Church, the public, 99% of current Christendom, and the LGBTQ society itself are all wrong. (It is the sheer arrogance of this attempt that makes it elitist.) There is no reason -- textual, contextual, historical, or otherwise -- to revise the millenia of understanding in every language, every translation, and every culture. Indeed, given the huge amount of disagreement over the centuries in the Church, the fact that this particular subject has always been agreed upon across the board until the last 50 years makes your position that the Bible says nothing about it a ludicrous, arrogant position.

And if, by "cultural bias", you mean "biased to believe the Bible as written as has been the culture of the Church for 2000 years", I'll buy it, but otherwise you're horribly mistaken. On the other hand, if that is what you mean by the term, then your cultural bias is showing as well, isn't it? The one that says, "I will not be convinced of what the Church has been convinced unless it aligns with my own sense of morality on the subject."

For clarification, the Bible clearly and repeatedly defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, clearly and repeatedly considers this to be fundamental to society and family, and clearly and repeatedly states that sex outside of the union of a man and a woman is immorality. That is an argument. Or, to put it in your terms, that is not "no argument". That the popular culture denies this isn't surprising. That you deny it isn't surprising. But it is not presumptuous to side with God's Word when God's Word speaks and so very clearly.

Craig said...

" will continue to lose this argument in the popular culture."

And here I was, unaware that popular culture was the final arbiter of what is right and wrong. How silly and shallow to assume that there is some sort of transcendent standard. I'm so glad to have this pointed out.

Stan said...

Craig, I was a bit disappointed by this as well. Apparently, if we made the right arguments in the right way (with the acceptable outcomes) we could actually get the popular culture to embrace it. I guess not (e.g., Rom 8:7-8; John 15:19; 1 John 3:13).

Marshall Art said...

Dan has often spoken of his former self, that backward-thinking conservative he claims he used to be. I would so love to have had this here blog thingy back then to see just how goofy was his perspective then. The manner in which he refers to conservatives and conservative Christians today leads me to believe he never understood the ideology and/or faith back then any better than he does now.

Bryan said...

Dan, I wanted to ask you one question - could you back up what you are saying with scripture? Could you provide some references from God's Holy Word that support your beliefs?