Disclaimer: If you are offended by rational examination of cultural hot button issues, this article isn’t for you. This discussion is intended to ask simple questions, examine prevailing ideas about homosexuality and the outcome of the gay lifestyle. Keep in mind that God loves everyone and willingly condemns no one. The purpose is to show the way to better health, wisdom and harmony.
Many people today explain homosexuality as a state rather than an urge. When we call a thing a state, we are identifying a stable condition, often permanent and even hard-wired. Urges, on the other hand, can be momentary and even insignificant ― or they can develop into long-term behaviors. An important question to ask is: is it healthy and liberating to surrender ourselves to our sexual desires? Which ones should we go with, and why?
Every day and all throughout our lives, human beings experience urges ― feelings pulling us toward choices. Some are good choices, such as a boy’s desire to hug his mom or to give his sister a gift after they have fought. Other urges compel us toward unhealthy choices, such as a boy’s desire to steal a candy bar to satisfy a momentary appetite for sugar. Most adults have sorted through the more basic urges, but we have grown-up ones to replace them: gambling, promiscuity, reckless driving, excessive drinking or a hundred other options that develop through visceral urges ― a burst of hormones and an ensuing emotional response that pulls the hapless person toward something he may not have thought through first, particularly if he has bought into the Hallmark sentiment: Follow Your Heart.
We ought to ask ourselves why, as a society, we declare some urges unquestionably good and others “bad.” Isn’t our evaluation of urges usually based on the practical outcomes they bring about in our lives? Consider the urge to drink to excess or to seek comfort and pleasure in recreational drugs, which most of us are exposed to sooner or later. We have deemed these urges “bad” because they are associated with poor health, job instability, legal problems and the disintegration of the family. And yet many of us experience strong urges to use substances. Some of us resist them and avoid all the trouble, but many others follow them and experience the whole spectrum of consequences, up to and including death.
We can argue all day long that homosexual urges are good and natural, but do we have a basis for such a conclusion, other than our longing for sexual liberty? If we examine American society’s track record since the Sexual Revolution, we find a dismaying plunge into many social ills: epidemic STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), 60 percent divorce rate, an explosion of single-parent families (strongly associated with poverty and behavioral problems in children), and the general cheapening of sexual intimacy to name the more serious outcomes. Are we better off for having given ourselves over to our sexual urges?
And what about choices to pursue the homosexual lifestyle? Most experts agree that members of the LGBT community experience higher rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and alcohol and substance abuse. Many pundits assert that these mental health issues are the product of the social stigma attached to homosexuality, but these issues have persisted in spite of the growing acceptance of the LGBT community in the West. Practicing gays are more given to risky behaviors; experience unusual medical issues; are, by the nature of their sexual practices, more susceptible to a variety of deadly diseases; have a shorter life expectancy.
Furthermore, as the liberal New York Times and others report, there is a growing movement of men and women who testify that they have overcome same-sex urges and now enthusiastically embrace heterosexuality.
It seems clear that “If it feels good, do it” is poor advice. But back to the previous question: is it appropriate to equate sexual urges with an unchanging condition? As anyone who has quit smoking will tell you, the urge to smoke begins to weaken the longer it is disregarded. What makes an urge fleeting as opposed to intense and persistent? Usually, our response to that urge. Think about the first time you first felt like smoking a cigarette. A friend or family member offered you one, and you experienced a relatively mild pull toward it. But go find a person who chose to smoke and kept choosing it for 10 or 20 years. They will invariably testify to the terrible strength of their present urge to smoke, even after witnessing the devastating impact of tobacco use on others (disease and death), even after they see their own habit degrade their health and take great sums of money from them every year. It didn’t start out that way. Their choices reinforced and strengthened their urges.
How easy it is to be misled by the almost random experience of the world! We’re living in a perfect storm of options, all offered with colorful enticements that provoke the senses. The world hits our emotions like the glittering lights of the marquee, the sounds of carnival music, the fragrances of delicious foods and the sounds of human laughter. It all seems completely ungoverned, as though there were no central guiding force in the universe. And yet God waits patiently, in silence, for a chance to speak.
The reader is no doubt aware that this is a Christian venue, but we don’t need to subscribe to the Christian faith in order to sort through this issue. Simple expediency bears out the message here. Our culture teaches us to surrender to our feelings, but are feelings destiny? Or is destiny what we choose? Emotions, too, grow stronger and more oppressive when we brood on them or follow them indiscriminately. Our best path is the one chosen through careful reasoning and wise reflection. Determinism (the belief that we are moved inexorably along by the facts of our physical makeup and material environment, like a rubber duck carried on a stream of water) is a lie.
We have often been told that we are carried just as inevitably down biologically determined paths when it comes to our sexuality. Unfortunately, this has been supported by too many in the medical and mental health establishment. Speaking frankly about the empirical facts relating to sexual practices has been politicized, such that entire agencies such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have surrendered to political correctness rather than telling the honest truth about clear, observable medical and psychosocial realities.
People are beings with the capacity for reason. We are not animals. We experience, but we also choose. We ought to make the best choices we can, according to our knowledge, strength and ability.