Skip to comments.Against Heterosexuality
Posted on 03/03/2014 6:30:00 AM PST by sitetest
Alasdair MacIntyre once quipped that facts, like telescopes and wigs for gentlemen, were a seventeenth-century invention. Something similar can be said about sexual orientation: Heterosexuals, like typewriters and urinals (also, obviously, for gentlemen), were an invention of the 1860s. Contrary to our cultural preconceptions and the lies of what has come to be called orientation essentialism, straight and gay are not ageless absolutes. Sexual orientation is a conceptual scheme with a history, and a dark one at that. It is a history that began far more recently than most people know, and it is one that will likely end much sooner than most people think.
Over the course of several centuries, the West had progressively abandoned Christianitys marital architecture for human sexuality. Then, about one hundred and fifty years ago, it began to replace that longstanding teleological tradition with a brand new creation: the absolutist but absurd taxonomy of sexual orientations. Heterosexuality was made to serve as this fanciful frameworks regulating ideal, preserving the social prohibitions against sodomy and other sexual debaucheries without requiring recourse to the procreative nature of human sexuality.
On this novel account, same-sex sex acts were wrong not because they spurn the rational-animal purpose of sexnamely the familybut rather because the desire for these actions allegedly arises from a distasteful psychological disorder. As queer theorist Hanne Blank recounts, This new concept [of heterosexuality], gussied up in a mangled mix of impressive-sounding dead languages, gave old orthodoxies a new and vibrant lease on life by suggesting, in authoritative tones, that science had effectively pronounced them natural, inevitable, and innate.
(Excerpt) Read more at firstthings.com ...
This is an open thread. Have at it, one and all.
This one’s for you.
A while back, you posted an article, something about the possibility of the positive giftness of gayness, in the context of orthodox Catholic theology and practice.
I think that this article has something to say in that conversation.
Yes, homosexuality is a 19th century invention. And we’re stuck with it.
I read this in the hard copy when it came out. I thought it was persuasive in many ways. It’s heavy reading, though ... I got the idea that the author is a philosophy graduate student!
Nonsense. 2000 years ago the Apostle Paul declared that homosexuality was unnatural and thus by inference declared hetrosexuality normal and natural. All of which is pretty self evident.
Yeah. I've read it through completely just once so far. I've read parts a couple of times. It IS heavy reading.
Some of what he's saying resonates very clearly, but some of it is a little murky to me, so far. It may be in part because I'm kind of behind the times. “Heterosexuality,” as a reified “sexual orientation” does bless or sanction, in my mind, various heterosexual sins. So, perhaps for that reason, I'm not so willing to overthrow “heteronormativity,” since, in my mind, that umbrella doesn't excuse sexual sins committed by folks who like folks of the opposite sex.
He can’t get past the anatomy , so he doesn’t mention it ( please excuse me if he does, I didn’t labor over reading it ,though I read it all). His lumping it with heterosexual activities such as adultery, pornography, masturbation, etc, which I agree are just as sinful, overlooks the fact that none of these are the basis of a poitical movement and are sooner or later recognized as shameful.
The author isn't arguing that homosexual acts are not sinful. He's not even arguing that there aren't some folks who are more tempted to these sins than others. He's arguing that the reification of “sexual orientation” is a false, pseudo-scientific notion.
What he's saying is that there are certainly folks who commit sins of homosexual acts, but calling them “homosexuals,” and proclaiming them to have a stable identity as such is false. An analogy is someone who commits, say, adultery. Someone who often steps out on his spouse, while he is engaged in those activities, is justly called an adulterer, a philanderer. But suppose a man, at some point, decided that such behavior was unbecoming, and he ceased his immoral activities. And five years hence, he had not repeated his prior sins. And 10 years later, he had not.
Would you still call that man an adulterer?
Or someone whose weakness is alcohol, and for many years, often winds up drunk. You might, while he actively pursues the bottle, rightly call him a drunkard. But then, he gives up the bottle, or manages to learn to drink in moderation. Ten years later, when you see him sip a single glass of wine at dinner, would you be just to call him a drunkard?
But, as the author points out, the current model includes a supposedly scientifically-backed notion that sexual orientation is a permanent, stable feature of the personality, rather than saying, some folks are tempted toward this sin, others toward that one.
Try to read the article from that perspective.
The day we began identifying people as homo and heterosexuals (in an attempt to explain & isolate the behavior) we put the two on the road to equivalence.
OK, I think I understand the point being made. It goes with what I've often said that "gay is something you do not something you are."
“... overlooks the fact that none of these are the basis of a poitical movement and are sooner or later recognized as shameful.”
I think that's kind of his point, that by creating this idea of stable “sexual orientation” as a part of a person's innate personality, we have elevated a sin to a lifestyle in a way that we don't with things like adultery, etc.
Thus, I think he would ask you this - Is someone who experiences, from time to time, twinges of temptation to commit adultery, but who fails in anyway, either mentally or physically, to act on those twinges of temptation, an adulterer? Of course not!
If someone experienced same-sex attractions from time to time, but failed to act on that attraction in any way, neither mentally nor physically, not even fantasizing about it, should that person be labeled “homosexual”? The author is saying that that's reification of an act or even just a feeling, even an involuntary one, into a personality attribute.
I think, perhaps, we need to read Paul more closely. I think what he does do is use categories of natural and unnatural, and then he says that those engaging in practices in the latter category have been turned over to their depraved mind and are (using my own terminology here) in very serious trouble.
I’m not sure that Paul would affirm the existence of the social constructs that we have today, of the “gay” person and the “straight” person.
I think he does affirm that there is again a healthy, natural sexual practice between men and women who are married and committed to children. Then there’s everything else, which is not part of the Kingdom of God....and part of that other basket of everything else there is also something very unnatural and especially depraved and that is what we know as (and Paul knew as) sex acts between people of the same sex.
Again, I’m not sure Paul would buy into the recent category that the left insisted that we adopt, that of the “gay” person.
I’d like to hear your reply as I am generally sympathetic to the thrust of argument in this article...and I love it when we turn the left back on itself. But I am primarily committed to what Scripture says above all else, and I’m not entirely sure that the article does that testimony enough justice.
I think you've succinctly gotten at a large part of what the author is trying to say.
I think, thought, the author would replace "deviant" with "sinful," and "small group of human beings" with "some human beings."
I've often thought that Paul's characterization of homosexuality (or is it just homosexual behavior?) as "vile affections" (Rom 11:26 KJV) to be quite similar to what modern society is describing as "homosexual orientation", although Paul is certainly adding a moral componant to his characterization.
You’re absolutely right. Calling the behavior deviant falls into the same trap the writer describes.
What the author says here is partly true, and partly false:
“The Bible never called homosexuality an abomination. Nor could it have, for as we have seen, Leviticus predates any conception of sexual orientation by a couple of millennia at least. What the Scriptures condemn is sodomy, regardless of who commits it or why. And yet, as I have argued throughout, in our own day homosexuality deserves the abominable label, and heterosexuality does too.”
The law condemns acts, that much is spot on.
The problem is that Paul does in fact state point blank that those committing the unnatural acts are in an identifiable place outside of God’s grace and under God’s wrath (they have been turned over to their depraved mind).
So....it seems....that in a sense, Paul does “sort of” affirm the depraved category as a category of persons who are committing such acts.
But, Paul also spoke out with perfect clarity against categorizing followers of Christ as being bound by sin...so I think the author is right in that Paul would not endorse the contemporary of “homosexual” and “heterosexual” in the identity game of today....anymore than he would endorse someone calling themself a “Thief” and giving that social identity its own sinful reality.
So that’s the rub.
I think this article is good....but I don’t think it is yet perfect.
You guess the writer is a philosophy graduate student. I agree. He is immersed in the bone gnawing examination of an idea which gnaws when there is no meat left on the bone.(
The street talk version is this I think. We are human beings. We are not heterosexual or homosexual. As humans we are subject to various inclinations especially in regards to our erotic attributes. If we act on those iinclinations
we set up a physiological psychological stimulus response, which as repeated becomes habitual.
Seems to confirm the general concern as well that if we normalize homosexuality as a lifestyle, the same thing can happen by the same means for pedophilia, polygamy, bestiality, etc.