Pharyngula

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, now thinks that high-tech, fetal research is OK — if it leads to a cure for homosexuality.

If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.

Note that this is not your old-school, naive eugenics he is proposing; developing a prenatal test for homosexuality and using that to decide whether to abort the fetus is completely unacceptable. The middle part of his article is an expression of horror at the possibility of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (” one of the greatest threats to human dignity in our times”), and the dilemma with which conservatives would be confronted: if they could find out their prospective child was going to be gay, would even good Christians be tempted to abort the abomination? What Mohler wants is full-blown genetic manipulation of human embryos to delete undesirable genes, not individuals.

There are a few problems with his scenario, as you might presume when one of these ignorant theocrats (Mohler is also a young earth creationist) starts wrestling with science.

One is that I really doubt that there will be a “gay gene” to eradicate. There will be a number of alleles that may contribute to an interaction with environmental factors that may predispose an individual to favor one sex over another. I also suspect that if there are such genes, they will also contribute to other aspects of social and sexual interactions — disentangling the nuances of preference from the whole damn problem of loving people might well be impossible.

There is no test like the one Mohler postulates, and if there were, it wouldn’t provide simple and absolute answers. This isn’t CSI, where ‘science’ is magic. At best, such a test result might list the presence of a few alleles correlated with a certain frequency of homosexuality, and it would have to admit that a) a significant number of people with this configuration are heterosexual, and b) absence of the ‘homosexual genotype’ is not a guarantee of heterosexuality. We aren’t products of billiard-ball biology.

Finally, the kind of transgenic manipulation of human embryos that Mohler is proposing isn’t cheap or trivial. It would take a tremendous amount of work to develop reliable techniques to carry out the process that he favors, and these skills don’t just poof into existence by divine fiat. It would take years of experimental work on human and non-human embryos — embryos that would not survive the experiments — to build up that repertoire of reliable expertise.

At the end of his thoughtless little daydream of a technological means of eradicating gayness, Mohler sounds almost Augustinian in his concern that Christians not make themselves look like fools on scientific issues.

Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior. The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This does not alter God’s moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), but it does hold some promise that a deeper knowledge of homosexuality and its cause will allow for more effective ministries to those who struggle with this particular pattern of temptation. If such knowledge should ever be discovered, we should embrace it and use it for the greater good of humanity and for the greater glory of God.

Does anyone else find it incredibly jarring when these guys talk about scientific research and then suddenly switch gears and start telling us what a god tells them is his personal opinion? You do not know “God’s moral verdict,” Albert Mohler. You’re making it up as you go along.

Comments

  1. #1 Shalini
    March 10, 2007

    Hypocrisy IS the Christian creed.

  2. #2 llewelly
    March 10, 2007

    Given that presently existing ‘cures’ for homosexuality inspired by homophobia have troublesome side -effects such as depression, suicide, and uh, ‘regression’, I think some scepticism toward homophobia-motivated ‘cures’ is wise, whatever the mechanism.

  3. #3 David Parker
    March 10, 2007

    This sorta goes against their notion that homosexuality is a perverse lifestyle choice.

  4. #4 David Wilford
    March 10, 2007

    Christian eugenics, here we come… :-p

  5. #5 llewelly
    March 10, 2007

    These discussions always cause me to imagine a sexuality modification process, not for fetuses, but for twenty-somethings, and an entrepreneur who markets a treatment that causes bisexuality as ‘Your New Gateway to Sexual Freedom!’, and, another treatment, for this geek market, ‘Experience The Wonder of Genuine Desire for Cephalopods!’ .

  6. #6 gracchus
    March 10, 2007

    David Parker is absolutely right: if this is in fact acknowledgment of a biological basis of homosexualty, to the godly this means that God designed it into the species, and changing it seems to be interfering with God’s plan. If it’s all a “lifestyle choice” than the biological research to change orientation should automatically be a dead end. You can’t have it both ways. Not that the fundies are ever particularly constrained by logic….

  7. #7 Rugosa
    March 10, 2007

    Should we also look for the genes that make women uppity, so we can breed women to be docile and submissive?

  8. #8 Tukla in Iowa
    March 10, 2007

    Mohler seems to have gotten his knowledge of genetics from watching Star Trek.

  9. #9 Evolving Squid
    March 10, 2007

    Should we also look for the genes that make women uppity, so we can breed women to be docile and submissive?

    My totally non-scientific observation would indicate that is already happening.

    Look around you. Who has more kids? The submissive, docile, do-it-with-anyone-who-shows-me-some-attention single mom down the street, or the uppity CEO of the high tech company across town?

    It seems to me that human breeding is selecting for docile, submissive women and it’s just a matter of time before we see some kind of effect. I wonder what effect that will have on things like (for lack of a better term) “Women’s Lib”

  10. #10 Mike Haubrich
    March 10, 2007

    The moral absolutists continue to twist themselves in knots on matters like these. I have trouble figuring out how they can even imagine that there can be moral absolutes, and this entry illustrates the point.

    I am trying to get it straight: genetic assays are not okay for testing for anencephaly, but they are okay when testing amniotic fluid for homosexuality?

    Embryonic stem cell research is okay if we are using it to determine potential sinfulness but not if we are using it to find a way to cure juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea or even for finding ways to treat Alzheimer’s?

    Either something is moral or it is immoral, they say, and there are no gray areas except when I say there are gray areas. I’ll take moral relativism any day.

    Deus ex machina my ass. Gay is gay and straight is straight and e’er the twain shall meet.

  11. #11 Caledonian
    March 10, 2007

    There’s an article in my local paper today, in the “Faith and Values” section, in which the writer argues that the existence of God is irrelevant. His comments about this peculiar thesis confirms something I’ve suspected for a long time: for many theists, “God” is about a sociopolitical value package, not about making true statements about existent things. Theisms are the most convoluted advertising campaign ever invented. The question of whether a god exists, or even how the term “god” is defined, is no more important to that campaign than the existence of talking dried fruits is to the public recognition of the California Raisins.

    The individual discussed in this thread is implictly recognizing that the religious tenets are all about getting people to accept or reject certain principles, not about a “God” – all the rest is just advertising.

  12. #12 Mark Whitten
    March 10, 2007

    So…biological basis…hmm…I very much agree with gracchus.
    If god made people (and many, many animals) with the gayness, why would he/she/it want us to mess with his/her/its creation?
    And if god made us in his image, doesn’t that make god part gay? So therefore god’s a sinner…

    I would like to see how reprehensible groups like Love Won Out respond to this.

  13. #13 waldteufel
    March 10, 2007

    Ignorant, evil bastard.

  14. #14 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2007

    I’m trying to figure out if Mohler is against free will.

    But I get the impression he’s more confused than I.

  15. #15 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2007

    I’m trying to figure out if Mohler is against free will.

    But I get the impression he’s more confused than I.

  16. #16 Paul
    March 10, 2007

    Mark W – IF (did you notice that was a big if?!) there is a ‘gay gene’, it might mean that man’s expulsion from the garden of eden resulted in a genetic change in humans that introduced the gene. Similar changes may have happened in the ’7 deadly sin genes’, the ‘crime gene’, and perhaps the ‘bad hair gene’. Now I’m not sure if that means we’re no longer made in god’s image, or if we were *made* in his image but subsequent variation is allowed.

    Or it could just be a load of bollocks. I know what I’d pick.

  17. #17 Laelaps
    March 10, 2007

    And yet the fundies make a blather on and on about how “On the Origin of Species” spurred eugenics, abortion, etc. You have to wonder if they even know the meaning of the words they’re using. Perhaps by “Christian” they really mean “Hateful modern-day Pharisee.”

  18. #18 windy
    March 10, 2007

    “we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.”

    Wouldn’t castration be much more effective? And it would work for heterosexuals as well – no need to wait for prenatal tests.

  19. #19 Qalmlea
    March 10, 2007

    “if this is in fact acknowledgment of a biological basis of homosexualty, to the godly this means that God designed it into the species”

    Actually, they have an automatic out on this one. It was the Fall of Mankind that caused this Aberration. Which always strikes me as a rather idiotic, uh, fallback. If by falling, humanity could cause disease and famine and war and homosexuality and anything else that they don’t want to blame on their god, doesn’t that make humanity just as powerful as their god?

  20. #20 Geoffrey
    March 10, 2007

    Is it just me, or is ‘avoiding the inevitable’ an oxymoron?

  21. #21 Neil S
    March 10, 2007

    You must remember to put the logic in theological.

    The logical answer, of course, is that God created us perfect, but Original Sin corrupted us. There was no sex before that apple incident, not even the heterosexual sort. But then those original sinners learned all that damned knowledge for good and, mostly, for evil. God said to go forth and multiply, and so Adam and Eve figured out what those body parts were for. The presence of those body parts is further proof of God’s foresight.

    You can find evidence of that same prescience throughout nature. The Bible tells us that, In The Begining, the lion lay down with the lamb. Not in a Biblical sense, of course, they were just good friends. But look at the lion’s teeth. Not too good for eating leaves, huh? In anticipation of Eve’s Temptation and Adams’ poor judgement, God equipped the lion with those choppers. Lions also require high-protein, high-fat foods. All I can say is that it’s a good thing Eve didn’t wait any longer, ’cause that lion would have been in some trouble, dietetically speaking.

    So, regarding gayness, those gay gene are just corruptions that we caused ourselves. There’s no way to weasel out of it, sinners. Eve brought it on. God cast us out of Eden, but as a consolation prize, he let us f*** one another, but only those with opposite body parts and under strict controls. That’s the design and you’d have to be blind not to see it.

    The evidence is clear and the theologic undeniable.

  22. #22 Scott Hatfield
    March 10, 2007

    Augustinian? I’d bet that Mohler’s declaration comes on the heel of some personal issues with family members or personal friends. After all, while no biologist, the guy has the sort of education such that he must be aware of the theological problems a genetic origin for homosexuality poses. So he’s really grasping at straws here. What could prompt it? I doubt very much that he’s been trolling the scientific literature; he’s almost certainly prompted by events in his personal life.

    From that perspective, this trial balloon is as much to be pitied as to be scorned….

  23. #23 Carlie
    March 10, 2007

    Mohler explains the church version of fall from eden=bad genes bit himself:

    3. Given the consequences of the Fall and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found. After all, the human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God’s judgment.

    4. The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible’s moral verdict on homosexual behavior.

  24. #24 Blake Stacey
    March 10, 2007

    This does not alter God’s moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), [...]

    Reminds me of Spencer Tracy in the courtroom showdown scene of Inherit the Wind. “All these holy people got themselves begat through original sin? Well, all that sinnin’ make ‘em any less holy?”

  25. #25 Krystalline Apostate
    March 10, 2007

    Wow. So if this cat (thinks he) can alter the ‘strains of sin’, no doubt he’s daydreaming of a Gattaca-like Christian future. Where, like in the movie ‘Saved’, “All the boys looked like they worked for NASA.”

  26. #26 Blake Stacey
    March 10, 2007

    gracchus:

    If it’s all a “lifestyle choice” than the biological research to change orientation should automatically be a dead end. You can’t have it both ways. Not that the fundies are ever particularly constrained by logic….

    Bob Altemeyer:

    As I said earlier, authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another. It’s as if each idea is stored in a file that can be called up and used when the
    authoritarian wishes, even though another of his ideas—stored in a different file—basically contradicts it. We all have some inconsistencies in our thinking, but authoritarians can stupify you with the inconsistency of their ideas. Thus they may say
    they are proud to live in a country that guarantees freedom of speech, but another file holds, “My country, love it or leave it.” The ideas were copied from trusted sources,
    often as sayings, but the authoritarian has never “merged files” to see how well they all fit together.

    It’s easy to find authoritarians endorsing inconsistent ideas. Just present slogans and appeals to homey values, and then present slogans and bromides that invoke opposite values. The yea-saying authoritarian follower is likely to agree with all of them. Thus I asked both students and their parents to respond to, “When it comes to love, men and women with opposite points of view are attracted to each other.” Soon afterwards, in the same booklet, I pitched “Birds of a feather flock together when it comes to love.” High RWAs typically agreed with both statements, even though they
    responded to the two items within a minute of each other.

  27. #27 Caledonian
    March 10, 2007

    And yet the fundies make a blather on and on about how “On the Origin of Species” spurred eugenics, abortion, etc.

    In their heart of hearts, they don’t believe that.

    What they do believe is that evolution upsets many of the supports of their system for controlling people, and so it’s very important to associate evolution with the things that those people are taught to reject without consideration. Whether they’ve compartmentalized themselves enough so that they also “believe” what they’re saying isn’t really the point.

  28. #28 BlueIndependent
    March 10, 2007

    Here’s a man who’s planting the seed for biotechnological activism on the part of his social group, I wager. Perhaps in 30 years you’ll have church groups protesting outside biotech companies, calling for them to create a homosexuality-killing vaccine or drug or legislatable process by which children can be relieved of feared behaviors. It’s a weird thing to think about.

    As with many, many subjects religious leaders feel compelled to open their moouth about, he is again putting the cart before the horse, or at the very least revealing his pick-n-choose sensitivities about the Bible. The 2 extant phrases against homosexuality in the Bible aside, I thought God created all life in his image. So, if God decided to create a child who *MIGHT* turn out to be homosexual, is that not a dcree that supercedes the child’s actually being gay, if he/she turns out that way? Mr. Mohler seems to want to counteract God’s own will. Do these people not think about what they’re writing and arguing before they do so? One can only asssume they do not with such broken and hand-picked logic.

    The other examples given here of organized religion’s selective support and denunciation of biotechnological advancements illustrate the point further. And Rugosa makes a very incisive, damning point. Good one.

    Carlie, regarding your response to #3, you’re going to have to provide some evidence for that, and #18 provides important insight into the shaky foundation of your statement. Additionally, your response to #4 is merely reassertion of Mr. Mohler’s point, one that has been easily dealt with by others here. But regarding “moral verdicts” in the Bible, I do believe the Bible reached moral verdicts on the condemnation of the eating of shrimp, mixing clothes of different materials, and the planting of different crops next to each other. The cries of immorality surrounding these subjects are oddly silent. So why is it homosexuality that gets so much attention, honestly?

  29. #29 Laelaps
    March 10, 2007

    Caledonian:

    True, they may not actually believe what they’re saying, and I agree that much of the posturing against “Darwinism” comes from perceiving evolution as a threat to traditional beliefs, but the ignorance of Mohler astounds me. Creationists have a laundry list of problems with evolution, but this piece by Mohler shows that it’s likely they don’t even understand the words they’re using; they’re just spouting out whatever they read in “Darwin on Trial” or “Refuting Evolution.”

  30. #30 Stranger Jane
    March 10, 2007

    I’m having trouble deciding whether I’m pissed off with this guy, or just incredibly saddened.

    I find it interesting that, according to Albert Mohler, the “perfect moral storm of our times” is the possibility that a woman would, upon finding out that her unborn baby is genetically predisposed to homosexuality, would choose to abort it, no matter how open-minded she might be about homosexuality when it’s other people.

    It seems he’s saying “HAHAHA, you stupid liberals, getting bit in the nether regions by your own immoral manipulations of society! How do you like them apples?”

    He then proceeds to spend the remainder of his post tying Christian ethics into the kind of impressive knots that would make a scoutmaster weep.

    Doesn’t he have anything better to do?

  31. #31 Monado
    March 10, 2007

    Just think! They could do prenatal tests for the tendency to commit adultery, as well! Or to sass your parents. Or failing to rub blood on the horns of the altar in the correct manner.

    It wasn’t an apple, it was a fruit–probably a fig, because its interior fuzziness recalls the female hoo-haw-dilly (was that the new term from the vagina thread?) if you’ve been out in the desert too long.

  32. #32 PZ Myers
    March 10, 2007

    Doesn’t he have anything better to do?

    He’s a theologian.

    So, no.

  33. #33 Saint Gasoline
    March 10, 2007

    I hope they find a cure for bigotry and fundamentalism, first.

  34. #34 Scott Hatfield
    March 10, 2007

    I tend to think that the endemic homophobia of traditional faiths has a biological basis, in an argument along these lines: Homosexuals tend not to reproduce; if you don’t pass on your genes, you also fail to provide your ingroup with a vehicle to pass on its memes; hence, the homosexual’s existence implicitly threatens the ability of the culture to perpetuate itself.

    There is a counter-argument, however, from inclusive fitness that suggests how the potential for homosexual orientation can be preserved: ironically, it suggests that a class of religious will tend to forego having children in order to dedicate their energies towards the entire group.

    If both of these selective factors really were in play, it would suggest that the likely outcome is a balanced polymorphism: same-sex orientation maintained, but at a low level and symbolically transformed. As an example of the latter, an amusing but essentially accurate depiction of the status of the berdache in certain Native American tribes is featured in the film ‘Little Big Man.’

  35. #35 qetzal
    March 10, 2007

    Mohler (apparently) wrote:

    Given the consequences of the Fall and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found. After all, the human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God’s judgment.

    I think I can see where this leads.

    Before the Fall, we were perfect and so were our genes. After we sinned, our genes were corrupted.

    (How could we sin if we were perfect? Did the sin itself corrupt our genes, or did God do it? Admittedly, these are tough questions, but let’s set them aside for now.)

    So, imagine if we learn how to correct all the genetic corruptions. Not just in the genes that cause homosexual tendencies, but also in the genes that cause sinfulness, atheism, cephalopodophilia, etc. Don’t you see? Genetic modification is the path to bringing back Adam and Eve. Our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren could return us to our pre-Fall state of grace!

  36. #36 Carlie
    March 10, 2007

    BlueIndependent:
    I was quoting Mohler. I thought the fact that I first stated that he explains it himself, followed by the colon and then the quote, made that clear enough without adding blockquote tags. I was simply providing his statements that answered for his viewpoint on the questions raised, given that the questions implied that those readers had not noticed that he had already addressed them. In no way was it meant as an endorsement of said statements.

  37. #37 Steven
    March 10, 2007

    Their hatred of gays goes beyond their propensity to protect blastocysts. wow.

  38. #38 Caledonian
    March 10, 2007

    Creationists have a laundry list of problems with evolution, but this piece by Mohler shows that it’s likely they don’t even understand the words they’re using; they’re just spouting out whatever they read in “Darwin on Trial” or “Refuting Evolution.”

    Precisely. The content of explicit messages is irrelevent: in their minds, they exist only to convey the social message of what is acceptable and what isn’t, and perhaps to provide efficient ways to short-circuit the sense of tension that unresolved problems create.

  39. #39 JR
    March 10, 2007

    My vote is to look for the theocrat gene instead of the gay gene. Imagine a world without theocrats.

  40. #40 Azkyroth
    March 10, 2007

    PZ and others with a genetic background, before I try to answer, is Evolving Squid’s comment even remotely applicable to a modern understanding of human behavior patterns?

  41. #41 natural cynic
    March 10, 2007

    I wonder about what kind of, uh, perfect society we would have to be in to have in vitro genetic analysis, hormonal and other manipulations available and whether Mohler would want them to be mandatory. What if some group more fundamentalist than him felt that all the testing and manipulations were against “God’s will”? Would they be forced to submit? It’s interesting that Moller appears to be thinking about what he thinks the moral quandries of someone politically and theilogically opposed to him would be while ignoring the problems a fundamentalist might have. One more example of focusing on motes in other’s eyes while ignoring the beam in his own.

    One thing that I find somewhat remarkable about Mohler is that he seems to be cognizant of the issue at all and is not totally dismissive of any genetic/biological basis for homosexuality. Another thing that I noticed was his introductory sentence:

    What if you could know that your unborn baby boy is likely to be sexually attracted to other boys?

    Hmmmm, I wonder what he is worried about the most? Certainly not lesbians or the transgendered.

  42. #42 Chris
    March 10, 2007

    It would take a tremendous amount of work to develop reliable techniques to carry out the process that he favors, and these skills don’t just poof into existence by divine fiat. It would take years of experimental work on human and non-human embryos — embryos that would not survive the experiments — to build up that repertoire of reliable expertise.

    Exactly. Which is one thing if you’re talking about a cure for some fatal or horribly debilitating condition that isn’t otherwise treatable, but quite another when you’re talking about just being psychologically different from everyone else like homosexuality or autism.

    If the technology was handed to us on a silver platter, would it be ethical to use it? Gays are still targeted by significant prejudice in this country and around the world, so by “allowing” your child to be born with an increased probability of being gay, you increase their risk of being the target of that prejudice. Does that justify genetically engineering your child (which is exactly what this would be)? Does it matter whether or not the procedure has other health risks, or how much it costs (and how else you could have improved your child’s life with that money)? And if you live in a society where *women* are targets of prejudice, do the same arguments apply?

    I tend to think that the endemic homophobia of traditional faiths has a biological basis, in an argument along these lines: Homosexuals tend not to reproduce; if you don’t pass on your genes, you also fail to provide your ingroup with a vehicle to pass on its memes; hence, the homosexual’s existence implicitly threatens the ability of the culture to perpetuate itself.

    You’re making it more complex than it needs to be. Homosexuals are identifiably different. Stigmatizing people who are identifiably different helps the leaders of the majority keep people unified in supporting them. Therefore, societies tend to identify and stigmatize some group of outsiders, whether it’s the tribe on the other side of the river, blacks, Jews, communists, gays, Muslims, geeks, atheists… it doesn’t really matter what the difference is, as long as there aren’t too many of the “Others”. Enough to portray as a threat, but not enough that they could fight back and start a dangerous civil war.

    There’s no requirement that the Others actually *be* a threat – it’s useful to the leaders to portray them as one whether they are or not.

  43. #43 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 10, 2007

    developing a prenatal test for homosexuality and using that to decide whether to abort the fetus is completely unacceptable.

    Selection of children has always happened, whether it is placing physically deformed children in the woods to starve to death, or aborting female or otherwise selected fetuses in some of todays societies.

    It will no doubt continue for good (less handicapped persons) or worse (skewed gender profiles). I imagine that a certain interest for body modifications will always, in a free society, prevent (or is it pervert? :-) religious efforts to eradicate an unwanted reality.

    There are other issues here, of course. I doubt fetal screening or geneering will constrain genetic variability much, it can only remove known problematic genes or fetal conditions. But some handicapped persons feel devalued by the possibility for screening.

    I believe I understand the reason behind the emotion, but I don’t get, or misunderstand, the rationale. It is denying other individuals better possibilities and freedom from adversity.

    And otherwise they want equal treatment after been given as much as we can of the possibilities their handicaps removes. It seems to me that is an interpretation for what is happening here, since screening happens for other reasons as well.

    Gay is gay and straight is straight and e’er the twain shall meet.

    A rather effectual statement for its purpose. Until one consider bisexuals, and that they are more common than gays in some statistics. Already in Kinsey’s original, IIRC.

    And are sexual preferences that stable? Some seems to think not. I know what I look at in a partner or relation has changed over the years, so while I’m perhaps boringly stable in gender preferences, in others I’m not.

  44. #44 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 10, 2007

    developing a prenatal test for homosexuality and using that to decide whether to abort the fetus is completely unacceptable.

    Selection of children has always happened, whether it is placing physically deformed children in the woods to starve to death, or aborting female or otherwise selected fetuses in some of todays societies.

    It will no doubt continue for good (less handicapped persons) or worse (skewed gender profiles). I imagine that a certain interest for body modifications will always, in a free society, prevent (or is it pervert? :-) religious efforts to eradicate an unwanted reality.

    There are other issues here, of course. I doubt fetal screening or geneering will constrain genetic variability much, it can only remove known problematic genes or fetal conditions. But some handicapped persons feel devalued by the possibility for screening.

    I believe I understand the reason behind the emotion, but I don’t get, or misunderstand, the rationale. It is denying other individuals better possibilities and freedom from adversity.

    And otherwise they want equal treatment after been given as much as we can of the possibilities their handicaps removes. It seems to me that is an interpretation for what is happening here, since screening happens for other reasons as well.

    Gay is gay and straight is straight and e’er the twain shall meet.

    A rather effectual statement for its purpose. Until one consider bisexuals, and that they are more common than gays in some statistics. Already in Kinsey’s original, IIRC.

    And are sexual preferences that stable? Some seems to think not. I know what I look at in a partner or relation has changed over the years, so while I’m perhaps boringly stable in gender preferences, in others I’m not.

  45. #45 xebecs
    March 10, 2007

    Would they still support this if there were a chance — any chance at all — that the treatment could have a harmful side effect, such as, I don’t know, loss of the fetus?

    If the answer is still yes, I’d love to see them explain that stand. I know, hypocrisy is their collective middle name, but it would definitely be awkward for them.

  46. #46 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 10, 2007

    Actually, re bisexuality, I think the difficulties in demarcation and changes in behaviors cause some to say that this shouldn’t be a label on a person but on a behavior.

  47. #47 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 10, 2007

    Actually, re bisexuality, I think the difficulties in demarcation and changes in behaviors cause some to say that this shouldn’t be a label on a person but on a behavior.

  48. #48 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2007

    Perhaps by “Christian” they really mean “Hateful modern-day Pharisee.”

    :-°

    *innocent whistling*

    *crickets chirping*

    I tend to think that the endemic homophobia of traditional faiths has a biological basis, in an argument along these lines: Homosexuals tend not to reproduce; if you don’t pass on your genes, you also fail to provide your ingroup with a vehicle to pass on its memes; hence, the homosexual’s existence implicitly threatens the ability of the culture to perpetuate itself.

    There is a counter-argument, however, from inclusive fitness that suggests how the potential for homosexual orientation can be preserved: ironically, it suggests that a class of religious will tend to forego having children in order to dedicate their energies towards the entire group.

    This assumes that homosexuality is uniquely human. It isn’t — it has been observed in all manner of mammals and birds, at least.

    A year or so ago there was a study that found a correlation between male homosexuality and larger female fecundity than normal: both run in the same families. This suggests that (…at least one cause of…) male homosexuality is a byproduct of a trait that, in sum, still directly increases cold hard Darwinian fitness.

    The origin of homophobia is pretty much obvious to me. I am heterosexual, and I find male homosexuality disgusting. Of course, nobody forces me to watch; as long as nobody gets harmed, let them do it if they find it fun; but if I didn’t know better, I can easily see how I could believe it’s an illness, a grave sin, a symptom of possession by demons, whatever.

    I don’t find anything disgusting about female homosexuality, and what I hear about the porn market suggests that this attitude is widespread. In apparently the same vein, that Bible quote doesn’t even mention female homosexuality, and is implicitly but obviously addressed at men only: “Thou shalt not lay down with a man as thou dost with a woman; for it is an abomination.”

  49. #49 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2007

    Perhaps by “Christian” they really mean “Hateful modern-day Pharisee.”

    :-°

    *innocent whistling*

    *crickets chirping*

    I tend to think that the endemic homophobia of traditional faiths has a biological basis, in an argument along these lines: Homosexuals tend not to reproduce; if you don’t pass on your genes, you also fail to provide your ingroup with a vehicle to pass on its memes; hence, the homosexual’s existence implicitly threatens the ability of the culture to perpetuate itself.

    There is a counter-argument, however, from inclusive fitness that suggests how the potential for homosexual orientation can be preserved: ironically, it suggests that a class of religious will tend to forego having children in order to dedicate their energies towards the entire group.

    This assumes that homosexuality is uniquely human. It isn’t — it has been observed in all manner of mammals and birds, at least.

    A year or so ago there was a study that found a correlation between male homosexuality and larger female fecundity than normal: both run in the same families. This suggests that (…at least one cause of…) male homosexuality is a byproduct of a trait that, in sum, still directly increases cold hard Darwinian fitness.

    The origin of homophobia is pretty much obvious to me. I am heterosexual, and I find male homosexuality disgusting. Of course, nobody forces me to watch; as long as nobody gets harmed, let them do it if they find it fun; but if I didn’t know better, I can easily see how I could believe it’s an illness, a grave sin, a symptom of possession by demons, whatever.

    I don’t find anything disgusting about female homosexuality, and what I hear about the porn market suggests that this attitude is widespread. In apparently the same vein, that Bible quote doesn’t even mention female homosexuality, and is implicitly but obviously addressed at men only: “Thou shalt not lay down with a man as thou dost with a woman; for it is an abomination.”

  50. #50 Matt K
    March 10, 2007

    qetzal wrote (#34): “So, imagine if we learn how to correct all the genetic corruptions. Not just in the genes that cause homosexual tendencies, but also in the genes that cause sinfulness, atheism, cephalopodophilia, etc. Don’t you see? Genetic modification is the path to bringing back Adam and Eve. Our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren could return us to our pre-Fall state of grace!”

    Wouldn’t this defeat the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice and the whole plan of redemption? Would god be pleased that instead of turning in prayer and in supplication to him or to Jesus or to the Word, or whatever, to overcome our sins, we find some way to manipulate our sin-inducing genes? Perhaps, as long as the “sinner” himself chooses the therapy (preferably in close consultation with god), then it would be an acceptable method for overcoming sin; but to force it on others would surely be wrong, no? I suppose it would not be wrong if one subscribes to the “it’s our job to eradicate sin wherever it exists” philosophy. And so it goes.

    It is somewhat fun trying to apply logic and consistency to religious thinking. That said, it is, of course, sad that most religious talk serves only to hinder genuine moral progress and to obfuscate the truth about important factual issues.

  51. #51 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2007

    You’re making it more complex than it needs to be. Homosexuals are identifiably different. Stigmatizing people who are identifiably different helps the leaders of the majority keep people unified in supporting them.

    Obviously, that helps. As a red-haired geek, I can relate…

  52. #52 David Marjanovi?
    March 10, 2007

    You’re making it more complex than it needs to be. Homosexuals are identifiably different. Stigmatizing people who are identifiably different helps the leaders of the majority keep people unified in supporting them.

    Obviously, that helps. As a red-haired geek, I can relate…

  53. #53 rich (richmanwisco)
    March 10, 2007

    OH, that is RICH! So long as the ends supports your means, it’s OK? Well done!

  54. #54 CalGeorge
    March 10, 2007

    Thwomp! Get back in your hole, Mohler!

    [mentally playing a game of Whac-a-Mohler]

  55. #55 Sonja
    March 10, 2007

    This reminds me of comedian Steve Landisburgs’s stand-up routine. He went into full racist southern redneck voice and it went something like this:

    “I can tell by looking into a man’s eyes whether or not he’s going to kill somebody. I spotted me a potential murderer in the woods the other day. So I hung him. He’ll never kill nobody.”

    Fundamentalist Xians say they value life. But what they really value is innocent life.

    Therefore, most unborn children are innocent until they are born. However, if an unborn child were to have a gay gene then, guilty!

  56. #56 Mark Borok
    March 10, 2007

    It’s not only bad science, it’s very bad theology. Mohler basically wants science to save people from sin, a role which is supposed to be God’s (in Christianity at least).

  57. #57 Mike Haubrich
    March 10, 2007

    “Gay is gay and straight is straight and e’er the twain shall meet.”

    A rather effectual statement for its purpose. Until one consider bisexuals, and that they are more common than gays in some statistics. Already in Kinsey’s original, IIRC.

    This is why I usually end up eating lunch by myself and muttering and giggling. Only I get my own jokes, Mr. Larsson.

    Channeling Stewie: Kipling’s original was “ne’er the twain shall meet.” So I substituted “e’er” for “ne’er” because of bisexuality. They (meaning gays) walk among us, and I could care less how or why they are gay. I am even flattered on the rare occasions when one flirts with me.

    Back to the original article, I was also disturbed at the implication that liberal parents are willing to tolerate homosexuals until it involves their own children. Conservatives really do seem to believe that we are that shallow, and that faced with the possibility of raising a gay child we would choose to alter the child’s genetics.

    The only reason I would consider such a choice would be to prevent my son from being “curbed” by a skinhead with latency issues.

  58. #58 Warren
    March 10, 2007

    One is that I really doubt that there will be a “gay gene” to eradicate. There will be a number of alleles that may contribute to an interaction with environmental factors that may predispose an individual to favor one sex over another. I also suspect that if there are such genes, they will also contribute to other aspects of social and sexual interactions — disentangling the nuances of preference from the whole damn problem of loving people might well be impossible.

    Thank you. You’ve expressed eloquently and precisely exactly how I feel about sexual orientation. To my mind it’s as much acquired as it is innate, possibly more so — much as English, while the native tongue of many, isn’t the only language in the world, much as eloquence in many languages is possible.

    To assert that homosexuality is something to be abhorred or eliminated is equivalent, in my mind, to saying that English is the only “natural” language in the world and all others should be eliminated in deference to its “obvious” superiority.

    Poetry can roll forth from any tongue, as can the delectations of intimacy when it expresses genuine affection among partners of any number and gender permutation.

  59. #59 Mike Haubrich
    March 10, 2007

    And another thing, then I promise to leave this thread.

    Regarding the rams. I was watching a Nat’l Geographic show last night on Bison mating in Yellowstone park, and wondering about what happens to the bulls that lose out in the mating battle. They need to ejaculate, otherwise they wouldn’t fight so hard. How do they relieve themselves if they lose? They ain’t got hands n’ baby oil. Do they sodomize each other? Can this account for bisexuality in nature?

  60. #60 melior
    March 10, 2007

    If only there were a prenatal test for irredeemable asshattitude…

  61. #61 JamesR
    March 10, 2007

    Saint Gasoline.
    WE are the cure.

  62. #62 Rey Fox
    March 10, 2007

    “we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.”

    And here I was thinking that death is the wages of sin. Shows what I know.

  63. #63 Greg Laden
    March 10, 2007

    I think that efforts to explain religion from an evolutionary perspective may suffer some of the same problems as efforts to explain racism from an evolutionary perspective.

    It is probably not a totally sterile pursuit, but the groundwork needed is simply not in place yet.

    My personal view very very briefly, is this: Humans have, as a derived trait, the capacity to manage extended kinship systems. This includes the capacity to understand, communicate about, and use in social interactions kinship “units” that are not directly mapped onto real people (starting with people that used to exist but no longer do, and extending to “clan” concepts).

    Individual and small group association with these extended, abstract entities is central to much social and political game playing.

    Spirits (of real dead people or otherwise), gods, etc. are a natural and potentially useful extension of this.

    When Dawkins talks about belief in god being equivalent to belief in elves and fairies, he is dead-on. It is according to my model the same capacity.

    But, as I say, I’m not sure we have the theoretical tools in place to be rigorous in this discussion. But arm waving, well, that’s pretty easy at this point…

  64. #64 Caledonian
    March 10, 2007

    disentangling the nuances of preference from the whole damn problem of loving people might well be impossible.

    Why not throw out the baby with the bathwater?

  65. #65 Kagehi
    March 10, 2007

    A year or so ago there was a study that found a correlation between male homosexuality and larger female fecundity than normal

    Hmm. Assuming that is in fact a valid correlation, then wouldn’t it mean that things “might” scale like this:

    Women with hi-fecundity gene = A
    Women with average fecundity = B
    Women with low or “no” desire for children = C
    Gay men = D
    Bisexuals, both sexes = E
    Lesbians = F

    A< ---------->B< ----------->C
    D< ---------->E< ----------->F

    And I consider E to be the most environment effected, since most environments are likely to be quite hostile to bisexual contact and thus more likely to push one away from its expression. This would mean that the fewer children a woman wants, the more likely she could end up lesbian, but a man with the same gene set isn’t going to be effected much at all, while a woman on the other end of the spectrum would want lots of kids, but a man with the same gene mix would have a very high probability of being gay.

    It would make finding a “cure”, like this nut thinks is so great an idea, pretty much impossible. The default state, if you wanted to call it that, would be one where the individuals sexual preference is *capable* of attraction to either sex, but where only opertunity or social conditioning would prevent them picking the “right” one, from this guys perspective.

    Then again, it would give the moron a perfect grounds to babble about it being all about the choice of sinning, instead of biologically forced… That it would also make the very basis of his BS even more stupid wouldn’t phase such people in the least.

  66. #66 Corey Schlueter
    March 10, 2007

    Maybe the gay people who are “cured” of their homosexuality are actually bisexual. They are heterosexuals hiding their homosexual feelings because of guilt.

  67. #67 Bachalon
    March 10, 2007

    Here’s an interesting thought.

    We all hear fundies bleating that homosexuality is “unnatural.”

    If such a thing is determined to originate back to the womb, then wouldn’t heterosexuality that resulted from such an alteration be considered “unnatural” in a sense?

  68. #68 Djur
    March 10, 2007

    “The origin of homophobia is pretty much obvious to me. I am heterosexual, and I find male homosexuality disgusting.”

    I am heterosexual, and I don’t find anything to be disgusting about male heterosexuality. Honestly, there’s nothing gay men do which straights don’t do, too. Please be careful in ascribing your personal hangups to an entire class of people.

  69. #69 fred
    March 10, 2007

    A lot of homophobes are in fact, repressed homosexuals that feel repulsed at their own desires and feel the need to take it out on others and to demonize those desires in an effort to be more “natural” and to eliminate any connection to those desires.

  70. #70 bob
    March 10, 2007

    I met Rev Mohler a few years ago when we were on the same TV talk show. He is one of the harshest, most bitter people I have ever met. Many fundamentalists seem bitter, probably from the frustration of years of pushing nonsense with no measurable progress.

    Recently, (according to news reports) he suffered a serious medical emergency and rather than go to the Baptist Church he chose to go to the Baptist Hospital where they repaired his damage and he fully recovered.

    Isn’t it interesting that people like him will crusade against science until their own health is in trouble and then they will consume all the science they can get? All the while claiming it was some god that deserves the credit for their recovery.

  71. #71 Keith Douglas
    March 10, 2007

    “Not understanding that it comes from us, sometimes, we stand in front of the light and assume we are the center of the universe. God looks astonishingly like we do.”

    - G’Kar

  72. #72 yiela
    March 11, 2007

    Mike (comment 54), animals like rams (horses, goats too) can and do masturbate/ejaculate all the time. They like to hang around in a group of guys and…well, they don’t need hands or anything. They just kind of wave it up and down. Our horses used to do this out by the bus stop every afternoon waiting for us to get home. Even castrated males can do this. Intact males will sometimes mount each other too but that seems more like a dominance thing and they don’t seem to ejaculate. Personally, I don’t think it has anything to do with being “gay” or not. It’s just a behavior they do that feels good and is social. It’s just humans that get all freaked out about it.
    Can’t miss a chance to post about livestock sexuality!

  73. #73 autumn
    March 11, 2007

    Off topic, but I had a buddy who knew a guy (forthcoming story may well be apocryphal) who, with a bunch of friends, participated in an anti-abortion protest while wearing black clothes and sporting piercings of all types. The clincher is that the goth protesters were holding signs proclaiming “END ABORTION, THE ANTICHRIST MUST BE BORN” and “SATAN WANTS MORE SOLDIERS, END ABORTION”. The other protesters reportedly took great pains to get the authorities to remove the satanist protesters.

  74. #74 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 11, 2007

    Only I get my own jokes, Mr. Larsson.

    I know that feeling.

    So I substituted “e’er” for “ne’er”

    D’oh!

  75. #75 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 11, 2007

    Only I get my own jokes, Mr. Larsson.

    I know that feeling.

    So I substituted “e’er” for “ne’er”

    D’oh!

  76. #76 truth machine
    March 11, 2007

    we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin

    Mindboggling.

  77. #77 truth machine
    March 11, 2007

    The origin of homophobia is pretty much obvious to me.

    And yet you have failed to say anything about its origin.

    I am heterosexual, and I find male homosexuality disgusting.

    You’re a sick person; I suggest therapy. But your own derangement tells us nothing about the origin of homophobia.

  78. #78 truth machine
    March 11, 2007

    Look around you. Who has more kids? The submissive, docile, do-it-with-anyone-who-shows-me-some-attention single mom down the street, or the uppity CEO of the high tech company across town?

    Looking around you and asking leading questions that incorporate your own question begging biases is not a very scientific approach.

  79. #79 truth machine
    March 11, 2007

    PZ and others with a genetic background, before I try to answer, is Evolving Squid’s comment even remotely applicable to a modern understanding of human behavior patterns?

    Do you even have to ask? The question was whether we should look for docility genes, and ES responded by “observing” that docile women have more children. What, exactly, is the connection between the latter and the former?

  80. #80 Interrobang
    March 11, 2007

    Those docile high-reproducing women are raised docile, and there’s no guarantee that political or social philosophy transmits to the next generation. Hell, I’ve been seeing the opposite: more and more reports of children of very secular parents becoming involved with fundamentalist religions of all types. Who’s to say that children of fundamentalists won’t grow up and become secular out of reaction? (I actually know a female ex-Old Order Mennonite, one of the branch of the sect that doesn’t even use electricity, so that isn’t so far fetched.) This whole “demographic warfare” thing is crap, no matter who’s pushing it.

    Re: Comment #25

    Is it just me, or did Altemeyer pick a bad example there? I can totally see how a high-RWA could simultaneously believe — in the case of love — that opposites and similars attract. The entire conservative courtship structure is built along exactly that gestalt — you must become involved in a relationship with an opposite sex partner, and men and women are presumed to have entirely different spheres of existence, presumptively opposite, but at the same time, the social context in which high-RWAs would find love is highly concerned with similars. You’re only supposed to find your opposite number in a group of people who are like you — same race, same class, same religion, possibly same ethnic group, “our kind of people” and so on. In the context of that mindset, I don’t find that dualist belief to be “unintegrated” or contradictory; probably if you could find a RWA with a very high capacity for abstract analysis, they would tell you that the similarity and differentness that governs social relationships have different domains, so to speak. Where the trouble starts is that RWAs have very narrow parameters for defining acceptable levels of similarity and difference.

    Which of course is pretty much exactly why they hate gay people so much — the existence of gay people throws a monkey wrench right into the gears of their well-oiled (with snake oil) worldview.

  81. #81 Azkyroth
    March 11, 2007

    truth machine:

    Eh, not really; the question was mainly rhetorical…although I note that EvolvingSquid’s hypothesis would seem entirely correct if genetics were either the only influence on human behavior or so overwhelming an influence as to render social influences negligible. Enough said, I think.

  82. #82 Tim Harris
    March 11, 2007

    What evolutionary benefits to a species might result from their being members of it who are homo- or bi-sexual? And if there are benefits, what damage might be done to the species by ensuring that there are no such members?

  83. #83 RavenT
    March 11, 2007

    yiela:

    animals like rams (horses, goats too) can and do masturbate/ejaculate all the time.

    Bears too, both male and female.

    They like to hang around in a group of guys and…well, they don’t need hands or anything. They just kind of wave it up and down.

    Bears will also rub against solid objects; they’re actually quite resourceful in the absence of opposable thumbs.

    Unlike the Conan O’Brien “Masturbating Bear” character, though, I’ve never actually known any of them to wear diapers.

  84. #84 Scott Hatfield
    March 11, 2007

    Tim: if you’ll reference post #33, you’ll see some speculation re: human homosexuality.

    David: I, too, would like you to discuss the origins of homosexuality in humans, not your emotional response to same. We would still be interested in *why* you feel disgust.

    And, with respect to the observation that male homosexuality seems far more likely to invoke disgust among males than female homosexuality, I make the following observation:

    Males who copulate with males are sacrificing gametes (sperm); females who pleasure one another are not sacrificing gametes, nor need they be in ‘heat’, since have the unusual property of (potentially) being sexually receptive at all times. And, if the female in question was already pregnant (presumably, the ancestral primate reasons) with your offspring, then what is to you if they spend time grooming one another, or a little bit more? What matters, to males, is the number of offspring.

    Thus, I think the relevant scriptural passage is probably the story of Onan, the OT’s version of ‘every sperm is sacred.’ If the object of abhorrence is really the unproductive sacrifice of gametes, this would not only explain Onan’s judgement, but also the hysterical injunctions against masturbation….SH

  85. #85 Thinker
    March 11, 2007

    Why are some people so hung up about what consenting adults do in their bedrooms? (or anywhere else, for that matter…) I’m straight, and while thinking of homosexual acts is a turn-off for me personally, so are thoughts of some heterosexual acts. That particular set of preferences happens to be a part of who I am.

    The point is that it doesn’t matter if I have those preferences because of genetics, environmental factors in the womb or later, or social conditioning; I have no right to make those the norm for the behavior of anyone else, just as they can’t expect me to conform to theirs.

    Finally, since I get just as happy from seeing a gay couple in love as I do when I see a straight couple, here’s wishing everybody a great springtime with your Chosen One, quoting the words of Billy Joel from “Only the Good Die Young”: “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than die with the saints, ’cause sinners have much more fun”.

  86. #86 Nullifidian
    March 11, 2007

    You know, the SRY gene is highly correlated with male homosexuality. Indeed, in every single case of male homosexuality, the SRY gene is present. I suggest Albert Moller may want to check himself to see if he possesses the gene.

  87. #87 Azkyroth
    March 11, 2007

    Scott:

    My observation has generally been that disgust at male homosexuality seems to be linked more to concerns about “manliness” and a demeaning societal perspective on women implicitly extended to others who are penetrated…that and exaggerated persepctives on the aesthetic and hygienic complications of anal sex in particular. More sweatiness and body hair might also be a factor… *thinks* this would be interesting to study, but since the number of people who don’t take offense at being asked to *explain* their subjective positions is alarmingly low…

  88. #88 Scott Hatfield
    March 11, 2007

    Azkyroth: You raise an interesting issue, which is the role that sexual displays have in establishing dominance. It’s the ‘fuck’ in ‘fuck you’ that embodies a symbolic attempt to dominate the other, by violence if necessary. And, of course, we have all sorts of pathological examples in our kind of individuals who routinely conflate aggression and dominance with sexuality.

    Having said that, it need not be that way. Bonobos *mediate* conflicts through sexual display, and aggression (particularly male aggression) is subsumed into a larger hierarchy of female alliances. Shades of Goethe, who wrote, “The eternal Feminine leads us upward!”

    (amused) I’m glad there are at least some of us who can discuss such things dispassionately. These are the kinds of things one can palaver over a few suds, so don’t forget, I owe you one! (happy smile) Another excuse to drink….SH

  89. #89 wicker
    March 12, 2007

    I guess there is also some genetic basis for extremly conservative religiousness. if anything, we should try to eradicate those genes.

    of course, I am not serious, but it simply fills me with utter disgust to hear something that sick and schizoprenic.

    I believe that contradictions are, in fact, essential to religion.

    preach love – spread hatred, preach peace – start war etc.

    I guess, because the bible is so full of contractictions, religious people just start to accept that complete contradictions are part of everday life.

  90. Scott Hatfield #78: “I think the relevant scriptural passage is probably the story of Onan, the OT’s version of ‘every sperm is sacred.’ If the object of abhorrence is really the unproductive sacrifice of gametes, this would not only explain Onan’s judgement, but also the hysterical injunctions against masturbation.”

    Many Christians (particularly of the Catholic flavor) would agree with you here, but they’re wrong. Onan’s sin had nothing to do with wasting sperm — that’s a deliberate misinterpretation of the story.

    Onan, you see, had a married brother who died before he could impregnate his wife. According to “god’s law” at the time, in this circumstance it is required that the brother (Onan, in this case) impregnate the widower so she won’t be deprived of children. Onan objected rather strongly to doing this. In protest, he had se with her, but pulled out and ejaculated on the ground so as to (in a bad theory of contraception) eliminate the chance of conception.

    In other words, he deliberately defied “god’s law” in the most confrontative way possible. This was his sin. The sin was not in wasting sperm, but in (in effect) spitting in the eye of god.

    The story in no way implies that wasting sperm is wrong, and it doesn’t even mention masturbation at all.

  91. #91 Judy L.
    March 12, 2007

    why in god’s name do these people need science to fix their homosexual fetuses? don’t these people believe in the power of prayer?

    so, if you prayed to you god to not make your baby gay (and hey, if god created everything, he created those gay genes too) and your baby turned out gay, maybe you didn’t pray hard enough.

    on the subject of homophobia: i like how quention crisp put it: “Mainstream people dislike homosexuality because they can’t help concentrating on what homosexual men do to one another. And when you contemplate what people do, you think of yourself doing it. And they don’t like that. That’s the famous joke: I don’t like peas, and I’m glad I don’t like them, because if I liked them I would eat them and I hate them.”

    my own analysis is this: there is a tendency among all human cultures to revile those who are sexually vulnerable. in many cultures the derogatory terms for male homosexuals are specifically applied only to those who are penetrated. so homophobia seems to be a fear of being sexually subjugated/vulnerable and hating those who are. also, homosexuals are regarded as living outside the culture of the family, so it violates many of the strongly held beliefs in many cultures about what family is supposed to look like and how it’s to operate. and then there are just those bigots who hate anyone who isn’t exactly like them and want to tell everyone else how to live.

  92. #92 ordinarygirl
    March 12, 2007

    “This isn’t CSI, where ‘science’ is magic.”

    Best quote ever!

  93. #93 Scott Hatfield
    March 12, 2007

    Dear Reverend with many titles:

    You make a good point, but consider. It wasn’t Onan’s brother’s good friend or Onan’s brother’s second cousin who was obligated to rear up ‘godly seed before the Lord.’

    It was his brother, Onan.

    After all, assuming nothing untoward in Onan’s family tree, Onan would’ve had fifty percent of his brother’s gametes. Even though he might have well passed on fifty percent of his brother’s gametes with his own spouse, and carried them in his own children, strictly speaking in his patriarchal culture he was denying his brother’s line ‘godly seed before the Lord’. From where I sit, the nuances of how the culture viewed his act are things that are mapped onto the biological reality, which is that males have a different reproductive strategy that leads them to extort a level of meaning from their own sexuality and its practice distinct from the lives of women.

    The extrapolation from that of the difference in hostility on the basis of gender of this or that taboo behaviour is, from this point of view, an intriguing speculation and one hardly ruled out by the theological gloss. This isn’t an exercise is ruling one way or the other on the harmony of scripture or theology, etc. I’m treating the OT account as a found object, in the manner of anthropology.

    While we’re on the subject, have you ever heard of the Etoro tribes of New Guinea? They practiced ritual homosexuality between men and boys, with heterosexual interactions being severely proscribed to just a few times a year, on pain of death. Interestingly enough, the Etoro believe that their semen contains a ‘life force’ that must be fed to immature males to help them properly develop; women, in turn, are held to waste the life force if they are unable to get pregnant and such are often shunned or even killed as ‘witches.’ (1)

    *That* should make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. What is this culture, if not a weird mirror on NE patriarchy? Females are still inferior beings who essential purpose is to provide offspring, and every sperm is still *sacred*, whereas now homosexuality, rather than being a threat to the divine law, is ritually embedded in the fabric of the society. Food for (ahem) thought?…SH

    (1) Kelly, R. C. (1993) Constructing Inequality: The Fabrication of a Hierarchy of Virtue Among the Etoro (Univ. of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor).

  94. #94 Colin
    March 16, 2007

    David said “the origin of homophobia” not “the origin of homosexuality”. It’s okay if it makes him sick to think about it. I feel that way about hetero-sex.

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