The majority of citizens in the US believe that anti-discrimination cases should be limited to unchangeable issues of nature like race, gender and matters of disability. Religious based discrimination is viewed as a separate issue addressed by the first amendment. Most Americans are also hesitant to to include people’s sexual desires and behaviors under anti-discrimination law. The push on the part of homosexual activists to widen laws and ordinances to include their sexual orientation is perceived as an effort to force their lifestyle on others. People are fearful that a widening of laws and ordinances to include people’s sexual desires and behaviors is to acquiesce to an agenda designed to force the chosen lifestyles of a few on many.
A key tactic in the agenda to normalize homosexual behavior and legalize gay marriage has been to convince the public that opposition to homosexuality is a form of racism. But, traditionally, anti-discrimination law of the civil rights kind protected people based on unchangeable aspects their nature– not their chosen lifestyles.
This is why the debate over homosexuality turns to whether one’s sexual orientation is a matter of choice or a condition of birth. A somewhat easy case can be made for heterosexual orientation as a natural condition of birth. The categories of male and female have never changed in any place at any time. We all know that without heterosexuality, we would cease to exist as a race.
Occasionally someone will ask me if I chose to be heterosexual. The aim of the question is to trace the origins of sexual orientation. But even if I could prove that I was born genetically preconditioned to be sexually attracted to women, it wouldn’t mean that acting on the attraction would always be the ethically right decision.
Answering source questions for behaviors will not necessarily lead to moral assessments of those actions. Morality has to do with right and wrong; source questions are more complex. Sources behind behavior could include genetic, cultural, experiential and social contributors. But sources cannot force me to behave in a certain way. They can exercise strong influence over me but, in the end, I must choose to act in relation to those influences. I see things this way based on a high regard for human dignity. And this means that I must look elsewhere for deciding matters of right and wrong.
Consider, as an example, an adulterous woman who complains that her act of adultery (i.e. her wrongful heterosexual behavior) was because of her distant and uncaring husband. Sympathy toward her for being in a troubled marriage is understandable but it doesn’t mean that her act of adultery was the morally right choice.
If a pedophile feels driven to his behavior from what he identifies as a natural urge of genetic origin, or if he argues that he has a wonderful nurturing relationship with the children he sexually molests, we cannot approve his behavior on either account. No matter what reason he offers, his sexual conduct must be condemned as morally reprehensible. He must be held morally culpable for his sexual choices.
When resolving ethical and legal questions, a person’s choice must be considered as a primary factor in sexual conduct. Arguments for sexuality based on genetic predisposition do not advance discussions about right or wrong or what is best for a society. It is possible to be physiologically inclined toward many different types of behavior. But we must be very careful about using such impulses to define personhood or to justify behavioral choices.
I do not think it is best to speak of any type of sexual desire outside of the context of human choosing. And it is especially misleading to compare civil rights battles regarding race and gender to battles for sexuality. This is a false comparison that removes human choosing from sexual behavior. It also gives people the misleading impression that those who desire certain sexual lifestyles face mistreatment comparable to the wrongful ways African-Americans were treated during the civil rights battles. This is a highly offensive comparison and using it to gain support for sexual lifestyles is a form of emotional manipulation. If people are wrongly treated because of lawful sexual lifestyles, there are sufficient existing laws to provide protection for them. Creating new laws to support sexual lifestyles is unwise and sets a dangerous legal precedent.
A society that intends to condemn certain forms of sexual conduct as illegal (i.e. rape, incest, child pornography, etc), must treat sexuality in the context of human choosing– not as a predetermined condition.
Millersville Bible Church
58 West Frederick Street
Millersville, PA. 17551