Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Homosexuality is like pedophilia or bestiality

(1)Pedophilia in any circumstances constitutes rape because, by legal definition, a minor cannot be a consensual sex partner.(2) Pedophilia is also a violation by any measurement because it is forcing sexual activity on someone who is not physically or psychologically ready for it.(3) Love and sex between two consenting adults who are the same gender has nothing to do with pedophilia whatsoever, whether legally, morally or theologically.(4)
Bestiality is a person having sex with an animal - this comparison is offensive, as if a same-gender partner was not even a human being.(5) Love and sex between two people of the same gender has nothing to do with bestiality whatsoever, whether legally, morally or theologically.(6)

1. This analogy is usually proposed as a 'more accurate' analogy for homosexuality than race or gender. Race and gender, goes the argument, are 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, and primarily non-behavioral conditions of life, and therefore, intrinsically benign. Whereas, sexual orientation is only partially heritable, somewhat mutable, and behavioral. It is more analogous, they would say, to other sexual behaviors such as pedophilia, bestiality, polyamory, or incest. We reject the idea that it is so simple to separate identity and behavior. Proponents of this argument ignore the degree to which race and gender actually are social constructs - behavioral patterns, which are highly mutable and anything but benign. We reject discrimination on the basis of race and gender, just as we reject discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, because it is possible for a person of any race or gender to live a moral life not because the categories themselves are heritable.

It should go without saying that sex with minors is, and should be, illegal. Occasionally, one hears it put forward by opponents of equality for LGBTQ persons that we should consider pedophilia a sexual orientation, maybe even a protected category. This is an extension of the basic mistake underlying the entire analogy which is a misplaced emphasis on the structural characteristics of various sex acts. Whatever you might think of same-sex acts, there is a pretty basic difference between having sex with a consenting adult and having sex with a child or minor, and not just from the obvious legal standpoint, but on a moral level as well. That difference is to do with harm and consent.

This is where we would list citations for the fact that victims of pedophilia are emotionally and psychologically damaged by it forever; that they carry the wounds around with them for the rest of their lives. Really, though, do we need to make this case? I hope not.

Consent matters, and children are not able to consent either legally or psychologically. In Biblical times, people we consider children and minors now would be acceptable sex partners. Similarly, the consent of a woman was often irrelevant. Thankfully, in many areas, our theology has moved beyond the worldview held by the authors of the Bible. We are not aware of a significant modern theologian who would argue that consent does not matter, or that children are the same as adults with regard to sexuality.

If LGBTQ folks are 'the enemy', we would expect some opponents of justice and inclusion to dehumanize them. If 'they' rut about like animals, or if they are no better than those who violate children, if they cannot possibly be making love exactly like heterosexuals make love, then it is easier to deny them equality.

Comparing homosexuality to pedophilia is bad logic; comparing homosexuality to bestiality is entirely beyond the pale. The issues of harm and consent still apply. Sex with animals is abuse, and animals are incapable of giving consent. Those incapable of distinguishing between cruelty to animals and adult consensual love are not in a position to teach us anything about sexual ethics.


Alan said...

One wonders, given that we hear this argument so often, even at Presbytery meetings, exactly what goes on in people's minds who compare loving relationships to bestiality.

Why is it that the first thing so-called conservatives think about is sex with animals? Makes one wonder where their head is at.

Kattie W. Coon said...

When I see two Gays walking down the street hand in hand, I don't think to myself, "God gave them over to shameful lusts". What they do behind closed doors is their business, but I certainly don't assume it to be "shameful lust" any more than what goes on between any other loving human couple. Comparisons to Bestiality??? Nope, my mind just won't go there. I'm with Alan, wondering where their heads are stuck.

Doug Hagler said...

I think you answer your own question. People who make this argument have their heads stuck in the idea that "God gave them over to shameful lusts" - not just shameful, but truly equivalent to violating a child sexually or having sex with an animal. This post is just about cutting the legs out from under that argument with regard to it's own merits (it has none). I assume this blog post won't put a stop to the argument being out there, though.

Kattie W. Coon said...

I'm afraid you're right about it not putting a stop to those kinds of arguments. They'll continue to find sex obsessed scholars who will be glad to fabricate bigoted arguments to shove down our throats. There are enough of them to gag on.

I'm hopeful that 10-A will pass. The early indications (based on the voting swings of the first seven presbyteries) are quite favorable. I'm guessing we'll know by late February. Most of the necessary, likely favorable, swing vote Presbyteries will have voted by then.

Even if 10-A passes, I'm fairly certain the bestiality like arguments will hang in there for quite a while. There are just plain too many who will refuse to be a friend to their colleagues.

Doug Hagler said...

The vote going the other way won't change many hearts, but it'll be a real reason for celebration. It'll mean that hundreds of people who could not be ordained before will be able to be ordained now. It'll mean that we no longer tacitly support not only poor arguments like the one we deal with here, but things like bullying and abuse toward sexual minorities.

We will absolutely still fight over this at the next GA, and the one after that, and the one after that. The thing is - this is a change that will happen. I am a cynical pessimist, but I still trust in that, on a long scale.

In 10 years or less, we'll be ordaining LGBTQ folks into our tiny, shrinking denomination. In 50 years, we'll wonder why we even fought over it. It'll be like stories of lunch counter sit-ins in the 50s are to my generation. I wonder how people, many of whom are still alive now, could possibly have felt and thought that way.

It will be alien to us.

On the short scale, sooner is better than later. I want to be part of a denomination and feel even more proud of our witness. Then dust off and turn to the next thing I feel passion around, because there's a *lot* more than this on my mind and heart...

Jodie said...

"sex obsessed scholars ... enough of them to gag on."

Nice. LOL

Alan said...

"n 10 years or less, we'll be ordaining LGBTQ folks into our tiny, shrinking denomination. In 50 years, we'll wonder why we even fought over it. "

Yup. Max Plank said of science that it advances "one funeral at a time." The same could be said for getting rid of any other unsupportable dogma.

Doug Hagler said...

I didn't know that was a Max Plank quote, but I'd heard that said before. Sometimes that's just the brute truth of it.

A more positive way of saying a similar thing would be that progress comes one newborn at a time :) That first generation born after segregation, for example, was different from the previous one for that very reason.

Alan said...

I suppose that's nicer. Alas, by the time the busybodies, fusspots, tattletales and scolds are finished, I think you'll have a hard time finding anyone in the next generation who wants to join any church.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Well, maybe the style of church will change as we attract the next generation. The great thing is that God works through us to establish the earthly face of the Church, but the Church is, always has been, and always will be the Church. My hope is that we are in it.

Alan said...

I hope so, Kattie. But first we'd have to attract the next generation. Though the other side makes much hay out of a few people here and there leaving our denominations, they never imagine that it is their own actions keeping thousands from ever stepping foot in a church.

According to a membership report from last year, when you look at all the people who left the PCUSA and did not join another church, one can only reach this conclusion: 34,000 conservatives left the denomination because of their obsession over genitals, and 104,428 people left the denomination because they got sick of conservatives' obsession over genitals.