SOME PRAGMATIC THOUGHTS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY
W. John Green. B.Sc
The proposal that a Priest of the Church of England who is an
acknowledged homosexual, should be consecrated as a Bishop, and the
subsequent election of an active homosexual to a similar post in the U.SA.
has, as was no doubt expected, caused a furore both within the Church and in
the media. This underlines that in spite of the spread of liberal ideas and
the relaxation of taboo on public discussion of sexual matters, the
existence and practice of homosexuality is still far from being regarded as
“normal” and socially acceptable. Otherwise the matter would have received
no more notice than the appointment of a Bishop who smoked a pipe.
Over the years there has been much comment and discussion about the
Church’s stance on homosexuality, much of it marked by prejudice and failure
to examine the possible cause(s). In the 1980’s a Committee of the Church of
England, chaired by Bishop John Yates, produced a lengthy report which
signally failed to get down to brass tacks, and ended up being regarded as
yet another C-of-E “fudge”.
The author of this paper, prior to ordination, was trained in a
scientific discipline and so can only regard with concern the emotions which
have been stirred, apparently without proper examination and research into
the primary cause of homosexual orientation and the practices which result
from it. People in high places are making, or being called to make, moral
judgements concerning a human condition, the cause and consequences of which
are uncertain. Judgements appear to be made more on the basis of emotionally
motivated hypotheses rather than authenticated facts.
There are probably many factors which cause the variation in the
“orientation” of sexual desire, and many consequences which can be
anticipated, but three possibilities come easiest to the mind of the author.
The word “possibility” is stressed. Each is put forward as an hypothesis for
further research rather than as a position to be defended. The very
disproving of any or all of them would be a step forward, but until such is
done, we are groping in the dark.
1. HOMOSEXUALITY IS DUE TO A GENETIC VARIATION.
If this is the only origin of the condition, then in itself it has no
more moral content than has masculinity, femininity, or for that matter,
baldness or left-handedness. Genetic research could therefore be put in hand
to confirm or deny that this as a genetically induced condition and a
Genetic mutation of any kind can be malignant, benign, or neutral as
regards its effect, long or short term, on the human race
If it is an increasing social acceptability of a mutation which is the
cause of homosexuality becoming more publicised and perhaps more widespread,
then the possible consequences for humanity need examination and
anticipation. They may well be different from those generated by a
comparatively short-term change of social habit.
During the 20th. century, the human race saw a significant social change,
in that infant mortality decreased, life expectancy increased and the huge
casualties which had been caused by war and disease for most of human
history decreased dramatically. This has resulted in a world population
which is increasing exponentially, and carries, ultimately, a potential
threat to the human species. Food supplies, however efficiently they are
produced, are not infinite, nor is living space. We are told that the
average depth of top-soil on the land masses of this planet is four inches.
It does not require an Einstein to calculate the food production potential
of such a quantity of productive soil. Increased farming efficiency
indicates that given equitable distribution, this need not cause famine
amongst any alive today, but on a finitely-sized planet, exponential growth
must eventually threaten food supply, and eventually, the very space needed
in which to live. Anything which needs to be shared by an infinite number,
becomes nothing. Put mathematically, anything divided by infinity is zero.
The problem has been exacerbated by the widespread assumption of a human
“right” to “be fruitful and multiply”, whatever the conditions. We have
become familiar with societies where it is regarded as a disgraceful
weakness not to be able to produce offspring, ideally in large numbers. We
have seen the rise of in vitro fertilisation and surrogate motherhood. It
now seems to be regarded as a human right that any couple should be able to
receive fertility treatment at the public expense. One surrogate mother is
recently reported as having borne eight surrogate children, simply “because
I like to help people”. We have seen the plight of three-year-old infants
conceived years after some famine commenced and whilst it is still running.
They were not born of their own volition. They have not condemned themselves
to a brief life of starvation before meeting an early death.
The life of the male of any species is dominated by the urge to copulate
and thereby pass on his genes. The female is equally dominated by the urge
to bear and nurture children. The natural and undisciplined expression of
these urges leaves the species at the mercy of equally natural forces which
Until our time, famine, cholera, small-pox, malaria, venereal and other
diseases, as well as an endless succession of wars, provided the regulators
and gave the priority for survival to the fittest. In the twentieth century,
medical skill ensured a higher survival rate, whilst the “bomb”, after
Nagasaki, acted as a deterrent to wholesale slaughter. It is still regarded
as a fundamental ethic that life shall be preserved, whatever the quality of
that life may be.
Nevertheless, the reduction or elimination of one control factor has the
habit of bringing others into play, factors which hitherto have been
unsuspected. The spread of AIDS, particularly in Africa, now receives less
publicity than a motorway crash and the threat of “SARS” lies dormant. There
would seem to be little doubt that AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease
for which there is no known cure, and that initially it was triggered,
nourished and spread by the practice of male homosexuality. That statement
is so important that it urgently needs affirmation or denial.
Until recent times homosexual practice was regulated in some degree by
social taboo reinforced by legal prohibition. Its significance compared with
other ‘controls’, was therefore limited. In those parts of the world where
there is ignorance of physio-medical matters combined with lack of hygiene
facilities, the control of population by AIDS has now become a major factor,
replacing other venereal diseases as a main item.
In the increase in homosexuality, if there is indeed an increase, and it
is not just another sex-obsessed media “hype”, we may be witnessing the
operation of a natural genetic control of population, replacing cholera,
malaria, small-pox and massacre.
If it is a mutation in the species which is malignant and threatens or
assists the species’ extinction, then above all else, we have a bio/medical
research problem. That is, unless humanity can view its own ultimate
extinction with equanimity and “let things take their course”. We can carry
out further research, but there is also a sexual discipline problem both
with an uncontrolled increase in childbirth and with sexually spread
disease. None of these can be quickly solved given the state of present
knowledge, and experience has shown that no ‘remedy’, as tried for example,
in China, is ever entirely complete.
2. HOMOSEXUAL ‘ORIENTATION’ IS CAUSED BY ENVIRONMENTAL AND EMOTIONAL
FACTORS ENCOUNTERED AFTER CONCEPTION.
There is strong evidence to suggest that homosexual orientation is
produced by the environmental conditions by which the infant is influenced,
from, or even prior to birth. If these factors do not in themselves initiate
sexual orientation then they may trigger a domination one way or the other.
The emotions and the environment to which we are all subjected at or before
birth form a major part of our education in relationship both with people
and with our environment. To be aware of these, and much more “by opposing
to end them”, calls for a self awareness and a self-discipline which is
given to few. Perhaps this is the real meaning of being “born again”.
A recent television investigation into the suicide of a young “Christian”
man who “discovered that he was gay”, revealed a bigoted father and a lack
of understanding of human love in the young man’s life. It became apparent
that, contrary to the Gospel, his religious upbringing had emphasised “love
for Jesus” as a substitute for human love and understanding. The case showed
an astonishing degree of incompetence on the part of a Baptist Minister, a
C-of-E Priest, and a professional psychologist.
The human mind will go to great lengths to seek some affinity with
another with whom and through whom, affection, shared experience, and
ultimately some form of physical intercourse may be obtained. If this urge
cannot be satisfied through the means which society’s conventions sanction,
then the pressure to discover other means will be intense and require for
its resistance a greater discipline than many are able to muster or perhaps
should be expected to muster. It is suggested that this is the cause of so
many so-called “perversions”. Physical, mental and social pressures imposed
by the current social climate can lead to mental instability, and like the
case described above, may lead to fatal consequences.
Over recent years liberalising influences have changed, or tried to
change, what society will sanction. Until quite recently, homosexuality was
regarded as a crime in itself and its practice punishable by imprisonment.
At the same time photographs of Alice Liddell, taken by Lewis Carroll and at
that time accepted with some sentimentality, would probably now be regarded
with suspicion of his being paedophilic, a condition now being exploited by
the “media” as the ultimate perversion, equated with child abuse.
Common examples of ‘conditioned homosexuality’ might be the boy who,
because of ‘over-mothering’, or the girl who has been over-emotionally
attached to her father, has been prevented from developing an objective and
balanced attitude to the other sex. When, through the process of ageing of
the parent and maturing of the child the emotional bond fades or is broken,
the child may interpret this as a rejection, not only by the specific
parent, but by the sex which that parent represents. It can result in active
hatred of the sex which “has let me down”. So the child my turn to a member
of its own sex for the emotional outlet which is needed.
3. The third hypothesis, which overlaps the second to some degree, is
that HOMOSEXUALITY IS DELIBERATELY ADOPTED. There could be many reasons for
History shows that in any society there will be always those whose
conduct is dominated by a desire to defy current social constraints and
taboos and to introduce alternatives. Adopting a “difference” and
identifying in a peer group with others with the same “difference” is a well
recognised ploy in drawing attention or delineating an entity. A simple
example of this is the use of what is known as “foul language”. This is
often accompanied by violent conduct, physical or emotional, on the part of
those who consider themselves disadvantaged. The underlying purpose is to
shock a society to which access is denied or which is thought to be
restrictive or competitive. Fundamentally there is no “foul language”. Any
“language” is, after all, a mere combination of sounds. Most of the words
called “foul” or which are otherwise taboo were in common parlance in past
centuries and have gradually been replaced by Latinised euphemisms, leaving
their use to those who wish to shock or show bravado.
In recent years we have witnessed the ‘Pop’, ‘Rave’, ‘Rock’, ‘New Age’
etc. cultures - depending on which decade we are talking about. These are
deliberately engineered to offer an alternative culture and to exploit
adolescent insecurity. A great deal of money is made out of this. The
Church’s attempt, sometimes naively, to obtain popularity by emulating this
approach, but in a nice, quiet, genteel, Christian manner, has at times been
quite pathetic. In some cases it has been dangerously manipulated.
It is further interesting to note that the principal aim of agitators
seeking to further “gay rights” seems to be to be to establish an
identifiable “gay” community or communities distinguishable from normal
society rather than to seek justification for the acceptance of
homosexuality within the norm. The “Gay Pub” , and the recently proposed
service in Manchester Cathedral are examples.
It is not impossible, therefore, that some of those who have “come out” -
even priests of the Church, have done so as a protest against certain
standards which they wish to question if not destroy ? Some of those
standards, perhaps, need to be questioned; questioned with an honest desire
to discover, to correct what may be in error, to avoid further error, or to
show that there is no error at all.. However, questioning within a
discipline and without prejudice is one thing. The inciting to anarchy from
a bigoted standpoint is quite another and has no place in a truly
scientific, or for that matter Christian, approach.
From committee reports, synod debates and the pronouncements of the
hierarchy in recent years it is easy to get the impression that the Church
is divided on this issue not as the result of research, revelation and
reason The division seems to lie between those who take a moral imperative
based on their own selection from ancient scriptures, ignoring that which is
inconvenient, and those whose sine qua non of Christianity is simply
to be nice and kind and understanding about all and everything - except, of
course to those who dare to question whether that is all that Christianity
entails. The latter is frequently encountered in the form of “All you need
is to love”, often followed by deprecatory remarks concerning liturgy,
ritual, establishment and other things that other people may hold sacred.
Unfortunately those who offer this assurance seem to have great difficulty
in defining what they mean by “love”.
There can be no meeting point between such factions because there is no
W.J.Green. Aug. 2003.
© The Estate of William John Green, 2004