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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.

POSSIBILITIES:

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 behavioural alternative.

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 control population.

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 this.

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 common ground.

W.J.Green. Aug. 2003.

© The Estate of William John Green, 2004