Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is Homosexuality a Birth Defect?

It's time we change the way we think and talk about homosexuality.

The other side says homosexuals are "born that way." Even if they're not entirely right, it's unlikely they're entirely wrong. Living the lifestyle certainly requires a choice, but I don't think many would choose the burden of same-sex attraction (SSA) if they had a choice.

So let's just give the other side the "born that way." What then?

In biology, what do you call a genetic trait (or congenital condition) that makes a person less likely to successfully pass on their genes? A negative mutation. In layman's terms, a birth defect.

Whether SSA turns out to be the result of a gene that people inherit, of a faulty genetic process, or of hormones/chemicals gone wrong the result is a person with tendencies that deviate from the biological (never mind the social) norm.

What would it mean if we chose to think of SSA as a birth defect? I think there are two potential benefits. First, it changes the debate from "how do we stop these people from doing these things" (however you may feel about the things — the right and left have very different views) to "what should we do about this condition these people have." It makes the conversation less confrontational and also less about "rights" and more about healthy and normal.

Second, it could make us change how we approach these people and the whole topic. If homosexuals are simply people who make (to the rest of us) completely inexplicable choices, they are treated the same way we would treat a compulsive liar. They choose to do wrong, and they need to stop it right now.

If they are the victim of their circumstances, they are to be pitied and helped and understood. It makes us realize that being "normal" is impossible for them and acting normal is a huge uphill battle. Even those who, by the grace of God, find an opposite sex mate and build a normal life will always be plagued by this bug in their programming.

The obvious objection from the right is "Wouldn't this make homosexuality OK?" No, I don't think it would. Think about some of the other problems people can have. People with Tourette syndrome are still expected to learn to control their impulses. Kids with various mental problems are still expected to learn to sit quietly and not hit or bite. We don't decide something is fine because their birth defect causes it. But we are more patient with them.

The obvious objection from the left is "It's mean." But it's neither unkind nor small minded. It's accurate. It may not seem nice, but it's the best explanation for their situation. It's also a way to make the right more understanding which you have to agree is a good thing.

One Among Many


Chelsea said...

Have you ever read the book, "Torn" by Justin Lee? It's a great read on this subject, from both sides. :)

ChrisB said...

Thanks, I'll check into it.

Greg Judy said...

I can see your point, but not sure if I entirely agree. According to Romans 1:18-32, God has given up sinners, including homosexuals, to pursue their sinful passions. This seems to require a choice by both man and God. However, we are all born with a birth defect called sin. We will all eventually die from this disease unless we receive treatment from the Great Physician.
Good article though.

ChrisB said...

Greg, thanks for commenting. I did think about that passage as I was writing this, and I don't think the two are in conflict.

It's possible that this is an affliction God gives to a society to punish their transgressions. But if it's simply an inclination, the afflicted still have the choice of how to deal with it -- and some choose to live with it in a way that honors God and some choose to give in to their base impulses, a problem not confined to the same-sex attracted.