Homosexual genes

May 25, 2006 | 103 comments
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It would be wicked to kill an unborn baby because that baby has genes for homosexuality.

103 Responses to Homosexual genes

  1. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    I use the conditional here because it has yet to be demonstrated that homosexuality has genetic causes, though at least for men that’s probably true (though Greg Cochran has a plausible argument that it might result from a low-level bacteria or virus). And even if the cause was genetic, no one has developed a test. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 to 20 years it becomes entirely possible to kill unborn children with genetic homosexuality. It would probably be made illegal in this country, but in other parts of the world it could go like gangbusters.

    I assume that everyone agrees with me that it would be wicked (though I assumed that most people agreed with me on the immorality of killing unborn children with Down’s Syndrome). What interests me are the reasons why you’d agree with me on this one and disagree on the others, or at least on the Down’s Syndrome. It seems to me that in a conservative religious community like ours, it could be just as heartbreaking and stressful in particular cases to have a child with homosexuality as to have a child with Down’s Syndrome. Just as in parts of India or China, depending on dowries and cultural pressures, it could be heartbreaking and stressful to have a girl baby in particular circumstances. But I see no reason why any of this justifies a killing.

  2. Brian G on May 25, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    It would be wicked to kill Adam Greenwood. Or would it?

  3. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    That depends on how stressful putting up with me is, Brian G. I would ask you to consider the value of life, but whatever decision you make I know it will be a heartfelt, difficult one that you reach with lots of prayer and pondering.

  4. Brian G on May 25, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    I have received my answer.

  5. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    Brian G, that was hilarious.

    Adam, thanks for your wording change. I hate to sound like a pc cop, but sometimes small things in wording can make a difference. Delete the ‘s and you’ll be right on spot (and that’s not a pc thing, just a medical terminology thing).

    I think it could be even more devastating to LDS parents to parent a child who is homosexual, because homosexuality carries such an association with sin. Down syndrome is, conversely, associated with righteousness in LDS culture.

  6. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    You think Brian G. joking about my life is funny, Kathy S.? (goggles in 100% sincere, totally genuine, un-facetious, un-tongue-in-cheek, not-slyly-mocking-comments-in-another-thread disbelief)

  7. Mark IV on May 25, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Adam, a much more interesting questions is this:

    IF we determine that homosexuality is genetic, and IF we figure out how to manipulate the fetus in utero to “fix” the homosexuality, would it be morally wrong to do so?

  8. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Hold that thought, Mark IV. If you’d like, I’ll put up your comment as a post here in a bit.

  9. Brian G on May 25, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Joking?

  10. bbell on May 25, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    It would indeed by unjust and wicked to abort a child that had homosexual genes (if they exist)

    I like being consistent…….

  11. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Sorry, Adam, I figured you two had a long-standing friendly jab-fest, and that your response to him was mock-serious. (Esp. given your response to the multiple-legs comment in that other thread.)

    This is why emoticons were invented.

    Long live Adam!

  12. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    That was darling, Kathy S. I hardly have the heart to admit that my response to you was also mock-serious.

  13. danithew on May 25, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    I’m grateful for these last three one-liner posts by Adam Greenwood, as I was previously unsure of his stance on the topic of abortion.

    Perhaps it is time to change the name of this blog to “It is wicked to kill an unborn baby if …” though honestly that might imply ambivalence.

  14. Kathy S. on May 25, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Well, dang, don’t mess with me like that! Or, on second thought, go ahead. My unreliable blog intuition may provide some entertainment value for others–it certainly does for me.

    Understand, Adam, you are not the kind of guy that a casual, possibly sloppy poster like myself wants to tick off. I have read enough T&S to want to mind my P’s & Q’s.

  15. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Lots of people have seen a meta-point emerging from this series of posts, Danithew. If you find it dull, feel free to go read your scriptures. (grins)

    But I understand how the prospect of an infinite series of posts on abortion could appear daunting. So let me tell you that as of now I have no further plans to continue this particular series. If the pro-choice crowd doesn’t start to question aborting babies based on genes after I bring gender and homosexuality into the mix, I can’t think of anything else that would do the trick.

  16. danithew on May 25, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    AG, I’m probably doing you a favor by pre-empting Snarkernacle. Although somehow I think they’ll come up with something.

  17. Toby on May 25, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    What about a hermaphrodite child born with two sets of sex organs? Is it immoral to remove the male organs to make the child female…isn’t that removing the priesthood from that child (future priesthood, anyway)?

  18. Sideshow on May 25, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    The fact that the issue doesn’t come up in your second and third posts doesn’t mean people agree with them and not the first — it may simply mean they don’t want to repeat all the arguments from the first ad nauseum.

    Were you looking for arguments from “the pro-choice crowd”? I don’t think you’re likely to find a sizable pro-choice crowd here, given this blog’s proclivities. I believe people should be able to choose whether or not they will have a baby, but THAT choice occurs when they choose to do that which enables pregnancy and not afterward (except possibly in situations excepted by the church’s position on abortion). While I can’t think of a single situation in which I would think abortion was an acceptable choice, I allow that the Lord sometimes directs the killing of some people, and that His direction should be followed.

    Out of curiosity, what were you looking for with the first post? Were you just making a statement based on an emotional reaction to something you read (hint: use a different blog which doesn’t have a tradition of participative commenting), or did you expect discussion? What kind of discussion did you hope for?

  19. TrailerTrash on May 25, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    Adam, who has argued that abortion should be based on genes? Even those who favor aborting DS fetuses and other cultures who abort female fetuses don’t think that it is the genes that are the reason, only the effects that those genes have on the quality of life of the child and the parents. You are setting up strawperson arguments.

    The difference here is that no one is actually arguing the opposite of you, that it is wicked NOT to abort females or DS fetuses. The reason that people disagree with you isn’t that they are “wicked”. You are using a deontological moral calculus while your opponents are using a utilitarian one. You need to address this larger philosophical issue to convince your opponents, not just assert “moral” absolutes.

  20. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    You may be right that people think its OK to kill kids with Down Syndrome, and who are girls, and who have homosexuality, but I doubt it and I hope not. I think its just plain ol’ inconsistency.

    As for what I was hoping for, see comment #130 on the Down Syndrome thread.

  21. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    Trailer Trash,

    if you read comment #1 on this thread, you’ll see that aborting girls and aborting kids with homosexuality can be defended based on the effects on the quality of life on the parents and the child. Yet no one has therefore been willing to countenance these two types of abortions in some circumstances or argue that its a complicated question that its wrong to express a general opinion about. Nor should they.

  22. Seth R. on May 25, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    I think Adam’s just trying to buck T&S’s reputation for long-winded posts.

    It’s also entirely possible that he’s just being a twerp.

    I’ll have to think about this some more.

  23. annegb on May 25, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    Adam, are you going around starting fights? That’s my job.

  24. Blake on May 25, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    The notion that there ae “homosexual genses” strikes me as ignorant of the facts. There may be a correlation between androgen in utero in the third trimester and homosexuality, but there is no basis for the assertion that there is a homosexual gene. If there were, natural selection would have taken it out long ago.

  25. Cassi on May 25, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    I disagree Blake.

    We’ve all heard of gay guys getting married and having kids and then revealing that they were homosexual all along. They got married presumably, because of social pressures. I can think of other reasons though. Maybe they wanted to have kids. Some people do and that’s true even for homosexuals.

  26. TrailerTrash on May 25, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    Adam,
    #21, since homosexuality isn’t a gene and isn’t being screened for, no one is actually aborting “homosexual” babies.
    As for aborting female fetuses, as you know this is practiced by a number of different people in different cultures. I have suggested that these people are not wicked, only that they are using a DIFFERENT moral decision calculus than yours. This reason that these people will likely be unpersuaded by your moral absolutes.
    You still have to defend your moral decision calculus rather than continuing to assert that it is universally valid. I AM arguing that it is complicated.

  27. manaen on May 25, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    abc

  28. Seth R. on May 25, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    They’ve found homosexual practices in frogs. Some theorize that it’s due to environmental pollution (to which frogs are extremely susceptible).

    What if the supposed “homosexual gene” is actually a mutated gene?

    Beats me.

  29. aletheia on May 25, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    Trailer & Co.,

    I can’t say that the succinctness of Adam’s posts are particularly attractive to me. I think the voice of moral command should be reserved for the Decalogue. That said, there is moral relativism and there is more relativism. Chocking up female infanticide to different cultural more and ways of performing ethical “calculations” seems to me facile and dangerous. Perhaps Adam as a (virtual) man and a Westerner should practice some humility in condemning others in China (Didn’t the Communist Party weigh in against this practice already?), etc. but it’s callous to withhold condemnation of the practice itself because of different cultural mores. Call me an absolutist (there have to be some things outside the pale and female infanticide makes the list of those for me) and a universalizer (Although I’d like to be thought of as the sensitive and accomodating type of universalizer for general purposes, please).

  30. aletheia on May 25, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Forgive the errors. Read:

    “There is moral relativism and there is moral relativism”

    cultural more = cultural mores

    I guess I was just thinking about coming up with “more”

  31. Adam Greenwood on May 25, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    “since homosexuality isn’t a gene and isn’t being screened for, no one is actually aborting “homosexualâ€? babies.”

    If you read comment #1, you’ll see that I am aware of this.

    As to the rest, I don’t see the relevance of what you’re saying. The test of truth isn’t universal acceptance among different cultures.

  32. TrailerTrash on May 25, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    31- What’s not relevant about providing a defensible ethical framework?

  33. TrailerTrash on May 25, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    #29 Alitheia-
    I sympathize with your comment. Perhaps I am just a relativist. I am not trying to justify female infanticide (that isn’t really the issue here since we are talking about arbortion). I know how female infanticide fits into a larger second-wave feminist narrative. I am not defending it here per se. Rather, I am trying to argue that there is in fact some moral calculus at work in the decisions of certain groups to control their population sizes through actively selecting the makeup of those populations (like the Inuit). And the case of the raped, 16 year-old with a DS fetus may be another situation where there is a moral caculation at work. These people are not simply deranged, malicious, misogynist, or inhabited by the hosts of hell as Adam seems to suggest. It may not be a good one, but it exists. I have asked that Adam demonstrate that his moral calculus is more compelling for these groups. Typically, he has refused to do so.

  34. aletheia on May 25, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    Trailer,

    I tend towards relativism myself. I agree with you that vituperating those who choose to abort is not helpful. Pointing to the wicked and the evil-doers is more often than not simply an exercise in self-righteousness. There are levels of depravity that I think qualify doers for the titles. Women that have abortions don’t qualify for me despite whatever spurious rhetorical attempts – say comparing abortion clinics to concentration camps or doctors and their patients to Nazis – sometimes take place to try to force that equation on us.

    That said, Adam might be asked to explain his position a bit more. I think asking him for a detailed moral calculus might be a bit much, however. Few people walk around with the equations written out and I think all have discrepancies between their abstract equations and their workings-out on paper. In any case, it’s a tall order. Adam, maybe just a bit more explanation and argument?

  35. gilgamesh on May 25, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    # 25
    We’ve all heard of gay guys getting married and having kids and then revealing that they were homosexual all along. They got married presumably, because of social pressures. I can think of other reasons though. Maybe they wanted to have kids. Some people do and that’s true even for homosexuals.

    I agree with Blake – even with the realtiy that gay men might marry and have children, their children have no added proclivity to homesoxual behavior than those born of non-homosexual children. If it were genetically passed on, then there should be a higher rate of gay men with gay children, but it is not so.

  36. TrailerTrash on May 26, 2006 at 12:17 am

    Thanks aletheia. I suspect you may be right, but as long as Adam is making strong moral claims, I do think that he bears the burden of articulating the basis of these claims.

    I just wanted to elaborate a bit on the point that I was trying to make, which you made more clear. I am trying to say that people don’t abort babies *because* they are female or *because* they have DS. I admit, anyone who would do such a thing might be considered immoral. I just don’t think that people do such things. What I mean to say is that Adam has packed a lot into this *because* in a way that distorts what is really behind such decisions.

    To depict this decision in such crass terms is to dehumanize those who make them. Adam does this by collapsing the moral calculus of those who do such things as “wicked”. From this point of view, there is no rational basis for such practices. If he wants to make moral claims, I think that he should have to defend them. This starts with accurately representing the moral position which he is opposing, then providing a convincing alternative.

  37. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 12:28 am

    I simply disagree with you. You think that no one actually aborts their children because they have Down Syndrome, or because they are female, but you provide no basis for this assertion. In this country, babies with Down Syndrome are aborted at a much higher rate then other children, typically after their parents find out they have Down Syndrome. In India and China, girls are aborted at a much higher rate, typically after tests to determine the gender of the child have been performed. Those facts are crass and dehumanizing, but they are facts. Denying them in the name of cultural sensitivity is so much sounding brass.

  38. MikeInWeHo on May 26, 2006 at 1:10 am

    re: 24 While I agree that there is no evidence of a specific homosexual gene, your assumption that an organically-based homosexuality serves no evolutionary purpose is specious. The presence of this behavior accross so many species implies that homosexuality is not anti-adaptive. Google around a bit and you can read various explanations. I realize, however, that this assertion is controversial and a bit of a thread-jack. We’re really trying to ensnare any lingering pro-choicers here, right??

    For anyone here who cares, most gay people would find very offensive this comparison of homosexuality to Down Syndrome. I think it’s better to use something more neutral, like comparing homosexuality to left-handedness. Moral qualms notwithstanding, it’s also more accurate.

  39. MikeInWeHo on May 26, 2006 at 1:14 am

    re: 28 Gay frogs frolicking around polluted lakes! Where do you get this great stuff, Seth??

  40. paul dw on May 26, 2006 at 4:04 am

    as the great Ronald Reagan said: “I’ve noticed that folks in favour of abortion have already been born.”

    how ungrateful and hypocritical the “pro-choice” are…seeking to avoid the natural consequences of their behaviour…

  41. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 7:37 am

    #1 “It seems to me that in a conservative religious community like ours, it could be just as heartbreaking and stressful in particular cases to have a child with homosexuality..”

    &

    #5 “I think it could be even more devastating to LDS parents to parent a child who is homosexual…”

    &

    38 “For anyone here who cares, most gay people would find very offensive this comparison of homosexuality to Down Syndrome.”

    The sheer callousness and emotional selfishness of some of this is indeed incredible. In this scenario, why not consider the possibility that the real heartbreak, stress and devastation are suffered by the homosexual child with LDS parents?

    Although I appreciate the overall intelligence and thoughtfulness of a lot of the discussion on T&S, I’m gradually losing any hope for the LDS church as an admirable social model that I mentioned in #59 of “Earth Day and the Church”.

  42. Seth R. on May 26, 2006 at 8:04 am

    Re #40,

    Well, I imagine Moses felt the same way about the “Children of Israel.” So if you’re frustrated with God’s people, there is at least some scant comfort in knowing you’re not the first.

  43. TrailerTrash on May 26, 2006 at 8:42 am

    Adam, whether deliberately or not, my point seems to continue to elude your grasp and you have continued to refuse to answer my question. Sigh. I’m done.

  44. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 9:36 am

    Seth, thanks for the, er, sympathy. I’d certainly never consider my knowledge or experience of God or God’s people to be on par with that of Moses.

    With regard to the thread of this blog, I’d suggest that it doesn’t make much difference how homosexuals become homosexuals, whether it’s nature or nurture; whether its irrevocable genetic programing or too many Judy Garland films; whether its or so-called ‘bad influences’, or perhaps ‘broken families’, ‘emotionally inadequate parents’, ‘aloof fathers’ and ‘domineering mothers’: all the usual contextual explanations. The main thing is that I’d have expected both the ‘free agency’ and ‘christ-like love’ beliefs of the LDS church to demand that LDS parents of homosexuals make it a priority to accept and love their children first and foremost. But if it enters LDS minds that homosexuality could even be envisioned as an abortable horror, then I wonder what attitude LDS parents show a gay son or daughter when that happens. ‘Love’ laced with malice? ‘Acceptance’ hand in hand with crushing rejection?

    Since beginning to study the LDS church – initally led to it by doing a review of it’s impressive application of the LAWRI system in its humanitarian program – I’ve found myself defending it against people who insist there’s nothing ‘Christian’ or ‘Christ-like’ about it. I’ve also been pointing to its intelligent, miraculous solutions to self-sufficiency dilemmas in international development, which are hardly the actions of an evil cult. I’m only now acquainting myself with LDS ‘cultural mores’ and discovering how Ye Olde Testamenty it can be.

    My problem is this. The LDS church not only has a good set of systems, it seems to be preparing itself for a larger role as matter of policy. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that a time comes when the LDS church has proven itself capable of remaining intact when other political, social, agricultural and economic systems have broken down – this is a real possibility by the way, given the current worrying trajectory of a number of stresses on the global system and, again, the remarkable social and financial organisation of the church. What does it do when it is no longer simply a ‘church’ and is given responsibility for – and power over – a social demographic that includes homosexuals and, heck, I don’t know, anyone else it deems undesireable? Its treatment of its own homosexual members – of which there must surely be a given percentage – would be a good indicator of its ability to deal fairly were its remit to suddenly extend over other people. That is teaches homosexuality is a ‘sin’ is fair enough: this is a standard, if not universal, Christian stance. But how willing are LDS people to take this as the basis for what would be an actively (even if non-violently) persecutory – and hency very un-Christian – form of social behaviour? What in fact do LDS parents and social groups do when confronted with an LDS child/young person/adult who is homosexual? I mean in actual practice, irregardless how they believe they ought to be?

  45. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 9:50 am

    MikeinWeHo,

    The longstanding presence of homosexuality does suggest that homosexuality is not anti-adaptive, but none of the reasons people have offered for why it may be adaptive would justify the evolutionary load. Perhaps we just haven’t thought of the reason yet, or, most likely, homosexuality isn’t itself the adaptive trait but is one result of traits that are adaptive. Its an interesting question, one that can’t be answered with certainty (which is why I’m also dubious about #24).

    Mike, I haven’t said that having homosexuality is the same as having Down Syndrome, and my argument doesn’t rely on their being the same either. It only relies on some people thinking that they’re the same. People justify the killing of kids with Down Syndrome on the basis that (1) we shouldnt’ judge how hard it may be for some parents, right or wrong, to have to care for a kid with Down Syndrome and (2) kids with Down Syndrome have significantly lower quality of life. But if this justifies killing those kids, it seems to me that you have to sometimes also accept the killing of kids if they test homosexual. Because in certain conservative religious communities in this country and in many countries abroad, it certainly could be hard on the parents to have a kid who was gay and it would certainly lower the child’s quality of life (not because of any inherent properties of homosexuality but simply because of how people with homosexuality are treated in that community). But in practice no one has proved willing to accept this argument, nor should they have. Which suggests to me that its also wrong to kill kids with Down Syndrome.

    The only alternative I see then to either rejecting killing either group (which is my position) or accepting the killing of members of either group (which hopefully no one does) is to say that its ok to kill kids with Down Syndrome because they are inferior but not ok to kill kids who are homosexual because they’re not. While you may think this on some level, I would hope you agree that making judgments of inferiority the basis for killing unborn children is deeply problematic.

  46. Lachoneus on May 26, 2006 at 9:56 am

    I’ve been checking this website silently for the past two years and have never felt the need or desire to comment on the occasionally-interesting chitcchat. This thread however, is revelatory, if not entirely egregious.

    With talk like this, you’re all just one goosestep away from measuring nose-width.

    I also find it contemptible that you all speak of gay people so hypothetically, as if no one on this discussion could actually be gay, they’re just ‘out there’. Funny, that’s the general attitude of most people in the church. Yes I’m gay, and yes I’m LDS, and yes, I find it pretty offensive to have my brothers and sisters attempting to intellectualize the ethics of aborting a child based on their sexual orientation. I’m sure my parents would have chosen mental retardation over the rare chance to have a homo son, so thanks for reminding me that the feeling is backed by the doctrinal interpretations of the enlightened grad-schooled masses.

    And Gilgamesh, #35–”no proclicity to homosexual behaviour’. Wanna bet? Forcing gays to marry and have large families just adds to the mix and increases the probability of gay children being born. Secondly, the proposed ‘gay gene’ is a recessive trait, so yes, it is quite possible for gay people to give birth to straight children, and vice versa.
    If you don’t believe me, marry a 7th generation mormon and spawn four sons of your own, then see what happens.

  47. tab on May 26, 2006 at 10:39 am

    43

    Instead of “‘Love’ laced with malice?” maybe the parents feel love laced with sorrow. When LDS parents learn that their child is homosexual, can’t they love this child and accept this child, while feeling at the same time a sense of sadness for the additional trials this child may face, and for the very real likeliness that there will be no grandchild to hold?

  48. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 10:53 am

    looking, in actual practice, I think there’s wide variety in the way Mormons treat homosexuals among them. In my (admittedly limited) experience, most Mormons are actually kinder, or at least more civil, when confronted with an actual gay person than they are in their rhetoric about gays. Alas, sometimes the nastiness of our practice very nearly lives up to our pronouncements, and sometimes the sheer weight of constantly hearing about the sinfulness of homosexuality drives people away, even when their day-to-day interactions with church members are reasonably pleasant. I would say that I have seen very few instances of openly gay people being fully integrated into Mormon community–”hate the sin, love the sinner” is, as far as I can tell, nearly impossible in practice.

  49. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 11:00 am

    re: 45

    Sorrow for the inevitable trials of a prejudicial and often cruel society would of course be natural for caring parents, yes. Regret at the lack of grandchildren would be understandable, especially in a culture which places so much value on big families.

    I suppose that the danger is that ‘sorrow’ can verge on ‘pity’ which can shade into a kind of subtly patronising cruelty of its own. Would it not place the parents in an awkward – possibly hypocritical – position if they feel sorrow that their gay child will suffer because of society’s prejudices, when those prejudices themselves have been so greatly based on a religious view of homosexuality as sinful that the parents themselves accept?

  50. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 11:12 am

    re 46:

    What you say sounds realistic and honest. The dissonance between high-minded rhetoric and the truth of the day-to-day plagues most Christian – indeed most religious – practices. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” would in my view not only be impossible in practice but is – in real life with real people – a psychological and emotional oxymoron to begin with.

  51. MikeInWeHo on May 26, 2006 at 11:14 am

    re: 43 Keep looking. Accepting Mormons are out there, but often ‘in the closet.’ Keep reading the blog discussions of homosexuality. Generally, though, the LDS community is profoundly anti-gay in its sensibilities and politics. Frighteningly so, imo. If the Wasatch Valley crowd takes over society someday as you suggest…..I’ll be building my handcart or raft to get out. (No offense to my Utah neighbors intended !)

    re: 44 Thanks for clarifying, Adam. In this case, I agree with you 100%. I very much enjoy our posts. Extremely interesting.

    re: 45 Sure, it’s understandable they might feel sorrow, but if that doesn’t motivate them to help mitigate these “additional trials” then something seriously un-Christian is afoot. BTW: many, many gay men and lesbians are raising kids these days. It’s prima facie false that gay child = miserable child who will produce no grandchildren. I’m not being Pollyanna-ish and denying that struggles occur, but honestly, the comments in the Bloggernacle give the impression that some Mormons have never even met any happy, well-adjusted gay people with families. : )

  52. greenfrog on May 26, 2006 at 11:14 am

    I think that the question presented on this thread unnecessarily complicates two different issues by presenting them together.

    1. Is abortion the killing of a person?

    2. Should an individual be empowered to impose her/his preferences regarding other people on society at large?

    Respecting the first question, my answer is that it depends upon the point at which the abortion is to be performed. A sixteen-celled blastocyst with not even the beginnings of a nervous system, IMO, is no more a human being than the equally-living human cells I scrape off my gums when I brush my teeth each morning. A 32-week fetus is no less a human being than a two-week old infant. Other people come to other conclusions about abortion, but that’s mine. Obviously, there’s a meaningful (to me, at least) line between the blastocyst and the near-term fetus. How and where one draws that line might be an interesting question, but I’m highly confident that it’s later than the blastocyst and earlier than the 32-week fetus.

    So in considering the original post on this thread, I set aside what may be the only real point Mr. Greenwood wishes to discuss. I don’t find all abortions morally abhorrent — I don’t even find very early abortions to be morally significant, per se. But, like many other potential actions one can take in life, even though they may not be morally significant per se, the reasons one might engage in them can be morally significant.

    That leads to the second question knitted into this thread:

    Should one person be able to determine how society, composed of other people, is constructed? As a practical matter, we allow people to make those decisions every single day when we allow people to reproduce as they choose to do. Large family? Unrestrained reproductive choice with very meaningful and direct impacts on society beyond the individual(s) making the decision. Small family? Same answer. Reproduction by persons with genetic defects? Same answer. Reproduction by persons with society-cost-imposing characteristics not usually considered “defects” (such as the sinister left-handedness)? Same answer. Reproduction by the melanin-deficient (i.e., blond, blue-eyed, light-skinned)? Same answer.

    Until we’re ready to impose strict societal controls on reproductive decisions generally (and I hope that we never decide to go this direction as a society, though I can imagine that fifty years from now tek may have developed enough to make this a more difficult paradigm, as we begin creating odd genetically engineered variants of trans-human creatures), I see no basis to impose them on morally non-significant decisions, such as very early term abortions.

  53. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 11:21 am

    Greenfrog, do you think its wrong to kill unborn children who test positive for Down Syndrome, or being female, or having homosexual proclivities? I got that you don’t think its wrong to do early term abortions (which probably puts you in conflict with the Church) and that you don’t want laws forcing people to select children of a certain type, but other than that I’m not clear.

  54. Mike on May 26, 2006 at 11:27 am

    #24 “there is no basis for the assertion that there is a homosexual gene”

    What?

    I am not entirely up to date on this controversy. But there are two sides to it.

    The story begins with the twin studies. Twins who are adopted into separate homes at birth have been followed carefully for many decades now. Twins who are not adopted can also be part of some studies. It is the perfect opportunity to tease out the age old difference between nature and nuture. I believe studies involving hundreds are now published. I don’t have references at my fingertips, but I recall that some studies show very high rates; where if one of the twins grows up to be a homosexual, the other one does also. I think one early study showed a 100% rate of homosexuality in identical twins, if one was homosexual the other one was also every time, although it was small and had other problems.

    What sticks in my mind is that many better designed studies show about 50% of identical twins and about 25% of fraternal twins and about 10% of bio brothers and adopted brothers of homosexuals are going to be homosexual. That is in contrast to about 1-2% of the population being homosexual. (There are grades of homosexuality; from exclusively so, to partially, to ocassionally, to tried it once, to thought about it, to no the hell way.) Again, we run into the problem of understanding probability and statistics which begins with how we get the original samples, etc.. Twin studies do seem to indicate a very strong genetic basis for male homosexuality, but not 100%.

    I distinctly remember searching out and reading several of these studies about half a decade ago and it changed my opinion from the position that these homosexuals all just needed to repent and get a girlfriend, to the position that this might be a whole lot more complicated than most Mormons are willing to admit. I am not aware of female twin studies of homosexuality, but I would bet that female homosexuality is not going to resemble male homosexuality. I think they are going to be entirely different when looked at genetically and biologically.

    What is the most important sex organ? The brain. I am aware that some people are looking for differences in the structure of the brains of homosexuals. Anatomic sites in the brain with names that sound like addresses in medieval Eastern Europe are said to be too large or too small or have too many or two few nerve cells in homosexuals. Whether these differences are the result of genes or diseases or degenerations or overuse/underuse of these areas of the brain is not known. But there are studies that show that homosexual brains have very subtle structural differences. We haven’t even started understanding the biochemistry of the homosexual versus heterosexual brain as far as I know.

    Next is the hunt for a specific gene. It is helpful to think of all of our genes as sort of a great big library. So we are looking for a chapter in a book in a large library. Most of the books are stacked away on shelves and a few of them are out on the tables being used. For example, the books for how heart muscles are supposed to work are out on the table and open to the correct pages in heart cells, and so forth for every cell in the body. The books on how how heart cells are supposed to replicate are closed and filed away so if you kill off heart cells, they don’t grow back. Liver cells however will often grow back because their books on how to replicate are not filed away.

    The trouble with the shelves and all these books (genes) is that there does not seem to be a Dewey decimal system for filing the genes or each chromosome or any organized system for shelving them. The genes appear to be filed in a mixed up order. Some complex enzyme systems seem to have series of genes stored next to each other and some genes seem to have a common origin but are stored far apart. In our library analogy, the book about mutual funds is shelved right next to the book about extinct salamanders. Many home libraries have a similar filing system for books as does the local land fill. Not entirely random, but not simply organized. So we might identify a genetic marker for a condition, which means it is a gene on the same shelf as the gene we are interested in. But the marker may not have anything to do with the gene we think of it marking.

    For a time it was thought that a genetic marker for a potential homosexual gene had been found. This was a gene that occurred with great frequency in homosexuals but rarely in heterosexuals. I can’t remember what the gene name was; they are often given names that resemble automobile license numbers, only even more confusing and they are constantly renamed; so by now any gene of interest probably has about 5 names depending on which system was in use when the work was done. Further larger better studies found that this homosexual gene marker did not correlate with sexual orientation as well as initially thought. So currently we are back to looking for specific genes.

    The other problem is that each gene codes for a protein, or an enzyme or something. How an enzyme functions to make a person into a homosexual is not known and rather hard to imagine. Some people think it might influence sex hormones like androgens. But giving these hormones to people has not been shown to change their sexual orientation. We don’t have any pills or chemicals that sexually reorient a person one way or another. And it seem to me that if there is a genetic basis for homosexuality, it will have to involve many genes with many functions. And further, it seems to me that homosexuality has to have a very complex array of biological and social and familial and cultural and other environmental influences.

    But I would not say that there is no basis for the assertation that there is a homosexual gene. This problem for the Mormon viewpoint, that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that needs to be unmade or corrected, is not going to go away just because the first genetic marker we thought we found did not turn out to be correct. There most probably are genetic features that are a significant part of the picture of homosexuality, we don’t understand them yet. We never will if we adopt the attitude that they don’t exist.

  55. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Mike,

    One mainstream alternative view is that homosexuality is the result of a-normal hormonal environments while in utero. The twin studies you cite tend to fit perfectly well with either the genetic or the uterine environment explanation.

    I see no particular reason why homosexual proclivity being non-voluntary per se means that the Mormon position on homosexual behavior is wrong. I cannot think of any sin, or any broken commandment, that does not have deep biological and environmental roots. Homosexuality isn’t a special case; in fact, its deeply unexceptional. This is a fallen world, after all. We’ve hashed this out at length elsewhere, but there’s the argument in a nutshell.

  56. Kristine Haglund Harris on May 26, 2006 at 11:38 am

    “the comments in the Bloggernacle give the impression that some Mormons have never even met any happy, well-adjusted gay people with families. : ) ”

    I think probably *most* Mormons have not met those gay families, and, as with the general population, their attitudes change dramatically when they do. Maybe we can call some nice (brave!) gay families on missions to Utah :)

  57. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 11:57 am

    re 49: Yes I’m glad that there are Mormons with sensitivity to the world outside ‘Wasatch Valley’ (I’ve no idea what that really is but I think I get the drift: the word ‘Wasatch’ somehow conjures up torches and pitchforks to a Brit).

    re 52: I believe there have been suggestions that too much androgen or not enough testosterone in the womb can incline a male child towards homosexuality. There was certainly some research in the journal Science some time ago which discovered evidence in chromosomal patterns inherited from the mother that homosexuality was genetic.

    A difficulty for the Mormon (and other Christian) viewpoints is that the idea that gayness is a choice is necessary to support the contention that it’s ‘sinful’. If it should be conclusively found that it is a genetic predisposition to a large degree, then it would do more than challenge particularly LDS attitudes. The injunction against it is after all held to be Biblical isn’t it?

    I myself think that genetic evidence is not required. Homosexuality is has been so consistent throughout history, in different cultures, and often in the face of such vicious reactions that if it doesn’t have a base in genes it could still be seen as somehow naturally necessary. There has been a suggestion from evolutionary sociologists that it serves a function in species. For instance, gay people can be free to perform economic and social roles in (large scale) populations that can’t be effectively performed by people faced with family responsibilities. In psycho-sociological terms it may be that in human species homosexuality is an inevitable ‘other’ to heterosexuality and thus helps to define heterosexuality. It has been pointed out by some psychologists that heterosexual desire ‘implies’ the homosexual: all men inevitably form an erotic and emotional image of their own desirability in order to be able to truly respond to a woman, and women must do likewise in order to achieve sexual and emotional intimacy with a man.

    But overall, surely the whole point of Christ’s injunction to love others is in some senses to admonish people to withhold judgment of others because we’re ultimately ignorant of the true causes and reasons of things.

  58. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Oops..that last comment was re 54 not re 52

  59. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    #41 “why not consider the possibility that the real heartbreak, stress and devastation are suffered by the homosexual child with LDS parents?”

    I agree that the child’s distress would be just as great, if not more so. The pain on both sides is “real.” One LDS woman wrote about that here: http://www.segullah.org/spring2006/havelove.html

    #57 A difficulty for the Mormon (and other Christian) viewpoints is that the idea that gayness is a choice is necessary to support the contention that it’s ’sinful’.

    Sin requires choice. If a person is not responsible for their inclinations, they are still responsible for their actions to whatever extent their ability to choose is in force. A man may not choose to be attracted to a man, but he can choose whether to have sex with one.

  60. bbell on May 26, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    49: Yes I’m glad that there are Mormons with sensitivity to the world outside ‘Wasatch Valley’ (I’ve no idea what that really is but I think I get the drift: the word ‘Wasatch’ somehow conjures up torches and pitchforks to a Brit).

    I am finding this just as judgemental as you are finding the LDS. I am glad to hear that your position is so morally superior to the backward LDS. I suspect that someday soon the LDS will again be the brunt of anti-LDS campaigns over SSM. Probably starting with an effort to strip the church of its tax exempt status similar to Bob Jones university. This is where we are headed.

  61. annegb on May 26, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    That article in Segullah was really well done, this woman’s honesty struck me.

  62. greenfrog on May 26, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    Greenfrog, do you think its wrong to kill unborn children who test positive for Down Syndrome, or being female, or having homosexual proclivities? I got that you don’t think its wrong to do early term abortions (which probably puts you in conflict with the Church) and that you don’t want laws forcing people to select children of a certain type, but other than that I’m not clear.

    Sorry, I should have been clearer. I’ll respond to your query, but, as you may surmise from my prior post, I can’t adopt your rhetorical approach to answer your question — to do so would be morally wrong. So where you ask: do you think its wrong to kill unborn children who test positive for Down Syndrome, or being female, or having homosexual proclivities?, I have to respond that I think that it is nearly always wrong to kill unborn children for any reason whatsoever, just as it is nearly always wrong to kill born persons for any reason whatsoever, and that would certainly include societal engineering practices such as preferring not to encounter or associate with Down Syndrome persons, gay persons, or any other category one might proffer.

    But if your question is intended to inquire whether I “think its wrong” to abort pregnancies at pre-person stages that we anticipate would, if allowed to develop further, generate persons who are gay, female or Down Syndrome, then the answer is, yes, I do believe that it is wrong to make such a decision and to take such an action — but the reason for the wrongness has nothing to do with the action (abortion) that implements the preference — it has everything to do with the preference, itself.

    I don’t think that acting on such preference to reduce the occurrence of such conditions in those persons with whom one associates closely (family, in particular) is consistent with the moral precept of treating one’s neighbor as oneself.

    With respect to your point about my views on abortion not conforming to the Church’s official position, I readily agree with you. If it would be useful or interesting, I could try to outline why, but it may suffice for the purposes of your thread here merely to acknowledge that my conclusions are not fully consonant with the Church’s position, though I believe the variance is largely a product of differing approaches, rather than differing principles.

  63. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    #59 I agree the logic from the Christian point of view. But on a realistic level: there is something dreadfully unjust in saying that if you are ‘lucky’ enough or if God has ‘favoured’ you enough that you’re heterosexual then the emotional rewards of intimacy are your right, but that if someone is ‘unlucky’ enough to be attracted to the same sex through no choice of their own they must face the horrific emotional consequences that come of being celibate. Easy to say, but consider the reality of demanding that from someone?

    #60 I’m not for a moment suggesting that either I myself or my position on things is morally superior. And I am very far from considering the LDS ‘backward’. As I’ve said earlier (#44 on this discussion and #59 on ‘Earth day and the Church’,) my whole interest in the LDS church has come about from being hugely impressed with its humanitarian program, its extremely forward thinking application of the LAWRI system as an answer to local self-sufficiency in developing countries, and its model of social organisation. Getting caught up in a debate over homosexuality has been if anything a distraction. I have reservations about some aspects of Mormon culture but what excites me about the church is that despite my criticisms in #59 ‘Earth day…’ I think the LDS approach to self-sufficiency may hold some real answers to the knotty dilemma of climate change. I just wish the LDS church would publicly address its somewhat awkward position viz. the use of fossil fuel and that LDS people would pay more attention to their somewhat negligent indulgence in high consumption patterns. I think the LDS church needs to properly engage with climate change issues so that it can begin to discuss how it might help rather than avoid the serious problem climate change presents.

  64. annegb on May 26, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    You know, I’m thinking. There isn’t a gene for homosexuality. But a person could be born with male genitalia and actually be female. That could so easily be corrected if the parents were informed and courageous. That stuff happens all the time.

  65. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    #63 God demands very difficult things sometimes, doesn’t he.
    And allows very difficult things, as well. There are many situations in which the joy of intimacy can be compromised through no fault of one’s own. There are people who never marry, yet deeply desire to, who are required to remain celibate according to the God’s law of chastity. There are people who are abused who never enjoy intimacy as a result. “It’s not fair” doesn’t hold much water, but it sure can hurt.

  66. Mike on May 26, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Adam # 55:

    We really don’t know. Homosexuality is so common that I think the biological factors are going to turn out to be multiple and fundamental. I think the in utero hormonal environmental theory might offer a partial explanation, perhaps a very common explanation and then again it might join a bunch of others on the junk heap of science. It lessens the moral responsibility of the affected individual much like genetics.

    As for your second paragraph, I agree. But the kind of compassion we show a person who is genetically unable to read easily and wants to learn versus the person who out of stubborness refuses to learn to read and is proud of their illiteracy is profoundly different. I think the realization that God made homosexuals “that way”, at least partially, and that they did not choose to be homosexual is important for Mormons to understand before they will ever get over their hostility and general poor treatment of gay people.

    I don’t have a personal problem with homosexuality. My problem is how I treat my homosexual neighbors, friends, coworkers and fellow Mormons. That is the challenge.

    Some of my friends drive cars that I don’t agree with and think might have moral implications, hummers burning up all the oil, etc. But that doesn’t seem to have the same punch when it comes to how we treat each other. I have seen people make each other’s lives totally miserable in every way resulting in loss of jobs, heath problems, etc with irrational unquenchable hatred due to what boiled down to disapproval of a sexual orientation hopped up with religious zeal.

    I also believe most homosexuals do not think of their sexual orientation as a problem, any more than I think of myself as being skinny a problem. They might even see it as a gift from God, a blessing. Most who I know would not submit to re-orientation, even if it worked and was simple and easy. What is the proper moral response to that position? Is it not compassion?

    I also know one very active guy in our ward who has a family and all (TR,TM, etc) and who was successfully reoriented. It is possible for some, but not for very many. I have heard some horror stories about the Psychology Depart at BYU in the 1960-70′s using genital shock therapy to re-orient homosexuals and it didn’t work very well in the end. Many married, had families, secretly relapsed and eventually gave their molly Mormon wives AIDS. We have an ugly track record in this area.

    For the record, the organization where I work has about 40 people and at least four of them are openly homosexual. Two with children. If you have a problem treating homosexuals badly where I work, you will soon loose your job. Some of my Mormon relatives in Utah would not last a week here.

  67. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    re 59: Thank you for that segullah link. That definitely helps me understand the nature of the dilemma better, though I do find the author focuses on the problems of her son: gayness, angriness, smoking, ‘questionable’ friends who have spiked hair, when the main problem is still the basic attitude which can’t accept someone being different, an attitude that reacts with such emotional violence to a child who has after all not committed any crime or perpetrated any hideous atrocity, not burned down a village or gone on a shooting spree; not robbed old people of their pensions or anything else. She writes with honesty about her struggle and this honesty is touching and brave: but it’s permeated with a kind of obsession with herself: an inability to see past a closed way of thinking about the world. I appreciate her struggle but the awful travails for her and her son and inevitable consequences of a fixed, pre-determined view of the world.

  68. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    re 59: Thank you for that segullah link. That definitely helps me understand the nature of the dilemma better, though I do find the author focuses on the problems of her son: gayness, angriness, smoking, ‘questionable’ friends who have spiked hair, when the main problem is still the basic attitude which can’t accept someone being different, an attitude that reacts with such emotional violence to a child who has after all not committed any crime or perpetrated any hideous atrocity, not burned down a village or gone on a shooting spree; not robbed old people of their nest eggs or anything else. She writes with honesty about her struggle and this honesty is touching and brave: but it’s permeated with a kind of obsession with herself: an inability to see past a closed way of thinking about the world. I appreciate her struggle but the awful travails for her and her son are still the inevitable consequences of a fixed, pre-determined view of the world.

    re: this whole homosexual question. Here in London there is a huge gay community. Having gay friends and work colleagues, sometimes going to their pubs for an after work drink or night out is something no one even thinks out of the normal. I have noticed though, that socialization is a big part of it when there’s a problem. Most people have no problem with one-on-one, they can easily have a friendly, neighbourly easygoing chat with a gay person and quite enjoy it. It’s in the aggregate that people feel they have to dissaprove and express shock and horror.

  69. jjohnsen on May 26, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    “Greenfrog, do you think its wrong to kill unborn children who test positive for Down Syndrome, or being female, or having homosexual proclivities? I got that you don’t think its wrong to do early term abortions (which probably puts you in conflict with the Church) and that you don’t want laws forcing people to select children of a certain type, but other than that I’m not clear. ”

    Adam, I’d like to ask you a similar question, especially after all the Abortion posts. Do you agree with the Church that there are a few scenarios that it is acceptable to go to the Lord and your leadership about having an abortion? Or are we going to have to wait for the inevitable “It would it be wicked to kill an unborn baby because that baby is a result of incest” and “It would be wicked to kill an unborn baby because having that baby may kill the mother” threads to find out your answer?

  70. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    #68, I think you’re right about the difference between reaction to a nameless, faceless group and an actual person.

    As for that Segullah article, your assessment gets tricky because there are two aspects to the woman’s views: the Church’s stance regarding homosexuality, and the cultural baggage that has developed surrounding it. I see her journey as one of retaining her moral convictions while bunking the baggage. That is a very fine line to walk. And it’s a journey of recognizing her close-mindedness and learning to love people who do not look and act in culturally acceptable ways. Also, her emotional violence is not due only to baggage regarding homosexuality: it has just as much to do with issues of individuality and choice in general, parental responsibility/culpability regarding their children’s choices. These issues are even more emotionally charged in LDS culture than anything regarding sexual orientation.

    sorry for the thread-jack, Adam.

  71. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    “A difficulty for the Mormon (and other Christian) viewpoints is that the idea that gayness is a choice is necessary to support the contention that it’s ’sinful’”

    Nope. See comment #55.

    Mike,
    I’m not sure what we’re disagreeing about at this point. Of course if people want to condemn people with homosexual proclivities merely for having the proclivities, then the fact that the proclivity itself is not chosen is a problem for them. But no morally serious person, and no Saint who takes the prophet seriously, actually thinks this. The real questions are two-fold: whether homosexual *behavior* is sin and whether homosexual proclivities are somehow innate eternally the way we think gender is. Knowing that homosexual proclivities are formed by biological or environmental factors mostly beyond a person’s control does nothing to answer these last two questions.

  72. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    re: 65 Kathy, yes, I take your point. There’s a difference, though, surely, between a problem with intimacy because of an individual’s particular set of psychological circumstances and someone being told that they it would be ‘sinful’ for them to enjoy the emotional warmth and shared pleasure of intimacy even if they are otherwise perfectly capable of such an experience.

  73. Seth R. on May 26, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

    I don’t think it makes any difference whether homosexuality is genetic or not.

    People act like genetics are a moral free-pass of some sort.

    I’ve got ADD. ADD seems to be genetic. So what? That doesn’t say anything about how I’m supposed to live my life.

    What does genetics have to do with anything? You’ve got a genetic condition? Bully for you. But don’t pretend that your genes tell either you or me one crummy thing about how you ought to be living your life.

  74. Adam Greenwood on May 26, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    JJohnsen,
    I’m all right with the rape, incest, and serious permanent health* threat exceptions, so long as they’re not understood as carte blanches. I don’t understand the idea that its right to kill a baby if its going to die anyway, though apparently at least some General Authorities have identified that as an exception. I haven’t given the issue much thought yet, but in the interim I’m inclined to chalk that up as adjusting the law to the weakness of the people.

    *When I mean serious health threat, I mean serious health threat. I don’t mean “mental health,” where its claimed that delivering the baby and letting someone else have it is too stressful on the family or some such but killing it isn’t. I suppose there could be instances where the hormonal changes of pregnancy threaten to permanently disorder brain chemistry, but I have never heard of such a thing.

    Greenfrog,
    I genuiinely heartened to know that. Why do you think its wrong for people to act on preferences, by the way?

  75. MikeInWeHo on May 26, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    re: 60

    I disagree, bbell. That post has an almost paranoid tone, with all due respect. Even in the arch-liberal European countries that have had SSM for a while, churches are exempt from performing them, acknowledging them, etc. Nobody is going to trample on your right to keep the gays out of the temple. On the other hand, I agree that recognition of legal SSM is probably inevitable in the U.S., unless some societal convulsion propels us down a different path.

    Many of us are probably also reading the Weimar Republic thread. Are you aware that the first modern gay-rights movement developed in the Weimar Republic? It was competely wiped out during the subsequent period. A revival of the movement developed in the U.S. in the 50′s, drawing largely on the ideas of Magnus Hirschfeld (who escaped the Nazis and died in exile in 1935). This movement continued to develop quietly until the late 60′s, when a shift to direct, confrontational activism occurred. Now y’all have to deal with gays mouthing off everywhere, even in the Bloggernacle!

    And for what it’s worth, I agree with those who note that in general Mormons are much more loving and kind in person than the tone of these debates might suggest. My partner is close colleagues with a stake high counsel member, who has been just fantastic to our family. I finally ‘came out’ to him as long-inactive LDS and self-identified friend of the church. He gave me a big hug and said “I just knew you were a Mormon boy !” He apologized for any abuses I may have experienced by members (which are essentially none); now we’re having the most interesting conversations about religious topics.

    So “Looking,” I would suggest you base your opinions of the Church on what you experience in person, face-to-face, with the members in your area. Don’t get hung up on the rhetoric coming out of Republicanland, much less a bunch of disembodied internet commentators! This is a place to have some fascinating discussions, not investigate the Church.

  76. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    #70 Yes, I concur in acknowledging the ‘thread-jack’ Adam. Hope it hasn’t been an entirely tangential thread jack though.

    re: 71 (#55) “I see no particular reason why homosexual proclivity being non-voluntary per se means that the Mormon position on homosexual behavior is wrong. I cannot think of any sin, or any broken commandment, that does not have deep biological and environmental roots. Homosexuality isn’t a special case; in fact, its deeply unexceptional. This is a fallen world, after all. We’ve hashed this out at length elsewhere, but there’s the argument in a nutshell.”

    Mike, I would probably argue that it’s precisely because it’s a ‘fallen world’ that puts us all in the soup together. From that vantage point how can any one person in the soup accuse someone else in the soup of being ‘sinful’? Homosexuality does seem to have deep biological and environmental roots. But then so does prejudice. In that sense, if homosexuality is ‘wrong’ and also an ‘unexceptional case’ it could be argued with equal logic that the point of view that says its ‘wrong’ is itself a surrender to a sort of existential temptation of its own – springing from a possible hetero-biological animosity or revulsion, and deeply anchored in forms of social control and social taboo. The other problem is that the ‘harm’ homosexuality is held to cause comes most often from the violence of the prohibition against it. One thing that has not been considered in all of this is the obvious fact that a gay person is a spiritual person and that moreover, there is no reason why a gay relationship cannot be a spiritual relationship and a spiritual progression. We all know that there can just as easily be heterosexual relationships that are clearly ‘wrong’ because of the mutual destructiveness they cause. The problem comes in judging things according to a fixed idea instead of judging them on a case-by-case evaluation of their positive or negative aspects. “Not the idea about the thing, but the thing itself,” as TS Eliot warned the modernists. Principles are one thing: judging how someone behaves as a person is unavoidable. But a blanket declaration that a certain form of behaviour based on love/affection/desire between consulting, intelligent adults is automatically wrong under any circumstances? I just can’t see it. And many Christians have begun to realise it just doesn’t hold.

  77. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    #72, it’s highly possible that some homosexuality is due to “an individual’s particular set of psychological circumstances.” But yes, my examples had limited application. Just wanted to make the point that God doesn’t guarantee sexual or emotional fulfillment in mortality.

    The difficulty in discussing homosexuality is that there’s no one thing that it can be compared to, nothing that has the same mix of considerations and nuances. At least nothing that I’m aware of.

    In any case, you’re certainly right that there are un-Christian attitudes towards homosexuals among the LDS people. That is unfortunate. Principles do not have to change in order for those attitudes to change. At the same time, I think there are some aspects to established LDS principles that are just plain unacceptable to others, and that is not likely to change.

  78. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    75 Yes Mike, this has all convinced me that conversations with Mormons here in London would be worthwhile. I’m also persuaded (must say I’ve not assumed otherwise and hope I haven’t given the impression I have) that LDS people are decent, warm people.

    What I do regret is having used the tag ‘looking for mormons who care’. Is there some way of having all my blog entries changed to Daniel B so that I can use my name, which would after all be more human and allow me to drop the confrontational implication of ‘looking…’?

  79. looking for mormons who care on May 26, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    #77 Again yes, a good point Kathy. Agree with the fact that nothing’s guaranteed. As to the thorny tangles of the suject: hard to distinguish between homosexuality that is perhaps conditioned merely by experiences causing a negative attitude towards heterosexuality, or homosexuality that may very well be the result of a perversion of otherwise (I use this term in an extremely limited, illustrative sense) ‘normal’ instincts, or homosexuality that is ‘situational’ such as in prisons etc…and on the other hand, genuine gayness.

    Nothing else does seem to be comparable. For those of us for whom heterosexuality comes naturally, being joined in love and learning and the adventure of life with someone of the opposite sex is so central to our sense of ourselves that homosexuality perhaps calls into question its completeness, its ‘fullness’, its absoluteness. That’s why the reaction is so visceral. I couldn’t pretend to know.

  80. Melissa on May 26, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Maybe we can call some nice (brave!) gay families on missions to Utah”

    Yesterday I was talking to a brilliant colleague and dear friend here on campus about the regions in the country where we’d most like to end up teaching. At one point in the conversation she floored me by saying, “If the Lord called me to Utah I’d go knowing there was some important work for me to do there.” It pained me to know the treatment she and her partner would likely receive at some point during her “mission” there.

  81. Julie M. Smith on May 26, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    “I suppose there could be instances where the hormonal changes of pregnancy threaten to permanently disorder brain chemistry, but I have never heard of such a thing.”

    Yes you have–it’s called ‘motherhood.’

  82. greenfrog on May 26, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    I genuiinely heartened to know that. Why do you think its wrong for people to act on preferences, by the way?

    I’m not sure of your question here, as I don’t think I suggested in either of my posts on this thread (#52 and #62) that it’s wrong to act on preferences, per se. Indeed, I can’t think of how one could act at all without preferences of some kind — at a minimum the preference for action over inaction.

    I tried to outline in #62 why I found acting to implement preferences against the engendering of the categories of persons you identified to be immoral: such actions seem inconsistent with the injunction to love my neighbors as myself.

    Over lunch, I ran across a passage of (non-LDS) scripture that underscored my feelings on that question:

    Those who see all beings in themselves,
    And themselves in all beings,
    Relinquish hatred.

    How can the seeming diversity of life
    Delude the one who has seen its unity?

    Isha Upanishad 6-7

    It seems to me that trying to craft a “perfect” person, whether that person is defined as heterosexual, lacking genetic “defects” from some theoretical model of “perfection,” blond, blue-eyed and tall, right-handed, or whatever, is deeply harmful, both to the person trying to craft the other as well as to the person or society subject to the crafting.

    At the same time, however, it seems to me that we make these kinds of decisions and value judgments implicitly all the time in selecting a partner with whom to engender a child — it is only when those decisions are brought to conscious awareness or teased out into the specific elements of motivation involved that we find them repugnant. I’m interested in thinking more about this. Thanks for prompting the thought process.

  83. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    #81 Amen, Julie!

    #79 Nice to chat with you, Daniel B. I look forward to having all the answers someday, don’t you? In the meantime, it’s so valuable to have these respectful exchanges.

  84. MikeInWeHo on May 26, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    re: 78 You’ll have to let everyone know how it goes, Daniel B. Oddly, I was in your little town briefly this past weekend en route home from vacation. I walked right by the Hyde Park Ward while I was searching for Harvey Nichols (speaking of “genuine gayness” !). The Piccadilly line was down so I had to take a circuitous route, and out of nowhere I ran into this large LDS chapel with golden steeple. Looks like they have some great musical performances there at the very least.

    Just read the Segullah link and found it heart-breaking. There is ample sorrow to go around in a situation like that. Would love to have her son write the story from his perspective.

    These bloggernacle discussions of homosexuality always go round-and-round-and-round. I’m coming to view it as an intractable conflict between the two sides. It’s as if there needs to be some kind of peace talks, a la the Israelis and Palestinians. Could there be an armistice in this culture war?

  85. APJ on May 26, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    re #74: how do you reconcile being okay with exceptions for rape, incest, and serious health threat (to the mother, i assume you mean)? Rape is against the mother’s will, but once conception results, what is the basis to allow her to ‘kill the child’? As for incest, to me it seems there is an even weaker argument, since it could be consensual. And as to health of the mother exceptions, what makes killing a baby less moral just because the mother may die if she doesn’t kill the baby, especially if the mother intended pregnancy?
    (this comment is not meant to trivialize the issues of rape or incest, or abortion in general, but to try to understand the moral distinction Adam seems to accept in comment 74).

  86. Taylor on May 26, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    #64- “You know, I’m thinking. There isn’t a gene for homosexuality. But a person could be born with male genitalia and actually be female. That could so easily be corrected if the parents were informed and courageous. That stuff happens all the time.”

    Yikes! There is a growing consensus against this practice, which first arose in the 1950′s. It is based on a logic of a sexual binary, which clearly nature does not assent to.

  87. Sara R on May 26, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    Re: #85 health of the mother exception: I thought along these lines when I was a kid and first learned about abortion. The mother has had a chance at life, I thought, and the baby hasn’t yet. When I grew up I figured out that fetuses don’t survive if the mother dies before the baby is viable and born. Also, the mother may have other children who might like having their mother around to raise them. I was nearly in this situation a few months ago, and I will be forever thankful that I didn’t have to make this decision. I can’t imagine aborting my own child (and would almost rather die than do that), but putting my family in the situation of [url=http://www.lds.org/news/archiveday/0,5287,18357,00.html]this family[/url] (see the 2nd story on the page) sounds pretty horrible as well.

  88. Kathy S. on May 26, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    re #84 I’d love to hear the son’s perspective too. fwiw, the son did help the mother write the essay. Their photo is on the home page.

  89. TMD on May 27, 2006 at 1:31 am

    Said above, somewhere in the 50′s:

    “But overall, surely the whole point of Christ’s injunction to love others is in some senses to admonish people to withhold judgment of others because we’re ultimately ignorant of the true causes and reasons of things. ”

    This is just not true. Indeed, I don’t think anyone here would apply this to a hardened sex offender. So it’s really just for things we can imagine ourselves doing, for reasons that we can imagine ourselves using. And in that sense, it’s far too convienent.

  90. TMD on May 27, 2006 at 1:31 am

    Said above, somewhere in the 50′s:

    “But overall, surely the whole point of Christ’s injunction to love others is in some senses to admonish people to withhold judgment of others because we’re ultimately ignorant of the true causes and reasons of things. ”

    This is just not true. Indeed, I don’t think anyone here would apply this to a hardened sex offender. So it’s really just for things we can imagine ourselves doing, for reasons that we can imagine ourselves using. And in that sense, it’s far too convienent.

  91. Jeff Day on May 27, 2006 at 6:21 am

    Reminds me of Minority Report. Adam Greenwood, it would I think be seriously wrong to kill someone for a sin they haven’t yet committed, even if they are predisposed to it. Imagine God coming to Adam and saying you are cast out of the Garden because I knew you *will* eat from the Tree, even though you haven’t yet. Now get out, shoo! No… That’s weird. Except for the few exceptions the Church makes in their guidelines, and even with those I believe they always use the word “prayerfully”, and I don’t think God would answer a “Can I kill … ?” prayer with Yes very often, by aborting a child one would have comitted murder, and that might possibly qualify that person (the would have been parent) for Blood Atonement ;-) So just ask, are you willing to have your own blood spilt to save yourself from having this child?

  92. FightingBackTears on May 27, 2006 at 8:55 am

    I think the real issue might be that since there is no place for the homosexual theologically (i.e. no homosexual with a partner or family is allowed to be exalted) some Mormons feel that it would be bvetter for them never to be born (than live a righteous, celibate life on earth and be magically transformed as straight in the afterlife).

    That’s sad, and it’s an obvious, pathetic way Mormonism can mess with the brain.

  93. Sara R on May 27, 2006 at 11:38 am

    #91: You do realize that you are agreeing with Adam Greenwood?

  94. APJ on May 27, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    re: (87)
    Hmmm, can’t a baby be viable, as in ‘could live outside the womb,’ without being born yet? I guess I was thinking of situations where, the baby could be born, but the mother would have a near certainty of dying during childbirth. Perhaps ‘serious health threat’ should be clarified? Definitely, it would be a horrible decision to have to make.

    I agree that it’s a good ‘exception’ to the general ‘don’t have an abortion’ attitude, along with rape and incest exceptions. But I wonder what the difference is morally? What is the reasoning behind the exceptions and how are those reasons more important than those which would be used to defend ‘abortions of convenience’? Admittedly, ‘serious health threat’ is the easiest to justify because it actually harms someone else, but what about the rape and incest exceptions?

  95. Kimball L. Hunt on May 27, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    It’s not: Thou shalt not shed blood — but, blood qualified as innocent. Rape and incest occur outside of marriage with proper consensuality; and thus presents a case of an INNOCENT life of the girl in question’s, being put in a balance against the potential life in her womb?

  96. APJ on May 27, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Kimball,
    almost sounds like the exceptions allow one to take out one’s frustration with the situation on the innocent child.

    the unfortunate consequences of a rape will not be undone by an abortion, will they? perhaps the psychological effects of having to carry the baby of a man who raped you is an issue, but doesn’t really ‘jive’ (in my mind at least) with saying abortion is wrong in other ‘abortion of convenience’ scenarios.

    i guess what i’m getting at is that once a few exceptions are allowed, the ‘it is wicked to…’ mindset is overshadowed by the ‘this is what we think is best for society’ mindset (not that the two necessarily contradict).

  97. JM on May 27, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Re: #74

    Just a quick explanation regarding the church’s exception to abort a fetus with a terminal condition, from a medical standpoint: Carrying a deceased fetus can cause severe life-threatening events in the mother (infection, embolic events, severe clotting abnormailties). Thus, if you are certain the child has no chance of survival beyond birth, this kind of termination of pregnancy could fall into the category of health risk to the mother.

    As stated in an earlier reply, the church’s exceptions are not carte blanche. They do, however, represent thorough and reasonable exceptions to a blanket “abortion is always evil” statement. The main discussion regarding the ethics of aborting a fetus with “gay genes” presupposes too many things to be taken seriously. The realities surrounding the science of genetics in this regard haven’t really been discussed, and I think they are relevant.

    While I’m typing, I might as well weigh in on the topic at hand.

    It is highly unlikely that genes alone govern sexual behavior throughout a person’s life. It is equally unlikely that genes play no role. Anyone who argues either an “all” or a “nothing” role of genetics in sexual behavior is guilty of gross over-simplification. A combination of genes affects the liklihood of a certain condition or behavior, but other factors also contribute. Think of it in terms of skin color: genes determine the rate of melanin production and melanin degradation, but other factors such as sun exposure, hormones, and climate play important roles. (Please don’t accuse me of comparing albinos to homosexuals!)

    Likewise, regarding sexual behavior, in addition to genes, you have to consider magnitude of libido, cultural/personal acceptance and familiarity with homosexual practice, masculinity/feminity vs. gender, role models, psychological trauma, mind-altering substances, etc. This is so complicated it is unlikely that a consensus will ever be reached. We each approach it from a multitude of perspectives, and people aren’t generally very good at voluntarily seeing things from other perspectives.

    That being said, I believe an element missing from discussions on this topic is an acknowledgement that it is okay to hold the belief that homosexual practice is morally wrong. This increasingly-unpopular (within and outside of the church) LDS doctrine is understandibly very unsettling to those who practice homosexuality and those who love people who practice homosexuality, but that doesn’t change the doctrine. To teach that it is okay to practice homosexuality simply because good people do it is not adequate.

    There is unfortunately a wide gap between the concept of “love the sinner, hate the sin” and what actually happens in our society, but that is not justification for sinful behavior. The good news is that we don’t have to render final judgment on people. Although we can and should judge people in terms of whom we befriend, what influences and role models we place in our lives, and how we treat other people, that is where our judgment should end.

    My $0.02…

  98. Kimball L. Hunt on May 27, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Re “what is best for society” being/NOT being aligned with what is moral:

    “Fanatacism consists of redoubling your efforts when you’ve forgotten your aim.”

    . .– (the Harvard man of letters) SANTAYANA ( 1863 – 1952 )

  99. It's Not Me on May 27, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    For those of you who enjoy judging Wasatch Front Mormons, I have known gay people most of my life. I currently work with some, have had a number of gay clients, and live next door to some. I get along just fine with all of them–laugh, tell jokes, work well, etc. I also happen to subscribe to the “Mormon view” that homosexual behavior is wrong. I don’t feel the need to shout this to the world, but I also don’t feel the need to apologize to anybody for holding to this belief. And I do think that it’s possible to love someone while believing their lifestyle is wrong(by the way, I don’t even think about their “gayness” while being with them), just as it is possible to love someone while believing they are a religious bigot.

  100. Rosalynde Welch on May 28, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    Adam, you’ve mentioned a few times on these threads that parents might be motivated to abort a fetus for its disability/gender/sexuality because of the “stress” and “heartbreak” attendant upon raising such a child. This might be an accurate account of some parents’ reasoning or intuition, but I’d guess it’s at best a very partial account for most. The drive to produce offspring who will themselves reproduce is very strong; this is why infanticide of babies who are disfigured or disabled was (and is) so common in many cultures, ancient and modern. The reproductive motive is probably a more salient factor, whether conscious or intuitive, than potential stress or heartbreak. This does not make infanticide or abortion of reproductively-nonviable babies morally acceptable, of course (and I agree that late-term abortion and infanticide are morally indistinguishable), but it does suggest that social policies meant to prevent it must take into account women’s strong instinct to invest in their fittest children, in nature’s heartless way.

  101. Adam Greenwood on June 27, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    “This does not make infanticide or abortion of reproductively-nonviable babies morally acceptable, of course (and I agree that late-term abortion and infanticide are morally indistinguishable), but it does suggest that social policies meant to prevent it must take into account women’s strong instinct to invest in their fittest children, in nature’s heartless way.”

    (1) I do not feel *morally* obliged to accommodate natural feelings to that extent that I would accomodate abortion. Most wickedness arises from strong, natural instincts derived from sound evolutionary and reproductive strategies.

    (2) There are *practical* considerations, however. I do support the laws passed in various states that allow mothers to abandon their children to the State very early on after birth. It’s bad, but less bad than some alternatives.

  102. Adam Greenwood on June 27, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    TD,
    just so. On the blogs and in print, calls not to ‘judge’ are almost always political.

  103. RealNeal on January 7, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Just stumbled on this thread and found it quite interesting.

    As a homosexual LDS person let me first say that my sexuality is only part of who I am. My worth as a human being is not limited to the social acceptability of my sexual orientation – whatever its cause may be – but includes the whole person; including all my talents, intellect, thoughts, abilities, goals, dreams and actions. I did not choose to be a homosexual, and I don\’t know anyone who has. The actual causes may bever be fully understood because of the complexity of human sexuality, and I\’m not sure understanding all the \”why\’s\” is that important. On the other hand, the argument for aborting any human being is morally bankrupt. Murder is murder, no matter what your age is or whether the setting is a back alley or a sterile operating room!

    Now some comments on the Church and homosexuality:

    The LDS Church does not condemn homosexuality. In fact, it teaches an amazing tolerance for those who are homosexual. The Church does not espouse any one stance on the causes of homosexuality (which they prefer to call Same Sex Attraction or SSA), and they clearly do not teach hatred or exclusion for SSA members. They do however teach the doctrine of chastity, which is sexual abstinence before marriage and sexual fidelity after marriage. This principle is applied universally to all members, whether SSA or striaght. The Church has made it very clear that abiding by this principle is a key component and qualification of living the LDS religion and participating fully in Church ordinances. Homosexuals are NOT excluded from anything, as long as they live Church principles. For example, I know several young men who have just left to serve 2 year missions for the Church who are SSA. They have made full disclosure of this fact to their Church leaders, who have deemed them qualified in every way to serve. A bigoted Church would never allow a homosexual young man to be assigned to live alone with a straight companion for two years! So to summarize, the Church makes a clear distinction between homosexual attractions and homosexual BEHAVIOR, the latter being doctrinally unacceptable, as is any sex outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage.

    As far as the attitudes of LDS members towards homosexuals goes, this is controlled to a large extent by societal attitudes in general and is problematic in all conservative religions. There is an inordinate amount of fear and loathing over the percieved dangers posed to society, and so homosexuals have been misunderstood and persecuted since day one. In LDS culture, many members misinterpret condemnation of homosexual behavior and develop a predjudice against anyone with SSA whether they live a Gay lifestyle or not. This ignorance is gradually being replaced with a clearer understanding of Church policy due to recent public statements by top Church leaders on the subject. I have found that when LDS members are presented with and understand the difference between homosexual attraction and behavior, they are generally supportive and tolerant. Attitudes change with education.

    For further enlightenment go to the Newsroom section of the http://www.lds.org web site and read a recent interview between two Church officials and a reporter. These are the most definitive statements to date of Church policy on homosexuality and same sex marriage.

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