Homosexuality and the Truth: Is it Just Another Lifestyle?
Society has two views of homosexuality. The traditional view holds that homosexuality is an aberration, the orientation is a disorder, and the behavior is pathological. The opposing view is that homosexuality is a normal variant in the human condition, that it is determined before birth, and homosexual behavior is natural for those so oriented. This view, however, rests on a number of questionable premises which, if false, lead us back to the traditional view.
Part of the widely promoted view of homosexuality is that it is simply another life style, not as common as heterosexuality, but no worse and no better. The term "alternative life style" is meant to imply "different, but equal."
To even suggest that there are quality of life differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality is to risk being labeled a bigot in much of our society. That something might be inherently wrong with homosexuality dare not be mentioned in our schools, in the media, or in the political arena.
Where certain negative aspects of homosexuality are brought up, they are frequently blamed on society's unwillingness to support committed gay relationships. This presents a difficult challenge because, by strict rules of scientific evidence, we can seldom prove cause and effect in human behavior. Why did John grow up to be a thief, and his brother Joseph to be a priest?
Behaviorists and medical experts can debate this endlessly -- or until evidence identifies biological elements in our bodies that predestine one to become a thief and another a priest. But whether or not a life style or form of behavior is harmful is a totally different question from what causes it to be harmful.
We first determine if something is harmful, and then we ask what is causing the harm: Is it something inherent in the condition or behavior, or is it something indirectly affecting the person engaging in that behavior. If people who smoke cigarettes are more apt to die of cancer, is it because there is something in the cigarette that tends to cause cancer, or is it something peripheral; say doctors hesitate to treat people who smoke because their breath is bad?
It is foolish to go on to the second question without first thoroughly examining the first, but that is what has been happening in our culture regarding homosexuality. We will not do that here.
The question then is: Is homosexuality harmful? By three basic criteria by which it is clearly appropriate to judge any form of behavior: emotional, psychological and physical, there is powerful evidence to indicate that it is not good to be gay. Let's look at this as objectively as possible:
This is the most difficult to measure objectively, but we can look at certain facts which are available:
1. Homosexuals can't have children.
Few would dispute that children provide an opportunity to give and receive love in a way that meets a basic human need.
2. Homosexual relationships lack complementarity.
Feminists notwithstanding, there are differences in male and female that go beyond the reproductive capacities -- brain differences, body structure differences, etc. These tend to complement each other in mankind as they do in other creatures -- creating a complementarity that is good for the individuals, for children and for society.
3. Homosexual relationships, on average are much shorter lived than heterosexual relationships.
A major study by the Kinsey Institute revealed that 78% of male homo- sexual "affairs" (relationships entered into with an intent of commitment) lasted less than three years. Only 12% lasted five years or longer.(l) Certainly, this shows a pattern of broken relationships that must be painful for many.
4. In a 1977 survey of members of the American Psychiatric Association, 73% of the psychiatrists responding said that they thought that homosexual men are less happy than others.
Seventy percent said they believed that the homosexuals' problems were due more to personal conflicts than to social stigmatization.(2)
The gay community claimed a great victory when they prevailed upon the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the DSM-II -- its listing of psychological disorders. This highly controversial action seems to fly in the face of the evidence of any common sense definition of psychological well-being. Consider the following:
1. Homosexual men are six times more likely to have attempted suicide than are heterosexual men.(3)
2. Studies indicate that between 25 and 33% of homosexual men and women are alcoholics.(4)
3. Statistics give evidence of widespread sexual compulsion among homosexual men.
The Kinsey study cited above revealed that 43% of the homosexual men surveyed estimated that they had had sex with 500 or more partners; 28% with 1,000 or more partners. 5 Either the American Psychiatric Association is ignorant of what homosexuality entails for vast numbers of men, or their view of healthy sexuality indicates a serious disorder among members of the A P.A.
4. The same Kinsey study revealed that homosexual men have to a great extent separated sexuality from relationship.
The survey showed 79% of the respondents saying that over half of their sexual partners were strangers. Seventy percent said that over half of their sexual partners were people with whom they had sex only once.6 Surely this is an indication of either deep dissatisfaction, or else terribly destructive hedonism.
Even if one were to consider AIDS as an altogether unrelated matter, few behaviors yield more harmful results than does homosexuality.
1. Certain common homosexual practices are physically destructive apart from transmission of disease.
Anal intercourse, an extremely common practice among homosexual men, can seriously damage internal tissues and can permanently weaken the anal sphincter, causing incontinence and other serious medical problems.
2. National gay rights organizations have been making a major issue lately of the high level of crime perpetrated against gays.
This has been put forth as a justification for inclusion of homosexuality in civil rights laws. What is not mentioned is that much of this crime occurs when a lonely, desperate homosexual takes a young male prostitute or other stranger to his home or apartment for an evening of sex. Although most gays know they risk meeting up with psychopaths in this way, many are still driven to do it.
3. In a survey reported in the official publication of the American Public Health Association, 78% of the gay respondents reported that they had been affected by a sexually transmitted disease at least one time.(7)
4. Several years ago it was reported that San Francisco had a VD rate that was 22 times the national average.(8)
5. Over 70% of those who have contracted AIDS are homosexual or bi-sexual.
We do need to address the statement that the difficulties suffered by homosexuals are all a result of society's prejudice and unwillingness to support stable gay relationships. We can address this on several points:
1. There is no proof for this allegation.
2. In areas where there is the greatest acceptance of homosexuality (San Francisco, West Hollywood, New York City), the detrimental effects don't decrease; they increase.
3. Over the past 20 years, there has been a great increase in the acceptance of homosexuality, but during the same period, there has been a huge increase in homosexual suffering due to disease and other factors.
4. For many years society did not condone heterosexual sexual involvement outside of marriage.
As far as we know this did not force the people so inclined into greater sexual promiscuity, higher rates of alcoholism, suicide, and disease.
Finally, we can ask: What if much of the suffering that goes along with homosexuality is in part, or even primarily, due to society's harsh and condemning attitude? Does that mean that we are therefore justified in supporting and affirming a life style that can bring such suffering? We can say that society must change, not the gays. But what if society won't change, or takes a long time to do so, what do we do then? Some members of racial minorities have taken the view that their problems were all due to racial prejudice, and they refused to help themselves. Many others, though, determined to overcome the obstacles, real as they were. Who fared the better?
The fact that homosexuality brings with it great suffering cannot be denied. Normally, confronting a condition or behavior that can bring such human suffering, all efforts are made at prevention and correction. With homosexuality, though, the public pressure to deny the harm, or to shift the blame to society, has all but ruled out society taking any step at prevention or change. And so the suffering goes on.
1. Alan P. Bell and Martin S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, (New York, Simon and Shuster, 1978) p.314
2. Harold I. Lief, Sexual Survey Number 4: Current Thinking on Homosexuality, Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality 2 (1977), pp.110- 111 (Cited in Growing Up Straight by George A. Reker)
3. Bell and Weinberg, Homosexualities, Table 21.12
4. Robert J. Kus, Alcoholics Anonymous and Gay American Men, Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 14, No.2 (1987), p.254
5. Bell and Weinberg, Homosexualities, p.308
6. Ibid. pp.308-309
7. Enrique T. Rueda, The Homosexual Network, (Old Greenwich, Conn., The Devin Adair Company, 1982), p.53