Well, here it goes. I’m setting out to offer my insights into whether or not being with someone of the same gender is ok or not. I hope you’ll read my story first to see where I’m coming from. Either way. I’ve broken down my message into eight main points. I hope to keep each point short and clear. Wish me luck on that!
1. SCIENCE, PART I – GENES
As scientific research continues, evidence continues to grow that people don’t choose to be gay. Some religions, such as Mormonism, are now acknowledging this. While there is likely a genetic element, as demonstrated by this study, and another more recent study, a third study shows that environmental factors, such as hormones in the womb, also help pre-determine a child’s orientation. Studies on animals confirm that these patterns are also found in nature (rams, for examples, among many other species).
2. SCIENCE, PART II – SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES
For those who do believe in evolution, you may wonder why being gay hasn’t been removed from the picture by natural selection, as it would seem like it would harm the reproduction rates of the species. One strong possibility is that the same gene that causes a male to be gay also causes a fertility boost in women, which is why it sticks around in the gene pool. One confirmation of this is that the parents and sisters of gay men have a larger average number of offspring. Sources given below:
3. SCIENCE, PART III – BRAIN SCANS
A manifestation of these early orientation developments is that gay people share brain similarities with most females, while lesbians share brain similarities with most males. The first study below concludes that “these differences could not be explained simply by ‘learned effects’, and they suggested a ‘linkage to neurobiological entities’.” No wonder gay conversion therapy fails so miserably. Therapists are essentially trying to perform a sex change on certain neural routes. In a world where true hermaphrodites exist, some people have brains which contain neural routes of both genders. Just as hermaphrodites shouldn’t be ashamed, neither should LGBT individuals.
Brain scans can also help us conclude that transgender people aren’t just making things up:
4. OUR OPTIONS
LGBT people are at a higher risk of suicide. No one is debating that, but people do debate why that’s the case. Let me offer my take on it. Here are some contributing factors:
A: Bullying/shunning from peers and family members.
B: Forced celibacy. No one debates whether or not loneliness contributes to suicide. In some religions, gay and lesbian individuals are condemned to a life without hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, and the fulfilling love of marriage. Most single straight (and bi) individuals would have a difficult time imagining what this is like, as they have the hope that love could be waiting around any corner.
While some individuals enter into mixed-orientation marriages and can make it work through emotional intimacy (love), others – the fully gay and lesbian ones – only feel romantic feelings for people of their own gender. Love is felt in the brain. Just as true hermaphrodites exist – undeniably, so also are there those who have the opposite gender’s brain circuitry when it comes to the romance. The above-mentioned brain scans help demonstrate this. Additional scans show that the romantic love that a gay man or lesbian feels for a same-gender partner is the same feeling that straight people feel for those they are in love with. For a fully gay man, who only feels romantic love for his own gender, an opposite-gender marriage would be torture for both him and his spouse (this story, for example). Even dating the opposite gender – which entails setting his girlfriend up to fall in love with him, while he can’t fall in love with her – probably does not feel like a moral option (I don’t necessarily condemn those who do, as I understand the intense pressure and confusion they experience). In my case, it felt incredibly wrong to continue dating women, especially after having already broken several of their hearts. When you never feel any emotional/romantic pull towards the other gender, how many broken hearts is too many? Someone else’s take on the matter: http://www.nomorestrangers.org/im-homophilic/
C: Rejecting the religious community they grew up with. Community helps prevent suicide. Also, when leaving a religion, many reject some of the good aspects of that religion – such as their advice to avoid risky sexual behaviors and harmful substances.
5. CHURCH LEADERS
What about the teachings of current church leaders? No church on earth is free of a leadership which makes mistakes. They are all human. The following mistakes don’t necessarily mean that any one of these religions is false, but that we should be careful in how we follow their leaders. Mistakes range from the crusades and the persecution of Galileo in Catholicism, to Mormon leaders claiming that monogamy is the downfall of civilizations and teaching, then disavowing that teaching, that Africans were less valiant in the pre-existence, to failed second coming predictions among the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists, to Mohammad saying that a child looks like whichever parent ejaculates first during intercourse.
Going back to the LGBT issue, the current leaders of various churches have been brought up with strong beliefs on this subject. Unfortunately, upbringing can interfere with one’s sense of right and wrong. If you search the web, you will find examples of Jehovah’s Witnesses who feel extremely guilty for celebrating holidays. Same with Seventh-day Adventists for going to movie theaters, Mormons for tea-drinking, the Amish for car-owning (while the Amish wouldn’t be on the internet, ex-Amish people are, and the guilt stays with them), newly-wed Christians who feel guilty after normal marital sex (as they misinterpret a natural feeling called post-coital tristesse), etc. You will even find people who thoroughly believe that interracial marriage is a gross sin, as they were taught that growing up. It was illegal in most states until 1967. People too commonly interpret their inner negative feelings as the voice of God. In addition to upbringing, for some, two men kissing sounds gross. Yet, intimacy between the elderly can sound gross, and it doesn’t produce children. We don’t forbid the elderly from falling in love with each other.
People aren’t perfect. As church leaders have made mistakes on important issues in the past, so in the future might we look back and write this one off as men speaking according to the limited knowledge of their time, who misjudged their negative feelings.
6. THE SCRIPTURES
What about scriptures condemning homosexual acts?
The harsh punishments in the Quran are more specific about condemning anal sex and adultery than it is about homosexuality. Right or wrong, many gay couples do not engage in anal sex. The Quran is silent on lesbians. Also, in the case of both the Bible and the Quran, the earliest manuscripts of the passages in question do not date back to the lifetimes of the original authors. All that we have now are copies of the originals, and we cannot know if scribes inserted their own ideas into the passages.
Due to Christ giving a new law, the Old Testament contains many rules which we now disregard, such as barring the descendants of bastards from congregations. As far as the New Testament goes, it is important to understand how it came to be. Imagine that you are alive in 367 A.D. At this point, hundreds of years after the life of Paul, the New Testament still doesn’t exist. You hear of a council, wherein a group of men make a list of the most widely accepted scrolls. They compile these writings for distribution and the New Testament is born. Among these writings are copies of letters written by Paul, which advocate for silencing women in churches, for slaves to obey their masters, and which condemn homosexual acts. At the time, no one was going to question what are supposedly Paul’s writings on these matters, whether about slavery or otherwise. Paul proclaimed that homosexuality is the sin against nature. They wouldn’t have questioned that then. We now know that homosexuality is found throughout nature (see point #1).
At the same time, these people don’t realize that they are breaking ranks with other scriptures in their views on homosexuality, including two of Jesus’ teachings. Genesis 2:18 – It is not good for man to be alone. Forced celibacy was never part of God’s plan (again, the alternative is to subject two people to a marriage void of reciprocal romantic love). Matthew 23:3-4 – Do not follow religious leaders who do not practice what they preach, who put burdens on people that are grievous to be born. Catholics aside, most religious leaders don’t practice celibacy. Perhaps most important is Matthew 19:9-12 – as far as celibacy goes, the gift of dedicating one’s life to God is given to some. To those who can receive it let them receive it (in Catholicism, becoming a monk or nun is voluntary). It is however, not a requirement or commandment and should not be forced on anyone. Some are built for monkhood. For others, romance runs in their veins. Telling such people “no love for you in this life” is a tremendous cruelty and for them a burden which is grievous to be born. One therapist describes the religious LGBT people who visit him: “They would come and sit down with me, and they would tell me their stories. These were good people, former pastors, youth leaders…, missionaries, bishops, and they were . . . there’s no other way to say this. They were dying. They were dying before my eyes. And they would weep in desperation—after years, decades, of trying to do just as they had been instructed to: be obedient, live in faith, have hope. They would weep with me, and ask where the Lord was. They would sob. They would wonder where joy was. As a practitioner, it became increasingly obvious: the way the church handled this issue was not just inconvenient. It didn’t make things hard for LGBTQIA people. It became more and more clear to me that it was actually hurting them. It was killing them.” See the “Personal Accounts” page for more examples.
7. THE CHILDREN
Can two gay men or two lesbian women offer a stable environment for raising children?
A: Almost all of the studies show that their children are just as well off.
B: Single parents are allowed to adopt and raise kids without all of the fuss. We’re simply doubling the number of parents, while keeping the gender the same.
C: I would prefer that my children do have a motherly figure (or two) in their lives. If and when I get around to starting a family, if my husband is cool with having kids, I’d want our children to be shared with a lesbian couple. The kids would have four adults to provide for and protect them. At the minimum, I’d want a woman close by to have sort of a godmother status. Others may not be able to arrange this situation, and I don’t look down on them at all, same as I don’t look down on single parents.
D: While we’re talking about children, remember that many of us begin to realize our orientation at a very young age. If we’re worried about harming children, and we should be, what about the harm done to LGBT children who are indirectly told to be celibate for life?
If God exists, he created hermaphrodites. We know that their body parts are a combination of both genders. Using brain scans, we can also choose to believe that he created gay people, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people. As the biology and physiology is complicated, let us abstain from making simple judgments against these people. As to lesbian and gay couples, let them decide for themselves if what they experience is joy and love. I strongly encourage you to read their accounts on the “Personal Accounts” page. For me, the love I felt for the one I lost is something that I can never deny. If we really experience love, would God object to us leading a more joyous life?
AN AFTERTHOUGHT FOR THE LDS READER
Mormons have an extra hurdle here, as they believe that people need to be paired off in heterosexual couples in order to enter the top level of heaven. To Mormons reading this, allow me to point something out. In your religion, widows are allowed to re-marry after the death of their husband. They aren’t sealed to the new husband and likely won’t be with him in the next life, but they are allowed this marriage so that they do not have to be alone. You also teach that God gives the chance of marriage in the next life to those who could not receive it in this life. Within this doctrine, gay and lesbian individuals can experience love with a committed partner in this life – so that they do not have to be alone. In the next life, God can sort out the details about whether they had a chance in this life or not, and they can get sealed to someone then. As you have preached celibacy to gay and lesbian individuals, you have yourselves suggested that they do not have a real chance in this life. And not everyone does have a chance in this life, which is tragic, but for lesbian and gay individuals, the widow exception can give them a chance for a much more fulfilling life.