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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Awkward Question Series: Round 1 » Awkward Question Series: Round 1

Awkward Question Series: Round 1

Rusty - June 21, 2007

If there were a prenatal treatment that prevented homosexuality in your children would you do it?

Just so you know, my “delete comment” button is highly sensitive for this post for obvious reasons.

67 Comments »

  1. FWIW, this question was inspired by this article.

    Comment by Rusty — June 21, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  2. no.

    Comment by Dan — June 21, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

  3. No.

    Comment by Sam B. — June 21, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  4. I’m going to agree with Dan. I am pretty clueless about the subject, but I know that it is a way that people are born. Whether this is by consequence of a fallen world or divine design is not for me to know, although I lean towards dvine design. Besides, if we eliminate all of our differences, how will we learn the god like virtues of patience, love, respect, etc.?? That said, I hope my children would never have to go through what homosexuals go through in some parts of the church today.

    Comment by john scherer — June 21, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  5. No.

    I don’t think there will every be a time when this will be possible, but I think it could have terrible implications on a person’s agency.

    Comment by Adam — June 21, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

  6. Awkward, indeed. You can’t answer ‘yes’ without hurting feelings. I’ll just say that my answer is not an unqualified ‘no.’ But that doesn’t mean that it is an unqualified ‘yes.’

    I can think of some reasons to do it. Assuming there was no medical risk, at the moment the only reason I can think of not to is that it would offend people. Not that that’s not an important thing to take into consideration. If, for example, you have an older child who is homosexual, it would probably make him feel pretty bad to know that you intervened to prevent a subsequent child from having a trait that he has. I don’t know if that kind of consideration would determine my decision, but it would weigh into it.

    If there comes a day when a prenatal treatment can prevent homosexuality, it will have to have been proved that homosexuality is entirely a product of biological factors, rather than of any environmental/sociological/personal choice factors. Since I don’t see every biological phenomenon as a manifestation of God’s will, the possiblity of messing with God’s designs wouldn’t give me much pause. I would definitely intervene to prevent some other conditions. Metrosexuality, for instance.

    Comment by Tom — June 21, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

  7. An unqualified, “yes.” Substitute any innate characteristic that results in a social abnormality (i.e. extremely unnatractive, extremely dimwitted, obsession with role-playing games) and tell me you wouldn’t do it for your child. “No” answers require some serious rational gymnastics.

    Comment by endlessnegotiation — June 21, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  8. No.

    Comment by Kim Siever — June 21, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  9. Why not just make a pre-natal treatment for guarantee Celestial Kingdom-ness? Oh wait! We have that one already…

    Comment by Bret — June 21, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  10. Thanks for posting the link to this article. Fascinating.

    As a gay man, I’d have to answer your question with a “no.” I’ll grant you that life may be a bit simpler for heterosexual men than for gay men, but I’m actually thankful for the blessing of being a gay man. What I once agonized over, and hated myself for, I’ve found to be a wonderful part of my life—in far more ways than just who I happen to be sexually and emotionally attracted to.

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 21, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  11. #7 endlessnegotiation:
    What you seem to refer to by “social abnormality” is awfully maleable. Various physical traits have been considered “beautiful” by different cultures, for example. What is “socially abnormal” (as you call it) depends entirely on the society in question.

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 21, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

  12. endless,

    Some deaf couples want to remove the “social abnormality” of hearing in their children. Totally acceptable by your terms. You’re willing to go there?

    Comment by Adam — June 21, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

  13. My parents never hit the switch for my dimwittedness and look at me now!!!

    Comment by john scherer — June 21, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  14. Hmmmmm. I personally wouldn’t mind if my child were gay, straight, or somewhere in-between. Unfortunately for him or her, however, I belong to a Church that considers homosexual behavior to be sinful and where gay and lesbian members are affixed with a huge stigma. I also belong to a society that is increasingly tolerant, but still homophobic. Considering the societies in question (i.e., Mormon, conservative U.S.), endlessnegotiation has a point.

    Comment by ECS — June 21, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  15. My husband is gay. His father is gay. I have often wondered how I will feel if my children grow up and are gay (I just checked my baby and he has a “straight” hair pattern). My first impulse would be to answer the question “yes”. But I can also see the point that others make that challenges can be opportunities for growth. On the other hand, the potential for trauma by growing gay in the LDS church is great.

    Comment by Anon for this — June 21, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  16. I have no way of proving this, but I think that a lot of people would answer this question with a no when discussing the subject at parties but would answer with a yes in the privacy of a doctor’s office.

    Comment by Tammy — June 21, 2007 @ 3:18 pm

  17. Absolutely. Why not? I’d do the same for deafness or blindness, in spite of the “growth potential” from such challenges and in spite of the fact that deaf and blind people live perfectly good lives.

    Comment by Eric Russell — June 21, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  18. Oh, and my answer would be yes, just like I would take a treatment to prevent learning disabilities, or blindness, or anything else I perceive that would make my child’s life needlessly difficult. Yet, since no treatment could ever be 100% effective, I would support, love and treasure my child no matter how she or he turned out.

    Comment by Tammy — June 21, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

  19. I’d be lying if I say I didn’t agree with Tammy.

    Comment by cheryl — June 21, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

  20. I think an underlying question is this: Is homosexuality a disorder/abnormality? Or is it a “normal variant”? There are many biologically-based conditions we consider to be disorders because they interfere with normal social function. Contemporary western culture is unusual in our current general assertion that homosexuality is as “normal” as heterosexuality. I think that, at best, that is an arbitrary position to take.

    Comment by E — June 21, 2007 @ 6:00 pm

  21. I’m gay. I’m active in the Church… and out in all of my circles. If you know me but don’t know I’m gay, it’s because it hasn’t come up. I’m loved in my ward and stake, and respected as much as any other. My life is perhaps harder in some limited aspect, but others have it worse. I am blessed beyond measure.

    I am not broken or otherwise flawed. I just am.

    My answer is a resounding “no”… but not because any of the following, but because such editing is the height of human hubris; it is an act of unrighteous dominion thinking that you can improve on what God has done or dabble in the complexities of nature without risk or fallout; it is vile and repugnant… It leads to imbalances in society and the genome and commodifies children.

    To undertake such an endeavor is to deny the wonderful ability of nature (and God) to surprise and delight; for wrongs to be made right and weak things be made strong.

    Edit for homosexuality? For down syndrome? For blindness? For intelligence? For gender? Where do you stop?

    Why should you begin?

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 21, 2007 @ 6:53 pm

  22. Silus, you have the best argument so far, by far.

    Comment by E — June 21, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  23. Thank you.

    But now I read Rusty’s question again, and see I’ve misread it. I thought it asked whether one would terminate the pregnancy… and my answer stands. But he was more nebulous than that, and I’m guessing that some type of genetic therapy could ( theoretically ) effect the changes in question.

    To this “new” question, however, my answer is largely the same.

    I am skeptical of our health ethos which focuses so much on imperfections and largely looses sight of the real power that death has — for good, especially. And I think our “if it can be cured it should be” mentality is also the height of arrogant and unrighteous dominion.

    Be well by living well… accept the twists in the road with equanimity. Weep often and openly… and then move forward with the presence of mind and strength of spirit befitting a God in embryo.

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 21, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  24. Also… FWIW, I accept that my orientation is in some real and significant way affected (not effected) by biology. But thinking that biology is anything but a part of an ensemble cast is simplistic and counterproductive.

    I’ve thought about this extensively, and see one’s socio-sexual state as being the product of a complex and poorly understood matrix. Core gender, genetics, physiognomy, orientation, libido, culture, and a host of others combine and conspire to shape who we are within the socio-sexual context. And you know what? There’s no pill for that.

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 21, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

  25. #21) *any of the preceding …

    Sorry about that. Thought is sounded a little off.

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 21, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  26. I’m not sure how I feel about either answer. I lean towards “yes.” However, this is not a decision I’m sure humans are really meant to make, or even have. Before I answered any such question (re: homosexuality, Down’s Syndrome or love of D&D*) I would pray long and hard and I wouldn’t do anything until I was *sure* of the answer… and if I didn’t get an answer, then I’d probably apply a dictum of my mother’s: “No permission means no!”

    *Which, frankly, would be encouraged in this family!

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — June 21, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  27. I’m gay, Mormon and married. This one is a no-brainer: Yes.

    Comment by NJ — June 21, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  28. I am fascinated by the answers here, and can’t help but woder what people are thinking when they hear the word, “treatment”. When a doctor is treating a patient, treatments come in many forms, drugs, surgical procedures, etc. but one of the most common ways a doctor treats a patient is by recommending behavior modifications: lose weight, exercise, eat more fiber, eat less fat, etc. What if the treatment for preventing homesexuality was something as simple as having the mother-to-be sleep on her left side, or take a higher dose of prenatal vitamins? It’s an oversimplifcation of the problem, but it brings the real question to the fore. If there’s any action you could take to prevent your children from being homosexual would you do it?

    Comment by marcus — June 21, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  29. It’s a hard question. I think I’d answer “yes”, but then I’m not faced with the actual decision.

    Biological infirmities can bring us great joys and ever closer to God. But do I do wrong by taking large doses of folic acid to (try to) prevent my next child from having spina bifida? Am I taking away the growth this (hypothetical) child will experience?

    I don’t think so. I think mortal life has enough trials in store for all of us, regardless of birth defect, gay-orientation, deafness, or whatever.

    Comment by Keryn — June 21, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  30. In the end, probably yes.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 21, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

  31. I don’t share Silus Grok’s general aversion to messing with biology. I wouldn’t see gene therapy as trying to improve upon what God has done because I don’t believe that God chooses what specific mix of alleles we receive. That’s determined by a random recombination of our parents’ chromosomes during gametogenesis. If the result is undesireable, I see no problem intervening (if it was possible, which it probably never will be, I would guess). We mess with nature in other ways all the time. For example, we give insulin to people whose bodies don’t naturally regulate blood sugar well. We give serotonin reuptake inhibitors to people whose brain chemistry causes them to be depressed. Antibiotics and painkillers are pretty awesome. If pre-natal gene therapy was developed and was safe, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it to prevent my children from developing painful and debilitating diseases.

    Comment by Tom — June 21, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  32. Tom,

    I agree and would add the same of children born with clubbed feet. Some Utah polygamous groups (and who knows who else) are known to not give such a child of theirs corrective surgery because “That’s just the way God wants them to be.”

    Comment by Bret — June 22, 2007 @ 1:15 am

  33. It seems the issue here is that whether or not homosexuality is considered a defect. When comparisons to clubbed feet, depression and deafness are made it suggests that homosexuality is a defect (something that homosexuals don’t like, btw).

    Comment by Rusty — June 22, 2007 @ 5:30 am

  34. Which is why I say you can’t answer ‘yes’ without hurting feelings. You would only change it if you don’t value homosexuality, if you see it as less than ideal, and I know that some people would consider such a stance as hateful bigotry. For many, nothing short of valuing homosexual relationships equally to heterosexual ones will allow you to escape condemnation.

    There are some reasons for regarding homosexuality as less than ideal. From a Darwinist perspective a homosexual individual is less fit (less likely to reproduce) than a heterosexual individual. So in a biological, pass-on-the-genes sense, homosexualty could be considered a “defect” in an individual’s reproductive machinery. But the biological perspective has nothing to say about how homosexuality should be valued. Looking at it from a religious perspective, a homosexual individual is less likely to enter into and keep marriage covenants. I wouldn’t say that that makes homosexuality a “defect,” but it’s certainly less than ideal. It would be along the lines of inheriting genes that give one a greater propensity for becoming alcoholic—it’s a biological condition that presents a challenge in living up to Gospel ideals.

    Comment by Tom — June 22, 2007 @ 6:04 am

  35. I know they don’t Rusty. I also find the comparison inadequate. Mainly because I don’t actually consider everything about it defective.

    As far as the sexual urge, yes I consider that to be a trial. Something that is not meant to be under God’s order of things. Since I do not agree with voluntarily seeking out trials, I would probably seek to spare my son this.

    But I consider sex to be only a part of homosexuality.

    I think it manifests a desire for affection and intimacy between males that our society does not, and has not, typically allowed. Guys in society are not really allowed to be affectionate or loving with each other. Heterosexual guys would typically find it “creepy” if you tried. I doubt I’d be comfortable with it myself. We’ve been raised this way.

    But I’m not sure that the barriers of humor and bravado that guys put up between each other are entirely healthy either. I think homosexuals, in some ways, represent a backlash against this lack of natural emotional intimacy between males in society.

    I don’t find the manifestation of this backlash (homosexual sex) to be appropriate. But I do sympathize greatly with the driving impulse.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 22, 2007 @ 6:13 am

  36. In short, I think that homosexuals are, in a way, manifesting an aspect of God’s character that many other men lack.

    But I cannot condone the sex part. And I don’t see that ever changing.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 22, 2007 @ 6:16 am

  37. Silus has a good point, and it can be taken further. If it is appropriate to tamper with a gay fetus’ genetic tendency toward homosexuality, what other traits might society think it was okay to modify or eradicate? Imagine, for example, the effect on society if aggression was genetically removed. You might have fewer murders, but you’d also have considerably less human achievement in a variety of endeavors. It’s easy to see various science fiction distopias which could arise from such engineering. After all, we’ve already seen government leaders try to modify the makeup of society, via both selective breeding and extermination.

    Further, I think the idea of an isolated “gay gene” is suspicious. Do you really think that one could tamper with one genetic trait, without affecting other traits? Suppose you could modify your gay fetus’s DNA to make him straight, but the same modification made him grow a couple extra toes. Suppose the modification had a negative effect on IQ. What trade-offs are you, as a parent, willing to make for your child (and without his consent, btw)?

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 22, 2007 @ 8:03 am

  38. Then I guess the new question is, “Would you rather be gay or have a couple extra toes?”

    :)

    Comment by Rusty — June 22, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  39. If you think about it, those “couple extra toes” could end up being a problem in themselves. I can see some “almost was gay, but now just has a couple extra toes” guy dating a woman, until she notices, to her horror, that he has extra toes..”And we all KNOW what extra toes means!” She realizes that he’s one of THOSE men, and drops him like a rock! The poor “straight but extra toed” guy ends up losing one woman after another….

    So then, parents of an “almost was gay, but now just has a couple extra toes” child might worry that those extra toes would be “a biological condition that presents a challenge in living up to Gospel ideals!” They don’t want poor junior to be burned by this “social abnormality.” They want junior to marry in the LDS temple, sire a bunch of “hopefully not almost-gay, so they don’t end up with extra toes after treatment” kids, and be a good LDS member! So…off goes junior (probably in his infancy) to the surgeon, to have his extra toes amputated before he suffers from this great malady.

    But then what happens when junior is a teenager, and while clipping his toenails one day, notices a funny scar. Junior gets to thinking about this, and being at least a little savvy, figures out that he must have been one of those “almost gay, but just ended up with a couple extra toes” babies! (His parents never told him, you see, because they didn’t want to harm his self-esteem.)

    Of course, junior doesn’t want anyone to know he was one of THOSE babies, so he has to hide those scars! He becomes obsessive about wearing shoes, or at least socks, at all times. He focuses so much, in fact, that he develops….that’s right…a shoe fetish!

    Poor junior!! ;-)

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 22, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  40. Awesome Nick. Simply awesome.

    Comment by Rusty — June 22, 2007 @ 9:27 am

  41. I still agree with Tom but my point was to see if Silus was taking the “an act of unrighteous dominion thinking that you can improve on what God has done or dabble in the complexities of nature without risk or fallout” argument farther than has merit. (which I don’t think he was but someone else may have read it that way, thus the need for the clarity from Tom’s statement)

    Seth,

    Amen, brother! American masculinity culture has certianly twisted into a unique mess. Manliness is being athletic, not crying out of pain or emotion (though the latter is somewhat lax in LDS culture), BBQing, playing violent video games and liking cool explosions, hot sexual content and violence on the screen.

    Obviously there is nothing wrong with liking/doing any of those things, but masculinity should be based on integrity. How good a father, husband, brother or son a man is. How honest is his dealings with his fellow men. How well he treats women. How much he’s doing what he says and says what he does, etc etc.

    Also, as this mess has continually evolved, it certianly is making it increasingly difficult for men to show affection for each other w/o it being labeled “gay.” Just look at the past 100 years or so of literature, movies and theatre to see how it’s changed.

    Comment by Bret — June 22, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  42. I find it interesting that so many people would not “force” their child to be heterosexual, but plenty of people would happily guarantee their children are free of physical deformities. I find this especially interesting given that many people, I assume, would also want those people who are homosexual to eventually overcome their “problem.” If that’s true, it’s as if we want homosexuals to suffer and struggle, and yet we want the physically deformed child to be healed as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

    Is this hypocritical? I don’t think so. Even if it is misguided to think this way, I assume many people are viewing homosexuality as a MORAL challenge but viewing physical deformities as just sad and pointless. Thus, we view the assurance of heterosexuality as an assurance that one might not have the moral challenges they are supposed to have. But why aren’t people supposed to have physical challenges? Why even put a kid in braces? Maybe God wants your child to go through life without straight teeth and see what it means to have that problem. And certainly any challenges we face, even if not overtly moralistic, can bear upon our moral behavior and the choices we make. SO should we exempt our children from having those particular struggles?

    I understand why many people would fix their kids’ physical problems. We have the technology and know-how, so why not? If we weren’t supposed to overcome these problems, God wouldn’t have allowed medicine to advance like it has. I am sympathetic to such reasoning. But why are moral challenges any different? If we can prevent homosexual tendencies, or tendencies to steal, or tendencies to go to the movies on Sunday, why not? Can’t you equally say that God wouldn’t allow these things to come about if He didn’t want us to have the easy way out? But if you can say that, then what’s stopping you from giving your child the anti-homosexuality shot once it becomes available?

    Comment by Ben — June 22, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  43. Ben,
    Ever watch Gattaca, I think that gives a very coherent answer to why not? Perhaps braces are better left up to an individual to decide if they want them. We have an unhealthy obsession with perfection in our society. Problems like anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder didn’t come out of nowhere. As a child neurologist, I have often been faced with other residents expressing their disgust and disdain that parents would care for a brain damaged child. They are so repulsed that they don’t even feel the child has any humanity. In the end, I have to conclude this impulse is simply wrong. Disabilities are not something bad, nor something good, they simply are. For this reason, I find homosexuals who express their offense at these comparisons hypocritical in a way. Then again, perhaps they realize as well as anyone where this ugly implulse to deny the humanity of those that are different can lead.

    Comment by Doc — June 22, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  44. At least one “christian” minister has gone on record publicly, suggesting that in the scenario Rusty has given us, it would be a “SIN” for parents NOT to give their genetically gay child the “un-gay shot.” Likewise, this minister apparently believes it would be sinful for a gay man not to have some “cure” administered to him to make him “straight,” should such become available. Within various fundamentalist religions (such as LDS-ism), this is a seemingly valid position to take. What think ye?

    As I read some of the statements here, I have to wonder. Suppose that sometime prior to 1978, a “treatment” was available to eliminate the genetic traces of African ancestry. Perhaps LDS parents who refused to have such a “treatment” administed to African-American children have been making them suffer “a biological condition that presents a challenge in living up to Gospel ideals.” Nevermind that in June 1978, the misguided nature of that “treatment” would have become quite evident.

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 22, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  45. Nick, I don’t think the racial analogy works any better than the disability analogy. In both cases, there are obviously some real differences.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 22, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  46. Taking folic acid prevents spina bifida and other defects. Any expectant mother that doesn’t take folic acid daily is potentially subjugating her child to a life of unneeded difficulty. Informed mothers would have to be crazy to not take folic acid.

    This doesn’t mean that they would value a child with spina bifida less, does it?

    What does this have to do with the question at hand? I think that if parents feel that homosexuality would cause unneeded difficulty then they would be anxious make it less likely to occur. If they don’t view it this way then they’ll not worry about it.

    My concern is that if such a treatment were available that it would be popular and they number of homosexuals would drop. This might lead to an increase in homophobia and make things difficult for those that are gay. Such a treatment doesn’t just affect an individual child, it would have effects on the entire population.

    How about asking the reverse question? If you could also take a pill that would ensure that your child is homosexual would you do it?

    Comment by a random John — June 22, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

  47. I’m not sure I understand how you would find such irritation to be hypocritical, Doc. As a gay man, I do find it offensive when homosexuality is treated as some sort of “disability” or “birth defect.” It’s not a question of whether such a label makes it “good” or “bad.”

    In LDS-ism, this idea of homosexuality as a “birth defect” seems to be rapidly gaining ground. Unfortunately, LDS teachings on accountability don’t seem to carry through on the subject of homosexuality. Let me explain. If a child is born with significant mental handicaps, LDS teachings suggest that the child is not to be held accountable for his or her moral choices. (A friend of mine’s mildly-mentally-disabled adult daughter fought for about two years to get a temple recommend to receive her endowment, because the bishop and stake president refused to believe she was accountable!) Similarly, if a person is mentally ill, LDS teachings take that into account regarding the person’s accountability. Elder Russell M. Nelson wrote a wonderful article about suicide, assuring bereft loved ones that “only God” knows the mental state AND the true accountability of a person who feels driven to take that drastic action.

    Not so, however, for the gay man. When homosexuality was considered a mental illness, gay men at BYU were subjected to shock treatment and other aversion therapies, in order to “fix” them—but they were still held fully accountable for their attraction to other men (and at that time, even being attracted to the same sex was taught as “sin” by LDS leaders). Gay men were even told to get married, in hopes that the experience of heterosexual intercourse would be so life-altering, that they would suddenly become “straight.” Now, gay LDS men aren’t tortured or told to marry women. They’re beginning to be taught that something just “went wrong” for them, somehow, and their attraction isn’t their fault–and isn’t a sin in itself. But guess what? Following their own normal attractions IS taught as a sin, and they are held strictly accountable for it. When challenged, LDS leaders say this is because sex outside of marriage is wrong—and then they spend millions of dollars to make sure that gay men can never have sex with other gay men within a marital bond.

    Oddly enough, LDS want to hold a gay man even more accountable than a straight person. If two unmarried heterosexuals engage in a romantic kiss, it’s acceptable. If two unmarried gay men were to kiss one another, LDS would consider it a sin—even a sin bad enough to get kicked out of LDS-owned universities.

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 22, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  48. “I think that if parents feel that homosexuality would cause unneeded difficulty then they would be anxious make it less likely to occur. If they don’t view it this way then they’ll not worry about it.”

    I think that the fact that my five children were born female causes unneeded difficulty for them. Should I have been anxious to somehow make them male? ;-)

    “How about asking the reverse question? If you could also take a pill that would ensure that your child is homosexual would you do it?”

    Absolutely not. Not because homosexuals supposedly have bigger challenges, but rather because each person should be free to make such drastic spiritual/emotional/physical decisions for themselves.

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 22, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  49. I don’t have any answer for the question, but the discussion itself affords some interesting and instructive parallels with John 9.

    Jesus gave eyesight to the man who was born blind.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — June 22, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

  50. I don’t know any gay men yet, who Jesus made straight. Even the evangelicals are beginning to realize that Jesus doesn’t make gay men straight. At best, Jesus might help gay men be celibate.

    http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-exgay18jun18,0,6179153.story?coll=ny-leadnationalnews-headlines

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 22, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  51. Nick,

    I intended no suggestion that Jesus forced a particular change of condition on those to whom he ministered, or that his healing signified the passing of judgment upon what they obviously considered to be their own infirmities.

    From the scriptural accounts, it has always seemed to me that the “healing” he offered consisted in granting the righteous desires of their heart. I would suppose any judgment about the source of affliction or suffering was a personal and subjective matter, in the mind of those on whom he exercised his healing power.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — June 22, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

  52. For those offended by the idea that homosexuality is a birth defect, it might be worth while to reread the original post. The “awkward” hypothetical question, asks us to assume that homosexuality is a medically treatable condition. As silus pointed out, I think biology is probably only one player in a larger cast of characters influencing ones sexuality.

    Seth, your explanation of homosexuality as it relates to masculinity and male affection doesn’t adequately explain the concurrent rise in female homosexuality. What do you think attributes to the rise in female homosexuality?

    Comment by marcus — June 22, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

  53. It’s an interesting question marcus.

    First thing to realize is that the lesbian population is not really homogeneous at all.

    For instance, a lot of younger girls are toying with lesbianism as a way to “turn guys on” (highly encouraged by popular culture). At dance clubs, for instance, some girls will start carrying on with each other just to fire up the guys around them. Such women may consider the exhibitionism fun, it may make them feel desirable, but I think some lesbians would take issue with any claims that such women are “true lesbians.”

    Others simply experiment out of curiosity, but don’t feel any particular drive toward it and drop it just as quickly as they took it up.

    Others, I would imagine take it up because their experiences with male affection have been so bad, that they are genuinely seeking affection in other ways. Don’t forget the male-female dynamic of power and powerlessness, which most certainly factors in as well. I would say it entirely possible that some women are finding much more emotionally rewarding relationships with other women, then they did with the men in their lives.

    I would also point out that women have always, on the whole, been more comfortable with displaying affection with each other. Just stop by your local Relief Society before class starts. You’re very likely to see several women warmly greeting each other by either clasping hands or embracing, or occasionally even a brief kiss on the cheek.

    You’ll never see similar displays in an American Elders Quorum meeting.

    I would suggest that the barrier for men showing intimate affection with each other is simply greater than the barrier for women.

    There are also a great many more differences.

    Honestly, I don’t think you can really address female and male homosexuality the same way. They are actually completely different behaviors. The interpersonal dynamic is different, the motivations are different, and the way intimacy is displayed is different.

    Both are called “homosexuality,” but I think they’re as different as apples and oranges.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 23, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  54. I have been acquainted with many same sex attracted individuals both in and out of the church. One happens to be a close friend of mine. The struggle is great and I certainly could never wish it upon any child of mine.

    Even though the struggle is difficult, I know several who are grateful for what they consider to be many blessings that are also connected to their sexual orientation. If I can speak for my LDS friends, I would say that although their goal is to control or diminish their homosexual desires, they would not want to give up other qualities that make them who they are and that serve them well.

    It’s my hope that some day in the eternities, I will come to understand exactly what the purpose for this trial is. It seems especially cruel to me, that in a church whose primary goal is to establish eternal family units, that God allows this trial to exist(athough I know several in successful marriages). I am sure there is a reason, but it is difficult for my mortal mind to fathom it.

    To answer the initial question, I will have to remain undecided. I am not sure what I would do and I am glad that it is not a decision that I could make. I will say that same sex attracted individuals who remain faithful members of the church have my utmost admiration and serve as a great inspiration to me.

    Comment by AJ — June 24, 2007 @ 8:25 am

  55. I don’t think that someone’s sexuality is the defining character trait of a person. If I was to have a a treatment to prevent homosexuality in a future child, I am not preventing that child from existing. The same child will be born either way. I am not even taking away his free agency to chose to have a homosexual relationship. I am just taking the biological reasons to do so.

    Comment by Tammy — June 24, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

  56. #54:
    We all need to be careful as outsiders, when we look at another couple’s marriage. What may appear as “successful” may not be at all. I am reminded of one particular Sunday, when a member of the stake high council approached me after sacrament meeting, gushing about how my then-wife and I (having been married nearly 18 years at the time) looked “so much in love” during the meeting, “like two lovebirds cooing to each other.” In reality, the “cooing” was snickering over a joke I made about the speaker. Despite his perceptions, the marriage was actually filled with criticism, resentment and conflict, even to the point of contempt.

    Imagine that stake high councilor’s surprise, when he learned about a month later that I (serving as stake executive secretary at the time) had come out of the closet, and was divorcing!

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 25, 2007 @ 8:17 am

  57. Among those who would “treat” their gay fetus in hopes of making him/her straight, what role is personal embarassment playing in your decision? I don’t mean embarassment for the gay child. I mean embarassment to LDS parents of a gay child, who worry about how others would judge them for supposedly being “bad parents.” Can you say your motives *purely* altruistic, or will you confess some self-interest?

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 25, 2007 @ 8:25 am

  58. Concern for the well-being of the child is motivation enough. The potential for personal embarrassment never crossed my mind. Nor would it. I would not be personally embarrassed if I had a gay child. There would be no reason to be embarrassed.

    Comment by Tom — June 25, 2007 @ 9:05 am

  59. Nick, I think I’m kind of beyond being embarrassed over such a thing. I spent 5 years of my adolescence dragging my autistic younger brother, kicking and screaming out of sacrament meeting almost every Sunday. He’d also randomly yell various words like “poop” during the services.

    If I had much self-respect before, I don’t think there’s much left now.

    But believe me or not, as you choose.

    Comment by Seth R. — June 25, 2007 @ 9:27 am

  60. Of course I believe you, Seth. What reason would I have to not believe you?

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 25, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  61. We all need to be careful as outsiders, when we look at another couple’s marriage. What may appear as “successful” may not be at all.

    I am not just an “outsider” to the successful marriages that I mentioned. Of course, I am not privy to every detail in anyone else’s marriages(not suggesting that!), but those people have discussed frankly their own challenges and triumphs. I have been made aware by their own disclosures, that the SSA individual in these marriages has made a conscious committment to put their spouse and their marriage vows above all other temptations or desires. I say that these marriages are successful because at this point they remain committed NOT because they don’t have struggles. I did not make that comment by my mere observations, but based on their own declarations. Of course, anything could change at any time and good marriages can go bad. That is true of any marriage, even between couples who are both extremely straight.

    Comment by AJ — June 25, 2007 @ 11:41 am

  62. i thought the only thing i would ever commit suicide over was if i were pentecostal.

    if i were a woman and carrying a child that was certain to be homosexual and there was nothing that could be done, i think i would consider blowing myself up.

    Comment by garry — June 26, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  63. So, garry, you believe that it would be better in the eyes of deity to commit simultaneous suicide and murder, than to give birth to a gay child?

    Please tell us you’re just a troll, and you don’t actually mean what you just said.

    Comment by Nick Literski — June 26, 2007 @ 10:32 am

  64. Blowing yourself up!

    garry finds a way around the Church’s prohibition on abortion!

    Comment by Seth R. — June 26, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  65. Garry,
    Consider this your only warning before you’re gone.

    Comment by Rusty — June 26, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  66. #32) @Tom: I need to clarify… I was using the phrase “what God has done” as a personification for Nature, generally. And yes, I do have an aversion to gene-level modification. There are too many unknowns to even begin that process with a clear conscience.

    #34) @Tom: For someone who is comfortable with the language of genetics, you are surprisingly unimaginative when it comes to discussing the genetic ramifications / implications of homosexuality. In our current cultural milieu, romantic love enjoys a widespread and profound popularity… but it wasn’t always so — and is still not without exception. For a large part of the human experience, familial expectations and survival were the key drivers behind coupling and childbearing. In these situations, you didn’t have to fall in love — you just needed to successfully negotiate intercourse. So until very recently, homosexuality did not necessarily interfere with spreading one’s genetic code.

    In fact, some have hypothesized that the genetic component of homosexuality protect younger male siblings from incurring the wrath of older, stronger brothers — thus allowing them to grow old enough to procreate. I could go on, of course, but won’t… the point is clear, I hope: I’m not at a genetic loss, just a cultural one. I live in a time when romantic love is the norm… so there is little or no support to sustain my wife and I in what would otherwise be an untenable relationship.

    As for the religious perspective, I would have to concur… being gay is certainly a stumbling block in my pursuit of the standard. But I manage — and even thrive — just as so many others who have their own crosses to bear.

    #38) @Nick: Thank you, and well-said.

    #41) @Bret: I fear, sometimes, that I might take it too far… but I realize the difference between setting bones and futzing with a person’s genome. Of course, this unrighteous dominion (and it’s not a perfect parallel, but it works well enough) is not just found in medicine… but also in agriculture and other practices that insist on doing end-runs around the natural order instead of embracing it. It brings to mind a passage from a Hugh Nibley book I read 10 or 15 years ago that suggested that the sins of the people of Noah’s time was boasting that they didn’t need God to water their crops because they had invented/perfected irrigation. Such hubris… such short-sightedness… it’s apparent in so much we do as humans. It’s at the heart of our mortal condition, I guess.

    #42) @Ben: “If we weren’t supposed to overcome these problems, God wouldn’t have allowed medicine to advance like it has.”

    So I can surf porn on the net, engineer neurotoxins in my basement, bleed rivers dry, drive my car with abandon… any number of horrors, because God hasn’t stepped-in personally to circumvent our agency?

    #46) @arj: Folic acid is a supplement that mothers eating a diverse and healthy diet wouldn’t need to take… so comparing a vitamin (or just living well) to doing something that would have to fundamentally alter a child’s genetic make-up — with numerous and unknowable consequences — is just plain silly.

    #52) @Marcus: Female homosexuality is another matter entirely… and some studies suggest that latent female bisexuality may be fairly pervasive — which would allow environment to be a large determining factor. But I’m not an expert — merely an invested observer. For the record, though, it’s generally thought/advanced/said that around 5% of the male population is gay and 7% is lesbian… so it’s certainly perceived to be more prevalent.

    Anyway… sorry about my hiatus. Was distracted.

    For me, this is still not a question about homosexuality, but a question about hubris.

    Comment by Silus Grok — June 26, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

  67. I’m almost 2 years late for this one, but…

    YES! Hell yes! As a gay mormon man who has decided to remain a celibate member of the church for the sake of his family (most of whom don’t even know I’m gay), I wish there had been some miracle “Straight Baby Drug” when I was in the offing.

    But I also wish the bishop who promised me that if I would serve a mission that God would fix me, had been less full of crap. Mission served –– still queer as a three-dollar bill.

    As it is, I haven’t worn a seatbelt in over a year (just in case I get in a lucky accident), I take way more over-the-counter painkillers than are justified (making sure those kidneys are trashed in case something serious comes along), and cancer is a frequent matter of prayer for me (why does it always go to those who don’t want it?). Come on, Swine Flu!

    Comment by Anon for this one — May 5, 2009 @ 8:11 pm

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