To love as a person is freely to wish goodness for someone … Love always wants to affirm, and to better, one’s friend. Through the power of free choice, true love makes the friend, not the self, the beneficiary.
Can there be a more controversial, hot button issue today than the homosexual lifestyle? It is being debated on all levels of society. In this article my intention is not to enter into the debate, but rather to focus on voicing contradictions that are rarely expressed, yet, are embedded in homosexual activity.
Obviously, “inhuman” is in contradiction to “human.” “Inhumanity” in the title of this article is in no way intended to be judgmental of those who choose the homosexual lifestyle. Nor is “inhumanity” meant to address anyone’s motives because these are free choices known only to each individual. I have used the term “inhumanity” solely to draw attention to several consequential contradictions of the homosexual lifestyle to living sexual life in a fully human way. 1
My purpose is not a mere academic exercise. I want only to offer clarity to those confused by their experience of same sex attraction, or to those who are trying to make sense of this complex issue ethically, socially, or politically.
To perceive a contradiction is a tremendous help to understanding anything objectively. This is because contradictions allow our minds to sort out right from wrong, and good from evil. Contradictions cannot be true simultaneously. So, if we can discover, for example, what is either true or false about anything, we know instantly what its opposite is, no matter how confusing the topic we may have been before.
This “principle of non-contradiction” works at the root of all thinking and choosing; it is innate to all persons, no matter their differences, such as differing sexual orientations. Unless consciously disregarded, the force of contradiction determines ultimately how we think, and how we choose.
Two widespread problems, however, can keep the clarity of contradiction from helping us comprehend objectively. If not understood and counteracted, these problems are powerful enough to lead our minds into concluding that what is false is true, or what is bad is good—or the reverse. These two problems are responsible for most of the confusion about “values” and “free choices” that dominate our culture, the media, and us—even those most educated. We must first face and solve these problems, or the clarity about the homosexual lifestyle we are seeking will escape us.
The first of these problems is distortions that make our knowing subjective. There are four main distortions that trouble all of us. We can impose our strong feelings on our experience of knowing something (an object), or we impose our biases, our ignorance, or especially, our fixed willful choices. Doing so makes our understanding more focused on us, the subject, than about the object we encounter and, perhaps, pretend to know. While this distorting phenomenon happens frequently, we do have some control over it if we become conscious of when it is active, and use our will power to exclude it from our thinking.
After all, when we feel strong fear, anger, depression, attraction, joy, or some other emotion, we can become aware of how this affects our thinking. We can choose to wait until we “cool down” and become “level headed” before trying to make truthful sense of our experience. 2
Bias may be better understood by its synonym prejudice, since it is easy to see that pre-judging is at work here. We jump to conclusions about an issue; yet, despite this impetuous tendency, we can accustom ourselves to do all the homework needed to make solid conclusions before we think or talk about something. With proper effort, we can lift ourselves above our prejudices.
Next, of course, simple ignorance hinders objectivity in a similar manner. All of us have been tempted to spout off about a topic more from what we do not know, than what we do, and are merely guessing, or just making up on the spur of the moment. Again, careful investigation is needed before we think or talk rightly about anything important.
The strongest distorting influence on our thinking is our free will fixed on some goal or outcome of action. We want what we want at all costs, and we do not want to change our choice! Actually, we demand that reality match our desire, instead of making our desire match reality, no matter how far from what is real this may take us. 3 Such rationalization can only be avoided if we engage in objective reasoning, and we are willing to change our choices to match it. Though often difficult to do, following instead of ignoring the “principle of non-contradiction” is indispensable here.
Once we have determined, therefore, to master the above four subjective distortions, and to guide our freedom by objective truth, we are on our way to interacting with reality as it is. 4 Only in this way are we able to get the most out of life because we no longer are pursuing a phantasy of our own making. 5
The second prevalent problem, alluded to above, can still keep us from the full truth. This problem could be called “narrow-mindedness,” even though we have become objective thinkers.
Simply put, we can accept objective truth from only our own non-distorted experience. This experiential source of knowing reality does provide reliable knowledge, which in this context could be called “common sense,” but such knowledge is on a somewhat surface level, not thoroughly studied and thought out. Most people go through life trying to guide their choices by lessons learned only from experience. They do not have the opportunity for in-depth study that pushes reflection beyond mere common sense.
Yet, if studied adequately, both physical, and non-physical, realities can be known better than by common sense alone. Using the scientific method, modern science has given us more in-depth understanding of our physical world than at any other time in history. Therefore, anyone who would have the opportunity to study a physical object through the help of sound science, but decided instead to go only on his or her experience, would clearly be narrow-minded, even if one’s common sense were objective. 6
How much more critical, though, is it to know non-physical things by more than just common sense. Take friendship, fidelity, truthfulness, honesty, courage, character, heroism, inspiration, integrity, etc.—no one uses the scientific method to investigate these important things! And yet, we need more than surface penetration about many, if not most, naturally spiritual things, since we can suffer severely as a result of a mistaken grasp of them. The source for in-depth objective truth here is a sound philosophy, one, while in harmony with objective common sense, will deepen our understanding to the point of comprehension.
So now, we are in a wonderful position. 7 We realize that, if we are not under the distorting influence of feelings, prejudice, ignorance, or fixed, willful desires; nor are we judging everything by our uniqueness; and, if we are not narrow-minded, but open to what sound experience, science, and philosophy can disclose to us; 8 then, the principle of non-contradiction will let our minds achieve valid insights about the homosexual lifestyle. Let us begin, then, with the main question about any interpersonal relationship: is it based on self-love or on love for the other?
To love as a person is freely to wish goodness for someone. The great wonder of true love for a friend is that a vibrant force, in no way coerced, goes out from the one loving, not only to celebrate the other, but also to provide what makes the friend happy in the present, and helps him or her flourish in the future. Love always wants to affirm, and to better, one’s friend. Through the power of free choice, true love makes the friend, not the self, the beneficiary.
But for any relationship not to contradict, and so vitiate true love, each person must freely want what is good for the other, instead of wanting from the other what is good for oneself. To think or say “I love you” for some advantage or pleasure I get from you is to relate to you, not as a friend, but to use you as an object, a means to my benefit. 9 Such protestations of “love for one’s friend” are the two imposters that have always plagued humankind, and have caused untold disappointment and grief. 10 The reasons are simple: the person being loved is in fact oneself, and not one’s friend, and the motive behind such love is self-interest. Of course, no one but each person can read his own heart; yet, if he reads it objectively, he will discover whether or not he desires companionship, acceptance, security, love, or sexual pleasure, etc., for himself, or for his partner. Because they are contradictory choices, self-love and other-directed love, cannot be true at the same time. 11 Once the above, all-too-likely- imposters, are detected, we can discipline our freedom by guiding our choices of good away from self, and toward the other. Only then can we truly begin to love someone else.
Next, the philosophical principle of the in-built purpose of things uncovers the contradiction in the homosexual choice to have sex, even should both partners be motivated by true love of one another. Why something exists, what can be called its “natural purpose,” is critical information for a good understanding because we must decide freely to use it for its purpose, and so reap its full benefit, or use it in a way that contradicts its purpose and frustrates gaining its benefit. This general realization applies to human sexuality because sexual expression takes the good that two persons can want for each other to the maximum. Through genuine friendship, the love that two men, or two women, have for each other can exchange with each other almost every good in life that exists, but not also genital, sexual love because—try as sincerely and as determinedly as they might—their attempt frustrates (contradicts) the two purposes that objective reason sees built into the act of sexual love.
The first purpose is life-giving, not just in the biological sense of “making a baby,” but in the fully human meaning that can transform the partners into parents and, with the child they might bring into existence, into a family. Two men can neither give, nor receive, sperm, and its potential for fatherhood and motherhood (family) for what they are objectively. Nor can either of two women make available to the other her egg, and its potential for motherhood and fatherhood (family), for what they are objectively. Only an act of heterosexual intercourse can possibly realize this life-giving purpose. Clearly, the homosexual attempt to do so contradicts the life-giving potential built into the act of sexual love.
The second purpose built into interpersonal sex is for two people, mysteriously, to become one while remaining individuals. Despite a strong desire (subjective) to become one through an act of sex, homosexuals cannot achieve the complete oneness that heterosexuals can. Through conjugal, heterosexual sex, a man gives his entire self to his wife, and she her entire self to her husband, and each “half” of humanity—to speak in complementary not mathematical terms—is received, for all it is, by the other. Through their act of total love for each other, both persons now have both “halves” and, thereby, experience the entirety of what it means to be human. All that is masculine, and all that is feminine, is now exchanged. Theirs is full human oneness in diversity. Only heterosexuals can complete each other in this mysteriously enriching way; whereas homosexuals can only repeat what each is in their sexual attempts to become fully one. Aside from any sincere motive that they may want to give and receive totally—which is not in question here—the contradiction of the homosexual loving action to the full unitive purpose inherent in sexual action, as such, should be obvious. 12
Besides the above considerations, a scientific analysis gives its own findings on the physical level about the incomplete union from homosexual sex. Whereas the sperm of a man and the egg of a woman, each with 23 chromosomes, do achieve a total union through fertilization, and form a unique, complete human number of 46 chromosomes (and so a new human life), neither the sperm of a man, nor the egg of a woman, can achieve this combination through homosexual sex. In fact, when two men engage in anal intercourse, for example, the sperm of the one can combine with the regular body cells of the other man, but the result is abnormal cells, which can eventually cause cancers of various kinds. 13 These scientific facts only highlight the contradiction between the two kinds of sexual intercourse striving for interpersonal union: one which succeeds, and causes great human good; and the other which cannot succeed, but causes great human harm.
This last consideration has bearing on an issue undergoing keen political debate: same-sex marriage. Just as sex can only find its true meaning, and achieve its in-built purposes between heterosexuals, so marriage—which is the only friendship in which everything (including genital sex) is exchanged in true love—requires a man and a woman. Heterosexual and homosexual unions are simply different outcomes from substantially different actions, and they deserve different names. This is not an issue of equality between heterosexuals and homosexuals, as is often claimed. Homosexuals enjoy the same peerless, human dignity as everyone else. Their difference in sexual orientation, or activity, cannot create inequality as persons. On the contrary, the above science itself shows that radical inequality is created between the two choices for sexual activity, for there is no equality, only contradiction, between great human good and great human harm.
An important, but overlooked, contradiction that same sex “marriage” brings to society is the absence of permanent bonding between the generations. By linking descendants with ancestors, the traditional family organizes society at its basic level, giving the family, as well as its individual members, needed identity and stability. Same sex “families” replace these ties, unchangeably rooted in the reality of human nature, with ties rooted only in free, changeable choice. 14
Sound statistical studies bring into stark relief many harmful effects of the homosexual lifestyle that are generally dismissed by the gay culture. But these harms deserve careful notice. Domestic violence among homosexual partners is two to three times more common than among married heterosexual couples. The average same sex union lasts only two to three years. Both homosexual men and women—though men to a greater extent—tend to be involved with serial sex partners, even when they are in “committed relationships.” Those living the homosexual lifestyle are more likely than others to suffer mental illness, substance abuse, HIV and AIDS, suicidal tendencies, and shortened life spans. 15 Again, free choice should be guided away from the cause of these harms which are so contradictory to human well-being.
Connected to the issue of same sex “marriage,” of course, is the issue of homosexual parenting. It matters little whether a child is adopted by a homosexual couple, or obtained through “in vitro fertilization.” The crucial point is once more that of true love, that wants good for the child, or self-love that wants the child for one’s own fulfillment. The latter motive clearly contradicts the former, and this awareness, alone, ought to direct free choice against such false parenting.
In cases, however, where both partners in the homosexual relationship are motivated by the desire to provide good for the child, instead of for themselves through the child, sound science must be consulted. With remarkable agreement, scientific studies of child rearing find that children need exposure, during all the normal events of life, to the emotional input of both a psychologically healthy man and woman in order to develop their own full and balanced emotional patterns. Anything short of this complete human exposure conditions the emotions of the child in corresponding imbalance. This truth is amply documented from the experiences of single parenting, as well as from homosexual parenting. The conclusion is that children need a mother and a father in their upbringing—not just a mother only, or just a father only and, surely, not two mothers and no father, or two fathers and no mother. But here again the homosexual culture clashes against an overwhelming number of respectable studies that document how same-sex parenting harms the development of children. 16 These studies combine the source of children’s experience with that of clinical findings, and agree on numerous risks for children of homosexual parenting. 17 Since what is harmful is contradictory to what is helpful, seeing these experiential and scientific results guides free choice against causing such harms. 18
There remains a somewhat insidious contradiction—insidious, this time, because it robs anyone struggling with same sex attraction of hope that this condition is treatable. The objective truth is that the homosexual orientation can be reoriented, or at least brought to a peaceful acceptance. The homosexual culture denies vehemently that same sex attraction can be changed, and goes so far as to claim that attempts to do so are harmful psychologically. 19 This position flies in the face of successful experience, and sound therapeutic practice. For over forty years, both secular therapists, and religious spiritual directors, have reported thousands of happy reorientations, nearly 30% of clients seeking help. Almost all of the remaining 70% achieved a peace-giving, personal control of their sexuality so that they are no longer deeply troubled by it. Abundant objective reports and studies are available. 20 The main requirements for success are the desire to change, and persistence, even in the face of setbacks.
By way of focusing on contradictions, this article has laid out what today’s Western culture, and especially the homosexual culture, would overlook or try to conceal: namely, some contradictions inherent in the homosexual lifestyle to the fullness of true love, human sexuality, and genuine marriage and family.
Contradictions are the crucial issue. Without the intellectual guidance they give us, almost everything in life—surely our sexual lives—would be chaotic. “Yes” could as well be “no;” “up” could as well be “down;” “harm” could mean “help;” a glass could be “empty” and “full” at the same time! Everything becomes relative and subjective. Clearly, contradiction is a self-evident principle of rational thought; to abandon it is to become irrational.
Readers troubled by same sex attraction now have the chance and, of course, the free choice, either to embrace knowingly the contradictions inherent in homosexual sex, or to free themselves of living such contradictions and, instead, pursue the opposite choices that fulfill, rather than frustrate, the deep longings of the human mind and heart. 21
- It will be clear throughout this essay that persons may never be judged as contradictions; only thoughts and free choices can be contradictory or non-contradictory. ↩
- Of course, our feelings (emotions) can be, and usually are, in harmony with reality, and then they guide our thinking about an experience correctly. Yet, each of us knows times when our feelings are either excessive, or deficient responses, to what is happening, and then they can twist our thinking, and especially judging, to excess or defect. ↩
- It can happen that the forces of instinct—especially when self-preservation, or reproduction, is involved—join the forces of related emotions, and those of free choice, so that the intellect is kept from seeing clearly enough to guide freedom objectively. ↩
- A different cause of subjective thinking is attempting to know our humanness, which we share with everyone else, in terms of our unique personality, background, temperament, strengths, weaknesses, etc. While these unique features are not distortions, but rather objective truths, of our individuality (one object of knowing), they say nothing about what is common to all of us: our very humanity (a different object). Imposing the truths of one object on a different object will distort our knowledge of the latter. ↩
- Freeing ourselves from subjectivity is a progressive campaign. Yet, it is not a discouraging experience, because to each degree we succeed, we sense our self-mastery increasing, as well as our encounter with reality deepening and solidifying. ↩
- The advances through the scientific and statistical methods of enquiry have been so remarkable during the recent past, that many educated people today assume that the only reliable way to think is through these methods. This narrowing of our intellectual prowess excludes the deeper sources of comprehending the truth, namely realistic philosophy and authentic theology. ↩
- Freedom from subjectivity and narrow-mindedness allows our minds to produce ideas of objects that represent them accurately. This liberates us from the prevailing assumption that our minds can only form ever more educated opinions about anything. If this were so, there is no truth to be reached! Such a view might be called “opinionism”; it yields a radical intellectual insecurity since one’s ideas about objects must always be revised. When, however, our ideas match the objects we know, intellectual satisfaction, not unsureness, is our experience. ↩
- People aware of a fourth source of objective truth, one that is super-human, can consult faith for an even greater depth in their understanding than through sound common sense, science, and philosophy. But I have two reasons for excluding such a source in this article. The first is that the contradictions about the homosexual lifestyle I wish to discuss can be appreciated without religious faith. Fundamentally, homosexual activity is not a religious topic, even though many in our society mistakenly assume that it is. Secondly, people who claim to have genuine faith may differ about many issues, including this one. Such challenges to the objectivity of a given position of faith are a topic for another article—or book.
A caution should be sounded about the two, in-depth sources that are science and philosophy. Western culture is permeated by competency and incompetency in both fields. We need to look carefully and discern genuine from “junk” scientific claims and philosophical theories. ↩
- Persons are immeasurably different from mere things. Not only are persons alive, as are vegetables and animals, but they perform actions of thinking and self-determination that cannot be reduced to the fixed patterns, or automatic responses, of chemistry, senses, instincts, or emotions. Because of this immeasurable qualitative superiority that all humans enjoy, persons must always be respected as ends in themselves, and never as means to someone else’s end or goal. For one philosophical investigation of this principle, see Emmanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, H. J. Patton, Harper Perennial Modern Thought Edition, 1964. It is also because of this truth of the supremacy of human value that homosexuals have equal human dignity to that of heterosexuals. For this same reason, important to the issue of parenting, no one has a right to a child, but only to non-personal things which do not share dignity equally with humans. ↩
- For a captivating exploration of these imposter “need-loves” for pleasures, or for utility, instead of “gift-love,” see C.S. Lewis’ small classic The Four Loves, 1960. ↩
- The contradiction I speak of here is between “I love you” and “I love myself through you.” However, we often live with mixed, instead of single, motives, wanting at the same time some good for my friend, and some good for myself from my friend. In this case, truth would require that I understand this mixture in my motives and, possibly, that I express it to my friend. Moreover, developing true love for my friend would also urge that I attempt, continually, to lessen and, eventually, eliminate, using my friend for self-benefit. ↩
- Many people who appreciate the importance of the in-built purpose of things will assert today that release of tensions and, especially, the pleasure experienced through activating the instinct of sex, physically and emotionally, are as much purposes to be pursued as life-giving potential, and complete interpersonal union. Unknowingly, it seems, this opinion embraces the contradiction of love for self, versus love for the other, in the choice for sex. To choose sex to give its new life-potential and experience of complete humanness as precious goods to one’s partner is a choice to love the other truly, and not oneself; whereas to choose sex for one’s own stress relief and pleasure is to want good for oneself, through and from, the other (this applies, of course, to both homosexuals and heterosexuals). While it is impossible for any one thing to have contradictory purposes, the act of sex surely produces important after-effects (different realities than purpose), such as tension release, pleasure, the feeling of closeness, the sense of security, etc. In choosing sex to pursue its in-built purposes, but not its after-effects, a married couple can, nevertheless, receive these effects gratefully and joyfully.
A further critical distinction at play here, and already introduced in a different context (footnote 4), is between one’s motive (goal or “end”) and the action (“means”) chosen to gain one’s goal. These are two distinct free choices of independent value: neither changes the ethical character of the other. From ancient to contemporary times, failure to appreciate this distinction has been and is the tripping point for many people in private and public life. They assume fallaciously that their good ends justify any means to bring about those ends, even means which, under objective analysis, are found to be anti-human or evil. The ancient formulation of this point is that “a good end does not justify an evil means,” while a more modern formulation is that “one may not do evil to achieve good.” Both formulations are meant to sharpen our awareness of a contradiction we can all too easily accept. To the point above: a homosexual couple may desire (motive, goal) to give to and receive each other fully and so achieve complete human union, but no act of homosexual sex (means) they choose can accomplish their desire. ↩
- This danger has long been known but is most often ignored. See “Sexual Behavior and Increased Anal Cancer,” Immunology and Cell Biology 75 (1977): 181-183. ↩
- See Gilles Bernheim, Chief Rabbi of France, “Homosexual Marriage, Parenting, and Adoption,” First Things, March 2013, pp. 41-50. One of the rabbi’s many strong points in his telling essay is the following: “To identify a child’s parentage is not only to indicate who will raise the child, with whom he will have affective relations, and who will serve as his adults of reference. It is also, most important, to situate him in a generational chain. The chain guarantees each individual a place in the world in which he lives, for he knows where he came from.”, p. 44. ↩
- See the declaration against same sex parenting of the American College of Pediatricians, January 22, 2004. No gay person could truly love (“want good for”) self or a partner through an action or lifestyle that he or she knew could likely result in such hurtful consequences for both persons. ↩
- When the issue of homosexual parenting was first debated in the United States, experts contradicted each other. Perhaps, the best example is the official endorsement of the American Academy of Pediatrics of the harmlessness to children of same sex parenting and the American College of Pediatricians’ documented reply that the studies behind this endorsement “have critical flaws such as non-longitudinal design, inadequate sample size, biased sample selection, lack of proper controls, and failure to account for confounding variables.” See this reply to the editor of Pediatrics, Vol. 118 No. 5, November 2006, pp 2261b-2264. The debate has only grown throughout the Western world, where country after country has changed its laws to honor same sex “marriage,” adoption, and “family.” Currently, Ireland and Austria have joined this trend. See “New laws will allow adoption by same-sex couples,” The Irish Times, November 18, 2013, p. 1. The justification given for this change in Irish law is that time-tested laws have been judged “by many experts as ill-equipped to deal with the complexity and diversity of modern family life.” See “Austria extends sperm donation to lesbian couples,” Le Monde, January 17, 2014, reported and translated by Genetique, www.genetique.org, January 18, 2014. The reason for this Austrian decision to allow lesbian couples to receive sperm, just as heterosexual couples may do, was given by Gerhart Holzinger, President of Austria’s Constitutional Court: “There are no ‘particularly convincing or serious’ reasons to justify maintaining such discrimination.” ↩
- Children of homosexual parenting “are more likely to experience sexual confusion, practice homosexual behavior, and engage in sexual experimentation … Adolescents and young adults who adopt the homosexual lifestyle, like their adult counterparts, are at increased risk of mental health problems, including major depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance dependence, and especially suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.” See the thoroughly documented statement of the American College of Pediatricians, January 22, 2004.
An additional contradiction: should a gay couple be informed of the likelihood of such detrimental outcomes (or disadvantages—see next footnote), they could not claim true love for a child they would choose to adopt and raise. ↩
- In contrast, reputable studies have consistently shown the following helpful effects on children raised from traditional families: better behavior, higher literacy, higher grades, lower truancy, lower depression/anxiety, better physical health, lower antisocial behavior, lower adolescent substance abuse, closer attachment to parents, lower adolescent sexual activity, and closer monitoring of the child by parents. See Schneider B, Atteberry A, Owens A. Family Matters: Family Structure and Child Outcomes. Birmingham, AL: Alabama Policy Institute; 2005: 1-42 for a detailed account, including this conclusion: “Research indicates that most children in nonintact families are at an educational and social disadvantage compared with children in intact families.” ↩
- For more than twenty years, the hope of many homosexuals is that science will find a gene that causes their condition. Their thinking is that, if their condition is genetic, then it is but an alternative natural condition, hence equivalent to heterosexuality. To date, however, and despite intense efforts, no gene has been found responsible for same sex attraction. Yet, should such a gene be discovered, this would not prove the hoped for conclusion because of two implied contradictions. First of all, since 2006, geneticists have detected over 6,000 genetically caused diseases during the pre-implantation phase of the embryo. Neither science nor medicine considers any of these diseases desirable alternatives to their opposite conditions. Secondly, medicine and sound philosophy both judge a human function natural if it can fulfill its in-built purposes through its activity (discussed above). If not, a corrective therapy is recommended. ↩
- For those interested in the types of effective therapy available, see The National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, Exodus International, and the numerous books and articles of Drs. Charles Socarides, Benjamin Kaufman, Joseph Nicolosi, Jeffrey Satinover, and Richard Fitzgibbons, and Fr. John Harvey, OSFS. ↩
- I wish to thank members of my Dominican family (all of whom have terminal degrees in their fields) who offered me helpful suggestions for this article: Fathers Basil Cole, Luke Buckles and Michael Carragher, and Sister Catherine Droste. I owe the debt of gratitude as well to Thuy Pham, M.D., and to Edward Miller, Ph.D. ↩