Friday, February 29, 2008

"gay" by science, choice, or mystery?

From Richard John Neuhaus in First Things...

Make no mistake about it: Psychotherapist Gary Greenberg wants society to be more approving of homosexuals and homosexuality. But he thinks the gay movement has taken a wrong turn by attempting to make its case on the basis of science. “This is the way I was born.” Or “This is the way God made me.” “I have no choice.” “Love me for who I am.” We have all heard those claims times beyond numbering.

Greenberg’s article “Gay by Choice? The Science of Sexual Identity” appears in the very leftist Mother Jones. In it, he takes a very different tack: “Sexuality, profoundly mysterious and irrational, will not be contained by our ­categories. . . . It is time to find reasons other than ­medical science to insist that people ought to be able to love whom they love.”

I love the reference to mystery. It parallels Paul's reference to marriage in Eph 5:32. And an important last sentence. What are our hopes in this realm if we leave this to science and ignore the ethics of how we relate to one another? Putting it another way: figuring out the science (assuming it's figurable) does not mean that the proper ethics will follow naturally!

notes that “all the major psychotherapy guilds” have bought into the “I have no choice” position and rigorously exclude any consideration of reparative therapy for those who do not want to be homosexual. From his own practice and from the pertinent research, Greenberg says that “sexual orientation is more fluid than we have come to think.” People, women more frequently than men, “do move across customary sexual orientation boundaries.”

There are, he says, ex-gays, just as there are ex-straights and gays by choice. “Much of this research has stayed below the radar of the culture warriors, but reparative therapists are hoping to use it to enter the scientific mainstream and advocate for what they call the right of self-determination in matters of sexual orientation. If they are successful, gay activists may soon find themselves scrambling to make sense of a new scientific and political landscape.”

Of course, there have long been groups that have challenged the thought patrol of the major psychotherapy guilds. There are, for instance, the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), Exodus International, Courage (a Catholic group), and True Freedom Trust. But it is of more than passing interest to see these arguments advanced in Mother Jones.

As I wrote in my essay on eugenics, the appeal to science might be double-edged. In Turn Neither to the Right nor to the Left, I noted that a full-blown appeal to biology-- to the exclusion of (any) choice-- is demeaning to the human person. But now we have a sympathetic insider making related arguments. Interesting...


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