Last year, the BBC ran a story called “Gay penguins in Kent zoo are ‘the best parents’.” They deemed it newsworthy presumably because it is proof that since homosexual behavior and parenting occurs in nature then it is perfectly “natural” for humans to engage in it. Hidden in this supposition though is what I call this the “Bloodhound Gang Premise” named for the 90s one-hit wonders that told us “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals. So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” Put less crudely, the hidden premise is that since we are no different than the animals, we can engage in the same behavior.
The problem with this however is the fact that as soon as we try to reduce man to a mere animal, we are confronted with the fact that he is not an animal but something more. Man differs from mere animals because he knows that he is just not an animal. He knows that he is fundamentally different. He has a self-awareness that separates him from the rest of visible creation. This is the meaning of Adam’s original solitude in the second creation account. Man knows that he is different and in some ways above the animals.
Now immediately someone will jump on the comment above that we are different “in some ways”. They will say that while we are different in that we have self-awareness, and an intellect and a will, sex is not one of the ways that we differ. We have innate desires for sexual gratification just like the animals and just like the animals we must fulfill those desires. However, even here, those that say this betray their position by their actions.
They betray it in a number of ways, but there are two that I want to focus on. The first is rape. If we are no different than animals, then why is rape wrong? Rape is wrong precisely because it is an offense against the will of the other person. Animals don’t have a will and thus could not rape another animal. When was the last time that you saw on the Discovery Channel a chimpanzee being tried for rape?
The second point is even more obvious because it flies in the face of this mentality. Anyone who has frequented hiking trails has at some point found a used condom or condom wrapper on the ground. No one assumes that it is from a deer, but knows it came from a person. Why is this? The answer is obvious—because only people contracept.
That is the most damning of all the evidence against this argument. If we really are no different than the animals when it comes to sex, then how do you explain contraception? The fact of the matter is that you can’t. The truth is that it is a lie and like any lie, you have to cover it up with another lie by using contraception. They want to be able to justify indulging their lusts and if it takes using nature as a rationalization, then they will do it. Shouldn’t it be clear that acting this way merely reduces people to something less than they were made to be? Reducing ourselves to mere animals only serves to make us less than the animals.
There is another sense in which people will try to justify homosexual behavior. That is by saying that they can’t help it because they were made that way. Along these same lines, there are many who have compared the fight for gay marriage with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. However, there is a key difference that cannot be ignored. It is self-evident that within a person there are certain inclinations that ought to be acted upon and others should not. This is true regardless of whether the cause of that inclination is genetic (e.g a “gay-gene”), environmental or a combination of the two. Those who oppose gay marriage say that same-sex activity is one of those inclinations that should not be acted upon. Just as laws against stealing are not directed at kleptomaniacs, but against the act of stealing, so too the opposition to same-sex marriage is not directed to homosexuals per se, but instead represents an opposition to homosexual activity. It may be discovered that there is a “klepto gene” but that certainly would not then justify stealing. In other words, the question of whether homosexuality is morally wrong can be argued, but to cry discrimination and compare the situation to the Civil Rights Movement begs the foundational question of whether homosexual activity is wrong or not. All too often I find people falling into the trap of arguing the existence of a “gay gene” and end up at an impasse because you cannot prove a negative. Instead we need to address the fundamental assumption that we ought to act upon every inclination we have, especially ones that we are genetically hard-wired towards. Tell that to someone who struggles with alcoholism because it is in their genes.
Ultimately, they are right when they say “I was made that way.” We are all made that way to one extent or another. It is called original sin. We all find ourselves with inclinations that we should not act upon. We all find within ourselves “another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:23). It is simply misguided compassion to say “they were made that way.” We are not helping them but instead giving up on them and inviting them to embrace their brokenness.
This is important because there are a lot of people who struggle with same-sex attraction. As then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in his 1986 CDF On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, this suffering can only be intensified by error and lightened by truth. So many younger people when they first experience same-sex attraction assume that their fate is sealed because they were simply made like that. They need to be told that there is help for them.
There are great groups out there such as NARTH and the Catholic Apostolate Courage who are fighting to get the truth out there in the face of those who have their own agendas. Hollywood might portray it as a glamorous lifestyle, but it is far from it. The scientific data paints a much different picture when comparing practicing homosexuals with heterosexuals.
My prayer then is that we will all be guided by the compassion of Christ. His compassion is not to merely affirm but to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).