Monday, September 16, 2013

Refuting the "Homosexuality Is Unnatural" Argument

It's amusing as for what passes for science these days, especially in the developing world. In Nigeria, a well-renowned student "used science" to "prove" that "gay marriage is wrong" because opposite poles of magnets attract, whereas the same poles repel one another. His conclusion? He extrapolates what he observed from magnets to human nature, and thus concludes that homosexuality is immoral. Anybody see the issue with this? I would say that people in the West don't have to resort to arguing that homosexuality is wrong because "it is unnatural," but then there are people like Kirk Cameron who espouse that very opinion. 

It sounds nice when opponents of gay marriage say that "homosexuality is unnatural." Using terminology such as "nature" or "natural law" comes off as neutral and "as a matter of observable fact." It becomes much easier to ignore accusations of homophobia, bigotry, or intolerance. However, when one makes the argument, what does "homosexuality is unnatural" even mean in the first place?

Let's start with the one of the most common definitions of "natural," and what is used when making this argument, which is that which occurs commonly in nature, i.e., within the context of what exists within the rest of the animal kingdom. It makes me wonder why we are using animal behavior as a basis for how humans should behave or whether it should determine the moral status of a given action, but let's go along with it for a moment. Observing animal behavior, there is much despicable behavior, including killing their mates, abandonment or killing of offspring, overt and public sexual acts [with multiple partners], and eating fecal matter. Evidently, this is not behavior that we want to emulate simply because "it is natural." Conversely, air conditioning, technology, art, wearing clothes, speaking and writing, chemotherapy, driving cars, the pursuit of happiness, religion, and free will, not to mention a sense of right and wrong, would all have to be considered "unnatural." If we are to take this argument seriously, even the institution of heterosexual marriage is "unnatural" because animals cannot enter into marriage contracts. But let's assume that the animal kingdom is a good basis for human behavior. Homosexuality can be found in many species, whereas homophobia can only be found in one. Which phenomenon do you think is more "unnatural": homosexuality or homophobia?

Additionally, humans are a part of nature. Therefore, there are humans that have homosexual relations because they have a natural, sexual attraction towards the same sex, so how is that not "natural?" For homosexuals, there is nothing "unnatural" or artificial about such behavior. In this sense of the term, gay men and lesbians are naturally homosexual.

Another interpretation of "homosexuality is unnatural" is based on the homosexual's inability to procreate "the old-fashioned way," that is to say "naturally." Not everyone gets married for purposes of procreation. People also get married for love and companionship. There are some heterosexual couples that are infertile. Other heterosexual couples are too old to have children, and other couples simply opt not to have children. Are we going to make procreation a prerequisite to acquiring a marriage license? And if propagating children is such an important value in society, then heterosexual rape would arguably be "natural," and there would be a most peculiar moral equivalence between being gay and other acts such as non-procreative sex, masturbation, being on birth control, and celibacy, all of which leads to a morally problematic line of thought. Furthermore, homosexual couples can and do have children via in-vitro fertilization, adoption, artificial insemination, or surrogate motherhood, and guess what? The children in same-sex families fare just as well as those children with a mother and a father.   

Going off the "procreation" argument, "unnatural" can very well mean "that the use of [reproductive] organs is contrary to its 'intended use.'" According to proponents of natural law theory, reproductive organs have a "natural" function of reproduction, and anything else is "unnatural." Can't an object have multiple uses? I can use my mouth for speaking, kissing, whistling, and singing. But how does one determine what an object's primary use is? Let's be adult here for a moment. Under natural law theory, one argues that the penis is used for reproduction, i.e., its primary function is ejaculation for the sake of reproduction. But it's safe to say that a man urinates more frequently than he ejaculates, so couldn't I argue that a penis' primary function is urination? Yes, procreation is a usage of sexual organs, but it is hardly the only function they have. Not only can an item have multiple uses, it is not easy to determine what a "legitimate use" of that item is without it coming off as too arbitrary. And let's not forget that sex also has multiple purposes beyond procreation, including [mutual] pleasure, expression of affection, dealing with boredom or loneliness, emotional well-being, or stress relief.  

Maybe "unnatural" is synonymous with "uncommon," "atypical," or "different." In this interpretation, homosexuality is abnormal because it is the sexual orientation for a minority of human beings. Rather than confine the argument to sexuality, I'd like to apply the argument to all facets of life. By this definition, the fact that I am Jewish and left-handed are both examples of how I am "unnatural." That would also mean that such atypical traits as deafness, blindness, autism, or having red hair are all "unnatural." Does having an uncommon trait make one immoral or perverted? Absolutely not! If we followed this line of reasoning, activities such as watching Nascar, starting one's own business, or playing classical music would all be "unnatural" simply because they are activities done by a minority of people. Also, we have to realize that most things are statistically unusual, whether it is one's name, talents, or situation in life. It doesn't make what we do or who we are morally wrong.

Funny how anything with regards to this argument that can be claimed as "unnatural" is actually natural or simply immaterial to whether homosexuality is immoral or if same-sex marriage should be legal. The argument is a non-starter because it is a logical fallacy, i.e., appeal to nature. Just because homosexuality isn't "the norm" doesn't mean we can draw moral conclusions from it being "unnatural." Death, natural disasters, disease, snake bites, viruses, pains and aches are all natural, but no one is claiming that these are advantageous or desirable. It is difficult to take those who claim that "homosexuality is unnatural" seriously when people do and use "unnatural" things all the time. When it comes down to it, "unnatural" is another way of saying that it is "personally disgusting or offensive," and that is most certainly not a basis for dictating public policy or quashing civil rights in this country.  


  1. With gravity everything attracts anything else, so gay is still wrong because pansexuality is the only natural thing. What I'm trying to say is that I agree and think one half of the debate, to use the term in its loosest form, is ridiculous.

  2. Gay "couples" don't have children.

    True, homos sometimes adopt other people's children, and an individual homo might even opt to send his sperm to a woman he doesn't know (or does), but no, such couples don't have children.

    I can agree that the natural law of the Catholic Church is a joke, though. The Christinsanity cultists claim that masturbation thwarts man's nature, while coddling illegal alien invaders.

    1. To OvenOnHigh,

      1: There is no need to despairingly calling homosexual individuals "homos." It makes about as much sense as referring to straight people as "heteros;" discrimination is discrimination. Let's not forget that homosexual individuals are people, too.

      2: Don't see why you need to use the quotation marks around the word "couple." According to the definition from Webster's Dictionary, gay couples are couples, too.

      3: By your description, straight, infertile couples who adopt don't "have children," either. Procreation does not need to be a prerequisite in order for someone to have children.

      4: Yes, natural law is a joke. To take a line of thought in which masturbation is worse than rape is problematic indeed.

  3. Where is the damn share button so I can re blog this at BigHomo, my Breitbart inspired gay blog? Now I am just going to have to swipe it. And it's your fault.