Homosexuality and “Homophobia”


Homosexuality – Sin, mental disorder, or normal behaviour?

We distinguish between homosexual proclivities, i.e. the fact that certain persons feel (in various degrees of intensity) sexually attracted to persons of the same sex, and homosexual intercourse, i.e. sodomy.

Persons cannot be held morally responsible for sentiments and thoughts that are independent of their will. It should therefore be clear that the homosexual proclivity cannot as such be the subject of moral condemnation.

By contrast, the fact of having sexual intercourse with another person is usually not independent of a person’s will and therefore can be subject to a moral judgment.

Given that the fundamental purpose of sexuality is procreation, it is self-evident that sexual attraction should naturally be felt for persons of the other sex who are of reproductive age. By contrast, a sexual urge that is directed at a person who is not of the other sex and of reproductive age, or the sexual intercourse with such a person, is, objectively speaking, misguided and contrary to nature. This reasoning applies to homosexuality in the same way as it applies to paedophilia or to sex with animals.

The question then is: how is the homosexual act to be judged morally?

Historically, homosexual intercourse has been viewed merely as gravely sinful (and even, in some places and at some times, worthy of capital punishment), and no account was taken of whether the proclivity lying beneath it was freely chosen. The term “sodomy”, which was commonly used to describe it, appears particularly suitable: it is a vice that brings destruction and permanent infertility to the city (or nation) that indulges in it.[1]

It was only in the course of the twentieth century, under the influence of Freud, that a more accommodating view began to prevail, viewing homosexuality as a sort of mental disease or disorder for which the persons concerned could/should not be held accountable. The term “homosexuality” itself, inexistent until then, made its first appearance only as late as 1869, and it marks a shift of focus from the homosexual act itself to the inclination, which is presented as something for which the person afflicted by it is not, or only partially, responsible.

This view is now also accepted by the Catholic Church (which, however, continues to view the act as objectively sinful), but it is rejected by organized homosexualist lobbies who demand that homosexuality be no more viewed as disorder or pathology, but as “normal”.[2]

Some ideologues go even as far as saying that, because homosexuality has been observed in certain animal species, it should be considered as “normal” also for the human race. Obviously, this type of argument stands in radical contradiction to the very concept of human dignity: it infers that man is nothing else than an animal, or at least that he should behave as if he were one. But in the same way one could legitimize polygamy, sexual promiscuity, or even cannibalism, all of which occur in some animal species. It is stunning that some academics seriously bring forward such arguments.

Considering homosexuality as “normal” pre-supposes a flawed concept of “normality” known as “naturalistic fallacy”. If everything that occurs as a variant in nature is considered “normal”, then homosexuality can certainly be described by that term – but it would then still be less “normal” than caries, myopia, obesity, diabetes, or breast cancer, all of which occur with greater frequency. Indeed, in some parts of the world, even suffering from HIV/AIDS is more “normal” than being homosexual. But would that prevent us from considering caries, diabetes, etc., as medical conditions that require treatment?

It follows that our concept of normality must be based on an understanding of the function and purpose of certain aspects of the human body or, in a wider sense, of the human nature. If the purpose of the eye is to see, then an eye that cannot see is not “normal”, even if, in a given population, there were a great number of blind people. In the same way, an ear that cannot hear, a nose that cannot smell, or a leg that cannot walk, are not “normal”. And if the purpose of sexuality is procreation, then the homosexual proclivity is not “normal”. If there are therapies that could cure homosexuality, then they should be provided at least to those who ask for them, and if there are yet no such therapies, then researchers should be encouraged to look for them.

It is an open question, and a subject of scientific debate, whether homosexuality in a person is innate and pre-determined, or whether it is induced through external factors (such as childhood experiences). Homosexual lobbyists clearly prefer the first theory apparently because they believe it supports their theory that homosexuality is “normal” and should be accepted. Gender Theory, by contrast, is based on the assumption that a person’s “sexual orientation” is a personal choice that has nothing to do with any innate proclivities, and that people should be freed from conventional behaviour patterns in order to be able to choose whatever orientation they want.

In actual fact, however, the “normality” of homosexuality does not depend on whether it is innate, or how it is acquired.

Does the anomaly of homosexuality mean that homosexual tendencies or proclivities are in themselves immoral? No, because what can be subject to a moral judgment is not a sentiment or proclivity, but only an act that is guided by the free will. Thus, it is only the homosexual act that is, in and by itself, immoral. The immorality lies in the implication that a sexual act can have the sole purpose of procuring physical pleasure, i.e. that it may be dissociated from its procreative potentiality.

Homosexuals are thus in a situation that is not so different from that of heterosexuals: both are required to keep their sexual desires under control. For homosexuals it means that they should abstain from sexual relations, whereas for heterosexuals it means that they should have sexual relations only with the person they are married with. The idea that a person must by necessity give in to its sexual urges (and that, hence, persons with homosexual tendencies have to have homosexual relations) is contrary to human dignity, as it is underpinned by the assumption that a man’s actions are driven only by his urges and instars, and not by his insight and free will.

To sum it up, both the gay-rights movement and its opponents do not seem to have a consistent theory on what “homosexuality” actually is, or how someone becomes “homosexual”. These questions can be the subject of an endless and futile debate – mostly because the concept of “homosexuality” is in itself too multi-faceted and mercurial to become the object of a precise understanding, and because the ways how a person can be drawn into the homosexual lifestyle (i.e., by recruitment, genetic disposition, or otherwise) might differ widely.

Maybe this whole debate would require a re-formatting. What can be said with certainty is that the “homosexual act” itself, also known as “sodomy”, is intrinsically adverse to the dignity of the human person and hence gravely immoral (or, for a religious mindset, sinful). But is there really such a thing as “homosexuality” in the sense of a fixed condition people may find themselves in? There is every reason to doubt it. The truth is that all of us undergo various temptations to act immorally (with regard to every possible aspect of morality). But the fact that someone feels envious of his neighbour’s wealth does not necessarily mean that he is a cleptomaniac or that he will commit theft, and the fact that someone feels attracted by his neighbour’s wife does not per se make him a rapist or adulterer. Framing “homosexuality” as a condition (or “homosexuals” as a distinct class) is a convenient way of shifting the focus of the debate away from where it belongs: the intrinsic immorality of sodomy, of which the human conscience has been aware from the dawn of times.

Sodomy as a health risk

Sodomy is a misuse of the human body and thus a negation of human dignity; this is what makes it objectively immoral. But it also is a behaviour associated with serious health risks. Exposing oneself and other persons to such health risks is in and by itself gravely immoral.

Not only is homosexual activity between males the one of the main causes for the worldwide spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemy, which since 1980 has cost the lives of millions of people[3], but it also is associated with a great number of other serious (and potentially lethal) diseases, including various forms of cancer, papilloma (HPV), syphilis, etc. Many of these diseases also have the side-effect of causing permanent infertility.

MSM hiv prevalence

It is estimated that engaging in a permanent lifestyle involving homosexual activity reduces the life expectancy of a person by up to 20 years; this means that the statistical health risks associated with homosexuality by far exceed those associated with smoking or alcohol abuse. The low life expectancy of homosexuals is not the result of any mean-spirited “discrimination” by non-homosexuals, but has its main cause in their self-chosen lifestyle.

From a public health perspective (and quite irrespective of any moral opprobrium), it seems an absurdity that many governments, while on the one hand running relentless campaigns to reduce smoking and/or drug and alcohol abuse, while on the other hand  they promote tolerance (or even acceptance) of homosexual behaviour. At the same time, it appears not only understandable, but perfectly reasonable, that parents do not want to see their children exposed to any influence that might draw them into a homosexual lifestyle.

Is there such a thing as “homophobia”?

We live in a time where the right to free expression is increasingly put in question. Whoever dares to publicly avow his disapproval of sodomy and other deviant sexual practices risks being called a “homophobe” or, even worse, a “homo-hater”.

What is “homophobia”? Being derived from Greek vocabulary, it sounds pompously “scientific”, but in actual fact it is just another of those neologisms that have been created to prevent an informed debate about homosexuality from taking place, or at least to prevent it from taking a direction not desired by the gay rights lobby. In other words, calling someone a “homophobe” is name-calling, verbal bullying, an argumentum ad hominem that is used to conceal the absence of arguments of substance. Whoever calls someone else a “homophobe” unmasks himself as a person lacking both knowledge and good manners.

It is quite telling that to find a definition of “homophobia” one would have to consult a parliamentary resolution rather than a scientific publication. The term is pseudo-scientific and serves a political purpose: to vilify and silence critics of the gay rights movement. According to a report adopted by the European Parliament in 2012, “homophobia is the irrational fear of, and aversion to, male and female homosexuality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people based on prejudice, and is similar to racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and sexism”.

Like all other words ending on “-phobia”, the term suggests thus irrational fear – as if disapproval of homosexuality, rather than homosexuality itself, were some kind of psychic disorder. At the same time, the rhetoric used to put this “phobia” into the same basket as racism, anti-Semitism, or sexism suggests that this irrational fear and aversion were also a moral failure, deserving of the severest condemnation.

However, the inclusion of the adjective “irrational” into this definition implies that fear and aversion can also be rational. Their rationality depends on the one hand of the intensity of the feeling, and on the other hand of the intrinsic value of the object against which they are directed.

Speaking strictly for ourselves, we at AGENDA EUROPE believe that it is wrong to hate other people, be it individually or collectively. Every human person has human dignity, because it has the potential of living a morally good life. Far be it from us to hate, or to judge, anyone. At the same time, however, it is not only possible, but also a necessity, to distinguish good actions from evil ones. That distinction must be based on reason.

The word “homosexuality” sounds as if it indicated a condition or quality of the person so designed. But who, really, is homosexual? Can one say that someone is “a homosexual” in the same sense as one says that a man is a man, and that a dog is a dog? Obviously not, because homosexuality is, at best, an accidental (and perhaps transient) condition, not an essential characteristic. Obviouusly, the auxiliary verb “to be” can be used in different modes. So, who is to be considered homosexual? Only people who consistently or regularly have sexual relations with persons of the same sex, or also those who only very occasionally do so? Or does the term also include persons who, maybe only once in their lifetime, have felt some pleasurable excitement when they considered that possibility? The question is not without importance, given that certain pressure groups have a strategy of grossly overstating the prevalence of homosexuality in order to demonstrate that it is “normal”.

Our disapproval, however, is not directed against any person or group that is identified, or chooses to identify itself, as “homosexual”. It is directed against the act called sodomy.

Disapproval of sodomy is not irrational fear or aversion, but it is a sound moral judgment based on compelling rational reasons. Sodomy negates the true nature of the sexual act as the expression of spousal love that is directed at procreation and, hence, at personal love and responsibility; it reduces and perverts sexuality into a source of banal and, indeed, rather disgusting, amusements. It carries serious health risks for all those engaging in it, and contributes to the spreading of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible diseases. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to disapprove of sodomy, or to warn one’s children against engaging in it.

These views are nothing we ought to feel ashamed for. On the contrary, we affirm them with great serenity and confidence. We express our support for those who struggle to overcome their homosexual proclivities, and our concern and compassion for those who, having slid into a homosexual lifestyle, have to cope with the dire consequences that often flow from it.

[1]       cf. Gen 19

[2]       It was a major breakthrough for the gay rights movement that in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. That decision, however, was the fruit of political pressure rather than of new scientific insights. The fact that APA (and, following it, the WHO) have delisted homosexuality as a mental disorder must therefore not be taken as meaning that it isn’t one.

[3]       According to information published by UNAIDS in 2014, “men having sex with men” (MSM) are nineteen times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general population.