Tuesday, March 08, 2005

For All the Talented, Over-achieving, Alcoholic, Crack-addict Men Out There

UPDATE #3 3/9/05. I answered Lizzie McGuire's question below as a comment. Also, I jumped into the fray over at Brayton's site (see update #2, below).

UPDATE #2 3/9/05: See Ed Brayton's blog "Dispatches from the Culture Wars" and this conversation (look at AJM's comments, too) between AJM and the author of that blogsite. I'm tempted to jump in.

UPDATE 3/9/05: See AJM's comments today for his intellectual/Evangelical/orthodox take on sin. I'm somewhat satisfied. I'll either post further ponderings at some point or send the remainder in a note in a bottle out to sea.


AJM's second response to my homosexuality post is fantastic. And challenging. Here I go.

First, I address (briefly), AJM's "aside": "the biological and psychological evidence on the inbred vs. learned question so far points heavily in the direction of homosexuality being learned as a response to life circumstances." I will not bother AJM to scrounge for, dig up, or otherwise manifest the biological and psychological evidence for this. I will surely not ask him to go far afield beyond links connected to Christian websites into what he and I could agree were objective studies. I do not question that AJM has considerable knowledge of this evidence. Without seeing it, studying it, and critically analyzing it, however, I am skeptical whether the "evidence" is supported by good science.

AJM then goes into a string of comparisons to other somewhat despicable characteristics (including being male, which I certainly understand, at least when I'm feeling particularly self-effacing).

AJM writes: "To begin with, how is the homosexual's circumstance distinguishable from that of any of the following?"

"The baby born to a crack-addict mother. This child is almost certain to enter the world with a pre-existing addition to cocaine (among other serious problems). Does that make resisting drugs more difficult for this child? Of course. Does the child's prediliction make drug abuse any less sinful for the child? Of course not."

First, while I agree that drug abuse is a terrible problem, I'm not sure how it's a sin. Perhaps, this is a point about which an orthodox Christain's assumptions differ from a United Methodists'. Second, there is a big difference between crack babies and homosexuals. If the crack baby's mother or the crack baby's mother or father had never smoked crack, the crack baby would not be a crack baby, and would not have the problems therein associated. It's possible the baby and her mother would still have addictive personalities. But maybe they'd be long-distance runners addicted to lunchtime runs instead.

The homosexual, following the hypothetical that he is "born that way" (which I believe to be true in most cases), does not depend on parents or grandparents who "partook" of anything. His orientation is simply genetic or otherwise biologically wired into him. A crack addict may be wired to be susceptible to addiction, but not to be addicted to crack. In the same way, a homosexual is wired to be one. That leads me to AJM's next comparison.

"The alcoholic. The evidence is conflicting to what extent genetic factors contribute to alcoholism, but they almost certainly play some role. Should the alcoholic therefore get a free moral pass to get drunk? Preposterous. In fact, one who is predisposed to alcoholism bears a heavier burden to avoid drunkenness because of his propensity toward addiction." I agree that the alcoholic should not have a "free moral pass," and that his burden is excrutiating. Both my grandfathers were alcoholics. Fortunately, I have never hungered for alcohol, and whether I have a beer or not does not cause internal conflict. Drinking brings pleasure but I could live without it without much consequence.

The homosexual could live without homosexual relationships, as AJM has aptly demonstrated in his writings (not by his actions, as I know AJM and know that he is devoutly, clearly hetero). But I believe the consequences are negative (no sexual relationships ever), while AJM says those consequences are good: not sinning. AJM suggests that homosexuality is a "predisposition".

I would characterize it differently. I suggest that for most homosexuals, it is like color blindness. (Understanding homosexuals would take offense saying their sexuality is no "less" than mine.) Those who are color blind simply cannot see in the full range of colors that most of us can. Homosexuals cannot feel sexual feelings for anyone of the opposite gender. AJM says they shouldn't act on those feelings. Unless there is a naturally negative consequence (see prior posts) to homosexual action, that's like saying to a color-blind person: close your eyes. Because you're different, you should deny yourself any visual experience. If God thinks homosexuality is a sin, then God thinks homosexuality is a sin. But if humans think homosexuality is a sin, and God does not, and there still exists in homosexuals the blessing of sexuality, where does that leave the homsexual? Like an alcoholic needing to get drunk? Or like the dehydrated needing water?

"The man. Statistically, men are far more likely to think about sex than women and far more often. Does this excuse men from culpability for the sin of lust? Try telling that to your wife." O.K. But I bet the "sin of lust" wasn't so easily teased apart from all of the human feelings "man", you, or I had for our wives before they were our wives, either. In other words, our wives wouldn't be our wives if we weren't sexually attracted to them. And we were sexually attracted to them before they were our wives. There was lust blended in with the love and the admiration, I have no doubt. Are we "excused"? No. But we're happily married, yes?

"The talented achiever. A simple fact of life is that some people have more talent than others. Experience also tells us that some people will work harder and achieve more than others. Are the talented person, the hard worker, the success, and the overachiever permitted morally to indulge in pride? They certainly have more reason (and good reason, at that) to be proud than a slouch has." He's right. They have more reason. But--here's the human talking, perhaps--indulging in pride is different than having a loving, consensual, intimate sexual relationship.


AJM knows what the real question is. He stated it:

"So, we see that the most relevant question is really not one of genetic predisposition but rather whether homosexual conduct is a sin. In fact, that is the only question. It is not an easy question, but if we can answer it all else falls into place."

He's right. I'm not at all convinced that homosexual activity--especially that undertaken within the framework of a committed relationship--is a sin. (A bunch of readers are going, "Ooo!" Others are saying, "Yes!")

Like I have a bunch of readers. . . .

AJM's upbringing, his early home life, his college and gradute studies, his experience, have all shaped his worldview. My upbringing, my early home life, my college and graduate studies, my experience, have all shaped my worldview.

Although I know a lot about AJM, I will let him explain himself if he cares to do so. What I can say about me, however, is that I did not go to Christian schools, or Christian colleges. I was raised in the United Methodist church. I was allowed to ask a lot of questions. But few of my peers or my elders had answers. And even fewer wanted to entertain my queries.

So my questions about God and His ways far outnumber my answers. But I am convinced that there is one Truth. And that it resides in the world and this universe for us to find. I am convinced that Biblical studies are important, but I believe they are only one tool with which to discern the Truth, including what God has done, is doing, will do, wants, or doesn't want. AJM wants the Truth, too. He is more sure of it than me. He is valuable that way. A good teacher. But I am a skeptic, so his work is cut out for him.


Anonymous Lizzie McGuire said...

The Accipiter is a wonderful man and great thinker and I find joy in attempting to keep up with his several-barreled-statements and questions. I suppose I need to be a "Talented, over-achieving, Alcoholic, Crack-addict,(Man/Woman)Out There" just to keep pace with his thoughts. From homosexual origins to whether or not it is a sin, to what is God up to anyway?

I have always, and continue to appreciate the fact The Accipiter has questioned...hmm...everything. It has sparked many-o-conversations that have provoked me to stretch my cerebral cababilities. Perhaps he has found refuge in and has found troubling my ability to be more accepting on faith.

Part of my issue with trying to find out all of what God knows and what He up to is that I recognize that I can't know. I am not God. However, this is not to suggest that I should sit back and stay in darkness as best as I can. I am simply saying I don't need to burden myself with attempting to know all.

Homosexuality. Interesting topic. Has science proved that there is a biological origin? If I have to ask, then the answer is likely no. It would have been in the headlines in all media forms and as a result widely known. Because I am asking suggests either I haven't seen/read/heard the news, or it has not been proven. This is not to say that all news reports are accurate, but 60-minutes, 20/20, Dateline, etc. would have a field day with this accompanied by hard data.

What God is up to.

Other topics for a different day when more time is given to respond.

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Accipiter said...

I appreciate Lizzie's comments and compliments. I wish I knew who s/he is. Clearly Lizzie knows who goes by my moniker: "The Accipiter".

Lizzie writes: "Perhaps he has found refuge in and has found troubling my ability to be more accepting on faith."

I certainly have found refuge in faith myself. But I tend to beat at and take apart that same shelter, that sense of peace. Perhaps (and with hope?) so that my faith becomes stronger.

Since I'm unclear on Lizzie's identity, I don't know if I've found his/her willingness/ability to be more accepting troubling or not.

It's certainly a skill and a discipline. And I'm often envious of those who are more confident, more faith-adhering, than I am.

But I have God-given skepticism and it suits me well, I think. While I'll continue to question, unlike some skeptics, I'm always ready for answers that make sense.

12:20 PM  

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