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May 19, 2015

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It seems that this question is rhetorical in that it attempts to provoke introspection in the heterosexual person who, presumably would then find that they did not in fact choose their sexual orientation, but rather simply found themselves, at a certain point in their physical development, sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex.

I think we should ask the questioner if they equate sexual orientation with sexual activity, as doing so would be a mistake, I think.

I would say that I never made a deliberate choice to be heterosexual, but this does not entail that sexual desires (or orientation) are innate or biologically determined.

We can find ourselves addicted to things that we were not innately or biologically determined to be addicted to and we can find ourselves attracted to things that we were not innately or biologically determined to find attractive. For instance, studies have shown that when a subject is romantically attracted to a person is given "garlic breath" stimulus to be repeatedly associated with the person of romantic interest, the subject will start to find "garlic breath" arousing. (This study is cited in either Stephen G. Meyers' Exploring Psychology or Social Psychology, I can track down the specifics if someone wants.)

Likewise, I may make a set of decisions that have as an unintended side-effect the formation of a habit or desire that was not itself a single, deliberate choice. I'm not sure if we can say this is a *common* experience of men addicted to pornography but it is at least not an unheard of experience. Take a man who has had X level of exposure to pornography and check in on him 10 years later after he has had X^n level of exposure to pornography and you may find that he has developed *uncontrollable* sexual desires that he never had a decade ago. The person may have never got up one morning and said "I think I'll start liking this type of pornography" and the person may not be able to now say "I think I'll stop liking this type of pornography" and yet it's also true that this person's sexual desires as they currently stand are entirely a product of past choices that would not have developed otherwise.

So inability to change one's sexual orientation and inability to make a single, deliberate choice to be sexually oriented in a certain way does not entail that sexual orientation is innate or biologically determined.

There are lots of places the conversation could go from here so I would just wait to see where the person decided to go at that point. But I suppose an obvious route would be to say "So maybe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both orientations formed by habit or unconscious choices over time and heterosexuality is no more innate or natural than homosexuality."

And to that I would respond that we see an obvious, natural heterosexual design in human biology. We don't see an obvious, natural homosexual design in human biology.

I would respond with a question:

"Why do you need to know?"

The answer, after some back and forth, will most likely be something along the lines of "Because I'm trying to establish that if a preference is un-chosen, then it is moral to engage in it."

That question has been answered before so, like good mathematicians, we've reduced the challenge to a previously given solution.

The question implies that the answer is something along the lines of "when did you chose your right handedness" (something innate, inborn, and therefore natural, and though uncommon, in the range of "normal" for humans) rather than along the lines of "when did you choose your alcoholism" or "when did you choose your anorexia".

Why don't we ask people with a conscience when did they choose to not be psychopaths? Likewise, we don't ask child molesters when they choose their pedophilia.

Homosexuality is a distortion of the natural human sex drive (which is inherently about reproduction) that is programmed into a sexually developing human by environmental forces that (though vehemently denied, and now, in some states, illegal to discuss) are known and predictable (as far as the pseudoscience of Psychology can know or predict anything). This line of logic leads down paths where virtually any distortion of human nature from pedophilia to kleptomania to homicidomania can be redefined as "normal" since they didn't "chose" their psychopathology either.

The question is trying to argue that people who naturally engage in healthy and normal human behavior did not choose to be normal. Therefore people engaging in perverse, abnormal behavior they didn't "choose" either are somehow normal also just doesn't follow. Instead we call people to healing, and to choose not to engage in the behavior their pathology desires. We don't encourage alcoholics to drink, we encourage them to refrain from drinking while they get help.

I believe I would answer by saying "no, I do not recall making a conscious decision to be heterosexual."

Then I would follow by asking the question, "Why is that important?" I think this is another way of asking "what necessarily follows from that?"

My guess, as others have already stated, is that they will then try and make the point that one cannot be held morally responsible for acting on their biology. This line of reasoning has already been refuted by philosophers and the courts.

Obviously, my first question will be "What do you mean by that?"

However, the root of the question seems to stem from the idea that if I cannot name a time when I chose heterosexual attractions, then I cannot impose this upon homosexuals. And, they are right.

I think it is a mistake to assume someone chooses same sex attraction [I used to think this way]. Sin is part of our make up due to the sin nature we've inherited. So, our viewpoint should be that we each have a different type of temptation and sinful desire than the other person.

This issue is not the attraction, but the behavior - that is, I can expect sinners to have sinful desires. The real question is, when did you choose to Act upon this homo or heterosexuality?

So, my response after clarification would be, much to their suprise, that "I don't believe anyone chooses a same sex or opposite sex attraction" but rather that they choose to act upon these attractions. And, if Same Sex relationships are morally wrong, then the choice was made to perform the action and that is where you make *The Choice*.

I imagine we could also ask the same question about a lot of things. For instance, we could ask a child abuser 'when did you become attracted to small children', and his answer would be that it was not anything he could have avoided. Whether something should be done or not is not based solely on our genetics or deep inner desires.

I've been toying with this approach, which might raise eyebrows but also might find a nice hard rock deep down in the wordy mud...

"I choose my sexual orientation every day! Given the choice between one-lover heterosexuality, one-lover heterosexuality + visual trysts with others, multiple-lover heterosexuality (in sequence or in parallel), or multiple-lover bisexuality (my only remaining same-sex option as a married man), it's up to me and whatever's inside of me to make the choice each time I wake up in the morning, when I turn on the news, or even while I drive home from work."

If not for "homosexuals" claiming that their "homosexuality" is a fundamental part of their identity I probably would have never known that I am "heterosexual". Of course, I would still be attracted to the opposite sex, I just doubt that this would be something that I would have known to label. Let alone something that I would have known is a fundamental aspect of my identity (which does not strike me as being the case for anyone).

Instead of me "choosing" to be heterosexual or discovering this about myself, it seems to me that someone else invented the concept of sexual orientation as a fundamental identity and has chosen to label everyone by it. If this invention had never happened, this question would never be asked.

On that note, I think it is on the person asking the question to demonstrate that it makes sense.

It presumes that homosexual attraction (or any other kind of non-heterosexual attraction) is on par with heterosexual attraction in every way. It's not, of course. Heterosexuality is a natural means of reproduction and homosexuality is not.

This also presumes that the issue centers around choice, however, and it doesn't on that either. Christians understand that we are all born in sin, quite against our will, and are consequently prone to act on that condition. The way that we act on our sin nature is a choice. But even when we chose to do the right thing, it is still tainted by our sin nature by virtue of conflicting motives. (Better to choose to do the right thing despite harboring some bad motives than to give up and just follow our bad motives.)

Those desiring to justify sexual sin by arguing that they were created homosexual by God and that it wasn't their choice, ironically want to turn it into a choice to marry. But they think that heterosexuals bear the same irony in the Christian worldview.

What's truly ironic is that a naturalistic worldview is doggedly deterministic and amoral. So there is no moral foundation for marriage, much less a foundation for marriage to be a right. In order to both reject the moral restriction on sexual purity and advocate some kind of moral liberty for marriage, they have to borrow from the same morality that they oppose. Marriage is, by nature, a moral restriction. If you want to put it into terms of choice, freedom to choose necessarily means a restriction on what one did not choose. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

By the way, this is the same problem with the divorce culture.

I guess I would answer by stating it was not my choice.... my designer chose it for me and I came into that awareness by and by. So who am I to argue?

Are things that you find yourself inclined to naturally always permissible?

It's really very simple. Did you choose your heterosexuality or not? If you did not, then you can't really say homosexuals chose their homosexuality. Just stop saying that!

Of course you can still claim that homosexuality is morally wrong, or unnatural, or whatever. As pointed out above, there are a lot of bad things people don't choose to be. A psychotic mass murder didn't rationally sit down and choose to kill people. So it's still wrong, even though it wasn't a free choice.

But you have to stop saying homosexuality is a choice! (Unless you chose your heterosexuality).

You can't choose something that is defined by your biological sex. Heterosexuality is a necessary biological condition. Homosexuality is not. You can choose to act on your biological reality or not. You can choose to act on an inclination like alcoholism or homosexuality.

The same way I chose my race, my gender, my parents, the city I was born in and the time I was born. Because of who I am, I now choose to not let my selfish and desires master me but I choose to master my desires in a God-honoring way. How about you?

Er, I think you just said you are homosexual, Doug Brown. This isn't a question of mastering desires, but of just having the desires. A real heterosexual doesn't need to "master" those desires, because he doesn't even have them at all.

Be careful how you answer a loaded question. This reminds me of an illustration I heard Michael Ramsden use:

Young Michael on the playground to another kid: May I ask you a yes or no question?
Kid: Yes
Young Michael: Does your mother know you're stupid?

The problem with this question is that it assumes celibacy is not an option. SSA, of varying strength, as a transient or permanent proclivity likely has a genetic influence for at least some people who identify as homosexual - but there is no gene that forces them into same-sex intercourse in an equivalent manner to which we would say our predisposition to opposite-sex attraction does not excuse premarital hetero-intercourse.

Part of this conversation is the idea - first from Freud and continued on to today wth evolutionary psychology - that having lots of sex, whenever, wherever, and with whoever is as fundamental to the human condition as eating, sleeping and breathing.

I find it interesting that this is effectively accepted inside the church (in the pews at least) that celibacy is, at minimum unnatural, if not extremely dangerous (Catholic scandals being the most obvious example used) - it is an unspoken assumption that people can't not have sex... and that God and Christians are cruel to say that people who experience SSA (or anyone really - check the rants against abstinence-positive sex education sometime) should even čonsider celibacy.

John, just to explain to you. Christians do have desires to do things that we are not supposed to do in the same way people desire homosexual relationships. We have a terminology for this in scripture. It is the Greek word Paul uses, sarx. Sarx (sometimes translated flesh) refers to the nature of human beings as it pertains to their fallenness before God. It is often translated as 'sinful nature' as well. When Paul used it he probably did not know what genetics were, but I think now we can even say that is part of the issue in some way.

So, for instance, I find myself with the desire to look at women who are naked in a magazine. I cannot avoid this desire because I find women to be very attractive and beautiful. But I can avoid looking at the magazine and make a conscious choice not to engage in such behavior, even though the desire is strong and it is there. I am married to my wife and it would be a betrayal to my wife, and also to degrade the women in the magazine for my own pleasure. It would also from my Christian perspective be a sin and a betrayal to God.

When Christians say homosexuality is a choice, we do not mean that the desire or the attraction to the same sex is something that a person chose. What we mean is that to engage in sexual behavior is a choice. To sleep with someone of the same sex is a choice that is made consciously. Just because a desire is there, does not mean you MUST act on it. There are many inner desires that people have, and I'll be that even you have such desires, but that you do not always act on them.

So what most Christians mean when we say homosexuality is a choice is not that the attraction to the same sex is a choice, but that to sleep with someone of the same sex is (or other sexual behavior related). This is confusing sometimes for even Christians and is why personally I am very careful when talking about this issue with the words I use.

I hope that helps to explain our perspective.

We all originate through the male-female union, this is deep with in our genetics (and also likely psyche). At least these elements of heterosexuality as it influences us is chosen by no one.

From the start I was baffled at the question due to the word choice. "Choose" is a volitional act. I do not choose to blink, breath, or fall asleep at the wheel. All these natural biological functions become affectations once we make a claim of having chosen to do them. The claim would be ludicrous from the start, and, in the case of the third item cited, possibly fatal.

Anthony makes an important point. Heterosexuality has an important biological function: propagation of the species. Homosexuality has no purpose other than self-expression in acts of voyeurism. If you accept the philosophy that supports this, then the question Amy raises has content. If you do not, then the question is value-less.

I'm curious. While I can wait a day to hear Alan's response, how would Amy handle this question? (I can wait one day for that too, and see the paired answers together in one post).

I did not choose heterosexuality because everyone is born heterosexual. Certain people acquire same-sex attraction at some later point, due to multiple factors.

I didn't choose my sexuality, but I choose every day what I do with it. I am sexually attracted to women who are not my wife. This is not my choice, I have no control over it. However, I do choose not to engage in sexual activity with anyone other than my wife, because I believe it is wrong to do so.
Other people make different choice, and act upon those impulses. I believe they are wrong for doing so, and I am happy to tell them so and why. That being said, I don't believe that it is my place to force them to believe as I do, or treat them with anything but love and respect. And I have no basis to say that it should not be legal for them to marry their mistress.

There is no challenge. There is a question asked in isolation. If there is the assumption of a challenge when the question is asked, the nature of the challenge should be defined.

There are numerous assumptions or presuppositions that could be guessed at to come to some understanding of why this may represent a challenge, but then the question becomes why should the challenged do the work to make valid the challenge? Any response to the challenge based on guessing of the underlying assumptions is easily rejected as "that's not what I was getting at" so it is better to simply get a clearer explanation of what they are getting at to avoid future point chasing.

This question misses the point entirely. Just because one has certain desires does not make those desires moral. By that logic, pedophilia or necrophilia are morally acceptable to the people who have those desires. To pursue this line of thinking even further, walking around punching people because they are gay is morally acceptable to the person who has those desires.

If people acted on all their desires without restraint, there would be anarchy. That's why we have laws, to restrain the evil that we all know we are capable of committing.

My response to this person would be, "Why are you following the desires that you have, rather than the design of your body?" That's the problem that most people about this issue ignore. Everything has been designed for a specific purpose. Males and females complement each other. We were designed that why for a reason. If something is being used in a way contrary to what it was designed for, then it stops working properly.

Since God designed us, He has the authority to dictate to us what is the right way and what is the wrong way to use our bodies. When we go against His design, we are rebelling against His authority, hence why homosexuality is a sin.

JBerr wrote: "When Christians say homosexuality is a choice, we do not mean that the desire or the attraction to the same sex is something that a person chose. What we mean is that to engage in sexual behavior is a choice."

This seems like a basic confusion. We're never going to work this out until we start listening to each other and really talking about the same things. We've got to make a clear distinction between desires and actions.

Outside the Christian community, if you have homosexual desires, then you're homosexual! Many (most?) homosexuals are totally celibate, but they're still homosexuals.

And the question for this challenge is not when you decided to have a certain kind of sex. The question is when you "decided" to have those desires.

I think we all agree you can't choose your desires. And we agree you can choose your actions.

So if you want to communicate with homosexuals, you can't say homosexuality is a choice. You just sound like idiots that way. You must specify what you really mean, which is that homosexual activity is a choice. But then you're just stating the obvious.

John M,

As I pointed out above, our desires can be a result of past choices. This is true of our sexual desires as well. Anyway I think we all agree that (a) desires are not under a person's direct or immediate control and (b) this has virtually no significance for any interesting conclusions about homosexuality.

The true question, the righteous question before a holy and good God....What will you do with your opposite sex attraction? What will you do with your heterosexual desire? Bottom line, what will you do with your body, your sexual desires? Romans 12:1,2

That is the honest question all of us must answer.

There was a comment posted here this morning that was apparently moderated. (I can understand that since things did get a little odd near the end.) I was going to respond to it at the time, but I wanted to go see Mad Max before I lost the matinee special. I'll respond to the main point I remember, if that's all right:

The author collapsed different kinds of attraction/desire into a single kind with a gradient. So the commenter found it strange that heterosexual men would find it desirable to spend time with other guys and yet be attracted to females. (The author also made several controversial assumptions here: most men are homophobic, most men want to spend more time with other men than their female partner, etc.)

But there is nothing strange with the fact that men desire to engage in some activities with other men and yet desire other activities with their female love interests. This is because there are different kinds of attraction/desire. Surely the commenter could recognize that a love for Coca-Cola is not the same kind of love that one has for his mother. One is attracted to Coke in a different kind of way than one is attracted to their newborn baby.

Interestingly, the commenter exhibited what Girgis, Anderson, and George point out in their book "What is Marriage?" - The revisionist's view of marriage is one where the marital relationships are distinguished from other relational goods merely by their intensity:

Revisionists cannot define marriage in terms of real bodily union or family life, so they tend to define it instead by its degree or intensity. Marriage is simply your closest relationship, offering the most of the one basic currency of intimacy: shared emotion and experience. As a federal judge recently put it in a case striking down California’s conjugal marriage law, “ ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.” (p. 65).

Given the revisionist view of male-female relationships, the commenter couldn't make sense of men's friendships with other men and why they might not invite women into that sort of relationship. And that actually follows Girgis et al's. prediction exactly:

"As marriage is defined simply as the most valuable or only kind of deep communion, it becomes harder to find emotional and spiritual intimacy in nonmarital friendships... The more we absorb this assumption, the less we value deep friendship in its own right" (ibid).

The commenter actually gave us an unwitting illustration of just how the revisionist worldview harms society by misunderstanding various relational goods, making it harder to obtain those goods.

John M is right: definitions are critical in this. As a Bible-believing male heterosexual, I found it helpful when I finally defined the terms. To many,(me formerly included) "homosexual or gay" was determined by one's actions. If you were 'gay' that meant that you were sexually active with same sex partner(s). So 'gay Christian' was an oxymoron.
I realized that was not a good working definition, because in that case, a celibate who is attracted to the opposite sex couldn't be called 'heterosexual' because he/she is not sexually active with the opposite sex.
So, I have started using the terms SameSEx attraction over 'gay'.
Is it sin to have same sex attraction? No. Is it a choice? No. Is it normal and natural? No. Can it be temporary or can it go away? Yes. Is it genetic? No; it appears to be a developed trait. Is it sin to be acted on? Yes. So 'gay Christian' can be understood to be someone who finds themselves with these attractions but is seeking to honor God sexually. They may even choose to marry someone of the opposite sex.

SSA is just another word for 'temptation.'
On the other hand, someone who claims to be a Christian but is sexually active outside God's designed man/woman marriage covenant, is a problem.

Intent is not clear, so i'll assume the best and deal with the root of the ? [choice]. God did not crate evil he created choice in creating lucifer. Every day one chooses to do right or wrong. If the love of God is in us the choice is to obay Gods comands. If the rules are set with out God, IE. by our own will/mind choice is differint for per every single person. that kind of anarcky leads to harm of self & others. Choose God through/in Jesus Christ/Aleph-Tav. choose to be a acctable bride that does what the Husband likes. In this mystery or time of dateing/engagemet to the one we love, the choice is ours! CHOOOSE LIFE!

The premise of the question seeks sympathy for one who has "no choice" but a genetic disposition. It is the genetics argument. However, since most homosexuals don't reproduce, there is no one to pass the gene on to. The gene dies with the one carrying it. If it is genetic, we should see less and less of homosexuals on the earth, no an increase.

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