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Friday, February 15, 2013

What Are Opponents of Same-sex Marriage Afraid of? Pt. 1 "The (so called) Homosexual Agenda"

This is a Monday through Friday blog. New posts will resume on Monday.  How about reviewing past posts?

Prelude to the Gay Agenda Series

The fact that there is a gay agenda, at least on the part of the leaders of the Gay Rights Movement, should not be understood as anything out of the ordinary.  All movements have agendas, including political parties, religious organizations and nonprofit enterprises like the Red Cross.  So simply having goals they want accomplished should not be off-putting.  It is a normal function of modern movements that want to advance their causes.  

However, many opponents of the gay agenda are trying to make it look like there is something underfoot akin to the subversive activities of the communists of the 1950s, along with a corresponding witch hunt.  When I finish with this series which focuses on the publicly declared and commonly held items of this agenda, I will list some of the more outrageous charges that act more as red herrings than actual concerns.   I hope to show that, regardless of the hysteria surrounding the reality of a gay agenda, these are reasonable, responsible and valuable contributions to the public square.  (Not withstanding the outlandish charges masquerading as part of the agenda, but are only made up by the opposition.)  This is why I chose an opponent of the gay rights movement's (John Rankin) list of what he sees as the gay agenda, as it is, except for the last two, a fair assessment of it.

For some opponents of same-sex marriage, actually all things gay, the very survival of Western Civilization is at stake; at the least, their notion of what Western Civilization should be. Others fear for the sanctity of the church. Still others worry about their families and the survival of the basic family structure that they understand to be the biblical model, (but isn't). Their reactions to the forward progress that the gay rights movement has lately achieved range from hysterical (National Organization for Marriage) to measured (if you know of one, put it here).

There are two kinds of lists that purport to be the "homosexual agenda."  One is totally bonkers.  It claims that the bottom line of gay rights activists is to turn all our children into gays and lesbians.  Some even go so far as to claim that they want all children to be their sexual objects and would if they could get away with it, as Scott Lively suggests in "Why and How to Defeat the 'Gay' Movement."  Here's an excellent cautionary word from the Senior Pastor of Moody Bible Church, Erwin Lutzer.
So we have to remember that the radical gay community does not speak for all gays.  When we read that NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, wants to lower the age of sexual consent to thirteen, and when a book is published that advocates sex with children, we must remember that the authors do not speak for all of the homosexual community.  Indeed, such writers might speak only for a small fraction of it.  If we don't like it when others paint us with a big brush, let's not do the same with the gay community.
Thank you, Dr. Lutzer.

I would have put John Rankin of the Liberty Education Forum in the latter category (measured), since the agenda as he sees it is mostly correct and evenhandedly stated.  He is generally amiable and professes to love LGBTs, of which I have no doubt, yet he goes off the deep end with the final two. Here's his accounting of the (so called) homosexual agenda:
1. Remove the concept of homosexuality as “sinful,” and remove the concept that homosexual behavior is intrinsically unhealthy. 
2. Define homosexual identity and behavior as a “normal” and healthy “variant” within the plurality of the human community, and call for “toleration” of it. 
3. Move from “toleration” of it as a “normal variant,” to a full “acceptance” of its intrinsic nature as being equal with that of heterosexuality. 
4. Gain ecclesiastical, legal and social “approval” of the personal and social “goodness” of homosexuality, and call it “gay.” 
5. Translate this “approval” into leadership positions – especially ordination status in the church and political office in the culture. 
6. Redefine “marriage” to include “same-sex” relationships. 
7. Elevate “gay” relationships to a place of moral superiority for the wider culture to honor and emulate. 
8. Define “homophobia,” “hate speech” and/or “hate crimes” as the cardinal theological and political “sins,” and remove the First Amendment liberties of anyone who disagrees, including those of ministers, rabbis and priests who refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies; and at the extreme, remove the protection of unalienable rights for dissenters to this “new orthodoxy.
Let's look at each in their turn.

1. Remove the concept of homosexuality as “sinful,” and remove the concept that homosexual behavior is intrinsically unhealthy.

I don't know why he chose to keep "sinful" and "unhealthy" as one category, unless he is equating the two.  Otherwise, they should be separate.  Regardless, there is a considerable body of scholarship defended by world-class biblical scholars that would not understand homosexuality as sinful.  Several denominations are now affirming same-sex unions and marriages as wholesome activities of the church, as well as portions of others.  So I would affirm that leaders of the gay rights movement should have this item as part of their agenda. It is based on the recognition that homosexuality is a natural part of the human experience, indeed, of the animal kingdom, and need not be characterized as aberrant any longer.

Think of it like this: There are those who believe that increasing the minimum wage is detrimental to businesses and those who don't.  There are good arguments on both sides. So the Democrats have increasing it on their agenda and the Republicans are opposed to it. Each is entrenched in their position.  But who would say that either side should not be allowed to present its case?  We argue this out in the marketplace of ideas where we hope the best side wins.

Similarly, to say that because one side has a strong commitment to a position that homosexual behavior is sinful does not mean that the other side should not be heard. Therefore, it is a suitable topic, and having it on an "agenda" is perfectly in order.

As for homosexual behavior being "intrinsically unhealthy," I offer a response that includes both male and female homoerotic acts from medical neurobiologist Jeramy Townsley:
From a biological perspective, the idea that God clearly created male and female genitalia to be complementary is based on pseudoscience and not on an understanding of human anatomy and sexual physiology. The common argument from traditionalists is twofold: 1) God had one purpose in mind for sex--procreation; and 2) the male-female genital anatomy attests to the complementarity of God's intent for sex as solely for male-female/penile-vaginal sex (see Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 2001).

  • The most obvious argument opposed to the proposition of singular usage is that the penis was clearly designed to serve several purposes: procreation (depositing sperm), pleasure (has nerves associated with pleasure, the pudendal nerve) and for excrement of waste. One of Gagnon's primary claims to the "obviousness" of the misuse of the rectum for sex is that the rectum is a transport for excrement, however he fails to explain the distinction for the penis which clearly has both sex and exremental functions. 

  • Further, the ano-rectal area also appear to be created for uses other than singularly for waste excretement

  • It may or may not be merely coincidence that this area is the appropriate size and expandibility to accomodate a penis (similar to the vagina). Despite Gagnon's claims, the medical evidence shows that ano-rectal sex does not produce muscule or pathological tissue damage to the area. 

  • Just inside the male rectal canal is the prostate gland, stimulation of which heightens the sexual experience due to innervation with the pudendal nerve, the same nerve that innervates the penis. Stimulation of the ano-rectal area and the prostate gland can alone produce orgasm in the male.

  • The vagina is obviously designed for multiple purposes--procreation and pleasure (innervation by the pudendal nerve). Contrary to traditionalist theologies and patriarchal cultures (including many cultures that practice female circumcision) that have ignored the sexuality of women as irrelevant, non-existent or evil, the biological fact that the vaginal area is innervated with nerves associated with pleasure, it would seem clear that God intended the vagina to be used not just for men, but primarily for women

  • While vaginal penetration is important to many women for sex, current research on the female orgasm is turning away from penetration as the primary stimulant for sexual arousal and satisfaction, to the clitoris, laying on the surface of the vagina, therefore not requiring penetration, indicating that God may have created women (by design) to be able to experience sexual satisfaction outside of penetrative sex. 

  • Most of the authors who oppose the various forms of gay sex based on biological issues fail to address similar types of sexuality between heterosexuals, including married couples. Many actively support oral sex between heterosexuals, quite common among both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Gagnon, for instance, quotes a Rabbinical text allowing for oral sex between heterosexuals (p. 299). Further, many of these authors fail to condemn heterosexual anal sex, which many studies have shown is not an uncommon form of sexual intimacy between heterosexuals. The question then becomes why issues of "nature" and biology can be used to condemn homosexuality based on anatomical issues while not subsequently limiting heterosexual sex to penile-vaginal sex. [End Townsley]
  • I don't expect those whose minds are made up to immediately change their minds with exposure to the evidence and logic of this data.  I do expect that they will find room, at least in this instance (so far), that there is another side to this debate which can no longer be characterized as totally without merit.

    MONDAY: Rankin's second item on the gay agenda--
    "Define homosexual identity and behavior as a 'normal' and healthy 'variant' within the plurality of the human community, and call for 'toleration' of it."


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