Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Merry Christmas

The influence of Christ in my life is immeasurably huge.  In honor of His birth we celebrate Christmas.  December was undoubtedly the wrong time of year.  It should have been spring.  But it doesn't really matter.  It doesn't change the fact that we are celebrating his birth.  We similarly should be forgiving of little indiscretions that people in our culture inevitably make.  Christ gave us a beautiful example of being forgiving yet also expecting improvement.  I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gay Culture

I have long felt that the gay/straight dichotomy that we use today is largely a product of our culture, and not something that is inherent to human beings.  We commonly use our culture as a lens in which we view the world.  That means that many of our views are very ethnocentric.  There's a strong cultural aspect to the Church, too.  I don't believe that culture is bad, but it's important to recognize it for what it is.

So when I came across this article, I was pleased (and somewhat surprised) to find that most scholars of gay history (most of whom are gay, themselves) agree with me.  Don't get turned off by the unfortunate title that claims that nobody is "born that way."  The article is referring to the lens in which we view sexuality, not that our predilections are somehow our choice.  In other words, when we say "I was born that way" or "God made me this way," it's not precisely true because we are actually defining our sexuality according to our culture, not biologically.  Defining our orientations is a decidedly modern aspect of our culture that, according to the article, may have come about when "doctors began to pathologize those who spoke of same-sex desires or experiences.  Those patients developed homosexual identities, which led others to distinguish themselves as heterosexual."

The whole commercialization of erotic desires in the past century or so has changed the way we see sexuality through our cultural lens.  The culture of the Church is trying to counter that view with an alternate culture that sees human sexuality in a different way.  Sometimes this leads to misunderstandings between people of differing cultures.  I think that is a large part of the dichotomy that we see when dealing with sexual orientation and the Church.  With patience and healthy communication, things will get better.

As an aside, I want to make something clear.  According to this view, orientation is not inherent biologically, and so is not like racial identification.  But discrimination is not merely a racial issue.  Religious discrimination is often not racial, either, but I still think it is wrong.  Support for gay rights does not need to depend on "born this way" arguments.  It's enough to assert that just because some people disagree with you, that is no reason to limit their protection under the law.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gender Dysphoria

One thing I have a hard time getting my mind around is transgender individuals, often referred to as those experiencing gender dysphoria.  I, personally, grew up gay.  As I look at my young childhood through that lens, I can see aspects that may have indicated my orientation.  Or it may just be confirmation bias.  Regardless, I never doubted that I was male, and never even once wanted to be female.

I have been taught all my life that gender stereotypes were largely cultural.  Dresses, high heels, and makeup were not first developed for women's use exclusively, but eventually became culturally identified with females.  I have read that biological males who are transgender feel a strong need to wear female trappings.  They have a desire to express the cultural markers of females.  To me this is strange, because those cultural markers have little to do with actually being female, only our current perception of feminine appearance.

And another thing I don't know is whether or not transgender individuals' orientations follow their biological gender, or their perceived gender.  Are there examples of both?  Is one predominant?  Is it largely cultural, like their desire to appear culturally as their perceived gender, or is it biological, more like my own experience?  I don't want to sound rude.  I'm truly curious.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I know I didn't choose my orientation.  But I always assumed it wasn't genetic.  I mean, how could this trait be genetic when it's primary effect would be to make it less likely to reproduce?  It should be selected against.  Then I saw an interesting statistic that second sons were more likely to be gay than first sons, third sons more likely than second, etc.  More importantly, this held regardless of whether older brothers were present, stillborn, adopted away, etc., and did not hold for adoptive brothers, only biological brothers.  This indicated to me that there was something in the gestational chemistry that seemed to affect orientation.

But now I've changed my mind.  Some great research has come to light indicating that a collection of genetic factors could have a strong influence on being attracted to males.  In guys, it makes them more likely to be gay.  But in girls, it increases the average number of children they have.  So because of the larger families, it is not something selected against.  In fact, it could be selected for.  Also, if you are a second or third son, you are more likely from a larger family, and so more likely to have the genetic predisposition.  It's all beginning to make sense now.  There is a very logical genetic factor in orientation.  I love having these cool realizations.

Please note that this does not mean there is a gay gene.  Rather, it means that there are genetic factors in the development of orientation.