Thursday, 22 January 2015

Debunking the Myth that Homosexuality is 'Unnatural'

One of the biggest causes of homophobia throughout the world is the belief that homosexuality is somehow 'unnatural’. It bewilders me that, in the modern day and age, what is supposedly natural or unnatural still concerns people. The people that tend to argue this are people who have not moved on, people who are still living 50 years ago, people for whom homosexuality is still alien, and people who still adhere to Thomas Aquinas’ ideas of the natural and the moral. These people are, in my opinion, wrong.

Firstly, let me begin by refuting the idea that the unnatural is necessarily wrong or immoral. Aquinas asserted in his book Summa Theologica that the natural order of things is good, and thus he defined the primary precepts, one of which is procreation. Thus, because procreation is natural, it is good. And so, homosexuality, as it does not lead to procreation, is unnatural, and so bad. Aquinas’ theology still dominates much of Catholic doctrine, which still holds the primary precepts as sacred. However, as G.E. Moore and Hume would later point out, you cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Just because the natural world is as it is, that does not mean it ought to be, and that does not mean that it is good. Aquinas only believed in these precepts because he believed in a god that created a perfect world – we are now far too advanced to see our world as perfect, are we not? What is natural is not, therefore, necessarily good. Humans are natural sinners, but that does not mean it is good to sin. Humans may be naturally heterosexual, but that does not make heterosexuality good and homosexuality bad.

Now that we know that what is unnatural is not necessarily bad, let’s go a step further and prove that homosexuality isn’t even unnatural. Aquinas’ primary precepts are based on his own religious doctrine and on the Aristotelian idea of eudaimonia: however, in our post-Enlightenment age it seems mad to continue blindly to follow Aquinas’ precepts. He argues that these precepts are the sole reason for existing, but most people would deny this – we might say that loving, or being happy, or making the world a better place, are our natural reasons for living. Thus, to go against these precepts, to have sex with another man not for the purpose of procreation, is not unnatural. If we say that homosexuality is unnatural, then so is having sex with contraception, and so is masturbation, since none of these are done in order to procreate. Aquinas is, as you can see from these examples, far too out dated still to be followed.

My second point is this: what on earth do we even mean when we say ‘natural’? In my opinion, the natural is what is part of nature. Now, because humans are part of nature, so are homosexuals, and thus homosexuality is natural. If we say that homosexuality is unnatural because it is not the norm, then ginger hair and green eyes are also unnatural. Nature is diverse, and indeed, as Gerard Manley Hopkins says in his poem Pied Beauty, nature is wonderful precisely because it is diverse and full of “dappled things”. Diversity is not unnatural, it is part of nature. In fact, I am of the opinion that every thing we create or do is natural: building skyscrapers, going to the moon, and indeed being homosexual. As Wordsworth says: “Nature doth embrace / Her lawful offspring in man’s art.” (Railways, Steamboats & Viaducts). Even if you are religious, surely you can see that homosexuals are naturally attracted to men, and that God (if you believe in him) made them thus, and so it is natural. We must either accept that all of our existence is unnatural (we are not meant to live in large houses and drive cars), or that all of it is natural: that we create the natural because we ourselves are natural.

Finally, it is worth noting that homosexuality is not only seen in the human race. Scientific studies have proven that a number of different animals have shown signs of homosexuality, thus proving that it is natural. What more could you want? There are more men in the world than women – does that make women unnatural? Just because a group is in a minority does not mean they are unnatural. Moreover, just because a group does not fulfil Thomas Aquinas’ 14th Century ideas of what is natural, does not make them unnatural! To rely on doctrine so old is mad. Our purpose is not to procreate – it is for ourselves to decide. If homosexuals are attracted to their own sex, that attraction is caused by nature and so is natural. Let them fulfil their attraction. Let them decide their own purpose, and if that purpose allows for homosexuality, then bloody well let them be homosexual.

2 comments:

  1. Hear! Hear! Tom. I totally agree that someone following their own instincts and doing no harm to others cannot be wrong. I'm not sure I agree, however, that you can build a morality on the principle of whatever people feel moved do to must be, by nature, "right". Should we not draw the line at where we begin to affect others negatively? If large houses and cars impinge on other lives, should we not question whether they are a good thing?

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  2. Hi Tim - yes I agree with you. Really, I was just trying to show how silly the idea that everything that is "natural" is right, because our natural instincts can of course be very morally questionable! I see where my article might be a bit wrong in that sense. The question of "affecting others negatively" is a good distinction!

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