The Case for Heterosexuality
I’ve had a number of on-line debates on the issue of homosexuality. Mostly, these amount to unpacking the defenses of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, or just dealing with the ad hominem attacks against us “bigots” who are “obsessed” with this issue. However, I was recently challenged to make my own general argument against homosexuality, which I’d like to do now. I don’t presume that I will change any minds, especially given how personally invested some are in this issue in a way that transcends reason, but I’d at least like to demonstrate the reasonability of believing heterosexuality to be the norm and design for human beings.
The argument is pretty simple and straightforward, and almost so obvious it hardly needs to be spelled out. It’s why society has accepted it these long centuries, children intuitively understand it, and it takes a good dose of liberal reeducation to eclipse it. I believe it to be the foundational point of departure in the justification of homosexuality as a normal, moral, socially acceptable lifestyle.
Observe the healthy male and female bodies. Observe the intrinsic differences in the general form — size, proportions, musculature, etc. Observe the specific differences in the genitalia and reproductive organs. There are three important points that proceed from these observations.
First, physically speaking, there are two sexes. It is a binary thing. I know it has become fashionable to question this self-evident fact by appealing to psychological factors or congenital anomalies. However, one’s feelings about physical reality do not alter the truth of that reality, and what is normal is not defined by what is broken. It is simply data that nature has conspired to impart but two sexes to the human race.
Second, men and women are different. They are not interchangeable sexes. Two men, even on their best day, do not equal one woman. Each sex has distinct, functionally meaningful parts that can only be superficially counterfeited with medical intervention. Even so, the genetics remain and new reproductive capacity is not gained.
Third, these differences are complementary in nature. Men and women are custom designed for each other. Whatever other ad hoc and creative uses one may find for their sexual organs, their primary purposes involve the pairing of the two. Not only are the male/female genitalia uniquely suited to each other, but the union can produce the thing which insures the very existence of humanity: offspring. Even those who reject the opposite sex must avail themselves of them if they wish to have children of their own.
This complementarity and its necessity for reproduction are surely cues as to what nature expects for human relationships and the setting in which their offspring are to be raised. If reproduction and child-rearing cannot be considered key factors in defining conjugal and domestic praxis, then it’s not clear to what objective guide we should appeal.
Given all these things, it seem reasonable to affirm as normative that men and women should pair in complementary relationships. It also seems reasonable to find curious those who do not. Those who have not yet, cannot, or choose not to avail themselves of nature’s design are one thing, but those who entirely reject that design for another of their own making are on shaky ground in demanding the rest of society’s affirmation.
Taking the argument further depends largely upon one’s metaphysical presuppositions. Since there are a variety of perspectives on the nature of man, morality, and the origin of sexual design, one must ultimately argue these things on an individual basis. However, there are two major tracks to follow in this debate. One is theistic and the other atheistic.
Arguing further with the atheist
If one is an atheist, then the “design” of the sexes is simply a byproduct of natural processes. Some form of naturalistic evolution is the only option currently on the table for the atheist. Given that evolution is our presumed maker, and all that it can be said to “care” about is reproduction and survival, then it stands to reason that mating with the opposite sex and the care of the resulting offspring should be considered the normal expression of what nature intended. Those who reject this are living according to some program with which they have not been equipped by nature.
Atheists have one advantage in this debate, however. Given that there is no Law-giver, or transcendent Designer, they are not subject to any principles or moral constraints that may be suggested by our natures. Indeed, they are hard-pressed to make any meaningful sense of morality at all. For this reason, even if it could be demonstrated that heterosexuality is the normal state of humans, and that homosexuality is a pathology, then they can still say, “Who cares? Let people do whatever the heck they want to do.”
On the other hand, though, they cannot claim any moral status for those who reject nature’s designs or for those who criticize persons who do. If following one’s own preferences is permitted to trump natural teleology, then it justifies the homosexual and the “homophobe” alike. Once you cut yourself loose from the moral dock the entire ocean awaits. You must navigate by charting your own arbitrary course, and the course of those seeking to comply with the reefs and currents of nature seems at least as reasonable as those plotting the course of sheer desire.
Arguing further with the theist
With the theist there is more to work with, and yet it also becomes more complicated. This is because there are so many forms of theism. Note that when I use the term “theism” here I’m using it more broadly than normal to include all those who believe that there is something more to us than our physical nature. Whatever form of god or transcendent power that might be, it would entail the idea that there is meaning and purpose to nature and its designs. This introduces an objective moral element — a justification for acting according to that design and not just doing our own thing.
Those not satisfied to live according to this sexual construct should be asked who has made the mistake: God, who designed them for the opposite sex but now requires them to make due with ad hoc sexual and reproductive practices, or themselves, who have somehow acquired a desire to operate against their nature and think it healthy and normal to do so? Given that a common theme found within all religions is the idea that we often have wrongful desires, it seems safe to consider that it is perhaps oneself that is in error.
Whether by blind nature or by god’s purposes our sexual design is still the same. Is it really so unreasonable to believe that we should live in harmony with the way that we are physically made? LGBT advocates would like us to believe that it is just as virtuous and reasonable to reject that design as to live according to it.
If someone wants to pound nails with wrenches and drive screws with butter knives, and then to prevail upon his neighbor and his tools when he needs serious work done, then shall we call him a carpenter on par with his neighbor? Some seem to be answering “yes”; and they are not just asking that we should allow their personal eccentricities, they are insisting that they are legitimate and equivalent behaviors which should be celebrated as such. They suggest that it is just as good to drive nails with wrenches as with hammers, that the rest of us should believe it as well, that we should insure that our children do not question it, and that anyone who thinks that hammers are made for nails is a wrenchophobe.
Really, who is imposing their values upon society? Who is being unreasonable here?