Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Homosexuality and Hope"

“What makes someone gay or straight? Personal choice? Genes? Upbringing?”, an anonymous blogger asked. Below are excerpts from “Homosexuality and Hope” (2000), a statement of the Catholic Medical Association. While the Magisterium of the Church teaches that the “psychological genesis (of homosexuality) remains largely unexplained” (CCC, #2357), the evidence as shown below reveals strong support for the theory "that same-sex attraction is a product of the interplay of a variety of environmental factors". To view the statement in full, please click on the title of this page.

“…A number of researchers have sought to find a biological cause for same-sexual attraction. The media have promoted the idea that a "gay gene" has already been discovered (Burr 1996[3]), but in spite of several attempts, none of the much publicized studies (Hamer 1993[4]; LeVay 1991[5]) has been scientifically replicated. (Gadd 1998) A number of authors have carefully reviewed these studies and found that not only do the studies not prove a genetic basis for same-sex attraction; the reports do not even contain such claims. (Byne 1963[6]; Crewdson 1995[7]; Goldberg1992; Horgan 1995[8]; McGuire 1995[9]; Porter 1996; Rice 1999[10])

If same-sex attraction were genetically determined, then one would expect identical twins to be identical in their sexual attractions. There are, however, numerous reports of identical twins who are not identical in their sexual attractions. (Bailey 1991[11]; Eckert 1986; Friedman 1976; Green 1974; Heston 1968; McConaghy 1980; Rainer 1960; Zuger 1976) Case histories frequently reveal environmental factors which account for the development of different sexual attraction patterns in genetically identical children, supporting the theory that same-sex attraction is a product of the interplay of a variety of environmental factors. (Parker 1964[12])

There are, however, ongoing attempts to convince the public that same-sex attraction is genetically based. (Marmor 1975[13]) Such attempts may be politically motivated because people are more likely to respond positively to demands for changes in laws and religious teaching when they believe sexual attraction to be genetically determined and unchangeable. (Ernulf 1989[14]; Piskur 1992[15]) Others have sought to prove a genetic basis for same-sex attraction so that they could appeal to the courts for rights based on the "immutability". (Green 1988[16])

Catholics believe that sexuality was designed by God as a sign of the love of Christ, the bridegroom, for his Bride, the Church, and therefore sexual activity is appropriate only in marriage. Catholic teaching holds that: “Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion.E(CCC, n.2360) Healthy psycho-sexual development leads naturally to attraction in persons of each sex for the other sex. Trauma, erroneous education, and sin can cause a deviation from this pattern...

…Individuals experience same-sex attractions for different reasons. While there are similarities in the patterns of development, each individual has a unique, personal history. In the histories of persons who experience same-sex attraction, one frequently finds one or more of the following:
· Alienation from the father in early childhood because the father was perceived as hostile or distant, violent or alcoholic (Apperson 1968[17]; Bene 1965[18]; Bieber 1962[19]; Fisher 1996[20]; Pillard 1988[21]; Sipova 1983[22])

· Mother was overprotective (boys) (Bieber, T. 1971[23]; Bieber 1962[24]; Snortum 1969[25])
· Mother was needy and demanding (boys) (Fitzgibbons 1999[26])

· Mother emotionally unavailable (girls) (Bradley 1997[27]; Eisenbud 1982[28])

· Parents failed to encourage same-sex identification (Zucker 1995[29])

· Lack of rough and tumble play (boys) (Friedman 1980[30]; Hadden 1967a [31])

· Failure to identify with same/sex peers (Hockenberry 1987[32]; Whitman 1977[33])

· Dislike of team sports (boys) (Thompson 1973[34])

· Lack of hand/eye coordination and resultant teasing by peers (boys) (Bailey 1993[35]; Fitzgibbons 1999[36]; Newman 1976[37])

· Sexual abuse or rape (Beitchman 1991[38]; Bradley 1997[39]; Engel 1981[40]; Finkelhor 1984; Gundlach 1967[41])

· Social phobia or extreme shyness (Golwyn 1993[42])

· Parental loss through death or divorce (Zucker 1995)

· Separation from parent during critical developmental stages (Zucker 1995)


At 1:16 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

I can think of a few children who everyone knew were "gay" from a very young age- like 4 or 5. With one family I know, the mother and father really tried, with the help of counselors, guidance of their pastor and advice from teachers and pediatrician to have this child identify with her gender appropriately. It never happened, and she's now one of the "don't ask, don't tell" crew serving our country.

In addition, I have a friend who is gay with whom I've discussed his choices at length. He came from a large Catholic family with two parents who were very loving. He says he would never choose to be gay. In fact, he stopped engaging in any activity long ago b/c it conflicted with his desire to practice his faith. He's celibate, but he's still gay and says he wouldn't wish his scenario on anyone. He would tell you, as he's told me, that action is about choice but honest identification is not.

Having said that, I also think our culture encourages "choice" in our youth. Experimenting is becoming acceptable, and I find that a likely and troublesome extension of how carefree our youth is about sex in general. My eldest son has told me that he sees teens experimenting or being "a little gay sometimes" often as a way they (he says usually girls-??) broaden their circle of friends and gain attention. So- yeah- it may be about choice, but I just don't think it always is.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the church's opinion was that the church didn't know why people were gay and that being gay was not the problem, that the actions of homosexuality were. Can I ask why you didn't bring up church teaching and church documents?


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