The gay community has produced several arguments designed to combat the slew of attacks against their lifestyle. Among these arguments are the assertions that one’s sexual orientation is not a matter of personal choice and that homosexuality cannot be altered or “cured.”

At first, it may appear that these assertions of the gay community are sound. It may seem reasonable to believe that homosexuality is not a choice. Since heterosexuals do not consciously decide their sexual preference, why should we believe that homosexuals do? And it may also seem, at first glance, that sexual orientation is ingrained within a person such that it cannot be altered. In other words, sexual orientation seems to be simply part of who a person is – unchangable and unchosen.

But, while these oft-expressed assertions of the gay community are widely considered reasonable, when taken together, they reveal themselves to be mutually incompatible from a logical standpoint. I contend that if homosexuality is not a conscious product of choice, then sexual orientation is alterable – likewise, if homosexuality is inalterable then it must be a product of choice.

First, if homosexuality is not a product of choice, then it is subject to change. If homosexuality is not caused by conscious choice, then its cause must lie in something else. The problem is that all of the other possible causes of homosexuality are potentially subject to change. These possible causes may include genetics or psychology, for example. When one believes that sexual preference is not a matter of choice, then the claim that homosexuality cannot be altered becomes problematic.

This spells trouble for the gay community. If the cause of homosexuality is genetic, then, in theory, it could be cured with future advances in gene therapy. Genes are ultimately not impossible to alter, and thus, neither are the traits that they cause. On the other hand, if the cause is instead due to psychological issues brought on as a result of life experience, then that too could be altered – with psychotherapy. Indeed, psychology is founded, in part, on the premise that with therapy one can improve a psychological state brought on by issues from life experiences. While it is granted that homosexuality is no longer officially considered a mental disorder, the fact remains that if its cause was psychological, then therapy could alter it just as easily as it can alter other mental phenomena.

So, if homosexuality is not a choice, it can be altered. Furthermore, the converse is also true. If you accept the premise that one’s sexual orientation cannot be changed, then its cause cannot stem from any of the sources described above, and is thereby limited to the realm of conscious choice – a conclusion that is equally unacceptable to the gay community as that which holds homosexuality to be curable.

So, given all of this, a critic of homosexuality is in a good position to argue when faced with a homosexual who claims that sexual preference is neither curable, nor a conscious choice. If a homosexual were to say “it’s simply part of who I am,” then the critic could retort by saying, “And what makes a person who he or she is? It is either nature or nurture – genes or upbringing. And whether you are homosexual by virtue of genes or of psychological upbringing, this facet of ‘who you are’ could be someday altered nonetheless.”

Now, it seems that some who agree that homosexuality may somehow be reversible, would still argue that supposing the existence of a treatment, the gay community would not and should not want to be “cured.” It is apparently still a matter of debate whether preferences toward alternate lifestyles warrant treatment at all.

But regardless, the very concept of a potential treatment itself raises a weighty issue for the gay community. Specifically, if homosexuality is alterable – which it must be if it is not a matter of choice – then a refusal of future treatments for homosexuality would in itself amount to a conscious choice of sexual orientation. By choosing not to change their homosexuality, they would be effectively choosing to be homosexual.

This would bring choice back into the matter for sure, which would be anathema to the gay community.

Therefore, the onus is now on the gay community to reconcile this problem with their assertions. By not adequately addressing this matter, the gay community is giving ammunition to those who attack their lifestyle.

Mack can be reached at jmack@campustimes.org.



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