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Homosexuality

Perhaps the most controversial word in the whole vocabulary of sexual multiple-relationships I homosexuality.  This  word even a few years ago used to arouse  more blind revolution and prejudiced  reactions among the vast  majority of American churchgoers than any other word.  As is usually the case,  these reactions originated from   total ignorance- ignorance  which causes a kind of fear capable of blinding one to reality and truth.  Therefore, a certain amount of educative  groundwork must be laid before a Christian  sex ethic can be applied to homosexuality.  It is a measure of the incredible rapidity of the change  in our attitudes that a noticeable dent has already been made at the highest levels  of the Church in its previously monolithic stance.
            It is not the  purpose of this chapter to treat the problems of homosexuality in detail.  This has been done well in Towards a Quaker View of Sex, and there  is no need to repeat what is written there.  Neither is it our purpose to delve into the realm of psychological  analysis or treatment of homosexuality.  There is a growing number of books on this subject. We will, however, attempt to deal with the implications of the existence of homosexual behavior, not only for the minority who are involved themselves, but for the majority of Christians who must find for themselves their relationship to known homosexuals and their reaction to society's treatment of homosexuals.
First, then, two sets of simple facts. It is now more or less generally accepted that the categories of homosexual and heterosexual are not sharp or mutually exclusive. Most people apparently lean both ways to some degree or other. The center of gravity is of course far over toward the heterosexual side, but Kinsey has estimated that over a third of the adult male population has had some homosexual experience. Although only a small percentage could be classified as predominantly homosexual in orientation at any time in their lives, there are appreciable numbers who can obtain sexual pleasure with members of their own sex as well as of the other. It is also universally acknowledged that the  exclusively homosexual orientation of sexual feelings  of the few is not voluntarily controllable. The homo fantasies  sexual expression may be controllable, indeed may be  eliminated, just as heterosexual expression can also be, eliminated (by celibate clergy, for example). But, in-adolescence thinking of homosexuals, just as in the case of single women, the Christian should surely be in the forefront of those seeking to remove want and eradicate inequities. Who are we, then, comfortable in our heterosexual affluence, to decree that the sexual Lazarus on our doorstep should volunteer to starve because he doesn't  like the food we eat?
The primary basis-with some biblical and Pauline roots-for the emotional antipathy to homosexuality   stems from a feeling that it is "unnatural" and therefore, presumably, against the natural law and God's ' order of creation. While on the one hand some would" claim that homosexual relationships are very much a part of the natural order of things, since many different; kinds of animals have been observed in homosexual
situations, others say that man is above the animals, and that God would not have created two different sexes if he had meant for man to be homosexual. Still others interpret the Scriptures to say that God created man and woman as complementary beings in his realm. There does seem to be evidence that animals (especially the primates) do not engage in homosexual relations except when they become domesticated: That is to say, in their natural state (non domesticated, un-caged, unrestricted) there does not seem to be much evidence that animals engage in homosexual relationships. However, certain of the primates frequently have homosexual encounters when confined in a zoo or circus. Clearly no great case on the "natural" question can be drawn from Nature.
An intermediate attitude is that homosexual leanings are natural enough, much as a disease or disability is natural. And if homosexuality is a disability, it should surely elicit our deepest concern, and require us to minister to its victims. Unfortunately, while Christian-silence concern occasionally has gotten past the revulsion stage, it has often tended to tackle homosexual expressions as symptoms-which could somehow (rather easily) be eradicated-rather than as a systemic predisposition analogous to a genetic deficiency. The tendency to homosexual expression in most cases is no more sinful then than the tendency to heterosexual expression. It is not a voluntary choice but part of the creation-diseased or imperfect if one must have it so superimposed without their wills on millions of human beings. It is also a fact that for most homosexuals up to now, neither science nor religion, neither years of psychiatry nor years of imprisonment, have been able to transform this "left-handedness"  If their natures.
We do not know with any degree of confidence where homosexual tendencies originate. Some case studies appear to show that the homosexually oriented person is a product of circumstance and environment, especially the home environment during childhood.  Many come from broken or disturbed homes (the cause of a great deal of adult abnormal behavior). In fact, recent studies point to the father as a major factor responsible for both-persons male and female homosexual orientation. Bad father-son relations as well as fear of and hostility toward the father by the daughter appear to be the most significant factors, rather than any strong attachment to the mother. In both cases the father is also seen to be weak and ineffective as a parent. In the case of female homosexual orientation another contributing factor seems to be parental disappointment that the child was not a male.
But the degree of "in voluntarism" does not end there. For while disturbed or unwholesome family situations very early in life may set the stage for adult homosexual orientation and perhaps homosexual behavior, it is the vicious circle of society's response that develops it further. Once one has been labeled by society as a "queer," regardless of whether or not overt homosexuality is present (indeed guilt by association is many times the only cause for accusation), one is driven out of "normal" society and in self-defense usually ends up in the company of the other outcasts. All our large cities have. their homosexual ghettos, since it is very difficult for homosexuals to exist in any other situation, especially in rural or small-town settings. In any case, it becomes nearly impossible for a resident in the ghetto to establish any kind of relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and this circumstance drives him deeper into a "monosexual" life. Polite society contributes further to his torment. Should he happen to be arrested on a morals charge, his name is forever on the police records. This restricts not only his limitions-freedom to live unmolested by the "saints" of society, but also his ability to obtain reasonable employment. He will not be allowed to hold a position in the government, even as a minor civil servant. Even if he is never convicted on a morals violation, he will always be a suspect and hence he will always be treated as a third-class citizen by the law enforcement agencies. If he should happen to be convicted and sentenced to a penal institution, he will be forced into close contact with many who are really morally ill. In a prison there is no other method of sexual expression;  hence, what may have been only a homosexual orientation, if indeed even that, is perforce made into the very overt homosexual behavior which the prison is trying to correct with its rehabilitation program. If he manages to remain off the blotters of the precincts, he is still a prime target for blackmail. Thus, poor product of a poor environment, thrust into a society where he cannot satisfy his hunger for sex and relationships, he cannot even hope to live an otherwise normal social 1 and economic life. It is usually men who are victims of this vicissitude of society. Women are not often treated in this way unless they make their unusual orientation conspicuous. Two older men can rarely share an apartment without arousing suspicion. However, it is very common for two women to share an apartment without suffering the use of destructive labels. In fact, many states do not really consider Lesbianism a form of homosexuality: that is, Lesbianism is not a crime, and homosexuality is used to refer only to sexual acts between males.
So much for the sociological-psychological analysis of the situation. There is also a purely personal one. How do you respond to the tortured individual who has tried everything from years of psychiatry to years t in a monastery, from years of prayer to years of fervent work, and cannot shake off his predilection for homo-sex? If such a friend is finally driven to suicide, does it raise no questions on society's treatment of homosexuals? Surely we cannot close our eyes to the widespread prevalence of homosexual expression among the leaders of many of Europe's intellectual and political circles. * Are these all "perverts"? Are they dangerous? Immoral? How does the Christian respond to the real, existing situation in our society?

* One of the comforting fictions that we live by is the one that states that" All civilizations where homosexuality was condoned quickly disintegrated." Few persons want to acknowledge that both Roman and Greek civilizations, in their heyday, not only permitted, but often sang the virtues of homosexuality,

First, on the question of appropriateness as it applies to homosexual relations (and we deal here only with sexual relations between consenting adults), our earlier scheme is general enough to be applied here. Homosexual tendencies, while no sin and no occasion for condemnation, are a handicap at best, or a "disease" in life in our present society. Relationships are just as precious for homosexuals as for heterosexuals; and sexual expression outside deep relationships is no more appropriate for homosexuals than for heterosexuals. It is this criterion, then, that would lead us to judge much furtive or exploitive homosexual expression as wrong. But here we would tend to lean over backward in two directions. First, a Christian-evaluating should be conscious of the extreme difficulty of attaining a saturation relationship between two persons of the same sex in our society. Hence we might expect-tragically enough, since it probably cuts off further deepening of the relationship-homosexual expression to run somewhat ahead of the depth of the relationship when compared to its heterosexual analogue. But more constructively, Christians should start to look for possible patterns in contemporary society for the restoration of dignity to persons who, through no choice of their own, lean toward mates of their own sex.
Interestingly enough, the only viable solutions seem to be the setting up of small communities of homosexuals where persons may feel accepted as they are. The first hopeful glimmerings come from tentative reports out of some such experiments in England and Holland, which indicate that in such settings, at least some homosexuals can become bisexuals and possibly eventually predominantly heterosexual. This change, while in no way moral improvement, does certainly help people free themselves of a serious handicap in life in today's society. It may not always be thus. In the more general case, the Christian and the churches should be working urgently to remove the idiocies of society's imposed hardships by changing primitive laws, and by eliminating most of the handicaps placed on homosexuals in society.  There is no evidence that so doing will homosexuality; there is plenty of evidence that suchactions would minister to widespread human need, rectify great injustices, eliminate some of our society's worst problems. In this connection, we have actually found that for some borderline homosexuals dual or bisexual relationships have worked out. With all the dreadful hardships involved in cases known to us, acceptance of co-marital homosexual relations appear to have saved marriages (which would certainly. have been destroyed had the homosexual aspect been rejected) and restored mental health.
Our criticisms or condemnation of various outlandish homosexual acts are paralleled by reactions to similar heterosexual acts. Forced attentions, especially on the young, are among the worst offenses against the other. The association of homosexual solosex and violence is as bad as its heterosexual counterpart.
On the question of possible prevention of homosexuality, Evelyn Hooker's summary in the National Council of Churches conference is very useful. Preventive efforts should focus on:

1. Creating a climate of opinion in which homosexuality can be openly discussed-by parents, educators, counselors, and persons having the problem. This is difficult. It has become increasingly clear [through the writer's unpublished research] that, for many individuals, the possibility of becoming heterosexual remains open as late as adolescence and early adulthood. Because adults usually react negatively when homosexuality is mentioned, the adolescent boy with this problem tries to hide it from parents and other adults-so that the possibility of help is eliminated. Homosexual experience in adolescence appears so frequently that concern about the problem at that age should be met with the most competent, understanding assistance.

2)  Providing for healthy sex education, both of parents and of children and youth.  Too often the adult homosexual reports a lack of adequate sex information, in order to understand his own experiences, together with punitive soceity-attitudes toward all sexuality on the part of the adults in his environment.

3)  Increasing efforts to provide family counseling and child guidance services, which will not only promote psychologically healthy family life but will also, provide assistance to children with early symptoms of developmental difficulties.

            As to treatment of the problem, three possibilities loom on the horizon; first, a much more accurate and widespread understanding of homosexuality  as a 'disease"  or handicap, and the removal of society's  repressive  measure; second, loving and accepting the homosexuals who become known to us as persons, helping them to acknowledge and accept themselves as they really are and thereby working toward the best solution in the particular  case; third, setting up possible   social  patterns to enable good, long-lived relations to developed and be lived  out among homosexually oriented person.  Finally, we must not eliminate the possibility of chemical control of homosexual tendencies; the advocacy of research on this subject should be led by the Church.