INTRODUCTION

Homosexuality is a very controversial issue worldwide. In several countries, adults involved in a homosexual relationship are subject to prosecution and imprisonment. Although experts agree that homosexuality has existed as long as human beings themselves, many societies, especially Christians, discriminate and consider homosexuals to be sinners who rebelled against nature.

In 1864, the German social scientist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was the first to declare that homosexuals were a distinct class of individuals, a “third sex”. He was also believed to be the first self-proclaimed homosexual. Although the word homosexual was not used for the first time until later in the 19th century, Ulrichs recognized that homosexuals were “innately different from heterosexuals,” and unlike what some medical practitioners claimed, their desire for same-sex intimacy is actually intrinsic and natural, something shaped in their earliest infancy.

Early research of the phenomenon of homosexuality was adopted by the developing field of psychoanalysis, which classified all sexual deviations from societal norms as illnesses treatable by psychoanalysis. The cause in males was often identified as an Oedipus complex, and in women, the problem was thought to be penis envy. Treatment modalities were thus aimed at helping the client to remember the incidents that caused the Oedipus complex or penis envy and to reverse them if possible.

In modern times, homosexuals have become a staple in any culture and is considered to make up a vast minority in the world. Majority of societies still adhere to the belief that homosexuals are forms of sin, and because of this, there has been slow progress in universal acceptance. Significantly, in recent years, more and more homosexuals have voiced out their interest in legislation and participated in advocacy. Starting in the 1990s, homosexuals began fighting for civil legal rights equal to heterosexuals, and eventually pushed for same-sex marriages to be legal. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to open civil marriage to same-sex couples. Belgium became the second in 2003. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States where same-sex marriage per se is legal. Four years later on May 2008, California became the second state to legalize same-sex marriage. While various countries have amended their constitutions to ban same-sex marriages and retained marriage as an exclusive right and privilege to heterosexuals, countries like Hawaii have domestic-partnership laws that provide certain legal rights that provide protection to homosexual partners.

This paper wishes to ground its content on various opinions gathered through various sources and will present arguments based on three issues: the first issue is focused on whether homosexuality is considered a mental disorder or illness and if it should be treated; the second issue will discuss about how the church perceives homosexuality through the bible verses which have been blatantly used to condemn the homosexuals; and finally, the last issue will be about sexual orientation and the morality of homosexuality. Following the issues and their arguments will be the author’s stand on the issues at hand. This will serve as the conclusion and final part of the paper.

TO CONDEMN OR NOT

Homosexuality has always been controversial. It has existed for as long as human beings walked the earth, but was only dealt with seriously in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was rampant. Ever since, homosexuals have been under much scrutiny by the society as well as the church.

In the realm of science, there have been arguments on whether homosexuals should be undergoing treatment through conversion therapy. Warren Throckmorton in his article, “Effort to modify Sexual Orientation: a Review of Outcome Literature and Ethical Issues,” claims that conversion therapy is effective and should be readily available for interested homosexuals. He emphasizes the need for therapy since sexual orientation is not a well-defined concept and that the most obvious problem is the subjective nature of self-assessment. He goes on to support what Gonsiorek et al. (1995) said, “Given such significant measurement problems, one could conclude there is serious doubt whether sexual orientation is a valid concept at all.” He believes that homosexuality is a point in a continuum and that the goal of the therapy is to assist that individual reach a point of orientation of exclusively homosexual to an orientation of exclusively heterosexual (Slife, 2006).

Barry A. Schreier on the other hand refutes Throckmorton by saying that homosexuality is not an illness to be treated and that individuals who wish to modify their patterns of sexual arousal may have been pressured to do so out of society’s prejudices. He argues that psychoanalysts have a faulty assumption when they say that people with same sex orientations need help because they fail to establish intimate relationships. In his argument, he claims that using intimate relationships as markers for the need of reorientation of homosexuals are no more true than they are for heterosexuals. Illustrating this is the fact that heterosexuals are responsible for 100% of all divorces. And so when people with same sex orientations have problems, it is not due to their sexual orientation. He adds that the practitioners who continue their work and treatment can cause harm (Slife, 2006).

In terms of morality, there have been claims that the phenomenon is cause for sin and is unnatural, since it goes against the nature of the traditional male and female gender. But equally convincing is the argument that homosexual beings are still human beings and therefore should be treated with equal dignity and respect. Though it is still unresolved whether it is a psychological imbalance traced back to infancy or early childhood or simply a lifestyle developed by normal individuals, majority of the population remain scrupulous in condemning homosexual relationships, especially when it involves sex, since sex in itself is supposed to be exclusive to males and females alone. Traditional Christians even claim that the Bible, of course, condemns homosexuality. Some have even sited several verses in the bible that directly claim this to be true. Some verses include:

Leviticus 18:6 reads: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.”

Leviticus 20:13: “A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed.”

Romans 1:26-27: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

In the midst of all the discrimination and the stereotyping of the homosexuals who may or may not be involved in sexual activity, it has become a common mistake for society to miss out on the bigger issue at hand. What most perceive as the problem, which is homosexuality, is actually the product of a deeper issue that is rarely discussed: sexual orientation. It has been mentioned in the earlier issues that sexual orientation is a subjective concept, which has not been clearly established, that it remains a notorious subject between debaters arguing on gender and sexuality. One reason why homosexuals are judged in bias is because majority of the population are not fully aware that sexual orientation is not a choice.

It should be noted that while specific sexual actions arise from the most part from conscious choices or decisions, this is not true of one’s sexual orientation. People do not choose their sexual orientation. Nobody simply makes up his or her mind to become a homosexual or heterosexual..at some point in their development homosexuals “discover” that they are sexually drawn to members of the same sex, just as heterosexuals “discover” that they are physically attracted to members of the opposite sex. The fact that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, discover their sexual orientation, as opposed to consciously choosing it, has long been acknowledged by the U.S. Catholic bishops (Genovesi, 2003).

CONCLUSION

I agree with Matt Slick when he said, “The Bible is completely silent on the issue of homosexual orientation. And no wonder. Homosexual orientation wasn’t even known until the 19th century. The discovery that some of us are created and/or shaped in our earliest infancy toward same-gender attraction was made in the last 150 years… The Biblical authors knew nothing of homosexual orientation as we understand it, and therefore said nothing to condemn or approve it. The authors of the Bible are authorities in matters of faith. They can be trusted when they talk about God. But they should not be considered the final authorities on sexual orientation any more than they are the final authorities on space travel, gravity, or the Internet.”

Bible verses are there as our guide, but more often than not, people misinterpret the bible and use it to their advantage. There are some practices in the bible that are not applicable to our times and there are some that will forever be a part of Christianity like that of the two important commandments, “you shall love God above all else” and “you shall love thy neighbor as you love yourself.” With this in mind, I firmly believe it was not God’s intention to condemn homosexuals since doing so would only imply that God plays favorites among his children. It all boils down to interpretation and the ability to be open to the different people that abound the earth.

Human beings are a complex kind of species and are multidimensional in nature. I learned that apart from physiological and social needs, as individuals, we also have our own personal psychological needs. This is evident in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where self-esteem and self-actualization are considered the highest of all. Sexual orientation, I believe, is a subjective psychological variation that differs from person to person and Homosexuality as one form of sexual orientation stems from this type of need. I say need because it plays a crucial role in our identity as individuals.

During the last three decades, research has shown that homosexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation. And more importantly, sexual orientation is a product of a long process determined by a combination of factors. It is therefore dangerous and inappropriate to tell a homosexual to change his or her sexual orientation.

As humans, we follow the natural law. If it is deemed unnatural for homosexuals to exist, then the least we can do is to follow the natural law by respecting the homosexual’s dignity as a human person. There is no reason why they should be deprived of their individual rights just because their preference is something out of the norm. What is more problematic is that when we hear the word homosexual, we automatically think of same sex intercourse or sexual activity between closet lovers. But this should be corrected. There are homosexuals who, like any of us, only seek to be identified, to be human; and to be human is to seek intimacy and companionship in another, whether or not it is of the same sex or the opposite.

As early as 1973, the U.S. Catholic bishops already began to accept the reality that being a homosexual is discovered and not chosen. They add that because of this, not one of them is at fault for their sexual orientation. Finally in 1990, they affirmed this truth by writing, “because [it is] not freely chosen, is not sinful”. Their last statement thus serves as a confirmation that homosexuality, bisexuality or even heterosexuality is not a matter for moral analysis or evaluation due to the fact that a person’s sexual orientation is not freely chosen.

simpleng hiling–impromptu

December 14, 2009

Too often, we sing songs out of mechanical habit. More often than not, we sing because the melody’s catchy or the artist is a worldwide phenomenon, but by impulse, we sing because we’re infected by the emotion of the song. Nowadays, we sing alongside Ryan Cayabyab Jose Mari Chan, as well as local artists that sing for politicians like Regine Velasquez and Chito Miranda. Abs-cbn’s “Star ng Pasko” is even a crowd favorite. Obviously, music takes up a huge chunk in the Filipinos’ identity, and why shouldn’t it be? It adds to the merriment of the festive lights of the season, and it can boost our already happy nature as we busy ourselves with preparations for the upcoming banquet this twenty-fifth of December.

Yet, in the midst of all the shiny gifts, the elegant decorations, the caroling in the streets and the noise from the firecrackers, have we ever stopped to actually prepare ourselves? Did we take time to actually listen not only to the common message of the songs outpouring in the radio, but to really hear out and take to heart the need to share our blessings, especially in this time of waiting?

In the aftermath of Ondoy and the recent Maguindanao massacre, the spirit of Christmas is lost, floating and sinking alternately in the wave of political campaigns and terrorism. It doesn’t help either that most companies still take advantage and repackage the significance of one special infant’s birth in an effort to sell their products. Yes, it is wonderful news that we as a people have decided to share our sufferings together and that the majority extended their help for the rehabilitation of the victims. There are also organizations going out of their way to reach out to those who have less in life, and although more and more individuals took notice and contributed their share, there are still even more people who need your love. There are still millions of children dying everyday because of hunger or from abuse of their fragile bodies.

While we wait out for the coming of our Savior, let us take our excesses in our hands and give them to those who need it the most. Love your fellow brothers, even if they cannot love you in return. And while we’re at it, let us remember that we don’t have to tell the whole world about it, for the true sense of giving is the act of sharing ourselves without expecting, not even a dose of recognition for our efforts, anything in return.

About three Christmases ago, I heard this song for the first time, and while listening to it, my eyes heated up. I repeated the song over and over and it’s been in my system since then. It’s entitled “My grown up Christmas list”, which was originally by David Foster and Linda Thompson-Jenner, but whose lyrics were edited by Amy Grant years later. You should listen to it. You don’t have to be eighteen to listen to it because what’s important is that you assimilate the song’s love and selflessness. Like I said, music is a huge part of who we are, and although our preferences vary, it would be good for humanity for us to listen to songs that pluck at our souls more frequently than usual, because sometimes, we all get too caught up with our selfish rants that we forget to listen to our graces. I’m not a child, but my heart still can dream. Share the love, and love would never end.

For all my years of living, I have come across countless books that made me aware of the fact that people are generally unhappy for various reasons. But why could this happen when our planet and our capable brains have already given us all the conveniences needed for survival? Let’s define the term first before we go any deeper. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, believes that happiness is the proper end of man. He said that we should aim for it as it is a natural part of our existence. Yet, Webster simply describes it as a state of well-being and contentment. From these two, one can conclude that happiness is meant for hardworking humans. But it is more than that, for there have been instances when I was thankful and satiated for unexplained reasons. I also believe that like love, happiness is something that we cannot have without consequence; it is elusive and uncommon, and above all, overwhelming beyond words. So why do people not succeed in being happy?

First, we are blind. We look for the wrong things and end up with nothing when it was already right there with us. What exactly blinds us? The beliefs and notions that we hold make us conclude that life is no more than material gain and making a name that will last through the centuries. It also causes us to assume, which for most simply means to expect. People assume too much and by the end, they’re the ones who get disappointed. This happens a lot, especially to me. I remember back a few years ago that I used to be an over-achiever. I was this kid who wanted to make her parents and family proud through recognition, there was nothing wrong with that, right? As the years mounted, I slowly turned sluggish and didn’t care as much for grades. This frustrated me. I used to look back and I would curse myself for not being enough. I assumed too that the people close to me thought of me that way. So I assured myself and my imaginary frustrated family, thinking that this was just a small break and I would eventually rise back up. But I never did. I found out later on that it was actually me who had set standards too high for me to grasp to compensate for the lost years when I wasn’t ‘enough’ in their eyes. All the while, my family kept telling me that it wasn’t the recognition or the achievements that were important but the lessons and the wisdom that we learn and practice along the way. So that explains why I was so angst-ridden in my early teenage years: I screened my vision of the person that I was and impaired my esteem all because I assumed wrongly that I would be happy and my parents would be happy IF I remained on top. I ended up expecting too much and became depressed.

Secondly, I think it also has to do with our connection with God. It is a common idea that we descended from God, the almighty father. So as children, we would naturally want to be gods ourselves. We wish to be infallible and immortal like him. This is manifested by the decaying bodies that we still keep and refuse to let go and all the efforts we do to attain flawless ivory skin. But humans attaining the same level as the father will never happen. We can only be gods by the perfect love that God shares with us and when we share that same love with others as well. From this theory comes another possibility: what if we were never meant to be happy in this life because we are incapable of being contented? We are after all, selfish beings by nature whose thirst for gratification is as deep as the ocean. To illustrate this argument, take a look at the dreams of the youth. Are they not huge ambitions which are too much for the size of the average adolescent? I won’t deny it: I do want more than my fair share; I too dream of stars that are far beyond my reach because I want to make my family stable.

The last theory that I have is my favorite. I have thought about this long and hard, and I play it over and over in my head to analyze it even more thoroughly. Maybe because of our busy but monotonous routines, we forget to be happy. Maybe once upon a time, all of earth enjoyed a state of profound happiness but then it eventually faded as soon as man invented work, standards and logic. Have you observed babies when they play and then compare their actions to people our age or much older people? Do you notice the light in their eyes, the curiosity shining through? As babies, man, I believe, is absorbed with excitement, wonder and smiles, requiring only the basic amenities (milk, food, water, love, rest and play) in order to survive. But as we age, we become more complicated and the sense of wonder and contentment dissipates in the background.

When I think of it, these three are interrelated somehow. And I believe that they hold some answers no matter if they are proven to be true or not. I really think humans forget to be happy because they have such high expectations due to their ambitions and their dreams of surpassing heaven. We blind ourselves with temporary elements to pass the time and to create a reason to forget. We forget how to be grateful and how to take happiness out of ourselves and spread it all around us. The issue isn’t so much as not succeeding to be happy but rather, to remember how to be complacent and grateful by living purely everyday.