A Plain Deflection

"Born this way" arguments push against free will and order

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Virtue

In his bid to become the first openly gay President of the United States, Pete Buttigieg recently went on the offensive against those people, especially Christians, who would object to his lifestyle. Rather than defending, he deflected, saying that their quarrel was not with him but “with my Creator.” Perhaps delivered with more rhetorical flourish than many might give, “Mayor Pete” is offering the standard “made this way” deflection of the homosexual lifestyle. 

All too often Christians are quick to retort that the “made this way” deflection has no basis in science. Scientists have yet to find any genetic markers that will predict a homosexual orientation. This, coupled with the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, makes it very difficult to prove that there is anything like a “gay gene.” The problem with this line of argumentation, however, is that you can’t prove a negative. The defenders of homosexuality might be arguing too much, but they can’t really be proven wrong either.

The deflectors also argue too much in that they are implying that they didn’t choose to be gay. But this argument ceases to be about homosexuality and instead argues against free will. It implies that they are simply reacting to some internal drive and cannot choose otherwise. In an age where “consent” is everything, this is a contradiction and absurdity. This denial of human agency also means they cannot take exception to those who oppose them, because they too are simply acting upon some deep-seated inclination to be “homophobic.”

Unless they’re willing to say that free will does not exist, then they must be willing to admit that to be human means to have all kinds of interior impulses. Some of those impulses should be followed and others should not. The impulse towards empathy for someone suffering can be followed; the impulse to strangle someone who is annoying should not. Even natural impulses like eating cannot be followed indiscriminately.

Eating offers us an illustrative example. Our interior drive of hunger serves a purpose; when this purpose is fulfilled with adequate nutrition for our bodies, then we call it ordered. To eat but to deprive oneself of nutrition, either by eating what is naturally inedible or by interrupting digestion, we label as an eating disorder.

This teetering between order and disorder happens with all of our natural drives, including the strongest one, our sexual drive. There are ordered ways and disordered ways in which we use that drive. Obvious examples still widely viewed as disordered are pedophilia and rape. The reason we are belaboring this point is even Mayor Pete can’t deflect forever and must admit that there are sexual disorders. And if there are disordered uses of sexual desire then he must escape his circular reasoning and address whether homosexuality is one of them. 

Ordered use of sexual desire has two purposes, one biological and one personal — one procreative and one unitive. We might say that because these two purposes are inseparable, they actually constitute a single purpose. While a man and woman are complete individuals when it comes to something like eating, they are not when it comes to reproduction. They require another person. Sexual drive is given in order that men and women will seek each other out and reproduce. Of this there can be no doubt of the biological ordering of the sexual drive.

Because they are persons, they also desire to be united in love, of which sexual desire is an expression. But the only way in which the couple can truly unite on the personal level is through acts that are ordered towards procreation. That is, the only thing that unites their minds, hearts, and bodies, are those types of acts that make them one biological organism. Any other types of sexual acts, including sodomitical acts, are not truly unitive because the individuals remain exactly that, individuals. They may truly profess to love each other, but they are not united merely through sexual expression. Sexual desire points towards acts that are both unitive and procreative, and thus only those actions with that particular orientation are considered ordered.

Mayor Pete and those of like mind may insist that those who oppose him have a “quarrel with his Creator,” but in truth it is he who has the beef. He would take what God has ordered and clearly revealed in the very constitution of our bodies and introduce disorder.

 

Rob holds an MA in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, with a concentration in moral theology. He has a passion for spreading the joy of the Catholic Faith through teaching and writing.

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