Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?

Albert Mohler, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asked these headline questions in his blog last week and sparked something of a media storm. Rev. Mohler was speculating that one day it might be possible to identify in the womb fetuses that have a higher chance of having a homosexual orientation. He further suggested that if such factors could be identified, perhaps it might be possible to treat such fetuses before they are born in way that nudges their orientation back toward heterosexuality. Should parents take advantage of such treatments?

Not surprisingly, some gay activists likened him to Nazi monster Josef Mengele for seeming to advocate the manipulation of nature to "basically wipe out gay people." Let's be clear, Rev. Mohler is a staunch opponent of abortion; he is pondering the possibility of some kind of biomedical intervention that reduces the chances that a fetus might turn out gay.

In absolutely no way do I endorse his theology nor his notion that homosexual sex is sinful (whatever that means), but Rev. Mohler's questions are reasonable ones to contemplate. It may turn out that there is no way to identify sexual orientation in the womb thus making his questions moot. But what if it is possible? Should the government restrict the reproductive choices of parents in order to make sure that a certain percentage of people are "born" gay? Evolutionary psychology suggests that parents (that is people who, by definition, want to reproduce) will prefer to give birth to children who are more likely to give them grandchildren.

In the alternative, it is possible in a world grown more accepting of gay sexuality that it will also be more welcoming of gay parenthood. If the differential in grandchild production between straight and gay offspring narrows, parents will be less likely to worry about the sexual orientation of their children.

In any case, Mohler is right to ask these questions.

Disclosure: Oops. Also forgot. My wife and I are members of Equality Virginia and donated several hundred dollars to its recent campaign against Virginia's idiotic state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

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  • Sigh.||

    Mohler's comments are really satisfying for those of us that find his brand of homophobia to be irrational, since they are fundamentally self-defeating.

    After all, the Christian Right has long fed off the idea that homosexuality is a choice--a choice of lifestyles that constitutes a conscious repudiation of God's ways, and for which we can be held responsible.

    If it's true that we can genetically predispose someone to be less likely to be homosexual, it stands to reason that homosexuality is (at least in part, if not in whole) a genetic affair, independent of individual choice, and therefore not something for which someone can be "held responsible." It is, in fact, a "gift from God" bestowed upon us in our genes. It is no more of a sin than, say, to be born with a libido. If the Christian were to claim, then, that the "sin" is in not being able to control one's natural urges, one might respond that they should also look for "genetic" treatments to engineer away all manner of other frailties, like stupidity, masochism, and the aforementioned raging libido.

    In his zeal to a way to "wipe out" homosexuality, Mohler has ignorantly latched on to one scientific theory fundamentally opposed to his ideology. Whatever happened to the principled Christian advocacy of "natural" childbirth? Is simple revulsion at the prospect of homosexuality really enough to make Christians the allies of Orwellian "genetic engineers"? Disturbing.

    Elsewhere in the world, this might be called "intellectual opportunism."

  • ||

    Ron Bailey, martyr.

  • ||

    As long as Mohlers okay with in-the-womb genetic engineering to lower the possibility of my baby being born Christian, i'm okay with his anti-gay tinkering.

  • ||

    Should parents be allowed to choose their children's eye color? Height? Sex? I don't get the difference. Parents already choose what to teach their kid, which would seem to have an even more dramatic effect on them.

  • ||

    Matt: Your comment brought to mind a comment from a gay friend that he hoped that one day researchers would find the gene for religious fanaticism so that parents could remove it.

  • ||

    I see no reason why prospective gay parents shouldn't be allowed to alter their babies to make them gay, too. After all, the kid will never know what it was like to be something that he or she never was.

  • ||

    I don't see this as anywhere near as controversial as the prospect of deaf parents ensuring the deafness of their offspring, to ensure that they could bond with deaf culture.

  • ||

    Whether or not homosexuality is a choice or not is irrelevant. The question is whether or not it is immoral. If it were immoral, and a person has a choice, that person would be responsible. Likewise, if it were immoral but a compulsion that one must act on, then that person should seek treatment. Depending on the degree of harm that would be caused, that person could be forced to undergo treatment or restrictions on freedom. Cf. child molestation. Probably not a choice, but people should not be allowed to do it.

    Now, homosexuality is not immoral. It is just that the choice/compulsion distinction is irrelevant to any question of its morality.

  • ||

    It's been said that some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism, but Mohler (and most everyone else) would still hold that alcoholics are morally culpable if they habitually drink too much until they can't function.

    Mohler is trying to reconcile what he's heard about genetics with his beliefs about free will and sexuality. Maybe none of you have noticed, but Mohler isn't trying to stone anyone, he's just wondering aloud about the role genetics play in human choices.

    If a scientist asked the same question, and did it without presupposing that gay sex was immoral, he would get an award.

    Who's intolerant now?

  • ||

    The libertarian position has been well tended on this. Parents should be allowed to design their kids best they're able. Some parents will "fix" their gay babies. Some will opt for gay babies. Some will be OK with lesbians, sissies not so much. Some will blah blah blah, others will nyah nyah nyah. And many won't give a flying fuck or a rolling donut as long as it's healthy... and tall, and smart, and a natural athlete, and isn't prone to violence...

    Let parents make their own choices, and the world will be full of many kinds of people, and generation by generation hopefully they'll be better people.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Your comment brought to mind a comment from a gay friend that he hoped that one day researchers would find the gene for religious fanaticism so that parents could remove it.

    Or, more likely, implant it. Which demographic segment, after all, tends to have more children?

  • ||

    [another] Matt: I don't think anyone at H&R is being "intolerant" yet with regard to Mohhler's questions. In fact, I said he was right to ask these questions. Puzzled.

  • ||

    Your comment brought to mind a comment from a gay friend that he hoped that one day researchers would find the gene for religious fanaticism so that parents could remove it.
    ==============================================
    To be so horrified of certain beleifs that you attempt to blot them out of your child's genome, choosing to eradicate them with science rather than logical argument, I daresay that is the epitome of religious fanaticism.

    Certainly it's a joke, but it's a joke iwth a jag.

  • ||

    D.A. Ridgely: Yes, there is that possibility. Of course, it would be a gene predisposing for fanaticism as such--the variety of fanaticism that one's child adheres to may not be the one the parents hope for.

  • Dave W.||

    Thank goodness Mr. Balko didn't manage to wipe all my posts.

    Here is me raising the same issue on a Bailey thd in Sept 2005:

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/110887.html#305771

  • ||

    Fanaticism is not "a set of beliefs," but an orientation towards belief itself. It can settle on any old set of beliefs, and it is wholly indepdent of the validity or morality of those beliefs.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey, then you just need to find the obedience to authority figures gene.

  • ||

    Ron,
    That's true. My comment was in no way intended as a criticism of you or your article, rather, it was directed towards Mr. Besen on the second page of the WaPo story. He decided that Mohler's questions were worthy of holocaust verbiage, which I thought was ridiculous and rather intolerant.

  • ||

    Getting all heated over the longshot case that a sexual orientation gene could be identified, with the longer shot case that it could be changed pre-natally? Might as well start a fight over whether the Hulk is stronger than Superman.

  • Grotius||

    Ron Bailey,

    Oooh, there would be some irony in that.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Of course, it would be a gene predisposing for fanaticism as such

    Agreed (although as between the two of us, I would think you by far more of a determinist about such things than I, but we can let that pass). Still, again given the most likely sort of parents who would be implanting such a gene, I think we can reasonably presume they would also nurture that predisposition toward their own flavor of fanaticism with a high success rate. We don't, after all, see many Islamic fanatics growing up in the Bible Belt or fundamentalist Christian Dominionists growing up in Saudi Arabia, now do we?

    I merely point out, as I have done elsewhere, that letting parents make these sorts of decisions is not an entirely unproblematic approach.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    You mean y'all got that blog going again?

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Grotius,

    I suppose that depends on your definition of "y'all" but, yes, it's back up (for now).

  • thoreau||

    You know, something could have a biological origin without being entirely dependent on a different gene. It could turn out, for instance, that hormone levels at a particular stage of development play a role in the matter. Those hormone levels could potentially be regulated by genes or by factors pertaining to the mother's condition.

    I know I've heard of studies involving mice and hormones in the womb, but I don't recall the details.

  • ||

    thoreau: You may be thinking of the Fraternal Birth Order effect in which the higher the number of older brothers the slightly more likely you are to be gay. It is speculated that it may be an effect resulting from the mother's immune reacting to the presence of serial Y chromosomes in her womb.

  • Grotius||

    Anyway, if indeed lots of Christians adopt the notion there is a genetic aspect to homosexuality, that it is not merely a "choice," isn't that just another lovely example of the corrosive power of science?

    DAR,

    Well, you are welcome to visit my blog anytime (just click on my nick).

  • ||

    DAR,
    I don't see that letting parents make these sorts of decisions is any more problematic. From what I can tell, all you are saying, is that bad parents could use the new technology to be bad in new ways. What a libertarian society should do about bad parents, has always been troublesome. While I see how designer babies makes the problem different, I don't see it as worse.

  • ||

    I recently attended a lesbian baby shower, to which my co-worker replied "how do they know it'll be a lesbian"?

  • ||

    You may be thinking of the Fraternal Birth Order effect

    Isn't Guy Montag a legacy member of the Fraternal Order of Birth Defects?

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Warren:

    That depends on what counts as "worse." In one sense, I'm perfectly comfortable with the notion that our capacity for good and evil has been constant over the ages, but it clearly does not follow that our capacity for doing good and doing evil or harm has not changed. Technology is, after all, all about improving tools; the more varied and more efficient tools we have at our disposal, the more effectively we can do whatever, for better or worse, we want to do.

  • ||

    thoreau: You may be thinking of the Fraternal Birth Order effect in which the higher the number of older brothers the slightly more likely you are to be gay. It is speculated that it may be an effect resulting from the mother's immune reacting to the presence of serial Y chromosomes in her womb.
    ===============================================
    That, or else the uptick in homosexuality can explained by the older brothers molesting their younger brothers.

  • ||

    Someone please edumucate me: Why is it that homosexuality is often assumed to be caused by genetics, but other "perversions" aren't? Is being attracted to members of the same sex fundamentally different than, say, having a foot fetish or being attracted to children (Or for that matter, being attracted to adult members of the opposite sex)? People don't choose their paraphilias, and many of them are at least as inconvenient as being gay is, yet no one suggests that they are caused by genetics.

    Now before you attack me, please note that I'm not saying that gay people are child molesters or dog-fuckers or whatever.

  • ||

    Unless someone finds a "gay gene" that can be flicked on and off like a light switch, I doubt that any kind of "treatment" will appear soon. If it is a complicated gene or set of genes or some other, hormonal or whatever process, then the chance of harming the baby would be greater. I'd imagine straight but with birth defects would be unpopular and violate the hippocratic oath.

  • ||

    So if it is a neuro-chemical or harmonal factor (from genetic predisposition or in the womb) and parents want their children to "be like us", then we will see a decrease in the number of homosexuals. But the same science that allows the doctors to tell you that your fetus has the ghey might allow the pharmacist to provide you with a pill or patch that could give you the ghey.

    So five years from now, we end the creation of god-made homosexuals, then ten years later, these super-straight kids could take a pill and go queer for the weekend.

  • ||

    This is only sort of related, but I found this on Wikipedia:

    Reparative therapy is a form of aversion therapy aimed at the elimination of homosexual attractions and is employed by people who claim that homosexuality is a disorder or a sin; this has in the past involved such methods as shock treatment[26] with the electrodes hooked up to a man's testicles, drugs used to induce physical illness while the subject is being shown pictures of naked men.[27], and the administration of Metrazol to induce convulsions[28].

    Trey Parker and Matt Stone missed a golden opportunity to inflict that on Butters...

  • Grotius||

    D.A. Ridgely,

    Do you have a better system than free markets and a liberal society via which to make those sort of choices?

  • GILMORE||

    Whether or not homosexuality is a choice or not is irrelevant.

    I disagree. "Sigh" up above i think gets it right, which is that the Religious Right has flipflopped arguments here for the sake of convenience... if they think "God" put the gene in there, then it's there for a reason. If they think a person chose to Do Sin, then they must repent and seek forgiveness. This guy Mohler is essentially backing out of one POV and into another.

    You may say that in the final analysis it makes no difference, while the 'morality' of the act is the subject in question... well, maybe so. But from the POV of the religious right, 'Born Gay' is something they've vigorously fought, conceptually, because it suggests maybe God had this in mind for you in the first place. May not matter to you, but for the many bible-thumpers out there, it does.

    As for the Gattaca future... why not. It's either that, or we all develop cyborg exoskeletons to fight the eventual War Against the Machines.

  • ||

    I still don't think it matters. They'll just fight to get it put back as a mental illness in the DSM-V(?). Also, gay rights supporters also trumpet the idea that it is something one is born with. It may lead to a change in tack, but it won't end prejudice against gays.

  • ||

    Blue: I like the way you think. ;-)

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Grotius:

    No, and in general I agree with Mr. Bailey at least inasmuch as I would contend permitting free choice is the lesser of two evils in the majority of these sorts of cases. At the corners, however, I think the paradigm is highly problematic. Take the deaf community, for example, which includes, or so I have read, a number of deaf parents who would prefer their own children be deaf and have refused or resisted medical treatment for those children that could give them hearing. Here, I would imagine, is another opportunity eventually for genetic choice, i.e., ensuring that one's children will be deaf. Are we really comfortable as a society in saying that such decisions are or should be purely private and best left to the parents? I, at least, think not.

  • Andyraz||

    I think all the "flip-flopper" comments are a little frustrating - even if the entire Christian right, as a movement, at once admitted that homosexuality is predominantly a genetic condition due to scientific evidence, would that really be a bad thing? Are we really piling on people now for having the gall to change their mind in the face of scientific evidence?

    Furthermore, if you read this guy's stuff, he doesn't really even seem to have been wedded to gay as a choice, in fact, later in this same article he contends that:
    "We must stop confusing the issues of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. We sin against homosexuals by insisting that sexual temptation and attraction are predominately chosen. We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation."

    Also, I'm not much up on my current theological rules, but are Baptists one of those "sex for procreation only" religions? If so, I'd be curious as to whether Rev. Mohler would advocate to have the extreme pleasurableness of the reproductive act edited out of the human makeup, if possible. It seems that that would be the only logical conclusion of his argument.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    At the corners, however, I think the paradigm is highly problematic.

    Doesn't this assume that corners exist and that we can all agree what those corners are? that seems problematic at best.

    Are we really comfortable as a society in saying that such decisions are or should be purely private and best left to the parents?

    Do you have an alternative?

  • Grotius||

    Anyway, to sort of echo Churchill, capitalism in combination with a liberal society may be a terrible system for making choices, but it is better than all the rest.

  • ||

    DAR & Grotius: I am very uncomfortable with allowing deaf parents select for genetic deafness using PGD or deaf sperm donors. But if you wouldn't forbid two congenitally deaf people from having children who would be also guaranteed to be deaf, why would you think that the state should intervene when they use biotech to achieve the same results? BTW, I expect most providers of assisted reproductive techniques to refuse to participate in such an enterprise, but I am sure that some will.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Grotius:

    One need not always know whether any particular case is a corner case to know that some are -- fuzzy boundaries are boundaries nonetheless inside of which some things clearly fall and outside of which other things clearly fall. I doubt Churchill would agree with or condone parents' decision to deprive their children of hearing. I admit to having no perfect solutions for an imperfect world, but let me turn matters around: are you comfortable with a society and its state that would be completely indifferent to child neglect or abuse of any sort?

    Mr. Bailey:

    But if you wouldn't forbid two congenitally deaf people from having children who would be also guaranteed to be deaf, why would you think that the state should intervene when they use biotech to achieve the same results?

    Because I believe there is a moral distinction between making the best of a not entirely ideal situation (in this case, having a child whose deafness could not be prevented, the alternative being not having a child at all) and intentionally opting for the same non-ideal outcome when a viable and better alternative exists; namely, having the non-deaf child.

  • ||

    "Is being attracted to members of the same sex fundamentally different than, say, having a foot fetish or being attracted to children"

    Nobody wants to marry another person's foot.

    There's a difference between focused sexual behavior and full-spectrum emotional and sexual behavior.

    If you need help separating the two, imagine sexuality in blind paraplegics, or other people for whom visual turn-ons aren't really an issue, and physical gratification is minimized.

    It's entirely likely that such people will still have a preference for companionship and for the emotional attachments they make, even though achieving orgasm is not an option.

  • ||

    Anyway, to sort of echo Churchill, capitalism in combination with a liberal society may be a terrible system for making choices, but it is better than all the rest.

    When i first read that i thought you were quoting Warren Churchill....which in turned screwed up my whole morning.

  • ||

    DAR: With regard to intentionally opting for a non-ideal outcome, what if it could be avoided by mandating that deaf parents use sperm or egg selection to eliminate their sperm or eggs that carry the gene for deafness? And even further down the pike, what about mandating that deaf parents be required to use their own sperm or eggs that have been repaired by means of genetic splicing to prevent deafness? It's intentional all the way down-it's all about whose intentions count and when.

  • Grotius||

    Joshua corning,

    Do you mean Ward Churchill?

    DAR,

    ...fuzzy boundaries are boundaries nonetheless inside of which some things clearly fall and outside of which other things clearly fall.

    According to what authority? You? Some "revealed religion?" Philosophy? Hegel? Socrates?

    ...are you comfortable with a society and its state that would be completely indifferent to child neglect or abuse of any sort?

    Would that in part depend on the efficacy of what the state can in this area?

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    Unless one can persuade someone to do something one will have to force them to do that (if one is determined to get them to do X thing or abstain from X thing). So the knotty issue of how to justify coercion comes into play. A lot of the justification for such these days is based on the concept of consent. It is at best a problematic argument.

  • Rhywun||

    That, or else the uptick in homosexuality can explained by the older brothers molesting their younger brothers.

    Uh, yeah, it's the *younger* brother who's gay in that scenario. Holy crap, what some people believe....

    Anyway, my own private theory on the younger brother gay phenomenon--supported by absolutely no proof whatsoever--is that nature doesn't "need" any more heteros to produce more children after the first few boys so why not let out a gay one?

  • Oil the rod and pair the child||

    Gregor Mendel, the celibate Father,
    Might never have gone to the bother
    Of siring from sod
    Two peas in a pod
    Had he known they would stir such a pother.

  • ||

    I'm trying to think of a way to make a comment about gay babies wearing assless leather diapers without being being offensive.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Mr. Bailey:

    Aside from being shocked (shocked!) that you believe in intentionality at all, I would say my own pre-reflective moral sentiments here would be to oppose prohibiting the parents from using their own sperm and eggs but probably in favor of requiring that those sperm and eggs be repaired. (I assume here that the latter case involves no financial hardship to the parents, etc., etc. just to simplify matters.) Do I have a sound argument and bright-line rule available to account for those judgments? Nope. Do I really need one? I think not, though I freely admit that reasonable people could in good faith arrive at different moral judgments in both cases.

    Of course it's intentional all the way down, subject only to whatever the current state of the art permits, but it's not only about whose intentions count or when but what those intentions are. I intend, on the one hand, to pat you on the back for your brilliant journalism; unbeknown to me you are swallowing a peanut at that very moment and thus choke to death. Conversely, I intentionally choke you. Both, obviously, are intentional acts, but they are hardly morally equivalent, are they? (More about which see my reply to Grotius immediately below.)

    Grotius:

    Oh puleeze! Does repeatedly raping one's four year old son or daughter not clearly constitute child abuse to you? Is that really the sort of case in which one needs to rely on some sort of authority to reach a moral judgment? Sheesh! Look, it is precisely in such matters where, for example, the lives and wellbeing of other people (especially, I would argue, including children) are threatened that we no longer give a damn about consent. We don't say to the would-be murderer, rapist, etc. "Oh, well, I suppose we can't very well try to stop you before or, failing that, punish you afterwards because you don't consent to our doing so."

  • ||

    Stevo,

    Too late!

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    I'm trying to think of a way to make a comment about gay babies wearing assless leather diapers without being being offensive.

    Better take it to one of Kerry Howley's threads, then.

  • Sigh.||

    "Are we really piling on people now for having the gall to change their mind in the face of scientific evidence?"

    Problem is, they're not doing that. They are ignoring a fundamental part of their previous argument in order to capitalize on the scientific opportunity to edit homosexuality out of humankind.

    My original comment seems to have attracted a reaction something like this: "Whether or not homosexuality is a matter of choice doesn't effect its morality." True, we face temptations everyday that we don't choose to be tempted by, but succumbing to those temptations would constitute sin (perhaps this is a reformulation of the "problem of evil" argument against God? What benevolent, all-powerful God would give us temptations that could end up sending us to Hell?).

    I readily acknowledge that Christian doctrine doesn't require one to believe that all sins must be freely chosen. If that were the case, the concept of "original sin" wouldn't be a part of the Christian canon. But it is.

    My response was contained in the original post I made:

    "If the Christian were to claim, then, that the 'sin' is in not being able to control one's natural urges, one might respond that they should also look for 'genetic' treatments to engineer away all manner of other frailties, like stupidity, masochism, and the aforementioned raging libido."

    There's no outcry from Mohler demanding wholesale genetic engineering to "edit out" these things, is there? If we could edit them out, and Mohler believes that we SHOULD edit out homosexuality, why should we not edit out all the other predispositions we could have to do "bad things." Maybe, just maybe, Christians would oppose such things because they believe that God made us the way he made us FOR A REASON, and we should think twice before tampering with God's natural design (though this does raise the question of whether or not it is in God's plan for us to learn how to edit genes, and thus be able to exert a "purifying" effect on our children).

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    Does repeatedly raping one's four year old son or daughter not clearly constitute child abuse to you?

    Nice straw man.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    By comparing this use of genetic technology with rape and murder you completely undermine any argument that you had.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Rhetorical excess, perhaps, but a "straw man," Grotius? I think not. I was responding specifically to your challenge of my contention that there are indeed clear cases even when there are no bright lines demarcating every such case or, for that matter, any authority (whatever the hell that means) making it so; that is, to your "According to what authority? You? Some "revealed religion?" Philosophy? Hegel? Socrates?"

    Now, you can reasonably contend (and I would agree with you) that the deaf child case isn't all that clear, but that doesn't mean I wasn't entitled to use an extreme example specifically in counter-evidence of your implied claim that without authority of some sort such clear examples do not exist.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    I was responding specifically to your challenge of my contention that there are indeed clear cases...

    I don't think there are any "clear cases." There are at best probablistic cases. And really, that's what you think to.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    Anyway, the point about authority is rather obvious. The only reason that anyone claims that such bright lines exist is indeed based on some ultimate authority - be it an individual philosopher or a "revealed text" or the study of nature. Yet it is obvious that none of these is a wholely secure foundation.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    So when you write about "clear cases" I realize that is not really what you mean. What you mean is that there cases that seem probabilistically true or true on the basis of informed guesses and the like.

    So I am very skeptical of the "knowledge" of claims of "clear cases." Remember, you claimed to "know" something.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    [Sigh...] Phooey. Yes, yes, it's a contingent universe and all that, but at some point 99.9999...% becomes 100%. (And, no, I'm not making a mathematical point here and, in any case, "clear" is not the same thing as "certain.") So, if only to piss you off further, do I infer correctly that it is your position here that it is not clearly but only highly probably wrong for a parent to repeatedly rape his child?

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    Anyway, maybe the aporia is getting thick in here.

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    So, if only to piss you off further, do I infer correctly that it is your position here that it is not clearly but only highly probably wrong for a parent to repeatedly rape his child?

    I ain't pissed off or even frustrated. After all, I am not the one using emphatic language (e.g., Oh puleeze!). ;)

    Yes. Indeed, that seems more than enough to have and enforce the courage of one's convictions.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Hmmm, well all I can say is that if you should ever find yourself a party in a child custody case, try to refrain from telling the judge such behavior is only "highly probably wrong." [smile]

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    As to this question:

    Is that really the sort of case in which one needs to rely on some sort of authority to reach a moral judgment?

    According to most Christians I talk to, without the authority of revealed religion such activity would be perfectly acceptable.

    Those who are more inclined towards naturalistic explanations might find such behavior abhorrent partly because it would encourage incest generally (and that would lead to all manner of genetic problems).

    We always seem to ultimately draw on some authority when it comes to moral issues; even if that authority is merely utilitarian calculations (then again, what has and doesn't have utility is itself based on another consideration).

  • Grotius||

    DAR,

    Hmmm, well all I can say is that if you should ever find yourself a party in a child custody case, try to refrain from telling the judge such behavior is only "highly probably wrong."

    I wouldn't of course. Just like I wouldn't get into a discussion of "free will" your average individual. Those sort of discussions aren't meant for average, everyday life, are they?

  • ||

    "Should the government restrict the reproductive choices of parents in order to make sure that a certain percentage of people are 'born' gay?"

    One "reproductive choice" the government *should* restrict is the choice to kill the baby in the womb. When I asked gay liberationist types whether (assuming a "gay gene" were discovered, or the parents thought a gay gene had been discovered) a mother should have the right to abort her (allegedly) gay baby. When I posed this question, one activist refused to take a position, and another said that the right to kill your (allegedly) gay baby is part of "freedom of choice," and anyway the baby would be better off dead than raised by such a bigoted mother. (by the same reasoning, it would be OK for a mother to strangle her gay baby in the crib in order to protect it from growing up raised by someone like her).

  • ||

    Just how exactly does an educated man take a religion with love as its core and make it into such a hateful hateful endeavor?

    Is the church so filled with hatred for homosexuality that it cant see the contradictions in this argument?

    and this is the fella in charge of training up the future crop of southen baptist preachers. God should strike him dead for such complete heresy.

  • DANEgerus||

    So how long until 'Gay' people become pro-life?

    That is the simple solution isn't it?

    Regardless of how "Liberal" a couple might claim to be, given the choice of knowing that their child might be gay, they will abort.

    It's the easiest... "treatment".

    Then who is the hater?

  • ||

    are you comfortable with a society and its state that would be completely indifferent to child neglect or abuse of any sort?

    For the most part, the state is completly indifferent to child neglect - Provided that the neglect doesn't give the state greater authority to act.

    For example, it is extremly common for parents to have their children taken away by the state, but when was the last time you heard of a public school being closed down because of neglectful conditions? When was the last time you heard about an audit of a police tactics after a police shooting of a child? And, they say that something like 1 out of 3 children put into foster homes are sexually abused in the foster home. Assuming that is true, child neglect laws are far more likely to cause abuse of children than they are to protect children.

    The government going after "child neglect" has nothing to do with protecting children - It has to do with every parent's worst nightmare is having their children away, and put into a situation of extreme danger (foster care). The government has the right to take your children away to essentially be tortured and/or molested, without any sort of due process that they would need for a criminal conviction against you.

    In a hypothetical perfect world, where the government wasn't psychopathic and preditory, then perhaps it would be reasonable for the government to prevent child neglect. But on the planet earth, so-called child neglect laws only exist to give the government the option of child-torture as a method of intimidation and circumvention of due process.

    A more libertarian approach would be to allow churches, community groups, concerned neighbors, teacher, greater freedom to help children who are in conditions of neglect.

  • ||

    You have to understand the liberal position. That being:
    abortion is an Absolute Right, but only if done for reasons approvable by the Extreme Left (you would prefer to make money or 'party on', the child is handicapped, and that's icky, etc).

    Abortion is an Absolute Wrong, if done for reasons attractive to the Extreme Right (you would prefer a son over a daughter, you the child is gay, and that's icky, etc)

    Its simple:
    abortion for Liberal causes; good
    abortion for Conservative causes; bad.

    You folks are thinking too hard about an answer that's too easy. You're just unwilling to see/say it.

    Sk

  • ||

    If nothing else its an interesting argument. And important. You can take it even further- at what point does this kind of thing equate to pre-natal brain washing? If you could assure that your child would end up inclined to be an artist, or an accountant, or a democrat, or deeply religious, or any number of traits that would nudge a person into becoming a certain type of individual, is that ok? (im not trying to equate sexual orientation with these things, its just to make a point)

    The whole thing seems really creepy the more you think about it. A little extra testasterone in the first trimester and your kid is macho, a little less and he's sensititive? Isnt this programming on the most basic level, and isnt that analagous to mind control in its own way? Especially if you believe in a soul, artificially inducing thought or behavior patterns would seem to be a form of virtual slavery if you accept the idea that each human is born unique with an external spark of who they are in them.

  • GILMORE||

    yeah.

    What "Sigh" said.

    I think the guys' 1-10 points at the bottom really struggle to be consistent as far as whether genetic meddling is or isnt consistent with a christian notion of will. Is it a choice? Is it genetic? He hedges, and simply says, 'if we can have fewer gays, why not?'. Obvious next question - if you cant' "treat" it, should you abort? It opens a whole can of worms about where a person should be able to intervene in 'god's creation'... and i think undermines their own ethical platform by making exceptions...

    Ignoring the gay stuff... I have schizophrenia in my family, and someone every few generations turns into a screaming wacko. My younger brother got hit when he turned 20... If we could have screened it out, would we? I can tell you... Hell Yes.

    But then, consider that I have the same genes, the same chance... but the disease didnt hit me. It does raise questions as to whether simply being 'predisposed' is as significant as we think.

  • Dave W.||

    The whole thing seems really creepy the more you think about it.

    Especially when you factor in the fact that these technologies are likely to be a lot more available to some economic classes than to others.

    Right now we live in a world where a Bill Clinton can be born to a poor family and a George W. Bush to a rich family.

    There is something comforting in that.

  • ||

    (Note: lifelong agnostic here)

    Everyone is getting so worked up about OMG HATEFUL XIANS HATE THE GAY that they're ignoring Bailey's original question: can a woman choose if her kid is gay, and what would be the result?

    Two thoughts about the results, assuming you can choose it with good reliability:

    1. The majority of people want a normal kid. Yes, I said normal, fuck you. Gay men make up something like ~3% of the male population, lesbians even a smaller percentage of women. Though some weirdoes like Moby may deliberately want their kid gay, most will want one that doesn't stick out in any potentially negative way. As such, as the generations pass there will be a smaller and smaller proportion of the population born gay, making them even more of a minority.

    2. Most parents, if they aren't complete bastards, want their kids to grow up and find somebody to love. Assuming you're a heterosexual man, there's potentially ~50% of the world out there for you to find a mate in, removing those too old, young, ugly, etc. If you're a gay man, however, your potential matches are limited to just ~3% of the world, excluding the old, young, ugly, etc.

    So as more and more parents choose to make their kids straight for the first reason, the number of adult homosexuals will decrease, making it harder and harder for them to find a potential mate. This will inspire a vicious circle as parents make their children straight so they can find a lover, reducing the number of homosexuals...

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    Although I sincerely doubt sexuality can be manipulated by a single gene or even a series of genes within the next 50 years there are important questions to address on the moral and ethical effect of attempting to do so.

    First, the issue of choice. This isn't an issue of health, its not an attempt to directly prolong a life. Its not even changing a simple characteristic like hair color or eye color. Changing a person's sexual attraction changes a person's entire personality, it changes who they would tend to form social bonds with and changes the course of their life in a basic way.

    Second, sexuality itself is not the only potentially undesirable trait. What if we could make our children vegetarians? Vegetarianism as a lifestyle is cheaper and probably healthier than being omnivorous, isn't it then a smart practice to genetically predispose children to only eat fruits and vegetables?

    Third, what if gay couples want gay children? Should it be permissible to give children something that some parents perceive as a "negative" characteristic? I'd say yes, of course, I don't see the harm in research and I think on balance things will stay approximately the same but I think it'd be interesting to ask Reverend Mohler that question.

  • ||

    I'm so glad I'm a Beta. Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid.

  • ||

    Especially when you factor in the fact that these technologies are likely to be a lot more available to some economic classes than to others.Right now we live in a world where a Bill Clinton can be born to a poor family and a George W. Bush to a rich family.There is something comforting in that.

    This is shortsighted and ignorant. We need more smart people; period.

  • Grotius||

    brotherben,

    Because love over everyone isn't the core of Christ's teaching. Look, Christ's own words condemn all manner of people, people who we often don't have too much of a problem with today. Like a lot of apocalyptic preachers at the time Christ's message is as much about telling people that certain folks who are now on the bottom are going to be on the top.

  • j.a.m.||

    To the extent that a biological basis for same-sex attraction can be established, and safe and effective therapies can be developed, then of course such therapies should be used, as they would be for any other serious abnormality. To do otherwise would be unconscionable. It's one thing to say that people with an abnormality have the same rights as everyone else. But it's something else again to suggest that the abnormality itself should not be addressed simply because that would violate somebody's notion of political correctness.

    In any event, many parents would seek such treatment for reasons of conscience, and any governmental infringement of their rights in that regard would be patently unconstitutional.

    And yes, contrary to your foolish opinion, sexual relations other than between husband and wife are immoral.

  • GILMORE||

    So as more and more parents choose to make their kids straight for the first reason, the number of adult homosexuals will decrease...

    ... in theory.

    It sounds great, but again, your assumption is that the connection between a simple genetic predisposition, and actual emergence of 'gayness' or whatever trait the gene might have an association with is actually a fairly simple 1-1 thing that isnt driven by external factors or other uncontrolled elements.

    re: my point above of being predisposed to schizophrenia, but not being nearly crazy at all. As far as I can tell. DOnt look at me like that!! (har)

    ..whereas, is it AT ALL possible that someone who has all the right Manly Girlfucker genes, might watch Spartacus for like the 10th time, and realize, "hey...I like Oysters AND snails too!"

    i.e. actually go gay because they WANT to?

    I made this complaint earlier when ron posts about "gene for Republicanism discovered"...etc. The science is not so simple that our lives are so entirely preprogrammed, and its just a matter of tweaking the circuit board in the womb. Yes, the stuff is significant...but HOW significant? Significant enough to be the determining factor? Not known. And very possibly unlikely.

    a more complex thing like, "intelligence" would be interesting to examine...for instance, if we could give ourselves the "Genius" gene, would we? and would it make us any smarter, sans will to learn, or mental discipline? or would we end up ranting homeless people? I think these narrow assumptions about being able to tinker with sexual orientation are way, way, way off (50yrs as dude says above)...and making any arguments about actual effectiveness or trends in how it would play out are essentially just theory.

  • ||

    And yes, contrary to your foolish opinion, sexual relations other than between husband and wife are immoral.

    Aw, go f yourself!

  • GILMORE||

    t's one thing to say that people with an abnormality have the same rights as everyone else. But it's something else again to suggest that the abnormality itself should not be addressed simply because that would violate somebody's notion of political correctness....

    Like, what... abnormally high intelligence? Abnormal interest in bondage? Abnormal religious fervor?

    You are basically arguing for some kind of mandated eugenics program for a 'abnormality' that is completely harmless. How is that particularly 'libertarian'?

    This isnt political correctness... if someone WANTS to degay their offspring, more power to you. Failing to do so isnt 'unconscionable' in any way.

  • ||

    Welcome to my nightmare. I was never so glad as I was the day I changed my specialty to "gynecology" from "obstetrics and gynecology".

    DANEgerus, I think you're right. There's plenty of cognitive dissonance to go around on this issue.

    But you can't have your cake and eat it, too. You can't be pro-choice and pro-genetic testing and then dictate what that choice and genetic testing should be. People who work in the field of reproductive medicine and genetics know this lesson very well. Most of us will not do genetic testing for the baby's sex only- we all know the purpose of the testing is sex selection because the merely curious are happy with ultrasound. So motivated couples go out of the country for the testing. But what about the baby with a cleft palate or gastroschesis (both surgically repairable) or or some other problem, that, if it can't be fixed, can at least be lived with. Say, dwarfism or cystic fibrosis? When we found we could test for THAT gene, was the CF Foundation thrilled? No- because they knew that people would just abort CF babies. Problem solved.

    What goes around, comes around, people. When you cross the line of wanting to test for genetic "defects", you don't get to say what what defines a "defect". In our current society, that choice rests with the parents and whatever entity offers the test. It's a slippery slope that we've put ourselves on, and I personally am very glad I'm off it, now.

  • ||

    Male homosexuality has been positively and by a huge factor linked to a larger than average INAH-3 portion of the human brain. That attribute alone should provide a methodology to test DNA.

    Of course, you'd likely wipe out a good number of people who would end up being asexual or bisexual in practice.

    People will destroy anything that a doctor tells them is broken. A few rare individuals will avoid such acts, but it takes quite an impressive act of will and/or religiosity to resist the urge to save a 'potential being' from a life of alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, suicide, HIV (70% of male HIV positive results occur in men who have sex with men, opposed the data suggesting less than 10% or 5% of the male population does), and many other STDs.

    Think I'm exaggerating? Look at the cases of "mongolian stupidity", or the more common name of Down Syndrome. Despite most of those with the condition able to develop normally with only moderate therapy, parents are confronted with images of institutionalized children whom never underwent even normal schooling or parenting. Those who test positive for Down Syndrome are aborted at what it believed to be a 90% rate or higher.

    The same fate is likely to hit the Autism and Asperger syndrome will likely find the same fate : it's estimated a genetic test will be available in less than 10 years. With parents actively murdering 1 or 2 year old autistic children, we've no reason to assume things will be that different. No matter that Einstein and Newton may have had less significant cases of Asperger's. We'll eliminate them, too.

    I find it hard to believe any typical libertarian tendencies would allow people to murder others just because they seem 'different'. I find it strange that libertarians somehow make a difference merely because it risks offending the mother.

  • Grotius||

    If a "God" exists that doesn't like homosexuality, why would "God," well, "design" gay children in the first place? What sort of screwed up "God" is that? This is a bit like Epicurus' discussion of the problem of evil (though I am not suggesting that homosexuality - because from my perspective it isn't).

  • V Moose in da hizzle||

    "Aw, go f yourself!"

    High#: for that to happen, wouldn't J.A.M have to be married to himself? So he's actually in favor of removing the state bias against gay marriage?

    Wow! A fundie with a heart of gold. Just warms the cockles, now, doesn't it...

    Gold. Heart.

    Because he's such a grand fellow, I'm gonna get his name tatooed on the ass of this really cool drunk guy who hangs out in the Division street EL station...

    Keep up the good work, j.a.m.! I can see why your mom called you "mommie's little soldier".

  • Grotius||

    Er...

    I need to edit better.

    ... I am not suggesting that homosexuality is evil ...

  • ||

    "This is shortsighted and ignorant. We need more smart people; period."

    I think the entire point of libertarianism (or, well, one of the logical conclusions of libertarianism) is that--when we're talking about other peoples' lives--it doesn't matter what "we want."

    Anyway, the problem he's alluding to isn't shortsighted in the least, anyway (though he's probably not going to get much sympathy on the issue from many libertarians). Wealth stratification sucks for a multitude of reasons, and it's getting worse.

    I'm not too worried about genetic engineering affecting that, though, for partially the same reason that I don't care about issues like "brain drain." A smart rich person can benefit the poor just as much as this person benefits the rich. Imagine, if a rich person genetically engineers his or her child to be a supergenius. That supergenius will live rich his or her entire life, true, but let's say that they cure cancer or invent a longer-lasting lightbulb or create world peace or finally figure out just what James Joyce was talking about. Potentially, everyone can benefit from that.

    My opposition to genetic engineering stands on different grounds.

  • ||

    Ahem. The above should read "it doesn't matter what 'we NEED.'"

    I blame the keyboard.

  • Dave W.||

    We need more smart people; period.

    Careful there. That is an argument for socializing the smarter-kids technology after it is invented. I wouldn't mind (because this is a special technology and the normal rules don't apply well), but would you?

  • Dave W.||

    That supergenius will live rich his or her entire life, true, but let's say that they cure cancer or invent a longer-lasting lightbulb or create world peace or finally figure out just what James Joyce was talking about.

    Or s/he might act in a self-interested manner in a way that benefits her family at the expense of the rest of the world. If superhero cartoons have taught us anything, it is that not all supergeniuses work on the side of good.

    This would be especially problemmatic if scientists found both a smartness gene and a selfishness gene.

  • ||

    Well, firstly, the biblical prohibitions I can find only act against actual sexual acts, nothing more. The most literal interpretation is "laying with men as with women", which would only prohibit missionary style, but since the old Testament was pretty much remade under Jesus Christ's teachings, most active moral dislike comes from one of the Paul's letters which talked about the acts of male and female homosexuality as shameful, and a later writing denounced arsenokoitēs, which could mean men who have sex with men. None of it prohibits the base aspect of homosexuality as a mindset.

    It could be assumed that, like shellfish, it is god's intention to allow the devil to tempt the fates of man. Given that christianity seems to assume free will, that's not a particularly damning act itself. Throughout the New and Old Testament, god seems to go out of his way to allow temptation, whether it be against the first man and woman he created or against his own son. No free will would mean no real heaven or hell, I assume.

    I'm a soulless animal, so what would I know?

  • ||

    And loose tag buggers that whole paragraph.

    Dave W., assuming a superintelligent, superselfish genius, he'd still want everyone else to grow richer, for the simple fact that he or she eventually will run into limitations. Moreover, raising the average income of others while reducing the cost of living just means that folk can pay you more.

  • ||

    The Christian right must be spinning senselessly with this one. First, he admits that people are born gay, i.e. created by God in that way. No "lifestyle choice" here.

    Next, he decides that it would be a good thing to correct God's mistake. The omnicient, omnipotent, all-knowing, man made in his image, perfect one apparantly messed up. We know better than He does.

    In one fell swoop, Fundamentalist Christianity collapses on itself.

  • Rhywun||

    Future Earth is going to be an awfully dull place full of blond-haired, blue-eyed gods and goddesses. Above ground, that is....

  • Anonymous||

    Most gay parents don't care whether their kids are gay or straight. Gay people know firsthand the harm caused by trying to make people into something they aren't. Also gay people realize that life is easier for straight people.

  • ||

    Anyway, the problem he's alluding to isn't shortsighted in the least, anyway (though he's probably not going to get much sympathy on the issue from many libertarians). Wealth stratification sucks for a multitude of reasons, and it's getting worse.

    Wealth stratification sucks if it means you can't have subsistence items like nutritious food or clean drinking water, otherwise you are just talking envy. And it is shortsighted, simply because smart folks are the ones who create technologies that, for example, can deliver clean affordable drinking water or ultra nutritious drought tolerant crops. Imagine yourself in the conversation where you are trying to explain to a village of cancer stricken Indians why the man who could have delivered them arsenic free water was intentionally kept stupid out of your own self important egalitarian concerns for their well being. -And self interest, well, that's the thing that drives folks to create stuff others want more than the money (or whatever) they have. The market isn't a zero sum game; it's creates value from whole cloth even for the weakest. Competitive advantage.

  • ||

    Boy, this is funny. Christianity coming to the rescue of gay folk, while everyone else chases their tails. That's what's nice about having a moral code- sometimes, when you actually stick to it, it makes sense.

    Here we have conservative Christians believing that abortion is wrong, and that prenatal genetic diagnosis is, too, because it leads to abortion. So they're against prenatal diagnosis of "gayness" and the consequent abortion of gays. What they say about gays once their alive is a bit less charitable, but at least they allow them life.

    Then there are the left-leaning liberals with their heads about to explode because unfettered reproductive rights are yielding results they can't live with. Kind of like when the Park Service let the Native Americans hunt buffalo- pro-Native American or anti-hunting? Oh- the confusion! Pro-abortion or pro-gay? Pretty soon, you'll have to make a choice on that one, mark my words. This is the whole purpose of Mohler's article, in case anyone missed it.

    And the libertarians who are ready to jump feet-first into Brave New World. Good luck, guys. Just hope we can't identify the gene for libertarianism some day.

  • Andy||

    JB,

    There's an internal logic to the article - it relies on free will and personal responsibility (and "the Fall and God's Judgment"). If someone were to have a mental illness that compelled them to murder, I don't think any reasonable strain of Christian philosophy would forbid doctor treatment on the argument that "God intended this man to murder." Same train of thought - person is predisposed to sin, we can help them prevent the sin, we should do so.

    (Disclaimer - I'm not equating homosexuality to murder, nor am I supporting these views, just trying to explain how I think the author sees it.)

  • ||

    To some of the commenters here I pose a question: so its not ok to do pre-birth tinkering to determine your unborn child's sexual orientation but it is ok to do pre-birth tinkering to kill it? I ask this in the spirit of philosophy, as I am an atheist and frankly too smart or selfish to want to have kids in the first place.....

  • ||

    Bingo! Lucious Antoninus, you win the prize for moral clarity. And I am a Christian who's smart enough and selfish enough to have three kids ;-)

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    I'm just curious, is heterosexuality genetic? Where does it come from? What if someone found a cure for it?

  • ||

    Lucious Antoninus,
    -No, or yes, depending on how you read my answer
    -I don't know
    -Good for you, although, I have no idea what that has to do with atheism

  • ||

    This "gay gene"; exactly what protein (amino acid string) does it code for? And as for selection of traits, exactly why is that such a big deal, in that selection for the trait "unviable" is a common occurance?

  • ||

    ...smart folks are the ones who create technologies that, for example, can deliver clean affordable drinking water...

    You may think you know what you're dealing with, but, believe me, you don't.

  • ||

    Or s/he might act in a self-interested manner in a way that benefits her family at the expense of the rest of the world. If superhero cartoons have taught us anything, it is that not all supergeniuses work on the side of good.

    This would be especially problemmatic if scientists found both a smartness gene and a selfishness gene.


    Some people are selfish, others aren't. It's a simple risk that people take whenever they have kids--rich or poor. The fact that the rich supergenius might ALSO be a superselfish ass hardly counts as an argument against genetic manipulation to make the rich more intelligent.

    I'm perfectly comfortable living in a world with a single rich supergenius that cures cancer while hundreds of other rich supergeniuses spend all their money on jacuzzis and champagne.

    Wealth stratification sucks if it means you can't have subsistence items like nutritious food or clean drinking water, otherwise you are just talking envy. And it is shortsighted, simply because smart folks are the ones who create technologies that, for example, can deliver clean affordable drinking water or ultra nutritious drought tolerant crops. Imagine yourself in the conversation where you are trying to explain to a village of cancer stricken Indians why the man who could have delivered them arsenic free water was intentionally kept stupid out of your own self important egalitarian concerns for their well being. -And self interest, well, that's the thing that drives folks to create stuff others want more than the money (or whatever) they have. The market isn't a zero sum game; it's creates value from whole cloth even for the weakest. Competitive advantage.

    You obviously didn't read the rest of my post. I went on to explain why wealth stratification isn't an issue HERE (for precisely the reasons you provide here).

    There's an internal logic to the article - it relies on free will and personal responsibility (and "the Fall and God's Judgment"). If someone were to have a mental illness that compelled them to murder, I don't think any reasonable strain of Christian philosophy would forbid doctor treatment on the argument that "God intended this man to murder." Same train of thought - person is predisposed to sin, we can help them prevent the sin, we should do so.

    Of course, this sort of argument begs the question of exactly why God was cruel enough to create a person predisposed to be gay, be a murderer, be a pedorast, etc. Once again, the problem of evil. In a just world governed by a just God, it seems like homosexuality and murderous urges (presuming these things to be sins) wouldn't exist.

  • Mateo||

    I'm just curious, is heterosexuality genetic?

    If it wasn't genetic, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    Where does it come from?
    Nature or God or Buddah or whatever.

    What if someone found a cure for it?

    You'd pobably make the climate change loons happy, maybe they'd be the first to sign up.

    Btw, I don't want gay kids. So sue me.

  • ||

    Of course, this sort of argument begs the question of exactly why God was cruel enough to create a person predisposed to be gay, be a murderer, be a pedorast, etc. Once again, the problem of evil. In a just world governed by a just God, it seems like homosexuality and murderous urges (presuming these things to be sins) wouldn't exist.
    =======================================
    And it all comes back to Free Will.

    If God governed alone, man would not be free in any sense worth mentioning. Freedom is the ability to do as one pleases,and God apparently gave that freedom to the human race.

    Man's choices do not affect him alone, but also humanity and nature as a whole. The results of certain choices affect innocent bystanders. If you don't think this is fair, you may have a point, if you don't think it's accurate, maybe some war widows can clarify your thinking on the issue.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    "If it wasn't genetic, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

    That's not necessarily true. It could be a choice, it could be social pressures on a majority bisexual population, it could be almost anything. The term "genetic" gets thrown around yet people aren't discussing the implications of it. Are people genetically predisposed to only be attracted to members of the opposite sex with rare exceptions? Is it only social pressures that inhibit same sex sexual interactions for the majority? Certainly observed historical data indicates that a large percentage of humanity can engage in homosexual activities without any seeming regret or hesitation, does that mean the population of Rome and Sparta was simply atypical, does it indicate something more about the social role sexual attraction plays?

    think of it like this, you think that "heterosexuality" means "making babies." well, fine. But why 'heterosexuality' and not 'bisexuality'? Are humans heterosexual or bisexual? Is one "more" genetic than the other? Which? Why that one and not the other?

  • ||

    Btw, I don't want gay kids. So sue me.

    Some people claim nothing against homosexuals, then they have kids, and suddenly, "gays are ok, but I don't want my kid to be gay, because life's tough on homosexuals, blah, blah, blah..." In truth, they're bigots waiting for their excuse.

    I had a son. One look at him and I knew I couldn't give a shit if he's gay, straight, bi, transgendered. All I care is that he passes on our valuable DNA by any means necessary.

  • ||

    For years I've heard gays use the "of course it's not a choice! Why would anyone subject him/herself to all the discrimination/condemnation/hate etc." meme to argue that it's a prewired condition.

    Faced with the possibility, however remote, of a choice for future generations, are they now saying it's a desirable trait that should be preserved?

    Disclaimer - I don't find Mohler's proposition all that inviting, and I'm not religious - I just find the arguments in the comments somewhat puzzling.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    I'm not sure how the desirability or not of a trait factors into these discussions. I think the discussion hinges on the morality of tinkering at all with factors (if one factor why not another, and where does it end?) and the justifiability or not of making a medical procedure such as that available or not based on economic status.

    On homosexuality being undesirable vs desirable however it seems to me that's a false dichotomy. I suspect that most homosexuals would not say being gay is not "desirable" per se, but I would also guess that most would not say it is 'undesirable.' I suspect that most people see being attracted exclusively to members of the same sex as either a neutral concept or a negative one.

    In that sense I suppose you could classify neutral as "positive" but its only 'positive' in that many people do not view homosexuality per se as hurting a person's character.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    obviously above I meant to say that homosexuals would not view homosexuality desirable or not, not not desirable or undesirable.

  • ||

    Genetic correction of perceived deficiencies are in the future and soon-

    It will be a matter of whether individual parents want it for their baby. It will be a Mom's decision, just like abortion is now, according to US courts.

    The parents will choose heterosexual- believe it!
    End of discussion. Next question?

  • ||

    It has been official Baptist dogma since the foundation of the denomination that human beings, by their very nature, are so strongly inclined to sin that all humans sin as soon as they are capable of doing so.

    It is similarly clear, upon a moment's examination, that people vary in the degree to which they are tempted by various sins.

    So, proving that homosexual orientation is part of someone's nature does not and can not cause any new difficulties for Baptist teaching on the nature of sin. That the desire to sin is unchosen is already part of Baptist teaching, without (in Baptist theology) providing a justification for actually committing the sins.

  • ||

    You may think you know what you're dealing with, but, believe me, you don't.

    Oh, well. Thanks, for straightening me out. It's so clear now ... Dumbass.

  • ||

    So a bisexual would be a person with a genetic predisposition to be a hermaphrodite emotionally?

  • ||

    IMO inborn homosexuality is a birth defect. We don't hate people who have birth defects. We try to help them. However, we don't try to tell ourselves that they are normal. In addition, not everyone who has homosexual sex was born that way. Believe me, I am an old man. I have seen a lot of stuff. I know what I am talking about. Teenage boys will engage in homosexual behavior, not because they have homosexual urges, but rather because it shows who is more powerful. I have read that male dogs and monkeys will hump other males for the same purpose. Eventually, I think inborn homosexuality will be cured with genetic engineering. However, that will not stop homosexual behavior. BTW, I am on a dial-up connection. I am not a drive-by poster. I just cannot reply to posts very rapidly.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    Ken in SC: You say homosexuality is a birth defect, fine, I can accept that. In truth I think that total heterosexuality is ALSO a birth defect. I suspect that it is natural for humans to be bisexual and that heterosexuality appears to be dominant because of social factors.

  • ||

    According to most Christians I talk to, without the authority of revealed religion such activity would be perfectly acceptable.

    For these people, I'm glad there is religion. They seem to be precisely the ones to fear if they were atheists.

    Vegetarianism as a lifestyle is cheaper...

    No; vegetarianism is more expensive. The cost per calorie for fruits and vegetables (especially organic) is much higher than that of meats and other animal products (on average).

  • ||

    Hayekian Dreamer: You say homosexuality is a birth defect, fine, I can accept that. In truth I think that total heterosexuality is ALSO a birth defect. I suspect that it is natural for humans to be bisexual and that heterosexuality appears to be dominant because of social factors.

    Why the hell would bisexuality be "natural." With natural selection, one would expect the preferred orientation would be heterosexual. It is the most fit orientation in a Darwinian sense as the individual would waste no time in sexual relationships that would lead to no offspring.

    Heterosexuality is certainly a product of genes, to answer your question. If humans didn't reproduce sexually and there weren't distinct genetic sexes, there would be no need for sexual orientation whatsover.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    "Why the hell would bisexuality be "natural." With natural selection, one would expect the preferred orientation would be heterosexual. It is the most fit orientation in a Darwinian sense as the individual would waste no time in sexual relationships that would lead to no offspring."

    Not necessarily true. In some species its been demonstrated that two males for example are able to hold onto more territory (and thus be more secure and have a better food supply) than females. The advantage to bisexuality in nature (and presumably in humans) is the formation of a strong network of social bonds which leads to greater survivability rates. Since we're not discussing pure homosexuality but rather bisexuality of course the problem of passing on genetic material (which may or may not be a problem if the potential for that sexuality is inherent in say 20 genes passed on from each parent in some combination)does not exist.

    It also must be mentioned that relatively few animal species are totally monogamous (and those that are sometimes are found in exclusively homosexual pairings) so there is no reason in a Darwinian sense to suggest we wouldn't have a real benefit for homosexual pairings at some point in our lives in nature.

    "Heterosexuality is certainly a product of genes, to answer your question. If humans didn't reproduce sexually and there weren't distinct genetic sexes, there would be no need for sexual orientation whatsover."

    Why "certainly" though? You're begging the question. You're assuming because most humans today are in heterosexual relationships we must therefore be a heterosexual species. To use another analogy, you're assuming a switch that has been seen to go 3 ways (Hetero/Bi/homo) is by default switched to hetero. Yet two of those orientations on their face leave a likelihood of passing on their genes at some point, particularly if early humans were not as monogamous as we are as a society today (which, to be frank is "not very" statistically).

  • SIV||

    There are no "gay babies" much less unborn ones.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Forget it, Jake pigwiggle. It's Chinatown.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    SIV: Nor are there "straight" babies per se. Children don't display their orientation typically until puberty, sometimes slightly earlier typically in "play" activities such as "doctor" sometimes a little later. That however does not necessarily suggest that a child is NOT straight or is NOT gay.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    I'm not sure how relevant it is (perhaps very much so, perhaps not so much) but this news story and particularly the video report with it seems relevant. Would you say that both of those twins are probably totally heterosexual?

  • Robert||

    I'm skeptical in the extreme about genetic determinants of sexual preference. If there are any, I could imagine them working in only a few possible ways:

    They could work like the locus that affects taste for broccoli, whose alleles make one either sensitive or insensitive to taste from a constituent that tends to turn people off. The equivalent for homosexuality might be relative insensitivity of the rectum, that makes being ass-fucked more tolerable than otherwise.

    They could affect sensitivity to embarrassment, such that certain people would be more likely than others to experiment sexually because they give less of a fuck what people in general think about them. The more likely one is to try homosexuality, the more likely one is to stick with it.

    They could affect attraction to small people. The less you care for small people, the less interest you'd have in producing children.

    There could be a human mating pheromone, and a locus could affect degree of sensitivity to it. Take away an attraction to the opposite sex and you have that much less reason for heterosexuality.

    And all of these possibilities I suspect would add up to a hill of beans. I think people fall into their sexual interest via a long chain of learning from the environment, absent which we'd all figure out how to masturbate, but hardly any would figure out sexual intercourse.

  • Rhywun||

    I'm skeptical in the extreme about genetic determinants of sexual preference. If there are any, I could imagine them working in only a few possible ways

    If you thought a little harder, or had any exposure to gay people, you might notice that being gay is about more than ass-fucking, an aversion to small people, and un-attraction to the opposite sex. Gays have the exact same emotional attachment to each other as straights, the exact same baggage. Try to picture yourself turning out gay if you were "raised differently". A theory which discounts genetics must presuppose that all children are equally susceptible to turning out gay if they're not "raised right". Does that really seem possible? Not to me.

  • ||

    an aversion to small people

    What?
    Please explain.

  • Rhywun||

    Please explain.

    Robert theorized that if there's a genetic component to homosexuality it would take only a limited number of forms, including "affect[ing] attraction to small people. The less you care for small people, the less interest you'd have in producing children." My point is that sexuality is such an integral part of one's identity, and manifests itself in far greater ways than the rather trivial examples he raised, that it's hard to believe it could be so dramatically affected by environment.

  • ||

    Right. I didn't really read all of what he wrote.

  • ||

    The Evolutionary Psychology reference is a bit off. EP says that humans are "designed" to reproduce just like all other animals. It's not clear at all that humans have been designed to respond adaptively to homosexuality, let alone have evolved preferences for heterosexual children over homosexual children. I'm not saying people don't have that preference, I'm saying natural selection probably didn't design the preference into parents. The only way it could have done that is if parents who preferred straight children were actually more likely to conceive straight children and thus the genes for that preferences were more likely to make it into the grandchild's generation.

    Other evidence humans are poorly designed for dealing with homosexuals:
    1. Straight males benefit from gay men's labor and communal defense but don't have to worry about them poaching mates, so the reproductively adaptive thing for straight men to do is encourage and delight in other men's gayness.
    2. One would predict lesbians would be much more hated by straight men than gay men, which crime stats show is false.

  • Robert||

    "My point is that sexuality is such an integral part of one's identity, and manifests itself in far greater ways than the rather trivial examples he raised, that it's hard to believe it could be so dramatically affected by environment."

    And my point is that human sexuality is so complicated that it's hard for me to imagine it could be dramatically affected by genetics. Once you take into account feelings in one's genitals, which it seems to me could be affected to some degree by genetics, and superficial things like attraction to certain shapes or sizes (hence interest in children), everything else must be cultural. I see genetics as being only an extremely crude tool compared to culture, so that genetics could be a strong determinant of like or dislike of the taste of broccoli, but have practically no effect on whom people like to date. It would be like looking for genetic influences on which religions you believe in.

    I think this contrasts sharply with other species, which have true instincts for sexual and other behavior.

  • Robert||

    Let me try it from another angle. If you think genetics contributes to desire for certain kinds of human mates, how do you think it could possibly work? What could there be about a particular person or a type of person that could possibly interact with a particular gene product to produce desire for sexual intercourse with that person as opposed to someone else or some other kind of person?

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