Since homosexuality is a topic these days I thought I’d sketch some objections to it:
- The functional objection, from the necessity of sexual morality for a tolerable life in society. Acceptance of conduct grossly at odds with traditional sexual morality disrupts a system of habits, attitudes and ideals that gives male/female relationships the stability and reliability needed for family life. For more discussion, see my Sexual Morality FAQ, most of which is devoted to this issue.
- The internal objections, which the FAQ also touches on briefly:
- Viewed simply as an free exchange between persons, a sexual act is use by two persons of each other for pleasure. The act joins the persons too deeply for such an understanding to be adequate. To fail to mean by a sexual act what it cannot help but express—to engage in it without intending a fundamental union with the other—is to turn something that touches us deeply into a lie and so to dishonor oneself and betray the other person. To mean what it expresses, however, the sexual act must somehow enact an enduring and comprehensive relationship that transcends pleasure and even personal interest, a relationship that permanently joins the bodies and lives of the participants and points to something beyond them that involves standards and duties not of the participants’ own creation. Marriage, family life and the continuation of the species satisfy the need, and it is hard to see what else could.
- Natural teleology: sex is fundamental to the physical constitution of the human body and to the human personality. It has a natural function just as hunger and the digestive system have natural functions. In both its physical aspects and in the feelings and behavioral tendencies naturally associated with it sex has to do with reproduction and the rearing of children. Human life can not be indefinitely reconfigured to suit whatever goals we happen to choose. The life that is best for man respects natural human functioning, especially in fundamental matters with ramifications that extend to the most basic aspects of what we are and our connections with others. The best life therefore uses sex in ways consistent with its natural ends. To fail to do so destroys the harmony of the system, and so tends to turn human life into a chaos of impulse and feeling.
- Human life is a system of meanings and symbols that express understandings that can be conveyed in no other way. Since sex is basic to human life it is basic to that system. That is why gods are male or female, and even impersonal understandings of reality, like the Yang and Yin of the Far East, have masculine and feminine elements. Grammatical gender is a sign of the pervasiveness of sex in our understanding of things. To treat sex as lacking intrinsic meaning, as a purely individualistic and technical matter, is to disrupt and flatten the understandings of man and the world that are necessary for a truly human life. If something that affects us as deeply as sex has no intrinsic meaning, what does? It is the nihilism that pervades the current understanding of sex and results in the demand for equality among forms of erotic expression.
- Other: Homosexuality is associated with various physical and behavioral disorders from AIDS to predation and suicide. The close association confirms the obvious, that it’s a disorder. Homosexuality is not simply a fact about someone, as homosexualist dogma has it, but rather a system of attitude and habit. We should disapprove of disordered and destructive systems of attitude and habit, and discourage them in whatever ways make sense.
A couple of counterobjections and responses:
- Do you mean that the only OK sex acts are those specifically intended to cause pregnancy?
No. Sex has a function but it’s not a technique to bring about an end. So it’s enough that sex acts take place within the functionally appropriate setting (that is, between husband and wife) and that no artifice is used to nullify their natural consequences.
- What business is it of yours?
Depends on the specific issue. In general, man is a social animal, and nihil humanum alienum me puto. Besides, sex is foundational for human life, so we all should have some concern for the attitudes and practices that attract general acceptance. Beyond that, when homosexuality intrudes into public life, as in education and the demand that various equal-treatment requirements be imposed, it’s certainly right to take a position on it.
The back-and-forth can of course be continued indefinitely—I cover some of the possibilities in the FAQ.