The Gay Invention

Touchstone Magazine | R.V. Young | December, 2005

Homosexuality Is a Linguistic as Well as a Moral Error

For thousands of years, until the late 1800s, our ancestors were completely oblivious to the existence of a fundamentally distinct class of human beings. Indeed, during the long period of Greco-Roman antiquity and more than a millennium and a half of Christian civilization, man did not even have a name for this class.

Or so asserts an almost universal assumption fixed in the language almost everyone uses: that “heterosexuals” and “homosexuals” are two permanently and innately different kinds of human being, and that “sexual orientation” constitutes a difference comparable to the difference between male and female. Widespread acceptance of “homosexuality” and associated terms thus biases discussion of the subject before an argument is even formulated.

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44 thoughts on “The Gay Invention”

  1. Some time ago, it was discussed whether celibate gay men should be permitted into the priesthood given the Vatican’s statements implying a future ban. I believe the general conservative opinion here was that those with that “condition” (inclination, tendency, what have you) should not be permitted to take Holy Orders. Now, based on this article, it seems we’re saying that no such condition actually exists.

    So which is it?

  2. James

    Are you suggesting that there’s a homosexual gene then?

    Or, is homosexuality defined by action?

  3. Dean: The assertion was made that not only sexually active gay men but celibate gay men should not be permitted into the priesthood. I’m not sure I understand your question, but if you’re insisting that unconscious and non-deliberate movements of one’s interior mind are the same as deliberate and conscious acts, I’d humbly suggest you do not know either your Catholic or Orthodox moral doctrines. Besides, are you sure you’d wish to put any consensual sexual misconduct in the same moral sphere as rape and murder? I’d say you’ve lost all sense of proportion. On the other hand, Christ did say that those who’ve lusted in their hearts have already committed the act of adultery, but how many men do you suppose would make it into the priesthood under such guidelines?

    JBL: I’m not sure how to answer your question. We do what we are, in a sense, although there is sometimes a disconnect between what we profess to believe and our actions, as even the most pious Christian will admit. Is there a gene? I don’t know, although some scientists suggest that there is a genetic component to faith as well. So, I think terms can be useful to describe what one does but also an interior disposition as well. How these terms should be used I’m uncertain.

    On another thread, you mentioned that “homophobia” is a bogus term. In many ways, I agree. I don’t think that critiques necessarily reflect some flaw or defect in the speaker as that term seems to imply. There are rational and well-intentioned people who object to gay marriage who have not a shred of malice.

    However, I think an expression of what must surely be homophobia in a real sense is the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The only practical reason would be unit cohesion, but the problem is that gay and lesbian officers are being let go who are not serving in the capacity where this is an issue (such as in interpretive or administrative duties). Also, the underlying assertion of this argument seems to be that straight men can’t do their jobs of blowing up things and shooting people when they think that a gay man might be eyeing them. Not only is this somewhat comical, it’s also inaccurate and based on prejudice, not fact, and it assumes not only that gay men desire all other men (an untruth, I’m certain) but that even if they didn’t, they’d be unable to control their urges in regards to the ones they do desire (also false based on evidence).

    No, I think this policy is almost completely irrational and unjust and is one of those few situations where the term “phobic” seems to apply.

  4. I am aware that we are not responsible for our temptations. However, a person identifying themself as homosexual indicates a moral decay.

  5. Gays in the military

    It’s time everyone uses their god given ability to reason when discussing matters such as gays being in the military. One need only look at the statistics of the many many countries that have allowed gays in the military for a long period of time. What was their experience? The statistics do not bear out the fears of the damage it may do to morale of the soldiers.
    Gays have been in the U.S. military ever since it’s inception and there has never been any damage done to the morale thus far that is measurable. The issue is, if the policy were to change concerning gays being allowed to be openly homosexual as the other soldiers are allowed to be openly heterosexual, that this knowledge would somehow negatively affect the strength of our military. Does anyone truly believe that while in a battle situation soldiers would be “hitting on” or making passes at other soldiers? I don’t know about other people’s sexual triggers that may turn them on, but living in a constant state of fear in a battle situation would not be conducive for me personally to become sexually aroused. There are in fact some stats concerning gays that have served in the military that actually suggest that they are more conscientious than their heterosexual counterparts in job performance.
    We don’t have to look back very far in our military history when the issue of woman being allowed to fight along side men in combat may be distracting. There was an issue of blacks as well destroying morale of the white heterosexual soldiers. Those fears have not born out but in fact women and blacks have instead proven to be excellent soldiers and have made great contributions to the military as gays have. However the contributions that gays have made were done unfortunately in a closeted environment.
    The military is stunningly slow in making changes of policy even though the statistics are very clear from other countries that do allow gays to enlist in the military. It is very clear that gays have done no harm to the morale of the heterosexual soldiers. This whole disgusting argument about destroying or compromising the morale of the soldiers is so blatantly biased. What the policy now in place very clearly and openly suggests that heterosexual men have more value and therefore we do not want to make the heterosexual men uncomfortable.
    What about the comfort of the gay men and woman that put their lives at risk for the sake of our country? Don’t they matter? Aren’t their contributions and valor as significant as their heterosexual counterparts? I think so. How long will it take and how many more gay soldiers have to die for our country before given the full rights and recognition they deserve?

  6. I think that “homosexual orientation” is perfectly legitimate and useful concept. If a man, for whatever reason, has a sexual attraction towards other men rather than towards women, I don’t know what other to call him than “homosexual.”

    This condition, of course, does not justify homosexual behavior. However, the existence of this condition is significant even where those afflicted with it refuse to act upon it. For example, a man who lacks sexual attraction to women obviously should not marry or participate in courtship rituals (dating, dancing, etc.) that suggest he is (or might in the near future be) available for marriage.

    Naturally, where a grown man is neither married nor apparently interested in the opposite sex, other people are very curious as to why. The man ought be able to tell them that he is a homosexual and not have to give a more long-winded explanation.

  7. Note 6. Jason writes:

    What about the comfort of the gay men and woman that put their lives at risk for the sake of our country? Don’t they matter? Aren’t their contributions and valor as significant as their heterosexual counterparts? I think so. How long will it take and how many more gay soldiers have to die for our country before given the full rights and recognition they deserve?

    Recognition for what? That they were homosexual, or that they performed a noble deed? You want a putative equality between heterosexuals and homosexuals, yet at the same time you want the homosexual to be singled out for his homosexuality.

    “Don’t ask, don’t tell” keeps sexual orientation where is it belongs — private.

  8. Note 7. M.M. writes:

    I think that “homosexual orientation” is perfectly legitimate and useful concept. If a man, for whatever reason, has a sexual attraction towards other men rather than towards women, I don’t know what other to call him than “homosexual.”

    The problem is, if “homosexual” is a class based, as it is, solely on sexual desire, what about pedophilia or bestiality? Should that be considered a separate class as well? Some people express a sexual desire to children and animals after all.

  9. what about pedophilia or bestiality? Should that be considered a separate class as well? Some people express a sexual desire to children and animals after all.

    Yes, they should be placed in the “Depraved Perverts” class and for monsters (can’t call them animals because I would be insulting the animal kingdom) who prey on children, the “Evil, Demonic, and Criminal Perverts” class would be even more accurate and descriptive.

  10. I’m stunned by many of these misinformed comments. I’m not even certain where to start. I guess I will first start from the beginning which i believe soemeone mentioned that there was no word for homosexuality back in ancient times. Your are correct that there was not a word for homosexuality during Jesus’ time. Homosexulity was a very common behavior that innately hetersexual men participated in as well. It was very very common. People that were considered innately homosexual were actually highly regarded particularly in ancient Greece. They were considered to have access to both their male and female aspects and were also revered for there seeminly innate artistic abilities for example in all of the muses. There are mountains of evedence fortunately left behind by the Greeks and the Romans describing their everyday lives. Gay unions were very common place and many of the town folk turned up in numbers to watch and enjoy the unions. However it was shortly after Jesus’ death that homosexulity began to be considered sinful. Not by Jesus though. He never mentioned it. We have to understand the context in which these people lived during those times. They were very superstitious people. In leviticus it says that a man should not lie with another man as he would with a woman. This was as superstition based only on the seasons. They feared that if a man lie with another man during harvest time it would have a negative effect on a good harvest. Therefore it was only confined to a seasonal event. One imortant point i need to make i that a translation is only as good as the translator and their objectivity. The scribes at that time were not what one today would call bilingual. I for example am fluent in Spanish but i am not bilingual. There is a huge difference. to be bilingual one has to have been brought up in both culture and therefore can speak both languages equally and understand nuances in a language. Eskimos have over 100 words for snow. Snow is part of there everyday culture. It is not in ours so it would be necessary for us to have so many words to describe snow. I can stress enough how important it is to that in order to completely undertand a culture you must be able to understand the language. Cultures create language based on the context in which the live. One can never understand a culture unless one completely understands the language. I hope that I’ve made my point clear abpit how easy it is to misunderstand or mistranslate certain words within it’s cultural context. If we we talking with eskimos about snow we would need to understand completly all the different types of snow in order to understand the content of a discussion. Thank you, Aaron Silver

  11. Ah yes, the “words-have-no-intrinsic-meaning-thus-we-are-all androgynous” cultural myth. Check out the article below. Since it is not bound to the relativism that afflicts your thinking, it sees human sexuality (and history) in different terms than you do.

    Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality

    Not related but it always crosses my mind when reading posts such as yours: If language, and thus thinking, is solely a product of culture, how can you have any confidence that your relativism is indeed true?

  12. I’m not exactly sure where the gentleman was going with his comment about pediphelia and beastiality and whether they ought be allowed their own status or place in the world. Of course not. Any emotionally healthy person would understand that pediphelia or beastiality creates victims. People that engage in such behaviors are mentally ill people. Mentally or emotionally healthy people would not be sexually attracted to these types of circumstances. Children that have suffered from a pediphile will spend a lifetime trying to overcome those wounds afflicted upon them by a very mentally disturbed person. I hope you undertand what I am saying. The world is not black and white. People that divide the world as such are just lazy thinkers. Churches could not exist without people that have the need to see the world as good or evil. Good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. This is just a simple example of the many gray areas of the world. Most of the world is living in the gray areas. Thanks again. Aaron Jason Silver http://www.aaron

  13. Damaging effects of the closet
    I believe that it is especially important today to discuss the damaging effects that the closet has had and continues to have on gay people. Given the current political climate of a presidential election approaching it is time to put “the closet” in some sort of context. It is also time for all of the candidates to step up to the plate and say how they really feel in spite of what the fear the ramifications may be. Gay rights are a civil rights issue that the candidates need to take a stand on without double speaking to protect their political asses. We need to provide some context for which people can better understand what “the closet” is and what it does to those that are in it. “The closet” is the emotional hiding place that many gay people recoil into out of fear of perhaps losing the love of their families or the acceptance of their school-mates.
    When children reach a certain age when they begin to understand social expectations and what society deems proper and improper is when “the closet” door goes shut on an important part of early childhood development, being their sexuality. Children learn earlier than perhaps people realize that their same sex attractions are not considered normal but in fact unhealthy and morally reprehensible to many. These processes for heterosexual children as they discover their sexuality are such delicious feelings that add a whole new dimension to their lives. Gay children are denied this. Gay children in an effort to be considered normal will learn to role play or act as if they share the same feelings of opposite sex attractions.
    Going into the closet is a terrifying and lonely experience that causes gay children feelings of deep loneliness. Suicide among gay teens is epidemic. They feel that they are the only ones in the world with these “abhorrent feelings. All children want and need to feel accepted by their peers in order to develop a healthy sense of self. They are instead bombarded daily by representations and celebrations of heterosexuality in the media, advertisements, at school and basically everywhere they look, those are the only images presented.
    One important point I would like to make is that other minority children living within a dominant culture at least have their families to go home to that don’t wish that they were of the majority culture. However gay children do go home to straight parents that do wish their children were straight, that is if they even knew the truth which is rare. These closeted children live in constant fear of having their true nature discovered and will therefore often practice through observation what they believe it looks like to appear heterosexual. They will begin editing their speech, their walk, the way they move their bodies all because of the fear of being discovered or “outed” so to speak. This editing process is not only demeaning, exhausting but also damaging to ones self-worth.
    However, often when gay children graduate from school and go out on their own and perhaps go on to college they will generally find others just like themselves with the same sexual orientation. As any reasonable person can imagine what it must feel like to finally fit in and feel a sense of camaraderie for likely the first time in their lives. These feelings can be an overwhelmingly wonderful experience. So overpowering and overwhelming that it can also unfortunately be a double edged sword and be dangerous as well. These now young adults will often out of their desperate need to feel those wondrous feelings of total acceptance for who they are will often then simply acquiesce to the pre-established norms and behaviors of the gay culture in which they now find themselves a part of. We need to understand that these men and woman that make up gay culture bring with them their own emotional baggage of what the closet has done to them throughout their lives. These accumulated wounds from childhood will often manifest in a variety of ways. Many of these manifested behaviors are not necessarily healthy.
    The pitfalls that gays need to be ever vigilant about are the fact that addictions of all varieties and suicides are at a much higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts. The damage of the closet then can lead these young men and woman to adopt these behaviors so as to feel a part of that culture as well. There emotional damage has already been done so they are much more easily influenced by the culture enough so that they will follow along with the unhealthy and damaging behaviors as a means of dulling the pain of life long feelings of social denunciation.
    We as a society need to be more compassionate to these emotionally damaged souls and start accepting them for whom they are no matter what their sexual orientation may be. This will not happen over night but we have to start somewhere if we are to be a part of the process of the healing of generations of gay men and woman that have been stigmatized for only one reason, that being whom they are innately attracted too. Aaron Jason Silver

  14. Jason, a boatload of assumptions on a river of moralizing makes for a muddled ride. There’s a flood of words here.

    Start paring your ideas down. You can’t have a discussion when one person is doing all the talking.

  15. One cannot seperate a culture from it’s language. I’ll say this again since I was a language student and have traveled to more tha 60 countries and lived among many native peoples I finally understood that it was true. In order to understand a culture completely one must understand the language. Language is a product of the culture in which it was created as was the Eskimo example i gave. The desert people have many different ways and words to describe the types of sand and the storms. These are culturally bound. They are not a part of our way of thinking. They have never needed to be because we live in the western world. We have ways of describing different type of grasses that they would have any idea what we are talking about. Grass is just grass to them. It’s green. We have Kentucky blue grass, fescue, crab grass, quack grass. The types go on and on but they would not understand unless they lived here for a long time. During ancient times the world was much bigger because it took people a very long time to get from one culture into another. Therefore it was very difficult to become bilingual. Many of our minorities such as the Mexicans for example that perhaps marry a white woman, or a chinese person marrying a caucasion and they have children and speak both languages around the house, these children then have an advantage because they are truly bilingual. They can switch from one language to another without skipping a beat. They can even speak both languages without an accent. I have a funny example of language differences even within our own english language. In England a bonnet is the roof of a car. A lorie is a truck. I was traveling in Costa Rica my very first time and I need more towels in my hotel room. I asked the maid in Spanish; yo nesecito mas tollas. She became very embarrassed and red faced. I quickly ran up to my room and got my Costa Rican Spanish Dictionary. To my embarrassment I had asked her for more tampons. I ran down and showed her and we had a very good laugh about it. This is another example of how languages will even have different words for nouns than their Spanish speaking cousins. I hope this clarifies what I am trying to say. Thanks again for reading, Aaron Silver

  16. The only right course of compassion is to encourage them to fight against their sin. Everyone must struggle. The war with the demons is never-ending. We accept them as sinners. However, allowing them to continue to destroy themselves is unacceptable. We are participating in their sin if we are aware and do nothng.

  17. Is marriage a religious institution?

    I feel at times I am the only gay person that is not satisfied by the term “civil union”. To me it feels like a consolation prize given as a means of pacifying gays. Throw them a few crumbs as their used to and they’ll shut up. Truthfully, I hope that we gay men and woman will not stop at gay unions and go after what we truly deserve, that being gay marriage. I am saddened but not surprised that many gays are willing to accept second class citizenship after all it is what we are accustomed to. Our entire gay civil rights movement that is being courageously fought by a very few, has been about equal rights, not just some rights. This of course means marriage as well.
    We should not be satisfied by civil unions. Unions are not equal. It’s unfortunate that this issue has become so politicized as did the civil rights movement back in the 60’s. Even the politicians that are privately in favor of gay marriage are afraid to speak openly about it with the exception of a few impassioned politicians that have a strong sense of integrity and a clear view of what is right and wrong.

    We cannot look to the bible for any answers regarding equal rights. Those laws were written at a different time and for an ancient culture. It may surprise many to know that gay marriages were widely accepted by the Romans and the Greeks. We also must understand that many of the ancients were a very superstitious people that made many of their laws in regards to those superstitions. We therefore cannot be influenced by scripture. The many books within the bible vastly contradict themselves on issues to numerous to mention here. Which ones should we believe? Many religious institutions have the belief that sexual relations is solely for the purpose of procreation. This is an affront to childless marriages. Are they any less valid? Should they therefore not have sexual relations knowing full well that there will not be any children produced? I wonder why God would make sexuality so very pleasurable if it were only for the purpose of procreation. It wouldn’t need to be enjoyable. The mechanics of sexuality would be all that is necessary to create offspring. Beside don’t we live in a country that has a law about separation between church and state?

    Somebody please help me understand why marriage by many is considered a religious institution. For the sake of discussion I would like someone to tell me why atheists are then eligible for marriage? It seems to me that heterosexual marriages are afforded just about any opportunity and environment they choose to take their vows. Even those damned heathens.

    Straight men and woman can choose a church marriage; they can get married underwater, on a mountaintop, by a justice of the peace or even by a ship captain. However, the most romantic and holy place I can imagine to pledge ones vows of love and fidelity, is driving through a drive-in chapel in Las Vegas, as one would order a happy meal. Don’t get me wrong, I do love happy meals. The best part is no one even has to bother to get out of the car. How can one compete with that kind of service? I’ve heard that they even change your oil while waiting but that may be just hearsay.

    Has it dawned on anyone that the constitution of the United States says very clearly that all people shall be treated as equal? There are no clauses added to that, such as, except for gays. What was stated in that document still rings very clearly yet today and likely for many years to come. We don’t have to look too awfully far back into our history to find examples of how we ignored the constitution for selfish heterosexual Anglo-Saxon citizens so we could still own people. It wasn’t until the early part of the nineteenth century before woman were allowed to vote. Not so long before that, slavery was legal. It wasn’t until nearly fifty years ago that African Americans weren’t allowed to marry whites. If we are to learn anything from our nation’s history, we should then know that whenever we veer off from what that beautifully crafted document for whatever convenient reason, it is eventually overturned and changed for reasons of being fairer. I have still yet to hear a valid reason how gay marriage could negatively impact modern society. I’ve heard that if gays were allowed to marry it would have the potential of destroying traditional marriage. We only have to look at the statistics of the success of “traditional marriages to discover that more than half end up in divorce. Gays did not cause that. Fidelity within marriage has a terrible track record as well. Therefore I would truly like to hear some reasonable argument posed that would make sense why gay marriage ought not be allowed. Thank you, Aaron Jason Silver; Fennville, Mi 49408 for more information on issues within gay culture please read; “why gay men do what they do”, an inside look at gay culture.

  18. Note 17 Dean writes:

    We are participating in their sin if we are aware and do nothng.

    So “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” protects you from what? Are you saying you would rather not know, than to know and have to take some sort of action? Can you explain what is required of you if you do know?

  19. Dear Jacobse, Many of my ideas I put forth are products of true biblical scholarship not just someone that is a preacher and therefore considers themselves a biblical scholar. By your writings i can easily see that you have been influenced by these fraudulant biblical scholars that could easily gotten their license to preach through the mail. Many do. It’s very common. True biblical scholars have no hidden agenda but to find the truth. Many of them speek ancient aramiac,ancient Greek,Latin, and the language of the coptics. These men know the cultures inside and out. Whether I am right or wrong at least my particular way of thinking or believing does not allow for victimizations of groups of people. Homosexuality victimizes no one unless they are mentally ill. This would also apply to heterosexuals that victimize people. Sexuality is no ones business. Why are you so caught up in what others do or feel as long as it is not compromizing your freedom. I am always very suspicious at the people that speak the loudest against something are trying to convince themselves of the truth of the matter. I suspect that you are speaking harshly againgst gays in the same way as did Ted Haggerty, the head of the evangelicals did because he thought by preaching often against it would thwart any suspicion toward him as having these feelings. I would suggest that you do some soul searching about who you are innately attracted to. I will likely be terrifying to you because if your are true to yourself and honest about the answers it would change your life to much. You religious zealots live in fear of a God you believe is judgmental. The God that i have in mind is not judgmental but instead is the power that has created all that there is. Your narrow view of what God is diminishes the greatness of God but in no way describes god. We are not bodies with a soul, we are souls with a body. Religion is an interpretation of reality but not a description of it. A true description of reality is to much for our finite brains to even comprehend. You will be better served by not trying to put everything in neat packages because of your innability to understand the true nature of God. It’s ok not to understand the true nature of god. It’s impossible for a finite being to understand something infinite. Organized religion comes from a place of fear rather than a place of love. god is love. Fear is the absense of love and therefore God. You have been indoctinated to not think or look outside the box and fear was the tactic used to prevent that from happening. I looked outside the box and I found a much more lovint world than you can possibly imagine unless you take that leap and take a look outside of your self created box with all of your thoughts that were handed to you by a “preacher” and you put them in neat little rows. When religious zealots such as yourself are confronted with new ways of believingt and loving your reaction to it is of fear. People often say that money is the root of all evil. NO, Fear is at the root of all evil. Fear is what causes people to hurt one another. It is used as a weapon to justify wars and exclusion of people created by the same source, God. Thanks again for a fun and lively discussion. Aaron jason Silver

  20. Dear Jacobse, First of all my name is Aaron. Secondly, are you for real???? Where in my essay did I mention that I thought gays should be singled out for their valor and the couagousness fighting for the idiot that thinks we need to be over there. Tell me, Where did I say that. It’s amazing how people when confronted with the truth have to first filter everything through their own corrupted belief system. I don’t want anyone to be single out. I just want it to be a neutral issue. By neutral I will explain as carefully as I can that we should be moving as a society toward neutrality involving gays and straights. In the military we have the dumbest rule that gays can’t even say who they are at their very core even though straigt soldiers sit around and talk about woman in sexually derogatory terms. If gays did that they would be booted out. Is that fairness? do you understand what fairness is? I don’t think anyone is suggesting that when a gay soldier shoots an enemy that they should have a gay pride march back at camp. It doesn’t make a bit of difference who shot the enemy. But it is unfair that they have to be constantly fearful of being “outed” for a small part of who they are. But lets be fair. Straight guys can put up naked pictures of woman in their cabins but can gay men do the same? why not? I really and truly seriously am suspicious of you true sexual orientation. I happen to be a psychotherapist. I thought I would keep that a secret but with you Jacob my boy it’s time to come out of the closet. You have all the earmarks for someone that is desperately trying to thwart suspicion. you can do it for awhile but I guarentee the truth eventually comes out. the longer you choose to stay in the closet the more damage you will be doing to your emotional self. It’s obvious that you are a very unhappy person and I suspect that you have an addiction of some sort. You are a classic closet case as we refer to them in gaydom. I’m sad for you because we all started in the closet. Some choose to stay in it longer because of fear. You are a fear driven person. not one driven by love but by fear. It’s very lonely isn’t it? I’ve been there but that was over 30 years ago. if you need some help with counseling you can find me on generationQ website; Ask Aaron is my column under lifestyles and advice. It’s all annoymous. good luck. I know I could help. Aaron

  21. @ Drew #18
    I meant in the general sense that if your brother reveals some spiritual ailment that he is suffering we are responsible to try to help them. As to if I would rather know or not… I would like to know if the person is ready to start healing. If they are going to say it out of spite and rebelliousness, then there is nothing to be done, except admonish them. I am not sure what “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does, but for such a volatile issue in society, perhaps it would be better if they didn’t make it publicly known (even if they are struggling against it, but, if they are struggling against it, why would they care to identify themself that way? It is quite confusing… sorry for rambling) in order to spare themselves some pain.

    I have a question to anyone who has a good answer:

    If an individual who is struggling with these passions confesses them to an Army Chaplain, is the Army Chaplain (in the Orthodox Tradition) to keep this information discreet as would any other parish priest?

  22. Aaron writes: “Organized religion comes from a place of fear rather than a place of love. god is love. Fear is the absense of love and therefore God. You have been indoctinated to not think or look outside the box and fear was the tactic used to prevent that from happening.”

    First, let me explain that I am not Eastern Orthodox, and that I have very different views from most of the people here. But this is a blog in which most of the participants are either Orthodox or Catholic. If you want to argue against organized religion, well, this probably isn’t the place to do that. It’s like arguing against capitalism on Wall Street.

    What I try to do here is to argue specific social, political, and economic issues, but without actively opposing the foundational concepts behind Catholic and Orthodox faith. For example, Orthodox opposition to homosexuality is based on a sophisticated, 2000 year old religious tradition involving views of God, the nature of humankind, the sacrament of marriage, the proper use of the body, the purpose of life, and so on. So while I might argue against the consequences of those beliefs on homosexuality, I don’t argue against the idea of religious faith founded on tradition. I try to approach issues from the point of view of a student of Orthodoxy, and I hope that my participation here serves to sharpen the arguments and thinking of others. This is a fine line, and I’m sure I’m not always successful. I have also taken the time to read a number of books on Orthodoxy so as to familiarize myself with the thinking. I’m sure that people here would be happy to recommend some for you.

    You say that you like to travel. Well, you’re in a new country here. I recommend that you take some time to understand the culture and the lay of the land. If you do that, you’ll be less inclined to suggest that Fr. Hans Jacobse, a Greek Orthodox priest and host of this blog, is gay. I’ve known him for years, and trust me, he isn’t. There are good people here, but they feel strongly about the issues. But that doesn’t mean that they are hateful or uncaring people. And please remember that you’re a visitor in someone else’s country. I remind myself of that all the time.

  23. Aaron,

    A couple of ground rules. No stream of consciousness writing. This means: 1) frequent paragraph breaks; 2) arguments have to follow logically, 3) as little moral posturing* as possible.

    *Moral posturing means wagging your finger instead of offering reasons why you think you are right on an issue. If you think something is “unfair”, be prepared to state your reasons. Finger wagging does not count as a reason.

    And check your spelling too. Proofread your posts before posting. It shows respect for your readers.

    On a personal note, I appreciate your offer of counseling but I think I’ll pass. And no, I really am not an unhappy person, but thanks for asking.

  24. Note 22. Dean asks:

    If an individual who is struggling with these passions confesses them to an Army Chaplain, is the Army Chaplain (in the Orthodox Tradition) to keep this information discreet as would any other parish priest?

    Absolutely. No question about it at all.

  25. Aaron,

    I am Greek Orthodox and am a celibate homosexual. (See my note #7.) I appreciate your concern, but I can assure you that I do not find celibacy to be all that difficult or unpleasant. It’s certainly not the hardest thing that God has ever asked someone to deal with. Better gay than blind, deaf, or (Lord Have Mercy!) both. In a million years I will have forgotten all about it.

    Fr. Jacobese,

    Re note 9, I would indeed consider pedophilia or beastiality to be a sexual orientation if someone were as strongly attracted to children or animals as normal men are to opposite-sex adults. Obviously, acting on such attractions is unacceptable (though the definition of “adult” for purposes of marriage has varied widely across different cultures in Christian history; Shakesphere’s Juliet was only 13), but those who restrain themselves deserve our compassion.

  26. Note 26. M.M. writes:

    Re note 9, I would indeed consider pedophilia or beastiality to be a sexual orientation if someone were as strongly attracted to children or animals as normal men are to opposite-sex adults.

    Yes, if you grant that homosexuality is an “orientation”, then pedophilia or bestiality would have to be as well (I’ll go with your qualifications).

    But I question the whole notion of “orientation” and have so for years.

  27. I’m certain you will all be disappointed that this will be my last posting. To be frank I don’t even know how I came up this site. I was under the impression that there would be no censorship. I however would like to make one more point that to me seems very obvious but to many people that take the bible literally do not. In fact that brings up a quick point. If one did take the bible litererally as I mentioned earlier, why then are we not allowed to follow leviticus teachings to the letter? Also for Catholics why is it suddenly o.k. to eat meat on Friday. Who did God discuss this with? Was there some special meeting that I wasn’t perhaps privy too. Just a curiosity that’s all. The most important point I would like to make is that Jacobse seems to think it seems to me anyway that because we are homosexual that we are obligated to be quiet about it. He suggests that why would anyone even want to expose their homosexuality in the armed services. What would be the gain I hear him say. The gain is creating an environment of homosexuality and hetersexuality as neutral issus. As you can obviously observe they are not. Gay people from their earliest recollections see only signals, commercials etc all obviously catering and celebrating hetersexuality. These commercial of which I speak do not indicate anything about what they do in their bedrooms. At the office husbands and wives put photos of themselves and their children on theri desks to admire throughout the day, obviously celebrating heterosexuality. I don’t in anyway believe they do this to ham anyone. That would be ridiculous. It’s obvious to me that they love and respect one another. If gay people did this they are considered to be flaunting homosexuality and what they do in their bedrooms. Why do people keep bringing up the bedroom when discussing homosexuality? Why? We don’t see it that way. We just want to be afforded the same opportunities that hetersexual men and woman are accustomed to. We often are coupled up with another person of the same sex and love is universal. We love them as much as you love your spouses. Why can’t we celebrate our love for our loved ones in the same fashion. In the militarty the straight men sit around and discuss their loved ones so basically are we saying then that they are flaunting their hetersexuality? On an unconscious level, yes they are but not in a hurtful way I wouldn’t think. However, closeted gay men in the armed services basically have to pretend they have no life. They have no one that they love with all their hearts. Imagine for a moment what it would be like for any of you heterosexual men and woman to have to be ever vigilant about editing all the aspects of your life that would bring suspicion on to you. None of you have any idea how demeaning,terrifying and utterly exhausting it is to pretend to be something you are not. society makes it difficult for us to be honest and truthful about our true natures. So my question is could you do it. How would it feel to you to have to take down all of your photos of your loved ones or any evidence of your heterosexuality and then from that point one edit all subjects of your family life out out of all conversations. You couldn’t talk about what you did on the weekends or what you did for your anniversary etc. There are so many signs indicating heterosexuality that it is to difficult to even discuss them all because we as a culture have gotten so accustomed to their inoccuity. I am certainly not suggesting that straight people shouldn’t go on with their lives happily and joyfully but let us experience those joys too. Who does it harm. We can’t create more homosexuals by exposing children to it. Do any of you know what the leading cause of death among teenagers is besides car crashes? Suicides are the next highest and they are epidemic. Many happen because these children know that they are gay and cannot deal with the shame of being gay in a society that shuns them. Does that make any of you happier that we are killing ourselves and there will be perhaps fewer of us? I was born of a concervative jewish father and a catholic mother. They have both since denounced their religions. Do you know why? Because they have to gay sons and they would not belong to any exclusive social club that doesn’t accept all of their children. They are in their late 80’s and I couldn’t be prouder of them for being able to walk away from their past because of the love of their children. Think long and hard about the attitudes I have heard expressed on here and the very thinly vile hatres spewed out by people that consider themselves loving Christians and Jews. Think about what it really means to love someone unconditionally. You people could be saving lives instead of wasting your time on here spewing hatred toward people you don’t even know. Shame on you all. My best in your recovery, Aaron Jason Silver

  28. Note 6. Women in the military not a closed issue

    Aaron you might note that the role of women in the military is not a closed issue. The Navy, in particular, suffers from being forced to treat women and men equally. Any military women who becomes pregnant is allowed pregnancy leave. The Navy needs a very clearly defined number of people to staff and run every ship. The ability of the Navy conduct its most important operations has been crippled quite often by a shortfall of staffing due to pregnant sailors. Women can become pregnant on purpose and they have been known to do so before important assignments on their ships. There is no comparable “easy out” for male sailors.

    I am a woman and I want my country defended by its best soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines I think there is place for women int he military but it is not one of unthinking and formulaic equailty. The defense of my country is more important than the career aspirations of any group of people.

  29. Missouri

    When I was on active duty during the first Gulf War women in the military was a huge negative issue the press remained silent on, especially when they saw the numbers being released by the Pentagon of the effects of women in the military.

    During the first Gulf War the Navy was unable to send a submarine tender out because 21 percent of the crew was on pregnancy leave.

    The Air Force had a similar situation were men had to be called up from other units to supplement missing military members when the unit deploye (read women who were pregnant who decided to take the early out option because of their pregnancy and the unit was called up).

    During the conflict the military braches (primarily Air Force and Army) had to use assests tracking down “couples” that would leave bases for sexual rendezvous.

  30. JBL: While I’m certain that there are downsides to any policy decision, do you think that existence of women in the military as a whole, net-net is a good thing or not? In other words, is the existence of around 200,000 women in the Armed Forces as a whole a positive or negative?

    If negative, does it involve things that can be remedied and addressed with a change of policy of some sort without simply forbidding them to enter or removing the ones that are in now? I don’t think you’re exactly suggesting that, but you seem to imply that something must change.

    It just seems that any benefits gained from the 200,000 individuals who have voluntarily decided to serve their country would outweigh most of any negative aspects, which I don’t doubt may exist.

  31. Note 32, I just want to see the nation’s defense put first.

    I just want to see the nation’s defense put first, not the career goals of a segment of the female population. The military is about preparedness for war the ugliest thing anyone would ever have to participate in. Physical strength still counts for much in war and men have greater physical strength in those departments where it counts in war.

    Recently a prisoner in Indiana escaped as he was being led from his cell to the courtroom. He was 6’5″ and weighed about 220, the female guard was 5’5″ and weighed 140 pounds. He overpowered her. Now, I do understand that she mght have been able to use various techniques and various weapons to “even the fight” but, puleeeeze, let’s be reasonable not delusional. That particular inmante went on to kill a judge and run a rampage.

    Public safety is more important that this particular woman’s desire to have a career in law enforcement.

  32. James I grew up in a pretty progressive community so when I first entered the military I was pretty indifferent to women serving in the military. I didn’t see it as much as a conflict and thought nothing detrimental or hazardous.
    When I finished my military service I was not in favor of women serving and definitely against women in combat roles. The change came about from having to pick up extra duty and work because of women unable to perform their job. It was caused from as pointed out by Missourian, women who were unable to perform their duties because of being pregnant and the loss of manpower when they take the early out because of that pregnancy.
    There is also another problem that occurs in the military and that’s the different standards applied to men and women. Many times we had women in our units that were incapable of performing their job because they waived to enter a career field. Some military fields require certain physical capabilities to enter that career. Many times though, we had women who were waived the physical test because there was a political push on the military to have a certain number of women in a career field. Guess who gets to pick up the slack? At times it would have been better to have nobody in the slot.
    Then there’s the issue of unit cohesion. It may not be important in the civilian businesses, but to the military it’s a huge issue. And there are problems caused dating in units, dating between ranks, married men being deployed with women. And the married member may not be guilty of any infidelity while deployed, but he still needs to deal with the wife at home who is alone and concerned that her husband is away with other women.
    These may not seem like big issues to you, but they effect the military immensely.
    Leadership has done a lot to address these issues, but they’re not 100 percent.
    It’s too late now to say woman cannot serve at all. What can be done though is to end the social experiments that the left likes to try on the military. And, go back to standards that remove women in combat roles or within combat lines (limiting their role to support), and within those support careers not waiving the physical requirements. The standard for the job should be one based upon the optimum capability for that career. Not upon a politician’s quota desires.

    You ask the question, “In other words, is the existence of around 200,000 women in the Armed Forces as a whole a positive or negative?” I think that’s a bit simplistic question to ask. Currently the military’s mission has been toward terrorists and militaries that are not on the cutting edge of military tactics and training. We’ve been successful because of the legacy and practices that were established by the Reagan administration. Using the analogy from a military study done toward the end of the Clinton administration, when President Reagan left office the military was comparable to a professional football team. Since then the standard has declined to the level of a college football team. Yes, the military can win against high school level teams but the effort takes more than it should. The primary factor in that decline has been the expansion of the military to accommodate a number of social experiments, primarily the feminist agenda.

    President Bush has not done any more to expand or reform the problems within the military and it’s status since President Clinton. It still remains at a status that concerns me that if the US military had to be used against a country currently striving to expand and improve their own military; that the conclusion of the conflict would be questionable.

  33. James,

    I brought your question up to a friend who is also a veteran (with a bit more years service than myself). He brought up some other aspects I had missed about women in the military. A problem the Navy has been faced with is that inclusion of women on combat ships that it has put a strain on the readiness. Sexual promescuity on ships has led to a number of high pregnancies that have effected ship readiness. Caused tension among the male crew members because of rivalries over women’s attentions.

    A problem that has also plagued the military has been the number of prostitution cases (the Air Force has had several). Of military women selling their services to other military members while deployed. Or as what happens in Asia, blondes/red heads selling their escort services to Asian men to be seen in public.

    Add to this issue of women has also included the issue of single mothers. Many women who serve in the military are single mothers. This also places pressure on readiness when a unit cannot deploy intact because of single mothers trying to find long term care for their children.


    There are a number of cases in law enforcement and fire departments of women not being able to accomplish the job because of not being physically capable. I recall several years ago while in New York two officers were shot because a woman officer over powered by a suspect. Who took her weapon then shot and killed her partner and wounded her.

    I would be curious to see a (fair and accurate) study looking at the effects of women in law enforcement and fire departments.

  34. JBL,

    The standard for the job should be one based upon the optimum capability for that career.

    I’m not certain that’s really what you’re arguing for, because while you suggest that women in support roles should not have the physical requirements for the job waived, you’re also arguing that a woman who meets the physical or technical requirements for a combat job be prevented from such work.

    Some of the points raised about issues that arise from women in service are salient. (Although, to be honest, I don’t think one has to be a hardcore feminist to find your argument that “Women should not be allowed to serve because they can be whores” a bit of a generalization. You could expand that to “Women should not be allowed to _____ because they can be whores” and the logic is the same.)

    Still, JamesK’s question is pertinent: Is the policy decision that resulted in 200,000 women in the military a good one as a whole? If the decision were reversed, and we lost those 200,000, would we be able to make up those numbers? Is social cohesion something that we must value more than able bodies in uniforms?

  35. Phil,
    My point is that women are in the military already. Discussions about whether they should serve or not at are mute at this point. What needs to be ensured though, is that critical jobs (i.e. combat specifically) shouldn’t be expanded to include women. And roles that are close to combat should be reduced for women — if not eliminated for them altogether.

    As far as support jobs I see no problem with women serving in these roles as long as they can meet the physical requirements for these jobs (there are a lot of supply jobs that require heavy lifting).

    And concerning your last statement, the military is more than just people in uniforms. If that were the case then any person could serve regardless of physical/mental abilities. It is an institution that is tasked with a critical mission that should see out the best who can work in a cohesive unit.

    The quote Missourian; “I just want to see the nation’s defense put first.” The purpose of the military is to defend the country. It is not the institution where social experiments should be tried. It is not the institution that whining about fairness and lowering of standards should be applied. When the military is burdened with every pop culture social agenda there can only be decline of that institution.

  36. It is not the institution where social experiments should be tried.

    Would you consider the racial integration of the military to be a social experiment?

  37. JBL: Not having been part of the military, perhaps you can further expand just a bit on this “unit cohesion” thing. My general life experiences inform me that group dynamics are complicated and don’t often depend on the factors for success that one might think. Put a bunch of people in a room and eventually cliques and groups will form based not just on common beliefs and interests but a whole host of other intangible qualities, sometimes superficial, sometimes not. This happens in every institution, from seminaries to corporations.
    Despite all that, people are generally able to put aside various differences and work together to accomplish the goals of their group.

    Now, I understand that the tasks of the military are a bit different than those of most other enterprises. Having to endure physical attacks and threats to one’s life is serious business, but it seems that unit cohesion would be less, not more of an issue in these circumstances. I have a hard time seeing how differences such as race and gender become magnified (instead of diminished) at such times. Yet, it was once argued that unit cohesion was indeed threatened by integrating people whose skin types were different.

  38. JamesK –

    As a former Marine let me fill in these blanks.

    One part of unit cohesion is knowing that if you are shot or otherwise injured, that your fellow Marines can use the ‘fireman’s carry’ to pick you up on their shoulders and move you to the rear. We practiced that incessantly.

    A 120lbs woman is not getting a 180 lbs Marine on her back and moving him to the rear. You know that if you have women in your unit, that they are not able to perform physically to the level needed to carry their load. The inability of a woman to pick up and move a man almost twice her size is just one example. Knowing you can’t fully count on them ruins team cohesion.

    Differential physical standards also ruin group cohesion. I can’t tell you the number of times that we would be on long humps, sweating, hating life, and ready to fall down when the trucks with the women would roll up and the girls would then rejoin the ranks. They were only allowed to hump 5 miles in full gear.

    Why? Because trying to have them hump the full distances we did had led to severe heat casualties, stress fractures, etc. So, by the time I came along in the Corps, the brass had decided that women would only hump a fraction of the distance we did. That would keep them healthier.

    Combat is a rough, physical, and violent business. Women are not built to be warriors, either physically or mentally. I’ve been there, seen that.

    Finally, what kind of society ships moms of small kids off to serve in a combat zone? Little boys and girls sitting at home, crying because mom is being shot at.

    That’s immoral. Losing a dad is bad enough, but putting a mom of young children at risk is unacceptable.

    The entire power structure of the U.S., both ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal,’ should be flogged for creating this situation in which mothers are serving under fire.

    Women in line units or units that directly support line units endanger their fellow soldiers and Marines. It sends the wrong signal to our enemies, it violates the basic tenets of decency.

    It should be stopped, and shame on those us of who are Republicans for tolerating this out of the Bush Administration.

  39. Note 41. CFL conservative writes:

    That’s immoral. Losing a dad is bad enough, but putting a mom of young children at risk is unacceptable.

    The entire power structure of the U.S., both ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal,’ should be flogged for creating this situation in which mothers are serving under fire.

    Absolutely! This has troubled my conscience ever since I learned about it. The military has become the employer of choice for many single mothers. Now we send them into combat where some get killed. Meanwhile, the children are left motherless. This is barbaric. We are a civilized country and should not allow this.

  40. I agree that it seems barbaric, and I also agree that unit cohesion is adversely affected as described by CFLconservative.

    CFLconservative Wrote:

    The entire power structure of the U.S., both ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal,’ should be flogged for creating this situation in which mothers are serving under fire.

    What about the fact that our military is made up of volunteers? The government is not forcing anyone to join, little lone single mothers. I think a deeper question is “Why would a woman choose to enter into this contract?”

    When I consider the reasons why, I can think of many benefits to being in the military. GI-Bill (money for college), education, health coverage, life insurance, job security etc… Should all that be denied to women who want to put it on the line? I think this is the lure. So I would ask how you would address this issue.

    If you start down the road of placing restrictions on what role women can play in the military, then you inevitably restrict the number of women that would be permitted to serve. It’s a ratio thing. So how do you handle the feminists who would argue that the system is in favor of men? You can take away many of the benefits and then you loose the bulk of your volunteer military.

    On the one hand I agree as well with Missourian’s

    I just want to see the nation’s defense put first.

    But on the other, is there a balance for reaping the aforementioned benefits?

  41. Drew writes: “If you start down the road of placing restrictions on what role women can play in the military, then you inevitably restrict the number of women that would be permitted to serve.”

    Perhaps you avoid that by having a different gender mix in non-combat jobs. The military has many jobs that can be done far from the front lines — accounting, payroll, logistics planning, IT, intelligence analysis, and so on. Perhaps many of those positions could be staffed by females, thus freeing the males for positions closer to combat, especially if the position is not going to be rotated into a combat zone at some point. Nursing has been dominated by females for decades, but no one sees anything wrong with that. Why not other military occupations as well? In other words, maybe Jessica Lynch should have been entering numbers into a spreadsheet in Kuwait rather than driving a truck in Iraq.

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