Throughout the history of mankind, there have been huge strides made in the quest for civil rights. The American society provides a perfect example of civilization that underwent numerous movements in quest for equity and freedom of speech and expression. In as much as we can regard America as a perfect country that is in the forefront in protection of human rights, homosexuality still creates a lot of controversy.
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The term homosexuality has been simply defined as the same sex marriage. The debate on homosexuality has transcended on whether it is due to nurture or nature, while some have cited it as being developmental. As a widely discussed topic it has often attracted differing views across the religious and political divide. The fact that the issue of homosexuality has attracted much debate across all the divides, the topic warrants a lot of research. The topic was chosen as it offers a good way into developing an understanding on the ethical issues, moral and legal aspects that surround same sex marriage. Moreover, it is important that the historical developments, the perspectives of the opponents and defenders of the topic are compared to provide a clear logical conclusion. Therefore, the topic was chosen owing to the need to provide peer-reviewed research on the issues that surround homosexuality and provide a well informed understanding and conclusion to the topic that has been hotly contested for years.
Is Homosexuality Right or Wrong?
Homosexuality has continued to attract great debates in the American cultural life. Although majority of the discussions have centered on the morality of homosexual relationships and acts, the recent decades have witnessed a litany of policy debates on issues such as the legalization of gay marriages, the rights of gays in military and the antigay discriminations. The interests and motivations behind such debates are diverse, complex and multidimensional. However, the conflicts in opinions regarding homosexuality have tended to be on cultural conservatism and cultural liberalism.
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One of the most conspicuous proponents of conservatism in the topic of homosexuality is the church. The bible provides one of the basis through which the conservatism is grounded. The God’s initial design was that sexual contact should occur between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. In the book of Genesis in the first chapter of the bible, God created man and woman in his image. The first chapter elucidates the first differentiation of human race into two major sexes of man and a woman. The book further applies the context of a man and woman in Adam and Eve. Furthermore, it asserts that it is not good for man to be alone and that a man shall leave his father and mother, holding fast to his wife to become one flesh. The sexual union of one flesh was thus established as the normative pattern for marriage.
Paul, a good disciple of Jesus further echoed the writings in the book of Genesis while referring to homosexual in his two major texts as outlined in Romans 1:23-27 and 1Corintians 6:9. Paul and Jesus throughout their teachings held firmly into sexual context held in the book of Genesis that sexual contact should occur only between a man and a wife, two different sexual halves being brought into “one flesh”. In line with the teachings in the book of Genesis 1-2, the Bible further identifies sexual relations outside marriage that are prohibited. Among them include, incest, adultery, bestiality and prostitution.
In the context of the themes of the paper, the Bible through several passages prohibits homosexuality. The book of Leviticus 18:22 prohibits against a man lying with another man as with a woman. If a man lies with another man is deemed to be an abomination. Together with incest, adultery, prostitution and bestiality, homosexual acts are regarded as Levitical prohibitions, which constitute first-tier sexual offenses. In fact, homosexual conduct and desires are viewed as contrary to the will of God. Moreover, the desires for homosexual acts constitute dishonorable passions.
Generally, the belief that homosexuality is immoral draws much in the context of the teachings in the Bible. Although there have been progression towards liberalism among other Christians such as the evangelists as noted by Thomas, Jeremy and Olson in the article outlined earlier in the paper, majority of the Christians, who include Catholics still express reservations regarding the legality or still hold onto the fact that homosexuality is still wrong. It is worth to note that they do not point any public legal contraventions by homosexuals, which points to their reliance on the Bible as their main defense towards morality of homosexuality. They draw much of their arguments based on the teachings outlined in the Bible and taught by Jesus and his disciples during their earthly ministry.
Although conservatives have widely held their position regarding the immorality of homosexuality, recent developments among the evangelists have shown progressive stance towards homosexuality. The evangelical community has long shown opposition towards same sex marriage, but recently, they have expressed ambivalent views regarding the issue. This group believes that homosexuality is an immoral act. However, drawing from the concept of equality and individual rights, they support civil unions of gays. A national survey done to determine the views of the ambivalent evangelicals reveals that they are religiously observant but are have progressive attitudes towards gay civil unions.
The conservative and progressive views on homosexuality create a strong debate on the real position of the church on the issue. The conservative groups of Christians cite the biblical teachings that prohibit same sex contact. However, there remains a strong point of contention between the two positions. First, both read from the same script, that homosexuality is evil on moral grounds. The liberal evangelicals further assert that though homosexual acts are sinful, there is need to let them enjoy their rights and that church should accommodate sinners rather than seclude them. It appears that the liberal evangelicals take a soft and more civil rights stance on homosexuality than the conservatives, preferring to show support for individual rights while denouncing the act of homosexuality. The ambivalent evangelicals can be regarded as being in pursuit of modern developments in regards to homosexuality, while the conservative Christians prefer to stick to the old teachings of the Bible.
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The other religious beliefs including Buddhism and Islam outlaw homosexuality. The Islamic teachings prohibit homosexuality in entirety and the practice of same is punishable by death. In Quran 7:80-84, 7: 81, and 4: 16, references are made on same sexual contact. The Islamic Holy Book further reiterates the disapproval of homosexuality in hadith and sira.
“if a man comes upon a man, then they are both adulterers,” “If a woman comes upon a woman, they are both Adulteresses,” “When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes,” and “Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.”
However, there is an increase in homosexuality among the states of Islam as shown by the solidarity that were done after the gay club shooting that was done in the U.S. Like in Christianity, homosexuality is disapproved in Islam and Buddhism, where it is considered as an act of fornication.
However, the question on whether homosexuality is right or wrong transcends beyond the biblical definitions and positions regarding the issue. The Bible and Quran, regards the good as that that corresponds to the will of God and Allah and the wrong as the one that goes against their will and teachings. However, in philosophy and everyday life, the concept of what is wrong or right can be different. In some philosophical views (theories), an action can be deemed good if the consequences of its actions bring more good than harm. On the other hand, the legal definition of a good action is the one that is done in accordance with the laws that govern citizen actions. These views create another major perspective in creating an understanding on whether homosexuality is right or wrong. Whereas homosexuality can be regarded by the conservative Christians, Muslims and Buddhists as being wrong on moral grounds, the progressive people view it as right as it is an individual right which does not go against constitutional laws.
In the 1990s the issue of homosexuality became more prominent, as lesbians and gay begun to establish themselves in the mainstream American life. This led to several people “coming out” and the conservative Americans had to find a way of dealing with the new outward demonstrations of the issue. In that time, homosexuality attracted great attention in the movies, television and other media networks. An up rise against homosexuality among the conservatives became apparent. The aftermath of the outward display of homosexuality led to the homosexuals to demanding not only social acceptance but to be given the right to marriage. The results are now conspicuous as states in America continue to legalize same sex marriage, in addition to increased public and political opinion in support of same sex marriage.
As the upsurge in homosexuality in the 1990s created a strong debate about the issue, it is in the interest of the paper to develop an understanding on the causes of homosexuality. This will help in creation of an overarching understanding of the progressive views and in particular those who advocate for legalization and the legal position regarding homosexuality. For example, the American Psychological Association completely removed homosexuality as mental disorder towards the end of 1973 from its DSM diagnostic model. This follows comprehensive research on causes of homosexuality. Although there have been reservations regarding legalization of homosexuality from the conservatives, the individuals who hold progressive views cite the equal rights paradigm, which is further reinforced through the causation theories.
The socio-biologists have taken passion in recent times in determining the causation and origins of homosexuality. Although the society holds two major views of conservatism and progressions towards the issue, the socio-biologists have advanced various theories to explain the cause and origin of the hotly debated issue. These theories aimed at creating and understanding on sexuality as it regards the social and biological causes.
While debating the concept of sexual orientation, Darwin once pointed that much is unknown, not even the final cause of sexuality is known. In addition to the view of homosexuality on moral grounds, the conservatives assert that the way individuals are brought up can influence their sexual orientation. The nexus between the conservative views and their morality position can now be explained with the huge social science data that has been made available through recent that has spanned decades.
The social theory of homosexuality is explained in the ancient theory, which is outlined in Plato’s speech. In his speech, Plato pointed that homosexuality is the desire that men express in need to fulfill their long-term desires of their souls. He further points that though the souls long to be together, the sexual desires are not strong enough to create homosexuality. Instead, there must be a culture that facilitates or forbids the desires. These assertions are reinforced in the cultures observed among the people of New Guinea and in Crete, Greece. In Greece, men to teenager sex were common in Crete as a rite of passage to adulthood. Similarly, in New Guinea, young teenagers are inseminated by warriors as a rite of passage into adulthood. These cultures promote same sex and thus homosexuality is legal.
The psychoanalytic approach as outlined by Sigmund Freud asserts homosexuality as a variation of sexual function that is caused by an arrest of certain sexual developments. He goes further and points that it is not a vice nor is it something to be ashamed of. Giving examples of great people like Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud reiterates that persecuting homosexuality as a crime or cruelty is great injustice. The psychoanalytic theory asserts that the family and parental dynamics are central to the sexual orientation of the children during their growth and development.
However, the planophysical theory advanced by D. Halperin, points to the nature as the major factor that produces homosexual orientation. As a keen follower of Fraud’s theory, Halperin points that the presence of unresolved Oedipus precedes the development of homosexuality among individuals. Though the theory has gained criticism for lack of scientific evidence, the founder gives examples of situations that can cause homosexuality among individuals. For example, a weak father and a strong mother with unresolved Oedipus will give birth to homosexual child. The other social theory developed by J. Foucault asserts that homosexuality came into being because of social derivation. The two theories, however, have differing views on the contribution of environment towards homosexuality. Both believe that homosexuality is an aberration, which becomes new species that justifies itself into the new world.
Although the social theorists postulated the impact of environment on development of homosexuality, a number of studies have been advanced to explain homosexuality as a result of individual biology and genetics. Initially, the American Psychological Association placed homosexuality as a mental disorder. However, the findings of Hooker were instrumental in the removal of homosexuality from APA in 1973 from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders (DSM).
The biological theories draw much from Elli’s theory and Hooker’s study. Havelock Ellis, a British sexual liberator, forst raised the biological basis of sexual orientation in the 19th century. He stated that homosexuality is inborn and as such cannot be considered immoral. Moreover, he points in his work that homosexuals, just like other sexually oriented individuals, made positive contributions to the development in the society. More genetic studies have also revealed the presence of the Xq28, a gene that has been termed “gay gene”, which is responsible for the transfer of homosexual characteristics.
The social and biological theories on homosexuality all point to the environmental and nature as the major causes of homosexuality. It is evident from above discussion that no one chooses to be an individual, rather the interaction with the environment and the genetic composition all contribute to the homosexuality. The issue on whether homosexuality is right or wrong has not been solved with the social and biological theories. However, these theories have helped broaden the understanding on the major developments in clearing the myths and wrong perceptions on homosexuality.
Given the overarching examination of the biological and sociological views on homosexuality, the examination on whether the issue it is right on wrong must now rest on the measurement of the facts of homosexuality based on research data and legal considerations. First, it is worth to note that marriage is a fundamental and a substantive right. The major point of contention in homosexuality could be regarded to emanate from civil union between two people. However, this does not mean being a homosexual itself does not attract debate. The point is that the major issue of argument regards the issue of same sex marriage.
Marriage has a number of functions, which include facilitation of stable family settings for the welfare of the children, perpetuation of political and social culture through the education of children and assisting the society in taking care of the incapacitated individuals. Also, the emotional and economic support that is associated with marriage is important in personal achievement and development. Marriage also provides a way in which an individual enters into the family of the partner, which provides an important and broader network of economic and emotional security. The big question would then remain, is homosexuality wrong?
There is no definite answer for this question but we can make informed arguments based on the given data. Given the important role that marriage plays as a social institution and the need for equal rights protection, it guarantees the homosexuals the right to civil union. Homosexual marriages, just like other civil marriages can make positive contributions to the economic developments. Moreover, homosexual marriages have a role to play in bringing up families. One can ask how this is possible in the first place. There are many children without parents and the individuals who undergo same sex marriage can adopt such children, providing them with love and other basic necessities for their lives.
The advent of the same sex movements did not only raise the publicity and the need for laws that protect same sex marriages. It also increased public scrutiny on the issue. Many homosexual marriages are met with discrimination from the public. However, the social and economic justification of homosexuality is further reinforced by the legal prepositions as outlined in the constitution. The constitution allows for the equal protection of the law under the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments. This further reinforced the federal civil rights law. Under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Equal Protection Clause prohibits any form of discrimination on basis of gender, age, color, country of origin and sexual orientation among other tenets.
The right to privacy, which can be taken literally to mean right to be left alone, are enshrined in the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. These provisions have been underscored by numerous Supreme Court decisions. For example, the 1972 Eisenstaedt v. Baird recognized the right of unmarried persons to contraceptives, while the 1973, Roe v. Wade recognized the rights of women to reproductive choice. In all these Supreme Court decisions, it is evident that the decisions about intimate issues are personal and should be left to individuals. In the same way, homosexuality as an intimate decision rests on personal choice and the question regarding on whether it is right or wrong is not a matter of public judgment. The increasing need for protection of individual rights has seen over ten states (California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Vermont) enact laws that protect same sex marriage.
The issue of homosexuality has attracted great research and debate over the years. The analysis of the major issues around the topic has revealed two major issues from the defenders and those opposed to homosexuality. Those opposed to it cite the immorality of the act as outlined in the religious teachings. In contrary, those with progressive ideas cite the fact that homosexuality results from nature and they are also human and must be allowed to do as they wish as long as they are their rights. Moreover, the scientific evidence shows homosexuality as result of nature and many researchers have cited culture and environment as contributory factors, thus giving support to homosexuality.
Although homosexuality is not a fundamental constitutional right, it is not a constitutional contravention. The American constitution offers equal rights in its Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments regardless of the sexual orientation, gender, age, color or country of origin. Though landmark cases have not expressed direct support for homosexuality, neither have it opposed the issue, citing the functions of marriage. In addition, progressive evangelicals have voiced their support for homosexuality as a basic right of individuals. As the debate on homosexuality continues to advance, it appears there will be growing support for homosexuality.