The Sexual Preference Identity Fallacy

A few years back, while on a plane journey, a member of the crew asked if it was ok for someone to change seats and sit next to me. I said that was no problem. A few minutes later I found next to me a man who had just broken up with his homosexual partner. We had a pleasant enough conversation until we arrived inevitably on the subject of homosexuality, which knowing I was a Muslim, he wanted to know my opinions. The conversation ended after that because he asserted something to the effect that “you cannot know what it means to be homosexual because you are not one”.

This idea at the centre of today’s identity politics is IMHO crippling dialog in much the same way as it ended our discussion that day on the plane. By asserting that someone should not be listened to because of some real or imagined innate characteristic, be it gender, race, sexual preference etc the debate is brought to an abrupt end.

People are generally happy to discuss ideas and the evidence for and against particular notions while their point of view has a chance of winning the debate. Once it becomes clear to someone that their opinion is weak or critically flawed, then there are few choices. You can change your mind, at least to suspend your judgement or you can find a way to cover up your realisation by dismissing the other side’s arguments by insulting them. This ad-hominem fallacy lies at the heart of the censorious culture of political correctness.

Same sex acts and relationships have been observed occurring in animals, such as pigeons, dogs, whales and penguins. So, it may be regarded as natural by some. However, it does not and cannot have the same status of defining an identity. No animal is observed as taking on a lifelong pattern of homosexual behaviour. The closest known example we have is animals who partner usually for life. Famously, there was a pair of male penguins in a US zoo. They stayed together as sexual partners for several years, but then they separated and one of them then went on to become the sexual partner with a female penguin.

Despite many attempts to find a genetic cause to homosexuality none has been found. On the face of it, homosexuality as a lifelong characteristic cannot have a genetic cause because then evolution would quickly eliminate it from the gene pool. It could however be a temporary behaviour which is correlated to a characteristic which under some circumstances gives an advantage.

Sexual drive is a basic necessity for survival of life and, like the need to eat, it can be over powering at times. Flies attracted by sexual pheromones charge to their deaths in the jaws of insect eating plants. Sex is used to sell all kinds of stuff. Even if the chance of reproduction is small it is worth a try, or at least demands attention. The chance of a sperm cell reaching the egg from a single human ejaculation even in ideal circumstances is about one in a billion. So it is a particularly strong drive that is easily wasted in unproductive ways.

Sexual drive varies a lot in nature, there are creatures which as part of the mating process the male is literally eaten by the female. In other creatures, the young need care by the mother and/or father for many months and years, and in these creatures a strong bond is necessarily formed that lasts for years. This we call love and sex plays a big part in it so we call it “making love”. Medics and chemists have identified a key signal in the brain chemistry around love – the oxytocin hormone. There are a number of effects which in themselves describe characteristics of love and help establish those bonds needed for raising children. It is released in the brain during sex in particular.
It has the effect of enhancing memory of the person you see. Love at first sight will feel like you have known the other person for years, almost like deja vu. It makes you blind to the problems that may result, which helps you to ignore the faults in your partner or the faults of the sexual acts being thought about or done. All of these characteristics help bind and connect people – and other animals – in long term relationships, but they also have a risk – and it is a big one, that those relationships are a waste of effort and even destructive to life rather than productive. Sexual acts have a capacity to make you ignore the faults that would otherwise deter you from them. This loss of inhibition can become associated in the mind as a key ingredient in sex. So instead of seeing that faults are sometimes best overlooked to get the benefits from a long term relationship, faults become the way to defining powerful sexual desires and experiences. Doing things that are normally disgusting or painful becomes sexually arousing. In this way sexual desires can become perverted and get people into harmful behaviour.

Same sex relationships are just one of the many ways sexual desire can be perverted from its productive fulfillment. It is a natural risk due to the huge benefits to survival of having a strong sexual desire and all the mechanisms that are part of that. LBGTQ…. it is all the same, we are not born with sexual preference identities. Like all identities we give ourselves they are choices we make. We reprogram ourselves through the associations we make in our minds. This does actually change us.

One important way this can happen is that we are capable of making choices which determine our thinking such that we no longer listen to alternative opinions or the evidence and arguments presented for them. This can shut down key parts of our minds and we can choose to become deaf and blind to reason. There is none so blind as he who will not see. When we limit our thinking to only consider opinions of people with the same identities as ourselves we run this risk. Once we blind ourselves, our behaviour has entered a pattern that is fundamentally dissonant and very self destructive. It can feel hard to escape it and it is no surprise that homosexuals have much higher rates of drug addiction and suicide than the rest of the population. Dismissing this as just a result of being rejected by society is facile and untrue and sadly typical of a discourse characterised by insulting anyone who disagrees so as not to have to think about the facts. The opposite is likely the case. It is the acceptance and encouragement people get for their pathological dissonant behaviours that exacerbates their condition.

It would be unjust to condemn someone for a part of their nature they cannot change. Do not get proud or humiliated for any thing about yourself that you genuinely cannot change. Neither God nor other people should judge you for being that race, that gender, that family etc. The only things in our identities which it is just to judge ourselves or others by are those things which we can choose to change about ourselves. As such whatever we have become, we should neither be proud nor despairing of it because we may yet change it. Once you understand this, you are robbed of being proud of some part of your identity that you cannot lose, but in exchange for that, it removes from you bigotry and replaces it with a humble gratitude for the good you have received and achieved and the hope that you can always become a better person.

The fact is that whatever we have become through the choices we have made, we should not underestimate our capacity to change ourselves again and again and to find new love if the old love does not produce the life we need.