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~ Homosexuality and Other Aberrations ~

A great new book is out: "Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm" edited by Rogers H. Wright and Nicolas A. Cummings (2005, Routledge, New York).
I quote from Dr. A. Dean Byrd's review of this book with my comments interspersed: "Wright and Cummings express alarm from the 'ever-proliferating therapies that are not only without validation but are irresponsible, and often later shown to be harmful' (p. xv). For example, 'society spent a number of years sentencing fathers to prison based on false memories, followed by years of releasing them with the court's apology, as accusers became aware of the implanted memories,' (p. xv) with practitioners losing their licenses and plagued with lawsuits. Cummings notes that though he and his co-editor lived through the 'abominable' McCarthy era and the Hollywood witch hunts, still, there was 'not the insidious sense of intellectual intimidation that currently exists under political correctness' (p. xv). 'Now misguided political correctness tethers our intellects. Those viewed as conservative are looked down upon as lacking intelligence' (p. xv)."

This is an excellent observation, with two of my counter observations. The first is that while it may be true that some courts have apologized, I have never encountered an instance of a prosecutor admitting fault and apologizing. (I would welcome contradictory information from my readers.) The prosecutors are those who bring these fathers to court. The courts' job is to oversee the trial proceedings to prevent any illegal deviation from the law and rules of procedure, so they can excuse themselves from prosecutorial zeal and misconduct.

"The authors note that there is no empirical data on political correctness because it is 'politically incorrect to question political correctness' (p. 22). They pose two questions regarding political correctness, and offer a number of hypotheses for potential testing. The questions are: 'What psychological functions does political correctness fulfill for the individual?' and 'What is the attraction of political correctness to certain personalities?' The hypotheses offered to understand these behavioral phenomena include: Political Correctness... Harbors Hostility; Reflects Narcissism; Masks Histrionics; Functions as Instant Morality; Wields Power; Serves as Distraction; Involves Intimidation; Lacks Alternatives."

Many of our churches have succumbed to pressure of political correctness. The most blatant is that of ordaining homosexuals as pastors and denigrating the universal teachings of Christ into a nationalistic theology. As I wrote in last week's Reflection, while we proclaim what has become a cliché, "God bless America!" we are called to pray He also blesses all nations. The blessing of God is not a reward for our narcissistic claim to moral superiority, but a need for all people of all nations, including our enemies. Christ made this clear on His "Sermon on the Mount," a clarity seemingly lost on those who equate the flag of their nation with God's solidarity and favor. Those who challenge that solidarity and favor swim against the political correctness craze and are condemned by their own brothers and sisters. Churches would do well to make sure they avoid Wright and Cummings' listing of the pitfalls of the PC movement: hostility, narcissism, histrionics, instant morality, power, distraction, intimidation and the blindness to alternatives.

"The authors assert that political correctness is hostile to certain research questions that may be unpopular, and can have a chilling effect on science. Further, political correctness can view certain questions as settled moral issues rather than empirical questions requiring scientific investigations. The
authors note, for example, '...the status of homosexuality is a settled moral question in the PC movement,' citing, for example, that the National Endowment for the Arts would likely view those who object to the painting Piss Christ as infringing on freedom of expression, while finding a similar painting titled Piss Gay as offensive and morally wrong (p. 24)."

I recall very well that dubious art called "Piss Christ" funded by the Endowment for the Arts. I also recall Christians exclaiming, "Why aren't Christians up in arms about this?" My response was, "Well, you are the Christian who isn't up in arms about it." Wright and Cummings are correct in predicting the "Gay Community" and activists would prevail in having an artwork called "Piss Gay" quickly removed and securing publicized apologies for offending them. I certainly don't fault them for that activism. Christians should follow their example and not just moan and groan about why "someone" isn't doing something about the secular defamation of our Christ. Do we really expect the gay activists to protest against a Christian defamation? Or the ACLU? They didn't and I wouldn't want them to. That activism would shame us, for it is our job and responsibility.

"Finally, they note that the political correctness is so ingrained in many of the institutions of science, academia and government agencies, that priorities and policies are influenced such as those affecting AIDS funding as opposed to funding for breast cancer, or the practice of evaluating grants by federally determined categories of minority inclusion (p. 25)."

How true, don't you agree? Philadelphia is bracing for one million spectators for its AIDs awareness concert as I write this. It is, of course, PC, to attend and support the cause. It would be anti-PC and lethal for anyone who publicly points out the other needs of our world that are overlooked, and question our lack of attentiveness to them. Just one example of so many are the slave laboring children and adults in India who earn seventeen cents for a 14 to 16 hour day of work so that we can buy bargain clothes at Wal-Mart whose CEO is "worth" over 20 billion dollars. I am happy I am not "worth" that, though we Christians still love shopping at Wal-Mart and other stores whose success are dependent on the evil oppression of the poor and enslaved. Of course, Wal-Mart and the other businesses are very pro-American and it is anti-PC for me to write this, subjecting myself to criticism. I must admit, I also like the US "dollar stores." In them Americans can buy anything from clothes and books to dishware and food. But these stores owe their existence to the horrible working conditions of our Chinese brothers and sisters. Giving to the AIDs funds is PC. It's a safe cause, because it is PC. The others are not. So we neglect them and struggle in our conscience with them. Well, in thinking that over, it is true we neglect them, but most of us probably don't let them intrude our conscience or shopping.

"O'Donohue and Caselles offer a brief history of homosexuality relative to psychiatric nomenclature, highlighting how the issue became politicized and how activism against the backdrop of the social climate of the '60s ushered in a reclassification. Activists selectively used the writings of the renegade psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz, who viewed much of psychiatry as fraudulent and believed that it functioned to oppress and suppress those who held unacceptable ideas. Gay activists translated Szasz's views selectively to support them in their efforts to attack the psychiatric profession for using the language of science to condemn value positions, essentially their valuing of homosexuality. Ironically, Szasz's views of homosexuality were similar to the prevailing views at the time: Ever since the Freudian revolution, and especially since the Second World War, it has become intellectually fashionable to hold that homosexuality is neither a sin nor a crime, but a disease. This claim means either that homosexuality is a condition somewhat similar to ordinary organic maladies, perhaps caused by some genetic error or endocrine imbalance, or that it is an expression of psychosexual immaturity, probably caused by certain kinds of personal and social circumstances in early life.

"I believe it is very likely that homosexuality is, indeed a disease in the second sense and perhaps sometimes even in the stricter sense. Nevertheless, if we believe that, by categorizing homosexuality as a disease, we have succeeded in removing it from the realm of moral judgment, we are in error (p. 67)."

Is this not a remarkable and courageous statement for non-PC psychological and scholarly writers to make? Indeed, categorizing human aberrations and sins as "disorders" may have some empirical foundation, but certainly does not exclude them from "the realm of moral judgment" although the PC movement would force us to do just that.

"Noting that there are readily available arguments for the moral impermissibility of homosexual acts, and that they are not obviously unsound, they cite the vast number of religions whose view is based on revelation from God, and invoke the Szaszian point that it is not the purview of mental health professionals and behavioral scientists to judge as abnormal or irrational a belief in God, or specific beliefs regarding what God has revealed. They note that these are 'properly open issues that citizens of a free society should debate and decide upon, free of the interference of the mental health profession's attempt to make either ethical position a mental health issue' (p. 79).

"In addition, there are secular arguments that make the case for the immorality of homosexuality; for example, Kant thought that homosexual acts violate the categorical imperative: A second crimen carnis contra naturm (immoral acts against our animal nature) is intercourse between sexus homogenii, in which the object of sexual impulse is a human being but there is homogeneity instead heterogeneity of sex, as when a woman satisfies her desire on a woman, or a man on a man. This practice too is contrary to the ends of humanity; for the end of humanity is respect of sexuality is to preserve the species is without debasing the person; but in this instance the species is not being preserved (as it can be by a crimen carnis secundum naturam), but the person is set aside, the self is degraded below the level of animals, and humanity is dishonored (p. 79).

"Similar arguments concerning the immorality of homosexuality, based on the philosophical concept of natural law, are given by Plato and Aquinas and more modern ethicists such as Ruddick (p. 79). There are also more utilitarian arguments. The authors are clear that these arguments have not been 'proven true,' but rather are open possibilities. They conclude that 'ethical arguments exist that take homosexuality to be morally wrong and that they are not obviously unsound' (p. 80). Thus the authors not only open the debate on the legitimacy of 'homophobia' as a construct, but also allow for the discussion of the immorality of homosexuality based on natural law.

"This latter debate is long overdue, and is rightly not the purview of APA, but rather the purview of the citizens of a free society. Interestingly enough, this view has been articulated by a self-identified lesbian activist, Anne Fausto-Sterling, the developmental biologist from Brown University, who noted that the way we 'consider homosexuality in our culture is a moral-ethical and moral question' (Dreifus, C. 2001, Exploring What Makes Us Male or Female. New York Times, Science Section, January 2).

Well now, notice how I have not yet quoted the Bible in this Reflection, nor will I, an unusual departure from all of my Weekly Reflections. I don't need to. When preaching to the "choir," biblical quotes are received with yes-nods of the head. This Reflection is a good one to pass onto those who don't respect the veracity of biblical teachings. Voices from the secular world quoted here are echoing the biblical teachings regarding the struggle of "spirit" against "flesh." Even Professor Fausto-Sterling concedes homosexuality "in our culture is a moral-ethical and moral question." Her observations hold much greater credence and respect in my eyes than the street-level activists who promulgate on passion and empty rhetoric.

"Subsequent to the exit from the '60's culture, a fully postmodern society emerged and 'the rise of clinical psychology coincided with the paradigm shift, and psychologists (and other mental health professionals) did more than any other professional group to demonize the traditional marriage (supposedly bad for women), the traditional family (supposedly inherently pathological, and traditional child rearing (supposedly bad for children)' (p. 226). The negative consequences of postmodernism included the dangerous shift in pediatrics: '...the tendency to isolate a child's behavior from its context and judge the behavior, rather than the parent's management of it, as the problem (p. 233).

I said I would not quote the Bible. Look for yourself at David's penitential psalm 51, where he concedes he was not born a sinner, but conceived in sin. (Another statement of life and soul beginning at conception.)  Spiritual genetics. Children are not innocents, which is another anti-PC statement. But our experience is also anti-PC. As soon as our "innocents" can talk, and even before then, we must exert great effort in teaching them things against their inbred nature, such as don't lie, share your toys, stop fighting, stop telling your brother you hate him, don't disobey me, don't hide those things from me, have compassion on those less fortunate than you, stop hitting mommy when you don't have your way." The intensity of these teachings only increase as the child grows into his or her teenage years. Children are not tabla rasa innocents. They are typically narcissistic and self-centered, and adept at controlling the world around them without instruction. Our parental instruction is typically focused on teaching them otherwise, teaching them what must be learned, since they are not born with such moral predilections or spiritually driven directions.

"The authors caution that the possibility of harm exists when there is not supporting evidence. For example, in the case of abortion, the author suggests that 'Unless the APA has extremely compelling data to show the utter illegitimacy of the anti-abortion stance, it might be prudent not to take a position on this divisive issue, both out of respect for the diversity of opinion surrounding this issue, and to avoid placing member-psychologists in an unnecessarily difficult situation' (pp. 242-243). The authors recommend that the 'APA constrain its political activity to issues in which psychologists have legitimate expertise'(p. 250)

Yes, it's time for the psychiatric and psychological associations to withdraw from PC pressure and stick to their art and science. The authors may well have addressed this recommendation to our churches.

"He cites liberal bias influencing research and interpretation in gay and lesbian parenting: Much of the extant research that finds no negative effects of gay parenting on children has serious limitations, for example, small sample size, nonrepresentative and self-selected samples, reliance on self-reporting subject to social desirability biases, and lacking longitudinal data. These limitations are often downplayed by advocates, who also frequently fail to consider fully the potential importance of having both male and female nurturance and role models for children (p. 308)."

Another courageous statement on behalf of the biblical teachings, though the authors may not know that. Should I let them know? Sure, they'll get a copy of this Weekly Reflection. Hopefully, their response, if provided, will be another interesting topic of a future Reflection.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
   in the Christian Faith ~

Spiritual Resource Services  © June 30, 2005

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