Two of the most vexatious issues that plague our society today are abortion and homosexuality. Unfortunately, we hear little civilized, objective dialog on either topic. The opposing sides argue from political, religious and emotional viewpoints and make little effort to uncover the real facts involved. My visceral reaction is ”a plague on both of their houses!”
There are two basic questions that must be answered before we can proceed any farther down polemical paths; when does human life actually begin and what is homosexuality, a choice or something inherited? If, in fact, life begins at conception, abortion is the taking of human life, pure and simple. And if sexual orientation is a choice, since desire towards one’s own gender isn’t exactly accommodated by physiological realities, it is abnormal. But are we looking at all the facts?
Pro-life advocates contend that at the very moment the male sperm cell contacts the female one-celled ovum a little person is created with a mind and a soul. They feel that to terminate this process at any point thereafter is taking a human life. But many in the scientific community, not all by any means, believe that at the time of conception and for some period afterwards whatever it is that was created has neither the neural sophistication nor the cellular differentiation to be considered a being of any kind yet, only the potential. Many scientists believe human life emerges at some point after conception, but they can’t seem to agree on exactly when. From a theological viewpoint pro - life and pro - choice advocates appear to be divided pretty much along liberal-conservative or denominational lines. But both sides hold views that need to be heard.
The homosexuality controversy harks back to the old nature-nurture debate in psychology. One side holds that sexual orientation is inborn while the other believes it is a choice. Much scientific evidence appears to be on the nature side here. Those who believe sexual preference is a choice cite mostly anecdotal evidence or rely on certain scriptural references that condemn homosexual behavior without addressing homosexuality itself. Personally, I can’t for the life of me remember when I decided I was attracted to females. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. There seems to be little evidence in neuroscience that suggests sexual preference has environmental or learned causes.
And then there is the ongoing uproar over gay marriage. But there is an easy solution, get the government out of the marriage business altogether and let the churches decide whom they will marry and whom they will not. State governments could then sanction civil unions which would confer certain rights on a couple irrespective of gender such as rights of survival, inheritance and emergency decision making. Marriage as a religious covenant could but wouldn’t necessarily have to exist. But if a religious marriage ceremony is important, same-sex couples could find churches that would marry them. Dissenting churches could maintain their integrity by refusing to do so; a win – win situation.
Until we as a society convene our best legal, scientific and theological minds and address these issues objectively, fairly and dispassionately, these sticky controversies will remain in the name-calling stage where they mostly are today.
George B. Reed, Jr. is retired from AT&T and a former history teacher in the Hamilton County school system. He lives in Fort Oglethorpe and can be reached at email@example.com or 706-858-3501.