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48.BORN GAY

BORN GAY - Interesting article

From John Shelby Spong .....
September 28, 2005
Born Gay!

A new book co-authored by Dr. Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in psychobiology at
the University of East London and Dr. Glenn Wilson, a member of the faculty
of the University of London, has just been published in the United Kingdom.
It was reviewed in The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom's four major
daily newspapers last month. Entitled, "Born Gay," this book lays out in a
quite public way the consensus today of both the scientific and the medical
communities in their attempt to understand homosexuality.
In a nutshell, these authors state the widely accepted conclusions that
homosexuality is not something "that can be caught, like 'flu'," it cannot
be "learned from people who make it look really cool and fun like those
chaps on 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' (a British sitcom) and it has
nothing to do with smothering mothers and distant fathers." All of that,
they assert, has now fallen by the wayside. Those ideas are now completely
dismissed in intellectual circles.
Drs. Rahman and Wilson write: "It is quite clear now that homosexuality in
gay men and lesbians is caused by biological factors." This conclusion, they
assert, is "so widely accepted" in academic circles that many colleagues
asked why they had bothered to write this book at all. "They tell us," they
said in the Guardian interview, "that all we are doing is pointing out what
everyone already knows." Everyone, that is, who is not homophobic and
therefore not open to the data that so deeply and significantly challenges
this ancient, deeply held emotional prejudice.
I welcome this book precisely because it is not written for the academic
world of science and medicine, where this issue is no longer debated.
Rather, it is written specifically for those people who still operate out of
an uninformed definition of homosexuality as either a sickness or a deviant,
sinful, unnatural and depraved choice. More importantly, it is written for
those who somehow think that this issue was settled when the Book of
Leviticus was written in the sixth century before the Common Era or by St.
Paul, who wrote between 50 and 64 C.E. It is written to resource the
churches of the world that are increasingly seen as the bastions of an
undying homophobia, which causes them to be at war over an issue that
outside those churches has largely been settled. It is written to place in
the clear relief of its own ongoing ignorance the embarrassing rhetoric that
still
emanates from people like Benedict XVI, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and
their passionate acolytes of the Religious Right in America. Negative words
also come from Christian leaders in the third world who try to cover their
obviously uninformed opinions with the charge of racism when those opinions
are rejected as simply ignorant. The evidence is so clear. Homosexuality,
just like heterosexuality, is morally neutral. Both can be lived out in
holiness or in degradation. Both are 'givens' not 'chosens.' The only "sin"
of homosexual people is that they are born with a sexual orientation
different from the majority.
Dr. Rahman says that the impetus for this book was that "over the last
decade or so, there has been an explosion of work on this subject and we
felt that no one had reviewed it all or laid it down in a way that was
accessible to non-academics." Noting that although the scientific community
is convinced about the biological causes of homosexuality, some parts of the
wider world still seem to have doubts. Perhaps the fact is that this
knowledge has simply not been made accessible to them. This book then
addresses the need to educate the masses, revealing with clear and credible
evidence that homosexuality is a natural minority _expression of the spectrum
of human sexuality. That insight alone has huge ramifications for social
policy.
This book exposes the claim that religious conversion and religious
counseling can 'cure' people of homosexuality. Without equivocation, these
authors state that the data offered to support such claims have been
debunked and dismissed as the medical fraud that it has always been. We need
to embrace the fact that fraud perpetrated in the name of religion is still
fraud and should be treated as such. Those who attempt to practice medicine
without a license should be charged, convicted and jailed.
Rahman and Wilson believe that the reason for lingering confusion over this
issue in our society comes not from the lack of scientific consensus that
biology is the root of homosexuality, but rather because within that
biological data, the determining factors are still debated. It is not
genetic in the usual sense of being an inherited characteristic. Homosexual
persons presumably have straight parents, and the children of homosexual
couples are no more prone to be gay or lesbian than the children of anyone
else. Dr. Rahman's best guess at this moment is what he calls "the sponge
model," which he defines as the presence of genes that predispose a fetus
toward an orientation different from the majority. These genes, he suggests,
affect receptors in the brain causing the brain "to soak up testosterone
like a sponge." Admitting that this is just one hypothesis, Rahman
believes, nonetheless, that it has promise and can be tested. This is why,
he concludes, that "developmental biology and neurogenetics are so important
in this field."
In the late 1980s, realizing that I knew almost nothing about sexual
orientation except the unchallenged prejudices with which I had grown up, I
looked for a place I could go to gain the necessary intellectual and medical
background on this human phenomenon. I knew only that my ignorance and
prejudice would make it all but impossible to be an effective bishop in the
metropolitan New York area. My search led me to a member of the faculty of
The Cornell School of Medicine in New York City. This man, whose name was
Robert Lahita, had both a PhD and an MD degree. At that time he was working
on the differences in the immune systems of men and women, an interest that
had led him deeply into the science of the brain. What impressed me most
then, and it is now verified by this new book, is that the idea that
homosexuality could be adopted as a lifestyle of choice or that it was
caused by some factor or experience in early childhood was totally and
universally dismissed. No one on the medical faculty at Cornell saluted this
idea. That fact alone changed for me the whole dynamic in the debate going
on in the Church. For if sexual orientation is part of what we are rather
than something some choose to do, then it must be related to in the same way
that we have learned to relate to skin color, gender, left handedness and
ethnicity. These things are neither good or bad, they simply are. To
discriminate against a person because of who that person is, is the essence
of racism, sexism and xenophobia. I was now coming to the awareness that it
is also the essence of homophobia. It was the 'given-ness' of sexual
orientation that produced in me the sea change in my own attitude. That is
also what is happening in both church and society at this moment. A new
understanding of homosexuality is colliding with a definition that is
uninformed, prejudiced and dying. Dying prejudices are never revived and
they are never re-installed. Indeed the fact that a prejudice is being
debated is a sure sign that it is dying. The only question is how long will
it take and how many people will be hurt before this prejudice takes its
place in the graveyards of human history alongside other discarded
discriminatory practices that have marked the human journey through history.
The fact is that heterosexual people cannot recall the moment when they
chose their sexual orientation. I, for one, can only remember that in my
very early adolescence, I decided that girls were not obnoxious and that I
desired their attention. This awakening was accompanied by behavioral
changes that were thought of by my parents as both remarkable and
noteworthy. I took baths more frequently, combed my hair, dressed better and
even used deodorant! My mother observing this behavior said: "the sap has
risen!" I had no idea what that meant either. Now I wonder why those of us
who did not choose to be heterosexual have always assumed that homosexuals
in fact did choose to be gay!
I learned many things from my Cornell contacts. I learned that scientists
believe that the percentage of homosexual persons in the general population
is stable among all people, in all cultures and throughout all history. I
learned that homosexual behavior is well documented in the animal kingdom
today. I learned that the origin of all sexual orientation is believed to be
connected with the presence or absence of the same realities described in
Rahman and Wilson's book. Somehow both the levels of testosterone and brain
formation are factors. I learned that the division between male and female
in nature is not nearly as well differentiated as we have always thought.
All human life appears to start as female and it only develops masculine
identity if and when the "y" chromosome kicks in, reshaping the developing
fetus. Following my work with Dr. Lahita and the others at
Cornell my mind has been clear on this issue. Discrimination against
homosexual persons is as wrong as discrimination against people on the basis
of race, gender or ethnicity. It has no place in the life of the Christian
Church. I no longer even want to debate this issue in the various councils
of the Church. It is for me a settled issue. It is time for people to adjust
their ancient prejudices to new realities. This debate, for me is in the
same category as the debate between evolution and creationism, whether the
earth is flat or round and whether the sun revolves around the earth or vice
versa. Some issues are simply settled. If the Church and its leaders from
the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Pope to the evangelicals across the
world don't understand this, they reveal Christianity's irrelevance. Church
unity is a bogus smokescreen. A Church united in prejudice is not worthy of
continued life. Politicians who do not understand this are either ignorant
or irresponsible. There is no other choice. It is time to move both Church
and State into the 21st century.
— John Shelby Spong




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