I've been putting writing this post off for some reason. Mostly because I've been busy, but also because it's been a little difficult to write. Because I know talking about sex and gender and all that is touchy but also because I'm working with a lot of unknowns. There's no such thing as a cure to homosexuality. In fact, with homosexuality, most people don't even know what's wrong, much less how to treat it. There are obviously a lot of things we think we know, but something like a "cure" is almost science fiction. (I will be doing a post on "conversion therapy" soon.)
Recognizing difference is simply one (important) step in the process of moral evaluation. The second, more important, step is determining whether that difference is good or bad...This third step concerns whether one should take an action to fix a wrong, considering the various consequences of such an action. In other words, what sort of things might a person lose if he chose to fix something that was truly wrong with him? In the case of homosexuality, I think this evaluation is actually very difficult.
This post is supposed to be that third step. Before I get directly to that, though, I want to emphasize again that the difference here (being attracted to members of the same sex) is a bad sort of difference. It is, as I've said a number of times before, not like eye color or skin color or something basically neutral to the flourishing of the individual. And as I've also said, I think the difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals is much deeper than just sexual attraction. From this, I've, perhaps somewhat controversially, argued that I think these differences, the differences related to masculinity and femininity, are often differences that could count as defects in the individual, if not just minor ones.
I am well aware of the fact that this argument was met with disagreement, and I think a lot of the disagreement was rooted in some misunderstandings, but I don't want to bring all that up again. What I want to focus on is the opposite of what I wrote about before. Before I argued that homosexuals are afflicted with a certain type of gender disorder, where they are less able to flourish as the sex that they are. In other words, I think that there are a number of negatives (beyond just sexual attraction) that homosexuals have to deal with. So this should make the third step evaluation easy, right? If, one, there is a difference, and two, that difference is bad (as I've argued it is), then three should be obvious: change yourself as soon as you can! But what I'm trying to argue here is that it isn't quite that easy. That, if a cure to homosexuality existed, I would have serious apprehensions partaking in that cure. Why?
One time, I was talking to a friend who knows that I am gay about a cure. I told him that I would choose to be cured if there weren't any serious side-effects like cancer or something. This upset him. He didn't like me saying this. This confused me a little bit, so I pressed him on it. He said that he thinks that if I were to "turn straight" I would lose something about myself that he liked. That is, I would "change" in such a way as to be a different person. This upset him because, I imagine, he felt like he would be losing me as a friend. Now, there's a lot to this, and I think his concern isn't ridiculous. In fact, I think there's something pretty nice about it. I think it presupposes a certain kind of mind/body thing where he was somehow concerned that my "mind" would change in some way so that I wouldn't be "me" anymore. There's a ton of mind-body stuff that can be talked about here, but I want to avoid that as much as I can.
But I think he was speaking to something true beyond mind-body stuff, that if a gay person were to become straight, he wouldn't be just like he was before. I think that this might be true, that if his sexuality is that tied to his brain development, there would be some sort of significant, noticeable changes in the person. Now, if all of the things changed were bad things, I think there wouldn't be any apprehension. For example, I'm sure a number of treatments change a person when the underlying issue is resolved. The closest examples are probably personality disorders like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. No one would say, "Oh, I liked you the way you were before; why'd you change?" No one decent anyway. In other words, I think my friend was basically saying that there are some things that go along with the whole gay package, outside of the sexual attraction, that are good.
Now, I think this needs to be qualified quite a lot, but the general position, to me, has some merit. Of course, pinning down what's good about homosexual personality traits is probably harder than pinning down what's bad. But I think there's something there. Most homosexuals, I think, are, for example, slow to anger and especially violence. This obviously isn't some hard and fast rule, but I imagine that for many of the same reasons women don't commit violent crimes, homosexuals don't as well. Of course, determining why people commit crimes in general is a near-impossible task, but I do think there's something there. Similarly, I think that homosexuals are notoriously concerned with empathy. Again, for the same reasons I think that women are.
None of these things are quantifiable in any real way (beyond looking at crimes committed by homosexuals, something that probably isn't even recorded), but if we are to see homosexual men as men with brains more similar to women, some of the obvious stereotypes and trends might make sense. In other words, many of things that make women positive parts of society might be more prevalent in homosexuals. Beyond this, though, I would argue that the unique mix (if I can use this word) that makes a homosexual what he is might be positive in a way that neither average men by themselves or average women by themselves aren't.
Please, please do not read into this me saying that I think homosexuality is a good thing. If we're talking about being sexually attracted to members of the same sex I absolutely, positively say that it is not a good thing. I'm also not trying to say that unhealthy levels of effeminacy in men is a good thing. All I'm trying to point out is that, as heterosexual Christians try to reach out to homosexuals, especially homosexuals who are unhappy with their circumstances, attacking everything about the homosexual might not be particularly helpful. And further, it might just be incorrect. Is this me advocating a larger gay presence in culture and society? No. For a number of reasons. Mainly, because "gay" usually means the advocacy of homosexual sex and the whole rest of it: the trivialization of marriage, family, children, etc. I'm just trying to say that when my friend was saddened by my answer, I think he was afraid of losing a special friend who was a little more gentle than his heterosexual friends. And I think all that I'm saying is that there is something, in whatever way, good about this gentleness.
This is why "gay cure" stuff gives me pause. I don't think it would be an on/off switch kind of thing. I don't think I would be just like I am now but with an insatiable desire for boobs or whatever. And I think that whatever part of what makes me (and other gay guys) what I am that is good might be lost. Or at least changed. I think that there is a place for homosexuals that doesn't include gay sex and the like. I think there's some room for nuance. I think there might be something, for whatever bad that goes along with being gay, that homosexuals can add. Does this good outweigh all the bads that come along with being gay? I don't know the answer to that question at all, and I'm not sure anyone could actually answer it. I'm just trying to say that whatever good is in the homosexual personality (assuming it can be pinned down), it wouldn't be wrong to recognize it and appreciate it.
I don't think a cure, at least for a very long time, will be possible for adults. Or even those outside the womb. If there were to be a cure for homosexuality, I would wager that treatment would take place before the child were born. I'm, of course, not a scientist or a doctor, but that's my guess. I can't wait to hear the politics of that. I can imagine the issue as parents start to abort their gay children: "a child has a right to be born gay, but that doesn't mean he has a right to be born." We'll probably pass laws that say you can't abort children based on their sexual orientation. Conservatives and liberals won't know which side to pick! The world is a crazy place.