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Religious Tolerance logo

About the Natural Law and and the LGBT community

Part 2: An alternative form of natural
law that favors same-sex marriage

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The acronym "LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons.
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

The acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage, often called "gay marriage"

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Step 2: Derive an alternate set of natural laws concerning lesbians, gays and bisexuals:

To be useful in decision making, a set of natural laws concerning LGBs must correspond closely to reality.

If one assumes that the statements and findings of the two APAs and other major professional associations in the social sciences are more accurate than the conclusions reached by ideologically and theologically driven religious associations, then one might extract the following set of natural laws from the former:

  • Quoting the 1994 Statement on Homosexuality by the American Psychological Association:

    "The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals." 1

    The APA and other professional associations have published numerous reports and statements since 1994, that promote the same conclusions.

  • There are three sexual orientations, all of which are normal and natural for humans:
    • heterosexuality: attraction only to persons of the opposite sex,
    • bisexuality: attraction to both sexes, although not necessarily to the same degree; and
    • homosexuality: attraction only to persons of the same gender.

On the order of 5% of adults worldwide are believed to have a homosexual orientation; a similar number are bisexuals. These numbers are difficult to determine with accuracy.

  • Studies of homosexual behavior among species other than human show that it is natural because it has been observed in all human societies, in all species of mammals, and in hundreds of other animal species.

  • Reparative therapy has been found to be ineffective and can be dangerous for some clients. It always, or almost always, results in failure to attain a change in sexual orientation. This can lead to serious depression, suicidal ideation and in rare cases to completed suicide. Exodus International, the largest conservative Christian outreach to lesbians, gays and bisexuals, once promoted reparative therapy. However, when they became convinced of its ineffectiveness and danger to clients, they abandoned it.

  • Numerous studies -- some of identical twins who were separated at birth and raised apart -- have given strong indications that one's sexual orientation
    • is strongly influenced by one's genes.
    • may be triggered during early childhood by an unknown environmental factor.

  • Child psychologists can examine pre-school children and determine with about 85% accuracy those children that will become gay or lesbian in adulthood. This finding throws very serious doubt on the theory that sexual orientation is chosen at or after puberty.

  • There are serious flaws in all or essentially all studies of children raised by gay or lesbian parents. However, most seem to show that children thrive in homes containing two loving, supportive parents, whether their parents are of the same gender or opposite gender.

  • There appears to be plenty of evidence that humans are a social species. We tend to work in groups. In particular, all societies are seen to recognize loving, committed relationships.
    • Usually, these take the form of one woman and one man in a long-term pair bond.

    • In some cases, as in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), it involves one man and two or more women. In Genesis 4:19, Lamech became the first known polygamist when he took two wives. Subsequent men who took multiple wives included: Esau with 3 wives; Jacob: 2; Ashur: 2; Gideon: many; Elkanah: 2; David: many; Solomon: 700 wives of royal birth; Rehaboam: 3; Abijah: 14. Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives.

      During the mid 19th century, polygyny -- that version of polygamy involving one man and multiple women -- was widely practiced among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a.k.a. the LDS or Mormon church. Polygyny in that church ended in theory during 1890 and in practice during the 1920's. Some fundamentalist Mormon denominations continue polygyny today. However, it has some inherent deficiencies. Perhaps the most serious is that in order to have multiple women for each man, it is necessary to expel most males from the community. That is typically done in early teen years and causes massive hardship and pain.

    • Some aboriginal groups, such as Native Hawaiians, North American Natives, etc. have recognized same-sex relationships.

    • As of early 2013, about 11 countries have augmented their definitions of marriage to include same-sex couples. The District of Columbia, and nine states in the U.S. have done the same. So have the ten provinces and three territories of Canada, where SSM has been accepted as part of the culture and is rarely debated in media sources. The legislatures in at least five more states (Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island are currently considering legalizing SSM. A case involving SSM in California is before the U.S. Supreme Court. The worldwide trend is clearly in favor of SSM.

    • Many same-sex relationships have lasted for 2, 3, 4 decades or longer, even without the supportive benefits of marriage. As various states in the U.S. have legalized SSM, many loving, committed same-sex couples have married who have been together for many decades.

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Step 3: Review of marriage types:

Although all of the members in the group that maintains this web site have a heterosexual orientation and are all involved in opposite-sex marriages, we have had extensive personal experience working with and learning from people with a bisexual or homosexual orientation. We have found that the stages through which most loving committed same-sex and opposite-sex relationships and marriages develop are identical, although they do not necessarily occur in the same order: Two people meet; they enjoy each other's company; they date; they date exclusively; they become sexually active; they make a commitment to each other; they move in together; most either marry or would like to marry. When they live together, they are faced with the same joys, challenges and difficulties as do opposite-sex couples.

That said, marriages, civil unions, or other permanent relationships may be grouped into three classifications:

  1. Those in which the couple, by themselves, can and do procreate and produce children whose DNA is a blend of the two parents. These are by necessity opposite-sex couples.

  2. Those in which the couple, by themselves, cannot procreate and produce children whose DNA is a blend of the two parents. These take a number of different forms:
    • Lesbian couples: They can become pregnant through artificial insemination using donated sperm from a male. Alternately, they may try to adopt a child.

    • Gay couples: They may employ the services of a surrogate mother who becomes pregnant from the sperm of one of the men. Alternately, they can both donate sperm, mix the sperm together and use the resultant mixture to have a surrogate mother conceive. This creative technique was discussed in the TV sitcom "The New Normal" on 2013-JAN-08. They can also try to adopt.

    • Infertile opposite-sex couples: Many are infertile for medical reasons and cannot be helped to conceive with currently available fertility treatments. In other couples, either the man or woman has been sterilized. They can attempt to adopt if they want a family. Alternately, they can decide to remain childless, and make a positive contribution to the overpopulation of the world.

  3. Those in which an opposite-sex couple has decided to not bear any children. Some of these couples are aware of a genetic defect that might cause their children to suffer from a serious disease. Others simply want to pursue careers and feel that they cannot afford the time needed to bear and raise children.

All of these types of couples may well engage in sexual behavior many dozens of times a year, many hundreds of times a decade. The sex provides primarily a positive unitive function, bonding the couple together emotionally. In comparison, on average, procreation occurs about twice in a lifetime.

Couples in the first classification are often referred to as engaging in "responsible parenting" by conservative religious groups. By implication, one might conclude that the other two classifications are engaging in "irresponsible parenting."

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Step 3: Applying this interpretation of natural law to same-sex marriage (SSM):

From this interpretation of the natural law evidence concerning relationships, we conclude:

  • From various surveys, it is obvious that the vast majority of adults -- on the order of 90% -- have a a heterosexual orientation. From the available scientific studies about sexual orientation, it appears certain that the remaining sexual orientations, heterosexual and bisexual -- are normal and natural for a minority of adults. Further, one's orientation is discovered, not chosen. It is unchangeable, or essentially so.

  • Humans are social animals. Most wish to form loving, committed and hopefully permanent pair bonds. This applies to persons of all sexual orientations.

  • Such relationships -- whether they are recognized by the government as marriages, civil unions, domestic partnership or just two friends living together -- produce benefits for society and for the partners/spouses themselves. The overall contentment rises, the partners enjoy longer lives, a healthier lifestyle, lower levels of STDs, and greater contributions to society. It would seem reasonable that the governments should encourage these relationships by recognizing them, and offering benefits, protections, and other special considerations to all bonded couples.

  • Encouraging gays and lesbians to remain celibate, without a significant other for the rest of their life would appear to be contraindicated because the benefits generated by long-term or permanent pair bonding would be absent.

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Step 4: Recommendations arising from this interpretation of natural law:

It would seem that governments should adopt the following marriage policies:

  • Polygamous relationships, involving one man and multiple women should be banned, limited in number, and/or carefully regulated to avoid abuse.

  • Marriage should be available for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, subject only to restrictions based on age and genetic closeness. That way, all loving, committed couples and their children will receive the status, benefits, rights and protections of marriage.

  • Civil unions for same-sex couples in which the couple receives all of the legal benefits of marriage is much less desirable because many such couples often consider the right to call their relationship a marriage to be the most important right. Besides, past experience has shown that legally separate but equal arrangements are always separate but never equal.

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Step 5: Is there a single set or are there multiple sets of natural laws regarding marriages, relationships and sex?:

The set of natural laws promoted by the Roman Catholic Church lead naturally to the conclusion that SSM should be banned for everyone, in all societies, and for all time.

The set of natural laws derived above, largely from studies by therapists, researchers and major professional associations leads naturally to the conclusion that loving committed couples -- whether of the same-sex or opposite sex -- should be allows to marry, accepted by society, recognized and protected, subject only to age and genetic considerations.

Thus we conclude that more than one set of natural laws exist. They differ from each other. Each set is dependent upon the world view, the biases, the religious beliefs, and the understandings of human nature by the person codifying the laws.

Finally we conclude:

  • that the Roman Catholic Church's claim of the existence of a single, unique, universal and fixed set of natural laws is invalid.

  • that the Church's claim that natural law requires a condemnation of marriage equality is weak.

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. The American Psychological Association's Statement on Homosexuality, 1994-JUL. The APA and other professional associations have published numerous reports and statements since, that follow the same theme.

Copyright 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted: 2013-JAN-09
Latest update: 2013-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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