Moral Philosophy

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Homosexuality in Modern American Culture: Understanding, Reconciling, Resolving

Samuel Nze

Contemporary Moral Issues
Sister Marian Brady
Fall 2012

Homosexuality is a contemporary moral issue in modern America. It is also a controversial one. Homosexuality simply defined is the situation wherein an individual prefers to have sexual relations with members of the individual’s own sex. Homosexuality applies to male and female, and the acts considered homosexual are not delimited to sexual intercourse alone. Homosexuality is controversial in contemporary politics. Specifically, liberal politicians are of the view that homosexuals should be allowed to get married, especially since their homosexuality is a natural situation. Conservatives on the other hand are more inclined to believe that homosexuality is chosen by the individual and should be discouraged.

Freedom of choice, according to Gonsalves (1989), includes both the will and the intellect of the individual and is not brought on by forces external to them. When homosexuality is called a choice, it becomes clear then that homosexuals are willful perverts who are free to be heterosexual – which is the conservative norm – but instead proceed to be homosexual. This implies that homosexuals do not embrace self control and are not willing to play by social rules, and so must be sanctioned for their conscious choice.

The flip-side view is that homosexuals are born that way (cf Dallas, 2004), because of genetic proclivities to same-sex physiological characteristics. If they are born so, it means that they do not freely choose their behavior but find themselves acting in a homosexual manner because they cannot help themselves. If they indeed cannot help themselves, liberal politicians propose that government help them by using the laws of the land to say it is alright for them to be gay and act on their homosexual desires.

The foregoing is a deterministic paradigm, as opposed to the free-will paradigm in the previous paragraph. Determinism refers to the idea that forces external to the individual’s intellectual and moral will are responsible for the individual’s acting in a certain way. The force in the case of the born-this-way advocates is natural birth. If a person is born homosexual, he or she cannot have chosen to be so. They cannot then be held responsible for being homosexual, and so they do not deserve to be held in opprobrium.

The Catholic Church as a moral institution does not encourage homosexuality, and does not permit its ministers to be homosexual. The argument among Catholic philosophers with regard to homosexuality is that the human being has a choice not to act on whatever sexual desires they have, be these desires homosexual or not. In other words, if the born-this-way argument is that the individual cannot help being homosexual, the Church is saying that the individual can help acting homosexual. There is a difference between feeling like doing something and actually doing the thing.

Gonsalves (1989) talks about the five steps involved in human enactment, and they are: antecedent emotion, constitutive judgment, desire, deliberation, and consent or choice. Even if homosexuals were born so – and I am not agreeing that they are – whenever they are presented with a situation that calls to question whether or not they will act in a homosexual fashion, they are responsible for deliberating and choosing to or not to act homosexually. They are not held responsible for feeling like acting homosexual or being drawn by the potential of homosexuality, but they may be held responsible for consummating the homosexual act.

Heterosexual individuals deal with much the same reality. They are responsible for consummating the sexual act, albeit heterosexual. The concomitants of sexual behavior similarly behoove on heterosexual couples. If they have unprotected sex, they could contract diseases. They could harm their relationships or compromise their...
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