Why Does it Matter if Sexuality is a Choice?

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, there’s this big debate over whether sexuality is a choice. Most in the religious community say it is and most in the scientific community say it’s not. I’ve actually heard the argument there is no such thing as sexuality and the only reason we have it is because we assign gender norms. People use this debate as a condition of their support or lack there of for LGBTQ rights. I can’t help but wonder sometimes why it should matter if sexuality is a choice or not.

Chapter TK - Is Sexuality a Choice?

Let’s get this first argument out of the water. The key is consenting adults. I don’t want to hear about humping animals or children because neither can consent. However, when it comes to two (or more) consenting adults in the bedroom, whose to judge?

Okay, so maybe God can judge, but no human walking on earth is God. You don’t get to judge. We all have our own morals, but there’s a separation of church and state for a reason. We don’t get to impose our personal beliefs on other people.

“But, TK,” You say. “What if I personally believe murder is okay? If the government can’t tell me what to believe, then how can it ban my belief murder is okay?”

First of all, if a few laws and/or religious rules are all that prevent you from unleashing mayhem on the human race, you are terrifying. Second, we have these things called human rights. We all get them because we are human. It’s pretty awesome.

When it comes to law, I draw the line at interfering with another person’s rights. So, Crazy-Reader-Who- Believes-in-Murder, it is my opinion that it is 100% okay for you to believe in murder. Believe all the craziness you want my friend. However, there’s this thing called the Right to Life. People have this and if you murder them, you are messing with this right. That’s why there’s a law against it.

If two consenting adults, regardless of their gender, want to engage in a sexual activity, they are affecting no one else’s rights. So why should there be a law against it?

Now that we’ve reasoned that out, there is another issue that is painfully obvious to me. It’s something that I see all too often in every debate about LGBTQ equality.

Why is it all about sex?

Maybe that’s a stupid question since the thing religious people have a problem with is the sex. One of my college Catholic friends explained to me it was, according to the Catholic faith (not sure about others) okay to love someone of the same sex, to live with them and to lay next to them at night. The only thing that is wrong is having sex with someone of the same sex.

That’s a stupid reason to reduce a a loving, faithful, committed relationship to nothing but sex. Sometimes, I feel like we debate LGBTQ issues like we are debating which forms of sex are and aren’t right. We forget that relationships are so much more than sex. They mean so much more.

What about questions that characterize these relationships as loving, human partnerships?

  • How did you know you loved your partner?
  • How long have you been together?
  • What is the most romantic thing your partner has ever done for you?
  • Do you think you’ll be together forever?
  • What do you imagine for the future?

Maybe society doesn’t ask these questions as much as the questions about morality in the bedroom because they do paint all sexualities in a human light. It’s easy to judge “them” and harder to judge someone you recognize as a human being with legit feelings.

In terms of creating laws, why should it matter whether one’s sexuality is a choice? How did you know what your sexuality was? Why are people more obsessed over the sex in LGBTQ relationships instead of the relationship? Can that ever change?


Photo Copyright: tonygers / 123RF Stock Photo

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57 thoughts on “Why Does it Matter if Sexuality is a Choice?”

  1. What’s odd is the near relentless focus and speculation on the sex lives of LGBT people by the objectors to their choice/orientation. It’s more perverse and graphic than even the most outre proponent of LGBT rights and when you consider Jung’s theory of projection, it’s fascinating to watch. I think prohibitions against people loving one another foster separation and illusion, which harms the spirit, collectively and individually.

    1. It’s really creepy but ties in to how many societies treat women. I honestly think LGBT rights and women’s/gender rights are so related that they are almost the same. Think of birth control. The nay-sayers have all this speculation over the sex lives of these sluts. What about the mom with 4 kids who just dosen’t want another (who are the people the product was first marketed to)? What about the girl suffering from endometriosis who just wants something to help with her medical condition? These are never debated. What is debated is how many slutty sluts use it.

      It’s ridiculous how society’s inability to talk about sex seriously negatively effects so many aspects of our lives.

      1. I am aware of my privilege and I’m secure in myself that I want everyone to have the same rights, autonomy and equalities that I do. Not to gain approval because I don’t need it but because it reduces suffering and separation.

  2. I think you ask some important questions, here, but there are more, such as: 1) “What part of society should regulate what other parts?” When people subscribe to a religion (a choice, according to most), they then decide to follow (or lie about not following or confess to not conforming) to its tenets and beliefs, codes of conduct, etc., which are its “laws.”
    However, when people live in a political system (a “nation,” usually, and often not exactly a personal “choice”), we are FORCED to adhere to (or lie about not adhering or get caught and be punished for not adhering) its laws.
    That distinction is the reason it matters so much to have separation of “church” and “state”; said separation has radically deteriorated in the USA in recent decades and was never all that excellent to begin with, despite its founders best efforts.
    Religions should not make laws or regulate citizens. Period.
    2) When social and personal identities are biologically based (such as the mythical “race”), why are USA-ers much quicker to approve of “equality” for some groups (the disabled, certain ethnic minorities, recently and not very well) but not others (women, LGBT individuals)?
    Whether sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual behaviors or feelings are “choices,” are mutable over time or in context, or immutable matters a lot to people who are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Many people want others to fit neatly into boxes and stay in these boxes forever.
    They don’t like it when people change social/economic class (unless it’s themselves, moving “up”).
    They don’t accept it when people self-identify as whatever ethnic or racial group they choose, since these fearful ones want to make “racial” categorization via observation alone.
    Fear-mongers also don’t like seeing anyone behaving in ways they are afraid to behave, which is the reason so many hate crimes against male homosexuals or gender-queer men and women are committed by men who are terrified of the necessary questioning of their own sexual or gender identities.

    I could go on, but you get the picture.

    Thanks for posting.

    Sally

    1. I do and I can see what you say. You can’t necessarily move out of your nation but you can change your religion. That’s why separation is important, though – and small government (I don’t believe either side in the US truly believes in small government). The government shouldn’t make any more choices for us than absolutely necessary for the preservation our our human rights and the rights of others.

      1. Good points.

        Yes the fundies claim to believe in small government except when it comes to issues of what they consider to be morality. My nephew, who is still a teenager impressed me when he said he was thinking about how to restructure the government because most people his age do not think about such weighty issues. Then he told me that he felt it was the government’s job to create a socially healthy society. Then he said that there ought to be a separate part of the government dealing with moral issues, with appointed judges. Yikes!

        He is just a kid and a nice one, too. I don’t think he gets the magnitude of what he is proposing. He and his parents go to a conservative and controlling church, so that must be where he gets his ideas. He probably thinks that the Constitution is a Christian document too.

        That is of course the argument of fundies, gay rights destroy society therefore they have a right to stop them. No matter that there is no proof that they have any bad effect on society. The bottom line is that we have civil laws based on actual, provable harm to another person by violating their rights. Gay people being gay does not violate anyone’s rights at all.

        And yes, focusing solely on the sex part is ridiculous. We as humans are not solely defined by our sexuality. i have heard people claim that for gay people it is only about sex, not love. So therefore they are depraved. That is ridiculous. I knew a lesbian couple from a church I used to go to and it was obvious that they loved each other. And I saw them as no different than anyone else.

        1. I’m not sure what you mean by fundies, but I can guess from what you say. I think most Americans approve of small government. We’d all love the government to butt out of our lives unless something vital to our livelihood is at risk. Although, what falls into that category is up for debate.

          Maybe I’m different, but when it comes to the law, I could care less what is moral and what is not. I’ve said before that, while I am against polygamy, I am also against it being illegal. So long as all people involved are consenting adults, I don’t the the age, gender or number of partners should matter. Now, actually polygamist would probably disagree with me because that means people should be free to have multiple partners of multiple genders, but they’re not hurting anyone else’s rights. That’s where I draw the line. Does the exist of gay people harm the rights of others? No. Does allowing them to marry under the law and to enjoy equality in our society harm the rights of others? No.

          As far as destroying society, I hear a lot of lies. My father loves to watch Fox news (I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the idea they are accurate). He has told me the grand jury in Ferguson was 100% black (not true) that gay people are the reason Rome fell (not true) and said Obama was working with terrorists. I’ll start taking arguments against homosexuality seriously when they can present me a serious argument.

          1. Sorry, “fundies” means fundamentalist Christians. It doesn’t surprise me that FOX has come up with more ridiculous crap. It is rather depressing that many people buy their lies.

            Yes i have heard that argument about why Rome fell. Of course what they ignore is that EVERY CIVILIZATION FALLS at some point. Ours will fall someday too, but it won’t be because of gay people! I wonder how these people explain the fall of Israel to the Romans. There is absolutely no evidence that homosexuality was rampant there, In fact it warranted
            the death penalty by law. They were in fact, one of the most morally and religiously controlled societies that existed at the time, if your fire went out on the Sabbath and you built another you were stoned to death.

            The “serious arguments” that people like your father makes are really based on emotion, not logic.

            I can’t imagine what it must be like for gay people to be blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong in the world (including Nazi Germany, ever hear of the “Pink Swastika?”). The bigotry in this country is horrible. Even during my “fundie” stage I never would have gone that far. Then and now, I believe that parents have the right to teach their children that homosexuality is wrong, if they so choose. But people still have the right to make their own decisions in life and curtailing one person’s liberty only sets the stage for more abuses. The chickens may come home to roost someday for those who deny freedoms to others!

  3. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t matter at all. Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world. It’s those who are against homosexuality who choose to obsess over how it’s a choice, and so free people who engage in a sexuality that doesn’t hurt anyone else must defend themselves against the charges.

    And, it is at least an interesting subject matter to speculate over (though I agree either way it should have nothing to do with laws), and the most current scientific evidence does indeed show that orientation is wired in the brain and is not a choice. Still worth knowing that for its own sake.

    1. Yes. I do know that sexuality is not a choice, but I think it’s important that we realize that, even if it was, it dosen’t matter. Consenting adults should be allowed to do what they want (so long as they aren’t interfering with the rights of others).

      The thing with the science is that people like to point and say, “well, pedophilia is about the brain too. Are you making that legal next.” People always misunderstand consent. Consent is the key.

  4. Beautiful stuff! (I remember the time I ran into a guy who believed sexuality was a choice. I told him that if it was, I would choose to be bisexual, since then I’d be able to love twice the people, but unfortunately I’m sadly straight. He didn’t talk to me much after that.)

    1. Aw, that’s beautiful. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough in this world to make that choice, but in a world where all sexualities are equal, I can see that being a good option.

  5. Really, it doesn’t matter. Most arguments against LGBT rights just mask an underlying issue; some straight people think gay sex is icky, and sex in general makes them feel uncomfortable. But saying that out loud–much less bringing it up in political discussions–isn’t socially acceptable, so people concoct alternative reasons that sound less offensive to their ears–it’s a choice, it’s religiously forbidden, it destabilizes children, etc. Then it’s easier for them to justify pushing their beliefs on others.

    I think there is a world of difference between believes and legislation concerning things like murder and violence versus love, tolerance, and respect. We shouldn’t strive to put negative things into the world, no matter what people believe in, while positive things, by definition, make the world a better place to live in. Many people don’t seem to understand that.

    1. I agree with your difference between beliefs and legislation. That said, ideas about which is violence and which is positive is up to opinion. Some may think LGBT rights are a violent thing being imposed on them, while murdering someone they view as deserving is a merciful thing. That’s why I bring it down to rights. A person should be allowed to do whatever they want, so long as their actions don’t interfere with the rights of another. Using that logic, consenting adults can sleep with whoever they want, but can’t murder people.

  6. Being a person who believes love is love, I agree completely. What someone feels is more comfortable to them is nobody’s business but theirs. I feel the ultimate goal for a topic such as this is to gain some sort of emotional favoring from an already separated group. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s much more feasible to ban together with others with the same views. Even to go as far as convincing others your belief is correct. Instead of us focusing on each other’s sexuality and how someone knows they are in love with someone of the same sex, we should actually be wondering why so many people are afraid of commitment to relationships in general. That’s just my opinion. (If it sounds like I am disagreeing with you, I am totally not.)

    1. I can see that. Here we have people who are fighting tooth and nail for the right to make their commitment official while the other side, telling them no, can’t get their own commitments together. Maybe there’s something to be learned.

      Now I’m curious. Is there a study somewhere showing the rate of divorce among LGBT couples? I wonder if it’s lower than the rate among straight couples.

  7. Sex is sex. Sex can be within a relationship however it is often sex for sex’s sake. And between consenting adults, the politics of it should stop at the water’s edge. I enjoy the discussion and you pose some questions with no easy answers.

    1. For me personally, sex is never just sex. There always has to be an emotional component for me to enjoy the action. That said, I am not everyone. Which is why it would be wrong for me to impose my ideas on anyone else. Same goes for other people. It’s just stupid to make a law governing the sex consenting adults can have.

  8. Very good blog article. I agree that it’s about feelings between people. The choice is to feel or not feel, to experience!

  9. Great article. I am not sure why this whole subject is still an issue to some people. I think that no matter what the topic, people just want something to talk about. It doesn’t matter that there are actual human beings involved living an actual experience, all the protestors want to do is express their dislike about the topics. People have the right to be with who they want to be with, and I agree – I don’t want to hear about humping animals or children either – because you are right they cannot consent.

    1. I personally have no problem with people thinking living a non-heteronormitive life is wrong or sinful. I have no problem with people thinking they will go to hell and I have no problem with religion saying that. I mean, I disagree, but people are allowed to believe what they want. Why? SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. Same goes the other way. They can’t force their opinion into law. They can’t force people to believe it’s wrong and others can’t force them to believe it’s right. This discussion belongs far away from the law.

  10. I’m bisexual, and I’m actually not attracted to physical features in a person. I don’t see women and men walking around and think, “Wow! she/he is hot!” I only become attracted to a person after developing a strong emotional connection with them. So it just frustrates the heck out of me when people go on about how a same-sex relationship is all about the sex and orgies and full of diseases because of all the dirtiness.

    Just as with straight people, what a relationship means and how important sex is within a relationship varies from person to person.

    I’m with you–if you’re not infringing on someone else’s rights, why should same-sex marriage be illegal? I have yet to hear a convincing argument.

    1. I’m sort of the same way in terms of attraction. I never went through a boy crazy phase and the only celebrities I am attracted to are those who have proven themselves to be pretty good people. I’ve always felt like it’s normal to be attracted purely on a physical level, so I’ve reasoned out why I might be this way. I was bullied a lot as a child (search Average Life of a Victim of Bullying to read my experiences) and a lot of the male antagonizes were the “hot” guys. The football stars, etc. So when I see a hot guy, I immediately think they’ll be a jerk until I see something that proves otherwise.

      But maybe that’s incorrect. Perhaps my need to know a person before feeling an attraction is a sort of sexuality that dosen’t need an excuse or reason.

  11. This is a fascinating blog post, sounds like something I would of thought but not written in such a curated composition nevertheless it raises some fundamental issues that holds people back. Its like people are living in a black and white world while ignoring the colour. Sexuality is not real it is there to allow uncultured people the chance to understand.

    However sexuality would also imply there is genders but our b/w society only accommodates two men and women. What about hermaphrodites, transgenders or people who don’t feel apart of any gender?

    1. As a species, we have survived by noticing patterns and organizing our behavior accordingly. So, on a biological level, I can see why people who are “outside of the box” so-to-speak make people unconformable.

      However, when it comes to gender and sexuality, I don’t think we have to live in a world without boxes. It just turns out there are a lot more boxes than we originally thought. I think if we started looking at it that way, maybe people would be more comfortable with non-heteronomitive sexualities and genders.

  12. “Maybe society doesn’t ask these questions as much as the questions about morality in the bedroom because they do paint all sexualities in a human light. It’s easy to judge “them” and harder to judge someone you recognize as a human being with legit feelings.”…

    I think you nailed it exactly with this statement, on top of asking some really thoughtful questions. Great post!

    1. Thanks. Hopefully we can progress to a society that has reasonable discussions with fellow human beings instead of reducing them to something less than that should be attacked.

  13. I agree totally. I think churches are focused on the negative concept of “redefining marriage”, when it’s really not about the title, but giving two committed people the same rights. The problem is that porn and alcohol are also legal, and both have much more negative effects. The church won’t fight those because it’s not worth the battle. Why is this battle seem worth fighting?

    The Bible’s commands about homosexuality do not come out of the “love your neighbor as yourself” line of ethics. It was not even among the ten commandments. It was associated with the Old Testament Levitical law. The same part of the law that forbid tattoos, shaving the sides of your head and eating shellfish. But some New Testament writers such as Paul carried on the cultural abhorrence Israel had towards homosexuality, and so it’s still considered an issue. Jesus interestingly enough never said a word about homosexuality.

    1. I know. Interesting, right. That’s kind of why I like the current Catholic Pope. He’s not saying it’s okay to not be straight. BUT he is saying those people have a commitment that is important and value we should acknowledge. At least that’s progress. At least that’s effort at getting rid of some of the hate in the world.

      1. I agree. It is progress. People don’t have to change their views, just respect others and try to accommodate them when possible.

  14. Also apologies for being crude but a lot of straight couples have anal sex, so if people are against gay male sex then they need to be consistent and be against a common form of straight sex too. But as you say the argument shouldn’t just focus on sex!

    Thanks for sharing your views. Interesting.

    1. Many religious people think anything but missionary is wrong and many at least think anal is wrong for straight couples. It’s funny, though. It seems they are completely ignorant to the idea that many straight couples experiment in many ways when it comes to sex.

  15. Judging from two perspectives; natural laws and Gods laws, we find it obvious that both align towards driving home the same message. It is human nature to be attracted sexually towards the opposite sex as is the case with animals alike. Gods laws condemn homosexuality as well but if two individuals of the same sex believe among themselves that they can enjoy sexual intimacy who are we to judge. But first, before you choose to defy nature try planting a mango tree and watch it grow into a seed.
    Nice TK,was really good reading your thought.

    1. Actually, homosexuality behavior is quite common in the animal kingdom. Different cultures have also had homosexuality and in some, male on male homosexuality was seen as greater than heterosexuality (because men were seen as greater than women).

      Even if that behavior wasn’t common, I don’t see why it should effect the actions of consenting adults.

  16. Since all choices have causes, an honest person has to admit that even if sexuality was a choice, it would be a choice in which we had no choice! Confused yet? That is what philosophy does to the brain.

    1. No. I’m not confused… and I’m not 100% sure I agree. I mean, I choose to put on sweatpants this morning. If asked for a reason, I suppose I’d say because I was cold, but I could have made the choice to remain cold, or to wear something else. Just because something instigates a person to make a choice does not mean the choice they end up making is unavoidable.

      1. The point though is that we don’t do something without a cause. The cause for your wearing of sweatpants was most likely because it was cold. Others might argue that you just like the feel of sweatpants, That example is no big deal however because your wearing of sweatpants is not harming anyone else.

        I am very much into the subject of determinism vs free will lately because of its relevance to moral issues. It is difficult for people to logically take credit or blame for things which they did because of things outside of their control.

  17. Dolphin tape proves not all animals are unwilling! Your argument is invalid!

    Just thought I’d be a bit of a shit on an older post. :p

    1. Haha, that’s totally fine, but please forgive me for being confused. Did you mean tape or rape. Also…. not all animals are unwilling to what?

      1. Damn autocorrect thinking I’m talking about tape when I’m taking about rape!
        I was referring to a part where you said, “I don’t want to hear about humping animals or children because neither can consent.”
        Because I’m just so damn clever. :o) Good night!

  18. I think that the reason people think that choice in gender preference is the same reason why people who ask that question are, so far as I’ve seen, utterly unwilling to follow that question to the unfomfortable places to which it might lead. This applies equally to both sides of the LGBTQ debate. The logic goes something like this:

    The anti-LGBTQ advocate will typically look at the evidence in this way:
    “It’s entirely, or substantially a choice. Therefore, people who engage in homosexual activity are culpable, and legitimate targets of (social) prosecution.” In rarer cases, such an advocate will see homosexual people as a “mistake”, wherein their desires are NOT a choice, but they need to “behave themselves”, anyway, and seek medical help to correct the problem.

    The pro-LGBTQ advocate will typically look at the evidence in one of two ways, (seemingly) entirely dependent on the situation at-hand:
    1) It’s not a choice. Therefore, nobody can be blamed for it, and people who feel same-gender attraction should have every right as people who are born heterosexual.
    2) It is a choice. Therefore, people can’t put those who feel same-gender attraction into a “box” as being only a certain way.

    Personally, I think that all of these positions have at least a little merit.

    The anti-LGBTQ advocate makes good points in claiming that people are responsible for their own decisions (and not those of other people). This is no different from heterosexual responsibility, when you get right down to it. They also make a good point that, similarly, everybody needs to behave in a socially-responsible fashion. Parading unprotected sex in front of an elementary school is probably not a responsible thing to do–regardless of who’s doing it.

    The pro-LGBTQ advocate makes a good point in stating that if it isn’t a choice, then descrimination and (social) prosecution is utterly inappropriate. Likewise, if it IS a choice, people who sometimes feel attracted to one gender, and sometimes to the other shouldn’t have to be confined to a particular “way of being”, just because others have trouble wrapping their minds around this. (Bisexual men and women I know are also targets of poor treatment from gay and lesbian people who want them to “figure it out”, which seems equally silly.)

    The thing is, regardless of which position is correct, BOTH sides of the debate are going to lose. Here’s my logic:

    If there’s a physiological element, then anti-LGBTQ activists are screwed, because it means that they can no longer advocate for laws and policies that have different rules for LGBTQ people–since that would be discrimination. On the other hand, if it IS a choice, they’re stuck proving that same-gender attraction is hurting those who consent to such relations. Rape is already illegal, and clearly, this is a hard case to make with regard to consenting adults.

    On the other side, pro-LGBTQ activists are screwed because the physiological element means that medical treatment is theoretically possible. This has the politically-inconvenient effect of proving that a person who is currently homosexual could be turned heterosexual, with the right treatment (hormones, gene therapy, surgery, etc.). If that’s what the person in question really wants, then this gets into “choice” territory: if the pro-LGBTQ activists get to decide that people can’t make this choice for themselves, then their anti-LGBTQ opponents can make the same choice about homosexuality.

    So, let’s look at some of the evidence: is there a physiological difference between straight people, bisexual people, and homosexual people? Scientific inquiry has resoundingly said, “yes”. One factor is the shape and development of the amydgala–the part of the brain most responsible for interpersonal interaction and letting the two hemispheres of the brain talk to each other. The amygdalas of gay men more closely resemble those of straight women. The amygdalas of gay women more closely resemble those of straight men. Bisexual people are somewhere in-between. There are also hormonal differences, and one has to wonder how any of this is possible without at least a small genetic component. (I’m sure information about the latter could be found with a Google search–but probably predominantly on politically-biased websites. Scientific journals are, unfortunately, commonly hidden behind paywalls.)

    So, why does it matter whether homosexuality is a choice? Because talking about it–SUPERFICIALLY–acts as an emotional “trigger”, and therefore as a political “dog whistle”. And that’s why gender politics aren’t worth paying all that much attention to, just yet.

    1. Ack, typo. Correction:
      “I think that the reason people think that choice in gender preference MATTERS is the same reason why people who ask that question are, so far as I’ve seen, utterly unwilling to follow that question to the unfomfortable places to which it might lead.”

    2. I don’t think the idea that there could be a medical ‘cure’ for homosexuality is all the threatening. It still comes down to freedom. You can’t force that person to take that cure…. I’m pretty sure there was an x-men movie that went along those lines. To me, the debate about choice is more of a distraction more than anything else. it dosen’t matter. It’s not part of the equation at all.

      That said, I think a lot of these issues are hard to talk about because of the emotions. We have to get past the trigger and whatever emotion results to really discuss these issues. If we can’t get back those inevitable emotions, we’ll never be able to have a real discussion.

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