Why Homosexual Behavior Is More like Consensual Incest and
Polyamory than Race or Gender
A Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society
Part 3: The Illogic of Homosexual Unions
by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.
May 20, 2009
print a clean copy with proper formatting and pagination go to the pdf
Part 2 I dealt with how the disproportionately high rates of
measurable harms attending homosexual activity point to the structural
discordance of homoerotic unions.
problem of structural discordance be alleviated if one of the same-sex
partners tries to play the role of the other sex through gender
nonconforming behavior? Not likely. A man cannot fake being a true sexual
complement to another man and a woman cannot fake being a true sexual
complement to another woman. The symptoms of higher incidences of sex
partners over life, of sexually transmitted infections, of sexual unions
of shorter duration, and of mental health complications are just that:
symptoms of a root problem. The root problem is too much embodied identity
between the participants, similar to the root problem for incest of even
an adult-committed sort.
when homosexual unions “beat the odds” and don’t exhibit most of the
normal harms associated with homosexual activity, they—like occasional
adult-incestuous or adult-polyamorous unions that “beat the odds” by
exhibiting loving commitment with few scientifically-measurable negative
side-effects—still suffer from the root problem of too much formal or
structural identity between the participants.
there are two and only two primary sexes—even the existence of
“intersexuality” among a miniscule percentage of the population merely
draws on features of the two primary sexes—it is axiomatic that each sex,
male and female, is only half of an integrated sexual whole. The beauty of
a committed male-female sexual union is that it brings together in harmony
the two complementary sexes, thereby moderating sexual extremes, filling
in sexual gaps, and honoring the individual integrity of one partner’s
maleness and the other partner’s femaleness. In a heterosexual union what
a man brings to the table, so to speak, is his essential maleness. What he
does not bring is essential femaleness; that is supplied by the woman.
Likewise, the woman brings to the sexual table her essential femaleness;
what she lacks in essential maleness is supplied by man. Two sexual halves
unite to form a complete sexual whole.
Incidentally, that is why Genesis 2:18-20 refers to woman with the
expression “as his counterpart” or “complement,” Hebrew kĕnegdô,
where the component word neged denotes both similarity
corresponding to (i.e. similarity on the human level) and difference
opposite (i.e. difference as regards a distinct sex extracted from
him). That is why the story of Genesis 2:21-24 presents the image of two
sexes emerging from one flesh (illustrating the point of sexual
complements) as the basis for the two sexes, man and woman, reuniting into
“one flesh.” By its very nature sexual intercourse was designed for sexual
complements or counterparts.
If in a
heterosexual union two sexual halves unite to constitute a sexual whole,
the logic of a homosexual union, by analogy, is that two half-males unite
to form a single whole male; or two half-female unite to form a single
whole female. A half unites sexually with its complementary half. To
regard one’s self, if male, as completed sexually by another male is to
make an implicit statement that one does not regard one’s particular
gender as being intact apart from such a union. The same goes for a
female-female sexual union. This is both sexual self-deception
(one’s maleness or femaleness is already intact) and sexual narcissism
(one is erotically aroused by one’s own essential sex).
why the apostle Paul in Romans 1:24-27 refers to homosexual acts as
intrinsically “dishonoring” for the participants, even when the
relationship is conducted in the context of care and commitment.
Similarly, most would acknowledge the dishonoring character of an
adult-committed incestuous bond, which tries to make of “one flesh” two
persons who in terms of kinship are already of the same flesh.
believe that the arguments presented in Parts 1, 2, and 3 make a strong
positive case for seeing closer correspondences between homosexuality and
incest or polyamory than between homosexuality and race or gender.
However, there are counterarguments that must be addressed. I will deal
with these in a Part 4.
For Part 4:
Responses to Counterarguments go
For Part 1:
The Initial Case go here.
For Part 2:
What Disproportionately High Rates of Harm Mean go
Robert A. J.
Gagnon, Ph.D. is associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh
Theological Seminary, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice:
Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon Press) and co-author of
Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Fortress Press).