From a few days ago, this post by Andrew Sullivan, on his blog, about a recent discovery of a particularly weird animal sexuality.
The more we learn about nature, the more the notion that the universe reflects a cosmic version of human heterosexuality gets discredited. Gender can be fluid in some species; in others, females have the testosterone; in this case, females have dicks. And rather elegant ones at that. We now know what Victorian scientists discovered but hid: that same-sex behavior is also endemic in the animal kingdom, unusual, but widespread. We know that some humans are born with indeterminate gender, that others have a gender that belies their external sex organs, that others still have no problem with their gender but are emotionally and sexually attracted to their own.
The reason why this matters is that the vast apparatus of “natural law” still permeates a huge amount of our thinking about human sexuality and emotion.
In the case of the Catholic Church, a crude and outdated version of natural law is integral to arguments about the “objective disorder” of homosexuals; among many evangelicals, gender diversity is regarded as something that needs to be beaten (sometimes literally) out of a child; reparative therapy is still lamentably used to terrorize the psyches of those born with a different nature. But almost all of this is based on something that has been exposed definitively as untrue.
The fact of the matter is, for whatever (as yet not completely understood) reason, homosexuality is not uncommon among many animal species, and has been part of human societies forever. (There is also evidence of homosexual behavior among many animal species, so the peculiar argument that humans should limit their behavior to what is ‘natural’ among other animals fails on more than one ground.) The difference in human societies throughout history is the way they respond to this situation; whether they accept the variations among human sexuality and the resultant relationships, or whether, in the name of (subconsciously driven) species survival or religious rectitude, demonize them. It’s rather analogous to how parents regard their children; are children only worthy to the extent they perpetuate the species?
The faithful, who defer to ancient religious texts written by primitive folks who believed the world existed only as far as their eyes could see, are living in a fantasy world. And who either don’t understand, or simply reject, the real world.