Yesterday, I posted a letter from the EPA president, Phil Hineline, and then a response from Paul Cameron regarding a March presentation by Paul and Kirk Cameron purporting to show that homosexuals comprise a smaller than assumed percentage of the population because older gays are not included in prevalence estimates. Further, the Camerons assert that the reason older gays are not figured in to the prevalence numbers is because most of them die young. That post did not discuss in detail the claims of the Camerons, but rather some aspects of the presentation and the subsequent dissemination of the study by the Camerons.
However, to address the actual claims of early demise, I asked Morten Frisch, Danish epidemiologist, to review the Cameron’s paper “Federal Distortion Of Homosexual Footprint (Ignoring Early Gay Death?). Morten is the lead author of a recent report on environmental influences on marriages decisions among heterosexuals and homosexuals. I wrote about this study here and blogged about it here. He very kindly agreed to do so and replied earlier today. As I suspected, he did not find their arguments compelling, or use of data appropriate. Here is his brief analysis:
Cameron and Cameron’s report on â€™life expectancyâ€™ in homosexuals vs heterosexuals is severely methodologically flawed
It is no wonder why this pseudo-scientific report claiming a drastically shorter life expectancy in homosexuals compared with heterosexuals has been published on the internet without preceding scientific peer-review (http://www.earnedmedia.org/frireport.htm). The authors should know, and as PhDâ€™s they presumably do, that this report has little to do with science. It is hard to escape the idea that non-scientific motifs have driven the authors to make this report public. The methodological flaws are of such a grave nature that no decent peer-reviewed scientific journal should let it pass for publication.
As a measure of gay individuals’ average ‘life expectancy at birth’, Cameron and Cameron gathered information about age at death from obituaries for homosexual people in the U.S., and they obtained Scandinavian data regarding the average age at death among homosexually partnered persons who died within a period of up to 14 years after the introduction of laws on homosexual partnerships.
Due in part to reports like the present homosexual persons remain subject to stigmatization. The majority of homosexual people, even in comparatively liberal countries like Denmark, are not open about their sexuality in public. Particularly older homosexuals who grew up in periods when their sexuality was either a crime or a psychiatric diagnosis tend to remain silent about their homosexuality in public. Therefore, the higher prevalence of self-reported homo/bisexual experiences and feelings in younger than older age groups most likely reflects that young gays and bisexuals are less hesitant than older ones to provide honest answers in sex surveys.
The majority of homosexual individuals in the report by Cameron and Cameron were presumably open about their same-sex preferences. The groups studied comprised homosexuals who had entered registered partnerships in Denmark or Norway, and homosexuals in the U.S. whose relatives considered homosexuality to be such an integrated part of their deceased loved onesâ€™ personalities that they felt it natural to mention in the publicly available obituary. Since, as noted, age is a strong determinant of openness about homosexuality, the study groups of deceased homosexuals in Cameron and Cameron’s report were severely skewed towards younger people. Consequently, the much younger average age at death of these openly homosexual people as compared with the average age at death in the unselected general population tells nothing about possible differences between life expectancies in gays and non-gays in general. All it reflects is the skewed age distribution towards younger people among those who are openly homosexual.
To further illustrate Cameron and Cameron’s methodological blunder, imagine a country that sets up a new register to record all cases of sexual harassment against women. After 14 years of operation the register is contacted by an advocacy group who gets access to the data to examine how sexual harassment influences women’s life expectancy. Among those women who died during the maximum of 14 years of follow-up, few women will have died after the age of 50, simply because most sexual harassment cases occurred among young women. Using the same logic and methods as Cameron and Cameron, this advocacy group could arrive at the conclusion that sexual harassment reduces women’s ‘life expectancy’ by 30 years or more. Needless to say, this would be as pure nonsense as the conclusion reached by Cameron and Cameron that heterosexuals outlive gays by 22-25 years.
In theory, despite their possession of academic degrees, the authors may have been unaware of the flawed methodology they used and, therefore, they may have been in good faith when writing their report. If so, they should promptly retract it to avoid further stigmatization of homosexual persons. However, expectations that this will happen are slim. Results simply fit too well with the views they have previously expressed.
Morten Frisch, MD, PhD, DSc(Med)
Thanks again to Morten for his comments. I hope to summarize my thoughts about this episode by early next week.
65 thoughts on “Only the gay die young? Part 2 – Danish epidemiologist reviews the Cameron study”
Thanks for adding that comment David B.
Igor’s comments make me sick.
Well then, whew! I’m a clicker, I follow one link that takes me to another link. I was reading the 2011 most popular stories on Warren’s blog and one of those stories refered to a previous topic whih then refered to this previous topic. Igor Aoexander writes this on his blog-
“And to the Christian wimps who say things like “hate the sin, not the sinner,” you’re not going to have your cake and eat it too. The only way to defeat the homosexual lobby is through hatred and intolerance. There is no other way. When it becomes unsafe for queers to walk down the street holding hands, or to otherwise publicly announce their sexual preference, that’s when we’ll have them off our backs. Until such time, you can expect the demands of the homosexual lobby to become increasingly strident and outlandish.
Let me repeat that this is a war, not a misunderstanding of some kind that can be politely worked out over tea and crumpets. The queers know perfectly well what they are doing and the ramifications of what they’re doing. This is a war, and as such, your options are either to stand up and fight, or drop your weapons, roll over, and let the homos sodomize your corpse.
Hopefully future generations will look back on this putrid, degenerate sewer of an era of ours and fully appreciate what the consequences are of allowing queers out of the closet, and thus avoid repeating our mistake.”
Other than Igor’s comment above, I sincerely appreciate all the rational comments. I learned a lot. Even four years later this is an important topic and very enlightening comments. Warren you really were ahead of your time.
NickC wrote: “The destructive behaviors often associated with homosexuality–narcissism, promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse–are better understood and treated as cultural problems rather than conditions inherent to a homosexual orientation. To a large degree, these destructive behaviors result from the social and religious bias against homosexualtiy, which marginalizes gay people and their relationships and encourages self-loathing.”
Do you have even a shred of evidence to substantiate this claim? I don’t think you do. In fact, all the research I’ve seen indicates that these destructive behaviors are just as prevalent, if not more so, in places like San Francisco and Holland as in more socially conservative areas. Promiscuity and substance abuse are an indelible part of the homosexual counterculture, which exalts hedonistic values, and narcissism is the very definition of homosexuality — you wouldn’t be attracted to members of your own sex if you weren’t on some level sexually and aesthetically attracted to your own body.
Statements like yours are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what homosexuality actually is, a misunderstanding which is encouraged by the homosexual lobby to suit its own socio-political ends. Homosexuality is not a race; it’s a sexual preference, a counterculture, a lifestyle, an identity.
And even if what you were saying were true, so what? Why should society have to change its mores — which have worked for the majority of people up until now — in order to accomodate a group which makes up probably less than 4 per cent of the population (and that’s assuming all homosexuals support the homosexual movement, which I don’t take for granted)?
Being in a minority has its disadvantages; that can’t be helped. Homosexuals would be better off accepting it and making the best of it (as they always have) rather than blaming their problems and self-destrutive behavior on the majority. There have been homosexuals who rose to the top of their fields and made significant contributions to Western civilization even though they lived in times in which religion was taken much more seriously than it is today, in which there was no “gay rights” movement, and in which they had no choice but to remain in the closet; am I expected to believe that now, in what may be the moment of greatest tolerance for homosexuality that the world has ever seen, homosexuals are getting high and can’t control their libidos because the majority doesn’t want to recognize their alleged “right” to get married? Don’t insult my intelligence.
Personally, I’m inclined to see homosexuality as the symptom of a self-destructive personality rather than its cause. If I were a professional research psychologist, I would be directing my efforts there.
NickC wrote: “When it comes to the specific issue of homosexuality, however, the churches seem determined to cling to traditional morality for no reason other than tradition.”
The raison d’etre of the Church is to uphold tradition, including the traditional nuclear family. Why should it stop “clinging” to traditional morality? It wouldn’t be the Church anymore if it no longer upheld traditional morality.
Your screed betrays a profound disrespect of Christianity and its followers. In your mind, Christianity and traditional morality are just obstacles to the homosexual movement’s objective of a radical transformation of society, silly putty that can be stretched and molded to suit their agenda. You seem to have no comprehension that Christianity reflects the values of a large community of people, and that by attacking Christianity, the homosexual lobby is in effect trying to harm that community. Asking Christians to accept homosexual marriage, for example, is not a trifling matter; it is asking them to fundamentally change the way they view the family, to alter their whole social paradigm, in addition to changing their attitudes about sexuality (if the Church were to approve of sodomy between two men, would it not be obliged, in the interest of “fairness,” to approve of sodomy between a man and a woman? And once it had done that, would it not be forced to change its view of sex as being a procreational rather than recreational activity? Once the Church steps onto this slippery moral slope, where will it end? Would the Church’s credibility not suffer as a result of such changes? There’s a whole domino effect here that I believe would destroy the Church as we know it… and that may, after all, be what the homosexual movement has really been after all along).
The homosexual movement continuously strives to dissolve the glue that holds society together and then its adherents wonder why so many oppose it? Ignoring the homosexual lobby’s public relations victories of the last few decades, particularly among the younger generations, homosexuality will never be fully accepted, and I’m strongly inclined to believe that the present climate of tolerance is going to be short-lived due to demographic shifts now taking place in Western societies.
The homosexual lobby may be able to change the way some people think, but it will never change the way everyone thinks, and I predict that the more it tries, the more it’s going to fracture our society (when Christians pull their children out of public schools in order to home school them, you can be sure that it’s to a large extent driven by their disgust at having homosexual propaganda thrust onto their children by the state; this is the type of fragmentation that we will be seeing more of as homosexuals and other special interest groups continue to pursue their agendas). The goal of transforming society into one in which homosexuality isn’t stigmatized is a pipe dream, and if homosexuals don’t quit while they’re ahead, I predict it’s going to backfire on them and they are going to experience a very painful backlash.
NickC wrote: “There is no inherent reason that a homosexual could not live by all of the other religious values of sexual chastitity outside of a monogamous, married relationship–IF churches were willing to recognize homosexual orientation and homosexual relationships as normal.”
Why aren’t homosexuals founding their own churches instead of trying to corrupt the established ones? This meddling, tail-wagging-the-dog mentality is one of the aspects that irritates me the most about the homosexual movement. No one is preventing homosexuals — within reason — from living their lives the way they want to. Why are homosexuals so intent on telling others how to live their lives and conduct their affairs? It’s no longer a case of “live and let live”; it’s become a matter of homosexuals telling others how to live. Homosexuals are trying to fundamentally alter society in ways that please them with absolutely no consideration of the long-term consequences of those changes upon society or of the feelings of the heterosexual majority.
Have homosexual “activists” ever stopped to consider that marriage isn’t so much a “right” as it is a responsibility? That the institution of marriage exists primarily for the sake of having, protecting, and raising children and was never really about romantic love? When homosexuals lobby for the “right” to adopt children, do they ever stop to consider that a lot of children might not want to be raised by homosexual parents? Do lesbians ever stop and think about how psychologically damaging it might be for a boy to be raised without a real father, or about the existential confusion a child might suffer from knowing it was conceived out of turkey baster? I don’t think they do. All militant homosexuals care about is their own perceived interests. They don’t care what harm they do to others or to society as a whole in pursuing those interests. They have no long-term vision for the future, other than some rainbow-striped pipe dream about a utopia based on sexual anarchy.
Timothy Kincaid wrote: “I believe that if Christians in this country as a whole came to believe that sexual orientation is not something that can be prevented or reversed, the overwhelming response would be to find a way to apply the same rules of conduct to gay individuals that it applies to straights. It would seem only ‘fair’.”
Talking strategy, uh? Why should Christians come to believe something that isn’t strictly true?
You have the interesting habit of saying one thing and then – when confronted by facts – deciding you really meant something else entirely.”
Yes, Tim, being as we’re discussing a domument by FRI itself which was half about government exageration of the ‘homosexual’ footprint…
bla, bla, bla, this is over.
I am not associated with FRI, all I can give you is their word and appeal to your common sense.
Canada, thanks to a bill introduced by an openly gay congressman complaining of the devastating effects of â€œhomophobiaâ€, got the legislature there to pass a bill making it illegal to mention any thing with even the remotest negative connotation in reference to the â€˜homosexualâ€™ community. This has happened in areas of Europe as well.
In Botswana all the anti-gay people sacrifice their children to pagan gods and then eat them. In Iceland an antigay pastor got a law passed that all the citizens have to walk backwards. In the Kamchatka Province the set up a statue of Paul Cameron which electrocutes anyone who walks by it.
You have the interesting habit of saying one thing and then – when confronted by facts – deciding you really meant something else entirely.
Yes, Ken, I cut and pasted the whole link. The same message showed up.
This is not at all alien to the kindof environment our liberal, stalinist American friends are taking us down. Canada, thanks to a bill introduced by an openly gay congressman complaining of the devastating effects of “homophobia”, got the legislature there to pass a bill making it illegal to mention any thing with even the remotest negative connotation in reference to the ‘homosexual’ community. This has happened in areas of Europe as well.
Political correctness in our society should be enough to convince you, not to mention that the NHSDA never included sexuality in their survey again. And did you ever hear about the findings? The devastating findings in concern to het. vs. homo. being pitted against each other? I am not associated with FRI, all I can give you is their word and appeal to your common sense. Not that I really care, this was a side point.
Of course they’ve done survey’s trying to gauge the amount of homosexuals there are (though in the past they’ve ignored the top age bracket’s) I meant it was the first and last survey of it’s kind to gauge highrisk behaviors (smoking, etc.) among het. vs. homo. The NHSDA never used sexuality in their survey again.
youâ€™re still not addressing the fact that this was the first and last government survey to include questions on sexuality.
Again, I very much doubt this statement is true.
My link above is to the CDC study in 2006 that most definitely asked questions about sexualty. They asked about identity, they asked about behavior. What they didn’t do (which Paul/Phillips object to) is link sexuality to Drug Abuse.
But it’s ever so convenient (and Phillips’ pattern) so simply make an unfactual claim and let everone else run around disproving him.
“right wing” congressman?
I think a variety of congress-persons would be interested in full disclosure of such documents, since the public has paid for them.
e.g. the pentagon papers. Transparency in government is not a left or right issue.
I retract any implication that Landess was just quoting Cameron. However, I believe Landess as much as I believe Cameron, which is not at all. Happy now. And until you show me PROOF that the CDC tried to suppress the data, I will treat this claim as I would any other unsupported conspiracy claim. Esp. when you consider that the CDC wasn’t in charge of releasing the data in the 1st place. The survey was done by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) not the CDC. The CDC just requested that the questions on sexuality be added to the 1996 survey.
As for the links, the first didnâ€™t work (â€Directory Listing Denied
This Virtual Directory does not allow contents to be listed.â€), and Iâ€™m not sure why you posted the last two
You have to cut and paste the entire link into your browser. For the 1st 2 links append the 2nd line to the end of the 1st line to form the complete URL for the page. The 3rd link (to the actual data) is 3 lines long. The problem is this blog only allows lines (words actually) of a specific length, and I don’t know how to override that here.
youâ€™re still not addressing the fact that this was the first and last government survey to include questions on sexuality.
Again, I very much doubt this statement is true. I suspect that since the questions were not repeated on other NHSDA surveys Cameron is simple assuming that no other government agency has ever included questions on sexuality.
Phillips – I have been giving you a pretty long rope on your claims. However, you are not doing well in the verification department. I am really baffled by the reference to the Cameron’s website as proof of the claim that the CDC suppressed data.
If you (or the Camerons) have proof of this, then you should be seeing a right wing congressperson and get an investigation. This is tax payer funded data and should be released. I see no proof other than this statment from Landess. Do you have anything else?
“but what a tangent you folks enjoy. and youâ€™re still not addressing the fact that this was the first and last government survey to include questions on sexuality.”
Alas, more Truth Deficit Syndrome
but don’t you see, you’re the one doing the assuming. You assume Dr. Landess said it “just because Cameron told him”. You are apparently not aware that Cameron’s published reports/studies in scientific journals often include other researchers as authors other than the Cameron’s. Dr. Landess has worked with them before and is obviously associated with FRI – he was also obviously involved with this process of getting the CDC information, note the phrase “we have compiled it into a book length manuscript”.
further, if you want a “letter”, go ask Dr. Cameron. the fact is the CDC was refusing to release hardcopies. Who knows if simple search engines could produce the data back then (you apparently can’t even do it now), and they actually had to resort to downloading it online from a footnote when since it was government information they were already entitled to receiving the information per request. As for the links, the first didn’t work (“Directory Listing Denied
This Virtual Directory does not allow contents to be listed.”), and I’m not sure why you posted the last two
but what a tangent you folks enjoy. and you’re still not addressing the fact that this was the first and last government survey to include questions on sexuality.
Unfortunately I can’t get it to post as a link. So you’ll have to cut and paste:
here’s the summary data:
Here are the summaries for other years:
the data is archived here:
Ken – Yes, please post the link.
Timothy already pointed out how Landiss was just quoting Cameron, so it is still only Cameron who is making the claims about a government attempt to suppress the data.
If Cameron was refused the data, show me the letter he got from the CDC and/or NHSDA stating why he was refused. As I pointed out, I had no trouble accessing this data and apparently neither did a lot of other people (if anyone here wants access, I’ll attempt to figure out how to post the link or worst case post it in pieces that would need to be pasted back together). That alone would make me suspicious of any claims of government suppression. Coupled with the fact that it is Cameron making the claim, I would demand a lot more proof than you have shown me.
Let me see if I have this correct:
In order to substantiate your claim that the CDC was hiding secret results, you reference a speech by a retired English teacher, Landiss, to supporters at the FRI banquet. And Landiss wasn’t telling his recollections at all – he was telling what Cameron told him he did – Landiss wasn’t ever there at the time.
So to sum: It’s true because I say it’s true.
Yep… that would be consistent with your “research” methods.
There’s also Dr. Thomas Landess’…but that’s the point, Kirk had to find the complete study with the sexuality questions online (via a footnote), it took a while because the CDC and NHSDA at first refused at all, then reneged but wouldn’t send out any hardcopies.
Furthermore, this was the last time a government survey would include questions on sexuality…
Thank you Phillips, Ken, Kincaid and Warren,
You are all helping us get to the bottom of things through your skepticism and rigor.
Keep using the gifts God has given each of you and we will arrive at some reasonable conclusions about how Cameron constructed each study in particular. There is no shame in identifying when Experimenter bias has influenced a study; only shame in hiding it.
To give an analogy: divorce rates among Christians is just as high as among non-believers…If you break down the data into regular church attenders vs. non attenders, I think the data looks better for the church attenders. My hunch is that the same is true of SSA, vs. Gay Identified; vs. Gay Identified and Promiscuous. Longevity is probably more closely tied to actual behavior rather than to a “mushy” identification system.
I have found the links to the survey summary and the actual data online, however, I can’t get them to post on here.
Additionally, given the number of references I saw to the 1996 survey, it appears only Paul Cameron had a problem getting access.
Given Cameron’s history of allowing his biases to distort his claims (and how easily available this data is) I’d need more than his statement that there was some kind of government conspiracy to suppress this data.
have you ever SEEN the results of the survey?
No, but then there are lots of government surveys whose results I never see. So that hardly proves anything.
;p I find it fantastic that you people can’t handle that someone can defend the Cameron’s other than the Cameron’s.
oops, thatâ€™s not my website.
“my”, as in Paul Cameron’s
oops, that’s not my website.
Accounts by the Cameron’s and their associates…reminesced here by Dr. Thomas Landess at an FRI Banquet…
but otherwise, have you ever SEEN the results of the survey?
Mind you, they tried to keep any think tanks from getting the raw data of the study- they were apparently appalled at the results. They refused to release any hardcopies.
do you have any evidence to support these claims?
Well, hello, Warren,
It’s the median age of death we’re talking about. I would guess the CDC study was the 1996 National Drug Abuse Survey by the NHSDA, the CDC was reponsible for a series of questions regarding sexuality in the survey.
Mind you, they tried to keep any think tanks from getting the raw data of the study – they were apparently appalled at the results. They refused to release any hardcopies. Cameron’s son, Kirk, had to download it from a footnote he found off of the internet.
Phillips – Are you seriously suggesting that there are no people over 54 having same-sex relations? Please given the stretched conclusions from actual data that has been promoted, provide references. What CDC data?
I second the above. In concern to Dr. Cameron’s study:
Everything people are complaining about was noted at some time in the report. This is what science is, or rather, what is should be. Work with the data you have, while noting any variables. The scientific method requires that studies be replicable. FRI has done this with gay obituaries in the U.S. and age distributions reported in sexuality studies from 1858 through 1993 (published in Omega, 1994), as well as 4 other lines of evidence published in Pyschological Reports, 1998 – 1) additional obituaries from the gay press, 2) findings from two national random-samle surveys, 3) the age distributions of registered homosexual couples in Scandanavia, and 4) the age distributions oh homosexuals and drug-abusers taking HIV tests in Colorado. As recent as ’02, FRI published another study in Psychological Reports using additional obituaries from the gay press and findings from two large, nationwide random sexuality surveys – both of which were consistent with a shortened lifespan (in one of these, the CDC study, the oldest woman who reported sex with a woman in the previous 12 months was 49 yr., the oldest man who reported sex with a man in the previous 12 months was 54 yr.) No one has produced any empiracle evidence to refute their conclusion, only complaints, and I predict no one will.
Prison guards have observed the shorter-life phenomenon among homosexuals for centuries — it was the only category of crime in which the older generation was almost never represented. St. Paul noticed it when he said in his letter to the Romans that those who do this will pay the penalty for their error “in their own bodies.” (Chapter One) It’s commonsense, as anyone who has worked with tools know, that if you use equipment for things other than their intended purpose, you’re placing yourself in danger. The SILENCE about this = DEATH.
I donâ€™t think many people understand the Catholic Churchâ€™s meaning of â€œObjectively Disordered.â€ I think it would be a worthy topic to post on by someone with the energy and time to be thorough.
For the purposes of this particular discussion, I think NickC’s understanding of Catholic teachings on natural law is pretty well grounded as he briefly described it. It matches my understanding quite well — with the caveat that I’m not a theologean nor am I well studied in philosophy.
And while I think a post would be useful, I tend to shy away from theological discussions (as you can see on this thread).
If you maintain that the only morally acceptable sexual acts are those open to the possibility of reproduction, then you do have a logical case to prohibit homosexuality, along with birth control and even marriages that cannot be consummated.
This is logical only if you deny the possibily of miracles. If God were to will it, it would be possible for either my partner me to conceive. That’s no more of a miracle than a virgin conceiving.
Do you really believe that if there proves to be no other basis than those few passages of scripture to view homosexual practice as wrong, the church must continue to consider it sinful?
I believe that there is an unspoken statement of faith in Christianity that goes deeper than any doctrine or dogma. Ultimately, when all is said and done, Christians, or at least American Christians, do believe in fairness. The principles of salvation and redemption lie on the presumption that each of us are masters of our own destiny and determinants of our own fate.
I believe that if Christians in this country as a whole came to believe that sexual orientation is not something that can be prevented or reversed, the overwhelming response would be to find a way to apply the same rules of conduct to gay individuals that it applies to straights. It would seem only “fair”.
This would be a long time in coming and there would be hold-outs (Baptists and Catholics, I’m guessing), but eventually for most “moral” would include those gay people who behaved in a manner that mirrored that of straight people. I think this is already happening.
Well, David, you are at least coming closer to addressing my arguments. I have been pressing a particular point focused on the single topic of homosexuality. Most of your responses have failed to address that single topic at all, but have consisted of wide ranging defenses of religion and traditional morality in general.
Here at least you come out and say: “Moral exceptionalism (what you are advocating for monogomous and otherwise morally sound gays and lesbians) is an untenable position for the Church. It cannot officially endorse it through a sacrament.”
What you don’t address is my question: Why?
I take your statement “I trust these commands with the support of science and without,” to concede (partially) that the Christian prohibition on homosexuality depends primarily on tradition–by which I mean both scripture and historic Christian beliefs–and may not be justified by what we learn scientifically about homosexuality as a natural phenomenon.
To the degree that is correct, let me suggest that your view of Christian morality is not much different than an Orthodox Jew’s view of the kosher laws. The Orthodox do not try to justify their dietary laws on grounds of health. They may admit the rules are arbitrary, but obey them because they believe that’s what God commanded. There’s a famous story (which I am sure I will bungle quoting from memory, as I did “objectively disordered”) of the rabbi who said to his student, “Do not say, I refuse pork because it is bad for me. Instead it is better to say pork is wonderful to eat! But I do not eat pork because God forbids it to me.”
As a Catholic, I was taught that Christian morality is not based on arbitrary commands, whatever their origin. It is founded in natural law–to greatly oversimplify, what we can observe in nature about behavior that is healthy vs destructive–as well as in divine revelation. It’s on that basis that I suggest a moral law that ceases to make sense in terms of science and reason cannot stand on religious tradition alone.
Note: I’m not trying to impose science over religion. But at the end of the day, if the church has any claim to truth, science and religion should prove consistent.
With homosexuality and other sexual issues, the Catholic Church provides a natural law justification by claiming that since the biological purpose of sex is procreation, all valid sexual acts must be open to procreation. As I said before, on that grounds, the prohibition of homosexuality is at least intellectually defensible. But if one rejects, as many Catholics and most other Christian churches do, the fundamental idea that sex must ALWAYS have a procreative possiblity (thus ruling out most forms of birth control and even calling into question marriage between the elderly and handicapped persons, etc), then that particular natural law argument also falls apart.
The reason I feel you have not engaged my argument, David, is that you have never spoken to this primary point: Do you really believe that if there proves to be no other basis than those few passages of scripture to view homosexual practice as wrong, the church must continue to consider it sinful?
Jim and Warren,
I don’t think many people understand the Catholic Church’s meaning of “Objectively Disordered.” I think it would be a worthy topic to post on by someone with the energy and time to be thorough.
I hope others can review our string and see if I am ignoring your point. I have tried to be diligent, thoughtful and attentive, but the temptation to make my argument may have overtaken my ability to listen to you.
I am sorry to hear this will be your last comment on this string.
To quote a portion of your last comment:
“When it comes to the specific issue of homosexuality, however, the churches seem determined to cling to traditional morality for no reason other than tradition. There is no inherent reason that a homosexual could not live by all of the other religious values of sexual chastitity outside of a monogamous, married relationshipâ€“IF churches were willing to recognize homosexual orientation and homosexual relationships as normal.
Your answer seems to beâ€“â€Ignoring traditional morality in other areas has led to lots of problems, so we have to hold the line here.â€ I donâ€™t find that logical or convincing.”
1. We don’t have to hold the line here, we need to reverse the trend and it needs to start with heterosexuals. It is disingenous, manipulative and cruel to judge and deprive gays and lesbians and indulge heterosexuals.
2. The traditional church is not “clinging” (the word implies some desperation). It has a responsiblity to adhere to and accurately represent all of God’s moral laws. It creates sacraments to ritualize those laws.
3. Moral exceptionalism (what you are advocating for monogomous and otherwise morally sound gays and lesbians) is an untenable position for the Church. It cannot officially endorse it through a sacrament. As it cannot endorse sexual activity for heterosexuals before marriage in a sacrament, as it cannot endorse infidelity for heterosexuals in a sacrament, it cannot endorse spousal abuse for heterosexuals as a sacrament.
I think I have heard you, I think I have put forward thoughtful reply. I cannot imagine fully the tension and loss many have suffered when trying to reconcile their faith with their sexual attractions. I can only imagine how I have felt when I have struggled with my own profound, persistent and core yearnings, longings and needs and found that they lie outside God’s revealed will.
I trust these commands with the support of science and without. Many moral goods have been applied successfully and for the betterment of civilization without scientific confirmation. I don’t think my reasons for resisting SSM stands on scripture alone. I have infered from science that marriage is a powerful institution. I have infered from science that both genders present in raising a child may provide a superior form of parenting and preparation for both genders of children…there is more I can say.
Utilitarian and scientific arguments have been used to exploit and devalue gays and lesbians, the mentally ill, the mentally retarded. Science is no virtue, by itself. Ask the victims of doctors and scientists working under orders from Hitler.
Each person has eternal value and is a fingerprint of our Divine Creator. I cannot prove that scientifically, in fact science points to the opposite: globs of chemicals and minerals populating a lonely planet in a sliver of time, soon to be extinct and forgotten.
I take it on faith that I must love you better than I did yestarday and a year ago and I appreciate your patience while I work toward that goal.
Okay, I’m breaking my own promise that “this is my last comment.” However, ANON2’s comment appeared while I was working on my last response.
“…too early in the whole debate over homosexuality to judge whether or not it is morally destructive”??!!
The debate over the morality of homosexuality has gone on for centuries. The Christian church was able to suppress most voices other than its own for a long time, but this is not a new debate.
The only thing that is new is that the straw men set up by defenders of the traditional morality are being rapidly knocked down as more and more gay people embrace their identity and live openly. It takes bogus research like Paul Cameron’s (remember the original point of this string?) to still defend the proposition that homosexuality is inherently destructive. Too many people know and see homosexuals who lead normal, healthy, productive lives to believe the old canards.
By the way, ANON2, I have no vested interest in convincing you that you have to live as a homosexual. If you want to pursue a heterosexual identity, that’s fine by me. I’m the guy who was happily married for 26 years–I believe people can adapt pretty successfully if they have strong motivation.
But why does that mean that those who choose to embrace our natural orientation and live openly must be condemned?
Finally, in response to Jim Burroway’s point–I actually concede that the Catholic Church does attempt to make a logial and intellectually consistent argument for its moral teaching on homosexuality. If you maintain that the only morally acceptable sexual acts are those open to the possibility of reproduction, then you do have a logical case to prohibit homosexuality, along with birth control and even marriages that cannot be consummated. (Many people don’t realize that the Catholic Church, at least officially, will also refuse marriage to a heterosexual couple if one of the partners is incapable of having intercourse–for example, if a man has lost his genitals in an injury.)
But given how many Catholics ignore the teaching on birth control, and how little serious effort the Church makes to censure them, it seems to me that Catholic Church is not quite as consistent as it likes to pretend.
And that really will be my last word!
This will be my last comment on this string.
David, you persist in ignoring the very specific issue I’m raising. Yes, utilitarian/science-based arguments can be made against traditional morality on monogamy, adultery, sexual purity, and so on. I personally accept some of those arguments. I am, after all, no longer a Christian.
However, I recognize that in many areas, those who defend traditional morality can make a strong, logical, science-based argument that the behaviors it forbids are ultimately destructive. For example, you can marshal research to show that infidelity in marriage–even when open and with the consent of both parties–tends by its nature to create harm. “By its nature” is the key phrase there. When it comes to infidelity, one can reasonably argue that the harmfulness, or serious potential for harm, is inherent in the behavior.
Whether or not I buy that argument, I can at least concede that traditional morality on faithfulness in marriage has an objective, rational basis beyond pure religious tradition.
When it comes to the specific issue of homosexuality, however, the churches seem determined to cling to traditional morality for no reason other than tradition. There is no inherent reason that a homosexual could not live by all of the other religious values of sexual chastitity outside of a monogamous, married relationship–IF churches were willing to recognize homosexual orientation and homosexual relationships as normal.
Your answer seems to be–“Ignoring traditional morality in other areas has led to lots of problems, so we have to hold the line here.” I don’t find that logical or convincing.
I think the Catholic Church refers to homosexuality as â€œObjectively Disordered,â€
And when the Church uses the word “Disordered,” it’s a reference to natural law, not clinical disorders. I think that point often gets lost. Not that it makes the statement any more palatable, but I find that many Catholics themselves overlook the distinction.
I think it is much too early in the whole debate over homosexuality to judge whether or not it is morally destructive. I do not believe we have yet experienced the consequences of outward acceptance of this “disordered” condition in the human population. As for what science has shown us is that it is not as innate as we have been led to believe by some who have a vested interest in convincing us all that there is nothing that can be done to alleviate the attractions they have to the same sex. It very much reminds me of the way some held onto the idea that 10% of the population was gay long after the idea was scientifically shown not to be true.
I think the Catholic Church refers to homosexuality as “Objectively Disordered,” not deeply disordered.
Thanks for persisting in this string…
Morals are stubborn things. There appears to be a set of them that have persisted quite robustly for some hundreds and thousands of years of recorded history. You need not be a fundamentalist to value them, do it based upon your convictions about evolution. Morals are adaptive and protective.
You are asking that the final assessment for morals be based upon utiiltarianism. Utilitarianism wedded to quasi-scientific research. It is also fueled by subjectivism, personal freedom and individual rights.
I resist your assertions based upon my faith, but also based upon those who preceded you in the heterosexual community. They have used the same arguments to dismantle the value of monogomy, sexual purity and weaken marital commitment. We now know that the wedding between utilitarianism, quasi-scientific research, subjectivism and personal freedom did not produce a better civilization for the heterosexual community. Why?
Morals are oppressive, and so is Christianity. Dismantling them gives us a sense of freedom and release. An appearance of well-being that some might confuse with mental health.
An entire generation of children have been raised based upon the utilitarian construction (and bad 60’s and 70’s science) you say should determine our morals.
Many are strong enough to overcome losing the protective cover of their families. A significant minority, a growing minority is not. They populate our prisons, our streets and our substance abuse and mental health clinics. They drop out of high school, enter puberty and become sexually active earlier and are more likely to construct inadequate family systems to support their trusting children.
In heterosexuals, promisciuty is a natural condition. Deception is quite nature. Aggression, natural. Stealing, natural. Gossiping, natural.
I have listed above a set of quasi-scientific conclusions to fit into your utilitarian model for justifying moral behavior. They strongly suggest that promiscuity and divorce were justified in being understood simply as moral failures to be avoided.
I will write more later…to address your additional comments
David, I don’t feel your comments respond to my point at all.
Yes, not just Christianity, but any moral viewpoint, will call for the individual to suppress some impulses that “seem normal, logical and rational, but are ultimately destructive.”
My point has been that as objective, scientific understanding of homosexuality has grown, we see ever more clearly that it is a natural condition and is not “ultimately destructive.” The destructive behaviors often associated with homosexuality–narcissism, promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse–are better understood and treated as cultural problems rather than conditions inherent to a homosexual orientation. To a large degree, these destructive behaviors result from the social and religious bias against homosexualtiy, which marginalizes gay people and their relationships and encourages self-loathing.
If homosexuality per se is not “ultimately destructive,” then what is the basis for a Christian morality that insists it is “deeply disordered” (to take a phrase from my own former church)? The only basis appears to be literal adherence to a few passages in the Bible, and to historic church teaching.
THAT is what I call oppressive–a morality that can’t be logically justified, and that does not even impact the vast majority of believers, but is imposed on a minority causing great personal pain only because the churches are unwilling to admit that their scriptures and traditions are not infallible.
“Our souls are liberated from the law of sin and death. Itâ€™s not so much about â€œcurbing and controlling destructive impulsesâ€ as it is about surrendering our wills to His”
No problem with that…
I see my nature as chiding against that surrendering with varying degrees of resentment, relief and regression.
That’s odd. I have never throught of true Christianity as “oppressive”. On the contrary, I think of it as true liberation. We are set free. Romans 8:2-3: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did!”
Our souls are liberated from the law of sin and death. It’s not so much about “curbing and controlling destructive impulses” as it is about surrendering our wills to His.
Jesus uses the heavy, oppressive imagery of beasts of burden and turns it upside down. He said: “”Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Nick C said:
“Focusing on the subject at hand, however, It seems to me that religion becomes most oppressive when believers seek to impose moral standards and dogmas that derive solely from their scriptures or traditional teachings”
The demands of Christ’s journey to the cross were quite oppressive.
“Loving your enemy” is an oppressive demand…makes no rational sense. It might make more sense now that the theories of evolution and a historical record indicate that it’s opposite, revenge, is a dstructive emotion.
Christianity is meant to be oppressive…oppressive of impulses (all kinds) that seem normal, logical and rational, but are ultimately destructive.
Paul says that the Law was created to expose my sin…
We may disagree about homosexuality, but we may have much common ground around the need of man’s impulses to be curbed and controlled. That what comes natural to us can often times be wrong.
Christianity is oppressive, by nature…it requires everything. God offers unlimited support in that requirement, and unending grace.
I remember that hostility toward higher education and studying psychology.
My youth pastor, from a very conservative church, when I asked him what he thought I should do, encouraged me in my study of psychology.
The problem with Christianity is (look out, here it comes) the most opinionated, rigid people are held out as its spokespersons.
One of the people I looked up to in the church I chose as an adolescent was an apologetics professor. Ph.D. who occassionally spoke from the pulpit. He used words at the time I didn’t understand. But he wasn’t ashamed of his intellect or his degree.
A basic hostility toward the faith by education and visa versa is the best explanation for the tension you experienced and it is best supported by the historical record.
The conservative evangelical church has been in a siege mentality since the 1920’s. Catholics have not.
When I was a young Christian, I often saw a bumper sticker that read, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it!” Even as as “ex-gay” that slogan scared the hell out of me. We were encouraged to “take it on faith” — and not question.
I was counseled NOT to get by BA in Cultural Anthrolopology because “anthropologists believe in evolution”. After I got my BA, I was again counseled by church leaders NOT to pursue a Master’s Degree in Psychology because “psychologists were atheists.”
Well, I am definitely NOT an atheist, but maybe I am an ex-ex-gay today because I decided to get an education.
I do not deny the many contributions of religion to Western civilization, and to modern society as well. I did not say religion should be overruled by reason and science, but “counterbalanced.” Although no longer a Christian myself, I am very sympathetic to arguments that reason and science also need to be counterbalanced by a religious viewpoint.
Focusing on the subject at hand, however, It seems to me that religion becomes most oppressive when believers seek to impose moral standards and dogmas that derive solely from their scriptures or traditional teachings, with no strong basis in reason or science. Christians recognize this truth when discussing the imposition of sharia law in fundamentalistic Islamic societies. Many seem unwilling to apply the same standard to their own churches’ position on subjects like homosexuality.
much to discuss…
Maybe third base is the Enlightenment and not the beginning of the 20th Century.
The French in their revolutions elevated an existential form of reason above everything else and worshipped it. They killed plenty in a short time and became a model for other bloody revolutions.
It fascinates me the extent of Christian involvment in the Enlightenment and the subsequent scientific revolution.
Look around the city in which you live, you will find numerous hospitals and orphanages which existed prior to any state or federal program to help.
I wouldn’t single out Mr. Blakeslee for that question. Ask the whole ex-gay movment: What makes something “sin”? Are you going to obey ALL of the Bible or just the parts you want to impose on me?
Sin is violating “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, sin is:
(1) Making someone or something MORE important than God and/or (2) treating someone else as something LESS than one of His beloved children. All “sins” that still apply (murder, theivery, lying, idolatry, adultery, etc.) are violations of one of those TWO laws that sum up ALL the law and the prophets. How does homosexuality violate these universal princples?
“Psychology cannot properly value (morals) until they value the sacrifices Christians, Catholics, Jews and Lutherans have made to bring them to Western Civilization.”
Which sacrifices do you refer to? Are you thinking of the religious wars, witch hunts, inquisitions, suppression of science, and persecution of minorities that were for centuries the hallmark of Western Christianity?
The civil liberties and religious tolerance that distinguish Western Civilization resulted from the Enlightenment’s challenge to religion’s stranglehold. The lesson of Western civilization is that individuals and societies flourish when the power of religion is counterbalanced by equal respect for reason and scientific truth.
Among other practical consequences, that means even the devout should not base their morality on blind adherence to religious texts, but also take into account reason (are there objective harms to the self or to others from a particular behavior?) and scientific insights into behavior (how many Christians still seriously believe that adolescent masturbation is a grave sin?).
I think it is on those points that the historical Christian condemnation of homosexuality is failing. We are learning from both research in both biology and psychology that homosexual orientation is not an unnatural aberration, but a normal variant in almost all animal species, including humans. At the same time, we can see rationally that homosexual behavior is not inherently unhealthy or harmful to anyone, even though there are unhealthy traits in current homosexual culture.
Those who insist that Christians should consider to treat homosexual behavior as immoral have been pushed back further and further until they are left with only one argument–a few verses in the Bible. Countless other Biblical prohibitions have lost their moral weight, because they fail the test of reason and scientific truth. Why is David Blakeslee so convinced that homosexuality will be the one exception?
“Christians who count on FOTF to be committed to truth are disillusioned and discredited alsoâ€¦”
Attention reparative therapy industry: If you are going to try to explain us or fix us, at least use good science. Don’t manipulate the truth or conceal it with deliberately vague language. Don’t hang out with folks who have questionable (or no) credentials.
Distance yourself from extremists who publish articles advocating bullying kids or suggesting the slaves were better off. Don’t storm off when asked legitmate questions about reparative therapy.
Don’t try to repeal the hard-won laws that protect us from fanatics and hate-mongers. And don’t be so self-righteously adamant that your interpretation of the Bible is infallibly correct. You really want to reach us? Repent, humble yourselves, and SERVE.
I would like to add that there is harm in “value neutral” therapists and therapies that place a transient feeling of personal happiness or fulfillment as a treatment goal. Happiness is quite elusive and personal fulfillment is no garauntee (sp) of morally sound behavior or outcomes (another myth of the 60’s).
Most of my interest in ssa, politics, psychology and blogging centers around the replacement of the pastor, priest and rabbi with the psychologist as confessee and moral arbitor of the individual’s life. Psychologists are not trained, at all, to integrate morality and mental health and given the dilemma, easily attribute guilt and shame to pathology.
FOTF, Cameron and Nicolosi are problems I am eager to correct. There is no reason a parishoner should trust a poorly informed Christian therapist or pastor.
Psychology as a cultural phenomenon and moral authority has been both powerful and a grave disappointment in education, in marriage therapy…probably elsewhere I haven’t recorded yet.
Morals are historically sound ways to make long term decisions that involvehuman rights, personal sacrifice and connection to the community. Psychology cannot properly value them until they value the sacrifices Christians, Catholics, Jews and Lutherans have made to bring them to Western Civilization.
It was said of George H.W. Bush, he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple…
Even more so, at the beginning of the 20th Century, psychology found itself in a prime position to examine and understand man. It set about immediately criticizing and demeaning the very institutions that helped make man so different and intriguing.
But FOTF then discredits itself…and Christians who count on FOTF to be committed to truth are disillusioned and discredited also…
Well, we are in complete agreement on this one, David. As you know, it’s my biggest pet peeve: the “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay movement” publishing manipulative, agenda-driven, religiously skewed, “uncurious”, defective “scholarship” and then trying to pass it off as “science”. One can’t blame gay activists for this. It’s false witness in my book.
My other three: (1) using vague, misleading and provocative language to attract publictity and to cover up that truth that “ex-gay”, “change” ministries do not actually change sexual orientation, (2) mixing ministry and politics and (3) questionable “affiliations” with wackos posing as therapists. Mix those four ingredients and you get a huge public relations mess that keeps happening over and over again.
He will be discreditedâ€¦early and often solely by the defects in his scholarship.
Yes, that’s true within the profession. But as long as people like James Dobson and groups like Exodus, Concerned Women, FRC refer to his work, his lies will continue to live.
Last year on the clinical blog at NARTH (non-public) there was a suggestion by a clinician that we discuss Cameron’s recent article published in Britain…
When I brought it to the attention of the participants that Cameron’s research was flawed and that these flaws seemed fueled by an agenda (not an honest mistake), some were clearly surprised to hear this. Others were well aware of it.
As Cameron is an example of Christian scholarship, the characature of religiously skewed science will be a heavy mantle worn by us all.
He will be discredited…early and often solely by the defects in his scholarship. His inquiry is legitimate, the lack of asking honest, well-rounded questions makes him truly “uncurious”–and obviously manipulative.
Not only that but NARTH still has information from Cameron by name on it’s site.
Mr. Frisch concludes that Cameron’s work has “little to do with science”, is “severely methodigically flawed” and that the conclusions are “pure nonsense”. NARTH has made many similar errors in its “research”. Frisch said that, as psychologists, they should know better. Poor research design, selective sampling and “post hoc ergo propter hoc” reasoning — again and again.
Everywhere you look in the “change/reorientation” movement we find agenda posing as science. Shame on them. DIdn’t ANY of these folks have to take research deign and statistical analysis in college? I only have a Master’s degree and I know I did. My research design professor would have flunked the lot of them.
This is a terrific response. Thanks for all of your work on this.
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