Is homosexuality immoral? Are people born gay? Should homosexuality be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle or not? Should same-sex marriage be legalized?
Such questions have been hovering the ambits of human society since time immemorial. Some of us consider homosexuality natural and entirely acceptable, others find it uncomfortable and icky, others still pity homosexuals are diseased. The tug of war between the rival sides has intensified over the years. People on both sides have strong feelings. One wonders what attitude should be taken or rather what attitude can be taken. There are two ways, you either consider it moral or immoral, and then there is a third stance which could be something like this : ‘ People have different opinions, but where morality is concerned, there are no ‘facts’, and no one is ‘right’. People just feel differently, and that’s the end of it.’ This is what is called ethical subjectivism.
To state it simply, the theory of ethical subjectivism says that when a person says that X is morally good or bad, this means that he or she approves of that thing, or disapproves of it, nothing more. But there are two fundamental problems in accepting such a theory; (1) So long as a person sincerely presents his feelings, he cannot be mistaken. This is make us infallible which cannot be true. (2) if people are simply stating true facts, then any two people, even when they take contradictory positions cannot be said to be in disagreement.
If subjectivism is thus rejected there must be basis to establish moral facts and ethical truisms. This basis has to be reason. The correct answer to a moral question is the answer that has the weight of reason on its side.
The Reverend Jerry Falwell spoke, “Homosexuality is immoral. The so-called Gay rights are not rights at all, because immorality is not right.” Falwell is a baptist. Catholic church and Islam view same-sex desire as a natural temptation; but, sexual relations are seen as a transgression of the natural role and aim of sexual activity. Some state the bible, Levicticus 18:22 “You may not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.” But how far can we rely on religious books for our moral judgements? One cannot simply accept something as moral or immoral just because an authority says so. If the precepts in a sacred text are not arbitrary, we should be able to ask why the Bible condemns homosexuality and expect an answer. The Levicticus instructs things such as ‘a priests daughter who plays a whore should be burned alive’, ‘women should not be allowed in church until 42 days of child birth’, further (in a way disturbing) instruction about menstruation and seeing your uncle naked. Such rules like the condemnation of homosexuality were peculiar to an ancient time and must not be seen as binding on us today. Simply because human nature is not static.
The case against homosexuality often comes down to it being called ‘unnatural’. The term unnatural, however is very vague. Firstly, a human quality could be unnatural in the sense that it is not shared by a majority. If this is so then left-handedness is as unnatural as homosexuality. Being rare doesn’t amount to being bad. Secondly, something could be stated as unnatural if it does not serve its ‘natural’ purpose. Like eyes are meant for seeing, sex is meant for procreation. This however does not imply that sex must only be done for procreation. This would be like saying that since eyes are meant for seeing it is wrong and unnatural to use them for giving signals. Thirdly if it taken to mean ‘contrary to what a person ought to be’ then it would be like saying this and this is wrong because it is wrong. This would be an empty remark. To quote the Rigveda, “vikruti evam prakriti” (perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, or, what seems unnatural is also natural)
The basis of all morality, whether we will admit to it or not, is the minimization of pain and suffering in other sentient beings. Homosexuals are pursuing the only way of life that affords them a chance to happiness. Its not just about sex, its about falling in love. Homosexuality harms nobody (not even the catholic church which so vehemently opposes it) , it is between two consenting adults and it is simply love. Moreover individuals do not choose their sexual orientation; both homosexuals and heterosexuals have little opinion to exercise in this matter. To say that homosexuality is immoral is to say that love is immoral.