Monday, February 22, 2010

Trait or Behavior?

This is in response to a question asked in my psychology class of, “Is homosexuality a learned behavior or genetic trait?”

I am deeply saddened at the response of those filled with the Spirit towards an issue of homosexuality and the inerrant ideology that is revealed in their views towards it. There is a dichotomy made between homosexual behavior and homosexual thought in popular Christian theology. As far as I read Jesus challenged the religious folks of his day that the heart and thoughts are just as or more important than the behavior. We are also born with a nature of sin. Sin is not simply a behavioral problem, it is an essence dilemma. The point in much of Jesus' New Testament teaching was to discourage the religious of the day that focused so heavily upon behavioral conformity over soul transformation. Many use Old Testament Scriptures to point to how much of an abomination being homosexual is, but forget that we are not held to the laws of the Old Testament and what we read, while still God's Word, in the Old testament must be read within the appropriate context, as a religious Jewish community. It is easy and dangerous to read any of the Bible with eyes of an American in 2010. Te principles stated in the Bible take work to bring to our current environment and require much more than memorization of a verse (often taken out of context).

To say homosexuality is a learned trait and is only affected by sociological factors is spitting of the face of two very important forces. One, empirical evidence is reflected by scientific research. There are Christians who refuse to believe in dinosaurs, yet there are fossils. Science has been painted too often as the enemy of spirituality when in fact the ultimate goal of any science is greater understanding of our experience, which will always reduce to a wonder and enlightenment that there is something that holds it all together (God). To simply reject science for the fact that it seeks further evidence beyond scriptural quotation has been seen as holy, zealous, and faithful behaviors and responses, but in all actuality are ignorance and robbing the truth of all its beauty. To ignore and reject all the evidence that psychology and sociology has provided by various tests of actual homosexually oriented and heterosexually oriented humans that suggest environment or sociological factors do not have a direct impact on sexual orientation is to deny natural truth simply because it is not said within the Christian context. It leaves Christians being seen as extreme people with no evidence to back themselves up with. Also, to say that homosexual orientation is simply a learned behavior is to imply that sin can be learned. Carrying that implication further would say that there is a point at which your mind cannot learn at a certain level to which sin would not exist, which any Bible-savvy person would throw out as heresy. This reaction to homosexuality is to protect a faith and religious system from something it does not quite understand (individualistically). I do not have the orientation of homosexuality, but that is not because I learned to be heterosexual. If it is possible to be heterosexual by nature, then why would the inverse be seen as outlandish?

This is not to say that I think it is within God’s original plan for man (His will) to be homosexual or to lie with men as women due and for women to lay with other women as they do men. I think that homosexuality, as a behavior or as a genetic trait, is an effect of man’s original sin, man’s original act of separating himself from God by disobedience. I do think that God sees it as sin, by behavior. I think it carries no greater weight than the sin of pride, oppression, lying, being impatient, or any other “sin” that would be called “ordinary.” I don’t think God was really into the business of behavior maintenance all along though. The entire Old Testament Law was to point towards a Messiah. It was a system set up for failure, one that always called for more and eventually called for perfection man alone could not attain. God being a very good God provided us with Jesus as the messiah though! This Messiah came and died for sin and took away the behavioral side of anything we could ever do or not do. I think the real point behind any of this in the grand scheme of things is that whether a person is homosexual by choice or by trait, it is forgiven by Christ. I trust the Holy Spirit is big enough to work in an individual’s life beyond my realm of what should or shouldn’t be so much that He will bring them into whatever being He wills, even if it isn’t in the plain sight of the Christian religion or its attendants.

It is my prescription that homosexuality is a genetic trait that can be regressed or enhanced by sociological factors. I think everyman is flawed and in sin at birth and cannot learn to sin or not sin on his own. There is too much evidence that supports homosexuality as a trait rather than simple “bad” behavior to dismiss it, even if I would like to. I think that spirituality and all Jesus desired and came for can be supported by natural science, psychology, and sociology if the mass populace of religious folk would think before they put faith in a view they don’t quiet understand. It is education of the unknown in which we were saved, it is the education of the unknown that will help us live out an abundant, loving, peaceful life here too.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Methhead Faith

Help me have more faith in you and less faith in everything else it is truly awe-inspiring sometimes how your unconscious mind can convey truth to your conscious, often times distracted and crazy, mind. This morning I was writing in my journal and I ended with a simple prayer. Help me have more faith in you and less faith in everything else. That sounds pretty pious and upright doesn’t it? I’d like to think that in some abstract way it is, however, I’m sure it is more offensive than not in most opinions. The source of this logic was found last night after putting down a sacred book, the bible. The book seems so heavy sometimes, not because of the great depth and spirit it was written with, but the supplemental steroids society has placed upon it. I read 4 chapters of a book I’ve been reading and set it down with disappointment. I was unmoved in this reading, unwavering in emotions and no better after I read than before. This is where the offense comes in. How could I say such a thing? My concern is not that I was static, my focus is more on why I felt disappointment afterward and if this is even appropriate. I have no qualms with being honest. Jesus was an advocate for mind and heart being the focal point of necessary revolution. So thinking something, but not saying it deserves no reward. Concealment does not negate existence. Truth is the standard I try to live by, even if that truth isn’t pleasing or “normal”, so I have no problems admitting I didn’t feel a thing after reading the bible last night.

I think out loud, it is something I do; it is my character and personality to do so. The lucky winner of going through this with me is my beautiful fiancée, Julia. Poor girl, she gets to deal with my complex mind and restless soul. After confiding in her last night at my apathetic response to the bible she responded with a heavy yet simple statement, “Are you ever going to be happy, it seems like you’re never satisfied.” She didn’t say this do discourage, this is one of the reasons I am marrying her, she challenges my mind to go places it would not if left alone. She is my external challenging standard. She thinks and sees things at angles I never thought about. I am forever indebted and thankful to her for this. Why was I disappointed after reading the bible? I had a predetermined set of expectations before even picking up the book. The expectations are simple and sound (or have sounded) reasonable to most. The bible is God’s word; therefore, when I read it I am experiencing God. Every time I experience God I should feel invigorated. If I don’t there is something wrong with me. I found great peace this morning by dismissing this assumption. The bible is God’s word, it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and I get that. I don’t mean to say I get the entire gravity of what that means because I cannot ever truly grasp complete comprehension of the Spirit. The bible is not my source of faith. Am I sacrilegious now? The bible is a tool. The bible is a mean by which God reveals himself to humanity. To say otherwise is to doubt the eternal existence of God because the bible is fairly novel, in the grand scheme of history. In Romans the writer says God reveals himself through his creation. Leaves, flowers, a cool breeze, the beautifully clear water of Lake Michigan, nor a snow capped city are the bible yet are intrinsically God as well. My expectation of extreme neural transduction is a bastard child of religious teachings based in emotions and false expectations. Should I feel a shock wave of tingles up my spine every time I pick it up?

I’ve learned about sensory adaption recently and the concept is simple, your sensory nerves adapt to frequent stimuli. Crystal Meth has become a powerful street drug that is tearing apart lives at an alarming rate. When addicts use meth over and over again, the drug actually changes their brain chemistry, destroying the wiring in the brain's pleasure centers and making it increasingly impossible to experience any pleasure at all. It basically kills the part of the brain that feels pleasure. Little by little it takes more and more to stimulate this part until it eventually dies. The question I must ask myself is how do a meth addict and an obsessive Christian differ? If I am constantly seeking more and more stimulation every time I pick up the bible or indulge in some religious activity I will eventually hit a wall or do things that are extreme and unhealthy. Maybe my faith has been placed in a result rather than an essential principle. Faith in religious stimulation may seem admirable in a room or large population of religious folk, just as a meth addiction doesn’t seem abnormal to other meth addicts. This expectation of emotional and spiritual euphoria as an effect of reading a book doesn’t seem sane or healthy. I should not toss and turn when I don’t experience something “special” when I see the word Jesus, hear of a Christian story, read the bible, or hear some old hymn. Jesus taught about peace and love. Following a God of peace shouldn’t look so violently restless should it? My trust should be in basic truths, God is omnipresent, God is love, or God never leaves me. A faith should not be based on feeling good after reading the bible or seeing direct results. My faith should be in God regardless of emotional stimulation. So I end where I began. Help me have more faith in you and less faith in everything else. That seems simple, peaceful, and more along the lines of what I think Jesus would want.