June 21, 2017

Untangling LGBTQ arguments

By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, June 22, 2017

Untangling LGBTQ arguments

Popular arguments in defence of LGBTQ matters often consist of knots of illogic that should be untangled. Consider the following.

1. Critics of LGBTQ matters are homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, etc., so their arguments should be dismissed.

Reply: This is an ad hominem fallacy, i.e., the mistake of dismissing arguments on the basis of some (alleged) characteristic of the arguer. The merits or demerits of the critics' arguments should be addressed, not the characteristics of those setting out the arguments. The messenger isn't the message.

2. Being gay is like race, so questioning homosexuality is unjust—as racism is unjust.

Reply: This commits the fallacy of faulty analogy, i.e., the mistake of basing an inference on a comparison when there are relevant dissimilarities.

First, unlike race, "being gay" is not 100% biologically determined. Though sexual desires are not chosen, various factors are involved: some biological, some psychological, some social. Even though one can have same-sex etc. attractions (for various causal reasons), one needn't construct or centre one's identity on those attractions. We are more than sexual impulses—much more.

Second, unlike race, people can change or at least not act in accordance with their sexual impulses. See LivingOut.org, Restored Hope Network, Sy Rogers, etc.

Third, unlike race, significant health issues are associated with gay sexual behaviour.

Physician Miriam Grossman: Compared to the general heterosexual population, persons who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual report “more high risk sexual behaviors, higher rates of infection with HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea, and more mental health problems [anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts].”

Significantly, Grossman adds, these disparities also occur in more accepting, gay-friendly societies (e.g., The Netherlands), so can't be blamed wholly on cultural attitudes.

[See, too, my column Is being gay like race?]

3. LGBTQ people are born that way, so that justifies LGBTQ sexual behaviour.

Reply: Aside from the small percentage of intersex people, the premise is false (see above: it's not 100% biologically determined).

Moreover, even if one is "born that way," the argument commits the Is-Ought fallacy, i.e., the mistake of moving from a descriptive statement (of what is) to a prescriptive statement (of what ought). Just because I have a propensity to do X, it doesn't follow logically that I should do X.

A propensity for anger doesn't justify having a temper tantrum. A propensity for alcoholism doesn't justify drinking to excess. A propensity for pedophilia doesn't justify sex with children. So too a propensity for same-sex (etc.) sex doesn't automatically justify acting on that propensity. More reasoning is needed.

4. If you disagree with persons who identify as LGBTQ, then you are a hater. Either you affirm LGBTQ or you show disrespect.

Reply: This incurs the false dichotomy fallacy.

This is a mistake in reasoning which occurs when we assume that there are only two options, when there are actually three (or more), yet we go on to assume that one of the two options must be the way to go.

Missing third option: be genuinely hospitable and respectful to those who identify as LGBTQ (etc.) AND hold to the wisdom of reserving sex between one man and one woman in permanent monogamous marriage.

5. Reserving sex between one man and one woman in permanent monogamous marriage is silly.

Reply: This is false.

According to researcher RyanT. Anderson, reliable studies from social sciences strongly suggest parenting by married biological parents—i.e., biological mother and biological father—is ideal for well-being of children. Redefinition of marriage (along with divorce and single parenting) takes society another step away from this ideal.

Also, stepping away from sexual complementarity increases demand for reproductive technology.

In Vitro Fertilization may become normalized and its problems exacerbated. IVF creates leftover frozen human embryos, i.e., human beings; often requires “selective termination,” i.e., abortion of unwanted implantations/ fetuses; exploits women as surrogates and egg suppliers; plus threatens to turn children into commodities, abolishing their biologically-based moral right to know and be raised by both biological parents.

Further reading: Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled.

[See too: Ryan T. Anderson lecture at Princeton University: What Is Marriage?(56 minute online video); Q&A (36 minute online video).]

(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of Providence.)

Other Apologia columns on related matters, for additional reading:




 Homosexuality (general) 

 Homosexuality (non-religious criticisms) 

Homosexuality (and Bible) 

Same-sex marriage 


  Replies to my critics 

Note to critics: Please read at least a few of my (relevant) suggested readings before commenting. Thanks.

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