September 30, 2018, 12:00 AM

"Torn" Session 3: Chapter 5


            In Chapter 5, Lee explores the question, “why are people gay?”  He starts by defining what the term “gay” means.  While this may seem unnecessary, Lee accurately points out that different people may define the term differently and thus come to very different conclusions to his original question.  Lee states, “if one person believes that ‘gay’ means ‘someone who is attracted to the same sex’ and another person believes that ‘gay’ means ‘someone who has sex with members of the same sex,’ then it shouldn’t surprise us when they come to two very different conclusions.”  Lee states that he uses the word “gay” in reference to people’s attractions, not necessarily to their behaviors.  This is typically how the term is used in our culture.  Also, Lee argues, it makes the most sense.  He gives an example of someone who commits his/her life to celibacy.  Society would call that person “straight” if his/her attraction was for the opposite gender regardless of whether or not he/she ever acted on those desires.

            Lee then processes through several theories regarding why it is that people are gay.  Theory 1- people choose to be gay.  He lifts up that this was in no way his personal experience, nor was it the experience for people he knows.  He most definitely did not want to be gay.  He also brings up the fact that we are not attracted to all people (either gay or straight) and that who we are attracted to is not a matter of choice.  His conclusion is that being gay is not something a person chooses.

            Theory 2- People are seduced or tricked into identifying as gay.  He states that this too was not his experience.  No one tried to convince or woo him into a relationship.  He didn’t even know any other gay people.  He was not abused as a child.  So these things could not have made him gay.

            Theory 3- People are gay because of their parents.  This is a theory that became popular in the 1960’s and continues today.  There are variations, but mostly this is called the “reparative drive” model.  It states that there was some kind of disorder in the relationship between a child and their same gendered parent resulting in an emotional deficit that the child then seeks out in same-gendered relationships as adults.  Again, Lee points out that this is not his experience.  He was raised with loving and attentive parents and had and continues to have good relationships with both.  Lee also points out that studies do not back up this claim.  Yes, some homosexual people have poor relationships with their parents.  But so do many heterosexual people.  And there are plenty of homosexual individuals who don’t.

            Theory 4- People are gay because of their biology.  Lee highlights several scientific studies that seem to point to a difference in brain chemistry amongst gay people that may correlate to a difference in hormone levels in utero.  So while Lee ultimately concludes that we still don’t know exactly why some people are gay and others are straight, as nothing has been scientifically proven, the theory that sexual orientation is biological has support amongst scientific circles.


Quotes of note:

            “[Christians have] argued that if gay sex is a sin, then God wouldn’t allow people to be born with a biological attraction to the same sex.  But that doesn't seem like a very good argument to me.  Just because an attraction or drive is biological doesn’t mean it’s okay to act on, so whether behavior is sinful or not doesn’t tell us anything about whether the related attraction has biological roots.” –pg62

            “If you believe that gay relationships are sinful, for instance, it’s more appealing to assume that gay feelings result from childhood trauma- because if people are born with them, that leads to the uncomfortable thought that God might have created people with a deep longing for intimacy and no legitimate means to fill it.” –pg68

            “For now, the important thing is to keep an open mind and listen compassionately to people’s stories.” –pg69


Questions to consider:

            What are you thoughts on Lee’s main question in this chapter, “why are people gay,” and what do you think of his responses?

            Reread the quote from page 68 above.  Lee is saying if people are born gay, but acting on that desire is sinful, then those people are born with a need for intimacy that can never be rightly fulfilled.  What are your thoughts about this?

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