Archaic Views fuel Same Sex Debate
by George Wolfe
In 2010, the movie “The King’s Speech,” staring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, enjoyed considerable popularity and won several academy awards. Prince George, whose daughter is the present Queen Elizabeth, reluctantly assumed the throne after his brother King Edward, gave up the throne to marry a divorced woman.
From childhood George suffered from a speech disorder which manifested as a serious case of stuttering. His therapist, who coached him once he became King of England, ascertained that his impediment could have resulted from his parents forcing him to write with his right hand when George was naturally left-handed. Learning disorders, such as dyslexia, have also been associated with forced right-handedness.
For ages, it has been a belief among many Hindus and Muslims that the left hand is unclean. In addition, Jewish texts often favor the right hand (see Gen. 48: 12-20), and some Christian sects have viewed being left handed as diabolical. This Christian belief was rooted in a literalist interpretation of biblical passages and other religious documents that refer to the chosen of God as being seated at His “right hand” (see Matt. 25:32-33). It also says in the Apostle’s Creed that Christ is “seated at the right hand of the Father.”
Fortunately, we now have grown to understand such archaic anthropomorphic interpretations as misguided and very detrimental when they are used to justify forcing naturally left-handed people to write with their right hand.
Today we see striking parallels to this within the same sex marriage debate. In conservative religious circles, homosexuality has long been considered sinful and contrary to religious teachings. Efforts by scholars to develop a theology that is inclusive of gay marriage have not been convincing to orthodox and fundamentalist believers in many of the faith traditions.
There is significant evidence, however, to indicate that biology, as well as social factors, plays a role in determining sexual preference. Homosexuality has also been observed in other primates and in numerous other species (see Homosexual Behavior in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective by V. Sommer and P. Vasey, Cambridge University Press, 2006).
For many people who are drawn to same sex relationships, expecting someone who is gay to change their sexual preference is as unnatural and psychologically detrimental as forcing a child who is left-handed to change and write with the right hand.
Rather than passing laws against same sex marriage, politicians should be passing laws against domestic violence and abusive relationships. Rather than taking a stand against lesbian couples adopting a child, we should take a stand against deadbeat dads.
The efforts to craft laws and amendments against same sex marriage have been a distraction for our lawmakers. Voters need to send a convincing message this November that lawmakers should focus on clean energy, reducing carbon emissions, utilizing renewable resources, raising the minimum wage, health care for the underemployed and other pressing issues.
George Wolfe is Professor Emeritus and Coordinator of Outreach Programs for the Ball State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. He also chairs the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship and is the author of the soon to be published book Meditations on Mystery: Science, Paradox and Contemplative Spirituality.