Gagnon and Jordan on sexual differences

I’ve been reading a bit of Robert Gagnon on homosexuality and scripture, and I found two quote-worthy comments. First, from his “Reasoned and Reasonable Case for Secular Society” (pdf), he says:

First, supporters of homosexual unions will sometimes argue that there are no significant sexual differences between men and women, often appealing to a strict social-constructionist philosophy. The problem is that most people don’t live in accordance with such a perspective, including most persons who identity as “gay” or “lesbian.” Why is it the case, for example, that the vast majority of homosexual men would not (or claim not to) be fully satisfied with a sexual relationship involving a woman, even a particularly gender-nonconforming, masculinized woman? Why do they regard themselves as a “category 6” on the Kinsey spectrum? Could it be that they tacitly recognize that there is an essential maleness to men that not even a gender-nonconforming woman can successfully reproduce?

If there were nothing essential or significant to male-female differences then we should expect nearly the whole American population to be bisexual rather than “unisexual.” Yet, as it is, over 98% of the population (possibly over 99%) is strongly disposed to sex only with members of one sex, whether the other sex (heterosexuals) or the same sex (homosexual). There must then be a fundamental difference between maleness and femaleness that, in turn, constitutes a radical difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality. The former is sexual arousal for the sex that one is not but which complements one’s own sexuality. The latter is sexual arousal for what one already is as a sexual being and does not truly complement one’s sexuality. They are not simply two different sexual orientations that are otherwise of equal developmental naturalness and soundness. One is intrinsically disordered and it’s not heterosexuality.

I had never considered the significance of the fact that there are such an insignificant number of truly bisexual individuals, but once he pointed it out I now agree it’s certainly a relevant point in the debate.

The other comment was from “A Comprehensive and Critical Review Essay of Homosexuality, Science, and the ‘Plain Sense’ of Scripture, Part 2″ (pdf), and it connects the aforementioned point to the logic of scripture on this issue:

The complementarity of the sex organs is a very important dimen-sion of the whole, as is evident from the health hazards and repulsive quality of men who eroticize the anal cavity for penetration and even oral activity. Anatomy is also a clue not easily falsified, unlike the malleable character of many human desires. Christians are not anti-body gnostic dualists. At the same time, the matter is about more than sex organs. It is about essential maleness and femaleness. In effect, Paul is saying in Rom 1:24-27: Start with the obvious fittedness of human anatomy. When done with that, consider procreative design as a clue. Then move on to a broad range of interpersonal differences that define maleness and femaleness. Although the intertextual echo in Rom 1:26-27 is primarily to Gen 1:27, Paul’s citation of Gen 2:24 in another context that deals with sexual immorality and that mentions male-male intercourse (cf. 1 Cor 6:9, 16) indicates that Paul also had in mind the image of the splitting and remerging of the two sexual halves in Gen 2:24.

When the anatomical complementarity of men and women is viewed as emblematic of the complementarity of essential maleness and essential femaleness generally, it becomes much more difficult to argue that attention to complementarity is too simple or superficial.

This comment reminded me of something James Jordan said in one of his fascinating essays on men and women:

The question I wish to raise is the nature of male and female in the human creation. Today it is broadly assumed that the difference between men and women is fundamentally biological, with perhaps some psychological differences linked to that biology. Taking this view, it seems that liturgical function is simply a matter of taking up a role in the Church community. To use familiar language, there is a lower storey in human life that is biological, where the differences between men and women are important; but there is an upper storey, a spiritual realm, in which those differences may not be important.

I wish to turn this on its head and look at things from that perspective. My thesis is that the differences between men and women are, by creation design, fundamentally liturgical and only secondarily biological and psychological. To put it another way, my thesis is that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are grounded in their differing liturgical roles.

All food for thought.