One recent afternoon while driving home, I tuned in to a religious radio program. The topic of discussion was the meaning and implications of Genesis 5:2 “Male and female created he them; and blessed them”. Many believers interpret this verse to mean that God intended for all mankind to be solely heterosexual, and that any other orientation goes against nature and likewise against the will of God, and therefore should be condemned.
A church deacon presented a theoretical social experiment as proof that God disapproves of homosexuality (or any deviation from heterosexuality). Place all heterosexual people on one isolated island, all homosexual people on another, and all transgendered people on a third isolated island. Come back in 200 years and see which island still has human life. This idea has been relayed before, with considerable media coverage. Once again it got me thinking, and of course seeking. With ample consideration, research, and guidance, I present to you the following ideas.
The Inaccurate Conception:
The island experiment works on the premise that procreation is one of God’s greatest blessings and the fact that homosexual people are incapable of it is unquestionable proof of God’s objection.
~ Procreation is not limited to fertile heterosexuals. Due to in vitro fertilization and other fertility alternatives, parenthood is no longer as exclusive as it once was. Every church feels differently about this issue, as surrogacy and infertility treatments could be considered ‘unnatural’ in their own right.
~ If we assume that every person on the heterosexual island is fertile, willing, and able to reproduce, then the island is no longer representative of society as it stands.
~ We have no proof that God withholds His love from those who procreate through unconventional methods. Should we believe that heterosexual couples who conceive through modern medical advances (in the same way that a same-sex couple might) are undeserving of the blessing of those children? I realize that infertility and inability are not one and the same, but with modern capabilities, the homosexual island could be as fruitful as the heterosexual one.
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalms 84:11)
The Church Says Gay Is a Choice:
The island experiment ignores the idea (that many in the Church perpetuate) that sexual orientation is a choice, and that no one is born homosexual.
~ If sexual orientation was strictly a choice, wouldn’t at least some of the inhabitants of the homosexual island re-choose in order to avoid extinction?
I find it difficult to believe that every single homosexual on the island would choose death over possible redemption. This idea exemplifies the view that homosexuals are caught in Satan’s evil grasp, unable to choose wisely or righteously.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Is Bias at Work Here?
Another notion that this experiment carries is that homosexuals make poor choices in general. Aside from the commonly held belief that sexual orientation is always a choice, this experiment asks us to believe that every homosexual on the island would lack the integrity to choose discomfort over extinction; as if homosexuals have no reverence for life itself.
~ This experiment paints a negatively skewed portrait. I believe that several homosexual people would place purpose over pleasure, without question, if the stakes were so high.
Let us assume that there are no resources on the island with which to build a fertility clinic. In a ‘Survivor’ type scenario, the heterosexual island would flourish and the homosexual one would eventually empty of its human inhabitants. Why is this the prevailing assumption?
~ Are we not shown in the Bible several examples of non-traditional family origins? Many of these relationships came with a great deal of discomfort. “Religious scholars say that God suspended the laws of incest in the early days of man in order to ensure that man spread on the earth.” (1)
~ If we removed the religious bias towards homosexuals, the experiment would fail. Without this bias, we would have no reason to assume that God would allow the homosexual island to diminish, simply because the inhabitants were not sexually attracted to those of the opposite gender.
No Girls Allowed:
If we take the experiment one step further and separate the homosexuals onto two islands; one for gay men, and another for lesbians, then yes both islands would reach a human population of zero. There would be no way to fertilize eggs without access to the opposite gender. However, the same would be said if the heterosexual men and women were on two separate islands. To take the experiment this far only makes the point moot.
~ No human population made up a single gender can survive, regardless of sexual orientation.
Unnatural = Extinction?
More than 700 animal species have gone extinct in the last one hundred years alone. (2) No one would suggest that these animal species suffered extinction due to ‘unnatural’ activities, sin, or temptation. Most believers uphold the idea that mankind was created ‘in His image’ and therefore holds a spark of the divine, or a soul, within them that separates us from the plant and animal kingdom. But is it accurate to believe that God has no genuine interest or concern for the nature He created other than humankind?
~ If that were so, why would God intelligently design animals that could take drastic measures for survival like spontaneously changing gender? This seemingly ‘unnatural’ ability is exactly what allows some species to escape extinction.
Indeed nature has already remedied the lack of gender diversity for several non-human species. Several fish, frogs, eels, worms, trees, and even chickens have evolved to be able to change gender in order to conserve their species. (3) Mammals have not developed this ability because it has never been necessary.
~ Who’s to say that mammals couldn’t evolve gender changing capabilities if it became crucial and/or God’s will that we do so?
~ Nature [God] induces attributes when (and for as long as) necessary for survival.
Consider the appendix: a vestigial organ for most of civilization, but still serving a purpose in the populations of lesser developed countries. One day, humans may be born without it. (4)
The Island of Misfits:
In this particular presentation of this social thought experiment, transgendered people were placed on an island of their own. Is this meant to be a preventative measure, to further remove the possibility of ‘natural’ procreation on the homosexual island? It is unclear.
~ This may illustrate the ignorance many people have of transgendered people.
~ Gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate things. In other words, transgendered does not necessarily mean same-sex oriented. Furthermore, many transgendered people can and do procreate. (5)
“The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)
Separate but Equal:
When we return in 200 years, perhaps the planning and intention behind the procreation on the homosexual island will have prevented the overpopulation and subsequent starvation that has occurred on the heterosexual island.
Perhaps after two centuries all three islands will look identical because the heterosexual people will have raised gay children, and likewise, the people on the other two islands will have given birth to heterosexual children; creating a beautiful and diverse population on each individual island.
It is my feeling that Christ would want LGBTQ brothers and sisters to be treated with dignity and respect. Without human prejudice, no proof can be found that God does not love His LGBTQ children, or that they are less than any other human being on any other island.
“I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.” (Psalm 139: 14)
(3) http://phys.org/news/2015-11-trees-sex.html , http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/wonder/ancient-european-tree-changes-sex/vi-BBmPP48 , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_reed_frog , http://beckman.illinois.edu/news/2011/03/rhodesfishstory , http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/22/7-gender-bendinganimals/ , http://www.ehow.com/info_8120656_animals-can-change-sex.html , http://www.livescience.com/13514sexchangechickengertiehenbertiecockerel.html , http://www.sciencefocus.com/qa/can-chickens-really-change-gender
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001180.htm , http://stronginfaith.org/article.php?page=37 , http://emptycradlefullheart.blogspot.com/2012/09/infertility-and-miscarriagea-punishment.html , http://www.compellingtruth.org/Bible-infertility.html
(Image courtesy of Comfreak at Pixabay.com)