A Mormon reader name Seth yesterday reminded me of one of the things I hate the most about religion: That it denies our animal nature. WE ARE ANIMALS, with very strong instincts, and our instincts dictate most of our behavior. Yet religious people, who believe God created us separately from animals, deny this, and this denial is the root of the monstrous guilt meme that is still infecting most of humanity.
Seth, who responded to this blog, was writing about homosexuality. He's apparently a Mormon, and claimed that even though homosexuality has a genetic origin, gays still have the choice of whether to act on their desires or not. In other words, if a man isn't attracted to women, he can choose to be celibate (to live without love and companionship). Seth wrote, "The very idea that mere genetics takes away a person's freedom of choice in life is one of the sickest and most dehumanizing ideas I've ever heard."
Seth is wrong, dead wrong, cruelly wrong.
Genetics does take away our freedom of choice. By Seth's measure, we have the choice to kill kittens and puppies, or gophers and rats. But in reality most of us couldn't kill a puppie in cold blood, yet we'd have no trouble killing rats, gophers, and other "vermin." But what's the difference? They're all animals, they all suffer, dogs dig up your yard, cats defecate under your bed. Why do we single out the gophers and rats, but spare the dogs and cats?
Because of our genes. Dogs and cats have evolved to look like human babies, cute and adorable, and we fall for it. We are not free to make just any choice we want. We are guided by our genes.
Why do human teens rebel? Why do men fight? Why is the mother-in-law joke universal across all societies around the world? Why are women more jealous, men more promiscuous? Why are we racist? Because we're genetically programmed. We're humans. We're just like all animals, doing what our genes tell us to do.
The true dehumanization comes when we deny our own humanity, our genetic, animal heritage. When we try to rationalize love, or pretend we don't feel jealousy, or that we aren't put off by physical disabilities and birth defects, then we're denying nature itself. As humans, our job is to face our animal nature, and rise above it.
It is sometimes said that "Man is the rational animal," but the reality is that "Man is the rationalizing animal." (Not original, but I don't know the source.) In other words, we'd like to think we figure things out and do the most logical thing, but in reality, we mostly do what we want, and then figure out ways to justify it. We're animals, with a logical façade.
We become less than human when religion tells us to feel guilty for our natural, healthy animal sexual desires. There is not, and has never been, anything wrong with a good, lusty reaction to a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex if that's what your genetics dictate), yet religion has turned this into something ugly.
We become less than human when we deny that we're uncomfortable around those with disabilities or birth defects. To be truly human, we have to rise above our animal nature, and show true human compassion, to see past our discomfort to see the true human inside. But religion would have us feel guilty for our animal nature, and feel sinful for our evolutionary heritage.
We become less than human when we pretend we don't feel these natural instincts, and like Seth, pretend that we're above all of that.
And in the case of love, the most powerful of all human instincts, we become less than human when we deny it to anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The role of the Mormon Church in the debate about homosexuality has been, and continues to be, immoral and sickening. The Mormon Church has denied love and happiness to its own children, and is vigorously exporting its sick philosophy, trying to force it on the rest of us. History will record this as just another of a long series of shameful deeds in the sordid history of the Mormon Church. It's dehumanizing.