Statistically speaking, practicing homosexuals are much more promiscuous than their heterosexual counterparts.* 74% of homosexual men report having more than 100 partners during their lifetime (more than half of whom were strangers), 41% more than five hundred, and 28% more than a thousand. Only 8% of homosexual men and 7% of women maintain relationships for more than 3 years. Practicing homosexual men average over 20 partners a year. Numerous studies show that same-sex relationships tend to be sexually open and non-monogamous.**
Such promiscuity has predictable physical repercussions. 75% of practicing homosexual males carry one or more STDs (i.e., non-viral bacterial and parasitic infections like gonorrhea and syphilis). 65% have hepatitis B. 40% have anal warts, among other viral infections like herpes and hepatitis A. Sodomy often leads to severe prostate damage, ulcers and ruptures, chronic incontinence, diarrhea, etc.
But the mental heath risks associated with homosexual behavior shouldn’t be overlooked, either. 40% of practicing homosexual men have a history of major depression (as opposed to 3% for men in general). Both male and female homosexuals are three times as likely to contemplate suicide, and the attempted suicide rate for homosexual men is six times higher than heterosexual men and twice as high for women. Studies also indicate that practicing homosexuals are much more likely to be sexual deviants in other respects, such as pedophiles.
According to one study, the hospitalization rate for homosexuals is approximately 450% higher than average. Not considering those who die of AIDS, the life expectancy of a practicing homosexual male is about 45 years (as opposed to 70 for men in general). AIDS considered, expectancy drops to 39.
Now, you may have encountered statistics like these before in support of premise (2) of an argument like this***:
(1) It is morally wrong to engage in self-destructive behavior.
(2) Homosexual behavior is self-destructive.
(3) Therefore, it is morally wrong to engage in homosexual behavior.
This is a bad argument. As is, premise (1) is seems obviously false; it would entail that chemotherapy is wrong, for example. Perhaps a simple fix might do:
(1*) It is morally wrong to engage in self-destructive behavior for its own sake.
(2*) Homosexual behavior is self-destructive behavior for its own sake.
(3) Therefore, it is morally wrong to engage in homosexual behavior.
But this, too, is a bad argument. Premise (1*) would entail that playing high-impact sports like football just for their own sake is wrong. Premise (2*) also seems dubious—it’s unlikely that all homosexual behavior is engaged in for its own sake. The statistics alone give no insight into why homosexuals engage in homosexual behavior, and furthermore they don’t tell us whether homosexuality activity is the cause, a cause, a byproduct of something else, or even why it would be a causal factor at all in at least some of the infirmities mentioned above.
The argument might be modified in other ways. For example, we might instead focus on the harm homosexual activity causes others, not just oneself. But let’s just say no iteration of the argument can be salvaged. It seems to me that the statistics can be used to support a different argument—not for the conclusion that homosexual activity is morally wrong, but for the conclusion that it is massively imprudent. Consider the following analogy:
Suppose the average life-span of an average car is 70 years. The makers of a new car, the Model Q—modeled essentially after other average cars—market it as just as good and reliable as your other trusty cars, and 9 million of them sold. It turns out, however, that the average life expectancy of the Model Q wound up being only 40 years. Moreover, more than 75% of all model Qs were lemons. Model Q’s were checked into repair shops at a rate approximately 450% higher than average cars. Problems associated with the Model Q, some of them unfixable, far exceeded the number of problems associated with other average cars in type, severity, and number. Only 8% of Model Q owners reported keeping the Model Q for more than 3 years.
But the Model Q has this much going for it: a tremendously successful marketing campaign, especially among young people. It is featured in most forums of entertainment as just as good as other cars. It looks fashionable to boot. The car’s critics are mocked and silenced as vehicularphobic, and Model Q drivers are glamorized as courageous victims. “Who are you to judge what car someone drives?” the Model Q apologists say. “A car is a car.” Model Q pride rides are organized in cities across the world.
Now, let’s set aside the question of whether driving the Model Q is morally wrong. Being aware of all this, would you drive a Model Q? Would you want your children driving a Model Q? Would you encourage others to drive a Model Q? Or would you conclude that the various risks associated with the Model Q make driving one massively imprudent? If there is a moral conclusion to be drawn, it would be this: it is morally wrong to market the Model Q to young and uninformed customers as if it is, in fact, just like an average car. The appropriate thing to do would be to discourage production of the Model Q, pull the plug on the marketing campaign (or require scary disclaimers), recall existing models, and generally warn people against driving a Model Q.
* Statistics are primarily from Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? (InterVarsity Press, 1995), ch. 6. Where the same issue is discussed, the statistics are corroborated in Jones and Yarhouse, Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2000), chs. 2, 4; Simon LeVay, Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research into Homosexuality (MIT Press, 1996), chs. 2 & 7; Peter Sprigg and Timothy Dailey, Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows About Homosexuality (Family Research Council, 2004), chs. 4 & 6. Also see Michael Brown, A Queer Thing Happened to America (EqualTime, 2011), ch 13, for more recent statistics. What is controversial is not the reliability of the statistics, but their best interpretation. For example, LeVay (who is gay) speculates that the statistics on homosexual promiscuity are so high is because homosexual sex is more satisfying (Idem., p. 159)! Another common explanation has to do with social stigma towards homosexuals. However, “specific attempts to confirm this societal discrimination hypothesis have been unsuccessful, and the alternative possibility — that these conditions may somehow be related to the psychological structure of a homosexual orientation or consequences of a homosexual lifestyle — has not been disconfirmed.” See James E. Phelan, Neil Whitehead, and Philip M. Sutton, “What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the APA Claims on Homosexuality,” Journal of Human Sexuality 1 (2009), 93.
** Several studies can be found in Maggie Gallagher, “The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage” in Corvino and Gallagher, Debating Same-Sex Marriage (Oxford, 2012), pgs. 132-136.
*** William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers (Crossway, 2003), pp. 139-142.
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