Rick Warren: Gay Orientation Is Natural, Like Arsenic

Rick Warren recently said on CNN that, if you’re gay and act on your orientation, you’re doing something akin to punching a person in the nose or cheating on your spouse!

Oh, and being gay is like arsenic.

Here’s his comment:

I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it. Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right. Not everything natural is good for me. Arsenic is natural. […] I do not believe attraction is a sin, but I do believe some actions are sin.

Notice the double bind. Heterosexual orientation is natural, like pine trees are natural. And within marriage, heterosexual desire can be lustily indulged, guilt free.

That’s the heterosexual social contract.

But if you’re born gay and pay taxes, no civil marriage for you. You are unequal before the civil law. Your natural orientation is arsenic. It must have no outlet. You are to stuff your feelings and control your behavior. If you don’t, you are morally akin to an impulsive bar brawler or adulterer.

It would be cruel to say this to a heterosexual. It’s cruel to say it to a homosexual. And, in a country where all citizens–religious and nonreligious, straight and gay–pay taxes, it is unjust.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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10 Responses to Rick Warren: Gay Orientation Is Natural, Like Arsenic

  1. Iain says:

    Naturalistic fallacy. This kind of argument is pointless. It serves nothing more than to provide words to fill stretches of silence so that you don’t sound as stupid when you go ahead and beg the question while you give your conclusion.

    One might as well say, “parents loving their children is natural, so is cancer.”

    It tells us nothing. It’s essentially non sequitur. The status of ‘natural’ is meaningless to the value that we place on something since there is no single universal value on products or derivatives of the natural world (don’t even get me started on defining what we mean by ‘natural’ in the first place).

  2. Iain says:

    Thinking further about it, Warren isn’t quite giving the naturalistic fallacy. But at the end of the day his discussion of what is ‘natural’ isn’t very relevant. He has to be able to provide reasons for why he supports one action and not another; reasons that are grounded in objective, tangible reality. It’s no surprise that he doesn’t support homosexuality. I wonder why he bothers to pad it with all the extra words. He could just say, “I believe the bible says homosexuality is wrong.” Then the people who took the bible as a guide to life could agree with him and everyone else could go about their business ignoring him.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      When the Supreme Court vindicates gay equality (as it will probably do in the next couple of years with a decisive court case or two), what you’re describing is exactly what will happen: people will give their opinion on gay marriage, but no one will be forced into the closet ever again or treated as a second class citizen as a result. Gays and those who support their rights will be free, in other words, to simply ignore the opinions of fundamentalists on the matter. Right now, they can’t because fundamentalists mean to make their opinions about gay sex and equality part of the law.


      • Iain McMahon says:

        Agreed. I don’t understand why this is the case when there is supposed to be a separation of church and state in the US. Where are all the PURELY secular arguments against homosexuality or gay marriage? They’re either nonexistent or they are rare in normal discourse. And yet the status quo prevails.

  3. Luke says:

    Here is my secular argument. While homosexuality has existed for thousands of years, the vast majority of people are not homosexual. A family consisting of the natural parents and their offspring is the most stable social construct. Other forms of relationships can be tolerated but should not be encouraged.

    • Iain says:

      >the vast majority of people are not homosexual
      Presenting this as an argument against homosexuality is a logical fallacy known as ‘argumentum ad populum’. It also fails to take into account the statistically normal/natural rates of homosexuality. If there is some biological/genetic basis for homosexuality then it may simply be a rarer outcome than heterosexuality. Considering that to be a genuine criticism of its existence in a population at all would be similar to considering left handed people to be deviants due to the same logic.

      >a family consisting of the natural parents and their offspring is the most stable social construct.
      That’s an empirical claim so there needn’t be any guesswork here. I happen to doubt this to be true at all. Can you cite any studies showing this claim to be true? Even if it were true, this appears to be more of a comment about whether homosexuals should adopt and not about homosexuality itself.

      So far I’m not convinced by your argument.

  4. Luke says:

    You don’t have to be convinced. There was a request for a secular argument so I provided one. Is it compelling? Perhaps not, but then again I do not find arguments in favor of gay marriage to be very persuasive.

    • Iain McMahon says:

      Yes, I was the person who asked for secular arguments. You provided one and I showed that you used a logical fallacy among other issues. Would you like to amend your argument? As it is, it isn’t a successful argument. It will require modification.

  5. Luke says:

    Nevertheless, it is a non-secular argument based on a premise that you, without providing any evidence, believe to be false. With all due respect, your belief that it is false does not make it so. My belief that it is true also does not make it so. However, my point was that over thousands of years, billions of people, in their collective wisdom, have determined that a traditional family structure is the preferred method for perpetuating society. This is not limited to Western civilizations. You are certainly free to argue that 90% or more of people through all of recorded history are wrong.

    • Iain says:

      I provide no evidence? You seem to be confused about our contributions to the discussion so far.

      1) You make an argument.
      2) I show you how that argument is flawed logically and request evidence where you make an empirical claim.
      3) You tell me that I say you are wrong without providing evidence.

      Something unusual is happening here. I provided a clear description of where your argument was logically flawed; this means that your argument fails to actually be a valid argument, at least where that chain of thought is concerned. I also asked for evidence that you have to support an empirical claim that you made; this is to prevent either of us from simply making things up and saying that they are true without support. Perhaps it would be helpful if you re-read my original response to your argument.

      This doesn’t make your conclusion wrong. You could be correct. But it does mean that you need to do some changes to your argument before it will convince anyone of your conclusion (and, if you were objective about it, you shouldn’t feel comfortable holding your conclusion until you have made those changes).

      p.s. a traditional family structure pretty much encorporates the mechanism for breeding so, naturally, it would be the preferred method for perpetuating society since society perpetuates through breeding. That’s a given but also not an argument against homosexuality in itself, it is merely a description of how breeding has functioned historically. Also, talking about what “90% or more of people” think as an argument against homosexuality is also a logical fallacy. It’s the same kind that you made earlier i.e. argumentum ad populum, or ‘argument by popularity’.

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