Blog Post #15. Dave Glesne (pastor and author of Understanding Homsoxuality) writing to Lars Clausen (pastor and author of Straight Into Gay America). Today Dave goes back and picks up the Science piece. Lars plans to respond and then we're both agreed we'll try to move onto the topics of God, Bible, and Theology.
I am hopeful that you had a happy Thanksgiving and have enjoyed a change of pace the last few days. My wife and I were able to get away for three days and we enjoyed time with family.
I want to go back and pick up concerns expressed by you, Lars, and some of our readers, over my use of science and data in chapter three of my book. Specifically, the data cited there regarding the gay lifestyle is questioned. The judgment that Cameron (and Jay & Young’s) surveys are bad science and therefore unreliable touches on two aspects: 1) kind of gay behavior and 2) frequency of practice of that behavior.
A Look at the tree in the forest – the gay sub-culture
The male sexual practices under scrutiny in this discussion are those I cite by Dr. Stanley Monteith on pages 44-45 of my book Understanding Homosexuality. It has been pointed out that these figures are based in turn on research done by Paul Cameron. As I have stated, apart from how others may use these figures I am citing them as being descriptive of male sexual practices taking place in what might be called the gay sub-culture.
Reliable studies tell us that the over-all gay population in America numbers between 1 – 3% of the American population. For our purposes here, then, let us say that 98% are heterosexual and 2% of the population is homosexual. I do not know what percentage of this 2% homosexual population would be considered as part of the gay sub-culture.
In our discussion, I have cited alongside Cameron’s figures the figures of Jay & Young in The Gay Report, the first major survey on homosexuality and one of the largest studies conducted. By putting these figures beside one another we have survey results from different persuasions as it were, since Jay and Young are both gay activists. Their work is still cited today in academic work.
When one compares the figures presented by Monteith and Jay & Young, they are remarkably similar: Oral sex – Monteith 100%, Jay & Young 99%; Anal intercourse – Monteith 93%, Jay & Young 91%; Rimming – Monteith 92%, Jay & Young 83%; Fisting – Monteith 47%, Jay & Young 22%; Golden showers – Monteith 29%, Jay & Young 23%; Scat – Montieth 17%, Jay & Young 4%.
These practices are cited by Monteith and Jay & Young as real and practiced in the gay sub-culture, in the ?% of the 2% gay population. A visit to gay websites will confirm the reality of these practices. Homosexual literature speaks of these behaviors as well. I am going to proceed as though we acknowledge that these male homosexual behaviors in the gay sub-culture are real and not simply figments of some anti-gay imagination. What is not under question, then, in Cameron and Jay & Young’s surveys, is the nature and reality of these practices.
Are these surveys reliable? We are proceeding as though the surveys are reliable with regard to the nature and reality of these practices. What is being challenged, then, it would appear, is the percentages of those who practice these male sexual behaviors within this gay sub-culture.
My question to those who challenge the figures is, “How do critics know that the percentages in these two studies are not accurate? How do critics know they are not accurate unless they have done their own studies?” Anyone has a right to challenge and criticize survey results. But if the challenge is made that Cameron and Jay & Young’s percentages are not reliable because they are judged to be bad science (i.e. small sample size, methodological problems, etc), then how bad is the science and how inaccurate are the percentages? Are the percentages regarding anal intercourse in the gay sub-culture (Monteith – 93%, Jay & Young – 91%), for example, totally unreliable? somewhat unreliable? slightly unreliable? Do results based on better science reveal percentages in the 70s? 50s? 30s? If those who criticize the two surveys’ results have done their research, where are the results? Any study can be improved upon. Both the surveys by Cameron and Jay & Young have had their critics. In such am emotionally and politically charged debate, that is not surprising. Are the criticisms warranted? Maybe – but they are hard to sustain. We are always open to better studies.
The objection is brought forward that I cannot argue this way. But this isn’t an argument. I am NOT arguing that because we don’t have better statistics, therefore Cameron and Jay & Young’s figures are accurate and reliable. I am NOT putting forth the absence of better and more reliable figures as proof of the reliability of Cameron and Jay & Young’s figures. I agree, that kind of logic and argument would be illegitimate. But I am NOT putting forth such an argument. I am simply inviting what would be deemed better studies by the critics to the table and remaining open to embracing better and more reliable statistics.
By way of summary then:
These two surveys are saying that these male homosexual behaviors are real and practiced in the gay sub-culture.
These two surveys are saying that the percentages are reflective of the frequency of the behaviors practiced within this gay sub-set which comprises ?% of the 2% homosexual population.
These surveys are NOT saying that all these male homosexual practices are practiced by the overall (2%) gay population.
These surveys are NOT saying that these percentages are representative of the overall gay population.
A Look at the Forest – questions raised
The male homosexual behaviors and their frequency in the gay sub-culture, however, do raise additional questions about wider realities. And here we step into the realm of the speculative. But looking toward answering these questions might be an important aspect of this discussion as well. Those questions would include the following.
Are some of these male homosexual behaviors practiced in the gay sub-culture practiced frequently in the overall gay population as well? For example, how widespread are the practices of oral sex and anal intercourse in the overall gay population? Again this is a speculative question. Might not the percentages within the gay sub-culture with regard to these two practices be relatively similar to percentages in the overall gay population? If anal intercourse, for example, is an essential element for many gay men, then this homosexual behavior practiced in the gay sub-culture may very well be practiced in a widespread fashion in the gay population as a whole. Where do research surveys weigh in on answering these questions?
To what degree is the widespread promiscuity in the gay sub-culture reflective of practices of the overall gay population as well? Andrew Sullivan, a leading proponent of gay marriage, in his 1996 book Virtually Normal wrote, “Among gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds. There is more likely to be a greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman. …Something of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.”
Troy Perry, former moderator of the largely homosexual denomination, the Metropolitan Community Church, made the same point. He told The Dallas Morning news, “Monogamy is not a word the gay community uses. We talk about fidelity. That means you live in a loving, caring, honest relationship with your partner. Because we can’t marry, we have people with widely varying opinions as to what that means. Some would say that committed couples could have multiple sexual partners as long as there’s no deception.”
In the Netherlands where gay marriage is legal, a recent study suggests that Troy Perry is correct. Even among stable homosexual partnerships, researchers found that men have an average of eight partners per year outside their “monogamous” relationship. We are now hearing about “monogamy without fidelity.” [These three testimonies are taken from an article entitled “Speaking Out: Why Gay Marriage Would Be Harmful” in Christianity Today, October 19, 2006.]
Articulating the perspective of many gays, gay author Gabriel Rotello says that “Gay liberation was founded … on a ‘sexual brotherhood of promiscuity,’ and any abandonment of that promiscuity would amount to a ‘communal betrayal of gargantuan proportions.’” (Sexual Ecology, page 112) It would be worthy of study to investigate if Rotello’s perception of gay promiscuity, which he criticizes, is supported by scientific surveys today. Or is male homosexual promiscuity the big elephant in the room that many are afraid to talk about?
Should we be concerned about the physical and mental consequences of the gay sexual practices of our homosexual neighbors? It needs to be said that these sexual behaviors occur among both heterosexual and homosexual persons. But the question before us here focuses on the healthy or unhealthy nature of sex among men.
In The Health Risks of Gay Sex, John R. Diggs, Jr., M.D. a board-approved Internist, quotes a British researcher, R.R. Wilcox who summarizes the physical danger of sex among men as follows:
“Male homosexual behavior is not simply either ‘active’ or ‘passive,’ since penile-anal, mouth-penile, and hand-anal sexual contact is unusual for both partners, and mouth-anal contact is not infrequent…. Mouth-anal contact is the reason for the relatively high incidence of diseases caused by bowel pathogens in male homosexuals. Trauma may encourage the entry of micro-organisms and thus lead to primary syphilitic lesions occurring in the anogenital area…. In addition to sodomy, trauma may be caused by foreign bodies, including stimulators of various kinds, penile adornments, and prostheses.”
Diggs then goes and on and in significant detail speaks of human physiology and the diseases found with extraordinary frequency among male homosexual practitioners as a result of anal intercourse. The rates of anal cancer are sobering. With regard to oral-anal behavior he documents the extremely high rate of parasitic and other intestinal infections, so numerous that a syndrome called “the Gay Bowel” is described in the medical literature.
Diggs’ summary comment is that the medical and social science evidence indicates that homosexual behavior is uniformly unhealthy, producing diseases that have consequences that range from trivial to serious to deadly, resulting often in a shortened life-span.
I would reiterate here that these male homosexual behaviors are cited not to degrade or demean the people involved. Its intention is not to be a judgment on gay persons (who we are is different from what we do) but to make possible an honest and straightforward and graceful assessment of the behaviors. The question is “Ought not love and compassion for one’s same-sex neighbor move one to address the physical and mental health consequences of gay behavior?”