How am I doing?

I feel better these days. I haven’t had to play music to get out of bed in a long time. I’m missing less classes. My mind doesn’t feel foggy. I think that this is how normal feels. It’s comforting to have some sort of certainty about myself. When I skip classes now, it’s because I don’t want to go. I don’t know if that will ever change. It used to be that I attended my classes as a matter of principle. It also used to be that I barely paid attention. I’d like to think that things really are getting better.

In the meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out more puzzling things. I read books and watch TV shows and the pervasiveness of Homosexuality worries me. One way to convince people of something is to make it seem normal. Present it as a matter of course, with no defense or condemnation, so that it becomes a constant presence in their mind and they stop to see something wrong with it. Even knowing that doesn’t keep you from falling for it. But why? Why should the world be so twisted? I have often likened it to being told that it is perfectly fine for people to eat with their feet and walk with their hands. It rankles me, having that presented as fine when it’s so obviously not. Why doesn’t the world make sense? I need a mantra, I think, to bring myself back in times like this.

God exists. I know that because the universe was made by someone. I know it because he answers my prayers. Whenever I doubt that, I’ll do the logic and keep the records to remind myself. I know that I have sinned against God and I can only rely on his mercy. I know there was a man named Jesus, whose words are trustworthy and that he promises mercy to those who receive him. I hope in him to the exclusion of all else because I can’t find mercy anywhere. This God is my father, my friend and my king. So I can trust him with myself. I’m safe with him.

And I know one other thing: the whole world is definitely mad.

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Homosexuality and the Idea of Love

Representing the famous balcony scene from rom...
Representing the famous balcony scene from romeo and juliet. 1884 painting by Jose Oscar Garcia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would permit a barely- nineteen year old to speak about such deep things, I would like to say a little bit about love.  Love is one of those things that become clearer with experience. From the outside looking it, it seems to be the most puzzling and ridiculous madness ever to take hold of mankind. Think of the idea of Romeo drinking poison when he learned that Juliet was dead. What madness! What good could come of it? But it’s like watching a man shout in delight at having tasted a wondrous meal, and wondering what has possessed him to such nonsense. Once you have tasted it for yourself, it makes perfect sense. (Or so I think it should be. Having tasted it for myself, I would contend that it makes absolutely no sense).

Rather than take on the pointless task of trying to understand love then, I think more will come from classifying it from experience. In a basic sense, love has 3 levels.

1. The love I have for my siblings is love in the most basic sense of the word. I would do a lot for them. I don’t want to see them hurt. I want them to get good birthday presents. Seeing them happy makes me happy. They make me insanely angry sometimes, but before the week’s end I won’t even remember their offense. Anyone who hurts them would mistake me for a wounded tiger – it makes me that furious.

2. At the second level, we have the kind of love I have for my friends. Not only do I love them the way I love my siblings, but I love to spend time with them doing nothing and everything. Being with them is fun, relaxing and pleasurable whether we’re telling stories or just doing nothing.

3. The third level I’ll show by way of illustration, I had a dear friend in high school; dear is the strongest sense of the world. I can’t remember what it was that we had in common, I just knew that I loved her. but as it was I simply cared about her and loved to spend time with her – even if we were doing nothing at all. I looked forward to seeing her when I got back from classes. We hugged (which was not as common there as it is in the US).  We talked about nothing and everything and even though I haven’t seen her in three years, I still love and miss her. That love was – and still is – as passionate as any instance of erotic love that I have known.

You would notice I left something out: desire. My friend (who I will call Deborah for brevity’s sake) and I never spent time gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes and we most certainly never contemplated sexual relations of any kind. The love between David and Jonathan was not have been the kind between Romeo and Juliet, but it was every bit as passionate. Deborah and I have never spent any time telling each other how beautiful our eyes her, but I love her with every bit of my heart. Sexual desire does not add quality to a relationship. It only changes the type of relationship.

And that leads me to my argument: That love – erotic, platonic or agape – are all the same at the core. They all vary in passion. Friendships can be passionate or muted. Erotic love can be the kind between Romeo and Juliet, or the kind between old Mr. and Mrs. Peterson, who sit on their back porch every evening watching birds. Even love between siblings can be the “I’ll jump into lava if it pleases you” kind or the “I love you but I’ll fight with you over a piece of candy” type. But Romeo and Juliet did not love each other more than David and Jonathan. They would have died for each other. So love, whether erotic or not, can be very passionate.

A young gay couple rub noses'.
A young gay couple rub noses’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So Why the Hullabaloo?

Love is one important factor in the homosexuality debate. A painfully rhythm-less song I recently heard on the radio had a woman singing: “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to. My love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm”. (By the way, if you know the singer, tell her not to quit the day job. And to stop singing before she puts that poor radio station out of business). But sexual desire, as I have argued is a wholly separate thing from love. It can exist with love and it can exist without love – as you would know if you’ve ever caught someone drooling over you in public. But homosexual relationships aren’t a matter of love. I love lots of people of the same gender and I love them very strongly. It is about sex and sexual desire, and those are not defining qualities of love. No one ever suggested to the man who went in to a prostitute that he ‘loved’ her, even if she was the most beautiful thing on this side of the galaxy.

The idea, then, that erotic love between two people is a game-changer is akin to the man who thinks his wife’s soup is the best on the planet; akin to Romeo’s belief that suicide was a good response to Juliet’s death. It’s the thinking of a fool in love.

Why Do People get Married Anyway?

When I first heard of the American movement to legalize homosexual marriages, my first thought was that Americans are completely mad. My second thought was “What’s the point of marrying anyway?”

The Companionate View of Marriage

This is one I grew up hearing. It goes like  this: Alex and Jill meet. Alex and Jill feel very much affection for each other. Depending on the context, Alex and Jill might feel sexually attracted to each other. Alex and Jill feel like they can’t live without each other. Alex and Jill decide to get married so they can have sexual relations and care for each other and make each other happy for the rest of their lives. (Or at least till they change their minds).

What problem do I have with that  theory? Well, really nothing. I just think it’s a little weird. Consider this spinoff:

A Sikh couple getting married. Anand Karaj cer...
A Sikh couple getting married. Anand Karaj ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jill meets Renee at a dance party. Jill and Renee feel very much affection for each other. They like to dance with each other very much. They feel that they can’t live without each other. So, they decide to get married and dance together and take care of each other for the rest of their lives.

Now, if Alex and Jill and Jill and Renee just had a private ceremony to which they invited all their friends, made promises to each other, ate lots of food and danced a lot, I would pay no attention to them. But if they had to go to the government to fill a form, be officially registered as married, get tax breaks for it and other special results, I would go “What the hell?” So you want to be with each other. Fine. Be with each other. But why are we subsidizing your relationship? Why should we even care about it? How is it any of my business if you want to rub each other’s tummy for the rest of your lives and why should you get special privileges for it?

My point: If the government is going to officially recognize two people who care for each other, I have a couple of friends I would like to get married to. Then they can visit me when I’m sick, inherit my stuff, share my property and we can get tax deductions for it. But that’s all unnecessary. Two people who want to be together can be together but it’s kind of ridiculous to assign some special status to it. My verdict is that the companionate reason for marriage is pointless and ridiculous.

So, in what context does marriage make sense?

The Conjugal View of Marriage

Beautiful Chinese Bride in White Wedding Dress
Beautiful Chinese Bride in White Wedding Dress (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Everyone knows that sex between two members of the same species has the biological purpose of producing children and it often does. Children are vulnerable. They need care, stability and guidance. Consequently, they do best when they are able to be raised by both of their biological parents. Sadly, this is sometimes impossible but it is nevertheless, an ideal to strive for.

That’s where marriage comes in. Marriage can be a mechanism by which we bind two members of opposite sexes together so that when they bear children, we can ensure (to the best of our ability) that those children have both parents available. Marriage would be different from cohabiting in that both partners have an obligation to be there for each other and their children and cannot just leave at a moment’s notice. Such an environment would be very good for children. In this context, the idea of marriage does make sense. It serves some purpose. The privileges given to married people make sense and they are well worth it. The only problem with it is that not everybody who wants to marry can simply marry. There has to be a good reason they should marry. Because of such rules, I can’t marry my brother. But no one has ever complained about that. There are people who shouldn’t marry.

Nature or Nurture?

Nurture versus Nature
Nurture versus Nature (Photo credit: Dave77459)

We’re going to play a game. So, if you don’t usually comment, I would appreciate it if you participate. I’ll call it Nature or Nurture. It goes like this:

I give you a characteristic found in human beings and you respond by telling me if it is as a result nature, nurture or both. Now, I might not be using these words in the way you are used to, so you want to pay attention to the definitions.

  • Choose Nature if the characteristic is a fundamental part of the person’s genetic code and therefore set at birth and which cannot be permanently changed without modifying the person’s biological functions in a way. e.g. hair color.
  • Choose Both Nature and Nurture is the characteristic is affected by the person’s genes, but also modified by the person’s environment – parental upbringing, nutrition, physical environment, etc. For instance, height has a genetic component but is affected by the type of nutrition a person get during their growth periods. That’s why identical twins can have different heights.
  • Choose Nurture if the characteristic has no correlation with genetics or if it has very little correlation and is mainly affected by a person’s environment
  • You can also say Neither and I Don’t Know

Here’s an example:

Skin color: Nature or Nurture

Identical twins are born with the same genes controlling skin color, but if one of them spends more time sun than the other. She’ll probably be darker (or sunburnt). Since identical twins would have the same skin color barring outside influences, but different skin colors if raised in different environments, the answer is BOTH.

Accent: Nature or Nurture

Identical twins often have the same accent. But this does not mean that it is nature because it does not rule out environmental causes. Think. What if two identical twins were placed in different families: one in Britain and one in the United States. Would they have the same accent when speaking English? Of course not. Accent is something that does not exist apart from environmental influence. The answer is NURTURE.

Preferred career: Nature or Nurture?

Identical twins often have similar likes and dislikes. Often, but not always. Cultural pressures can have a huge influence. A twin taught that you should do whatever makes you happy and a twin thought that you should do  whatever has the best chance of giving you a good life will choose differently in certain circumstances. However, since identical twins are often raised together, this difference should not be very pronounced. Also, the fact that they have similar, but not the same likes and dislikes points to something beyond genetics. I’m thinking the answer to this one is BOTH.

Ready? Here are a few guidelines.

  • Do identical twins always have it the same or very similar? Then it is strongly genetic.
  • If identical twins were separated, what is the probability that they would differ sharply The higher the probability, the stronger the impact of the environment
  • The fact that something can differ between identical twins does not mean that there is an environmental component. For some strange reason, identical genes can act differently. So, this isn’t an exact science. Be prepared to speak in probabilities.
  • You might come across something that does not seem to be biologically influenced which also doesn’t seem to be significantly environmentally affected. I can’t help you there.
  • Things influenced by nature tend to be physical traits: skin, hair, eyes, IQ. Things influenced by nurture tend to be behavioral: manner of acting, reasoning, response to stimuli (e.g. emotional reactions) and things influenced by our beliefs. Think: being vs doing. This is probably because, as far as we can change ourselves, we tend to become more like those around us.
  • Things influenced by both are sometimes emotional: likes, dislikes, wants, needs, etc.

Okay, here we go. Nature or Nurture?

  1. Preferred foods
  2. Idea of beauty
  3. Traits preferred in romantic relationships
  4. Eye color
  5. Personality
  6. Values
  7. Pet peeves
  8. Susceptibility to cancer (hint: read the linked article)
  9. Sexual preferences
  10. Body weight