Questioning the Homo-/Hetero-/Bi-/Asexual Taxonomy – Part Four of Four: Final Thoughts


I concluded Part Three by asserting that “society does and should take a hand in directing sexuality towards good results and away from bad ones”—but what counts as a “good” result, and how are good results to be encouraged? These are very important questions, but they are not the questions I am dealing with here. I will say only, in passing, that the authority to answer these questions is entrusted primarily to We the People (and not to the Supreme Court).

What I am dealing with here is not sexual morality, but sexuality simply as such: what is it? I have given no complete answer, but I have suggested that sexuality is NOT something that just happens to us. In particular, I have argued that (1) sexual orientation is not an immutable (i.e., unchangeable, inherent) characteristic of our natures, and (2) our culture should not impose on individuals a sexual identity based upon that orientation. Currently, our culture does impose such an identity by attempting to place everyone in one of four “immutable nature” boxes—homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Continue reading

Questioning the Homo-/Hetero-/Bi-/Asexual Taxonomy – Part Three of Four: The Evidence of Your Personal Experience

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I claimed, at the end of Part One, that “the potentiality for sexual interest in either gender is natural in nearly all people in some degree.” In Part Two I explained my own experience, which bears this out. Here I mean to appeal to more general experiences that I’m sure I share with almost all readers to prove this point. Continue reading

Questioning the Homo-/Hetero-/Bi-/Asexual Taxonomy – Part One of Four: The Evidence of History



There is reason to doubt the veracity of our current taxonomy of sexualities: a person (we think) is by nature homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Admittedly, this system has an intuitive appeal: there are two genders (basically); one may be attracted to one, the other, both, or neither. There are no other possibilities. This satisfying quality of logical completeness is misleading, however.

The first and most important piece of evidence against our system is that people never thought of sexuality in this way prior to the 19th century. Continue reading

Freedom to force the artist’s hand

***Adam Balinski is a guest contributor and a friend of Brian’s from BYU Law School. This article was first posted on his blog, Please visit his blog for more respectful, insightful commentary.***

Some people have jumped on what I think is an incoherent bandwagon that creates crazy consumer rights.

An uncontroversial wedding cake that the baker could’ve declined to decorate for dislike of flowers or the color pink. photo by tracyhunter

Under federal law, public accommodations are places where consumers go to receive a service. Consumers can’t be kept out of or denied services at public accommodations because of their sex or other protected attributes. (It’s true that under many anti-discrimination laws, sexual orientation is not a protected attribute. But it should be. It’s fair to allow people to go and buy regardless of how they self-identify.) Continue reading

Simplistic Sexuality and the Decline of Discourse

Discourse with Laptops

As a Mormon alumnus of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, two recent events happened to coincide on my Facebook wall, flooding my feed with passionate rhetoric about sexuality and gender normativity: 1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) has been the target of much vitriol because of their policy change that explicitly declares members of same-sex marriages to be apostates. Journalists happily report on the thousands of Mormons who have resigned from the church in protest of this policy change. 2. Landon Patterson, the first transgender (from male to female) homecoming queen from a school in Kansas City, spoke at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is being heralded for these cliché, but culturally resonant words: “Be You. Life is too short, and you’ve just got to embrace who you are.”

Here’s my beef: Issues of sexuality and culturally normative practices are complex, but the rhetoric around them is simplistic. Simplistic and passionate. There is nothing wrong with passion or simplicity per se; the problem is that the rhetoric does not correspond with the complexity of the issue itself. Continue reading

Thomas More, Martyr of Traditional Marriage: Part Two—His Time, and Ours


In late polyphonic music the central aspect is the delicate interplay of voices without any single one of them taking precedence. In music of a century later we find the dramatic use of a powerful individual voice, but in fifteenth-century English polyphone the emphasis rests upon the intricate melody of many voices. The character and abilities of the individual are only of consequence as an element within the harmonious organization of parts; we do not know the names of the masons who created the bell towers and fan-vaults of the great fifteenth-century churches. This is not the world of Luther or of what has become known as post-Reformation culture, but it remained the world of Thomas More.

From Thomas More, by Peter Ackroyd

In this essay, I hope to trace some parallelisms between the moral shifts in Thomas More’s day and those in ours. The comparisons are, of course, imperfect. But I think they are also significant. Continue reading