I Thought it Was a Choice

On Tuesday I started to write about the Catholic Church’s recent and obscene claim that this whole abuse scandal can be laid at the feet of homosexuals, but halfway through I got so disgusted I couldn’t finish. Thankfully, William Saletan of Slate is made of stronger stuff than I, and in this piece he points out many of the contradictions inherent in this line of argument. But I think he overlooks a big one.

For years, the church has insisted that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and not a predisposition. It’s easy to understand why: you can’t believe that homosexuality is a sin and that it’s hard-wired without wondering why God would make such a person. Plus, insisting that it was a choice made it easier to justify discrimination: hey, if you don’t like being ostracized then just choose not be attracted to people of your own sex! In recent years this line has been downplayed and rarely stated aloud but is a constant subtext whenever the church deals with the politics of homosexuality.

Now that it’s convenient, though, some in the church are suddenly blaming “The Gays” for their woes, and we’re supposed to abruptly believe that there’s something specific to homosexuals which will make them more likely to commit these crimes. This is a complete aboutface from their previous line. So why not just stick with the “it’s a choice” argument? Because “the choice argument” postulates that homosexuals are no different from hetrosexuals, except that they choose same-sex partners. And, presumably, pedophiles are just like you and I as well, except they choose to engage in pedophilia. In other words, the priests who committed these terrible crimes simply chose to do so — end of story. There’s no one to blame but them, and the church who allowed them to get away with it. Sticking to this manifestly false “it’s a choice” argument leaves no room for the kind of nauseating scapegoatery that they now want to engage in.

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