WhyHumanLifeMakesSense.com - Chapter summaries - 6. How does our sexuality work?
Chapter summaries

6. How does our sexuality work?

In this chapter, I apply the theory of mind from chapter 3 and the theory of ethics from chapter 5 to the topics of sexuality and marriage. More specifically, I consider four sexuality topics: sexuality proper, promiscuity, marriage, and gender identity.

Sexuality.  In this context, sexuality refers to the means for creating and satisfying sexual arousal. Sexual arousal, in turn, is a well-defined physiological process. Satisfying sexual arousal is similar to satisfying hunger since both are hormonally based.

I refer to this theory of sexuality as the automatic-volitional theory of sexuality because it is based on the automatic-volitional theory of mind presented in chapter 3.

Our sexual preferences are learned just as our food preferences are learned. Sexual preferences, like food preferences, are learned by the automatic unit of our mind through Pavlovian conditioning, and such learning will be influenced by biologically endowed personality propensities interacting with life experiences.

A person is genetically endowed with the physiological functioning of sexual organs and sexual hormones, and the person’s sexual behavior beyond these basic physiological functions is the result of learning and personal choice.

More specifically, human sexuality — the means for creating and satisfying sexual arousal — is not inherently relational. A person must learn to make their sexuality relational, and doing so usually confers a sexual orientation on the person. If human sexuality were inherently relational, due to natural selection it would necessarily be heterosexual in order to propagate the species. But since human sexuality is not inherently relational, it is not necessarily heterosexual, and this makes it possible for humans to learn homosexuality, as well as any other means imaginable for creating and satisfying sexual arousal.

As a result, humans can evidently learn to associate anything that they want to with sexual gratification, including extremes such as inflicting pain, receiving pain, having sex with children, having sex with animals, and having sex with corpses.

Sexual preferences — and, hence, sexual orientation — can be changed, just as food preferences can be changed, with a qualification, as follows. We can’t erase our prior preferences, but with concentrated effort we can override them. Yet, to do so we will need adequate motivation and adequate social support. Furthermore, retraining our automatic unit may require concentrated effort over a period of time. The same applies to longstanding, highly automated food preferences.

The reason that longstanding sexual preferences seem biologically endowed is that they have become highly automated in the automatic unit of our mind. And the same applies to longstanding food preferences. It takes concentrated effort over a period of time to change highly automated preferences and highly automated behavioral patterns. As we all know, it can be quite challenging to change longstanding habits! So it is with longstanding, highly automated personal preferences such as food preferences and sexual preferences .

Promiscuity.  Male promiscuity is not genetically endowed and, in fact, marital fidelity is the best way to pass on parent genes in the long run. In evolutionary terms, this is why humans developed the institution of marriage. The idea that promiscuity is inherent in our sex drive is due to a lack of understanding of how the mind works, per the model of mind presented in chapter 3. These insights reveal that the practice of promiscuity is the result of deficient character in sexual relations.

Marriage.  Monogamous, heterosexual marriage and family are the norm because they are the most skillful means — the most efficient, most effective means — for organizing procreative relations to order to achieve a stable, productive, prosperous society.

Only heterosexual mating is fertile, and the best environment for skillfully raising a child is a family in which the child’s biological dad and mom are committed to each other in marriage and are committed to raising their children in a loving, nurturing environment. Though departures from what is best are inevitable due to the complex nature of human life, such departures are regrettable, and they do not modify our understanding of what is best.

Homosexual marriage is an attempt to imitate heterosexual marriage. But heterosexual marriage was developed to organize procreative relations, and procreation is impossible in a homosexual relation. As a result, redefining marriage to accommodate homosexual mating will destroy the essential rationale for the institution of marriage.

Since sexual orientation is learned, it is important for society to take responsibility for such learning by teaching and promoting the essential norm of heterosexuality through traditional gender roles, as it has traditionally done. It is a mistake to teach and promote non-traditional gender roles, as is currently being done in public schools.

Complementing the teaching of traditional gender roles, society should recognize only monogamous, heterosexual marriage, and it should promote the fidelity of such marriage for the benefit of the spouses, the children, and society as a whole.

Gender identity.  Recognizing transgender in public policy promotes the idea that life can be lived in make-believe, thereby fostering the ramifications of such a disposition. In particular, promoting the policy in public schools fosters, not the maturing of the students, but the idea that they can live a life of make-believe.

Reference citation.  Philip Bitar, adapted from Why Human Life Makes Sense, Edition 3, 2015, p. 317-324, posted at www.WhyHumanLifeMakesSense.com, 2015-03-18.