Refusal to give a moral assessment to the essence of homosexuality is fraught with the biological destruction of society – this is the opinion expressed in an interview to Interfax-Religion by Irina Siluyanova, PhD., head of the biomedical department of the Russian State Medical University and deputy chair of the Church-Public Council for Bioethics at the Moscow Patriarchate.
- Do you agree with Patriarch Alexy’s statement that the holding of a gay rally in Moscow and similar events are tantamount to suicide for society?
- Certainly, the patriarch is absolutely right. This suicide is manifested in the moral degradation of society, the loss of clear positions and ability to distinguish between vice and virtue. As is well known, both an individual and society as a whole can only exist biologically as long as this ability to discern virtue and vice is not lost. To lose it means to step towards self-destruction.
I would like to stress: the problem of sexual emancipation – and a gay rally is precisely a sign of sexual emancipation – cannot be viewed only as a medical one. True, sexuality is a physiological system of human life support, but unlike, say, digestion, it is intertwined with moral relationships in any society. Relationships between morality and sexuality to a considerable extent determine both mental and physiological condition of human health, just as the welfare of culture as a whole. Incidentally, Sigmund Freud, a favorite reference for liberals in their justification of sexual instinct manifestations, believed the greatest threat to a culture comes from emancipation of sexual desires. So, morality has always been on guard duty against this emancipation, fulfilling a certain function in the self-regulation of a culture. The entire ages-old experience of humanity is evidence to this.
- But sexual minorities claim they defend their rights...
- In my view, to pose the problem as involving human rights in this case is absolutely incorrect. There is no right to vice or moral crime in the list of basic human rights. The rights advocated by homosexuals are nothing else than the right to vice, the way of life which is criminal from the ethical point of view. From the classical ethical perspective, morality first of all fulfills the function of protecting human life. Therefore, when we transgress this ethics, we should realize that we are heading for the destruction of the individual who cannot live in a criminal society violating the basic laws of human morality.
- As a specialist in bioethics, how would you define homosexuality? Is it an illness or a sin?
- This is something to be discussed very clearly, something to which we should not shut our eyes, just as we cannot shut our eyes to people’s traumas and defects. It is the same as looking at a blind man, we would deny his blindness and assure everybody that he is in good health. We should call thing their proper names. It is certainly a moral vice. Until 1980, homosexuality was viewed as a sexual psychopathology, and many psychiatrists and medics uphold this understanding today.
Generally, almost all researchers distinguish two types of homosexuality: the so-called active or inborn and passive or acquired. So, people with inborn homosexuality make up 3% of the total number of people. All that is above this 3 percent represents ‘secondary’ homosexuality, which spreads like an ‘infection’. If such a practice is viewed psychologically as a norm under the influence of cultural trends and liberal guidelines, it is as it were sealed in human physiology and this vice spreads with lightening speed.
It should be added that the threat of spreading homosexuality lies not only in moral degradation and personal ruin but inevitably in human physical destruction. Homosexuality is essentially ‘infectious’. Among the proponents of same-sex sexual relations, an absolute majority acquire this stereotype of sexual practice because homosexuality was their first sexual experience. It is a common knowledge that for a young man the first sexual experience proves to be forming neurophysiologically and psychophysiologically, and lays the foundation for his further sexual behavior. Now a normal young man cannot get rid of it, and homosexuality begins to spread like an infection. If in a child-birth the delivering doctor presses the baby’s backbone too much, it can lead to the child’s cerebral palsy. The same may happen here – the vestige will stay for life.
In the past when homosexuality was considered to be a pathology, it was treated; people realized that it was their defect and deviation from norm. A person tried to overcome this vice, working at self-improvement, which is essentially the essence of medicine called as it is to cure illnesses, especially those involving human psyche.
- Why then today there is a growing number of medics who refuse to view homosexuality as pathology?
- The point is that in medicine, just as in society, there are its own liberal processes taking place. Medicine is directly dependent on values and worldviews dominating in a society. It is intimately bound up with the person’s understanding of himself and others. And the modern tendency to legalize homosexuality is an example of medical and social problems intertwined. When in 1993 the tenth review of the International Classification of Diseases came into force, homosexuality was moved from the category of ‘diseases’ into that of ‘sexual orientation’ for the first time in the history of these reviews. That same year, amendments were made to Russian Criminal Code Article 121, removing, contrary to the age-old tradition, the provision for criminal responsibility for sodomy, though in the three previous years the Code treated homosexuality as ‘crime against the life, health and dignity of the individual’ and medics qualified it ‘as the most wide-spread sexual perversion’.
Generally, for many centuries, homosexuality was regarded as a sexual perversion to be outside medical analysis. It was only in the early 19th century that homosexuality began to be treated as pathology rather than a form of sexual satiety.
Incidentally, Freud did not doubt the inverse nature of homosexuality, and many modern sexual liberals cannot forgive him his ‘clinical portrait of homosexuality’ to this day.
- Do you know of any historical examples when legalization of homosexuality proved to be destructive for a society?
- One of the most powerful examples is the death of the antique culture caused, among other things, by the lack of clear saving criteria for distinguishing between vice and virtue in sexual relations. It is an example where a failure to make a moral distinction between vice and virtue led to the physical death of a civilization. The identity of antiquity lied, among other things, in ‘naivety of lechery’ when the sexual element came to penetrate all spheres of life. There is ample evidence of sexual perversion that prevailed in that era.
As Chesterton aptly put it, ‘when sex stops being a servant it immediately becomes a despot’. He also said that Christianity came to the world to heal it and did it by the only possible way which is asceticism. It can be said generally that the development of Christian culture was a first sexual revolution which led to a radical review of the problem of human sexuality.
The biblical tradition elaborated for centuries a stably negative attitude to those with ‘passion for sex’, as opposed to heathen culture. ‘Exclusivity’, which had a religious tint in heathenism, acquired in Christian culture the form of social-ethical ostracism.
The Bible’s strong rejection of homosexuality is a common knowledge. Let us recall the same Book of Leviticus where this kind of relations is punished by death. St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, describes same-sex relations as ‘reprobate mind’ and those who have it as ‘filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness’ (Rom. 27-31).
As for transsaxuality, it was noticed and assessed from of old. Russian philosopher Rozanov described it as ‘physical sodomy’ and saw in it a physiological foundation for religious exaltation found both in heathenism and such religious sects as Flagellants and Eunuchs.
In ancient cultures it was transsexuality that to a considerable extent determined the emergence of such religious and mystical cults as worship of Moloch whose ‘priests’ cultivated the rite of castration. This rite can well be accounted for as a testimony to ‘insurmountable physiological and mental aversion’ of one’s own sex and castration as ‘triumph’ of deliverance from it.
- What means can be used to struggle with the spread of homosexuality?
- Today it is necessary simply to conduct mass information campaigns, educational actions and social advertising for society to take it adequately. There is no other way. Well, the lifting up of criminal restrictions from homosexual relations has been generally accepted. But if the surrender goes further, if the criminal prohibition is followed by refusal to assess this sexual practice morally, then society can be expected to promptly destroy itself biologically.
There is another problem involved in the growing fashion for homosexuality. It is HIV. Today the number of people infected with AIDS is growing disastrously, and we lift up at that every restriction from the principal group bearing this infection. It is a mere madness! On the one hand, we are facing a threat rolling on like a wave, but on the other, we remove obstacles for this wave which will destroy everything on its way.
In the West, all this is done by the hands of those who are themselves bearers of this vice. Naturally, they seek to legalize their depravity as a norm. But a healthy society should have strength to resist it, first of all through firm conviction and statement of the need to call things by their proper names. What is vice is vice, and it can never turn into a virtue.
The attitude to homosexuality has been deformed in European culture from understanding it as a perversion to seeing it as a norm. The process has gone together with the rejection of traditional moral values. But it is impermissible to neglect in the process those for whom traditional morality is not an abstract idea or an empty word! In their worldview, homosexuality is an embodiment of what is unnatural. It leads humankind as species to degradation both in birth rate and in morals. And for proponents of traditional morality, the ‘pivot group’ of homosexuals are those 3% who, being unrestricted either legally or morally, present a threat and factor of the risk of children and youth being seduced.