Religions generally try to advocate a position on sex and to be fair, there is an argument that the heterosexual, monogamous unit is ideal for raising children. The reasons for this may be sociological, since as many already accept that the above is a fundamental truth of their beliefs, then there is a reluctance to accept or even look at other possibilities for human behaviour.
The Judaistic religion invokes the idea that humans have somehow fallen from grace. One might therefore believe that animals have not, as the first female of each animal did not eat a fruit which opened their eyes, therefore they do not exhibit the range of corruption of the human heart which it is claimed exist by religions of that origin. (Just as a reminder that particular religion’s story has been used as a tool of female oppression and an excuse to dominate them outside of sexual game and role play).
The truth is more complex.
For example, looking at Jane Goodall, founder of the charity The Jane Goodall Institute, which is a charity caring for apes both to rescue them from cruelty and to provide havens in the natural environment for them. She is undoubtedly a significant figure in anthropology, having had pages devoted to her in National Geographic magazine and having written, among others, a best seller “In the Shadow of Man”. She is also a Christian and in my opinion a wonderfully compassionate person. However, in the book I mention, she declares that in all the years she observed chimpanzees in Tanzania, she never observed homosexual behaviour. True as that may be, one cannot help feeling that her mentioning of that comes as some form of affirmation of a God creator behind them. The God of the Judaistic tradition that declares that homosexuality is an abomination. It is easy to get drawn into a religion and feel the need to honour the principles of a ‘god’ by accepting what is written in books about the will of the ‘god’ because belief in the ‘god’ gives one hope and a will to do good. If one looks at Islam though, one understands that even Mohammed felt at some point that he was being deceived into adding writings that were not of Allah by something that was evil. This throws doubt into the mind of the rational believer.
In New Scientist of 30th August 2008, an article appeared which summarises many doubts and casts a light on behaviour which many, both religious and atheistic, are reluctant to accept.
The article describes behaviours which have been observed in animals. These include:
- a panda, (an animal not noted for having the imagination to be libidinous), which watches human pornography.
- Flamingoes that prefer to be watched while having sex
- A mallard which engages in sex with a dead duck
- Indian manatees engaging in oral sex, (forbidden in some US states for a long time)
- a threesome between deer, (two males and a female)
- Animals kissing (often perhaps used to get children believing that god created a loving world)
- oral sex by lionesses on males
- grey headed flying foxes oral sex by males on females
- male kangaroos oral sex on each other
- homosexual behaviour in lions, giraffes, elephants and bison
- anal sex in dolphins (that is flipper)
- blowhole sex in dolphins
- two male whales engaging in what could be described as penis fencing.
I neither advocate these behaviours nor advocate the monogamous, heterosexual family. This is firstly because only an approach such as the Darwinian view, where the proof of what works in successfully reproducing can be seen retrospectively is demonstrable evidence. Secondly from the Buddha point of view, even if evidence showed that in a tolerant environment, those with non-monogamous, non-heterosexual behaviour failed to reproduce, (thus signalling the end of the struggle to exist of their ancestors, both human and animal, which had given birth to them), that would be no reason not to tolerate the behaviour, it would only be a reason not to recommend it if you believed Darwin and in evolution. Of course these behaviours may be inevitable because they are thrown up randomly by social pressures or genetics so the idea of not recommending the behaviour becomes irrelevant and only showing compassionate tolerance is left. Equally the science side of Buddho-Darwinism could argue that males may at some time in the future anyway be redundant and homosexuals of either sex can be parents either by adoption or fertility of friends or surrogates.
My own experience is that one’s own attitudes can be altered by a mental chemistry and therefore there is a third factor, which has probably led to intolerance in the past, in which those who can change other’s mental chemistry, such as the Danes I encountered, (see the page on the Danes), may be able to drive others into believing they are being turned homosexual even when they just think about tolerating it. This is unfortunate as it may create monstrous intolerance.
The important thing from the Buddha side of the Buddho-Darwinist view I advocate is that passions and wants can be dangerous and cause suffering. The desire to hate lesbians based on an extract from the Jewish tradition Book of Leviticus is just as dangerous as the desire for revenge shown by a sexually ‘liberal’ ancient roman emperor or two against puritans. There again the lack of passion in a heterosexual partnership may lead to no children or mal-adjusted children resulting in failure in a Darwinistic sense. It is a difficult balance for some.