Derek, the topic of homosexuality came up the other day as I was discussing the Tao with a group of people. One person said that since homosexual people could not have children naturally, they were against the natural order of the world, and therefore against the Tao.
“It’s very simple,” he said. “If I put a group of heterosexual people on an island, they will multiply and be fruitful. If I put I put a group of homosexuals there instead, they will die out. So which group is with the Tao and which is against? Isn’t it obvious?”
I must say I felt disappointed in hearing this, because I come from a conservative background that condemns homosexuality, and I had hoped the Tao might be different. I need to ask you for a second opinion before I give up completely. Can you confirm that this position against homosexuality is correct according to the Tao?
What you have described is a fairly common misconception, sometimes expressed by people with a surface-level understanding of the Tao. It seems to make sense at first glance: the male / female pairing is natural, and therefore same-gender pairings must be unnatural. The idea is that the Tao is about yin-yang, not yin-yin or yang-yang.
The first thing to realize when we approach this topic is that while some mainstream religions do condemn homosexuality, the Tao itself does not judge or condemn. The Tao is not human, nor is it a human-like deity, so it can never pass harsh judgements the way that some people do. It is more like natural laws that function without emotional attachments.
The second thing to realize is that there are already myriad things in nature that live out entire lives without producing offspring. If procreation is the yardstick by which to measure naturalness, then one would have to point to all of them as being against the Tao – including heterosexual couples who are infertile or simply do not wish to have children.
The most basic flaw that led to the above conclusion is our incessant focus on the physical. Gender and reproduction are inextricably tied to biology, but is the physical aspect all there is to existence? I would suggest that it is only one aspect of the multidimensional totality. Also, consider the basic truth that the spiritual is far greater than the biological for human beings. One simple example of this is the love between adoptive parents and adopted children. That love is just as real and powerful as anything else. The lack of a direct biological connection between them makes absolutely no difference at all.
When love exists, nothing else is quite as important, so let us transcend the physical in our thinking. Move to the level of the spiritual and examine the issue there. You’ll find that when you strip away all the external layers, the only thing that remains at the core is love in its purest form. This love can express itself in many different ways. That expression, among consenting adults, flows in perfect alignment with the Tao regardless of the way it manifests.
So is there anything that flows out of alignment with the Tao? Yes, but it has nothing to do with gender or reproductive ability. That which goes against the Tao is the antithesis of love: fear, loathing, hatred. In the material world, we recognize it in one of its many forms as homophobia and prejudice.
Next time people bring up this topic, let them know the truth. What goes with or against the Tao has nothing to do with the gender of your life partner. It has everything to do with our natural wish to manifest our highest, most loving and kindest selves. Let us be careful in handling the distorted ideas that try to take us away from that ideal.