A. The Charge. Homosexual behavior ranks as a perversion for the following reason. The purpose of the sexual acts is to reproduce the species, a task that requires the partnership of a male and a female. Such couplings are preordained by nature. As with such other perversions as incest, bestiality, necrophilia, and pedophilia, same-sex conduct is unacceptable. According to the progay rationalizers, though, the homosexual object choice is determined from birth or in the early formative years. These people “cannot help it.” Yet this claim does not pass muster. Could we not as easily say that pedophiles or persons who finds animals sexually attractive must be excused because they were simply born that way?
Today’s ultrapermissive society looks with a blind eye as people pick and choose their favorite perversions. At first sight some seem almost innocuous--or so we have been conditioned to believe. Yet when we allow one perversion, what is the next one to follow? We go down the proverbial slippery slope to perdition.
Today we confine pedophiles rather than merely sending them to seek psychological guidance or evaluation. Rightly we take child abusers out of circulation regardless of whether they were born that way or not, because we as a society deem that molesting a child is morally wrong and against the normal human psychic constitution.
In human conduct there is a correct path and an incorrect one. Those who choose the wrong path are justly termed “perverts” because they willfully depart from what they know is right in their heart of hearts.
B. Background. Perversion is a term that has been used historically to describe those types of human behavior that are perceived to be a departure from what is considered to be normal or orthodox..
In psychiatric usage the meaning stems mainly from the noted German sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902). This writer distinguished two categories of "perverse Handlungen," perverse (i.e. nonreproductive) sexual acts: 1) those motivated by Perversität (viciousness, depravity) and 2) manifestations of Perversion (a qualitative, pathological variation of the character of the sexual drive). Thus heterosexual fellatio would be the result of Perversität, while much homosexual activity would stem from Perversion.
Following a different trajectory, the French evolution of the idea was also complex, starting with the "déviations maladives de l'appetit vénérien" of Claude François Michéa (1849) and arriving at the "perversions sexuelles" of Valentin Magnan (1885).
The older meaning of perversion was nonsexual, implying a "deviation from the original meaning or doctrine," literally a "turning aside" from the norm. In Northern Europe in early modern times a "pervert" generally signified a heretic (as a Protestant who converted to Catholicism), the opposite of convert. Catholics returned the favor, referring to those who chose Protestantism as perverts.
Ever elusive, the definition and usage of the concept has shifted under the influence of such variables as period, person, religion, and culture. What some would describe as perversion, others might say is simply a variant form of human sexuality. In some cultures homosexuality once ranked a perversion, and indeed still is in several; it is nevertheless widely seen in the western world today as a natural sexual variation.
In recent years several professional philosophers have attempted to reformulate the concept of perversion. Thomas Nagel, for example, argues that perversion is more psychological than physiological, and that perversions are "truncated or incomplete versions of the complete figuration." Thus bestiality, where there is lack of reciprocity, would be perversion, while homosexuality is not. Unfortunately, these philosophers' discussions are conducted in the afterglow of the earlier history of the set of terms - the adjectives perverse and perverted, the nouns perversity and perversion, and the verb to pervert - rendering problematic their intended reconstruction of it.
In early 2013 there are reports that the devotees of "kinky sex" (featuring bondage and domination) are seeking to rebrand the word pervert in much the same way that queer has been rebranded as a positive label - "pervert chic," in short.
C, Response. It is best to abandon such misleading terms. In fact, many professionals now prefer the expression paraphilia. This term refers to sexual arousal by objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of the normal range of stimulation. The expression was introduced by the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel in the 1920s. Later the American sexologist John Money popularized the term as a nonpejorative designation for unusual sexual interests. The concept is extremely broad; according to one enumeration there are 549 paraphilias. Typical examples include interactions with fetish objects (such as shoes and boots; soiled underwear; half-smoked cigars); animals; and nonconsenting partners. A peculiar example is “cleaning sex,” where the individual derives erotic satisfaction from being allowed to clean another person’s apartment.
At one time homosexuality was classified as a paraphilia. But clinicians no longer regarded it as such. A 2012 literature study comparing homosexuality with paraphilias confirmed that homosexuality was sufficiently dissimilar from the paraphilias as to be considered an unrelated construct. In other words, same-sex behavior is not a paraphilia.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. Thomas Nagel,"Sexual Perversion," The Journal of Philosophy, 66:1 (1969), 5-17;
Vernon A. Rosario, The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of Perversity, New York: Oxford University Press. 1997; American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Jesse Bering, Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, New York: Scientific American/FSG, 2013.