First of all, thanks to everyone who's stopped by so far and given me encouragement (online or off), and thanks to those who have linked my blog to theirs. It's gratifying to learn that I'm not completely insane to ask the questions I've been asking, and to be unsatisfied with the answers that I've found so far.
Partly insane, probably, but sanity is highly overrated anyway.
Anyway, getting to the point of this post, my thoughts keep coming back to the issue of design, seeing how it's one of the central arguments that Christians use when stating that all homosexual behavior is sin. This will most likely end up as a multi-part series, as there's a lot more to consider on this point than most people seem to realize.
I don't doubt that God originally designed us to function heterosexually (that's how procreation occurs, after all), but then again He also didn't design us to be blind, deaf, paraplegic, diabetic, etc. - and yet we wouldn't argue that it's sin to use Braille or hearing aids or wheelchairs or insulin injections. And no, I'm not saying that being gay is equivalent to being handicapped or ill, just making a point about the shortcomings of arguing from design.
In any case, the design argument also needs to take into account the fact that we were designed for companionship, and for intimacy that goes beyond friendship. Which leads me to conclude that one of the following statements must be true:
1) Romantic love is irrelevant to marriage, and physical attraction is not an important factor in the choosing of a spouse.
2) Sexual purity is the highest ideal of all, and therefore lifelong celibacy, though described by the Bible as a voluntary state, can be justly forced on people against their will.
3) Orientation change really is possible for the majority, and Exodus and NARTH are simply so ignorant of how the change process actually works that they have harmed more people than they've helped.
4) God's original design, though it represents an ideal, does not carry the force of law.
Given how heavily the entire design argument rests on the early chapters of Genesis (a narrative, and therefore not necessarily meant to bear the weight of all the law we've built upon it), I'm increasingly inclined to at least consider the validity of #4.
Yes, Jesus and Paul both appeal back to the creation account in reference to sexual matters, but Jesus was primarily concerned with hammering home the point that the Pharisees were not as righteous as they thought they were, and Paul later uses the creation account in his argument that women should keep their hair long (and that men shouldn't). So while conservative theologians have a good basis for making the arguments that they do, they don't have an airtight case.
Ultimately it all seems to come back to what assumptions a person chooses to make. For many, telling them that "God designed you to be heterosexual" is enough for them to conclude that it's wrong to be gay, without ever asking the questions that necessarily follow from the original statement. Did He really specifically make each of us that way, or was that just the original template? Were the opening chapters of Genesis really meant to be treated as law? Is it necessarily immoral to use something for a task other than the one it was primarily designed for? If God is that concerned with every detail of how we use His physical creation, how do we justify the many questionable things we do on a daily basis to this planet and the living things that populate it in the name of progress?
There's a lot more to explore here (and probably a lot more I could do to strengthen what I've already written), but in the interest of actually getting this posted sometime before Christmas I'll leave the rest of that to simmer for now.