Letter: Sexual Diversity in Biology

Dear Dr. Roman J. Miller,

I’ve been your student in the biology department for the past four years, but was surprised at your article last week. Having read multiple articles this year discussing the potential hiring policy change, I was intrigued when you began discussing human biology and behavior. I may not have the tools or the energy to criticize your theological perspectives, but I wanted to offer a challenge to your interpretation of human biology.

The natural world offers an exceptional amount of behavioral and physical diversity, and this diversity is by no means limited to black and white gender and sexual dichotomies. There are all-female lizard species which reproduce by parthenogenesis, or self-cloning. The California Sheephead, a species of fish, breeds first as a female, then changes sex to breed as a male. Both Spotted Hyena males and females have penis-like structures, and many other species do not exhibit clear differences in gendered appearance or behavior. These are a few examples, but there are so many more, all woven into a beautiful world where diversity abounds and relationships thrive.

The unique thing about humans is that we are the only species that is able to self-identify. While there are over 300 vertebral species documented as displaying same-sex coupling in nature, only humans have the ability to articulate what that means for us. Identity is a crucial addition to this conversation. When Scripture does not definitively address specific sexual acts, and when the diversity represented in nature does not discriminate between normal and abnormal, who are we to define what sexual identity and behavior should look like? Rather than limit our understanding of sexual diversity to relationships between males and females, our knowledge of biology presents us with a world that welcomes sexual diversity in all its forms. I like this world. It is beautiful, more vibrant, and certainly more inclusive than some understandings of what it means to be men, women, and fabulous, fabulous genderqueers.

Hoping to continue the conversation,

Laura J. W. Keppley

Categories: Opinion

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