Does God hate left handers?

 Andrew Sullivan

I’m a left hander…sinister…Gay theologian Fr. James Alison compares being gay to being left-handed:

There is a distinction between left-handedness and the act of writing left-handedly. For most of us the distinction remains exactly that, and has no moral consequences. We would understand that a left-handed person forced to write right-handedly owing, say, to having their left arm in a plaster cast, or a right-handed person forced to write left-handedly for analogous reasons, would, with some difficulty, be able to learn to do so. These people would in some sense be acting contra natura. But the use of the hand appropriate to their handedness would be entirely unremarkable.

Now, imagine that, involved in a Catholic discussion, you find yourself addressing a left-handed person.

You say: “Any left-handed writing you do is intrinsically wrong; and in fact the inclination we call left-handedness must be considered objectively disordered.” The only justification for using the distinctions in this way is if you have received, from quite other sources, the sure knowledge that right-handedness is normative to the human condition, anything else being some sort of defect from that norm, and yet you don’t want entirely to condemn the person who has a strong tendency to left-handed writing.

No, it seems to me quite patent that here we have an unwieldy bid to fit a reality into an acceptable framework, rather than learning from reality how to adjust a now unreliable framework. Any left-handed person, faced with the above logic, would know that the one addressing them really does regard them as a defective right-handed person, rather than a normal left-handed person. Any insistence on the part of the one who is addressing them that they are not calling them “disordered” as a person would be seen to be the humbug that it is.


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  • Peter Wilson

    Analogies are fun.

    The argument from the non-heterophobic crowd would presumably be along the lines of:

    A valid point of view, but 99% of people born left handed know they are different, and if they could pop a pill and wake up the next day being right handed, they would.

    • Gazzaw

      Speaking as a lefty Peter I have one comment to make. Bollocks! What century are you from?

      • Peter Wilson

        The NHP crowd would mean if being left handed created difficulties for you, say, in terms of safety would your choice be different.

  • BJ

    There is no comparison – apples with apples and all that – handedness is mechanical – gayness is psychological.

    Most of us are born with both a left and a right hand and which of those appendages is dominant is determined by the brain (neurological). It would be extremely rare to find a person with both a vagina and a penis (AKA hermaphrodite)  who’s brain would then determine which sexual organ was going to be dominant.

    • BJ

      Just realized I hadn’t made my point very clear. Which ever hand you use ( determined by the brain), it is used for carrying out ‘the same’ mechanical tasks as you would if using the other hand. If there was ever intended to be two equivalent alternatives for how we used our gender then I guess we would all have been born with both a penis and a vagina and it would have been predetermined (like handedness) which one was going to be dominant.  Oh thats right – it already is.

  • Urban Redneck

    Researchers found a genetic link to left-handedness back in 2007. They still haven’t found one for homosexuality – and they won’t, because there isn’t one. Tammy Bruce explains:

    “Almost without exception, the gay men I know (and that’s too many to count) have a story of some kind of sexual trauma or abuse in thier childhood – molestation by a parent or authority figure, or seduction as an adolescent at the hands of an adult. The gay community must face the truth and see the sexual molestation of an adolescent for the abuse it is, instead of the “coming of age” experience many regard it as being. Until then the Gay Elite will continue to promote a culture of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and suicide by AIDS”

    In June 2004, NGLTS (National Gay & Lesbian Task Force) allied themselves with the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Their alliance is part of an ongoing to study what they describe as America’s “archaic” laws dealing with consensual sex with adults and children, prostitution and sex acts in public restrooms and parks.

    Yes Virginia, there is an agenda !

    • Mike

       I shudder to think of the abuses showered upon the poor gay penguins in their formative years…or any of the other “gay” animals that have been documented. Some have had longer same-sex relationships than the average heterosexual christian hypocrite.

  • Michael Ward

    The one thing lacking from this theologian’s argument appears to be theology. The obvious theological difference (which should be what he is qualified to comment on) between being gay and being left-handed is that God has clearly condemned homosexual behavior and not left-handedness.
    A better analogy might be to compare being gay with being a kleptomaniac, both of which God condemns.

    • Peter Wilson

      That’s probably not fair. No one is suggesting homesexuality is against the law, as is stealing.

      I wonder if a better analogy would be to compare homosexuality to something like isolophobia or similar?

      • Michael Ward

        Did you miss the part where I pointed out that God condemns it? As a theologian, he should know that.

    • Peter Wilson

      His argument is basically flawed because God never condemned left handedness in the first place. He was trying to normalise homosexuality in the same way as being left handed is normal – and so fails on this occasion.

  • Auto_immune

    Though I personally despise the ‘disorder’ assertion in the catechism, it’s a damn sight better than the “y’all gunna burn in hell” argument you get from certain fundamentalists.

  • Mark

    Cameron, you need to replace “handers” with “wingers” in the title of your post and then the answer would be a resounding YES

  • Bunswalla

    Interesting though, that in many languages left-handedness and the left is considered bad, and right-handedness and the right are considered good. Given that the churches had a lot to do with forming language back in the day it’s easy to draw the conclusion that if there was in fact a god he/she/it probably doesn’t like cack-handers.

    French: right is “droite” which is where we get adroit from. Left is “gauche” and someone who is gauche is clumsy and a bit stupid.

    Italian: right is “destra” i.e. dextrous and left is “sinistre” or sinister. People who wrote with their left hand were regarded with suspicion and often persecuted.

  • Blokeintakapaun

    As a leftie, my headmistress at Manukau Road Primary school gave me detention (to a 5.5y/o) insisting that I write right handed and even gave the knuckles a hit with a wooden ruler for using my left hand.
    I do remember mum being mortified, jumping up and down, screaming blue murder at this woman for such treatment. It only happened once… and it was early 70’s…

    • Euan Rt

      I see I am going to have to make some allowances for you when reading your posts after such trauma ;-)  Actually at 5.5 yrs it would have been traumatic – hence you still remember it so vividly?

  • Blair Mulholland

    The analogy would hold if dudes liking other dudes was a genetically recessive trait inherent from birth, but it is not.  It is a preference, like enjoying cricket or disliking vegemite.  Nobody is suggesting that changing one’s preferences is easy, but I don’t buy this bullshit that there is someone somewhere holding a gun to the heads of all the gay men in the world and making them have sex with each other.

    • Mike

       Try eating your own dogfood, mate – if it was a preference, YOU should be able to switch sides at will (albeit with a bit of distaste, like eating vegemite). If you honestly consider what attracts you to the opposite sex, and conclude that it is nothing more than a preference, you would be the king of all self-deluders.

      • Blair Mulholland

        Mike, you are talking to the wrong man, as anyone who knew me circa 2005 would attest.  ;-)

        There is a huge difference between having preferences, and acting on them.  I consider acting on most of my sexual preferences to be no less immoral in the eyes of God than anything your average Lady Gaga fan could get up to.

  • Colonel Masters

    Funny thing is, many of the gay people I know are actually left-handed. I’m sure the preponderance is greater than in the straight population.

    • ConwayCaptain


      I was at a Sp Needs Teachers Conf recently for teachers dealing with dyslexic puplis.  It was amazing how many of these teachers were left handed.  Colonel Masters???? A very good author John Masters ex Ghurka Lt Col.

    • Peter WIlson

      Interesting. So we’re thinking now that homosexuality is some kind of statement against society. “Here I am, and I’m different!”  I thought the accepted theory was gay people couldn’t cope with their heterosexuality.

  • Salacious T Crumb

    Never heard of a left hander coming out of the left hemispeheric dominance closet and becoming a “righty”.

    • Mike

       The theory that a brain hemisphere can be dominant has fallen into disrepute quite a while ago. It is one of the enduring memes.

      • Salacious T Crumb

        Really?  Then why the surgical debate about dominant temporal lobectomy? Why is information pertaining to writing, hand dominance etc taken into account when treating stroke, tumors and neuro vacular events?

  • I always thought that God was left handed – and a woman.

    • Orange

       Just like Satan then?

  • FortyTwo

    god (with a small g) hates everyone anyway according to Christopher Hitchens. Gays, women, slaves, lefties and all things that creepeth upon the Earth. Theology is the study of totalitarianism.

    • Blair Mulholland

       I’ve never understood the “God is an arsehole” argument.  Surely you should be arguing that God does not exist, rather than arguing that God is malevolent.  If God does exist, but God is something like, say, Cthulhu, there is precious buggerall you can do about it, because Cthulhu is going to eat you anyway, no matter what you think of him.  Having conceded that, you may as well believe in the Christian God, who offers you grace if you believe that His son died and rose from the dead on your behalf!  There.  Problem solved.

  • Meaxwell

    “Any left-handed person, faced with the above logic, would know that the one addressing them really does regard them as a defective right-handed person, rather than a normal left-handed person.”

    Any left-handed person, faced with the above logic, would think that person a git

  • Boss Hogg

    I am ambidextrous…………..oh dear, what does that mean?

    • jay cee

      lucky you! i know people who would give their right arm to be ambidextrous. as for “lefties” as my daughter, a lefty pointed out, the left side of the brain controls the right hand function and the right controls the left. ergo left handed people are actually in their right minds.

    • BJ

      It usually means you are a balanced person – between logic and creative.
      Maybe a comparison – as this article suggests there is – would  belike being bisexual.

  • Annie

    What utter TOSH!! Can’t believe I wasted time reading it