Can You Be Born Gay (Homosexual)?
One of the most polarizing and emotional issues that has captivated the public conscience is homosexuality. There is so much ignorance, hateful speech, and intolerance that it becomes difficult for Christians to publically engage with others about Homosexuality. However, just because a topic is difficult does not mean that it should be ignored.
Christians should bring a unique view to the table based on our worldview and view of the human constitution. We are uniquely qualified to talk about this issue. We need to bring stronger, more articulate arguments than: “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.” If this is a significant moral issue of our day, the richness of biblical theology should be used to argue the character of God in love.
Is There Scientific Evidence?
One of the biggest pieces of contention and disagreement in this debate has to do with birth. Are homosexuals born gay? Lady Gaga says yes, while others call it a lifestyle choice. A Huffington Post article by Marcia Malory written in October 2012 points out that both sides of the argument are trying to use science to support the morality of the issue. Some people argue that homosexuals are making an immoral lifestyle choice while others say that sexuality is genetically predetermined, therefore, no choice is involved. There are so many studies bounced around that it is difficult to wade through all of the “evidence.”
Without going through all of the gory details, there is no evidence for a genetic causation for homosexuality. The results in the often cited studies in 1991 (INAH3) and 1993 (Xq28) have not been replicated. While causation has not been identified, correlation has. These studies and others seem to demonstrate that there are indeed some genetic factors that influence a person’s sexuality.
If this is indeed true, are people off the hook for the way they express their sexuality? These genetic or biological factors don’t lead to any sort of determinism or fatalism. We are not controlled by our genes. We are more than the sum total of our physical parts. Christians believe in a body-spirit (soul) dynamic in which humans have a material and an immaterial component. This includes intelligence, moral decision-making, and reason. We are so much more than our genetics. People are shaped by their upbringing, their environment, and other cultural influences that make their way into life.
DNA and the Fall
But say, since science is always growing our knowledge of the natural world, one day we do find a genetic cause to certain behaviors? What then? What if people are born gay in the sense that they are born (predetermined genetically) with no attraction to the opposite sex? Doesn’t this mean that homosexual behavior is okay, no matter what Scripture says?
First, Christians shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if so called sinful behaviors are found in our genetic code. The fall of humanity did something fundamental to the human race. Through one man, sin entered the world. Now, all of us who are related to Adam (that’s all of us) now carry his guilt. We are all accountable for our own actions and we will all live our own life, but now we all have a natural and inherent bent towards sin. We are not as bad as we could possibly be, but every part of the human existence is touched by sin.
If this is indeed the case, it should be no surprise to find that a biblically sinful behavior has roots in our very genes. There have been studies done correlating our genetic makeup to behaviors related to alcoholism and aggression. Why then would it be a surprise for someone to be born with a natural bent towards an non-Christian sexual ethic?
Let me make one thing clear. When dealing with the ethics from a Christian perspective it is irrelevant if people are born gay or not. This is not the ground where Christians should be expending effort and apologetic energy. It is far too narrow of a discussion. Even among atheists or naturalists, the degree to which genetics affects sexual orientation is debated. If evidence comes out that there is a clear causation, it should be expected. If there is no causal evidence, that’s fine too.
The problem is not genetics. The problem is determining what a Christian should believe about sex. This scientific problem is something that should have little bearing on the morality of sex. Science can tell us if there is a correlation between observed behavior and our biological makeup. Science can’t tell us if what we are doing is right or wrong. Even if one is born with a natural tendency towards a specific lifestyle or naturally experiences particular passions, genes are not enough to explain away action.
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