The science of whether sexual orientation is biological is pretty sparse and full of disparate, mixed and unreplicated findings.i
I’ll get right to the point. The above line from a USA Today article challenges the simple rallying cry of the gay rights movement, born gay, that is the basis for the huge shift in both the cultural and political attitude towards the LGBTQ community,
The article goes on to elaborate that using that slogan has been “central” to moving the population to their cause, The pro-gay argument is that if people can’t be helped then denying them political rights is wrong.
Christian gay rights activists have extended the logic to how gays should be treated in the church. The Christian gay movement has grown to now include a new theological framework that revises the previous teaching on homosexuality and teaches that homosexual sex in a monogamous marriage is blessed by God. The basis of this is traced back to the born gay mantra. As one pro-gay writer put it, “It’s simply who you are” (so its wrong call the behavior wrong.) ii
The USA Today article further articulates on the born gay debate. It quotes Jane Ward, a university professor and author of Not Gay, Sex Between White Men. Regarding the being born gay issue, Ward says that anyone that supports gay rights has to believe the “born gay” mantra even while many LGBTQ don’t believe it claiming it shouldn’t be necessary for them to have their rights. Ward calls it “almost an obligatory story”. But she further explains that it really isn’t that simple and she says that over time people do take ownership of their queerness (as opposed to being born that way).
The concept that is at stake is fixed versus fluid nature in sexuality. If people are born gay then that sexual nature is fixed. But if it is not fixed then it is called fluid because it can change.
Its a great article (the link is on the endnotes). But, the article dismisses the idea that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice, rather elaborates on the history of the science of sexuality pioneered by Alfred Kinsey and goes on to explain that sexuality is not purely biological but a combination of biology, psychology, and social interaction. Gayness isn’t turned on with a simple decision, rather a complex interaction of biological, social, and psychological factors from the toys kids play with to social interactions to physiological conditions interacting behind the process. Everything points to it being a complicated process scientifically with no clear answers yet. Read the article for all the details but here are some key points.
Identical twins are great cases to show the genetic component involved in an aspect of people lives. The article points out that if one of the twins is gay it is more likely that the other is straight than gay, powerfully suggesting that DNA alone is not determinant in the process that results in a person becoming homosexual.
There are many LGBTQ who do not identify themselves as born gay, rather they say that their sexuality is fluid. They argue that their rights should not need this false slogan, but argue the legitimacy of their cause for other reasons.
Studies that show differences biologically between gay and straight don’t determine whether biology caused the difference or the difference caused the biology. There is an interesting study by Simon Levay of the size of the hypothalamus being different in the autopsies of gay vs straight men that is used to illustrate that point.
This article highlights some of the issues in of same-sex marriage and the promotion of individuals promoting LGBTQ in the church.
Remember, it’s not just Conservatives that cry that the science of “born gay” is flawed, its Pro-Gay groups that argue also that the science is not only not there but shouldn’t be needed. iii “The false belief in biological determinism does considerable damage.” iv The article with that line goes on to say that the reason that scientists and activists alike have promoted this fiction is the fear of the perception that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice. The article also argues the complexity of the process that ends in the way that sexual nature is expressed. This article, by a sociologist, argues heavily on the importance of social construction. In fact, he argues that gender, as well as race for that matter, does have some biological underpinnings, but is more due to social construction than anything else. He cites as an example the Brazilian saying that “money whitens” and enables people of color to move up the social ladder. In the article he calls the born gay argument the “false idol of bad science.”v Yes, the part of the title of this article referring to bad science doesn’t come from a conservative Christian, it refers to a pro gay article written by a sociologist.
This is a huge debate. You can see a pro and con debate side by side at borngay.procon.orgvi. This page is not a debate by average Joes, rather, everyone has a string of initials after their name. The pro side shows actual participants who swear they didn’t make the choice to be gay. They affirm the APA statements ruling homosexuality as normal as scientific proof of the legitimacy of their claim. It includes statements by people who believe that their gayness is absolutely in their DNA.
The Con challenges the scientific basis, begs for the proof of the genetic component of homosexuality and cites the counter cases: people who have changed from gay to straight, the prison phenomenon where individuals become “gay” for their term and then revert to straight when released.
Statements of any type including that homosexuality is not outside the realm of normal behavior by the APA and the AMA are not scientific proof. They are opinions of people with training in their field. Scientific proof requires tests that show reproducible results in a laboratory. Not too long ago both groups had very different stances on this and a host of issues. Of course, everyone believes that both medical science and psychology have advanced with the times. And I certainly go to the doctor and have talked with psychologists, both with good results, although, like a lot of people, not always. But these are organizations that in my lifetime, while I was young, performed vibrator treatments on women to cure hysteria and lobotomies to cure mental illness. My point is that these groups have always been capable of promoting policies that everyone now agrees are unsound. To use their statements now as scientific proof to revise biblical interpretation is at the very least, premature. People don’t normally go to a medical doctor or psychologist for spiritual advice, and this area is no exception.
Sexual issues are very powerful, and complicated. Consequently, they are very hard to deal with. The multiplicity of issues involved in the LGBTQ world are no exception.
The above statement does not mean they are beyond God’s power. As Christians, we say we believe that God has the power to change, to heal, and to deliver. Programs and examples that haven’t worked are not proof that God can’t work in this powerful, emotional, complicated area.
Consequently, Pro-gay Christian proponents that argue the born gay argument and say that the homosexuality as sin doctrine has to be revised because it produces the negative fruits of depression, despair, and even suicide because they were born that way are misguided. That argument only holds if it’s really true that gays are born that way. Not only is there not any proof to justify that position, but counter-proofs like the existence of ex-gays, the testimony of scientists including pro-gay scientists that teach that sexuality is fluid and the testimony of some current gays that sexuality is not fixed besides all these ex-gays professing that fact all lead to the conclusion that the born Gay slogan has been a powerful argument that is still heavily promoted, but is, in fact, fiction.
iUSA Today article “’Born that way’? It’s way more complicated than that dated June 15, 2017 and updated April 10, 2018 located at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/born-way-many-lgbt-community-its-way-more-complex/395035001/
iiGod and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines, Convergent Books, New York, 2014, p. 29
iiiAeon, Why Should Gay Rights Depend on Being Born This Way?, at https://aeon.co/essays/why-should-gay-rights-depend-on-being-born-this-way