Are People Born Gay?

Bible Issues

Homosexuals claim that sexual orientation is genetic, and as such they cannot choose the gender to which they are attracted – they were born that way. They also claim that there are many instances of homosexual behavior in nature – that homosexual behavior has been observed in over 1000 species of animals. And to their credit, they think they have much science to back them up. They can quote a wide range of scientific studies and theories that support their claims. Before we look at these studies, let us first examine what a scientific theory is and how scientists come up with theories.

Scientific Theories

Liberal writers often and incorrectly assert that scientific theories are proven facts. That could not be further from the truth. Many scientific theories have been discarded over the course of history. This could not be the case if a theory were a proven fact. Here is the process whereby scientific theories are established:

  • Scientists observe some phenomenon in nature.
  • They then look for a natural cause or explanation.
  • One scientist or group of scientists proposes a hypothesis that they feel best explains the observations. They do not necessarily have to prove it formally.
  • Other scientists weigh in. Some may question or discredit the hypothesis. Others may accept it, or even validate it with their own studies.
  • Once the scientific community arrives at a consensus to accept a hypothesis, then that becomes the prevailing theory. This will be accepted until either a better theory comes along or the theory is disproven. Sometimes multiple rival theories may coexist if there is no consensus. So scientific theories do not have to be proven, but must be falsifiable. In other words, there must be criteria governing when and if a theory should be abandoned.

Here is an example. It is observed that when you drop an object it falls to the ground. Aristotle believed that heavy objects moved toward the center of the earth which he also believed was the center of the universe, and lighter objects such as fire moved toward the moon. Galileo contradicted this belief by demonstrating that all objects fell with the same acceleration regardless of the weight. Hooke proposed that the rate of acceleration depended on the inverse square of the distance of the object from the center of the earth. Newton, based on his study of planets, further proposed that the force of gravity was also proportional to the mass of the object and the mass of the planet. Finally Cavendish calculated the gravitational constant. This is how scientists developed the theory of gravitation. This was the prevailing theory for two centuries, until Einstein’s theory of relativity. The gravitation theory has not been abandoned since it is still useful for many applications, but the scientific community now considers the relativity theory to be more comprehensive.

This example illustrates that theories do not have to be proven, but they can be discarded if something better comes along. It also illustrates the role of the scientific community and what their driving forces are. Scientific theories are not proven facts.

Is There a Gay Gene?

In 1993, Dean Hamer first proposed the idea of a gay gene that causes homosexuals to be so inclined. This was based on the observation in one study that gay men had more gay male relatives on their mothers’ side than on their fathers’ side. This led him to investigate X chromosomes (the ones passed on from the mother). He found that statistically more than 50% of gay men shared a marker on the Xq28 region of the X chromosome, suggesting that it was more than just by chance.  Immediately anyone who has taken a statistics class could spot a major error in his research. He did not investigate whether heterosexual men also had this gene. George Rice and George Ebers, in a larger study, found no such Xq28 linkage among gay men. Other studies questioned the very premise of Hamer’s work – that there even is a preponderance of gay relatives on the maternal side of gay men. Take away this premise and all the research into gay genes collapses like a house of cards.

Nevertheless Xq28 was dubbed the gay gene and the media went crazy. They followed every publication by Hamer and others who arrived at similar conclusions, and neglected all the studies that contradicted them.Western society quickly embraced the idea that gays are born that way andit soon became a given in pop culture. Anyone who questioned itwas vilified and portrayed as uneducated and unscientific. Note that this theory has no consensus in the scientific community. It is western society that has accepted it as fact.

A rival theory of male sexuality is the brain structure theory. Knowing that various sections of the brain are dimorphic (varying between women and men), scientists sought to determine if similar factors could account for differences in sexual orientation. Simon LeVay studied various hypothalamuses of 41 corpses (19 gay men, 16 presumably heterosexual men, and 6 presumably heterosexual women). He found that the size of the INAH3 neuron group in gay men was comparable to women. In other words, gay men have feminized brains. Some studies have contradicted this finding. Others have found that this region of the brain is smaller in homosexual men than heterosexual men, but larger than in women, however with none of the differences being statistically significant. Even though there is no consensus in this area, this has not deterred scientists from postulating that different levels of testosterone during the intrauterine period determine our brain structures (and hence our sexual orientation) while we are still in the womb, and thus “there is no indication that social environment after birth has any effect on sexual orientation”.

Yet another rival theory suggests that when a woman has a male child, the fetus produces a maternal immune reaction that becomes stronger with each subsequent male fetus. The antibodies eventually attack the fetus preventing proper brain masculinization resulting in homosexual orientation. Thus the chances of being gay increase with the number of older brothers one has. This theory is discredited primarily due to the lack of statistical evidence supporting it.

Could homosexuality be a combination of genetic and environmental factors? To determine the relative importance of genes and environment in determining sexual orientation, studies of twins have been conducted. Since twins have similar genetic makeup, differences between them can be attributed to environmental factors. So if homosexuality is genetic, then one twin being gay should suggest that the other one is also gay. If there is a high percentage of twins with mixed orientation, then that would strongly suggest environmental factors.

There has been no consensus among the various studies. In a famous study by Bailey and Pillard, 52% of gay twins also had a gay sibling. This percentage, called the concordance rate, sounds like a very high number. But the sample in this research was obtained by advertising in homosexual publications, which meant that gay twins were more likely to volunteer for the study thus skewing the results. Other similar studies with much larger and unbiased samples showed concordance rates ranging from 10 to 20%, suggesting that genetics do not play a significant role. A large 2010 Swedish study suggested that male sexuality is 34-39% genetic and 61-66% environmental, while female sexuality is 18-19% genetic and 81-82% environmental. This hardly supports the view that gays are born that way, and lends strong credence to the view that environmental factors present after birth are primarily responsible for homosexual behavior.

For a more thorough discussion on the science behind the gay gene, see this site.

The LGBT movement picks and chooses which studies best support their cause, and the media sensationalizes those findings. Then the average citizen believes that science has proven that people are born gay.

What Drives Science?

An erroneous assumption people make is that science is a truly independent seeker of truth. A deeper question is what drives science? There was a time when scientists were driven by religious convictions. They once believed that the earth was the center of the universe and anyone who suggested otherwise was vilified by the church. Today there is little doubt that most scientists are driven by a progressive culture which wants to arrive at the conclusion that there is a gay gene. I am very sure that if scientists search for a gene that causes some men to be polygamous or others to be child molesters or serial killers, they would find a lot of interesting results. But we will never know because there is no funding for that kind of research. The LGBT movement has tremendous support from government and business. There is a lot of financial support for research into homosexual genetics, and these funding agencies are not investing their money only to find that there is no evidence of a gay gene. The harsh reality is that science is heavily driven by financiers. Science is not independent. Further, if you use statistics as your main tool, you could arrive at any conclusion you want.

The actual scientific finding is that genetics account for 20-40% of the factors influencing sexual orientation. And this is likely to be a generous figure. This means that environmental factors are largely responsible for homosexual behavior. This is far removed from the claim that gays are born that way. Just like many behavioral traits, sexual orientation seems to be a mixture of nature and nurture. This is the most progressive conclusion that can possibly be supported from the scientific studies.

What environmental factors could be responsible for homosexual behavior? Well that is a question science should seek to answer, but instead it chooses to focus on biological causes even though most of the evidence suggest that environmental factors are more significant. It is difficult for me to speculate. Some suggest that abuse early in life may be a cause. Maybe hormonal development. Perhaps parenting style might be a factor. There are parents today who raise their children unisex. Boys are dressed in pink clothes and made to play with Barbie dolls. Later in life, they get to choose their own gender identity. Then when they are in their teens, they will most likely “come out” as gay, and everyone will say they were born that way.

Is Gender a Social Construct?

The LGBT movement caters not only to homosexuals, but to transgenders. Now the transgender community wishes to believe that there are women born in male bodies and vice versa. So is there a scientific theory to support that? Well surprise! Surprise! There is. There are some sociologists, such as Judith Butler, who theorize that sex and gender are not fixed biological traits but socially constructed. It should be noted that not all sociologists agree with her. Most believe that sex is biologically fixed, while gender roles may vary according to social factors, which seems very reasonable. Nevertheless there is no doubt that Butler’s theory would appeal to transgender people. So if the LGBT movement had its way, we are to believe that people are not born male or female, but they are born gay or straight.

Is Homosexuality Common in Nature?

Conservative Christians would like to claim that if homosexuality has never been observed among animals, why is it deemed normal in humans? Well predictably, scientists have also published numerous observations among over 1000 species of animals that can be considered homosexual behavior … from a human interpretation. These include birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.

Female macaques have been observed demonstrating what appears to be lesbian behavior, apparently solely for pleasure. Another interesting example is flour beetles. Some males mount other males and deposit sperm. So when the latter males mount females, the deposited sperm gets transferred to the females. So in this case there is a clear reproductive reason for the behavior.

The only example of a species other than humans that forms life-long homosexual relationships is the domestic sheep. 8% of these sheep appear to be homosexual by choice, even when available females are present. Studies have shown that the homosexual sheep have a smaller hypothalamus than the heterosexual sheep. It should be pointed out though that this behavior has only been observed in domesticated sheep, which are genetically engineered to be more docile than wild sheep. It is very likely that this domestication process reduces the testosterone levels in some sheep resulting in docile behavior, hence the need for a smaller hypothalamus. So it is less likely that homosexual behavior would be observed among wild sheep.

Nevertheless, scientists have apparently demonstrated that shades of sexuality can be observed in the animal kingdom. It should be pointed out though that homosexuality is not common in nature, but rare, just not non-existent.

Nature under a Curse

As mentioned above, Conservative Christians would like to conclude that science has never found a gay gene or any example of homosexuality in nature. But gay activists can quote a lot of scientific publications to support their cause. Whatever motivated those findings and however biased their conclusions may be are irrelevant. The LGBT movement has all the ammunition they need. In fact it was these scientific studies that led various governments to decriminalize homosexuality – the prelude to legalizing gay marriage.

But even if we accept that there are genetic causes that influence sexual orientation, and even if we accept that homosexuality exists in nature, this does not mean it is not sinful. The bible teaches that all of nature has been cursed (Romans 8:22). We were born in sin and conceived in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). It should not surprise us that our genetics are severely messed up. We should not be surprised if some people are predisposed to be promiscuous, abusive, criminal, smart or stupid. Some are predisposed to be heterosexually promiscuous and some homosexual. None of this would contradict the teachings of scripture regarding the human condition. And none of this should cause us to reconsider God’s standard of righteousness and holiness. Did God create people gay? No, God only created two humans. The rest were born via natural procreation, all under sin by default.

The scriptures teach that God is holy and man is sinful and depraved such that he cannot save himself. Yes God’s demands may seem unreasonable. How could He expect man to be holy when He knows very well that man cannot accomplish this? This is true for homosexuals and heterosexuals. The solution is salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ. The solution is Him cleansing us of unrighteousness by virtue of his shed blood (1 John 1:7). No man can demand that God accept him just the way he is – with all his genetic defects. He needs to conform to God’s standards in the way that God prescribed. Why should this be different for homosexuals? “Isn’t Christianity about acceptance?” they ask. No it is not. God loves us as we are, but only accepts us after we allow Him to regenerate us.

Part 3 here

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