Friday, April 10, 2015

Born or Made? A distinction that matters to some

For many years now the old debate about whether homosexuality is genetic and therefore "natural" or a choice has been considered a settled question.  For most proponents of homosexual marriage and the recognition of homosexuality as the moral equivalent of heterosexuality, the answer is genetic.  The anecdotal evidence seemed to support this.  Gays are not made but are born this way.  It is an argument that matters only to those who are predispositioned to believe that if it is genetic, it is natural and to reject it is an affront to both nature and God (God as non-judgmental love).

Well,it may not be so settled after all.  Studies of identical twins seem to suggest that it is not genetic at all -- at least not in any way, shape, or form that we can recognize or understand now.  It appears that these studies tilt the balance to choice.  Gays are made and not born.  I am sure that this probably will not change many minds.  We tend to settle into our own opinions rather comfortably.  But... you might want to read up on it here.

Let me quote a couple of pertinent paragraphs:
Eight major studies of identical twins in Australia, the U.S., and Scandinavia during the last two decades all arrive at the same conclusion: gays were not born that way.  “At best genetics is a minor factor,” says Dr. Neil Whitehead, PhD. Whitehead worked for the New Zealand government as a scientific researcher for 24 years, then spent four years working for the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency. Most recently, he serves as a consultant to Japanese universities about the effects of radiation exposure. His PhD is in biochemistry and statistics.
Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay.
“Because they have identical DNA, it ought to be 100%,” Dr. Whitehead notes. But the studies reveal something else. “If an identical twin has same-sex attraction the chances the co-twin has it are only about 11% for men and 14% for women.”
Because identical twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be genetically dictated. “No-one is born gay,” he notes. “The predominant things that create homosexuality in one identical twin and not in the other have to be post-birth factors...”

Still, many misconceptions persist in the popular culture. Namely, that homosexuality is genetic – so hard-wired into one’s identity that it can’t be changed. “The academics who work in the field are not happy with the portrayals by the media on the subject,” Dr. Whitehead notes. “But they prefer to stick with their academic research and not get involved in the activist side.”


Anonymous said...

We ought to recognize that the proposition that homosexuality is either genetic or a lifestyle choice is a false dilemma. There could be other possibilities, but one has to be truly expert in the fields of genetics, prenatal development, physiology and other disciplines in order to recognize the alternatives. But to the homophobe it is so simple to believe in the proposition, because the evidence clearly points to the fact that homosexuality is not genetic, or at least not purely genetic. This then justifies all of the abominable behavior of homophobes, including hatred in the name of God.
Many scientists have concluded that the vast majority of homosexuality, both in men and in women, has “epi-genetic” causes. According to their theory, changes take place in utero as a result of the excess or lack of testosterone in one of the parents. I am no expert so I feel inadequate in trying to explain this theory, but anyone can get more details by googling “epigenetic causes of homosexuality”.
That does not mean that the question is settled, but it suggests strongly that “life style choice” is not the only possible cause of homosexuality. Until the question is settled, we should follow Luther’s explanation of the Eighth Commandment, “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything”. Even after it is settled, we should never deal with anyone other than with love.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

Mr. Marquart,

I agree we should deal with all our neighbors with Christian love and respect. But we shouldn't excuse the behavior - it is sin. And such a statement is counter to today's culture - even within many churches.

I tend to believe homosexuality is not genetic but a choice. But, like you, I am not an expert. But it doesn't really matter to me. The Bible is clear. It is sin.

I have a predisposed attraction to females. Does it matter whether it's genetic or a choice. Nope. God tells me I must control my attraction within Biblical boundaries (e.g., be faithful to my wife, don't lust after other women, avoid pornography, etc.) Heterosexuals shouldn't get a pass to sin for what I believe is primarily genetic attraction. And neither should homosexuals.


Janis Williams said...

Whether it is genetic, choice, both, or caused by aliens, the fact of the matter is it is sin. Not a special sin, but sin exactly like all the rest of humanity (including me) commit. So in that sense, homosexuals are born that way, just as are adulterers, murderers, liars, and idolaters.

Anonymous said...

Oh Janice, how wonderful it is to hear the truth so simply and eloquently. Thank you.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart