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Scientific American

Born This Way

published December 2016 | comments (38)
A new battle over sexual orientation
magazine cover

When did you choose to become straight?

Say what?

By demographic distribution (about 95 percent of the population identifies as heterosexual), the majority of you reading this column are straight. You no more chose this sexual orientation than gays or lesbians choose theirs. Yet a new study published in the fall issue of the nonpeer-reviewed journal The New Atlantis by Johns Hopkins University’s Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh on “Sexuality and Gender” claims that “our scientific knowledge in this area remains unsettled,” that there is no “scientific evidence for the view that sexual orientation is a fixed and innate biological property,” and that no one is “born that way.” This sounds so 1990s, the last time the gender wars heated up. What’s going on here?

One clue comes from the journal’s co-publisher, the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), “dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” Already we’re off the science page. EPPC scholars, its Web page continues, “have consistently sought to defend and promote our nation’s founding principles—respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, individual freedom and responsibility, justice, the rule of law, and limited government.”

Shouldn’t such principles apply to everyone regardless of whether or not their sexual orientation is biologically determined? Of course, and in most Western countries today they do. But in Judeo-Christian America, the argument goes like this: The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 20:13). If sexual orientation has a strong biological component, then gays and lesbians can hardly be held morally culpable for their sinful ways. But if it’s a choice, then they can be rehabilitated (through “conversion therapy”) and forgiven (“love the sinner, hate the sin” goes the popular trope). Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart articulated the logic this way: “While it is true that the seed of original sin carries with it every type of deviation, aberration, perversion, and wrongdoing, the homosexual cannot claim to have been born that way any more than the drunkard, gambler, killer, etc.”

While the authors of the New Atlantis article are not this crude and overtly bigoted in their conclusions, according to geneticist Dean Hamer, emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, “it is a selective and outdated collection of references and arguments aimed at confusing rather than clarifying our understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity.” For example, Mayer and McHugh claim that the concept of sexual orientation is “ambiguous” and that there are “no agreed-upon definitions for purposes of empirical research.” Not so. The American Psychological Association defines sexual orientation as “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to men, women or both sexes,” and as Hamer points out, sexual orientation is far less “ambiguous” than personality traits like “self-esteem” and “warmth” that scientists study without religious and political ramifications.

Mayer and McHugh also appear to be data snooping when they reference only one of six studies in the peer-reviewed literature of the past 16 years that employ proper probability-sampling methods, “and it just so happens to be the one with the lowest estimate of genetic influence of the entire set,” Hamer says. Moreover, the entire article is gainsaid by a massive meta-analysis study by Northwestern University psychologist Michael Bailey and his colleagues published in the September issue of the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, showing that “there is considerably more evidence supporting nonsocial causes of sexual orientation than social causes.” Evidence includes: “moderate genetic influences demonstrated in well-sampled twin studies; the cross-culturally robust fraternal- birth-order effect on male sexual orientation; and the finding that when infant boys are surgically and socially ‘changed’ into girls, their eventual sexual orientation is unchanged (i.e., they remain sexually attracted to females). In contrast, evidence for the most commonly hypothesized social causes of homosexuality—sexual recruitment by homosexual adults, patterns of disordered parenting, or the influence of homosexual parents—is generally weak in magnitude and distorted by numerous confounding factors.”

The problem with any area of research that intersects with religion or politics is the possibility of motivated reasoning and the confirmation bias, or as the Bible says (Matthew 7:7): “Seek and ye shall find.” Where concepts determine percepts, ideology trumps facts and science suffers.

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38 Comments to “Born This Way”

  1. Liam McDaid Says:

    So Swaggert sez: “…the homosexual cannot claim to have been born that way any more than the drunkard, gambler, killer…” Haven’t most (or all) of these been found to have a genetic component? This means that none of these states are “chosen.” So he might have been technically right, while wrong in his overall claim. This is ironic as the existence of Ted Haggard.

  2. Janet Says:

    Thanks, Liam. One might say a person who is genetically predisposed to alcoholism won’t be an alcoholic if he/she never touches a drop. Sooo a boy predisposed to homosexuality will not be attracted to boys as long as he never sees them. I’m only joking, but people’s disapproval of other’s gender/sex choices comes from places other than religion, too. Must be fear.

  3. John Shepherd Says:

    I find it interesting that one of mainstays of pseudoscience, anecdotal “data,” does not seem to be used in the discussion about sexual orientation. Who would know more about being gay than a gay person? I have yet to see any “studies” where gay people were interviewed about when (or how) they became gay! Over the years, I have had a number of openly gay friends. On those rare occasions when the subject came up, their universal statement was they did not become gay at some point but rather they were always gay. I wonder how a heterosexual person would respond if asked “when did you become straight?”

    I am a straight white male and have a great deal of empathy for gay people. I think I know how they must feel. I am left handed. My kindergarten and 1st grade teacher was a deeply religious person who believed being left handed was “a sign of the devil.” A common belief at that time. She tried very hard to “convert” me to be right-handed. Tying my left hand behind my back, slapping my left hand, even telling me I would become an evil person unless I stopped using my left hand so much! I recently read a discussion on a possible genetic basis for sexual orientation that brought back those early life experiences. One statement in the discussion was, there is no gay gene! I immediate thought was, “so?” There is no left-handed gene either!

  4. Chris Says:

    I guess I am the only person with friends that were straight but decided to either try the LGBT lifestyle. I’m mot saying that everyone was born straight and not born that way but there are people that have tried the opposite sexual orientation without being born into it. I know a teenager right now that has been rebelling against his parents and has decided he is transgender. I know there are going to be those who think otherwise but you don’t know this kid or his family. I’m not arguing for or against just stating there are also other reasons for people being LGBT then being born that way. It’s just not always that black and white. So then the question is, is it OK for it to be a choice? If it’s not a choice, then to me, it must be ok.

  5. David Walters Says:

    Michael Shermer is dishonestly implying that Mayer and McHugh are arguing that sexual orientation is a choice. They do not argue that. They explicitly state that they believe sexual orientation is not chosen: “We hope to show here that, though sexual orientation is not a choice, neither is there scientific evidence for the view that sexual orientation is a fixed and innate biological property.” Shermer owes Mayer and McHugh a public apology.

  6. Sheldon Helms Says:

    David Walters owes the gay community an apology for being a dupe. The only thing more absurd than saying that homosexuality is a choice is the idea that it can be changed. The two notions are often intertwined in the dangerous processes of Gay Conversion Therapy, which is ineffective and drives people to suicide.

  7. David Walters Says:

    Sheldon Hems,

    I beg your pardon? Why am I a dupe, and why would I owe anyone an apology? You commented that, “The only thing more absurd than saying that homosexuality is a choice is the idea that it can be changed”, but I suggested neither that homosexuality is a choice nor that it can be changed.

    Rather, I noted that Michael Shermer dishonestly implied that Mayer and McHugh argue that homosexuality is a choice, and provided a quotation from Mayer and McHugh in which they state the exact opposite. No reason to apologize for that.

  8. Sheldon Helms Says:

    The authors of the paper that you are defending said that. So if you were defending them, you have been duped.

  9. David Walters Says:

    No, Sheldon Helms, I have not been duped. Mayer and McHugh do not state that homosexuality is a choice, they state, very clearly and unambiguously, in language that anyone can understand, that homosexuality is not a choice, as the quotation from their article that I gave above shows. Shermer is spreading misinformation by attacking Mayer and McHugh for views they do not hold.

    It’s interesting that someone who claims to defend skepticism and logical thinking has no problem attacking people for holding certain views while providing exactly no evidence that they hold them, and ignoring convincing evidence to the contrary.

  10. Mrs Grimble Says:

    Honestly, does it actually matter whether people are straight, gay, bi, pansexual, asexual, trans, inbetween etc? What people do with their own bodies is the business of no-one but themselves, and people who obssess over what other people do with their bodies should get a life!
    I honestly don’t care what sexuality somebody is – I got over that at least 40 years ago, within about two minutes of meeting the first openly gay people I’d encountered. As the saying goes “If it neither breaks my leg or picks my pocket….”

  11. Leo Stummer Says:

    So generally speaking, something written in a book about 2600 years ago must really be a valid basis for today’s life. It explains how to handle sexual preferences, food, women, unbelivers, textiles, beards, etc. – so it is a really important thing that can never be wrong (or even stupid).
    Come on – it’s time to dismiss that and turn from pre-factual and post-factual to real-factual!

  12. Brad Holbrook Says:

    David Walters: Shermer doesn’t imply what you accuse him of implying. He never says the authors of the study said that homosexuality is a choice, nor does he imply it. You should re-read the article, and apologize.

    Shermer’s observation is that the author’s work is a biased, gerrymandered report on a subject that has had far more insightful and meaningful scholarship by others.
    Rather than enlighten, the author’s work distorts. The implication Shermer makes is that there is a religious motivation for the distortion. Which seems reasonably derived, as it fits snugly into the narrative of religious thinking on the subject.

    In an era where political and religious motivations are founded on innuendo and rumor, this is just another example of how some people are eager to not let the facts stand in the way of what they want to believe. If Skepticism stands for anything, it stands in opposition to this dangerous trend. Shermer’s outing of this dishonest “study” is indeed warranted and just.

  13. Randy Says:

    Academic discussion aside, the political outfall is that our vice president elect, Pence, is adamant about conversion therapy. He must be stopped.

  14. Tzindaro Says:

    Some cases of inappropriate choice of mates or other forms of non-reproductive mating behavior are socially caused. Others are biological. The former can be cured. The later cannot. The biological cases are due to prenatal brain damage caused by maternal ingestion of radioisotopes or gender-bending chemicals in the environment that affect development of the hypothalmus, the part of the brain that controls sexual responses. This applies to other types of inappropriate mate selection as well, such as attraction to children, animals, pornographic photographs, etc., or the use of alcohol as a substitute for sex.

    The cases caused by improper socialization can be cured by LSD combined with deep psychotherapy. The biologically caused cases cannot be successfully treated as of this time, though there may someday be a useful treatment discovered. So-called “conversion therapy” is useless in both types of cases.

    There! Now I have managed to offend everybody!

  15. Jim Corbyn Says:

    Good article. “Weak in magnitude” is a sensible, balanced and as far as I can see accurate phrase describing choice of sexual orientation.

  16. Lulu3601 Says:

    “Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh on “Sexuality and Gender” claims that “our scientific knowledge in this area remains unsettled,” that there is no “scientific evidence for the view that sexual orientation is a fixed and innate biological property,” and that no one is “born that way.”

    Then, they are sayng they themselves were not born heterosexusl and that their orientation is it is not “fixed and innate”. In other words they think they are capable of changing their own orientation and becoming homosexual at any moment. Very interesting.

  17. dave Says:

    Lulu3601: Rather, I think they must have meant it was possible their sexual orientation could have been otherwise, if they had learned that other way, not that once established, it can be changed.

  18. Michael Condon Says:

    Regardless of whether the study proves to be valid, it may be used to influence government and public policy. This is especially true given the EPPC’s involvement. However, the determination that sexual orientation is a choice has no bearing on the law in the United States. All Christians make the claim that one’s religion is a choice. Yet, laws must not discriminate based on religion.
    If it is a decision to be gay or transgender the law must still be non-discriminatory toward sexual orientation, as long as their behavior does not infringe on the rights of others or adversely affect society as a whole.

  19. Howard Says:

    I’m still waiting for causal evidence for a well-defined hypothesis. A non-human primate laboratory study would be a reasonable starting point. As a non-adaptationist zoologist I would, nonetheless, also like to hear some solid biological arguments for evolutionary roles for various non-heterosexual behaviors. On the political side it seems fundamental that no orientation be reacted to with violence or physical restraint unless in response to a real physical attack. My hopes for reason, however, are not offered confidently. The emotion flowing through previous comments is too palpable.

  20. Toby Grated Says:

    When I first became sexual around the age of 10 I was bisexual – both girls and boys sexually excited me. Within a few years I became straight and have been happily married for 47 years. I read several years ago that about 30% of children are bisexual initially but most become straight within several years. The rest remain bisexual or homosexual. I suspect this is mainly a biological rather than a social phenomenon. I believe morally judging a person based on their sexual preference is morally wrong.

  21. SkeleTony Says:

    David Walters,

    Why are you making these false claims about what Shermer said/implied? Reading comprehension does not seem to be your strong suit.

  22. Antoine Wonders Says:

    Tzindaro, you appear to be better at damaging your own reputation than at offending people. Your whole argument is based on homosexuality being a defect. It isn’t.

  23. Stephen Nowlin Says:

    It seems to me that in the deep recesses of biological evolution, early living organisms might have been well served by an opportunistic and flexible architecture of reproduction, one that became genetically coded independent of gender coding and got subsequently passed along to higher forms. It would not be surprising, then, that in the mixing of genes over eons, some random combinations of outcome might not match sexual orientation to the gender required for reproduction. Even in the absence of a complete understanding of the issue’s genetics, the dismissal of a genetic cause in favor of personal choice is intellectually incredulous, displaying the corruption of myth and cultural bias. Men who can’t grow a beard, or women who can, when did you make that choice? Men, why did you choose for your chests to feature useless nipples?

  24. Dr. Sidethink Says:

    “I suspect this is mainly a biological rather than a social phenomenon.”

    SHAME on you for saying this

    This is high on the list of things you are not supposed to say

    Pease’s Third law sez

    “questions that are not supposed to be asked or things you are not supposed to say…MUST be asked or said”

    Dr. S

  25. David Walters Says:

    Shermer begins his article by noting that sexual orientation is not a choice. He then proceeds to state that, despite this, Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh claim that no one is born gay. Does Shermer thereby imply that Mayer and McHugh believe that sexual orientation is a choice? Yes, of course he does. The logic of his comments is that by denying that sexual orientation is innate, Mayer and McHugh are suggesting that it is a choice.

    The reading comprehension problem is not mine, then, it is the problem of those who seem desperate to ignore the fact that Shermer is guilty of attacking people for holding views they do not hold and expressly reject.

  26. TDubbya Says:

    Many of our traits are developed at the appropriate times when the biological switch is thrown by our genetic inheritance. This doesn’t happen with our sexual development until puberty. At this time, and through adolescence, we are all seeking sexual experiences and we learn which are most satisfactory to us through that experimentation. This may be conditioned by our interpretation of social and family expectations at a younger age.

    All animals will go through this phase. Given a reasonable number of members of both genders in any given discrete population their sexual experiences will be with members of the other sex, almost without exception.

    Humans, however, are often in single-sex groups during adolescence, sometimes within a very narrow age range or with limited contact with significantly more mature individuals. They may, in addition, have very little opportunity to develop deeper relationships with the other sex. They still need to experiment sexually. If, as a result of these social imbalances, these experiments are far more frequently with members of their own sex those individuals are most likely to have been imprinted with a same-sex orientation by the end of their adolescence.

    My summary of the effects of these considerations are:

    Children are not born, or genetically programmed, with sexual orientation towards their own sex, nor towards the opposite sex;

    Children are not bisexual until puberty, as suggested above, they are sexually neutral;

    Because homosexual tendencies can still be unfairly stigmatized in many human groups and societies it is understandably comforting for those affected to prefer to think of and describe their same-sex orientation as inborn and genetically caused;

    The most common cause of homosexual orientation is probably the availability of opportunities for sexual experimentation during puberty and adolescence predominantly or exclusively with members of one’s own sex, whether of the same age or older individuals seeking younger partners.

    Thus, no-one “chooses” homosexuality, but neither is anyone a “born” homosexual. It would be a remarkable 11-year-old who would make such a decision and then deliberately seek out the necessary experiences!

  27. Brad Holbrook Says:

    It’s a good theory, David, but it has the inconvenience of not being logical. Let me help.

    Let’s say that it’s true that “no one is born that way”, as Mayer and McHugh insist.

    It would be a fallacy of logic to conclude that the only other way one turns out to be homosexual is because they choose to be.

    Outside of “born that way”, choice is not the only, or even most rational, reason one might identify as homosexual. And yet that’s what you are insisting Shermer is implying. Quite simply, wrong.

    Maybe the old theories of the 50’s (abusive father, childhood sexual trauma, failure to detach from the mother, etc.) turn out to be true after all. (Spoiler alert: They have all be satisfactorily studied and refuted.)

    But, if you are clinging to that thin thread, arguing that people (and animals) aren’t “born that way” you will, by extension, most likely lean on these old “causation” theories, since they are all more reasonable than the explanation that one “chooses” to be gay. Shermer points this out, quoting Dean Hamer of NIH, thereby rounding out his objection to what Mayer and McHugh report.

    You really do owe Shermer an apology, though I doubt he’s holding his breath. Or much cares.

  28. David Walters Says:

    You wrote,

    “Outside of “born that way”, choice is not the only, or even most rational, reason one might identify as homosexual. And yet that’s what you are insisting Shermer is implying. Quite simply, wrong.”

    In other words, you are suggesting that Shermer cannot possibly be implying something irrational. What are you basing that on? Of course it’s foolish and irrational to imply that the only alternative to seeing sexual orientation as innate is to see it as a choice. That, nevertheless, is the false logic to be found in Shermer’s article. He is the one who should apologize for writing such rubbish.

  29. TDubbya Says:

    Michael Shermer quotes:
    “there is considerably more evidence supporting nonsocial causes of sexual orientation than social causes.” Evidence includes: “moderate genetic influences demonstrated in well-sampled twin studies”.”

    A recently published study of identical twins stated that 20% of identical twin siblings of an adult homosexual were also homosexual. The article reporting this (in a serious newspaper) expressed surprise that the number was so low, as the expectation was that, being identical they would be very likely to share the same tendencies.

    No mention was made of the alternative interpretation of this finding, namely, that in a group of identical twins brought up in the same environment no fewer than four out of every five who had a homosexual sibling were nonetheless not homosexual.

    This seems to give a very clear indication that it is not a genetically-programmed trait but is more likely to be the result of individual adolescent experiences.

  30. Nick F. Weber Says:

    Having read all the interesting points that various commentators have brought forward,I must state that having resided on this wonderful planet for a while(I’m 84),the person making the most sense to me, is Mrs. Grimble.

    Really, the discussions revolve around infinitesimal small points of contention and what with real problems around aplenty, wars, starving people and a definite death at the end of our life cycles would it not be more economical to focus on what we all have in common, rather than what separates us? As we are all interconnected, admit it or not, our destinies are interlocked and they have been, ever since man and mouse shared the same ancestor some 75 million years ago, or since life began as a uni-celled slimy creature some 2.5 billion years ago.

    May all of you be happy.

  31. Brad Holbrook Says:

    David Walters:

    Your errant “In other words” recasting of my words misrepresents what I very clearly said. (Not a surprise!)

    I don’t suggest that “Shermer cannot possibly be implying something irrational”. My point is that he IS NOT implying something irrational, which is amply supported by the article he wrote.

    I’ve walked you through that, point by point. There simply is no link taking us from Shermer’s words to the implication that you insist he made. He did not.

    You’ve been shown this and yet you continue to cling to your mistaken notion.

    To some this might imply that you are impervious to reason and logic, or maybe just not very good at English comprehension.

  32. Richard Dale Says:

    As an Evangelical Christian and a Wesleyan Pastor it has been interesting reading over this article and its string of comments. Shermer’s opening question, “When did you become straight?” really nails it. It is a fair question and deserves some fair discussion.

    Then he disappointingly questions the ability of the study that provoked his article to be objective since they have an admitted bias in favor of historic Christianity. My observations:

    1. The group clearly identifies their own convictions. Don’t they get some credit for being up front and clearly identifying themselves? Shouldn’t that give them greater rather than less credibility?

    2. Does a bias automatically pollute the outcome of a study? Is it not possible to do a fair and honest review even when starting with a personal opinion of the outcome? I have read many reports where the authors said they expected one thing but their own results showed something else.

    3. Someone suggested that we ask a gay person to find out what influenced their sexual orientation. Might be a good way to go except that the gay community can’t agree among themselves. If they could, would we be having this discussion?

    4. 23 and me, not a right wing Christian organization, says that so far there is no indication of a genetic pattern for sexual orientation. Not sure what they said about left handedness. It is possible genetics may play a part, but not identifiable so far.

    5. I have found that the 2600 year old book someone mentioned as irrelevant to be more relevant to life today than most of what I see on TV. Give it a read.

    Now my real concern: When did having an opinion become the unforgivable sin?

    When did it become necessary not just to accept certain behaviors in others, but to also celebrate them?

    Homosexual inclinations do not need a genetic origin to justify a person’s sexual preferences . . . or do they?

    If a genetic origin is that determinative what does that say about how we view ourselves and our choices in life?

  33. Elinor Munday Says:

    Interesting observing the circles and tennis in play.
    Shakespeare Hamlet:
    “Why then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or
    bad, but thinking makes it so.”
    Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 239–251
    And yes, opens up additional avenues of debate.

  34. Brad Holbrook Says:

    Richard Dale: I’m going to assume you’re sincere with your post here, and take a minute to try and answer your questions.

    Articles such as the one Shermer is calling into question often want to be considered scientifically valid. The very definition of scientific validity does not allow for bias or supernatural convictions (such as those based on religion).

    A “study” in a non-peer reviewed organ, such as the one the article appeared in, can certainly bend toward biased and supernatural convictions to the heart’s content. But it is an appropriate application of scientific methodology to treat the study as something non-scientific, and point out where the biases are and where the distortion it causes is present.

    Whether there is an agreement among homosexuals as to when they became homosexual is really irrelevant to the scientific inquiry of the subject. It would be equally worthless to ask heterosexuals when they became heterosexual. Not only would there be no consensus, my guess is that there would be many fantastical opinions offered.

    That there is, to date, no definitive genetic cause of homosexuality does not mean there is not one. Nor does it mean that other possible causes are limited to non-biologically based events, such as, at the extreme end of the spectrum, “choice”.

    There could well be biological developmental “noise” in utero, or even in the first few years of life, that influences sexual orientation.

    Why do you think “it became necessary not just to accept certain behaviors in others, but to also celebrate them?” Who’s telling you that? I think the movement toward equal rights for “others”, at least in the US, has been motivated mostly by a desire to have acceptance, not “celebration”.

    Your last question is the most interesting one. As we’ve learned more and more about the root causes of behavior, often rooted in biology, we see that the choices we all make in life can be well beyond our conscious control.

    How societies treat that reality will have a great influence on everyone’s well being. Trying to justify supernaturally based “authority” judgments of human behavior, as the article Shermer critiqued seems to be doing, is a step in the wrong direction.

  35. Mark Van Houten Says:

    There is ample direct evidence in the neurosciences literature for fundamental neuroanatomical and functional differences in the brains of straight, gay and transgender people. These differences are unlikely epiphenomenal, are likely causative, and provide a firm basis for research to further elucidate the actual neurology circuitry, that generates these subclasses of sexual orientation and identity. Like all genotypes, phenotypic expression may be a bell curve of expressions, that environmental influences may manipulate. It is time for the medical community to fund research into the neurologic basis for sexual orientation and identity, and settle these issues once an for all.

  36. awc Says:

    Stepping back. I have noticed in Canada this issue is symptomatic of a larger battle coming to the forefront with the rise on the left of PC regressive and SjWs while on the right the alt-right and ultra conservative.

    The left gaining support from recent laws in Canada the right via the Trump phenomena.

    Drawing upon my metaknowledge I suspect the at birth vs choice debate is a matter of epigenetics where certain genetics in combination with environmental factors lead to behavioral traits. Not unlike the discoveries regarding the emergence of psychopathic behaviours. Where the genes are there and the switching genes activate when children are in an abusive upbringing. Sorry, I don’t have citations.

    As a skeptic I do not take a camps position rather promote the truth. Unfortunately, in cases like this there is little hope for truth as these camps are entrenched and largely politically motivated.

    I know it’s off topic and in my opinion the real truth on the topic. The larger issue is how the skeptic promotes evidence based decision making as a cause when up against emotionally driven agendas. We have long known pleading to lifestyle emotions is far more effective than presenting facts and asking people to choose (great doc ‘century of the self’s on this).

    So… how to make pursuit of truth an emotional imperative for the masses when they are hard wired otherwise in order to make rational decisions on subjects like this?

    Awc

  37. awc Says:

    Irony I know.

  38. Nathan Krawitz Says:

    I shall try to be brief, but can’t promise.

    Recent genetic studies, combined with other sciences suggest our overall personalities are roughly 30-35% inherited, 30-35% nutrured by our parents and other authority figures in the early years and the remainder by the peers after about age 12. This would cover things like various forms of intelligence and learning, risk-taking behavior, shyness, sexual promiscuity and such.

    An experiment begging to be run would be a correlation between risk-taking behaviors and addictions. There might be a link, or it might be a coincidence.

    Sexuality might be a lot more genetic than some believe. Sexuality would not only include with whom you want to have sex, but also in what forms. Many automatically associate homosexual males with pedophilia and BDSM lifestyles along with an increased promiscuity, but detailed studies show that regardless of where one falls in the hetero/homosexual line, how you chose to exibit sexual gratification seems to be equal opportunity. The nurture aspect of growth might try to suppress certain activities, but deep down, you are going to desire certain things, even if you are told they are wrong or you never have the opportunity.

    As for homosexuality, biologically it will not result in procreation, which makes it contrary to biology. This would agree with “God’s” law as some believe, but God has nothing to do with this. Lower life forms are more instinctive when it comes to procreation. It happens at a certain time and/or place. Various senses and urges take over this critical function. How a mate is chosen is unimportant, as long as procreation occurs. Too picky and you end up extinct. Homosexuality is rarely seen among those lesser animals who require sex to procreate.

    But it happens. One can only reason that homosexuality is a genetic defect, one which won’t get passed onto the next generation, unless procreation is forced. For higher order animals, sex becomes a leisure activity. This could be due to a diminished sense of smell. Since we humans can’t smell when we are fertile, evolution has increased pregnancy rates by us wanting to have sex more casually.

    This doesn’t eliminate homosexuality or bisexuality at all. As higher order animals, we also have intelligence which can allow us to override our underlying sexual instincts. So instead of letting homosexual men and women just do what feels natural, they are pressured into being “normal,” which increases the likelihood of passing on this genetic flaw.

    I don’t intend to say homosexuals are negatively genetically handicapped and eugenics should be applied to rid the world of them. You are born as you are, which is normal to you. No form of sexuality should be banned or legislated with the exception that all parties must be of a certain minimum age and do consent to the act(s).

    Since femininity is seen as a weakness, looking at how many gay males there are is a reliable measure of who is born that way overall. Men just don’t come out and be proud to be gay, since getting bullied is a real possibility. Boys who were sexually abused don’t seem to be turned gay. Boys raised among women might learn certain traits common among females, but aren’t turned gay.

    Gay women are a bit different. Our society is a little more tolerant of women being with women, starting with the kinds of pornography out there. Plus, with men having more power in society despite how truly powerful the vagina really is, men make the overall rules. Man-on-man, wrong. Woman-on-woman, sort of okay. This also makes it more socially acceptable for women to comfort each other. Some women who are sexually abused as children and even into adulthood, typically by men, find themselves hating men. It doesn’t make them gay, but it’s fairly easy for two women to give each other the emotional stimulation they desire in a relationship while having male type sex acts performed on them by another woman. And a male dominated society is more willing to accept these women “turned” gay, especially if they look pretty.

    Because of wildly different definitions of homosexuality, it’s hard to say what percentage of the population is gay. It seems reasonable that about 5% is truly gay. Higher numbers of gay women would include heterosexual or bisexual women who have learned to hate men and find comfort in relationships with other women almost exclusively.

    For the most part, if evangelicals just accepted that you can be born gay, then things would be better. “God doesn’t make mistakes, homosexuality is a sin, therefore you weren’t born gay,” is a horrible argument. If God is infallible, then He has a reason for some to be gay. Stop trying to think for God. Conversion therapy is useless. Forcing homosexuals into heterosexual behavior doesn’t fit and only helps pass the traits along. The irony is if the evangelicals simply ignored homosexuality that fewer homosexuals would procreate, diminishing the “problem” on their collective eyes.