Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Born Gay? A Scientific, Commonsense, Biblical Perspective

Are there determinative biological reasons for the broad range of human sexual proclivities, particularly among the LGBTQ+ population? Slate magazine, an online journal known for its “liberal contrarianism” and “left-wing slant,”has published an article by gay journalist Mark Joseph Stern, asserting that homosexuality “is clearly, undoubtedly, inarguably an inborn trait.”2  Moral behavioral expert Lady Gaga, in her 2011 hit single “Born This Way,” lyricizes: “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life …. I’m beautiful in my way, ‘cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.”3

Subjective, agenda-driven assertions like these have become commonplace in our modern world, but is there any hard evidence to back them up? Is this popular claim supported by neutral, fact-based scientific research? If God is brought into the conversation, how do we know what his role is and what his will is in all this? 

A Commonsense Perspective

In the never-ending debate over nature versus nurture, the “born gay” argument is heavy on nature’s role with little if any regard for environmental influences. While sexual desire is innate in nearly all post-pubescent humans, the development and focus of one’s sexual impulses cannot but be affected by external factors. An absentee father, a domineering mother, neglect, abuse, pornography, molestation, or any number of variables that conflict with God’s design for the home contribute to psychological inclinations that conflict with God’s design for the person.Even siblings raised in the same environment do not have identical experiences, and each reacts to stimuli in a unique way.

The normalcy of heterosexuality is a fact of biology and human history. Trying to legitimize an alternative sexual orientation, whether same-sex attraction, pedophilic desire, zoophilia, et al.,is an attempt to normalize something that is contrary to nature and biblical morality. While most advocates of the LGBTQ+ agenda would object to being lumped together with pedophiles and zoophiles (thus no “P” or “Z” in the acronym),if sexual orientation is innate, then the prevailing status quo is inconsistent, hypocritical, and discriminatory for not including others who are “born that way.” 

An Objective Scientific Perspective

With eager attempts to sustain a particular point of view, it is important not to oversimplify or exaggerate the evidence, or make unwarranted assumptions about what the evidence does or does not actually confirm. It is also helpful to clearly define our terms. What is meant by the somewhat ambiguous expression “sexual orientation”? Are we talking about feelings of attraction, fantasy, confusion, longing for relationship, sense of identity, secretive or overt behavior? Does it include various tendencies, mannerisms, and preferences? 

Neuroscientist Simon LeVay, in his study published in 1991,reported brain differences between heterosexual and homosexual men, which some have interpreted as “proof” of biological causation of sexual orientation. However, since these variations could have developed after birth, LeVay explains: “I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are ‘born that way,’ the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.”Numerous other studies that have focused on the role of genetics, including identical twins studies,can neither establish a biological cause for sexual orientation nor discount the formative effects of environmental catalysts.10

Johns Hopkins University published a nonpartisan report in 2016, based on exhaustive research from biological, psychological, and social sciences, authored by Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh.11 Dr. McHugh (M.D.) is former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Mayer (M.B., M.S., Ph.D.), the lead writer of the report, is a biostatistician, epidemiologist, and research physician trained in medicine and psychiatry. Mayer states, “I support every sentence in this report, without reservation and without prejudice regarding any political or philosophical debates. This report is about science and medicine, nothing more and nothing less…. I strongly support equality and oppose discrimination for the LGBT community…” (“Preface” 4-5).

The 143-page report, which addresses sexual orientation, mental health, and gender identity, can be summed up with these words: “The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings – the idea that people are ‘born that way’ – is not supported by the scientific evidence…. there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation” (“Executive Summary” 7). The authors also note that the questions addressed in their comprehensive investigation reveal “a great chasm between much of the public discourse and what science has shown” (“Conclusion” 116).

Fluidity of Sexual Orientations

The idea that sexual desires, attractions, behaviors, and identities are biologically innate and unchangeable is not supported by scientific research. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health conducted interviews with a nationally representative sample of adolescents in the U.S. in 1994-1995, with follow-up interviews through to 2007-2008. The study found that of the adolescent males who had reported same-sex attractions, 80% later identified as exclusively heterosexual young adults. Over 80% of the adolescent males who had reported romantic attraction to both genders later reported no same-sex attraction. Considerable scientific evidence shows that sexual behaviors and identities can vary significantly under different social and environmental circumstances.12 London’s Royal College of Psychiatrists collectively affirms: “It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life.”13

A Biblical Perspective

True science is based on empirical evidence and demonstrable data rather than individual preferences or popular opinions. In like manner, the Bible must be evaluated according to what it actually teaches instead of biased and misconstrued presuppositions. Irrespective of anyone’s sexual tendencies, moral purity is expected of all who profess allegiance to Christ.14 The New Testament Greek term porneírefers to any kind of forbidden sexual intercourse—that which is beyond the context of a divinely approved, heterosexual, monogamous, consensual marriage.15 Now if God is creator of all humankind and is both loving and just, it is inconceivable that he is responsible for making a person a certain way, or compelling a person to behave a certain way, while condemning that person for something he/she cannot control. Sexual activity between those of the same gender is contrary to God’s revealed will.16 Either the God of the Bible is unjust, or he is not responsible for making people gay.

The Free Will Factor

We are told, “being gay is not a choice” and “God makes no mistakes,” but these are narrow, undefined, misleading generalizations. At the same time, the idea that sexual desire and sexual attraction are simply matters of preferential choice is also naïve and unrealistic.

The crux of the matter is how these inclinations are expressed, or how these impulses are acted upon. Humans are created with the ability to think and the freedom to choose. God does not force us to act against our volitional choices.17 Stated from a secular point of view, sexual desire is “a powerful force, akin to hunger, that many struggle (especially in adolescence) to bring under direction and control…. What seems to be to some extent in our control is how we choose to live with this appetite, how we integrate it into the rest of our lives” (L. S. Mayer and P. R. McHugh, op cit. 19).

Philosopher and legal theorist Edward Stein, critical of popular cultural stereotypes overshadowing cross-cultural scientific facts, observes: “Regardless of whether sexual orientations are directly chosen, indirectly chosen, or not chosen at all … people choose with whom they have sex, people choose whether to be open about their sexual orientations, people choose whether or not to enter romantic relationships, and whether or not to build families.”18 Everyone has to decide either to reject biblical morality, or distort it to conform to the lifestyle of one’s choosing, or accept and comply with the creator’s design for life and relationships, whether in marriage or in single-hood.

Conclusion:

History professor and gay activist John D’Emilio is honest enough to admit that scientific evidence for the “born gay” mantra “is thin as a reed, yet it doesn’t matter. It’s an idea with such social utility that one doesn’t need much evidence in order to make it attractive and credible.”19 Nonetheless, many sincere people believe it is a provable fact, which Edward Stein describes as “cultural chauvinism,” meaning “to think, in the absence of either strong scientific evidence or strong theoretical arguments, that our conceptual framework, which gives sexual orientation such a central role, is going to be confirmed by an advanced science of human sexual desire.”20

We all have choices to make. Those of us who choose not to climb aboard the trendy “Gay Pride” bandwagon or embrace the “born that way” propaganda will continue to be stereotyped as “a group of toothless, anti-gay protesters coded as hillbillies who wear American flag tank tops and hold signs that say familiar homophobic slogans ...21 But folks on either side of the debate can be just as ill-informed and hateful as the other. If we truly love God and our fellow humans, we will see one another as precious souls made in his image, created to live lives pleasing to him and worthy of him (Col. 1:10). Lets encourage each other to do just that. 

--Kevin L. Moore

Endnotes:
     Daniel Engber, “Free-Thought for the Closed-Minded,” Slate (8 Jan. 2019), <Link>.
     Mark Joseph Stern, “No, Being Gay is Not a Choice,” Slate (4 Feb. 2014), <Link>.
     “Born This Way (song),” Wikipedia (7 June 2019), <Link>.
     Non-heterosexuals are about two to three times more likely than heterosexuals to have been victims of childhood sexual abuse (see Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” The New Atlantis 50 [Fall 2016]: 42-50). Sadly, as lesbian feminist Camille Paglia observes, “now, you are not allowed to ask any questions about the childhood of gay people anymore. It’s called ‘homophobic.’ The entire psychology establishment has shut itself down, politically …” (“Sexual Orientation is Fluid and Can Change,” Voice of the Voiceless [accessed 16 June 2019], <Link>.
     Mirjam Heine, a German medical student, says “pedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation” (see Paul Boise, “TEDx Speaker,” The Daily Wire [18 July 2018], <Link>), and the pedophile rights movement is gaining momentum (see Selwyn Duke, “Shocking Times,” The New American [28 Sept. 2015], <Link>). Zoophilia is sexual attraction to animals, while bestiality is engaging in sexual intercourse with animals, the prevalence of which is becoming more and more recognized (see Phil Paleologos, “Bestiality Is Much More Widespread Than You Think,” 1420 WBSM News (28 Feb. 2019), <Link>.
     Another proposed acronym or initialism is LGBTTQQIAAP, standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer (an ambiguous attempt to include all other non-heterosexuals), questioning, intersexual, asexual, ally, and pansexual. In addition to being cumbersome and confusing, this “abbreviation” still leaves out a number of other sexual inclinations and identities. 
     Simon LeVay, “A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men,” Science 253:5023 (30 Aug. 1991): 1034-37, <Link>.
     David Nimmons, “Sex and the Brain,” Discover (1 March 1994), <Link>.
     Identical twins share the same DNA and prenatal conditions, so if sexual orientation is determined by genes, both siblings ought to be either gay or straight 100% of the time. In 1952 psychiatrist Franz Kallmann, having evaluated multiple pairs of twins, reported that if one twin was homosexual, they both were 100% of the time (“Comparative Twin Study on the Genetic Aspects of Male Homosexuality,” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 115:1 [Jan. 1952]: 283-98, <Link>). However, Kallmann’s assertion has since been exposed as bogus. Among other problematic areas, his subjects represented an insufficient cross-section of the homosexual population, and his findings have never been replicated (Edward Stein, The Mismeasure of Desire: The Science, Theory, and Ethics of Sexual Orientation [Oxford: University Press, 1999]: 145). A number of major studies of identical twins in Australia, Scandinavia, and the United States over the past couple of decades have all concluded that the predominant variables contributing to sexual orientation are post-birth and non-shared factors rather than genetic. If an identical twin grows up to be sexually attracted to the same gender, the chances of the co-twin sharing the same proclivity is comparatively small (Mark Ellis, “Identical Twin Studies Prove Homosexuality is Not Genetic,” OrthodoxNet Blog [24 June 2013] <Link>). For a thorough and informative survey of these and similar studies, see L. S. Mayer and P. R. McHugh, op cit. 13-58. Their report concludes: “Summarizing the studies of twins, we can say that there is no reliable scientific evidence that sexual orientation is determined by a person’s genes.”
     10 See Zoe Mintz, “Does a ‘Gay Gene’ Exist? New Study Says ‘Xq28’ May Influence Male Sexual Orientation,” Science (14 Feb. 2014), <Link>.
     11 L. S. Mayer and P. R. McHugh, op cit. 1-143, <Link>.
     12 L. S. Mayer and P. R. McHugh, op cit. 50-51.
     13 London’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, “Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement on sexual orientation” (April 2014): 2, <Link>.
     14 Matt. 5:8, 28; Rom. 6:11-14, 19; 13:14; 1 Cor. 6:13-20; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 4:17-20; 5:3, 5; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3-5; 5:22; 1 Tim. 4:12; 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:19-22; Tit. 2:12; Heb. 12:14; 13:4; Jas. 1:14-15; 1 Pet. 4:1-4; 2 Pet. 2:18-19; 1 John 2:12-17.
     15 1 Cor. 7:2; Heb. 13:4; cf. Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25; 1 Cor. 5:1; 6:13, 18; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3.
     16 Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 7:1-3; 1 Tim. 1:8-10; Jude 7; cf. Gen. 13:13; 19:4-7; Lev. 18:22; 20:13.
     17 Deut. 30:19-20; Josh. 24:15; Isa. 55:6-7; John 3:16-17; 7:17; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Jas. 4:7; Rev. 3:20; 22:17.
     18 Edward Stein, op cit. 347.
    19 John D’Emilio, interviewed by Sherry Wolf, “LGBT liberation: Build a broad movement,” International Socialist Review 65 (2 May 2019), <Link>.
    20 Op cit. 346.
    21 Rebecca Jennings, “Taylor SwiftYou Need to Calm Down wants to be a queer anthem,” Vox (17 June 2019), <Link>. 

Related Posts: “A Heterosexual, a Homosexual, and a Pedophile Walk Into a Church” <Link>; “The Queen James Bible” <Link>; “Postmodernism and the Homosexual Christian Part 2” <Link>.

Related articles: Brandon Morse, “America Vastly Overestimates the Size of the LGBT Community” <Link>; Doug Mainwaring, “200 Ex-LGBT men, women rally” <Link>; Wes McAdams, “The Sexual Ethics of Jesus” <Link>; Tom Feilden, "Most scientists can't replicate studies by their peers" <Link>; Doug Mainwaring, "Ex-LGBTs pray, repent" <Link>; Jonathan Lambert, "No 'Gay Gene'" <Link>; Rosaria C. Butterfield, "Are We Living Out Romans 1?" <Link>; John Stonestreet and Shane Morris, "'Born This Way' is Old Science" <Link>; Dewayne Bryant, "Is Homosexuality Hereditary?" <Link>.

Image credit: https://www.rd.com/funny-stuff/10-funny-babies-making-faces/

19 comments:

  1. (Part 1/4) As I am an agnostic atheist, I will not bother with your biblical assertions. However, you make several scientific and logical errors in your other claims that I feel a need to address.

    Firstly, the question of being born gay. You answer your own question (even though you contradict yourself) when you correctly assert that "sexual desire is innate in nearly all post-pubescent humans." We cannot control our desires. Yes, environments matter, but so do genetics. For instance, if you had actually done your research on studies about being born gay, you would have come across the popular and largest gay twin study which was done back in 2014: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/genomewide-scan-demonstrates-significant-linkage-for-male-sexual-orientation/864518601436C95563EA670C5F380343 and subsequent twin studies that have been performed. You do allude to twin studies in a footnote, but they are from the 50s and 99. You did have a summary of past twin studies written in 2013, but again, the 2014 study deals with all the problems the others had and has the largest sample size. One doesn't have to spend much time wondering why you did not cite it. Here is an article if accessing the study for free becomes an issue: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26572-largest-study-of-gay-brothers-homes-in-on-gay-genes/ It would seem that genes show a direct link to determining sexual orientation. Between 25-40% (study dependent) of the differences in sexual orientation are determined by genes, is the information we have at the moment. But as this is a new field with has no money behind it, this research comes along slowly.

    However, these studies and the articles about them are quite clear that genes are not the only factor and probably a smaller one than we realize. The largest factor is probably the combination of things that happen in the womb (prenatal), though we are just beginning to understand it. You can do a more honest search later if you like, but as best we can tell, we don't know the exact combination, but we do know that some combination of genes, hormones, prenatal environment, and infant development work in tandem in some way to generate one's sexuality. Things after infancy can certainly cause a role, but social aspects have yet to be demonstrated with a causal link to attraction, but more to behavior. IE, being raped will likely lead to a different mindset towards sex. But being sexually abused can sexually disorient a person, not orient them. This comes as a result of trauma. Nevertheless, a choice is never made by the person to be attracted. You cannot choose to be attracted to your wife nor can you choose to not be attracted to women that are not her. You can curb behaviors as to whether or not you embrace those attractions or repress them, but you cannot change the attraction. As you said yourself, sexual desire is innate. That doesn't merely mean the existence of desire in general, but the things within which we desire.

    It would appear to me that you are looking for a 1-to-1 relationship as for a cause on sexual orientation. But if we have learned anything about the brain in our advancements the last decade, it is that it is very difficult to what determines the brain to function in the way it does. This is why the current answer is a combination of factors causing ones sexual orientation, and not merely 1 factor such as genes or environment. But in any analysis, one factor that is never a cause is choice. And I think it's also curious that you ignore the APA, which is our foremost culmination of psychological knowledge. And since the 1970s, the APA has maintained that sexual orientation is not a choice, and research continues to back that assertion and claim. You can go to their website and look for their info here: https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation and if the summary isn't enough, you can search their site for research and papers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. (Part 2/4)
    You can google the things above yourself, they are all backed by research. Just try googling for things other than the answers for which you seek.

    But to address some other things you said, and more or less... debunk them.

    1. Lumping pedophilia and zoophilia (beastiality) to gay people or other LGBT+. It wouldn't be a christian article about gay people without trying to tie them to pedophiles. So let me tease you just a bit. Yes. People don't choose to be attracted to animals and children either. These things are currently treated as illnesses. However, unlike being gay/lesbian, trans, bi, and everything in between, the thing that matters is the thing you have overlooked: Consent. We do not approve, as a society, of a sexual relationship with children or animals and with good reasons. The main reason is that they are unable to consent. A child does not understand sex, even if they have been exposed to abuse (which again, disorients the child). Nor can we reliably communicate with animals. So consent is why it is fallacious to tie us to those sad and malignant dispositions.

    2. Levay's study. Again, a source that's nearly 30 years old (there is more relevant data and studies today). But even at face value, you seem to devalue the study because he correctly claims he did not find a cause. However, he still find differences between the brains and that is important to note. Again, you are looking for a smoking gun, a 1-to-1 cause, and the reality is that you are simply not going to find that. The culmination of information is what's imporant.

    3. Your McHugh report. This has been disavowed by current and former staffers at John Hopkins (the same institution that you cite to give McHugh merit). Firstly, the report was not created as part of a scientific journal or other literature, where it would have been peer reviewed. Instead it was published by EPPC, a very Christian and conservative think tank that has funded studies that have also been discredited, debunked, and disavowed for legal battles such as DOMA, DADT, and the creation of various "religious freedom" bills. This is funny to me because you post this biased and non-peer-reviewed article in a section you chose to title "An Objective Scientific Perspective." Insert the meme, "So that was a lie." Here is a quote from 3 of the doctors that wrote an op-ed to notarize the denouncement of the report: "For instance, accumulating data support the concept that gender identity is not strictly a binary phenomenon. And scientific evidence clearly documents that sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same and/or different sexes are normal variations of the diversity of human sexuality." The posted it in the Baltimore Sun. They list several more reasons why the report is not scientific in nature and/or commits several errors that would have been caught and sent back for further study or rejection in a peer-reviewed publication. Here is that op-ed which goes into detail: https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-lgbtq-hopkins-20160928-story.html

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  3. (Part 3/4)
    4. You cite the same study for 80% of adolescents changing orientation from McHugh and Mayer, so I'll let the above criticism in point 3 stand. However, I have to highlight something. Your bias and intentions are strongly shown in your Royal College quote. The very next line is, "Nevertheless, sexual orientation for most people seems to be set around a point that is largely heterosexual or homosexual." The entire article is in support of the idea that LGBT people are not mentally ill, and do not make a choice with an exception towards bisexual people having more choice available to them, but not that they consciously make one. They simply offer the caveat that you quote, and that I have stated, there there is not a direct biological link to sexuality in as far as we can tell. They go into more detail abot there being many factors, and biology is one of them. You see, it's this selective bias that you have entailed by quoting this article out of context to make it seem like it's arguing for you when it's actually against you, that you should not be writing on this matter. You surely shouldn't be doing so under the guise of being "objective." At best, you didn't understand what you were reading or didn't read it. At worst, you knew you were misrepresenting the article and deliberately did so. I'll leave to the few people that will read this to decide.

    5. As I said I won't be addressing any biblical claims. You believe they apply because you believe in the bible, I believe they do not apply because I do not believe the bible should be held with merit to determine the philosophy, morals, and laws today. We will simply disagree here no matter what, no point in commenting further. I know I am commenting on a christian blog as an atheist.

    6. Your Free will comments don't actually address free will, only the bible's version of it and then citing (once again) the disavowed report by McHugh and Mayer (you put a lot of stock in this study and it's clear you shouldn't if you are actually wanting scientific evidence, which I have my doubts that you do). Moreover, you do not consider the current philosophical debates between free will and determinism, and the middle ground at which we currently rest: compatibalism. And again, you quote someone who does not argue for you. In the very commentary from which you quote him, Stein states that there is no evidence thus far to assert a claim that being gay is a choice. And that (as I stated earlier) the only choice that is made is to express/accept that attraction or repress it. You claim that as a biblical fight, I would say its a mental health one, as your Royal College citation states that in some cases therapy may be needed or encouraged to get an LGBT person to accept who they are, but never therapy to reject who they are.

    7. I'm glad you admit that your side can be just as ill-informed, because you have at the very least demonstrated how ill-informed or maliciously you act with in this blog. If the above I have written doesn't showcase that, I don't think anyone will. You seem to have an odd fetishization of pop culture references to be being and accepting gay people. I don't doubt that is because of your biblical worldview, but I would offer you to take a look at that. When a pop singer says gay people were born this way, they are not speaking as a scientist, only their perspective. They are not citing scientific research to show a 1-to-1 genetic cause in sexual orientation. You should stop treating it as such, and maybe that will skew your perspective less when you actually go searching for your information.

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  4. (Part 4/4)
    In conclusion, I think this was one of the worst blogs I have ever written. Like many conservative pundits, it gives the view that it is well researched and well informed to make its claims, but just a couple google searches will show that is not the case. Many of the studies you quoted disagreed with your assertions, sometimes in the next sentence from the one you quoted out of context. The studies and reports that did agree with your assertions have either been discredited (such as the old twin studies in the 50s and 2000s and your McHugh and Mayer report) or they were biblical. I have yet to see a single time where you provided objective, peer-reviewed evidence to show that being gay is a choice. Meanwhile, there is a swath to show that at the very least, no choice is made.

    I can't tell you why I bothered to write all this out, only that I did. I won't be surprised if there is no response and I doubt I will check back either way to see. I am content in knowing that I have debunked every major contention and non-biblical claim you made, using your own research the entire time. You have 3 degrees. You should know how to research better than this. Don't just search for what you want the answer to be, that is not how one engages in a quest for truth. Simply ask the questions as open ended and impartial as possible, and select all information, seeing where the journey leads you. You may still not arrive at the truth, but at least you could say you were truthful in your pursuit of it.

    P.S. There is a strict character limit and comments have to be approved. So I do not know if anyone will even see this. But I tried to break it into 4 parts and labeled as such in order so they could be read and assembled easier than without.

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  5. Dear unknown “agnostic atheist,”
    Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to offer your critique. When you say this is one of the worst blogs you’ve ever “written,” I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant “read.”
    Your lengthy response is essentially based on misunderstanding and misconstruing segments of the article that you obviously read with considerable bias. The article, as a whole, recognizes potential biological factors that might contribute to how one reacts to or adapts to a variety of environmental influences, yet the “born gay” argument you are trying to support attributes sexual orientation solely to genetics and rejects environmental causation.
    You are basically confusing sexual desire and sexual behavior. The article affirms that sexual desire is innate, the focus of desire is environmentally influenced, and how one chooses to express and act upon the desire is in fact a matter of choice.
    When you say “we cannot control our desires,” does this apply to everyone, including gluttons and rapists? If gluttons and rapists are expected to control their desires, your statement is contradictory. If you mean we cannot control HAVING desires, you and I are in agreement.
    You affirm, “Yes, environments matter, but so do genetics,” which mirrors the gist of the article that does not discount genetics but emphasizes the fundament role of environment.
    You laud “the popular and largest gay twin study” of 2014, but it merely notes a biological “linkage” and “influencing development” but does not discount environmental factors.
    Your criticism of the pedophilia and zoophilia comparison misses the point. It has nothing to do with anyone’s sex partner (consensual or otherwise) but has everything to do with the alleged biological causation of sexual orientation. Where’s the consistency?
    The Royal College quote is not oblivious to context and is cited to affirm the fluidity of sexual orientations. The very fact that the report as a whole is very pro-LGBT makes this significant. You recognize their concession of “many factors, and biology is one of them,” which is consistent with my article.
    You make multiple allusions to quick Google searches. The potential manipulation of search result rankings notwithstanding, you are guilty of what you accuse others of doing, viz. biased selectivity.
    You mentioned studies I cited that you say have been discredited, including the twins study of the 1950s. The whole reason for citing that study is because it tried to prove the “born gay” theory but has since been debunked. You claim the 2016 McHugh and Mayer report has been discredited. Where is your proof?
    You are objecting to and criticizing the idea that “being gay is a choice,” but you are twisting and misrepresenting the entire article, which affirms “the idea that sexual desire and sexual attraction are simply matters of preferential choice is also naïve and unrealistic. The crux of the matter is how these inclinations are expressed, or how these impulses are acted upon.”
    Again, thank you for reading, and hope you do check back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A continuation of this response is below, starting with "PRELIMINARY RESPONSE #2," written before having read the additional comments immediately following.

      Delete
  6. (Part 1 of 4)
    Dear Mr. Moore (amerikiwi),
    The friend of a friend who referred me to this blog, messaged me that you have responded. So I let my curiosity peak and have decided to read and respond.
    I appreciate your benefit of the doubt. The comment spaces at blogspot are clearly not meant for longform content, and so being able to read through and correct my grammar was difficult. I should have just written in Word first, but I did not make that effort. No doubt there are various other grammatical errors, typos, and the like in those 4 comments. And if it’s any consolation, I have not even been to blogspot in 2-3 years. So, it has been a while since reading one.
    As far as your comment, I admit I have bias anytime a Christian starts to advocate what science says on any sexual-based issue. Because I know that those thoughts will be as heavily biased as any thought could be. So, if you – a Christian with 3 degrees from religious institutions or religious-based degrees – can write an article about what science has to say about sexuality and expect to be taken with merit, then surely anyone could offer a critique of yours with the same or less bias and expertise in the respective fields. Therefore, when your first issue is my possible bias, I would ask that you apply that criticism to yourself first, before you levy it elsewhere. Mainly, because when you state criticisms back such as asking for proof of McHugh and Mayer being discredited, I must admit I am a little disappointed. Because if you read this without an agenda or bias of your own, you would see that at the end of part 2/4, I gave you the link of that discredit and also state that this op-ed was also published in scientific journals. Quick googles for the op-ed authors will show you that.
    I know I said a lot as I went down every non-biblical thing you said originally, so it is not realistic for me to expect you to respond to everything I said. However, I believe there are 2 points/arguments that you are attempting to refute that I do not believe you are refuting correctly. And these 2 points are probably the crux of your original blog. Those points are, what science says and what people use as rhetoric. Rather than hold these as two separate entities, you are conflating and mixing them.
    The current understanding in science is that one’s sexual orientation is not something they decide. We have decades of research at the APA to say it isn’t a choice. We have many experiments that show it’s some combination of genetics, prenatal care (womb environment) and possibly infant development (post birth, but no evidence of anything past being a toddler). Within these factors there is not a single point in a person’s life where they actually have a say in what happens to them. They have no say in what they find attractive or sexually desire.
    Now in regard to rhetoric, yes, people say “born this way.” And I have no doubt that some of those people believe that to mean a direct genetic imposition. And if your issue is that some people’s rhetoric implies something that’s not entirely accurate, by all means, you do you and spend your time as you wish. In the literal sense of being at birth, some large portion of your sexuality is determined, between the combo of genetics and womb environment/pre-natal affects. Until we know what the percentage is across the board of factors, I suppose people like yourself will never be satisfied. But, from where I stand, if we can show that a person never makes a choice in their sexual desires, can we really say anything less than the common rhetoric of “it’s not a choice” and “born this way.” So much of our lives are determined before we are even able to start being rational; recognizing that makes this rhetoric seem common sense (though I detest that phrase).

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    1. Okay, as I accept your comments for posting, they appear in the order they were initially sent, not in the order they are published. So my continued response to your first set of comments, posted before I read your most recent comments, appear below your most recent comments and actually address some of the things you say here. My apologies for the disjointedness. In hindsight I should have mentioned in my first response my time constraints and my intentions to complete it when I returned from overseas. When you said you probably wouldn’t be checking back, my abbreviated response seemed sufficient at the time. See below for clarification.
      As far as bias is concerned, anyone who has strong convictions about anything is going to be biased, so we’re both guilty as charged. I think we can agree that it’s important to be aware of our respective biases and try not to let them hinder our search for truth.
      When I asked for proof of the McHugh-Mayer report being discredited, the section where you address this was not visible (explained below). The charge of conflating science and rhetoric is also explained below. My article was never intended as a purely scientific treatise but a response to pop culture, which seems to assume scientific certainty about a number of uncertainties. The disagreement between choice vs. no choice is the result of failing to be specific in defining our terms, also discussed below.

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  7. (Part 2 of 4)
    At the realization that I have already surpassed the character limit again, let me offer a thought experiment. 2 children, let’s say both girls, are born from completely different pairs of parents whom have no relation. Both children were simply made in the combination of egg and sperm, fertilized, developed, and were eventually born. Both girls do all the infant things that they do. They eat, sleep, and dirty their diapers. They start crawling, talking, walking, and all the milestones that we celebrate as they become more and more of a person, slowly developing a mind that can not simply react, but rationalize. They grow past the stages of development where their minds are focused only on themselves. They start to develop empathy. All in all, they both are raised as healthy as possible by their respective parents. At about 8 or 9, both girls start watching more than mickey mouse cartoons. Let’s say they watch power rangers, and both like the pink power ranger. While they both think the pink ranger is cool, pretty, and even want to be like her, one girl is having a different reaction than the other. One girl (girl B) senses a stronger connection. She doesn’t know it, doesn’t even recognize it. She just likes the pink ranger a lot. More than the average girl would. She’ll never wonder why, until years later when puberty hits. And when that puberty hits, girl A will start recognizing the boys as more than just friends to play with. Girl B will not recognize that. Boys are still just people to play with. But other girls, they are something more than friends to play with. And all the factors that play into puberty and sexual desire happen to both girls, but the subjects of their desire are different. The overly drawn out thought experiment happens here: When did girl B make a choice to like other girls instead of boys?
    My answer, and it seems the current scientific consensus through a compiling of psychology, biology, chemistry, and sure, possibly even some sociology, would be that girl B never makes a choice. Whether it was 70% of her sexuality was before birth (genes and prenatal) and the final 30% happened during infancy and toddler ages. Whatever the combination may be, none of it involves the girl making a choice. The only thing she chooses is to express or repress as she grows older. And if we know anything about repression, we know that it leads to serious mental damage and trauma (just google APA and repression, plenty there). Outside of your bible, there isn’t a scientific reason for why she should not express and embrace her sexuality.
    Herein lies where the rhetoric comes from. We can safely say that being gay isn’t a choice under scientific consensus. We can probably say, that we are born this way too. Not because of genes, but because also womb environment (which you neglect to address in your criticisms of pop songs as science). And while we are born from a woman at specific point, we don’t have cognitive or rationality until years later. Therefore, one could take that literal sense of “born this way” and apply it metaphorically as well to be even more accurate.
    Whether or not you accept this logic, I feel, is determined by your own bias. Having left the church at 22, I had to spend a lot of time re-examining every idea I ever had because up until that point, they were all biblically based. I had to learn how to apply logic, research science, understand context, and a myriad of other things. And many religious people can do those things to, depends on the denomination or specific belief set, I suppose. But my point here is that once I removed the outside influence of the bible and looked at the actual data, information, and logic for what it was, I did not see a single reason for why we could think that being gay was a choice. And yes, I have stated, every article and study you shown either argues against you or has been discredited. No one is arguing that being gay is 100% genetic. But that doesn’t mean that gay people aren’t born gay. And it surely doesn’t mean that it is a choice.

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    1. Your thought experiment assumes these two girls from two different families share IDENTICAL childhood experiences, which is not realistic – not even in the same family. You seem very reluctant to concede “even some sociology” and exaggerate the current scientific consensus. If womb environment is considered a cause, this is still an environmental not a genetic cause. No one would say a baby inside a drug-addict mother makes this choice any more than a molested child outside the womb makes that choice, but God cannot be blamed for either. So if these or other environmental factors contribute in any way to sexual orientation, it would be incorrect to equate “born this way” with “God made me this way,” which is the point of the article. I realize you wish to remove God from the equation, but much of pop culture does not. Your insinuation that I’m appealing to “pop songs as science” is mistaken, and when you apply the literal sense of “born this way,” now we’re dealing with semantics.

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  8. (Part 3 of 4)
    Now that I have addressed the main argument, I’ll just run down some of these other things you said.
    1. Desire vs Behavior: The focus of desire can be environmentally focused sure. For instance, if you grow up around a specific race of people or around a particular religion, you’re more like to desire someone with that race and a part of a particular religion. Also, what we celebrate as beauty can be environmental to a degree. But the sex of the person you desire, we do not see this being environmentally impacted past infancy/toddler. At least no study has yielded such results. I assume by behavior, you mean the embracing or rejecting of one’s sexuality (express vs repress). This can be environmentally challenged too, sure. But not through healthy means, through means of trauma and “disorientation” such as what happens with sexual assault, molestation, rape, and other heinous actions.
    1a. Controlling Desires: This is a bit more inflammatory on your part. Again, you are equating harmful actions (rape and gluttony) to non-harmful actions (sexual desire and sexual acts with consenting adults). But your harmful comparison aside, again I simply need to address the actions by what they accomplish. We expect people to not rape each other because rape generates unwanted harm. We expect and even demand that if someone wants to have sex with another person, the person they select to do it with also wants to have it with them. We expect and demand this as a society across all sexualities and genders. There should be no difference in expectation of control of gay people as we would have of straight people regarding how they seek a sexual partner(s). A glutton can control them or not. If that person is independent, the only victim is themselves. And I am not comfortable nor read enough to jump into the philosophy of protecting one against eating too much. I believe that’s mostly a subjective conversation unless we want to take Singer’s moral obligation theories to far extensions. But there’s a larger distinction you are missing here.
    1b. Expectation of Behavior: Again, outside of your bible, we have no cause to tell or want gay people to not express/embrace their sexuality insofar that they are not causing harm. Just like with straight people. As far as we know in psychology, if one represses their sexuality and attempts to change it, it has a higher risk of leading to mental trauma. So, outside of your bible, can you come up with a legitimate reason to say gay people should not have sex with other gay people? Surely we can come up with one offs such as we could with straight people. Disease applies to both, some diseases applying more than others, but we can remedy that with safe sex practices. We could talk about unwanted pregnancies in straight people, body image issues in gay men, etc. There are lots of things to think about with sex. But these things are inherent to sex. There is no harm to come from allowing consenting adults to practice and embrace their sexuality as they see fit, whether it’s abstinence until marriage, until you can find someone you trust, or “spreading your wild oats” as some people in a retirement center I used to work at would often say.” There is no reason for us to target gay people and tell them they should control their sexual desires and be or pretend to be straight. The only reasons I can think of are religious ones, but I would assume you would agree with allowing people the freedom of religion and to believe or not as they will.

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    1. You ask for reasons “outside your bible,” but you have entered my tiny speck of the blogosphere where the Bible is the central focus of almost all my posts and is the reason this blog even exists. The article makes the unpopular but true affirmation concerning the normalcy of heterosexuality as a fact of biology and human history. Beyond the indisputable reality that non-heterosexual reproduction is a biological impossibility, male-female anatomical complementarity cannot be denied. As far as family is concerned, robbing a child of either a father or a mother is less than ideal and even harmful (which leads to another debate). I do agree “with allowing people the freedom of religion and to believe or not as they will,” which brings us back to choice. God has given us the freedom to either reject or accept his existence and biblical morality, and I choose the latter option while encouraging others to do the same.

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  9. (Part 4 of 4)
    2. Zoo and Ped: They are consistent. One does not choose their attraction. But because it will cause harm to others, we state these attractions as bad and should not be embraced. Like all sexual desires, these are not chosen. And they probably have similar distinctions as to when they are developed in genes, womb environment, et al.
    3. Royal College Quote: I disagree. The way you utilized it is oblivious to context, when the very next sentence addresses your claim and you omit it. But if your contention here is that again, genetics is not 1-to-1, of course I agree. No one is disagreeing. Science isn’t. Even rhetoric isn’t. I addressed all in the main argument above so I won’t repeat further, but I believe you hitting at a linguistic problem that isn’t a problem. For instance, less than half of people in this country even say that people “can” be born gay: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/06/americans-are-still-divided-on-why-people-are-gay/ and when you start narrowing your polls to more specific questions like citing biology instead of “born” then the numbers get smaller. And even further, the results when you ask the question more open ended like born vs environment, the answers are – not shockingly – split right down demographic lines.

    4. Allusion to Google Searches: I allude to them not because of my own bias. I allude to them because it was clear reading this article what you were doing. For instance, in order to see of a study has been peer-reviewed, submitted to a scientific journal, discredited, etc all one has to do has objectively google, “(title of study or authors) criticisms” and you’re on your way. You do not need to search – as you say – manipulate the search. I do not need to be so extreme as to search “(insert study) destroyed and debunked” to find criticisms of a study. My biggest point in pointing out how easy is to search for these things was because you have 3 degrees and therefore should have far more experience in researching than the average person. Yet you seem to have fallen into all the same traps as those very people. (also side note, if you say a criticism is not withstanding, you don’t get to use that criticism in the same thought as the critique. It self-refutes the “notwithstanding” when you do so).
    I reject entirely the idea that I am misinterpreting an article whose entire basis is to misinterpret scientific data or selectively search and rely on studies that have since been debunked or discredited. And I think I have defended that with my original comments and these new ones.
    Here is what I would advise, should be inclined to looking for a way to better your argument in the original article. The current consensus is some combination of genes, prenatal environment (womb), and infancy development play roles in determining a person’s sexuality. The percentages of which does what, is just now starting to be decided. So maybe we’ll no that. But the assertion that social upbringing and environment or not just impacts as well, but larger impacts than biology of the fetus/infant the and mother’s womb, needs citation and study. So, you go find a study that actually claims to find that and is peer-reviewed. Because until you can actually demonstrate your claim that being gay is a choice, then we must maintain our stances based on the evidence. And the evidence says, that it is not a choice.

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    1. Okay, much of this section has been dealt with already in view of semantics, definitions, misconceptions (neither is arguing for 1-to-1 causation). It seems most can agree that the issue is complex and emotionally charged. Science doesn’t have all the answers, pop culture doesn’t represent true science, and there is no conclusive percentage or precise identification of every potential contributing cause of the various non-heterosexual orientations. Which brings us to the Bible, which makes a clear-cut case (like it or not) of God’s design for male-female relationships. I think I’ve run out of steam (still jetlagged!). Again, thank you for reading and for your responses.

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    2. At first I didn't understand what prompted your side note and explanation about the use of "notwithstanding," but after thinking about it, perhaps you assumed my passing allusion to manipulating the arrangement of links in a search (notwithstanding) was directed at you, but it was not. The point was that a "quick" Google search may limit one's findings to just those items listed first, the order of which could have been manipulated by those with an agenda (not implicating you in any way), therefore more extensive investigation would be in order. In your responses it seems you have meaningfully engaged few (if any) works that disagree with your view, while you accuse me of ignoring works that disagree with my view. You are welcome to set the record straight (no pun intended), but for my part I have read extensively both sides.

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  10. PRELIMINARY RESPONSE #2: My initial response was written rather hurriedly at around 3:30 a.m. as I was getting ready to leave for an overseas trip. The entirety of each lengthy segment to which I was responding wasn’t visible prior to my acceptance of its posting, so I wasn’t able to read and respond to all of it. Now that I’ve returned home and can read the entirety of all four sections, plus the follow-up comments that were sent in the meantime, hopefully the gaps left by my initial incomplete response can be filled in.

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  11. CONTINUED RESPONSE: You question my motives and my integrity multiple times in your comments. My suggestion is to not read into the article what’s not actually there, and I’ll try to afford you the same courtesy.
    Now to fill in some gaps: You reference “the popular and largest gay twin study” of 2014 and cite reporter Andy Coghlan’s article, which claims the study contributes to “mounting evidence that being gay is biologically determined rather than a lifestyle choice.” Yet the study did not discover “gay genes,” and Alan Sanders (the study leader) “stresses that complex traits such as sexual orientation depend on multiple factors, both environmental and genetic,” while individual genes “will likely only have at most a small effect on their own …”
    You say 25-40% of the differences in sexual orientation are determined by genes. Wherever you got that information, if people are “born gay,” shouldn’t it be 100% genetic?
    We agree that sexual desire is innate. Where we apparently disagree is how non-heterosexual desire is to be explained – strictly genetic (“born that way”), strictly volitional (“lifestyle choice”), strictly environmental, or a combination of these, and which receives the greater emphasis?
    My article to which you are objecting never says that “sexual orientation,” however it’s defined, is merely a choice. When the APA says sexual orientation is not a choice, what do they mean? This is why, as stated in the article, it’s important to clearly define our terms. We do not choose our genetics, we do not choose our childhood environment, we do not choose the effects of either or both of these factors, we do not necessarily choose our desires, but we do choose our lifestyles. To say sexual orientation is not a choice is not the same as saying a person is born with a predetermined, unchangeable constraint to have sex with the same gender.

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  12. What you call the “discrediting” of the McHugh-Mayer 2016 report is merely a three-person rebuttal published in The Baltimore Sun (hardly a peer-reviewed journal!) that mostly affirms the commitment of Johns Hopkins staff to health and human rights. It criticizes McHugh and Mayer for omitting the post-2010 work of Dr. Hatzenbuehler, which is entirely focused on stigma and health inequalities, not genetic contributors to sexual orientation. The McHugh-Mayer report in no way advocates discriminating against homosexuals but is being criticized for “underemphasizing” the issue. On the question of what causes homosexual tendencies (most relevant to my article), the only rebuttal given is a passing allusion to the report of J. Michael Bailey and his colleagues that reportedly “comes to different conclusions.” Their report places heavy emphasis on biological factors presumably contributing to sexual orientation but concedes these are not the sole cause, acknowledging that a major limitation of scientific research concerns differences in how to define, categorize, and measure non-heterosexual orientations and underscores the need for “more and better research.” How does this “discredit” McHugh-Mayer or anyone else?
    Contrary to your assessment, The Baltimore Sun op-ed does not list several reasons the McHugh-Mayer report is unscientific or erroneous. What I find most telling about this “rebuttal” is the fear it evinces following the threats Johns Hopkins has received from the Human Rights Campaign (the powerful LGBTQ+ advocacy group) to remove Johns Hopkins’ high ranking in the HRC Healthcare Equality Index. Is this how we encourage free thought, free speech, and diversity of opinion?
    As you have noted, you have entered a conservative Christian blog, so there was no reason, at least in the present article, to have considered the philosophical debates between free will and determinism. I obviously believe in free will, otherwise neither you, nor I, nor anyone else is free to think a certain way, or make personal choices, or even make truth claims without violating determinism.

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  13. The pop culture references are clearly not included as scientific confirmation, but these public personalities do give voice to and influence popular opinion, which gives the appearance and bolsters the assumptions of “proven fact.” I remind you that my article was never intended as a purely scientific treatise but as a “scientific, commonsense, biblical perspective,” contending that all these avenues readily harmonize with what we know despite the political incorrectness thereof.
    I respectfully disagree with your assertion that you “have debunked every major contention and non-biblical claim” I’ve made. The irony is, I don’t think we’re all that far apart in our basic understanding of this subject. We both agree that biological contributors cannot be discounted, although you seem to place much more emphasis here than I do. I would say that prenatal biological factors may influence how a person responds to, copes with, or is affected by postnatal environmental factors. We both agree that environment has a role in social and sexual development, although I place much more emphasis here than you apparently do. I think we both agree that choice is involved, not in matters beyond a person’s control, but in how one expresses and acts upon sexual proclivities (whether heterosexual, homosexual, etc., etc.).
    Another thing we agree on is the idea of gathering all available information and then see where the journey leads us. Maybe one or both of us have dropped the proverbial ball, but exchanges like this keeps us on our toes (forgive the mixed metaphor).
    I realize you have sent more comments, which I haven’t had the opportunity to read yet, but I plan to get to that as soon as possible once I’ve completed this initial response. Thanks for reading and for helping me clarify what I intended to communicate more clearly in the article.

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