Homosexuality: Society, Science, & Psychology [Part 2]
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this three-part series appeared in the December issue. Part II follows below and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]
Homosexuality and Science
Another powerful tool in the gay agenda toolbelt was invented in 1991. The search for a “gay gene” was in full force. After all, if there is a gay gene, then the homosexual cannot help being gay, any more than a person can help having blood. If they cannot help it, then they cannot change it. With such a potentially powerful argument for the acceptance of homosexuality on the horizon, obviously homosexuals and those who endorse their lifestyle would be very interested in proving the existence of a gay gene. “[T]hey did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12).
In 1991, Simon LeVay’s study that sought the “gay gene” was released. The media’s interpretation and presentation of the study was that the gay gene had been found. Overnight, the public’s thinking on homosexuality was significantly altered. After all, “If homosexuals were born that way, it can’t be right to condemn them for it, right? They can’t help it!” Even Christendom was influenced to ignore Scripture on the subject. In 2004, Howard Dean (then Governor of Vermont) signed a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions in Vermont, stating, “The overwhelming evidence is that there is a very significant, substantial genetic component to [homosexuality]. From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people.”1 Americans are so biblically illiterate that the nation, by-and-large, fell for such transparent error.
Simon LeVay’s Search for the “Gay Gene”
Did LeVay find the “gay gene”? Didn’t he prove that there are brain differences between homosexual men and heterosexual men? That is certainly the word on the street, but it is not the truth. LeVay’s study claimed that clusters of certain neurons (INAH) in heterosexual men were much larger than that of women and homosexual men, but several problems with the study have been documented.
LeVay’s results could not be reproduced.2 Reproducibility is a key component of scientific research. Another scientist should be able to follow the same steps you took in your study and achieve the same results. LeVay’s work could not be so verified.
The 19 known homosexual men examined in the study all had AIDS. AIDS is known to decrease testosterone levels, thus yielding smaller clusters of INAH.3 The size difference, therefore, may have simply been due to AIDS, not homosexuality.
Many scientists now argue that brain differences can be a result of certain behaviors, rather than the cause of them. Marc Breedlove, from Michigan State University, showed that sexual behavior affects the brain, rather than vice versa. “These findings give us proof for what we theoretically know to be the case—that sexual experience can alter the structure of the brain, just as genes can alter it.”4 In the journal Nature, he explained: “It is possible that differences in sexual behaviour cause, rather than are caused by, differences in brain structure.”5 William Byne, writing in Scientific American, explained that, “Even if genetic and neuroanatomical traits turn out to be correlated with sexual orientation, causation is far from proved.”6 Ironically, Simon LeVay himself admitted the same truth about his study: “[T]he results do not allow one to decide if the size of INAH 3 in an individual is the cause or consequence of that individual’s sexual orientation, or if the size of INAH 3 and sexual orientation co-vary under the influence of some third, unidentified variable.”7
LeVay is, himself, a homosexual, adding the real possibility of personal bias to the equation. In the study, he set out to find the gay gene, not to determine if it even exists, which would naturally lend to one finding “evidence” where there is, in actuality, none. LeVay admitted, “I felt if I didn’t find any [difference in the hypothalamuses], I would give up a scientific career altogether.”8
The most important point to be made about LeVay’s famous study comes from the “horse’s mouth.” Levay admitted, “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. 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.”9
Notice: the primary study to which most people point to prove that homosexuality is genetic—that a homosexual is “born that way” and does not have a choice in the matter—has been misinterpreted to say it proves something it did not prove.
A Summary of the Science of Homosexuality Over the Intervening Years
Many studies were conducted in the following three decades after LeVay’s study—from Bailey and Pillard’s paradoxical “twins” study,10 to unreproducible X Chromosome studies by Dean Hamer11 and J. Michael Bailey/Alan Sanders,12 to unsubstantiated, highly criticized, speculative models (not actual evidence) that homosexuality could be epigenetically caused (i.e., caused by non-DNA genetic factors rather than DNA).13 Even accounting for the blatant bias of many of the researchers, none have been able to substantiate the existence of a “gay gene” or even prove there is a genetic component that causes homosexuality.
To summarize the current state of the scientific search for a “gay gene,” consider the following quotes from the last few years:
Geneticists William Rice, Urban Friberg, and Sergy Gavrilets: “Although pedigree studies indicate a familial association of homosexuality in both males and females [which could suggest environmental influences, not genetic—JM], more than a decade of molecular genetic studies have produced no consistent evidence for a major gene, or other genetic marker, contributing to male homosexuality. Moreover, the most recent genome-wide association study using exceptionally high marker density found no significant association between homosexuality in males and any SNPs.”14 In other words, none of the markers which help identify genetic differences between humans has been found to distinguish homosexuals as genetically different from heterosexuals.
Writing in Nature, Jonathan Lambert highlights a 2019 “massive study,” “the largest study to date on the genetic basis of sexuality” that indicates there is “no ‘gay gene.’” The study did identify spots in the human genome which the researchers hope are correlated with sexuality, but admit that “none of the markers are reliable enough to predict someone’s sexuality.”15 In other words, no genetic factor has been found that could be said to cause or force a person to be a homosexual—it’s a choice. Jessica Hamzelou, writing in New Scientist, authored an article on the subject titled, “There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Gay Gene’ Finds Largest Study of Sexuality.” “It’s time to throw out the idea of a ‘gay gene.’” Concerning the genes that are “hoped” to be influential in sexuality, she admitted, “It isn’t clear what these genes might do to affect sexuality [maybe nothing—JM]…. But crucially,…these genes only had a small effect and were far from being predictive of a person’s sexuality.”16 In other words, the largest study to date has further confirmed (1) that there is no “gay gene” and (2) there is no conclusive evidence that there is any genetic cause of homosexuality.
In 2016, in the interest of helping “physicians, scientists, and citizens to address health issues faced by LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender—JM] populations within our society,” University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University and Psychiatric Epidemiologist of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute Lawrence Mayer conducted an extensive survey of the research that has been conducted concerning the LGBT community over the past several years.17 Their goal was not to conduct their own experiments on the “gay gene” or the genetics of homosexuality, but merely to carry out a “literature survey” that summarizes the current knowledge of the subject as gleaned from, especially, experimental evidence. The authors studied hundreds of scientific articles on the subject, surveying research from the scientific fields of epidemiology, genetics, endocrinology, psychiatry, neuroscience, embryology, and pediatrics, as well as the social science fields of psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and gender studies.18 Upon examining the available research to date, they summarized their findings:
Examining research from the biological, psychological, and social sciences, this report shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence…. 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 scientific evidence. While there is evidence that biological factors such as genes and hormones are associated with sexual behaviors and attractions, there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation. While minor differences in the brain structures and brain activity between homosexual and heterosexual individuals have been identified by researchers, such neurobiological findings do not demonstrate whether these differences are innate or are the result of environmental and psychological factors.19
As stated on the American Psychological Association Web site:
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles….20
In spite of the frantic efforts to find a scientific basis for the claim that sexual orientation is biologically pre-set, a gay gene has not been found. Instead, people just “think” different factors are at play. If homosexual orientation is not hereditary, it must be largely environmental and a psychological, rather than a biological, issue, in spite of the fact that the American Psychological Association has removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
What was once intuitively understood to be the case has now been verified through mounds upon mounds of experimental evidence by many of the very scientists who set out to disprove the obvious: homosexuality is not a genetically forced condition but, rather, an unnatural choice that is affected, to a large degree, by terrible and unfortunate environmental influences, many of which occur so early in life that they are not remembered by the victim (more on that later).
The testimony of hostile witnesses is powerful evidence in a trial, because a hostile witness would tend to be biased against that which he speaks in favor of. Similarly, it would be difficult to disregard such testimony from highly credentialed, hostile witnesses who testify that there is no gay gene, and yet you can be certain that that scientific discovery will not be accepted. We have elsewhere highlighted blind faiths21 that are held by many naturalists, like belief in the multiverse22 and the Big Bang Theory23—theories which lack legitimate evidence to substantiate key tenets that undergird them. Both theories have been admitted by leading cosmologists to be unscientific because they are unfalsifiable: there is no discovery that could be made that would cause naturalistic cosmologists to disbelieve in the theories (because they blindly believe them to be true). Any discovery—even those which seem firmly to disprove the theories—will simply be interpreted in a way that keeps the theories alive. The search for the “gay gene” has been, and surely will continue to be, no different. According to this false way of thinking, there simply must be a genetic cause for homosexual behavior that will make it, not a choice, but a necessity, allowing such sexually immoral behavior to continue without guilt and without argument.
Even if a “gay gene” were found—or a “pedophile gene,” “rape gene,” “murder gene,” “lust gene,” “liar gene,” or “theft gene,” for that matter—what would such discoveries ultimately mean? Would one argue that individuals with those genes have no choice as to whether or not they act on their predispositions? Should we allow murderers and rapists to roam the lands pillaging and plundering unhampered since their “genes made them do it,” or do we understand that they can control themselves? Are homosexuals to be viewed as animals—automatons that act purely on instinct with an inability to choose whether or not they may act upon their inclinations? In the words of Tina Saey, writing for ScienceNews, even if sexuality is linked to genes, it “doesn’t mean that genes control sexual behavior or orientation. ‘Same-sex sexuality appears to be genetically influenced, but not genetically determined,’ [University of Utah in Salt Lake City psychologist] Diamond says.”24 Since I am not homosexual, but heterosexual, by implication, if there is a “gay gene,” then I would presumably have the “heterosexual gene.” Question: do I have a choice whether or not to act upon my inclinations every time an attractive woman happens upon my path? While many naturalistic evolutionists and atheists have followed their belief systems to their logical conclusion and argued that we do not, in fact, have free will, the bulk of humanity understands their arguments to be (1) irrational, (2) contrary to the daily barrage of evidence that refutes that assertion, and (3) even self-contradictory.25 Humans have free will. So whatever such a “gay gene” would be if it existed, it clearly still would not force a person to act on his deviant proclivities and disobey God. He can control himself.
If, therefore, a genetic component to homosexuality were ever found, its effect would have to be something other than what many assume the effect of a “gay gene” to be (i.e., that a homosexual cannot help but commit sexual immorality). No doubt, there has been corruption and decay in our once pristine creation (Hebrews 1:10-12), certainly including corruption and degradation in our genetic makeup since Creation and the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19), and that could play a role in influencing human behavior.26 We know that genetics can play a role in whether or not a person is more susceptible to alcoholism or losing his temper (both controllable behaviors) than others. Some behaviors and addictions tend to be family-connected. As far back as 1993, psychiatrists were acknowledging the possibility that homosexuality belongs in that vein. Psychiatrists William Byne and Bruce Parsons of Columbia University surveyed the literature regarding the potential for biological factors being the “primary basis for sexual orientation,” and found “the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking. In an alternative model, temperamental and personality traits interact with the familial and social milieu as the individual’s sexuality emerges,” highlighting the influence of hormones and environment in sexual development.27 Saey, once again quoting Diamond, explained that sexuality “‘is not the only complex human phenomenon for which we see a genetic influence without a great understanding of how that influence works.’ Other complex human behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, personality and even job satisfaction all have some genetic component.”28 In their enlightening book, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, psychologist and co-founder of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) Joseph Nicolosi and his wife Linda highlight the futility of searching for a “gay gene” since none exists. They quote psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover:
“The real genetic question is—what is it in the background of people who become homosexual that opens that door for them, whereas the door is essentially closed for other people? In a nutshell, every behavioral trait in human nature has a genetic component. For example, basketball playing is clearly genetic…. But if you ask yourself what that’s about it’s clear that it’s NOT that there is a gene for basketball playing…. The reason there’s a genetic association is that there’s an intermediate trait which allows people who carry these traits to become basketball players in greater numbers than those who do not have those traits—namely, height, athleticism, and so on. So it’s not surprising that there is a growing number of studies that show a genetic association to homosexuality. But that is a far cry from saying that homosexuality is genetic in the way that eye color is genetic.” So, is it true that homosexuality really is an inborn and normal variant of human nature? For some people, there are no doubt genetic or prenatal hormonal influences that “open the door” to homosexuality, and those influences are likely those that induce a child to see himself or herself as gender-atypical. The answer to the question of inevitability, according to psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover, is no—no one is “born gay.” There is no evidence demonstrating that homosexuality is genetically or prenatal-hormonally set in stone simply because that child has gender-atypical interests. In fact, none of the research claims that homosexuality is mandated by biology. Only the press and certain researchers do….29
While a person might be more prone to certain behaviors or temptations due to genetic factors, do such factors control his behavior? No. One could envision a scenario in which a man was genetically predisposed to have, for instance, unusual testosterone levels or endocrine issues that,30 given the “right” experiences in his life and environmental influences at the right time, could affect who attracts him (discussed later). In such a scenario, however, once again, the individual has the ability to decide whether or not to act upon his desires. Homosexual behavior is a choice and, as an “orientation,” changeable (see next part).
The bottom line is that in the three decades since the LeVay “gay gene” study, even the most biased scientists have not been able to find what they thought was inevitable: a gene that would explain the abnormal behavior of homosexuals, make it seem more “natural,” and subsequently justify their continuance in behaviors that God calls “abominable.” The pro-homosexual community predicted that, if homosexuals were “born that way” without a choice, a “gay gene” should exist that would prove it. The fact that they have not been able to find such a gene effectively falsifies their theory and speaks loudly to the fact that homosexuality is a learned behavior, caused primarily by environmental factors outside of the womb. If it is learned, it can be unlearned. If it is a physically and psychologically dangerous, as well as spiritually wicked, lifestyle, it should be unlearned, and those environmental circumstances that were factors that led to the unhealthy behavior should be addressed.
(to be continued)
1 As quoted in Jim VandeHei (2004), “Dean Says Faith Swayed Decision on Gay Unions,” The Washington Post, p. A-1, January 8.
2 William Byne (1994), “The Biological Evidence Challenged,” Scientific American, 270:53, May, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-biological-evidence-challenged/; see also John Horgan (1995), “Gay Genes, Revisited,” Scientific American, 273:26, November, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gay-genes-revisited/.
5 S. Marc Breedlove (1997), “Sex on the Brain,” Nature, 389:801, https://www.nature.com/articles/39764, emp. added; see also Joe S. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush (2008), Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children (Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing), pp. 50-56. Dr. McIlhaney: “MRIs, PET scans, and other imaging technology…have revealed recently that repeated sexual experience with multiple partners over time permanently changes the wiring of the brain and damages the way it was designed to function.” Dr. Bush: Casual sexual activity “tinkers with the function of pleasure-giving neurotransmitters. That, in turn, rewires the brain” [from interview quoted in James Dobson (2010), Bringing Up Girls (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers), emp. added, p. 176].
6 Byne, 270:50, emp. added. As further evidence that behavior can modify one’s brain, Garrett, et al. found that observable changes in brain structure can be seen on MRI images when a person repeatedly tells lies [N. Garrett, S.C. Lazarro, D. Ariely, T. Sharot (2016), “The Brain Adapts to Dishonesty,” Nature Neuroscience, 19:1727-1732.].
7 Simon LeVay (1991), “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Science, 253:1036, August 30, emp. added.
10 If homosexuality is genetically rather than environmentally caused, why is it the case that half of the time one brother in a pair of identical twins is not homosexual? Further, the study was not able to be reproduced. Several scientists argued that the Bailey study actually lent support to the contention that homosexuality is environmentally, rather than genetically, caused. Cf. Neil Risch, Elizabeth Squires-Wheeler, and Bronya J.B. Keats (1993), “Male Sexual Orientation and Genetic Evidence,” Science, 262:2063-2064, December 24; William Byne and Bruce Parsons (1993), “Human Sexual Orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 50:228-239, March; Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald (1997), Exploding the Gene Myth (Boston: Beacon Press); P. Billings and J. Beckwith (1993), Technology Review, July, p. 60.
11 Hamer’s study was not able to be reproduced by later laboratories. See, for example, George Rice, Carol Anderson, Neil Risch, and George Ebers (1999), “Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28,” Science, 284:665-667, April 23; Ingrid Wickelgren (1999), “Discovery of ‘Gay Gene’ Questioned,” Science, 284:571, April 23; Anne Fausto-Sterling and Evan Balaban, writing in Science magazine, highlighted a key point in response to the Hamer study. Even if a correlation between homosexuals and certain genetic markers were ever demonstrated, “correlation does not necessarily indicate causation” [Anne Fausto-Sterling and Evan Balaban (1993), “Genetics and Male Sexual Orientation,” technical-comment letter to the editor, Science, 261:1257, September 3]. Neil Risch invented the technique that was used in Hamer’s study, and yet Risch criticized the study, stating that key assertions in the study were not “statistically significant” [Neil Risch (1993), “Male Sexual Orientation and Genetic Evidence,” Science, 262:2064, December 24].
12 The 2014 questionable and controversial study attempted to replicate Hamer’s study with a much larger participant base. Bailey and Sanders were unable to identify specific genes that could underlie homosexuality. Further, recent evidence casts doubt on the correlation Hamer claimed to have found—a correlation which did not even rise to statistical significance in spite of the large size of the study. As reported in Science, “Others, however, continue to doubt Hamer’s result, contending that the latest evidence is weak. And the study still doesn’t identify a specific gene…. Sanders acknowledges that at least one journal rejected the work. And geneticist Neil Risch of the University of California, San Francisco, notes that the linkages Bailey and Sanders report don’t rise to statistical significance…. Sanders admits that the strongest linkage identified…doesn’t clear the threshold for significance” [Kelly Servick (2014), “New Support For ‘Gay Gene,’” Science on-line, November 21, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/346/6212/902.full].
13 E.g., Rice, et al. admit, “[W]e cannot provide definitive evidence that homosexuality has a strong epigenetic underpinning” [William R. Rice, et al. (2012), “Homosexuality As a Consequence of Epigenetically Canalized Sexual Development,” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 87:357, December, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.1086/668167.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Aa5c8fa9e8131b3cee9bc0041d2cb87f3.]. The speculative model, however, prompted Tuck Ngun (University of California, Los Angeles) to search for epigenetic “tags” in homosexuals, which he claimed to have discovered. However, as later reported by Nature, “Since this story was first published, several researchers have criticized the study’s methods. Some statisticians…have said that the study incorrectly presented its results as statistically significant. Study co-author Tuck Ngun…acknowledged…that his study was underpowered (a technical term implying the study may have arrived at incorrect conclusions—JM) [Sara Reardon (2015), “Epigenetic ‘Tags’ Linked to Homosexuality in Men,” Nature on-line, October 12, https://www.nature.com/news/epigenetic-tags-linked-to-homosexuality-in-men-1.18530]. Bill Berkrot, writing for Scientific American, wrote an article entitled “Experts Cautious about Study Predicting ‘Gay’ Orientation” in which he acknowledged that the study sample is not only small, but also “prone to bias” [Bill Berkrot (2015), October 9, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-cautious-about-study-predicting-gay-orientation/].
14 William R. Rice, et al., 2012, emp. added; NOTE: SNPs “are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each SNP represents a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide” [“What Are Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs)?” (2020), NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 7, https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genomicresearch/snp].
19 Ibid., pp. 1,7, emp. added; see, again, Endnotes 4-7,10.
20 “What Causes a Person to Have a Particular Sexual Orientation?” (2008), Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality, American Psychological Association, emp. added, https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation, accessed September 16, 2020.
21 Like the blind belief that life can come from non-life [Jeff Miller (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 32:2-11, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018; see also, Jeff Miller (2017), Science vs. Evolution (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), 2nd edition, pp. 61-110], matter and energy creating themselves from nothing [Jeff Miller (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=%202786], or laws of science “writing” themselves into existence [Jeff Miller (2012), “The Laws of Science -by God,” Reason & Revelation, 32:137-140, December, http://apologeticspress.org/pub_rar/32_12/1212.pdf].
26 For example, since our bodies are likely more diseased than Adam and Eve’s would have been, our level of pain is probably higher than theirs, making us more tempted to lose our tempers and say or do things that we should not say or do.
27 William Byne and Bruce Parsons (1993), “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologic Theories Reappraised,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 50:228-239, emp. added.
29 As quoted in Joseph Nicolosi and Linda Ames Nicolosi (2002), A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press), p. 62, italics in orig.