I recently became involved in an ongoing email conversation regarding homosexuality and religion with the Assistant Superintendent of the Christian High School I attended. Because I believe this issue is of paramount importance to the ethics of our culture, our laws and to the future of Christianity, I decided to expand portions of the conversation into what will be an ongoing challenge to the traditional arguments used in favor of regarding homosexuality as sinful and damaging to society.
This is primarily a response to these statements:
“I am not 100% convinced (*that people are born gay*) (there are few things that I am 100% convinced of and I think most people are that way if they will admit it) on this but it is the best solution that I have come up with so far.
I can come to no other conclusion from reading scripture other than that homosexuality is sinful and that sinfulness cannot be diminished. Both the OT and NT condemn it in the strongest language.”
After making the assertion that all sin may be genetic, “Because I was born a liar.”:
“The problem comes in when gays persist in arguing the behavior normative. It is not any more than lying is normative.”
“I don’t fear that science will someday find a genetic cause of homosexuality. I don’t think it matters. It is still sin and it still can be redeemed.”
Many Christians choose to be skeptical of scientific discoveries and ideas that stem from the study of Biology and Sociology because “Nothing can be proven to be 100% true”. I can appreciate this reluctance as it displays a healthy level of skepticism. But is this skepticism perhaps a little too healthy? Do Christians require too great a burden of proof for discoveries that challenge their assumptions?
Scientifically speaking, nothing can truly be known with 100% certitude. We are forced to make observations, collect raw data and facts and come to logical conclusions based on how those facts fit together to form theories. As a result we are often forced to update our understanding of the world as new data becomes available. As a result, while almost nothing is capable of being proven with 100% certainty, we can arrive at conclusions with extremely high levels of probability to not only describe, but make predictions about the world around us. In many cases we can arrive at these conclusions with near certainty.
Thus, our inability to “prove” anything 100% does not interfere with making accurate conclusions based on evidence and our ability to interpret the world and universe around us. Regarding homosexuality, we should be able to make reasonable conclusions based on our knowledge.
I must turn first to the idea that homosexuality is “unnatural”. A belief that I find exemplified in the statement “The problem comes in when gays persist in arguing the behavior normative.”
Homosexual behavior is common in nature and has been observed in hundreds of species, especially in mammals and birds, but in reptiles and insects as well. This includes almost all primates, zebras, lions, dolphins, ducks, penguins the list goes on and on. Male American Bison commonly have full anal intercourse with each other and females have also often been observed mounting each other sexually. In some species such as the Bonobo apes, a full 60% of all sexual interactions are homosexual, in this case usually between two females. These interactions serve to strengthen social bonds and increase stability within primate communities. This is also true to a lesser extent of Chimpanzees, with whom we hold 98.5% of our genes identically in common including vestigial or “junk” DNA.
This begs the question, How does this fit into God’s plan for nature? If he is so concerned about homosexuality why is it so common among his creatures?
I received what I would consider a common argument against my position in response to that question:
“Well, the obvious answer is that the entire creation was subject to the fall. The effects of sin has affected not only mankind but the entire created order. So if the Bible is correct and homosexual behavior is sinful, then we should fully expect that the animal world has been infected with this as well.”
I find that this conclusion requires an impressive exercise in mental gymnastics to arrive at. I find it impossible to arrive at this conclusion because several of the examples of homosexuality found in nature that I mentioned above serve to strengthen social bonds and in terms of hereditary, has been linked to increased fertility. Thus these behaviors have been demonstrated to serve a positive purpose in nature in ways that translate into direct survival value for a species. If this behavior were an “infection”, a consequence of the fall, would we not expect this behavior to have a negative effect rather than a positive one? If as in the statement at the top of the page, “It doesn’t matter” in terms of whether or not homosexuality is a choice, then God holds us culpable for the result of our genetic and embryonic development over which we have no control. This is a conclusion that I find disturbing.
(For more on homosexuality in the animal kingdom I recommend seeing the documentary Out In Nature: Homosexual Behavior in the Animal Kingdom:
PART 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFeXwKnCUNI To watch the whole thing just click on the links following each segment)
In humans, studies have shown that among twins where one twin is gay, the other twin is gay over 50% of the time. This is a percentage that is simply much higher than could be expected if genes played no roll. Another major contributing factor is birth order. Studies have also shown that the more male children a woman has the higher the percentage is that her younger children will be gay. This is because after several male pregnancies, the woman’s body becomes immunologically sensitized to the male proteins in her body which she does not have. The woman’s body then creates antibodies against them. These antibodies effectively inhibit the male masculinization proteins thus producing a higher likelihood of a homosexual child. Furthermore, a recent study has also shown that maternal relatives of homosexual men had significantly more children than those who did not have a homosexual relative. This would indicate that homosexuality may play a significant role in fertility.
(I am also providing this Wikipedia article because it is fully referenced and far more thorough than my own understanding:
I have hopefully argued well that not only is homosexuality normal, it may play an important part in maintaining a healthy population, although looking around… this no longer seems to be a problem to be solved.
Part 2 will discuss the consequences of Christian condemnation of homosexuals and how this relates to the basic tenants of the faith.