Keith, to whom I must grant the “Best Follow-Up Questions Award,” made these comments after reading “Aren’t People Born Gay?”
You say you have come to the conclusion that people are not “born gay”, but do you even have the option of coming to the conclusion that they are? I think not. To do so would invalidate so much of your world view. Among the gay folks you have had detailed conversations with, what percentage do you suspect would have also come the conclusion that they were not “born gay”?
First, I have come to the conclusion that people are not born gay because there is no evidence that they are. This from the American Psychological Association:
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; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
To your second point, a biblical worldview recognizes that this world, including our physical bodies, is tainted. In the beginning, everything that was biological was good, perfect and beneficial. That is no longer the case. Through fallen human choices (such as fetal alcohol syndrome) or genetic anomaly (such as albinism or down syndrome) or genetic predispositions (obesity, depression, cancer) humans can be born with conditions that are outside of the realm of normal and/or beneficial. While I don’t believe that God “causes” any of these conditions, He does allow all manner of genetic and biological maladies in this life. (The question of “why” suffering exists is the subject for another blog post.) By no means is that which is natural, biological or genetic always beneficial.
So while there is no evidence to suggest that biological factors contribute solely to the development of one’s “sexual orientation,” if a biological cause was discovered, it would by no means shatter my worldview. It would just be one more “natural” tendency that, for the Christian, would need to be governed by the principles of scripture and the authority of the Spirit of Christ living within.
My very first blog post was “Christianity according to Jesus” where I highlighted several commands that Jesus gives for His followers, most of which go against our human nature (turn the other cheek, bless those who persecute us, deny yourself, etc.) Throughout scripture, God issues directives that oppose our innate tendencies. The whole point of Ephesians chapter four is that we are to “put off” the old nature (things that come naturally) and “put on” the new nature that is created to be like God.
In the post “If Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality, it’s not an essential part of His teaching” I discuss the negative tendencies that I struggle with- greed, exaggeration, and desiring my comfort over obedience to God. All of these characteristics could be considered “natural” and in my case I will argue that they are in-born. Certainly no one had to teach me these things. They are either encouraged or tempered by environment but not caused. (And in that post I didn’t mention the greatest and most all-encompassing of my struggles: “thinking of myself more highly than I ought,” otherwise known as pride.)
If you are looking honestly at Christianity according to Christ and the New Testament, this faith teaches that we must die to ourselves if we are to follow Christ. It doesn’t matter if our behaviors, emotions, and tendencies are in-born or the product of environment or choice. Except for our race, age, and gender, we must be prepared to lay everything at the foot of the cross so that God can mold us more into the likeness of His Son.
Regarding your final question, “Among the gay folks you have had detailed conversations with, what percentage do you suspect would have also come the conclusion that they were not “born gay”? Probably half of them feel that there is a biological component and three of them feel that it is an irresistible biological orientation, though one of the three is choosing to live a celibate life. (A more detailed answer to this question can be found in the post “The reality of Sexual Orientation.”) Now admittedly I probably come into contact with, and am drawn to testimonies/books/blogs of, those who have left the homosexual lifestyle or who are questioning their sexual identity.
A Christian worldview is grounded in reality. Therefore fact, reason and empiricism is never a threat. In this subject, as in so many others, the challenge is cutting through the popular spin and looking honestly at what really is. Regarding the “causes” of same-sex attraction, we have more questions than answers.