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Is the Cause of Homosexuality not a Homosexual Gene?

It has become the mantra of our time: your genes (DNA) are your destiny! The unproven theory of a homosexual gene is widely accepted as fact within psychology, biology and theology. The claim that homosexuality is a natural, genetically inherited orientation is aggressively promoted today. Yet, to date, no proof of a homosexual gene has been provided:

  • In neither male nor female homosexuals is there convincing evidence of abnormality in sex chromosomes or the neuro-endocrine system.27
  • There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that homosexuals or bisexuals of any degree or of any type are chromosomally discrepant from heterosexuals.28
  • There is no evidence that treating male homosexuals with male hormones significantly alters their sexual preference. The clear implication of these results is that sexual preference is predominantly a social learned response, not an orientation fixed from the outset by genetic or hormonal factors.29
  • There are many identical twins in which only one is homosexual. This mean that the homosexual twin can not ascribe his homosexuality to genetic factors.30

Attributing sexual orientation to genes appeals to the homosexual community because it counters the argument by the religious groups who assert that homosexual conduct is unnatural. Another reason is that many homosexuals feel guilty about their sexual orientation and if a biological foundation is found, it would not be their fault. Thirdly, by advancing a biological explanation, gay-rights advocates assert that it would afford homosexuals more legal protection against discriminatory practices. In the fourth place, the so-called Christian homosexuals would be able to say to the church in general: God made us like this. Homosexuals, therefore, believe that if there is a gene contributing to sexual orientation, it follows that homosexuality is normal and thus worthy of preservation.

Do scientific studies support the existence of a gay gene? On April 14 (2003), the International Human Genome Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project – two years ahead of schedule. The press report read: The human genome is complete and the Human Genome Project is over. Most of the major science journals reported on the progress in the field of genetics, but also speculated on how the information would now be used. The one piece of information that never materialized from the Human Genome Project was the identification of the so-called gay gene.

The most frequently cited study was done under supervision of the molecular biologist, Hamer. However this study is under investigation by the federal Office of Research Integrity (USA) for possible scientific misconduct. His finding was greeted with considerable criticism from the scientific community. Hamer began his search for a genetic contribution to sexual behaviour in 1993 by studying the rates of homosexuality among male relatives of seventy-six known gay men. Hamer’s results remain controversial to this day. An independent study of gay siblings did not reproduce his results. None of the results, however, support the claim that any single gene determines or can determine sexual orientation. Hamer concluded:

“We have not found the gene - which we don’t think exists – for sexual orientation. There will never be a test that will say for certain whether a child will be gay. We know that for certain.” 31

A second study (1991) claiming that there is a connection between homosexuality and biology (genetics) was done by the neurophysiologist Simon LeVay. His claim to fame is that a specific structure in the brain is smaller in homosexual than in heterosexual men (though he has had no evidence regarding the sexual orientation of the women whose brains he examined).

All his research was conducted on the brains of cadavers. Much circumstantial evidence to the sexual orientation of the dead persons is inherent to his research results. Furthermore the homosexual men had all died of AIDS, which is known to affect brain structures. His 1993 book The Sexual Brain is an effort to popularise his theory that sexuality in all forms is ultimately attributable to the physical structures of our brains. Despite all the flaws of LeVay’s work, it has been received as the first proof for a biological base for sexual orientation. By linking homosexuality with science, it promotes faith in the expectation that science will soon find the fundamental (gene?) difference between homosexual and heterosexual men. About his own work LeVay said:

“It is important to stress what I did not 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 centre in the brain.” 32

 A further study by Baily & Pillard33 has also found no evidence that male homosexuality is influenced by a gene passed from mother to son and Scientists do not have much faith in any one study unless other studies find the same result. Born homosexual? What the studies actually suggest is that persons who experience homoerotic feelings and attractions are not prisoners of their biology. The scientific argument for a biological basis (born homosexual) for sexual orientation remains weak. LeVay himself says:

“Time and time again I have been described as someone who proved (sic!) that homosexuality is genetic…. I did not!”

In general then, there is no convincing evidence to support the theory, and that is what it is, that homosexual orientation is linked to biology. There is no science that supports an only biological (genetic) basis for homosexuality. There can be no valid appeal made for a third natural sex or alternative sexual orientation within God’s created reality.

The socio-historical background and the exegesis of the relevant Bible portions do not support such an appeal to the textual data. Homosexuality should be rejected as an abnormal expression (perversion) of sexuality because biblical sexual morality is defined by heterosexuality. The attitude to homosexuality is uncompromisingly negative throughout the Bible.

References

  • 27 Winter, 1989.
  • 28 Money, 1980:66.
  • 29 Davis, 1993:99.
  • 30 Horgan, 1995: 26.
  • 31 Whitehead, 1999. 135, 146-147.
  • 32 Quoted in Byrd, et al., 2001.
  • 33 Baily, et al., 2000:533