GAYS ARE NOT BORN THAT WAY
by Bob Wheeler
One of the most common arguments in defense of same-sex marriage is that gays are born that way and therefore cannot help being the way they are. Therefore it would be wrong to discriminate against them on the basis of their sexual orientation. Federal Appeals Court judge Richard A. Posner, for example, in striking down anti-gay marriage laws in Indiana and Wisconsin, opined that “there is little doubt that sexual orientation, the ground of discrimination, is an immutable (and probably an innate, in the sense of in-born) characteristic rather than a choice.”
Interestingly, even though Judge Posner said that there was “little doubt” about the matter, he had difficulty assigning the cause of homosexuality. He mentioned several theories, and even went so far as to say that “it seems paradoxical to suggest that homosexuality could have a genetic origin, given that homosexual sex is non-procreative.” He then went on to suggest that one possible explanation was that homosexuals are able to provide child-care assistance to their procreative relatives (?!). We sense that the learned judge is grasping at straws here.
The fact of the matter is that no one has been able to prove a biological cause for homosexuality. Homosexuals have been known to have gotten married and produced children the normal way, which suggests that there is nothing abnormal about them physically. What we are dealing with here is a psychological condition.
It is certainly true that many homosexuals genuinely feel that they have no control over their sexual orientation, and believe that they have always been gay. But the evidence points in another direction. In 1962 Dr. Irving Bieber published his report Homosexuality: A Study of Male Homosexuals. Dr. Bieber found that among male homosexuals there was usually an overly possessive mother and almost always a distant or hostile father. In other words, the problem originates in early childhood socialization. Attempts have been made to discredit the report, but other professionals who have worked the homosexuals have noted the same pattern. Homosexuality is an acquired characteristic.
But can it be changed? Most homosexuals would undoubtedly say no – being gay is just the way they are, and they genuinely feel that they had no choice in the matter. And in fact most people would undoubtedly find it very difficult, if not next to impossible, to change a personality trait that they acquired in early childhood. To most of us these traits seem like a matter of instinct, and we have no memory of it ever having been different. But some practitioners have seen positive results in homosexuals who really want to change. The problem is that the majority probably do not, and the matter is further complicated by the fact that their behavior is self-reinforcing. Once in the lifestyle it is hard to get out.
But the same thing is true about almost any lifestyle that the Bible condemns as sinful. We are all born sinners by nature, and what you give yourself to becomes your master. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves to whom you obey . . .?” (Rom. 6:16; NKJV). Does the drunkard have any control over his drinking? Or does the person addicted to porn have any self-control? What about the person who cannot control his temper, or the covetous person who can never get enough? We all have a natural proclivity towards sin, and sin, when indulged in, becomes compulsive and self-destructive.
But the whole point of salvation is to release us from the bondage of sin. What God has to give us is a new heart, a heart that wants to please Him, to be the men and women He intended us to be. When the apostle Paul took the gospel out into the pagan Graeco-Roman world he encountered people trapped in all kinds of vice and immorality. In I Cor. 6:9-11he could list a whole string of sins, including homosexuality, but added, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 11).
Yes, there is hope for homosexuals. But what they need is not psychotherapy, but the saving grace of God.