HOMOSEXUALITY: AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
BY DON SCHMIERER
If a conversation about homosexuality continues for any length of time, you can be sure you’ll hear some statements that aren’t exactly true. Here are a few untruths about homosexuality you’re likely to encounter:
Homosexuality is genetic. It’s like another gender. Many people, even many Christians, are surprised to learn that no solid scientific evidence exists to indicate there is a homosexual gene. The complex causes of homosexuality occur over the period of time from birth through adolescence. Later in life, as these factors converge, they play a strategic role in the choices people make involving their sexual relations.
The Bible says homosexuality is okay. Some individual Christians and churches believe that homosexuality is not a sin. Valiant efforts have been made to Reconstruct or reinterpret various scriptures. Nonetheless God’s Word clearly states that homosexuality is wrong. (See 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:26-27; Leviticus 18:22; Jude 1:7.) It is also clear that all sins are displeasing to God judge one more harshly than another. We are to love those who fall short of God’s best. That doesn’t mean, however, that what they are doing agrees with God’s Word.
Homosexuality is just another alternative lifestyle. Its a good, healthy choice for some people. The homosexual lifestyle is not a safe alternative. It involves physical, emotional and spiritual dangers, such as decreased life expectancy, disease, and high suicide rates.
JUST THE FACTS
The facts add up to one important conclusion. If homosexuality is not genetic, if it is not godly, and if it involves a dangerous way of life, then we don’t want ourselves or our loved ones involved in it. But that raises another very important question: Can homosexuality be prevented?
The simple answer is yes, it can be. And that is good news for millions of families. Genetic, psychological and social research confirm that a variety of causes sets the stage for homosexual choices.
But gender confusion can be reversed. Biological predisposition can be treated. Patterns of attraction and addiction can be understood and reformed. These things, in fact, should be addressed before homosexual behavior ever takes place.
I have spent more than four decades counseling young people in university ministries and recovery programs. A few years ago, I was confronted by a friend who was watching me struggle to assist AIDS hospice ministries. He said, “Don, we’ve got to find a way to stop this problem before it starts. If we don’t, we’re fighting a losing battle.”
I was inspired by my friend’s words. Never before had I thought about the prevention of homosexuality. I began seriously researching the subject, reading scores of books, compiling information and interviewing those with firsthand knowledge. I wanted to help concerned Christians develop a strategy for the prevention of homosexuality among youth.
Everyone asks, “So what is the cause of homosexuality?” Yet no one wants to point a finger at anyone or provide a simplistic reason for a condition that is incredibly complex.
Like many other adult problems, homosexuality begins at home. Mom and Dad are key players. Research from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality states, “One hundred percent of the research participants stated their father/father figure was distant, uninvolved in their upbringing, frightening and unapproachable. Eighty-seven percent spoke of a mother who was close, controlling and overbearing.”
As important as parent-child dynamics are, they aren’t the only concerns. The following factors can also contribute to the homosexual orientation. The individual person’s self-will Pornography Media and culture Spousal abuse in the home molestation and pedophilia parental adultery moral relativism seduction by peers chemical imbalances failure of leadership
There are no perfect families, but hopefully parents will identify potential problems and deal with them before they begin. A Christ centered, loving family with an understanding of biblical
principles can develop a healthy gender identity in children from the day they are born.
Beyond the family, it is vital for concerned Christian adults to be sensitive to the needs of at-risk youth. The prevention of homosexuality requires the involvement of the entire Christian
community: parents, pastors, lay leaders, teachers, peers, friends, extended family and youth workers. We need to provide healthy male and female role modeling. We need to awaken an awareness of media influences. And, most of all, we need to build godly, Christ-centered families.
Make a prayerful determination to reach out loving hands toward young men and women who are vulnerable to rejection, rebellion, confusion and temptation. Let’s do all we can to understand the pain that inevitably lies behind homosexual behavior. If we make an extra effort on behalf of kids who are gender confused or morally deceived, then we can eliminate one more myth: There’s nothing we can do about homosexuality.
With the right information, the right strategy and God’s help, we can prevent homosexuality.
THE GAY GENE?
BY DR. JEFFREY SATINOVER
Of course, everyone knows it’s true, right? It was reported on National Public Radio, in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, after all. “Research Points Toward a Gay Gene,” the Journal said. “Report Suggests Homosexuality Is Linked to Genes,” read the Times.
They were all reporting the release of a study in Science magazine in July 1993 that purported to find a genetic cause for homosexuality. Though the necessary caveats were added to the news stories, most people would already have turned off the radio or turned the page, thinking that homosexuality is caused by a gene.
But can you believe everything you read in the paper? Is there such a thing as a gay gene?
In the study the media was trumpeting, molecular geneticist Dean Hamer and his colleagues had performed a new kind of behavioral genetics study now becoming widespread–the so-called “linkage study.” Researchers identify a behavioral trait that runs in a family and is correlated to a chromosomal variant found in the genetic material of that family. Hamer’s study identified a link on the q28 region of the X chromosome in homosexual males.
Even though a trait may have a chromosomal link, it does not necessarily mean it is genetic. Genetic traits are those, such as eye colors, that are coded for us by genes alone.
Each human gene can be thought of as a book that provides a complex set of instructions for the synthesis of a single protein. These proteins are then responsible for forming and operating
everything else in the body.
Behavioral traits, such as weight, are influenced by genetics, but unlike genetic traits, most behavioral traits are programmed by multiple genes and things such as the environment in the womb, the mother’s health habits or postnatal effects of a virus. All of these and more may combine and influence one another throughout a lifetime. Behavioral traits, as opposed to simple, single-gene physiologic traits such as eye color, always interact in this way.
Demonstrating that any behavioral state is not only biological but genetic is well beyond our present research capacity. This is especially true for something so complex and nuanced as homosexuality. One psychiatric researcher, Brian Suarez, calculated that at least 8,000 people would be required for a study to confirm a behavioral trait as genetic. No study of homosexuality has come remotely close to these requirements.
As it is, the Hamer study is seriously flawed. Four months after its publication in Science, a critical commentary appeared in the same publication. It took issue with the many assumptions and questionable use of statistics that underlie Hamer’s conclusions, but not with his research methods and raw data, which met acceptable standards for linkage studies.
Genetics researchers from Yale, Columbia and Louisiana State Universities noted that much of the Hamer report focused on social and political ramifications of genetic homosexuality rather than discussing scientific evidence. They also indicated that the results were not consistent with any genetic model and should be interpreted cautiously.
Hamer responded, indicating that his research was not conclusive that Xq28 underlies sexuality, only that it contributes to it in some families, and that its influence was statistically detectable in the population that he studied.
Hamer gave another report in a 1994 issue of Science devoted to behavioral genetics. He indicated that complex behavioral traits are the product of multiple genetic and environmental agents. He clarified that “environment” meant not only social environment but also the flux of hormones during development, whether you were lying on your right or left side in the womb and a number of other factors.
Science revisited the topic this year, publishing two articles questioning supposed links to a gay gene. Both articles reference an independent genetic study conducted in Canada in 1989 with research continuing today by four researchers from the University of Western Ontario and Stanford Medical School. This study used 52 pairs of gay siblings from 48 families. Hamer’s research used 40 homosexual brother pairs. The study concluded, “It is unclear why our results are so discrepant from Hamer’s original study. Because our study was larger than that of Hamer et al., we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as was reported in that study. Nonetheless, our data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation at position Xq28.”
In other words, any claims to have found a “gay gene” were overblown, if not outright wrong.
Figuring It All Out
What can we conclude about the biology of homosexuality? Consider a comprehensive review article, “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biological Theories Reappraised,” written by William Byne and Bruce Parsons from Columbia University in 1993.
The article reviews 135 research studies, prior reviews, academic summaries, books and chapters of books–in essence the entire literature on homosexuality, of which only a small portion is actual
research. Its findings summarized that there is no evidence at present to substantiate that biological factors are the primary basis for sexual orientation.
Whatever genetic contribution to homosexuality exists, probably contributes not to homosexuality per se, but rather to some other trait that makes the homosexual “option” more readily available to some than others.
Most studies to date have many flaws. Some are caused by the intrusion of political agendas into what should be objective research, and some are due to the complex nature of the subject. These flaws must temper any conclusions we make. It is premature, and will almost certainly prove to be incorrect, to state that homosexuality is genetic.
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover is the author of Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. He is a former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University. He holds degrees from MIT, the
University of Texas and Harvard. To request a copy of his book, please see the center of the magazine.
Exodus International is a coalition of Christian ministries that offers support to those seeking to overcome homosexuality. Many of these ministries have specialized services for Families and friends, including support groups, one-on-one counseling and literature. For a free packet about Exodus, including complete list of referral ministries, contact Exodus International-North America, P.O. Box 77652, Seattle, WA 98177 Call (206) 784-7799.
National Association for Research and Therapy Of Homosexuality (NARTH) is an organization of nearly 700 professionals who treat homosexuality. Contact BARTH by writing to 16633 Ventura Blvd., Suite 1340, Encino, CA 91436. Call (818) 789-4440.
For a free catalog of books on homosexuality and related issues, contact Regeneration Books, P.O. Box 9830, Baltimore, MD 21284. Call (410) 661-0284.
Don’s hook An Ounce of Prevention helps parents identify the warning signs of a developing homosexual condition. It provides insight into how–and how not–to approach struggling youth and to respond to their needs. Above all else, it emphasizes the incomparable value of love and forgiveness to those struggling with homosexuality. Don and his wife, Diana, have also helped operate several Christian addiction recovery programs.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, OCTOBER 1999, PAGES 10-13. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.