James R. Aist
(Note: the numbers in parentheses refer to specific references listed at the end of the article)
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” – Joseph Goebbels
Since the early 1970s, homosexual people have increasingly claimed that they were “born gay” and that, therefore, they could not change even if they wanted to. In the gay community itself more than 90% of gays now believe genes are a significant factor in their orientation—a ten-fold increase in fifty years (1). By repeating this claim over and over again for decades now, they have managed to win over a large percentage of heterosexual “believers” to their cause, without any substantial basis in fact to validate the claim that they were “born that way.” “Born gay” is, in fact, a hoax of mammoth proportions that has been accepted by many institutions, organizations and individuals in our culture, even by those in the “Christian church” and even by many apparently “born-again Christians” (1). Therefore, it is necessary to examine carefully the facts concerning the origins and development of homosexuality to see if there is any truth at all to the “born gay” claim. Most of the relevant information can be grouped into three main categories: biological studies, cultural evidence and social factors. The critical question is whether homosexuality is already determined at birth by biological factors and is immutable (unchangeable), or develops later as a result of post-natal experiences and factors, and is fluid (changeable). As you will see, the evidence strongly supports the view that homosexuality develops primarily as a result of post-natal experiences and factors, and is fluid (changeable); pre-natal influences (including genetics) have, at most, a weak and non-determinative role.
This research has focused primarily on possible genetic contributions to the development of homosexuality, but other potential biological factors, such as hormones and brain anatomy, have received considerable attention as well. So, let’s first take a look at evidence for genetic causation of homosexuality. In this regard, it is important to note at the outset that if homosexuality were genetically determined, it would have been bred out of existence in only several generations; it would not exist today. Whereas there was some research in the early 1990s suggesting the existence of a “gay gene”, this evidence has since been thoroughly refuted and disproven: there is no “gay gene”, and it is now well documented that genetics does not determine sexual orientation (15, 16, 17).
Most of the more recent research has focused on the degree to which genetics may influence the development of homosexuality, along with other factors. In this regard, the most powerful and conclusive results have come from “twin studies”. The results of twin studies have the unique advantage of reflecting the combined influence of all possible, pre-natal, biological factors (e.g., genes, hormones, brain morphology and antibodies) on the development of homosexuality (8). As the design of research studies using identical twins (who both have exactly the same genes) has improved, the reported percentage of homosexual people whose identical twin is also homosexual has declined to only about 10% (by contrast, genetic determination of homosexuality would result in nearly 100% of such twin pairs being both homosexual), indicating that there is only a very weak genetic influence on the development of homosexuality (8, 12). This low level of genetic influence is also the estimated level of genetic influence on virtually any kind of human behavior (11), which indicates that there is no particularly outstanding influence of genetics on the development of homosexuality. Comparable results and conclusions were obtained for non-identical twins of the same gender (18). Such low-level genetic influences on human behavior are known to be non-determinative and treatable by therapy and/or counseling. For instance, the best example to date of a genetically related behavior (mono-amine oxidase deficiency leading to aggression) has shown itself remarkably responsive to counseling (11). It seems appropriate to conclude, therefore, that there is, at the most, only a very small genetic influence on the development of homosexuality, and that this relatively minor influence can be overcome (nullified) through behavioral therapy (8), which we know to be a fact (10, 19). Dean Hamer, one of the main authors of the “gay gene” publications and a self-proclaimed homosexual, summed it up nicely for us: “There will never be a test that will say for certain whether a child will be gay. We know this for certain.” This means, as clearly as anyone could state, that no one is “born gay” (7).
Concerning other suggested biological causes of homosexuality, Whitehead and Whitehead (16) and Deem (17) have presented evidence against a significant role for them as well. Differences in brain structure cannot be attributed to pre-natal influences, since there are no discernible structural differences at birth, not even between male and female brains. Major differences do develop during childhood and adolescence, and these differences can be attributed to known post-natal influences. Possible anatomical differences in the brains of mature homosexual men vs. mature heterosexual men can also be attributed to known post-natal influences, as brain anatomy is known to be affected by learning and behavior, even in adults (6). An examination of the relevant research literature dealing with the possible influence of pre-natal hormones and antibodies on subsequent development of homosexuality, also indicates that these factors play little, if any, role (5).
In view of the fact that genetics and other pre-natal biological influences have an extremely small effect, if any, on the development of homosexuality, these results clearly support the conclusion, based on results obtained through therapy and counseling (14, 20, 21, 22), that post-natal, environmental influences have a far greater role in the development of homosexuality than does genetics or other suggested pre-natal influences.
There are also several kinds of cultural evidence indicating that homosexuality is not genetically determined, but is, instead, strongly influenced by post-natal events and influences. This evidence was reviewed by Whitehead and Whitehead (4), and I will mention some of the highlights here. If causation of homosexuality were to be genetically determined, then it would appear in about the same percentage in all cultures, but this is clearly not the case. The prevalence of homosexuality has varied considerably in different cultures. For example, Ford and Beach (23) found that in the 79 cultures they surveyed, homosexuality was rare or absent in 29 and lesbianism was found in only 17. Homosexuality is also historically and exceptionally rare in Orthodox Jews. And among the genetically related tribes of the New Guinea Highlands, homosexuality was mandatory among one tribe, practiced by 2-3% of a second tribe and completely unheard of in a third tribe. A significant number of cultures appear not to have practiced homosexuality at all. Moreover, if causation of homosexuality were to be genetically determined, then its occurrence in any given culture would be stable over very long periods of time (e.g., 1,000 years or more), but in some cultures, homosexuality disappeared within several generations. Anthropologists attribute many such sudden changes to Christian influences, which represent a set of post-natal, non-biological, cultural factors.
Sorba (15) has documented numerous examples of adult celebrities and homosexuality advocates who have spontaneously changed from homosexual to heterosexual. Furthermore, at least six specific examples of adults who changed sexual orientation spontaneously, without therapy or counseling, have been documented by NARTH (24).
Homosexuality does not conform to any genetically prescribed model, but does appear to have an overwhelmingly cultural component, ebbing and flowing with changes in cultural values and expectations and with personal experiences (4).
In addition to the cultural influences on the development and practice of homosexuality mentioned above, there are several other social factors that are known to have an important role.
Whitehead and Whitehead (25) pointed out that the percentage of homosexuality in males reared in urban environments is 3.3 times that of males reared in rural environments, while the corresponding factor for homosexuality in females is 2.3 times, indicating a very strong influence of the urban environment in the development of homosexuality.
Schumm (26) found that adults raised by homosexual parents are up to 12 times as likely to self-identify as homosexual or bisexual as are adults raised by heterosexual parents, which indicates that post-natal environmental factors associated with growing up in a homosexual household (such as having homosexual adult role models and unequivocal acceptance of homosexuality) can play a major role in the development of a homosexual orientation.
A re-interpretation of results obtained using a research technique called “path analysis” has also shown that post-natal social factors do lead to homosexuality (9). Two of these studies produced similar results and were found to lend good support to the idea of a constellation of environmental factors influencing the development of homosexuality, rather than biological factors. In these studies, environmental factors accounted for 38% of female homosexuality and 76-78% of male homosexuality. A third study, using a variation on the path analysis approach, showed that one post-natal social factor, gender non-conformity during childhood and adolescence (e.g., sissy-ness or tomboyish-ness), is about 10 times stronger than genetic factors in the development of homosexuality.
Bearman and Brückner (18) studied same-sex sexual attraction in opposite-sex twins, with unique and relevant results. Adolescent males who are opposite-sex twins are twice as likely as expected to report same-sex attraction, and the pattern of similarity across pairs of same-sex preference for sibling pairs does not suggest genetic influence apart from social influences. Their results support the hypothesis that a post-natal social factor (i.e., less gendered socialization in early childhood and pre-adolescence due to the presence of an opposite-sex twin) shapes the subsequent development of same-sex sexual attractions in opposite-sex twins.
Therapy and Counseling Results
Aist (19) reviewed and summarized some of the published information on religiously mediated and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at a rate that is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism. And many studies have found that, for the most part, these are long-term, stable shifts in sexual orientation. In fact, many ex-gays have been happily married with children for several-to-many years. What is the significance of these results relative to the claim that homosexual people are born gay? First, they confirm that pre-natal influences, including genes, do not dictate sexual orientation, because very significant change in sexual orientation has been achieved through therapy and counseling. Such change would not be possible if sexual orientation were fixed at birth. And second, the fact that therapy and counseling are successful at a rate that is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism, confirms that any predisposition to homosexuality that may be present at birth is so weak that it can be nullified by subsequent intervention. Socarides (14) put it this way: “As psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, we are treating obligatory homosexuality successfully, changing sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Such a change would be unthinkable if there were any truth at all to the organic or biological or hereditary causation of homosexuality.”
The Role of Choice in Homosexuality
There seems to be some consensus that homosexual people do not choose to have the same-sex attractions and sexual feelings that they experience initially, but that doesn’t mean that living a homosexual life-style does not involve choices. Once that first same-sex sexual attraction is encountered, there is a choice as to whether or not to act on it, and the same choice is made every time that attraction is experienced. Bi-sexual people make a choice every time they engage in homosexual sex rather than heterosexual sex. Heterosexual people who are married with children and then forsake their marriage for a homosexual relationship have made a choice to do so. And the fluidity in sexual orientation found especially in lesbians, but also in gays, speaks to the choice of sexual orientation available to many, if not most, homosexual people, at least until their late teens (10). All things considered, it seems reasonable to conclude that a homosexual lifestyle is entirely a matter of choice.
Models for the Development of Sexual Orientation
Since pre-natal factors apparently have very little to do with the development of homosexuality, how, then, can we correctly envision the development of homosexual orientation? To answer this question, let‘s first consider the development of heterosexual orientation. Psychologists are unanimous in their belief that heterosexuality is environmentally, not genetically, determined (3). No one appears to be born heterosexual. Rather, heterosexual attraction is learned, developing over a period of time in response to certain environmental factors, in particular:
• Good maternal nurture from the earliest stages and through the first few years
• Identification with and imitation of the parent of the same sex
• Acceptance by and identification with same-sex peer groups
• Identification in a boy with what is culturally “masculine” and in a girl with what is culturally “feminine” (this is called “gender conformity”).
• The day-in-day-out treatment of boys and girl, as boys or girls, respectively
• The biologically programmed hormonal rush of puberty
• Falling in love
• Culturally prescribed sexual behaviors, such as arousal over women’s breasts.
• Personal sexual preferences and behaviors that can be traced back to early sexual arousal in unique circumstances.
It is believed that, for a variety of reasons, homosexuality develops when the normal pattern of heterosexual development is not followed. Reasons include sexual abuse (by men), and a variety of ruptures with same-sex role models. Sometimes this is the father or mother, sometimes peers, probably including siblings. Quite a common consequence is being or feeling less masculine (males) or feminine (females) than others in the same-sex peer group. This can lead to rejection by peers (even other peers who are homosexual) leading to feelings of being different, gender non-conformity and a growing drive to make up the sensed deficit through a strong connection with an individual of the same sex, which becomes eroticized and then manifested as homosexual behavior (3).
Once the pattern of sexual gratification starts, a habit begins, becomes ingrained, and then often addictive. When the process gets to this point, it is very difficult, but not impossible, to effect a change in sexual orientation because the desire for homosexual gratification has become ingrained and extremely powerful. (It is important to note that one gets oneself into this condition through a series of personal choices and decisions made repeatedly over a long period of time; it is not imposed upon him/her by any biological factors, including genes.) It should not be surprising, therefore, that it will take a series of very difficult personal choices and decisions made repeatedly over a long period of time to achieve a reversal of homosexual orientation and/or behavior, but it is possible; many exclusively homosexual people have managed to do so (10, 19).
Homosexual Orientation Is Not from God!
Some homosexuality advocates claim that homosexual people are not only born gay, but that God created them that way (with same-sex attractions). However, such a claim is diametrically opposed to the biblical witness; there are scriptural proofs that God is not the source of the same-sex attractions and desires that homosexual people experience. Firstly, the Bible clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior as sin (Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; and I Timothy 1:10). Now, if God himself were to instill same-sex attractions and desires into homosexual people, then, by doing so, He would be tempting them to sin sexually. However, the Bible also states, emphatically, that God does not tempt anyone to sin (James 1:13-14). The necessary conclusion is that the God of the Bible would not create anyone homosexual, because to do so would violate His very nature and character, which is to hate sin. And secondly, after God had created Adam and Eve as heterosexual people, the Bible says that “God saw all that he made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “All that He had made” could not have included homosexuality, because the Bible clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior as evil, not good. And that — the creation of Adam and Eve –- was “the last of the work of creation that God was doing” (Genesis 2:2). It follows, then, that God not only would not, but also did not, create anyone homosexual. Homosexuality must have first appeared at some later time, after God had finished creating.
Since same-sex attractions and desires do not come from God, where do they come from? The Bible says that sin entered the world through the “original sin” of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-19) after the last of the work of creation that God was doing (Genesis 2:2), and that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). Thus, same-sex sexual attraction (i.e., homosexuality) is a result of sin entering the world through the disobedience of Adam.
Moreover, since God does not put the same-sex urges into homosexual people, it follows that such urges do not constitute a valid argument that God approves of their volitional consequences, namely, homosexual acts. Rather, God’s moral laws were given to communicate the sinfulness of our urges (e.g., lying, stealing, vengeance, adultery, fornication, and homosexual sex) that are opposed to His will.
Summary and Conclusions
There is nothing fixed or final about the homosexual orientation and its natural expression, homosexual behavior. No politician, church leader or member, judge, teacher or counselor, or homosexual person, or friend or family of a homosexual person, needs to feel forced into a position on homosexuality based on the apparent immutability of homosexual orientation. Homosexuality is not inborn, not genetically dictated; nor for that matter is heterosexuality or any other human behavior. In fact, our genes do not make us do anything. Whether it’s homosexuality, a foul temper, bed-wetting or addiction to chocolate, our genes have very little to do with it. The level of genetic influence could easily be as low as 10%, the balance of 90% coming from post-natal cultural and environmental influences. And that 10% is not a direct genetic influence on homosexual orientation; it is a direct influence on a separate trait that can predispose toward homosexual orientation. Every human being has a 10% genetic influence on behavior of any kind, and that minimal genetic influence drops commensurately with whatever environmental interventions (e.g., cultural influences, social factors, therapy and counseling) of an opposing kind are brought to bear upon it (1).
So, the next time a homosexuality advocate tries to convince you that homosexual people are born gay, that God made them that way, that their homosexuality is “natural” and/or that their homosexual orientation cannot change, do not believe them. They are trying to get you to believe a lie, as the evidence clearly shows.
(for more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)
1. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Introduction. (click HERE)
2. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 1. Can genes create sexual preference? (click HERE)
3. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 3. Are heterosexuals born that way? (click HERE)
4. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 6. What do different cultures tell us about homosexuality? (click HERE)
5. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 7. Pre-natal hormones? Stress? Immune attack? (click HERE)
6. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 8. Are brains gay? (click HERE)
7. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 9. The “discovery” of the “gay gene”. (click HERE)
8. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 10. Twin studies: The strongest evidence. (click HERE)
9. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 11. Path analysis – social factors do lead to homosexuality. (click HERE)
10. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 12. Can sexual orientation change? (click HERE)
11. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Summary. (click HERE)
12. King, M. & E. McDonald. 1992. Homosexuals who are twins: A study of 46 probands. British J. Psychiatry 160:407-409.
13. Socarides, C.W. 1995a. A Freedom Too Far. Adam Margrave Books, Phoenix, AZ. pp.149-150.
14. Socarides, C.W. 1995b. Exploding the myth of constitutional homosexuality. Narth Bulletin, Vol. III, Number 2, pages 17-18.
15. Sorba, R. 2007. The Born Gay Hoax. (click HERE)
16. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. My Genes Made Me Do It! – Homosexuality and the scientific evidence. (click HERE)
17. Deem, R. 2012. Genetics and Homosexuality: Are People Born Gay? The Biological Basis for Sexual Orientation. (click HERE)
18. Bearman, P. and H. Brueckner. 2002. Opposite-sex Twins and Adolescent Same-Sex Attraction. American Journal of Sociology 107:1179-1205.
19. Aist, J. 2012. Homosexuality: Good News!(click HERE)
20. Masters, W. H. & V. E. Johnson. 1979. Homosexuality in Perspective. Little, Brown & Co., Boston.
21. Nicolosi, J. 1991. Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality. Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, NJ.
22. Siegel, E. V. 1988. Female Homosexuality. Choice without Volition. The Analytical Press, Hillsdale, NJ.
23. Ford, C. and F. Beach. 1952. Patterns of Sexual Behaviour. Eyre and Spottiswoode, London.
24. NARTH, 2012. 7) Spontaneous or Adventitious Change of Sexual Orientation. (click HERE)
25. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 2. The genetic implications of SSA population percentage. (click HERE)
26. Schumm, W. 2010. Children of Homosexuals More Apt to be homosexuals? A Reply to Morrison and to Cameron Based on an Examination of Multiple Sources of Data. Journal of Biosocial Science 42:721-742.