We’re all ‘born that way’
Published: 21 March 2013 (GMT+10)
J.J. from Australia wrote in with a question:
Hi. Just wondering if you could tell me from a Christian standpoint whether homosexuality is genetic? I saw an article on Wikipedia supposedly defending it. I’d like to be able to debate using the most up-to-date evidence, but I’m not very scientifically-minded. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Information Officer Lita Cosner responds:
There’s been no firm evidence that there’s a genetic basis for homosexuality. But that’s never been one of our main points in arguing against homosexuality. We believe that people are born with all sorts of inborn tendencies that are sinful. Lots of heterosexual men don’t find monogamy very natural, but we don’t change God’s commands to allow for their sinful tendency. Many people find lying and cheating more advantageous in certain situations, but we still maintain that they are wrong. So to ask a somewhat politically-incorrect statement, if ‘I was born that way’ makes homosexuality okay, what else does it make okay? What if there’s a genetic basis for paedophilia or incest?
But in fact, we’re all ‘born that way’ with regard to something—as descendants of Adam, we’re all sinners, and that’s precisely why Jesus had to come. Some people struggle with homosexual desires, some people struggle with wrath and unforgiveness, some people struggle with being truthful. Jesus saves us from the eternal consequences of our sin—I deserve Hell for the wrong things I’ve done, but Jesus has saved me from that by taking the penalty in my place. But Jesus isn’t content to stop there. He makes us legally righteous by taking the penalty on Himself so we can have His ‘innocent’ sentence. But then He works in us to make us actually righteous—that’s called ‘sanctification’, and it takes time, and we won’t reach the goal of full sanctification (sinless perfection) in this life.
So what answer do we give homosexuals? I think we have to give them the Gospel:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God … (1 Corinthians 6:9–10)
That’s the bad news. And you know what? All of us fit somewhere in that list. Who isn’t guilty of greed? Who hasn’t reviled? None of us deserve to inherit the Kingdom of God. But too many people stop there when they cite that as an anti-gay verse; the Bible continues:
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11, emphasis added).
The Apostle Paul is talking to former idolaters, former homosexuals, former thieves, former swindlers—former sinners, who aren’t sinners anymore because they have a new identity in Christ. And I find it significant that Paul uses the past tense: “And such were you … but you were sanctified”. We know from other places (and from experience) that sanctification is actually an ongoing process, but Paul’s confidence in that work is such that he refers to it in the past tense.
In contrast, ‘my genes made me do it’ is really reducing the person to an automaton, a mere animal driven by instincts. It’s dehumanizing, really, and robs the person of any alternative life or change (which many people struggling with this issue want). And in fact, there is evidence that change is possible; see Study: Gays can change sexual orientation (2011). Indeed, for anyone in Christ, change is inevitable:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This is a wonderful hope for all sinners caught up in sinful behavior that they feel trapped by.
Studies that look at differences between people engaged in homosexual behavior, (such as reactions to male or female sweat, etc.) are useless because our behavior affects our tastes/likes/dislikes, etc. We become what we do. Our brains are ‘plastic’, as stroke researchers know. And the fact that many people successfully reorient their sexual preferences shows that these are not ‘innate’ but learned, albeit there are things that influence towards ‘learning’ certain behaviors. Also see http://www.narth.com/docs/whitehead2.html on the implications of identical twin studies, which are the only truly scientific way to check for a genetic basis for homosexual behavior.
So in summary, it’s not a genetics issue, it’s a Gospel issue. For some of our articles on homosexuality, please see our Morality and Ethics Questions and Answers page. I hope this is helpful.
(Also available in Russian)
As usual you are spot on, clear and to the point, in my opinion Lita.
Great article. However you cannot say that "God loves the sinner, hates the sin" in this case, since 1Cor 6:9 says that neither the effeminate nor homosexuals will inherit the Kingdom of God. When my husband was preaching in Uganda, he had to explain what a homosexual was, since they did not seem to know. It was unheard of except in the bigger more westernised cities, which I think shows that it is not normally in the gene pool but is a learnt behaviour, something to do with nuture.
It is extremely fortunate that God loves the sinner, because 'the sinner' is each one of us. Romans 5:8 affirms that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We have no way of discerning which sinners will respond in faith to the Gospel through the Spirit's work, and which will harden their hearts.
Indeed no one was born that way. GOD who changed Saul to Paul can also change us to live up to GOD's image.
What a fantastic response (and a perspective I'd never even considered). Lita is absolutely right, I struggled for more than 20 years with fornication and adultery, all entangled with an addiction to pornography and during those years I was convinced that it could not be changed and was a part of myself I would have to accept and try to control. I prayed about it halfway through those 20 years in frustration and yet Jesus was progressively changing me and preparing my mind and healing past emotional issues in ways I couldn't have foreseen. Now I have been celibate for a long time, am no longer 'gripped' by insatiable desires and lust and find even the thought of intimacy outside of a secure loving marriage actually repugnant. I now see these things as besetting sin you can either feed or starve; it only changes when we become honest enough to admit that we have been feeding it and want to stop doing so. Regarding the hard-wiring of the brain and 'plasticity' for change being reinforceable, I experience the pervasive corruption of my tastes over those years from adolescence and after 2 decades have seen God 're-wire' my brain and my tastes to normality: I had to reach a point of wanting to let Him (God forces change on no one!). Thank you for this helpful article.
Well said, Lita.
We are born sinners and also choose to sin against God. But no one needs to remain in sin, because: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 ESV).
And: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col 1:13-14 ESV)
We are powerless to free ourselves from sin and the punishment of sin. But thanks be to God, for He has delivered us! We simply need to repent of our sins and believe the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ! For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Eph 2:8 ESV)
Thankyou Lita. As with another comment above, I think this is the best I have ever read on this topic.
Well done Lita, thanks. If i am allowed I would like to say that unfortunately Adam's and Eve sin brought upon our human race every manifestation of evil in spite of God's evaluation of His creation work as being "very good". The problem of homosexuality stay as it is a BIG problem of true suffering. Solutions? It comes in my mind what Jesus said in Mt.19:12 (NIV) "For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven.The one who can accept this should accept it - KJV say:he that is able to receive it, let him receive it". Having said that, It looks to me that keeping in mind about the wov of celibacy - which many honest priests embraced - and given that 'some' homosexuals are born with such a genetic disordered program, it should remainded them about Jesus proposal of "others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven" and in emphaty, pray for them. 2 Cor. 4:17 states: "For our light and momentary trouble are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
All of those who can endure such a heavy burden are worthy of honour. May God bless them.
"if ‘I was born that way’ makes homosexuality okay, what else does it make okay?"
Anything that doesn't cause harm. Pedophilia hurts people, so we prohibit it. Homosexuality doesn't, so why get worked up about it?
Pretty simple, right?
If you want to imagine an afterlife and what a "loving" god does with his creation, that's fine, just don't try to use this as a justification for imposing your religious views on the rest of us.
"Lots of heterosexual men don’t find monogamy very natural, but we don’t change God’s commands to allow for their sinful tendency."
Sorry ... you definitely got this one wrong. He created man to have mutliple wives if it ever arises, and it can be seen in how He legislated for it ("Adultery" applies only if the woman was married to another man, for one.)
In the entire scriptures, it was never condemned, not even once, and there are places where He even considered it a blessing, and sets Himself as a husband of two wives.
I can go on and on ... what you said is a lie of Satan and directly contradicts His Word.
Every development to marriage after the Fall assumes the Fall. Jesus made this point clearly in Matthew 19: "from the beginning it was not so." And that point works as well for polygamy as it does for divorce. Rather, God's perfect plan for marriage is revealed in Creation, when He created Adam and Eve--one woman for one man. And in the Resurrection, the Church will be Christ's sole bride.
"What does "arsenokoitai" really mean? "Arsenokoitai" is a Greek word that appears to have been created by Paul when he was writing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. No record remains of any writer having using the term before Paul. It has been translated as "abusers of themselves with mankind" in the King James Version (KJV):
"Arsenokoitai" is made up of two parts: "arsen" means "man"; "koitai" means "beds."
Although the word in English Bibles is interpreted as referring to homosexuals, we can be fairly certain that this is not the meaning that Paul wanted to convey. If he had, he would have used the word "paiderasste." That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual behavior between males. We can conclude that he probably meant something different than people who engaged in male-male adult sexual behavior.The KJV was finished 1611 CE when there was no single word that referred to homosexuals or homosexuality. The translators were forced to use this awkward phrase. The term "homosexual" was only created in the late 19th century. More recent versions of the Bible translate arsenokoitai here as:
"homosexual perversion," (NEB);
"homosexual offenders," (NIV).
In doing this, they appear to have little respect to the actual meaning of the original Greek verse. By using the term "homosexual" the translators changed the scope of the verse. The original Greek refers to men only; the English translation refers to both males and females; i.e. to gays and lesbians. We suspect that the temptation to attack lesbians overcame the translators' desire to be accurate.
The preceeding was obtained from one of the many websites that proclaim that Christianity and openly sexual behaviour are compatible. They are not my sentiments. Would you be able to clear this up?
My thoughts on the section you quoted is that your source is either ignorant of or deliberately misleading about the Greek. Either makes it contemptible. Anyone with any knowledge of the Greek knows that arsenokoitai is a neologism describing people who engage in the male homosexual act. Paiderastes is someone who specifically engages in homosexual acts with boys (from pais=child, erao=to love erotically).
I agree an love how this article is written. But I do have a question, what about those born with both male and female genitles? I have always wondered where God stands on this because who is to say which they should be?
Good article Lita. One point of doctrine, we are judged for what we do, we are condemned because of our fallen nature. We do sinful things because we have a sinful nature. A corrupt tree brings forth corrupt fruit. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, etc....
Again, great article.
I like the spirit of the writers beginning with Lita.
There is sincerity in acknowledging our fallen-ness as humans for which homosexuality is another sin.
I think homosexuals mistakenly believe Christians are homophobic. We may not like them pushing their agenda but we have no problems being in their company as we would anyone else.
Great article and timely. This subject came up at a midweek study group just days ago.Consensus was reached that homosexual tendencies are largely symtomatic.The question that is left is how do we treat homosexuals that want to attend church?
I would hope that a homosexual who came to church would be welcomed and presented with the Gospel--there is a terrible stereotype that Christians hate people who practice homosexuality, while Christians should reflect Christ's love for sinners. Church membership of a practicing homosexual would be a completely different matter, however.
I have a real problem with this view of homosexuality. I personally know a man who is homosexual and it concerned him so much that he went and had some genetic tests done. Turns out he has an extra female chomosome. He can no more alter that than a person with Downs Syndrome can alter their position; both cases are due to chromosomal abnormality that cannot be 'repaired'. I'm not doubting that some people are homosexual by choice and this can be 'cured' but in Biblical times people wouldn't even have known about chromosomes. How can we be critical of a condition they can do nothing about?
I did some research on this particular condition in relation to homosexuality, and one medical website in particular said that people who have this genetic condition are no more prone to homosexuality than XY males.
Think about what 'it's genetic, therefore it can't be changed' does, though. You said your friend was concerned--that suggests that he was less than content with his homosexual feelings. Suggesting that a genetic condition means that he is 'stuck' as a homosexual seems bleak.
In contrast, the Bible makes clear claims about what sort of behavior God wants from His people, and what the consequences of rebellion are. So we can't just change our views to match whatever happens to politically correct (and how great not to be enslaved by the whims of popular opinion!). But the great news is that God doesn't expect us to be able to conquer sin by the force of our own wills; He promises that the Spirit will help those who trust in Christ.
Appreciate your effort and fine summary answer dealing with this hot topic. There is another verse that is quite significant to the question at hand (I'm sure you are well aware of it but, perhaps not of the full significance contained within it); something bearing directly upon this question. I learned about this from one of Dr. Rushdoony's Easy Chair tapes many years ago.
Romans 1:26-27 from the NRSV:
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged NATURAL intercourse for UNNATURAL, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up NATURAL intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
Now, while the translation "natural intercourse" and "unnatural" above really does effectively communicate or translates the idea present for preaching and witnessing, we also have to understand what the Greek is actually literally saying; we have to dig a little deeper. Therefore it is most illuminating to learn that the words in Greek are literally saying, "born that way" and "not born that way." Amazing, isn't it?
So, the import is that in the normal course of events, we all all naturally born hetrosexuals, that is what is natural and we are born that way. Thus, to pratice homosexuality is to actively choose to go in an unnatural way --i.e., "not born that way."
Hope you find this helpful.
Thank you so much for such a timely article putting the REAL issue so very clearly.
I sent the link to several friends and one replied: "…a new way of responding to such a question, hadn't read it from that angle before". Neither had I, yet on reading it's obvious that it is the only scriptural way of responding!
I also sent the link "by mistake" to one who is convinced that it IS "OK to be gay". He even posted an article from a "Liberal Christian" site, of an "apology" to gays for how we Christians have rejected them and failed to affirm their lifestyle was OK with God after all!
Probably homosexuals have been rejected by some zealous Christians who have forgotten that we are ALL sinners; but that doesn't make homosexual behaviour right in the sight of God!
Sadly, your article hasn’t make him change his mind so all that can be done is to pray for him.
I realised that Ezekiel 3:16-21 applies
18 If I say to the wicked, ’You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness…he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life.
20 Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity…he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.
21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved your life."
If I had failed to warn him I too would have been guilty!
Great article on the issue. My belief is that many homosexuals think they were 'born that way' because they have experienced same-sex attraction from the earliest days that they can remember. I suspect that for many gay people, their 'condition' was developed at an early age (and as we know, many psychologists believe that we do develop our key character traits at an early age). So they feel that they have always been gay, but they don't realise that they were not gay at birth.
And in response to some comments, it does matter if they were born that way. It doesn't matter to us personally as Christians who recognise the reality of sin, whatever the root cause. But it matters greatly in the debates with homosexuals. It is because they believe that they were born that way that they believe homosexuality is OK. They may believe in 'God' but many don't believe in creation so don't understand our fallen nature. So they tend to think that if they were born this way it must be OK. We need to say, "You were not born that way. You were born the same way as all of us, but that is fallen and you, like me, need redemption".
Wow, I like that Article Lita! I also enjoy how only Christian viewpoints are allowed in the comments section. Its good because pro gay comments may just sway someone struggling, over the edge into falling for their 'desires' If we were all taught this in school, then I am sure alot more Gays would be saved in the name of the Lord.
There have not been any pro-homosexuality comments. And actually, we probably would publish them with responses, as they would be chances for us to explain our Christian worldview.
Thank you, Lita, for a wonderful answer. No matter what the sin, we should always point the person to the gospel.
I thought i'd add this.. Born this way? was a question i had too and I was led to this Scripture Psalm 51:5. Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful].
This was the way i was born and so is all humanity.
I always find it a 'way out' with the statement that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. Yes it is right so far when the sinner repents. But as 1.Cor. 6/9 clearly states that no wicket or sexual immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders and so on will inherit the kingdom of God. It is repeated in Rev. 21/27.
That clearly addresses the persons with the behavior and not the behavior alone. Sin needs a carrier, sin alone doesn't exists, it has to be committed. As you can be washed clean so you can hang on to sin and while sin never enters Gods kingdom neither will the sinner who sticks to sin.
I find it misleading to separate sinner from sin with 'you are ok, God dislikes only your sinful behavior'. It is not the sin which gets thrown into the lake of fire it is the person/soul too.
If a sinner doesn't repent, yes, he will be subject to eternal punishment. And God does express His wrath against the unrepentant sinner, not just the sin. But the reality is that we don't know which sinners will repent, and so benefit from God's love for sinners, and which sinners will remain hardened in unbelief. So regardless of one's soteriological stance, from our view it's uncertain who will be saved and who will not. So I prefer to emphasize God's loving mercy and provision of an atonement for sin, while not flinching away from God's holiness and judgment of sin.
And of course, we need to remember that all of us have sinned and are dependent on God's mercy for our salvation. So isn't it wonderful good news that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"?
Great article, and came at a good time, I will be attending a seminar on this very subject in one of our churches, you have opened my eyes a little more, often as Christians we are made to feel that we are bigots because we uphold God's word, naturally one sin is no greater than another, all sin is not Christlike. I have always believed that this was a lifestyle choice and that they are not born that way, but speaking to many that have gay relatives, they share the pain of fighting these tendencies, and your heart goes out to them, so I try to understand where they are coming from without judging, and pray that they have the strength to let the Holy Spirit rule in their lives to give them victory over sin, just as I do for anyone else that is struggling and asks for prayers of intercession.
This is such a delicate subject. But i will comment on the point of view of someone who is saved by faith in Christ and has also experienced the gay lifestyle.
Is it in my genes to be gay? I dont think so. But i can say that many things about my fallen nature as well as those around me have contributed to this nature and tendency. I can agree to the author that as descendants of Adam- it is already wired in us to sin.
On the other hand- it is also important that the Christian community understands that just by being homosexual disqualifies you from heaven. To quote the verse that homosexuals are not able to enter heaven is like sending one race or one gender to hell. Study where this word came from.. it is the practice and not the person.
Fornication which is a sin that is normally practiced by homosexuals damages ones inner person in an indescribable manner.
A gay person cries desperately on the inside to be loved and mostly they are looking to get that in the wrong places and from the wrong people. Gays mostly have been wounded deeply and have at some point been abused or abandoned not of their own choice.
The love of Christ is greater and the power of His blood can heal the deepest hurt, He can give hope and a future, can restore us from the damages caused by our own evil nature as well as Satan's scheming to rob us of life and hope.
It is too short to elaborate all this but i hope i was able to throw some light
Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts. We would agree 100% that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior. To people who struggle with same-sex attraction, the Bible offers hope that through Christ Jesus, we can have victory over all kinds of sin.
Either creation nor evolution have a purpose for homosexuality. With creation came male and female to multiply and not two Adams; with evolution there is a need for off springs for further evolving. Same sex couples wouldn't make it to the next generation. In both cases homosexuality is not wanted.
A girl becomes a woman, a student becomes a doctor, a boy becomes a pilot or you become a lawyer etc. You become driven by your choice.
So many human behaviors have their origin described in Genesis: the blame game. Here is a classic: born like this....reflects a medical excuse or the legal excuse like human rights or the mental excuse like I was sexual as child misused and what ever excuses can be found; but it is not me!
Also this blaming away of responsibilities for their actions is an emitting of wrong doing and a (willful) helplessness to stop.
I read in the comments the famous Bible passage: DO NOT JUDGE......My fellow Christians, what is judging?
1. Establishing a law braking;
2. Handing down a sentence;
3. Carry out the sentence.
That what God does on judgement day. So, when you criticize a sinful behavior because you learned it is sinful then it is not judging because you do not hand down No. 2 and 3.
Otherwise you have to tell every preacher not to judge because he preaches to recognize sin and a way of resistance.
Evolutionists would appeal to the 'gay uncle' hypothesis--that latent homosexual genes could survive in relatives' offspring because of the extra nurturing a homosexual uncle or aunt could give. This of course ignores the fact that throughout history, most homosexuals were married to members of the opposite sex (indeed, the only definition of 'marriage' for most of history).
Thank you CMI Brilliant article as always.
We, of the one race, the human race, are all sinners, and thanks be to GOD some from every tribe , tongue , kindred and nation of our human sinful race are saved by the grace of our LORD.
May we be conformed to HIS IMAGE !
God bless you, Lita, for a helpful reminder that we are all born under sin, that it manifests itself in a multitude of ways, and that individuals are as varied as are those manifestations within them. With Paul, I thank God that: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2.
No person will be eternally lost for being a homosexual, born that way or not. The Homosexual will be eternally lost just like everybody else who ends up eternally lost: for rejecting God's provision for their/our sins, which far transcend homosexuality. "Born that way", is irrelevant to their sin. We do a horrible disservice to someone when we help them excuse their sinful behavior based on some genetic proclivity which may or may not be the case.
Thank you, Lita, for this article. Finding it was really timely for me....I had just discovered today that one of my long-time friends is beginning to consider himself "bi".
I know what a horrid condition he must be in, coming to this conclusion and at the same time trying to be proud of it! I cannot personally blame him for feeling the way he does, knowing the imprisonment to a sinful nature in a person outside of Christ. This situation brings me closer than ever before to dealing with homosexuality--and particularly, the genetic predisposition theory.
Your words of advise were exactly what I have been thinking. I know now what I can say to him, and others in similar cases. I simply pray for his heart, that God will open it toward New Life in the Saviour.
This is probably the best reply I have read on the issue of homosexuality from a christian perspective.
Very well explained Lita. This will help many of us demonstrate how our desires don't justify inappropriate behaviour.
Since all humans are sinners (1John 1:8) it makes no sense to judge others...
"Judge not and you shall not be judged." Luke 6:37
...in regard to who is partial to which sin.
No one can say that they are free of sin/crime (dishonoring God, in whose image we are made)
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10
When it comes to sin, one bad apple ruins the whole bag.
Why would those who believe in evolution also believe that homosexuality is genetic? Wouldn't "survival of the fittest" cause a homosexual gene to never become even remotely common? If millions of years ago, or even thousands, an animal had the homosexual gene, that gene would never be passed on because the animal with that gene would not be able to have any off spring. So in survival of the fittest, how would a homosexual gene help an animal survive? Or how would a homosexual gene even be able to be passed on?
Or maybe I am misunderstanding how evolutionists view survival of the fittest?
A common evolutionary scenario is the 'gay uncle/aunt' phenomenon, where latent gay genes are passed on through heterosexual family members, whose offspring benefit from the extra nurturing provided by heterosexual uncles and aunts. Of course, throughout history most homosexuals were married to members of the opposite sex and would have had children just like heterosexuals.
If homosexuals are born that way, does they same rule apply to pedophiles as well? If they are, why are they penalized for there actions? If they are not born that way, then why do only homosexuals have that excuse? No one is "born this way." We all make a conscious effort to do what we do. People are born males and that doesn't stop them from changing gender, yet this... it is just bizzare...
An excellent article Lita. G.A.Y stands for Good As You, we classify ourselves as B.A.M, Bad As Me. We can hold NO high moral ground, 'For All have sinned (read the 10 commandments) and come short of the Glory of God' Romans 3:23. Thank God for his Infinite Mercy and Grace towards us.
Great Answer Lita. For the record the American College of Paediatricians has an excellent article on the dangers.
Liked and Shared!