Biology, Behavior, and Gay Babies:
Why Sexual “Orientation” is Ultimately Irrelevant

General Bioethics — By on March 16, 2007 at 12:15 am

Dr. Albert Mohler has been under fire recently for his suggestion that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified. Some on the right, including Christians, are upset that he would concede the obvious point that there may be a biological basis for sexual orientation. Others on the left, including many homosexuals, are upset that he would admit the obvious point that if there is a biological basis for sexual orientation people may want to change it by medical intervention. Both complaints reveal that that the issue of sexual orientation is often approached emotionally rather than rationally.
Two years ago I argued that those on both sides of the issue would be able to better defend their positions if they would agree that while there is a (likely) biological basis for the homosexual orientation, it is ultimately irrelevant since sexual activity is freely chosen behavior.
Unfortunately, this is the very idea that gay rights activists have been working against for several decades. They’ve often been the biggest proponents of finding a ‘gay gene’ or some type of neurological explanation for sexual orientation. By finding a genetic cause, it’s often believed, it will remove any doubt that individuals have no choice in the matter. They are simply “born that way.”
Ironically, if such an explanation is found it could have just the opposite effect of what is hoped for. As Francis Fukuyama speculates in Our Posthuman Future:

Assume that in the twenty years we come to understand the genetics of homosexuality well and devise a way for parents to sharply reduce the likelihood that they will give birth to a gay child. This does not have to presuppose the existence of genetic engineering; it could simply be a pill that provided sufficient levels of testosterone in utero to masculine the brain of the developing fetus. Suppose the treatment is cheap, effective, produces no side effects, and can be prescribed in the privacy of the obstetrician’s office. Assume further that social norms have become totally accepting of homosexuality. How many expecting mothers would opt to take this pill?

Fukuyama believes that most parents would choose to take such a pill. I think he’s right. Even if homosexual orientation were considered a benign trait such as baldness or left-handedness, the majority of parents would opt to have a “straight” child (“What if we want grandchildren?”). Anyone who disagrees is overestimating the level of acceptance that even “tolerant” people have toward homosexuality. Likewise, anyone who thinks this scenario is unlikely hasn’t being keeping up with advances in biotechnology. The only thing far-fetched about this picture is the idea that it’ll be twenty years before it becomes a reality.
The question then is what will happen to gays and lesbians when homosexuality becomes “preventable?” My guess it that it won’t be long before “being gay” is once again classified under the ‘disease model” of behavior and is considered a ‘treatable” condition. We shouldn’t forget that it was only recently that psychiatry let go of its hold on this “disorder.” Until 1987, ‘ego-dystonic homosexuality” was still classified as a pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II).
The fact that the vast majority of gay people will not feel a corresponding desire to be ‘treated” will be deemed irrelevant. When alcoholism became a ‘disease” the onus was put on the individual to ‘get help” whether it was desired or not. If an alcoholic says that she can live and function just fine with her ‘condition”, she is considered in denial. If she won’t seek help for herself, the family and friends are encouraged to participate in an ‘intervention” to persuade her.
It might surprise you to know that most evangelicals would be equally appalled by the idea that homosexuality should be considered a ‘mental illness.’ But orthodox Christianity holds a high regard for human dignity. By classifying such behavior as a sickness it removes the moral responsibility for the behavior from the individual. The value of human dignity is denigrated when free will and responsibility are replaced by biological determinism.
From the evangelical viewpoint, homoerotic desire might very well have a biological basis. It is not the desire, however, but the activity that is considered immoral. Desire may be determined by genetics but acting upon that desire in the form of sexual activity requires a freely chosen decision. An adolescent heterosexual male, for example, is certainly driven to distraction by his hormonal urge to reproduce. The desire is natural and outside of the young man’s control. He would not be justified, however, in satisfying that desire in any way that he pleases. While the desire is natural, it can manifest in immoral and self-destructive behavior.
Though our gay and lesbian neighbors wouldn’t agree, we evangelicals should never forget that the reason God forbids this activity is because it is ultimately harmful to the homosexual, for it impedes human flourishing. We have a duty, therefore, to speak out when our fellow humans are causing harm to themselves. When the issue is framed as one of biology rather than behavior, though, we appear to be patronizing busybodies rather than concerned citizens attempting to uphold the worth and dignity of these individuals. This is unfortunate and should be rectified by communicating our love for the person, rather than just our revulsion over the behavior.
For better or for worse, science will ultimately eradicate any biological basis for homosexual “orientation.” What won’t be eradicated, however, is homosexual behavior. From the soldier’s camps of ancient Rome to our present-day prisons, same-sex sodomy has remained a persistent sexual practice among those who consider themselves to be heterosexual. Eradicating the “orientation” will not eliminate the behavior.
Which puts gays and lesbians in a peculiar position. If they base their arguments on the premise that the orientation is “natural” because it has a basis in nature, what happens when the foundation is removed? If they truly believe there is nothing unnatural about such behavior they will have to argue their case based on non-biological factors. Otherwise, when the ‘cure’ is found they will find they’re no longer a ‘special interest group’ but a ‘pathology’ to be treated.
In order to prevent this issue from being determined by psychiatrists, homosexuals and evangelicals should agree that while we might not be responsible for our sexual urges we are accountable for our sexual behavior. This probably won’t lead to an agreement about whether such behavior is benign or immoral. But at least we will be able to discuss the issue with our human dignity intact.
Update: Dr. Mohler has provided a response that clarifies his views.



  • http://wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com Wonders for Oyarsa

    Wow, Joe, how do you manage to come up with such interesting spins on such tired old debates?

  • Baggi

    Hmmm, so much to say!
    Of course no one chooses who they are attracted to, not even hetrosexual people. I never decided to find my wife pretty. If you ask me why I find her pretty i’ll come up with reasons that don’t really answer your question. Her face is pretty. Well, what’s so pretty about it? I dunno, it is just pretty. Her hair is pretty. What’s so pretty about it? I dunno, I just find it pretty.
    If I could choose these things, i’d choose to find only my wife pretty. Unfortunately for me, I don’t get that choice. So there are times when i’m tempted by other women’s beauty to do things that I shouldn’t do.
    That’s where choice comes in.
    So Joe thinks that finding women to be pretty is in the genes. And if we tamper with the genes, through taking pills or whatever, we get people to find women pretty, or to find men pretty.
    In what universe does this make sense?
    My suspicion is that while genes may play a part it is not the most significant part. More than likely it’s a social thing.
    I have a feeling, for example, that a man who spends a lifetime in prison may learn to find other men sexually attractive. It’s probably easier to learn at a young age but it is probably learned none-the-less.
    There is even more to it than that though. What do we make of gay men who are constantly with feminine men, crossdressers and transvestites?
    There is clearly something psychological going on here. Unfortunately for the men who are having problems in this regard, we’ve decided to be filled with nothing but hate and revulsion for these creations of God. If we loved them, we’d not just want to help them get better, we’d be actively out there trying to do something for them.
    Instead, we allow our hatred of our fellow man to cloud our judgement and we begin by “tolerating” their behavior which eventually moves to “accepting” their behavior. All because we want to believe what they are screaming out at us day and night, “I want to be this way!”
    It’s a cry for help and we’ve abondoned them.

  • http://www.4simpsons.com Neil

    Excellent points. Somehow Mohler had something to offend everyone, which is a neat trick.
    I addressed a similar hypothetical dilemma recently, asking, “If a genetic predisposition to homosexuality were proved and it could identified in utero (i.e., in an unborn child), would your position on abortion change in either direction?”
    I challenge both sides to think this through. Hopefully pro-life / pro-traditional marriage people would come down on the side of life. Homosexual behavior is indeed a sin but we ought not be killing people over it.
    Interestingly, a pro-choice friend who is wildly pro-”same sex marriage” conceded that he would still be pro-abortion in this scenario. I was hoping it would soften his stance. Hey, at least he can never accuse me of being anti-gay, since I think it should be illegal to destroy potentially gay people in the womb and he thinks it should be legal.
    Since 90% of humans identified in the womb with Downs syndrome are aborted, I predict that there would be a stampede by heterosexual parents to abort potentially gay humans. Both are bad ideas.

  • AlanDownunder

    So break down the barriers by putting homosexuals on an equal civil footing. Then evangelism begins to stand a chance.
    btw
    http://www.evangelicalsforhumanrights.org/pb/wp_abaf1d69/wp_abaf1d69.html?0.060027795951972496
    Sounds good to me.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    It was hard trying to figure out what was the most outrageous and morally degenerate point raised, but at least for absurdity, hubris, and downright idolatry this bit takes the prize:

    Though our gay and lesbian neighbors wouldn’t agree, we evangelicals should never forget that the reason God forbids this activity is because it is ultimately harmful to the homosexual, for it impedes human flourishing.

    Er, umm… with 6+ billion people on the planet I think the last thing anyone should worry about is human flourishing. We appear to be doing a bang-up job of that even with gay people, transsexuals, and people taking vows of chastity.

  • John Henry

    I think the last thing anyone should worry about is human flourishing
    Er, umm… human flourishing does not refer to reproducing. So it has nothing to do with population size.

  • Ludwig

    “Though our gay and lesbian neighbors wouldn’t agree, we evangelicals should never forget that the reason God forbids this activity is because it is ultimately harmful to the homosexual, for it impedes human flourishing.”
    well,i see the habitual christian idiocy is back in force this morning. there is of course no grain of truth in the above statement,as anyone with a working brain can attest and the reason for this is two-fold; First God neither permits nor forbid ANYTHING,since the nature of God,contrary to what the bable teaches,is not that of a HUMAN MONARCH and therefore not in the business of telling anyone what to do and second,there is nothing in homosexuality or homosexual activity that impedes human flourishing in any way shape or form.

  • Farlo Tommyrot

    What I found most interesting about Dr. Mohler’s post was the apparent inconsistency between his support of genetic engineering to remove the homosexual tendencies from fetuses and this statement earlier in the post:
    The development of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis [PDG] [sic] is one of the greatest threats to human dignity in our times. These tests are already leading to the abortion of fetuses identified as carrying unwanted genetic markers.
    If PGD is a threat to human dignity, why does Mohler go on to support its use in eliminating homosexual traits (and presumably other traits Christians might find undesirable)? Bad is bad. Bad doesn’t become good simply because a Christian uses it.

  • http://www.sufficientscruples.com Kevin T. Keith

    Others on the left, including many homosexuals, are upset that he would admit the obvious point that if there is a biological basis for sexual orientation people may want to change it by medical intervention.
    Um, I rather imagine that they’re upset not at his pointing it out, but at his recommending it. Nazis tend to evoke that reaction.
    Note, too, that Mohler’s as dumb and dishonest here as are most commenters on this subject. He can’t even get his quotes right from the links he himself supplies. (Martina Navratilova said nothing whatsoever about sheep having a right to be gay. She did say that efforts to “cure” homosexuality were bigoted and cruel, but, predictably, that flew right over Mohler’s head.)
    On that note also, “ego-dystonic homosexuality” is not a classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. It classifies pathological unhappiness with one’s homosexuality as an illness – which makes some kind of sense, though is clearly still biased in that it implies (through the lack of a corresponding diagnosis for heterosexuals) that only homosexuals can be unhappy with their orientation. (Arguably, it should have just been renamed “ego-dystonic Christianity”.) Homosexuality itself has not been classified as a mental illness since the previous edition of the DSM, in 1973.
    When alcoholism became a ‘disease” the onus was put on the individual to ‘get help” whether it was desired or not. If an alcoholic says that she can live and function just fine with her ‘condition”, she is considered in denial. If she won’t seek help for herself, the family and friends are encouraged to participate in an ‘intervention” to persuade her.
    No, it wasn’t. No, they’re not. No, they aren’t.
    Treatment for alcoholism, as for any other condition, is predicated upon the patient’s voluntary consent. The “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” rubric is fading, as is the idea that “alcoholism” is an either/or condiction that must always be treated. Nobody can be forced into treatment unless they actually lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions, or have been ordered by a court following conviction for a crime. Consent for treatment requires acknowledging that one needs the treatment in the first place. Refusal to acknowledge one’s illness is not in itself an illness (though it may be a symptom of other illnesses). Refusal to accept treatment is legal for any mentally competent adult regardless of the reason. Forcible “interventions” are illegal. Confrontational “interventions” are nothing more than attempts to force someone to accept a treatment decision they don’t agree with, usually by threat of personal retaliation; they are highly controversial and decreasingly popular.
    Though our gay and lesbian neighbors wouldn’t agree, we evangelicals should never forget that the reason God forbids this activity is because it is ultimately harmful to the homosexual, for it impedes human flourishing.
    Nonsense.
    We have a duty, therefore, to speak out when our fellow humans are causing harm to themselves.
    You have a duty to leave people alone and respect their autonomy.
    (Mill, interestingly, thinks this duty is absolute: you may not intervene even if the person is actually harming themselves. You certainly may not intervene out of mere prejudice and sexuality-negative homophobia.)
    we appear to be patronizing busybodies
    Ignorant, bigoted patronizing busybodies.
    As for the likelihood that parents would choose such a procedure if it became available, I think that’s an open question, with some reason to be hopeful. Clearly, ignorant, bigoted, homophobic parents will do so if they can, but their numbers are dwindling. In another generation, there will be a small enclave of twittering bigots surrounded by 80% or more normal people who have better things to do with their time. Given low market demand and the controversial and difficult nature of somatic-cell genetic engineering, it’s not clear that any such procedures will even be developed. At worst, they’ll be a niche-market phenomenon, sold out of the backs of magazines along with Mormon underwear and Confederate flags.

  • http://www.gopunditgo.com Terrence

    Ludwig,
    You are quite wrong. The Bible is full of do’s and don’ts, especially when it comes to providing for the poor, living lives free of sexual immorality, and loving God with all your heart, mind and soul.
    Regarding Joe’s post: Although you wrote from a biological point of view, the issue of homosexuality must also be addressed from a spiritual standpoint. For example, perhaps the hitherto undefined biology behind homosexuality might really be a spiritual condition and have nothing to do with biology whatsoever. Has anyone every located the “alcoholic” gene, after all, even though we still call it a disease?
    Also, nurture (compared to nature) plays a big role in homosexuality, as well. Many homosexuals have major “dad issues.” If they had a loving, healthy relationship with their father they might have not decided to be gay. This would seem to challenge the biological argument in light of the fact that, with regards to every other disease, either you have it or you don’t. No one gets Down Syndrome from external pressures in life – the disease is in the genes or it isn’t.
    I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea of some biology behind homosexuality, but I think the simpler and more reasonable assertion is that homosexuality, like all sin, is out there in the world and some people are more prone to it than others. Some people might be born with it “spiritually” as some are born with a disposition for alcoholism, which can noticeably be passed from father to son and so on. Or, it just may be a disease with a gene to boot, as you suggest. Time will tell.

  • http://www.gopunditgo.com Terrence

    Kevin, you write:
    At worst, they’ll be a niche-market phenomenon, sold out of the backs of magazines along with Mormon underwear and Confederate flags.
    Thanks for providing an example of the bigotry you so passionately deride in your comment.

  • http://www.alexchediak.com/blog Alex Chediak

    Joe,
    Thanks for this helpful essay.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Baggi So Joe thinks that finding women to be pretty is in the genes.
    I didn’t say that. My claim was that sexual attraction has some biological basis. I consider this point so obvious that it amazes me that people could dispute it.
    And if we tamper with the genes, through taking pills or whatever, we get people to find women pretty, or to find men pretty. In what universe does this make sense?
    Personally, I’m opposed to all forms of genetic engineering for enhancement. I would, however, be in favor of it for some therapeutic uses such as curing Down Syndrome. The question is whether changing “orientation” would be enhancement or therapy.
    AlanDownunder So break down the barriers by putting homosexuals on an equal civil footing. Then evangelism begins to stand a chance.
    For the purpose of evangelism, homosexuals are on equal footing with heterosexuals: both groups are sinners who need to hear the Gospel.
    Mumon Er, umm… with 6+ billion people on the planet I think the last thing anyone should worry about is human flourishing. We appear to be doing a bang-up job of that even with gay people, transsexuals, and people taking vows of chastity.
    Mumon thinking that “human flourishing” is about increasing the population is about the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. ; )
    Farlo Tommyrot If PGD is a threat to human dignity, why does Mohler go on to support its use in eliminating homosexual traits (and presumably other traits Christians might find undesirable)? Bad is bad. Bad doesn’t become good simply because a Christian uses it.
    There’s no inconsistency. PGD is currently a threat when it leads to either abortion for “defective” children or enhancement to create a designer baby. Mohler would classify homosexual orientation as a defective trait, like having sickle cell, and so the use of prenatal testing would be therapeutic.
    You may disagree with his conclusion, but Mohler isn’t be inconsistent.
    Kevin T. Keith Um, I rather imagine that they’re upset not at his pointing it out, but at his recommending it. Nazis tend to evoke that reaction.
    Calling Mohler a Nazi is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard you say.
    She did say that efforts to “cure” homosexuality were bigoted and cruel, but, predictably, that flew right over Mohler’s head.
    Maybe because Mohler isn’t dumb enough to think that it’s “bigoted and cruel” to change a sheep’s “sexual preference.” (Do sheep have preferences about their sexual partners?)
    On that note also, “ego-dystonic homosexuality” is not a classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.
    Fair enough. I should have used the more correct term “pathology” rather than “mental illness.”
    Homosexuality itself has not been classified as a mental illness since the previous edition of the DSM, in 1973.
    And why was it taken out? Because of political pressure to do so.
    No, it wasn’t. No, they’re not. No, they aren’t.
    For all three, I recommend a cursory search of PubMed (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/). It is obvious that Kevin doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
    Clearly, ignorant, bigoted, homophobic parents will do so if they can, but their numbers are dwindling.
    Ah, remember the days when Kevin actually made arguments instead of hurled insults?
    I suspect that you are not completely against genetic engineering. You are also for autonomy and reproductive rights, including abortion. So why would you be against someone aborting a child who has a “gay gene?” And why, if homosexual orientation is a benign trait, like eye color, should parents not have the right to change it if they want?
    The problem you’re having is that the ideals you hold are incompatible.
    At worst, they’ll be a niche-market phenomenon, sold out of the backs of magazines along with Mormon underwear and Confederate flags.
    You’re really dove off into the deep end of stupidity. You used to make some rather intelligent comments. But now you sound like the mouth-breathers from DU or Kos.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Dr. Mohler has written a new article that clarifies his previous post. This part in particular needs to be pointed out:

    Research into the human genome and the possibility of germ-line therapies raises all kinds of moral concerns, ranging from the creation of designer babies to the redefinition of humanity. In one article, I was said to advocate genetic therapies. I never said that, and I resolutely oppose such proposals. I would not advocate the use of genetic therapies to create heterosexual babies — or any other therapy of this type. The hypothetical question I addressed had nothing to do with genetic factors at all. Furthermore, genetic factors are likely to be so complex and inter-related that no single genetic factor or set of factors is likely to be found to cause anything as complex as sexual attraction.

    Like Mohler, I agree that some pre-natal treatments may (and let me stress “may”) be ethical and acceptable but would oppose genetic therapies for such matters as orientation.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Perhaps we should go utilitarian/Sangeresque and consider this potential gene thereapy a break-fix situation.
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • Ludwig

    “You are quite wrong. The Bible is full of do’s and don’ts, especially when it comes to providing for the poor, living lives free of sexual immorality, and loving God with all your heart, mind and soul.”
    The bable is filled with nonsense from begining to end and some of the cookiest junk it spouts is about God. an omnipotent being that wants servants…or that wants ANYTHING….how the hell does it get any more self contradictory that that?
    “Regarding Joe’s post: Although you wrote from a biological point of view, the issue of homosexuality must also be addressed from a spiritual standpoint. For example, perhaps the hitherto undefined biology behind homosexuality might really be a spiritual condition and have nothing to do with biology whatsoever. Has anyone every located the “alcoholic” gene, after all, even though we still call it a disease?”
    And now we descend into the truly demented…tell you what…i ll gladly entertain discussion with you about “the spirit” as soon as someone defines exactly what the spirit is and what are the specific mechanics that pertains to its functions and the manor by which it is impacted by well…anything…until thats been done conclusively,any discussion on such mercurial and ambiguous subjects is a complete waste of time.
    “Also, nurture (compared to nature) plays a big role in homosexuality, as well. Many homosexuals have major “dad issues.” If they had a loving, healthy relationship with their father they might have not decided to be gay. This would seem to challenge the biological argument in light of the fact that, with regards to every other disease, either you have it or you don’t. No one gets Down Syndrome from external pressures in life – the disease is in the genes or it isn’t.”
    homosexuality is found in people from all possible social backgrounds,culture and situation as well as in several hundreds of other animal species…stop trying to blame mtv or absent fathers for what is clearly an uncommon but otherwise perfectly natural variation of sexuality…you just sound like a morron every time you do.
    “I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea of some biology behind homosexuality, but I think the simpler and more reasonable assertion is that homosexuality, like all sin, is out there in the world and some people are more prone to it than others. Some people might be born with it “spiritually” as some are born with a disposition for alcoholism, which can noticeably be passed from father to son and so on. Or, it just may be a disease with a gene to boot, as you suggest. Time will tell.”
    once again,bringning esoteric drivel into a conversation about real life issues serves as nothing more than advertisement of one’s stupidity.

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    Dr. Albert Mohler is disingenuous in his reply I think. He claims he is against gene therapy. But he leaves out that he did support pre-natal hormone therapy.
    I don’t see how there can be a moral difference between the two methods.
    At some point, the judgment of whether something is a disorder or not is purely subjective. Deaf parents often prefer deaf children for example. The ability to choose the sexual orientation of your child also means that besides turning gay babies straight, you can also turn straight babies gay. Is that morally acceptable to Christians? If its homosexual activity that is immoral then it shouldn’t matter should it?
    I think that changing your child’s sexual orientation in the womb would ultimately be a selfish act. A baby is a gift from God. You don’t sit there and tell God, you know? I think this needs a few small improvements, then your gift is acceptable to me. Nor do you have an abortion and just throw the gift back in Gods face.
    I will also point out that there is a certain arrogance in assuming that gay people have no purpose in the world. Whether you agree with the Bible or not regards homosexuality, assuming that you are so brilliant and have the absolute understanding and knowledge of God’s will for everybody, gay or straight, is a sin of pride.
    I’ve been celibate for many years now. It has not made me either more or less gay or more or less a sinner.
    I will tell you that whether men love women or men love men, or women love women, that so long as they are loving each other and taking responsibility for each other, that it is not a sin, no matter the sexual orientation of those involved. Those relationships should be honored and supported, not treated as garbage.
    If you listen to Christians complain about homosexuality, and then listen to them complain about torture or murder, guess which acts they sound more horrified by?
    Its why I never find pronouncements by Christians on homosexuality to have much moral authority. The revulsion so many people express about homosexuality is because of prejudice, not because of what the Bible says about the subject.

  • http://financialrounds.blogspot.com Unknown Professor

    Patrick:
    “At some point, the judgment of whether something is a disorder or not is purely subjective. Deaf parents often prefer deaf children for example.”
    A person may not view something as a disorder, but their view doesn’t necessarily make it so. I might consider black to be white, but it’s still white. Using the Deafness as an example is an interesting choice. It has a lot of identity issues tied up with it. I have a couple of deaf relatives of the older generation. They say that wanting to not cure deaf children is a generational thing, and that most of the older generation would prefer the cure to the “Deaf” identity.
    Maybe it’s just me, but having ears that don’t work properly seems to me like a disorder.
    “The ability to choose the sexual orientation of your child also means that besides turning gay babies straight, you can also turn straight babies gay. Is that morally acceptable to Christians?”
    No, any more than making a child with functioning ears deaf would be. Your arguments seem to be based on the perspective that there is no difference between being straight or gay. From the traditional Scripturally based Christian perspective, there’s a BIG one — acting on homosexual impulses is a sin. If you don’t accept the perspective, your position is logical. But not if you do.
    “I will also point out that there is a certain arrogance in assuming that gay people have no purpose in the world.”
    Most Christians would agree. I don’t have a problem with people with homosexual impulses (any more than I have a problem with people having heterosexual impulses). However, acting on either Outside of marriage is sinful. There are are a lot of other sins that we are guilty of. But that doesn’t excuse sin.
    “If you listen to Christians complain about homosexuality, and then listen to them complain about torture or murder, guess which acts they sound more horrified by?”
    Again, it depends on the Christian. Every belief system has “bad” followers. Christians believe that we’re ALL inherently sinful, and that’s why we need to be redeemed.

  • Elwood

    Patrick,
    As you probably know, you and I don’t agree in our stances on homosexuality. I just want to say you make some excellent points that are worth chewing on about accepting ourselves (or our children) warts and all, as gifts from God. Especially since what some people consider a wart, others consider positive or neutral. How do we know what God’s intention is for an individual’s life?
    In considering all the traits we may someday have the power to change, whether good, bad, or indifferent traits…hair color, thrill seeking vs. cautious, IQ, sexual orientation, Type A personality vs. laid back, Downs Syndrome.
    To be healed (if one considers said trait to be in need of healing), to let that trait be a challenge, a gift to others around you, a cross to bear, etc., how do we know what God intends in how He created us.

  • Farlo Tommyrot

    Joe: In Dr. Mohler’s first article, he said:
    If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.
    In his new article he says:
    I would not advocate the use of genetic therapies to create heterosexual babies — or any other therapy of this type. The hypothetical question I addressed had nothing to do with genetic factors at all.
    Please explain how these two things are consistent. In fact, they’re not and I think Dr. M saw the error of his ways but does a poor job of admitting it.
    If not genetic therapies, he was certainly talking about some other prenatal “treatment to reverse sexual orientation.” And that, as I think his new article recognizes, is a slippery slope no one should attempt to cross.
    I think Dr. M is a sincere guy and all, but he went too far here. Good for him that he backtracked, even if he did so in a weasel’s suit.

  • http://www.gopunditgo.com Terrence

    Zudwig,
    No, I don’t suppose you’d care to discuss matters of a spiritual nature.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Farlo Tommyrot Please explain how these two things are consistent. In fact, they’re not and I think Dr. M saw the error of his ways but does a poor job of admitting it.
    I’m not sure why you would think that they are inconsistent. Basically, Dr. Mohler is saying that he doesn’t oppose all pre-natal treatments for homosexual orientation but that he does oppose all forms of genetic treatment. I think the confusion is caused by Mohler assuming that most people understand the range of possibilities that fall under the rubric of “biologial basis.”
    Too many people probably assume that if sexual orientation has a biological basis then it must be genetic and that treatment would therefore involve the tweaking of the genetic code. But there is currently no evidence that orientation has a genetic basis. Instead, it appears that it may be based on hormones. Mohler seems to be implying that he would have a problem with genetic treatments but not less invasive means such as those involving adjustments of hormone levels.

  • Ludwig

    “No, I don’t suppose you’d care to discuss matters of a spiritual nature.”
    you re right i dont…such discussions,while at times entertaining are ultimately pointless,since the concept being discussed is by its very nature undefined and everyone has his or her own ideas as to what it is or even if it exists to begin with…whats the point of talkign when we have no possible common frame of reference

  • Rob Ryan

    “Mumon thinking that “human flourishing” is about increasing the population is about the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. ; )”
    If human flourishing has nothing to do with reproduction, I’d like someone to explain how it is that homosexuality impedes it.
    As far as I can tell, homosexuals enjoy prosperous work lives and satisfying social lives at least as much as the average straight person.
    Additionally, the gay fellows I know seem to do EVERYTHING with a flourish. ;-)

  • Farlo Tommyrot

    Joe: Dr. M says that the hypothetical question had nothing to do with genetic factors. Okay. Three questions: Is a genetic factor a “biological basis” for homosexuality? Of course. Could a prenatal test be developed to identify the “homosexual” gene? Yes. Could we develop gene therapy to eliminate the “homosexual” gene? Yes.
    Given the obvious answers to these three questions, it seems a little disingenuos for Dr. M to assert that his hypothetical had nothing to do with genetic factors. That’s clearly not the case.
    Now he is certainly free to say that he didn’t mean to include genetic factors in his hypo, but that’s not what his words conveyed. The two statements I quoted really are inconsistent.
    Now he says genetic factors were not in view in his hypothetical. It would be nice if he clarified what he DID have in view. Even if we adopt the idea that it’s hormones, we’re still talking about modifying a human being to eliminate some undesirable trait. That’s the slippery slope Mohler should want to avoid. But does he? His second article doesn’t say. He needs to clarify the clarification.

  • Elwood

    Farlo,
    When I read Dr. M.’s piece, I picked up the first time a distinction between genetic therapy and a hormonal treatment. He mentions the hormonal treatment in his second sentence, and at least 2 more times in the original article. A hormonal patch on the mother’s abdomen is different than altering the genes of the fetus.
    I reread it again and it is clear that he’s talking about different matters, being okay with one, but against the other. Perhaps the confusion is that looking at the genes would *identify* the supposed need for the hormonal treatment.
    Personally, I don’t know if I’d even want the genetic testing/identification done in the first place on our baby. There are already incorrect diagnosis of terrible diseases while the baby is still in the womb, causing doctors to ask the parents if they are considering abortion. Sometimes the parents choose abortion, sometimes they choose to keep the baby and the baby does indeed have the disease, and other times they keep the baby and it is born perfectly healthy. I’d expect the same misdiagnosis to happen with genetic testing.

  • Elwood

    Anyone have a good link to a site explaining how genetic therapy actually works? Is it even possible with a normal pregnancy? Or is it only done in lab settings leading to an IVF type of procedure?

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (gryph)

    No, any more than making a child with functioning ears deaf would be. Your arguments seem to be based on the perspective that there is no difference between being straight or gay. From the traditional Scripturally based Christian perspective, there’s a BIG one — acting on homosexual impulses is a sin. If you don’t accept the perspective, your position is logical. But not if you do.

    There is no “traditional Scripturally based Christian perspective”. There is only what you believe this perspective to be. That is your own personal human judgment at work. Not that of God. To claim otherwise is once again, a sin of arrogance and pride.
    The problem with your logic is that you do not actually give your child the option, the free will to choose. You impose your particular view of the “Christian perspective” on a child that may not grow up to be a Christian. On such a fundamental question of sexual identity I don’t think thats morally acceptible. It is cutting off your childs hands in the womb because someday they might use them to steal something.
    Or its like mutilating a childs sexual organs after birth so they don’t use them for something naughty. Oh wait, thats another topic.

  • http://www.globaloctopus.blogspot.com Grumpy Old Man

    1. The hypothesis that a predilection for homosexual conduct is related to infection seems very plausible to me. If it were genetic, the gene would probably die out very quickly because homosexuals’ reproduction rates are much lower than others’. There’s more to this notion, of course, but it makes sense to me.
    2. Orthodox Christians look at the Church as a great hospital, and see sin not merely as transgression, but as the product of a kind of sickness. In that sense, a sickness metaphor for homosexual conduct is no different than any other sinful penchant.

  • frank collins

    this is great. i would think that all homos would want not to be so injured and deformed. this is great news. now we can identify the problem and fix it before they are born. in the short term we can just abort them until we learn how to turn the switch to make them normal.

  • Rob Ryan

    “The hypothesis that a predilection for homosexual conduct is related to infection seems very plausible to me. If it were genetic, the gene would probably die out very quickly because homosexuals’ reproduction rates are much lower than others’. There’s more to this notion, of course, but it makes sense to me.”
    This comment reveals a fundamental lack of understanding with regard to genetics. People with Down Syndrome rarely reproduce, yet the percentage of Down Syndrome births is remarkably constant. A trait needn’t be passed to offspring by the individuals manifesting the trait. People without Down Syndrome have Down babies, and heterosexual couples have homosexual children. It happens.

  • http://financialrounds.blogspot.com Unknown Professor

    Patrick:
    First off, my compliments on the interesting rhetorical devices you use. A bit overheated, but I give you points for effort.
    When I refer to the “Traditional” Christian perspective, I mean the canon of beliefs that the majority of Christians have shared over time. And yes, on many topic there is a consensus. If you don’t think so, read some of the history of Christian belief.
    You are correct – it is my personal judgement. But I don’t come locked in a a room by myself staring at my navel. There’s a structure that I fit into – my reading of Scripture, the teaching of my local church, the counsel of people who’ve proced themselves to be wise and trustworthy, and so on.
    I’ve spent a lot of time on trying to figure this stuff out, and there’s far more that I don’t understand than that I do. But I’m trying.
    Of course, you may have taken the same path and come to a different belief. You have that right, but I think you’re wrong. Unfortunately, we both won’t find out until the final curtain. In the meanwhile, I’ll pray for you (and that’s not intended as either snarky or sanctimonius).
    My “tribe” puts great stock in that.

  • thinking

    I agree with baggi, I think homosexuality has more to do with social conditioning than anything else. Things that are approved by society or at the very least the microcosm the individual lives in tend to be accepted as normalcy and many people will take the road down practicing it. Television shows and movies portray women jumping in the sack with a man on the same day they met or shortly after usually out of wedlock with seemingly no repercussions, so why shouldn’t your child try it out? I will tell you why: if you have instructed her in love about the realities of life, she is less likely to do it. Notice I didnt say she wont do it, I said she is less likely to. If you can talk to your child about drugs, why not about sex? Because we have been told we are animals, slaves to our sexual urges no matter how deviant, and many people believe this.
    Case in point- premarital sex, children out of wedlock, divorce etc etc. When there is no longer any restraining soceital or religious construct in the mind of natural man not to engage in a certain behavior or where there is plenty of peer pressure and a crushing desire to be accepted, a peson, especially children will try certain things out not knowing any better. So after the first sexual experience, or having been taught (read conditioned) to find persons of the same sex attractive by society, a person tags himself as ‘gay’.
    When I first came to this country, I found it hard to believe that a person would define his entire life by something he does approximately 10 minutes (ok maybe gay ppl have more sex than that) in the day. I thought it was ludicrous- to build your life and entire identity around something which is merely a bodily function? I just couldn’t (still dont) get it. Isn’t life more than sex? But in a society where even cars can be ‘sexy’and your child can be made to feel her worth is irrevocably tied to how “sexy” she is, I guess life may not be more than sex. Sex has become god and we can’t but pay obeisance.
    So what the homosexual agenda is trying to do is this: make homosexuality normal. Your kid will go to school , somewhere around the age of 10 will ‘try’ out a homosexual act with a friend of the same sex because he loves his friend but can’t differentiate love from sex, or phileos from eros and has no clue what agape is because you know, God is dangerous in school. Or she finds that she is very fond of her friend but doesnt know how else to express it and so she kisses her and thinks she is……..GAY (remember, it is normal to have strong erotic feelings for members of the same sex). In future, I see the gradual erosion of expressions of phileo between people. In this this country , I have noticed that women don’t hold each others’ hands in public (unless they are gay and are trying to tell this world this). Men usually refrain from hugging too tight or throwing an arm round their friends’ shoulder for fear of being seen as gay. With the release of Brokeback mountain- men cant even spend time alone away without raising eyebrows. This was alluded to in the movie ‘wild hogs’ in different scenes. Funny, but sad.
    Yes, homosexuality has been around and will be around for a long time, but it is ultimately giving in to temptation and that is what God asks us not to do.
    Homosexuals deserve our compassion and like every human being should be treated with dignity, but we should not refrain from speaking the truth to them in love even though that may make us unpopular.
    When tempted to lie, steal, cheat , swindle, react with furious rage or fall in love/ sleep with another person’s spouse, people can well make the argument that ” I didn’t choose to feel this way soooooooo…….it is normal”. What do I call someone who from a young age found that he likes to masturbate? an autosexual? Can such a person procure civil rights to marry himself? Its been said that homosexuality exists in animals in the wild- well so does incest.
    To the person who says that the homosexual lifestyle is not detrimental to the flourishing of the human race, as a medical professional, I beg to differ. The homosexual act itself does many destructive things to the human body- and I am not talking about HIV/AIDS. We should feel compassion for these people.
    There is a reason the Bible tells us not to be conformed to this world. We are hedged in by the world on all sides and the world is constantly trying to shape our feelings, outlook, likes, dislikes, reactions etc. The homosexual agenda is no different.
    The gospel is still as powerful to change lives as it ever was. And like Jesus showed with the woman at the well, even people engaged in the worst sexual sins can be regenerated.
    Just my two cents! Sorry for the long post.

  • Ludwig

    thinking
    “Just my two cents! Sorry for the long post.”
    2 cents? buddy,WE should be paid 20 dollars to have had to suffer through it and the only appology you should be giving is not for the lengh of your post but rather for the sheer amount of idiotic garbage it contained. gays dont define themselves by their sexuality…they are defined as such by religionist pond scum like you in an attempt to dehumanize them to make their persecution easier. I know at least 7 people who are gay,2 with whom i once shared an appartement for over a year and i never encountered any of the ridiculous and insulting stereotypes being vehiculed by christian cultists about gays…only normal people going about their business same as everyone else…hell,the cookiest thing i could ever find about my former room mate was that he’s a 29 year old man who likes to do puzzles…so much for the wild “gay lifestyle”. ….idiot!

  • JohnW

    Ludwig,
    Get with the program-real americans are supposed to concerned about terrorists, faggots, and those godless secular humanist (a/k/a liberal democrats) taking over our country. Don’t you know-that’s the biggest concern of Jesus too?
    John

  • Nick

    Mohler seems to be implying that he would have a problem with genetic treatments but not less invasive means such as those involving adjustments of hormone levels.
    I don’t see that there is a significant moral difference between the two methods. Hormonal treatments, if they have any effect at all, would operate by modulating expression of genes under hormonal control. If gene therapy were used in this hypothetical, it would certainly be somatic cell gene therapy to modulate expression of the same genes as hormone therapy.
    Mention of germline gene therapy is a red herring, since the purpose of the therapy would be to alter a particular fetus, not the heritability of the trait in his hypothetical descendents.

  • KAB

    Well, now…Aren’t we a fine group of people who discriminate against those who are different from us. I believe that Jesus and God are pure manifestations of the concept of Loving your brothers and sisters as one would love oneself. What I perceive here is a hatred of those who do not share the same sexual orientation as the majority of people in this world. This goes against the basic teachings of Christ. And I am ashamed of those of you who would hate and demean fellow human beings. It is never easy being different. You only cause more suffering and pain to those who cannot always defend themselves against the virulent, hateful and venomous rantings of a biased religious autocratic bureaucracy with little to no understanding of how the real world operates. We used to call the Liberals idealisitic. But no more, now it is the Right wingers and evangelists who are idealistic and out of touch with the real world. We do not need to continue with human flourishment on this planet. Earth is at its carrying capacity of 8 billion people now. Today! Adding more people to this planet will only exacerbate serious problesm we have now. We don’t want or need any more people on this planet. Human flourishment is a dead idea and no longer relevant to today’s challenges. The quiet dogma of the past is no longer relevant to the demands of the stormy present. There is so much that the evangelists do not understand, yet you have the audacity to push your morals down our throats. How dare You! God is Love, Jesus is Love, y’all need to learn how to Love and not Hate!

  • http://www.prolifepajamamama.blogspot.com Michelle

    So, let me get this straight. There’s only ONE reason in the entire world that it is NOT ok to kill a pre-born child? As the pro-aborts are fond of saying regularly “Who are YOU to decide for ANY woman what to do with her body?” But, it’s ok to kill a pre-born child because he or she will grow up poor or fatherless or adopted or with a mental or physical disability?
    I am laughing my butt off at some of the comments from “pro-choice” people who are also “pro-gay”. Some of them are verbatim from pro-life organization sites. They fail to see the irony in their “suddenly offended” objections. The horror of the gay community is understandable, yet the pro-aborts have consistently discounted the same objections to abortion that disability advocate groups have had for decades. NO ONE has the right to decide whether a life is worthy of being lived…except God.
    Quite a dilemma, no? The hypocrisy is overwhelming yet predictable, and I’m watching closely to see how the pro-aborts handle this one.

  • Donna

    I surfed over here after reading about transsexual children. It was heartbreaking stuff and it made me wonder what Evangelicals were saying about transgender and gay and lesbian people. I am a pro choice woman. I’ve never had an abortion myself and I hope I never find myself in a place where that would eve come up, but I would never want to deny some other woman that right. I have plenty of gay friends and I know some transgender people. I don’t know about any other straight person out there, but I can assure you that regardless of how much time I have spent with homesexuals or transgender people, I have never once had any interest in crossing over to the other side. I think that straight people cannot imagine being attracted to the same sex and so they believe that nobody is. I believe that homosexuals are not attracted to the opposite sex at all. I believe that it would be as uncomfortable and possibly disgusting for a gay man to be with a woman as it is for a straight man to be with another man. I think it is genetics. If I could find out the sexual orientation of a child before I had it, I would have it anyway. I know their life might be difficult because of the bigotry and small mindedness of others, but I would have the child. Being gay doesn’t stop you from living a full life. People who hate you, spurn you, isolate you and work full time to make your life a burden do that.