Published May 16, 2013
This column is the final in a three-part series regarding homosexuality.
QUESTION: Are some people born gay?
ANSWER: Much of the debate concerning homosexuality’s morality focuses on the notion of inborn homosexual orientation. Those defending homosexuality claim certain people are born with same-sex attraction. To them, blaming someone for being gay is like blaming someone for their skin color.
If such sexual orientation is innate, they claim, homosexuality is not immoral. Consequently, many defenders of homosexuality search for genetic influences such as those described in Time Magazine’s article “New Evidence of a Gay Gene.”
Many who argue against homosexuality believe that God would not permit humans to be born with same sex attraction. According to Albert Mohler, “The modern – and highly political – notion of homosexual orientation as a natural human condition cannot be squared with the Bible.” Consequently, members of this camp exert considerable energy refuting any research supporting genetic influence on sexual orientation.
In short, the scientific evidence for a gay gene is, at best, inconclusive. For the sake of argument, however, imagine scientists discovered a gene that increases the probability one will choose a homosexual lifestyle. Would this discovery justify homosexuality?
No, for genes cannot determine morality. If they could, we could justify all kinds of immoral actions. For instance, suppose a person was born with a genetic propensity for alcoholism, infidelity, murder, pedophilia, gluttony, or greed. Would the possession of a gluttony gene or an infidelity gene justify the associated behavior? No. Gluttony and infidelity would still be immoral even if one had a genetic proclivity for them.
Hence, the debate concerning the notion of inborn homosexual orientation is irrelevant to the subject of homosexuality’s morality.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches all have an innate affinity for sin – a sin nature. I was born with at least one sinful predisposition – selfishness. Although God created me with this intrinsic affinity, I’m obligated to renounce my selfishness and act altruistically. In the same way, even if one were born with same-sex attraction, that desire itself could not justify the actions. Consequently, inborn desires cannot determine morality.
Although Romans 2:15 explains God’s law is written on our hearts, that knowledge has been suppressed or misunderstood. Therefore, a perfect knowledge of right and wrong requires God’s special revelation – His Word.
Once again, for the sake of argument, let us suppose. This time suppose a person actually was born with same-sex attraction or desire. Would this same-sex temptation be sinful?
Some believe the answer is yes. They often point to Jesus, who taught, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). In other words, Jesus taught that a temptation becomes sin of the heart at some point before one physically executes the desire. However, the Bible also declares, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (James 1:14-15). In other words, desire and temptations do not become sin until they conceive and then give birth to sin.
Furthermore, according to Hebrews 4:15, Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Therefore, temptations themselves cannot be inherently sinful. Although the exact point at which a particular temptation becomes sin is somewhat unclear, it is clear that temptations themselves are not sin.
Consequently, even if one were born with same-sex attraction, that temptation itself would not be sin until it “gave birth.”
In summary, science has not demonstrated anyone is born gay. Moreover, even if science could do so, homosexuality would still be morally wrong. Furthermore, even if one were born with a temptation toward same-sex attraction, that temptation itself would not be any more sinful than my inborn proclivity toward selfishness and greed.
Aaron J. Werner is assistant professor of Philosophy and Religion at Shorter University. This column, complete with footnotes and citations, can be viewed at www.aaronjwerner.com.
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