Introduction

ABC’s 20/20 aired a program in 2008 entitled, “Is there a ‘gay gene?”   Their conclusion caused a great deal of controversy.

“It’s a medical mystery, one of the biggest debates of our time: Is there a gene that determines whether you’re gay or straight? Some scientists think so, saying sexual identity is mostly biological. Others say it’s a learned behavior. Not that kids need science to confirm what they already know.

While emphasizing the complexity of this issue, reporters, Lynn Sherr & David Diamond, leave their viewers with the clear impression that the scientific evidence does not matter—truth is a personal conviction of the heart.

On the other side of the fence are the people at Exodus International, who continue to emphasize that gayness is a choice that can be changed like an old pair of shoes.

“The Wall Street Journal reported on August 12, 1993, that to suggest that current biological-cause theories are unsubstantiated is to risk one’s career. New York psychiatrist William Byne said, “I’m told my criticism is not politically correct…

What they are saying, therefore, is that I should subjugate scientific rigor to political expediency.

However, as Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” The fact is that no scientifically accepted, replicable studies presently exist that clearly demonstrate that homosexuality is genetic.

Studies do exist, however, showing that homosexuals who desire to change can do so. These studies have not received the same level of media coverage as the flawed studies.”

While the debate between “science” vs. “choice” rages on,  it is clear that in political circles no meaningful discussion will be tolerated.  We live in a time when any view that diverges from the “personal truth” agenda espoused by 20/20 will be met with increasing vitriol.  Take for example the story of Crystal Dixon.  Ms. Dixon was the Vice President of Human Resources at the University of Toledo until she dared to question the school’s agenda.  Ms. Dixon writes:

As a Black womao who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are “civil rights victims.” Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few. Frequently, the individuals report that the impetus to their change of heart and lifestyle was a transformative experience with God; a realization that their choice of same-sex practices wreaked havoc in their psychological and physical lives. Charlene E. Cothran, publisher of Venus Magazine, was an aggressive, strategic supporter of gay rights and a practicing lesbian for 29 years, before she renounced her sexuality and gave Jesus Christ stewardship of her life.

The response from the University of Toledo was to fire Ms. Dixon. According to a statement, reported in the Toledo Free Press, UT spokesman Lawrence J. Burns, said there was “just cause” to fire Dixon.

The public position Ms. Dixon took in the Toledo Free Press is in direct contradiction to University policies and procedures, as well as the institutional core values as defined in our strategic plan, and called into question her continued ability to lead a critical function within the administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in her capacity as associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk.

Did you catch it?

Ms. Dixon’s personal view does not match the political values of the school; therefore, her viewpoint—facts be damned—will not be tolerated.

Debates and fights of this kind reflect a world-system that is broken.  This clash of “rights” will only get worse as the reason of the culture becomes far more unreasonable and science becomes far more political.   As Christians, we will always have disagreements with the World, but we still need to have conversations, work alongside, and participate in life alongside a diversity of people.

The Approach

Keep Sin In Perspective

It is important that Christians stop treating Homosexuality as some kind of uber-sin. The Scripture speaks of many sexual sins, and this particular one is no worse (Romans 3:23). The church must do a better job of loving gays and ministering the grace of Jesus Christ.

Trust In Christ’s Power

I am willing to concede that there is a genetic link to homosexual desire. Not because the science is convincing, but because families like the ones in the ABC report, and Universities like UT, will always believe people were born gay and had no choice in the matter. They will always argue, “I was born this way” So, for the sake of getting past the science and to the Gospel I would rather concede there is a genetic connection to the gay desire and then discuss the behavior in light of Christ.

Finally, before I move on, let me provide two key definitions to explain the title of this article: “Homosexuality; Is it in the Jeans or in the Genes?”

The Jeans refers to the desires and passions of the soul (both the spiritual and intellectual influences).

The Genes refer to the physical body of flesh (both the genetic and biological influences).

The Roots of Homosexuality

People, both religious and secular, seem to be stuck in two camps. The Gay advocates are determined to prove that all homosexual desire and action is rooted in the Genes. Advocates for change are determined to prove that all homosexual behavior and desire is a matter of moral choice.

I, like the reporters for ABC’s 20/20, contend that the causes are much more complicated then folks on either side want to admit. So let me explore some of the possible causes.

Influence In The Jeans

  • Cultural/Social: There is a mounting social pressure, rooted in our Western/American culture that encourages kids to experiment with gay sex. TV, Movies, and Schools are all promoting the acceptance and pleasure of gayness. Clearly for some, gayness is a choice.
  • Experience: There is evidence that some men, and women, “become” gay because of very traumatic childhood experiences, such as rape and abuse, which leads to sexual confusion.
  • Emotions: In an increasingly pluralistic and divided society, many young kids are unable to process the emotional vicissitudes of life. These emotions, if not properly directed, have led many people, young and old, to use sexual experimentation as an outlet.

Influence In The Genes

  • Psychology: The influences of the subconscious may play a part in a persons sexual identity.
  • Biology: Some scientists will argue that conditions in the womb, such as hormone balance, drugs use, temperature, etc… can influence the sexual orientation of the baby.
  • Genetic: There are several ongoing studies that are hoping to discover a link between human DNA and sexual choice.

I am willing to concede that all of these influences, both from the Jeans and the Genes, play a part in the gayness of an individual. Some people may be influenced by only one factor, others by many.

Jesus mentions that there are eunuchs by birth and some by choice (Matthew 19:12), so it should not be a shock to think that some people are gay by choice and others are gay by birth. I am willing to make this concession, even if there is no real evidence, because ultimately I don’t think it matters.

The Key to Understanding

Any viable answer must meet the following criteria:

1. A Good Answer Deals With The Whole Person.

Everything that makes us human is rooted in the whole being. We cannot divide the soul, from the spirit, from the Body.

2. A Good Answer Promotes the Dignity of Humanity.

Man is not a simple animal. We are created in the image of God and therefore have the capacity to overcome our baser instincts and passions.

3. A Good Answer Deals With Our Sin Nature.

There are two viewpoints that seems to dominate the discussion of gayness.

  • Gay by God’s Design: Religious advocates of the gay Gene argue that homosexuals are designed that way and therefore God cannot be wrong in His design.
  • Gay by Nature’s Chance: Advocates of an evolutionary model, feel that the presence of a gay Gene means that nature has chosen these people to be gay.

I contend that both of these arguments are folly.  Downs Syndrome, and other genetic diseases, is not designed by God; nor is it an indication of evolutionary progress.

In contrast to these two viewpoints, I offer the argument that every person is a sinner in the image of Adam. The Genesis account is clear, the sin of Adam corrupted not just our moral state, but also our physical bodies.  Genesis leaves open the possibility that all sin is, in some fashion, both in the Genes and in the Jeans… but God has a holistic solution through the cross of Christ that accounts for every cause we can imagine.

4. A Good Answer Discerns Between Free Choice And Free Will.

Al Mohler makes the point that

“We must stop confusing the issues of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. We sin against homosexuals by insisting that sexual temptation and attraction are predominately chosen. We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation.”

Taking each of these keys into account, I am left with only one answer to the question “is gayness in the Genes or the Jeans?”—Jesus heals!

The Answer: Jesus Heals

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:1-58).

Jesus died and was raised so that we can experience new-life in His resurrection power.  The Scripture teaches that Man was created as a unity; body, mind, soul, spirit—there is no way to separate one from the other. Jesus can heal emotional, physical, and spiritual sickness of every kind.

Songwriter Dennis Jernigan concludes this very same thing in discussion his own struggles with same-sex attraction as written about in this Charisma article by Jesslyn Justice.

Dennis Jernigan“I never thought I’d be attracted to a woman, but everything changed because I changed the way I thought and put off thoughts until I didn’t think them anymore,” Jernigan says.

It’s renewing of the mind described in Romans 12 the church should consider as they approach the sensitive topic.

“I have a Christ-centered worldview, everything I believe comes from that point,” Jernigan says. “Find out who your Creator says you are, not who you feel you are. If we don’t think the way God designed us to think, we’re going to latch onto something. What we put into our minds is what we put out. I agree with that, I am brainwashed, you need to be transformed by renewing of your mind.”

The Hebraic concept of Man is that we are one being. I think in the case of sin, it impacts our whole being, not just flesh, not just spirit, not just mind, but all of who we are.  So if “science” could “prove” there is a gay gene, it would not impact God’s definition sin. There are already scientists who argue

Modern “science” has created an unnatural dichotomy between the body from the spirit and then argues that “genetics is all-powerful.” Science has no capacity to determine cause, Science can only tell us what genetic factors play a part.

Christians are falling into a trap by trying to play on turf of modern “science.”  We need to stop arguing against the science of this world and offer instead the wisdom of God’s revelation. Therefore, it matters not what science can “prove” or “disprove”, because these temporary declarations cannot change the everlasting Word of God or His design for Man.

Ultimately, the degree to which gayness is in the Genes or in the Jeans is not a core theological issue and something we can hold loosely. What every follower of YHWH should agree on is that nothing in our Jeans or the Genes can limit the power of Jesus’ shed blood–Jesus heals!

Dr. Joe Miller (aka JR) is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. In addition, he is a church planter and coach for emerging leaders. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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