Monday, February 22, 2010

Trait or Behavior?

This is in response to a question asked in my psychology class of, “Is homosexuality a learned behavior or genetic trait?”

I am deeply saddened at the response of those filled with the Spirit towards an issue of homosexuality and the inerrant ideology that is revealed in their views towards it. There is a dichotomy made between homosexual behavior and homosexual thought in popular Christian theology. As far as I read Jesus challenged the religious folks of his day that the heart and thoughts are just as or more important than the behavior. We are also born with a nature of sin. Sin is not simply a behavioral problem, it is an essence dilemma. The point in much of Jesus' New Testament teaching was to discourage the religious of the day that focused so heavily upon behavioral conformity over soul transformation. Many use Old Testament Scriptures to point to how much of an abomination being homosexual is, but forget that we are not held to the laws of the Old Testament and what we read, while still God's Word, in the Old testament must be read within the appropriate context, as a religious Jewish community. It is easy and dangerous to read any of the Bible with eyes of an American in 2010. Te principles stated in the Bible take work to bring to our current environment and require much more than memorization of a verse (often taken out of context).

To say homosexuality is a learned trait and is only affected by sociological factors is spitting of the face of two very important forces. One, empirical evidence is reflected by scientific research. There are Christians who refuse to believe in dinosaurs, yet there are fossils. Science has been painted too often as the enemy of spirituality when in fact the ultimate goal of any science is greater understanding of our experience, which will always reduce to a wonder and enlightenment that there is something that holds it all together (God). To simply reject science for the fact that it seeks further evidence beyond scriptural quotation has been seen as holy, zealous, and faithful behaviors and responses, but in all actuality are ignorance and robbing the truth of all its beauty. To ignore and reject all the evidence that psychology and sociology has provided by various tests of actual homosexually oriented and heterosexually oriented humans that suggest environment or sociological factors do not have a direct impact on sexual orientation is to deny natural truth simply because it is not said within the Christian context. It leaves Christians being seen as extreme people with no evidence to back themselves up with. Also, to say that homosexual orientation is simply a learned behavior is to imply that sin can be learned. Carrying that implication further would say that there is a point at which your mind cannot learn at a certain level to which sin would not exist, which any Bible-savvy person would throw out as heresy. This reaction to homosexuality is to protect a faith and religious system from something it does not quite understand (individualistically). I do not have the orientation of homosexuality, but that is not because I learned to be heterosexual. If it is possible to be heterosexual by nature, then why would the inverse be seen as outlandish?

This is not to say that I think it is within God’s original plan for man (His will) to be homosexual or to lie with men as women due and for women to lay with other women as they do men. I think that homosexuality, as a behavior or as a genetic trait, is an effect of man’s original sin, man’s original act of separating himself from God by disobedience. I do think that God sees it as sin, by behavior. I think it carries no greater weight than the sin of pride, oppression, lying, being impatient, or any other “sin” that would be called “ordinary.” I don’t think God was really into the business of behavior maintenance all along though. The entire Old Testament Law was to point towards a Messiah. It was a system set up for failure, one that always called for more and eventually called for perfection man alone could not attain. God being a very good God provided us with Jesus as the messiah though! This Messiah came and died for sin and took away the behavioral side of anything we could ever do or not do. I think the real point behind any of this in the grand scheme of things is that whether a person is homosexual by choice or by trait, it is forgiven by Christ. I trust the Holy Spirit is big enough to work in an individual’s life beyond my realm of what should or shouldn’t be so much that He will bring them into whatever being He wills, even if it isn’t in the plain sight of the Christian religion or its attendants.

It is my prescription that homosexuality is a genetic trait that can be regressed or enhanced by sociological factors. I think everyman is flawed and in sin at birth and cannot learn to sin or not sin on his own. There is too much evidence that supports homosexuality as a trait rather than simple “bad” behavior to dismiss it, even if I would like to. I think that spirituality and all Jesus desired and came for can be supported by natural science, psychology, and sociology if the mass populace of religious folk would think before they put faith in a view they don’t quiet understand. It is education of the unknown in which we were saved, it is the education of the unknown that will help us live out an abundant, loving, peaceful life here too.


  1. Good post Adam.

    These thoughts are along the same line as me... Christians spend too much time worrying about this issue.

    I am straight, I know this. However, even I cannot fully tell whether it is genetic or learned. It is also fully beyond my ability to either understand or deliberately change someone else and/or their behaviors.

    We often care to much about changing people; whether or not our time and influence on them will change them is not our business. We should only love them as Jesus showed us to, and leave the changing up to God.

  2. NORMDS-
    Thanks for your input. This view often gets me in hot water with conservative folks because they want to take hard stances on things, but I take a hard stance on love and trust in a big Spirit. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Excellent post, from beginning to end. Well done.

  4. I, too, am in this psych class, and found your post there (which has led me here). If you really are interested in having views challenged, I encourage you to read my response.