Born that Way

Over the course of the coming week, I’m going to lay out for our readers what I consider to be the “five pillars” of the case for same-sex marriage.  

The first pillar on which the case for same-sex marriage is based is the claim that homosexuality is a genetically determined trait. The cause of the condition shouldn’t make any difference regarding the present nature of the disorder, and surely when we start talking about acting on homosexual urges we are moving away from biology and into the realm of public morality and free will.

Yet, the public perception as to the cause of homosexuality matters greatly, and it’s a mistake to concede this point even for the sake of argument. Studies have clearly demonstrated that people who believe that persons with same-sex attractions (SSA) were “born that way” were far more likely to favor aspects of the gay agenda as opposed to those who believe that homosexuals chose or learned their sexual orientation.

So, at least in the political and social arena, many gay activists espouse the essentialist approach–which says that our sexual identity as gay or straight is fixed and established from the time of birth, and that variations of sexual orientation are all equally normal, like hair color.

Let’s be clear: There is no credible scientific evidence supporting the existence of a “gay gene” or some other genetic cause of same-sex attraction. The studies by Hamer and Levay over a decade ago have been discredited (and not replicated), and Levay himself has backed away from the claim that his flawed study proves SSA to be genetically determined. We’re talking about a myth, albeit a shrewd one, as homosexual activists have used the “I was born this way” line–or better yet, “God made me that way”–to garner sympathy for their position. “Born that way” might suggest a disability or exception; “God made me that way” says it more positively and with a religious veneer.

The fact of the matter is that most “gay” and “lesbian” spokesmen don’t buy into this genetic argument at all. They are “constructionists,” meaning that sexual categories such as male and female and “gay” and “straight” are merely social constructs that people create and invest with their own meaning and value.

Just one such example of what’s going on here: Gay-rights advocate Ellen Broido in her article entitled “Constructing Identity: The Nature and Meaning of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Identity Development” says that even though “the social constructionist perspective seems to be the dominant viewpoint of those working within the humanities and social sciences,” when it comes time for political strategy, constructionist activists “have found ways to use essentialist perspectives [i.e. “born that way”] as effective tools to acquire equal rights.”

Another example of this–Dennis Altman, author of The Homosexual of America writes: “Even if there turns out to be a genetic basis for homosexuality–about which I remain skeptical–there is an element of choice about how we live this out. I do believe human sexuality is largely socially constructed, is fluid and malleable, and that all of us have a far greater potential for sexual experience than we are likely to act out.”

Lesbian author Dr. Camille Paglia puts it this way: “Homosexuality is not normal. On the contrary it is a challenge to the norm. . . . Nature exists whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. . . . No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous. . . . . Homosexuality is an adaptation, not an inborn trait.

The truth is, homosexuality is a complex, deep-seated disorder. Sexual attraction to the other sex is the proper outcome of a healthy psychosexual development.

The hunt for a “gay gene,” for reasons too complex to get into here, will never succeed. There are simply too many other complex, non-hereditary factors at work in homosexuality for it to be a pre-determined reality.

What we can say is that all of us experience a certain brokenness, a tendency toward sin, called “concupiscence” as a result of original sin. Concupiscence itself isn’t a sin, but it’s the tendency toward sin. It’s theoretically possible that there could be genetic factors at work that would make one more susceptible to SSA when coupled with other environmental factors, but even that, to date, hasn’t been established.

Tomorrow we will look at the crucial second pillar of the case for same-sex marriage–the assertion that SSA are permanent and fixed at birth.

For more information on this subject, I recommend Dale Leary’s outstanding new book entitled One Man, One Woman, which is available through Emmaus Road Publishing. Also check out this article and also this one.

One response

  1. Catholics must uncompromisingly oppose legal recognition of same-gender sexual relationships, but we must do so prudently and intelligently. In defending the Church’s position, it’s harmful rather than helpful to make statements that conflict with reality as perceived in the personal experience of millions of human beings.

    Many people tell us that they have experienced sexual interest in persons of the same gender ever since the onset of puberty. There’s no reason to think that all these people are lying.

    Unintentionally, Leon Suprenant acknowledges this report of personal experience, and he also undermines his own argument, by making the following crucial admission:

    “It’s theoretically possible that there could be genetic factors at work that would make one more susceptible to SSA when coupled with other environmental factors, but even that, to date, hasn’t been established.”

    If genetic factors are at work in homosexuality, then, in a certain sense, persons who experience same-gender attraction are, in fact, “born that way.” If God’s permissive will concerning evil allows some people to be born with the disorder of blindness, then we should not be scandalized if he permits some people to be born with the disorder of same-sex attraction.

    Being “born that way,” of course, does not justify anyone in breaking the natural moral law that restricts sexual union to a man and a woman in a valid marriage. If alcoholism has a genetic basis, that does not mean that anyone has the right to get drunk.

    As for considering homosexuality a mere “social construct,” that view would be a surprise to St. Paul, who, upholding the virtue of chastity, wrote of men who “burned with lust for one another” (*Rom* 1:27). To burn with lust is to experience a real temptation to commit sin, and a real temptation is not simply a “social construct.”

    In fighting social and legal acceptance of the sin that the Apostle Paul condemned, we should imitate the wisdom of the Magisterium, which limits itself to saying the following of homosexual temptation:

    “Its psychic genesis remains largely unexplained” (*CCC* 2357).

    Keep and spread the Faith.

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