Are some people born gay? In this video, Dr. Jamie Dew sits down with Dr. Sam Williams to address this question.
Watch the conversation above, or read key highlights below (edited for clarity).
Some on the left say that people are born with same-sex desires and that it’s not wrong to pursue a homosexual lifestyle. Others on the right say that people aren’t born this way, that it’s nothing more than a choice and that therefore it is wrong for them to pursue this lifestyle. How do we think through this topic?
“I really think that both sides are making a point that must be included in the explanation of homosexuality. On the one hand, as Christians, we believe that everything is broken. Our doctrine of sin tells us that everything — biology, psyche, soul, relationships, family — everything is broken.
“So on the one hand, might there be some biogenetic factors that contribute to homosexuality? There probably are. But notice what we’re saying is not so much [that genetics] cause homosexuality, because there must usually be a variety of other factors that are operative in order to have that outcome.
“So is there some biogenetic component that might be contributory? Most likely. Boys that are more aesthetic and less athletic, less aggressive and more artistic… there does seem to be a preponderance of that temperament… with same-sex attraction. Not everyone [of that temperament has same-sex attraction]. But you have to deal with a variety of other factors: The degree of identification with their father, their treatment by their peers, the extent to which they feel like they fit in, especially with the boys. So there are a whole nexus of factors that are implicated in the development of same-sex attraction.
“Jumping back on the other side of the fence. Do men choose to be attracted to other men? And the answer is 98% of the time, no. It’s usually as it is for you and I… I don’t remember choosing to be attracted to the opposite sex…. It was just there. And likewise in the development of same-sex attraction; it’s usually discovered. And especially for conservative men, whether they’re Muslim, Christian or Jewish, [it’s discovered] with horror. It’s a very, very unpleasant discovery to find there’s something wrong with my sexual compass.”
Most people don’t consciously make a decision to be attracted to the opposite sex.
“Very, very, very rarely. We do tend to see that a little bit more in lesbianism among women, but even then there only with maybe 20 to 40% of lesbians who say, ‘I consciously chose this.’ But with men, [it’s] maybe a couple percent. Very rarely do we find men who say, ‘I chose this.’ But the fact is, as I said, especially for those in conservative cultures or with religious influences, they discover it with great horror. It’s a terrible, terrible day to realize, ‘Uh, oh. My sexual compass is broken.'”
If people discover that they have same-sex attraction, does this now give them the license to pursue that lifestyle?
“That’s a great question. And I think we have to go back to our doctrine of sin, which tells us that everything is broken. Just because something is biological doesn’t mean it is therefore good. So that [same-sex attraction] may have some biogenetic components in its final eventuation doesn’t therefore then mean that I’m not responsible for it, and it doesn’t mean that it’s good or wrong.
“Instead, we have to go back to the doctrine of creation — how God made us and designed us, for one another, man and woman in his image. The doctrine of creation tells us much more about this [topic] than I think we sometimes think about…. The structure of sexuality is given to us by God in the fact that he made two sexes… If [their interaction] did not occur, the human race would be over.
“So it’s very clear from God’s design that we’re made for one another sexually, for the opposite sex. That complementarity is clear and obvious in a variety of ways.”