But I Was Born That Way

The most common homosexual myth of all – and there are many – is that homosexuals are born that way, and cannot help being the way they are. We don’t judge a person born left-handed, or red-haired, they argue, so we should not judge a homosexual either.

There are plenty of problems with this argument. The main one is the fact that tens of thousands of homosexuals have left the homosexual lifestyle, and many have gone on to heterosexual marriage and family. It may be difficult – all sexual addictions are hard to kick – but it can be done.

But let’s just suppose for a moment that the homosexual activists are correct in arguing that this is all just a matter of genetics, with no choice involved. What follows if we accept such a proposition? If we really are the result of genetic determinism, and we have to simply accept the hand that nature has dealt us, then this must have implications for all of us.

Indeed, what about so-called homophobes? Homosexual lobbyists regularly condemn those whom they label homophobic. It is wrong to be homophobic, they argue, and all homophobes must be willing to change, and no longer engage in homophobia.

But if we accept the determinist arguments of the homosexual lobby, then surely we must see all behaviours as having a similar genetic component. If homosexuals cannot help being homosexual, perhaps homophobes cannot help being homophobic. That is simply what nature has handed out, and they are stuck with it.

So if the homosexuals are right to argue that it is a waste of time to seek to convert a homosexual out of his homosexuality, then it must also be a waste of time to seek to convert a homophobe out of his homophobia.

Makes sense to me. And it also makes sense to Andrew Tallman, who recently penned a piece entitled, “Perhaps Homophobia Isn’t a Choice Either”. He too has some questions and concerns about the determinism argument. He begins this way:

“For as long as I can remember, homosexuals have been explaining why gay people have no choice about their orientation. And it finally dawned on me that their arguments explain why being anti-gay is also not a choice but an innate predisposition beyond our power to restrain. This led me to embrace my convictions and stop trying in vain to repress who I am. Since millions suffer from this same condition, I’m hopeful that my epiphany will help others accept themselves and their convictions, too.”

He then offers some insights based on this newfound understanding of determinism and homophobia. Here is one helpful insight: “If we can’t control whom we love, that’s because we can’t control our strong passions. But passions can be both for and against. And, just as gay love is a passion which is impossible to control, I now know that my passionate anti-gayness must also be impossible to control. I might wish I could change, but it’s hopeless. My judgmental tendency draws me as irresistibly as their same-sex affection.”

And another helpful insight: “I used to think that restraint was the key differentiator between animals and men. But then it was explained to me that sexual urges are such a deep element of real human nature that it’s wrong to suppress them. This led me to realize that moral urges are an equally deep aspect of human identity, and it must be unhealthy to try to suppress them, too. Just as someone may feel a deep desire to have same-gender sex, I often suffer the seemingly irresistible urge to espouse my views on sexual ethics. In fact, my desire to express my beliefs is so deeply human that even the First Amendment to our Constitution explicitly protects it. So it must be truly unhealthy to try repressing something as innate as opposition to homosexuality.”

And yet another insight: Homosexuals claim that they have no choice in their sexuality: after all, who would choose a lifestyle that attracts so much criticism and rejection? But with our new understanding of determinism, things become clear:

“Who would choose to suffer discrimination, fear, alienation and family discord? I used to worry that this argument would prevent disapproving of any behavior at all, since it seems to entail the unusual conclusion that the more despised something is the less anyone can be blamed for it. But then I realized that I have been ridiculed, called intolerant and fired from an academic post for my beliefs on this subject. In fact, I’ve often thought how much easier my life in this culture would be if only I could lay down the burden of believing in traditional morals and embrace homosexuality. Since no rational person in the United States in 2008 would choose to be anti-gay if he didn’t have to be, it must not be a choice.”

The liberating vision of determinism helps in other areas as well: “The realization that no one (straight or gay) ever consciously flips a switch to set their sexual preference led me to the recognition that I never chose to be anti-gay. It’s not like I went to bed one night thinking supportive thoughts about gayness and then woke up the next morning committed to opposing it. It’s more accurate to say that one day I just sort of realized, almost to my horror, that I thought gay behavior was wrong. I felt like I had been suppressing my innate moral voice because of social pressure before finally coming to terms with it. On top of my parents both being pro-gay and having lots of gay friends, I had actually taken a seminar on gay theory from Richard Mohr, one of the county’s most prominent gay philosophers. I would gladly have been homo-endorsant if I could have been. But all to no avail. And I clearly can’t un-choose what I had never chosen in the first place.”  

Gee, it is indeed liberating when one comes to understand just how natural (and therefore determined) our behaviours and lifestyles are. I no longer have to feel guilty about my homophobia! That is tremendous news. I no longer have to deny or repress my true nature – I can just express it fully, and not care about those who would judge me. I can finally be true to myself.

Now let me conclude by admitting that of course Tallman and I are using a bit of humour here to make our case. But the point being made is quite serious indeed. Either we buy the logic of the determinists or we don’t. If being a homosexual is genetically determined, then presumably all sorts of other behaviours are biologically and/or genetically determined as well. In which case, if those concerned about homosexuality should just shut up, then perhaps those concerned about homophobia should just shut up as well.


[1140 words]

16 Replies to “But I Was Born That Way”

  1. The homosexual lobby could equally argue that if our natures are as a result of nurture rather than nature, so what? The fact is that homosexuality has become part and parcel of their nature, their character – no matter how it was developed – and therefore should be left alone. A Christian would agree. We were not born Christians but we have been grafted onto the root stock, Jesus Christ.

    Isabel Quaresma, a Portuguese woman was found in January 1980 at the age of nine, after she had spent the previous eight years shut in a hen-coop. Her growth was seriously stunted; she held her arms in the position of hens’ wings, and the palms of her hands were calloused. She had been fed on scraps; the same food as the hens received. Eventually she was rescued and taken for rehabilitation. Eighteen years later, In 1998 Isabel had not grown much and unsurprisingly having a mental age estimated at about two, she could not talk. The question arises, should the institute that is treating Isabel’s condition be convicted of a hate crime for trying to change her from being a chicken into a human being? Are her chicken rights being breached?

    The fact is that it is not a good yardstick for human behaviour for people to leap from saying if homosexuality is natural, it’s morally and ethically desirable. Rape, sodomy, necrophilia, promiscuity and homosexuality are all observable in about 10% of the animal kingdom (apparently). Infanticide is widespread in the animal kingdom. To jump from that to say it is desirable makes no sense. We shouldn’t be using animals to craft moral and social policies for the kinds of human societies we want to live in. Animals don’t take care of the elderly; should we be using that as a platform for closing down nursing homes. What the animal studies do show is that “sexuality is a lot broader term than people want to think. And species do become extinct. The Christian must not forget that the Bible says that the fall of man effected all of nature and in Romans it describes how creation waits in eager expectation:……“ creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The whole natural realm will one day be resurrected from death and decay, not through evolution but through an act of God.

    What is true is that human nature is fatally diseased with self-deception and denial, but deep within the inner recesses of our crafty souls we know the difference between right and wrong, otherwise there were would no point in holding war crimes tribunals. There would also be no point in Peter Tatchell trying to arrest president Mugabee.

    Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.


    David Skinner, UK

  2. Thanks Bill,

    A very clear analogy. I think I’ll use that one in my defense of homophobia. Let us hope that it will make those who accept the “they were born that way” defense to reconsider their logic.

    Jeremy Peet

  3. In this whole issue we need to remember 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. The man who fears is not made perfect in love.” Homophobes are not responding with the perfect love of Christ.
    Richard Adams

  4. I am aware that this article was based on humour but I am tired on being told that because I don’t think homosexuality is right that I a homaphobe. I am not afraid of homosexuals, I just think it is wrong and against God’s will.

    Homophobia (from Greek homós: one and the same; phóbos: fear, phobia) is an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuals.[1][2][3] Some definitions lack the “irrational” component.[4][5]

    Paul Wakeford

  5. Thanks Paul

    Yes quite right. The charge of “homophobia” is quite misplaced and misleading. We do not have a fear of what is the same. Nor do we hate homosexuals. Indeed, real Christian love means wanting to see people set free from destructive lifestyles and find true freedom in Christ.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Thanks for the comment Richard, although I am not fully clear as to what the point is you are trying to make. Care to elaborate?
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. Like you I disagree with homosexuality, but our challenge is to love these people into the Kingdom of God and it is not done through a response of fear which is what homophobia is. Most of the gay friends I have do not believe they are born that way, and actually have some guilt about the life they are living but they get a lot more love and care from the gay community than what they do from the body of Christ. The challenge is for us as those carrying the love of Jesus to reach out to them and from my experience many Christians are unable to do this because of fear.
    Richard Adams

  8. Thanks Richard

    Yes that clarifies things. One point I had tried to make was that the charge of “homophobia” is for the most part a furphy. It is thrown out by the homosexual lobby to anyone who dares to challenge their lifestyle. But I have no fear of that which is the same (which is what the term literally means), nor of people who embrace homosexuality.

    Yes we are to love homosexuals, and from a Biblical point of view that means letting them know the good news of the gospel: that they can be set free from this destructive lifestyle if they so choose, with God’s help.

    And yes, some believers may be fearful, as they can be of many things. But again, biblical love means caring enough to confront, when necessary, and not misleading people into thinking their lifestyle is somehow acceptable or OK.

    But we mainly agree here I think. So thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Mr Muehlenberg. What can I say. I have been looking through your site after initially reading some of your thoughts in “Quadrant” magazine. After reading your work, I now hold hope that society can change for the better because there are still people like yourself in it. The way that you have intellectually destroyed the hypocrisy in this instance of the homosexual lobby is genius. Your other articles in regards to abortion, euthanasia and the like are equally impressive.

    Australian society, as is all of western society is influenced most by Christian values and morals, yet the disintegration of these values and morals which underline the true and most correct way of living is unfortunately profound.

    All around us, we are subject to increasingly left-wing, liberalist views and change in social structure away from traditional norms, almost it seems, for the sake of it.

    I am a 16 year old boy who is one of the few (of my age)that hold onto what most would call “old-fashioned” views about society and ingrained in me is the hope that positive change will occur and that we can get our youth, those young adults and teenagers to become catalysts for a better world. I hope that we can break free from the view that sinful experiences, actions etc are desirable and acceptable. Mr Muehlenberg, it is my hope that people such as you can influence society to get increasingly involved and do not let these societal evils become societal norms.

    Although in this instance, I am inclined to agree that we are to love all humans, it is in loving all humans that we make sin known to be sin and try to be catalysts for change. Only God is the final judge, but it is the role of humanity to identify where there are problems in the world for we are all sinners, and endeavour to make the world a better place.

    Once again thank you for your marvellous contribution.

  10. Many thanks Jackson for your kind words. It is great to hear of young people who have not gone along with the prevailing madness. And be assured that there are many young people who share your concerns for what is happening in society. So hang in there and keep up the good work.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. People,
    It’s a fascinating debate with important implications to our culture. As a Christian I follow this debate with interest. Here’s the catch for me – Why would anyone choose to be a homosexual ( feminists aside where they are welcomed ) ? Certainly in days gone by you were beaten, fired from your job, scorned and rejected by your family, flung from the family home and sometimes tragically you suicided. All this for a choice which ‘could be easily undone’ ? In medieval times you were executed – again why choose a death sentance for a sexuality.
    Hasnt a Swedish research project done Magnetic Resonance Imaging on the brains of gay and straight people and found that gay/lesbian brains mimic female/mail brains in neurological activity ? Ie lesbain brain activity patterns mimicked male sexuality patterns. The question arises how do they choose to mimic brain activity patterns of the opposite sex ?
    In spite of my differences with you on some issues Bill I respect your sincerity , quality of writing, and desire to serve God, keep up the good work.
    best wishes
    Doug Holland

  12. Thanks Doug

    You have provided the homosexual activist position pretty well here. I would have thought a believer should know better. This furphy has of course been answered many times before. We are all sinners, so we all go our own way and all get into big trouble as a result. It is called sin and rebellion. That is the pretty straightforward biblical position.

    If we take your/the homosexual argument that people would not choose a lifestyle like this (even though many homosexuals do readily admit to choice) then we might as well extend it elsewhere: Why would a robber or murderer or arsonist or any other criminal choose their behaviour? After all, they get nothing but misery for it. There are laws against what they do, they can be thrown in jail for what they do, etc. So surely criminals do not choose crime – they therefore must have been born that way.

    People make wrong decisions every day, knowing full well they are wrong and that they may face consequences for their actions. But that is how sinful, fallen humanity operates. Try reading the first three chapters of Romans for a starter, in case this seems like a novel position to hold to.

    And the fact that tens of thousands of homosexuals have left that lifestyle and now live heterosexual lives – with many married and with children – gives lie to the claim that homosexuals are born that way, that they cannot change, and that they are stuck in that lifestyle.

    But I have written all this up elsewhere on this site. If you indeed want to know more, then feel free to have a look around.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  13. Hi Bill,

    Thank you for your reply. Respectfully Bill I found your comparison between ‘choice’ of sexual orientation and criminality unconvincing thought I would agree in general that lifestyle has a consequence. If Christians say homosexuality is purely a choice then we have some issues to overcome. Some studies suggest a ‘wiring issue’ in the brains of homosexual people. Now the problem for us Christians is that if we consider these findings factual and accurate just how exactly do sinful homosexuals choose to rearrange their brain connectivity as a conscious choice? If homosexuality is a choice then how do they do this? My aim here is not to be obtuse or argumentative merely to open to consideration the possibility that homosexuality may have some kind of built in predisposition.

    Yes I agree some gays have said it is a chosen lifestyle (e.g. Denis Altman) however lets ask ourselves – is he representative of that community and is he correct?

    No I am not gay indeed I’m a married father of 3 children.

    In spite of our differences best wishes

    Doug Holland

  14. Thanks Doug

    Of course it is always dangerous to talk about “hardwiring” and the like. Humans are far too complex to put things down solely – or even mostly – to physical determinism of various kinds. Even Richard Dawkins has argued this way. He said that “the body of genetic determinism needs to be laid to rest. Whether you hate homosexuals or whether you love them, whether you want to lock them up or ‘cure’ them, your reasons had better have nothing to do with genes. Rather admit to prejudiced emotion than speciously drag genes in where they do not belong.”

    But even if we do buy the hardwiring argument, then as a believer you should know the obvious response: we are all hardwired. It’s called the biblical doctrine of original sin. We are all born with an orientation and predisposition away from God and toward sin and self. Thus if we want to speak of human beings as being hardwired, then we can speak of being hardwired to sin. And then the answer is not to say, ‘oh well, I guess we are born that way and can therefore do nothing about it’. What is the gospel all about? It is about helping us to be set free from any moral, behavioural and spiritual hardwiring that we are in bondage to.

    And Christians do not say homosexuality is “purely” a choice. All complex behaviours are multifactoral. We are simply saying that choice is a major part of the equation. Sure, environment plays a big role (weak or absent fathers, abuse, etc) and nature may play a small role. Some people may be born with a predisposition to overeating or anger, etc. But we are not animals, and we can make choices about our inclinations. And with God’s help, we can radically change the direction of our inclinations or orientations. God is in the business of changing lives. As a Christian, I trust that you believe that Doug.

    And there are plenty of homosexuals beside Altman who have admitted to choice. Why should we believe them on everything else but ignore them here? And are you suggesting that all the people who have left the homosexual lifestyle are simply liars, or deceived? All sexual addictions are difficult to be set free from, but tens of thousands of people have done just that. It is called the transforming power of the Gospel.

    And if your want to take these things further, then you should be visiting the experts at places like NARTH: http://www.narth.com/ Or you should be reading books like Jeffrey Satinover’s Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, or Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse’s, Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate, or Neil and Briar Whitehead’s My Genes Made Me Do It. Or check out a booklet I and others worked on: 21 Reasons Why Gender Matters: http://www.gendermatters.org.au/Home.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. Doug I understand where you are coming from with regards to a Christian worldview that may limit objectivity when accepting scientific facts. This is an issue that we as Christians must deal with. However, I agree with what Bill has said. Whether hard-wiring exists in some form in certain individuals does not change the Bible’s message on homosexuality. The issue here is not about ignoring science, but rather how we will respond to God’s commandments.

    God has set a path before us. He never said this path would be easy, however, He has asked all who want true fulfillment on earth and eternal life in the after life to take this path out of obedience. The issue is not that of science vs. the Christian view, but instead to what extent, as Christians, are we willing to be to obey God’s commandments.

    Stephen Herman

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