Countless studies have been performed aiming to prove that homosexuality is caused by genetics. Gay proponents love this argument because it says, “Hey, we can’t help our sexual orientation. We are born this way!” Essentially, they can claim that they are helpless, get your sympathy and try to further the justification of homosexual practices because they believe the drive is hereditary.
Who’s to blame them? On the surface, the “science” appears convincing. In recent years, several studies have grabbed headlines around the world, “proving” homosexuality is inborn. The evidence looks solid. The researchers seem credible.
Claims of genetic causation
According to Joe Dallas, author and former homosexual, “People tend to view homosexuality more favorably when they think it is inborn. No wonder gay leaders (not all, but most) push the born gay theory; it furthers the cause.” 1
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a medical doctor and former fellow in child psychiatry at Yale University, has taken a thorough look at three particular studies that backfired on themselves. Upon closer evaluation, this is what he discovered:
Flawed Study #1: Brain Structure
In the August 1991 issue of Science, Simon LeVay of the Salk Institute in San Diego published a study on differences in brain structure between homosexual and heterosexual men. 2
The study, however, had at least three glaring weaknesses:
- It was based on a small group of 41 male cadavers, including 19 homosexual males. All of the homosexual men had died of AIDS, something that many researchers believe could very well account for or contribute to the differences (in the brain stem).
- There is no way to determine if the smaller hypothalamuses were the cause or the result of homosexual behavior. 3
- The area of the brain LeVay was measuring (the INAH3) was quite small — smaller than snowflakes, according to scientists interviewed. His peers in the neuroscientific community couldn’t agree on whether the INAH3 should be measured by its size and volume, or by its number of neurons. 4
Flawed Study #2: Twins
In another study, psychologist Michael Bailey of Northwestern University and psychiatrist Richard Pillard of the Boston University School of Medicine showed that homosexuality occurred more frequently among identical twins than fraternal twins.5But their 1991 study had a major flaw: All of their twins grew up together.
These researchers failed to compare their findings with a control group of twins raised apart. If they had, they would have discovered other influencing factors, such as how family dynamics and their relationship with parents affected who they were. Not to mention only about half the identical twins studied were both homosexuals. So, if the study showed that homosexuality in twins was purely genetic, then both of the twins would have been homosexual 100 percent of the time.
Flawed Study #3: The X-Chromosome
Lastly, five researchers led by Dean Hamer at the National Cancer Institute released a study in July of 1993 that attempted to link homosexuality in men with a specific genetic region of the X-chromosome. 6 “This is by far the strongest evidence to date that there is an important genetic component to sexual orientation,” Hamer reported. 7
Not so, said other highly qualified professionals. “There are several problems with the Hamer study. First, a Canadian research team has been unable to duplicate the finding using a comparable experimental design. 8 Second, Hamer confined his search to the X-chromosome on the basis of family interviews, which seems to reveal a disproportionately high number of male homosexuals on the mothers’ sides of the family. 9
Additionally, one of Hamer’s co-authors has expressed serious concerns about the methodology of the study. 10 Finally, there is some question about whether Hamer’s results, correctly interpreted, are statistically significant. His conclusions rest on the assumption that the rate of homosexuality in the population at large is 2 percent. If the base rate is actually higher, then Hamer’s results are not statistically significant. 11An interesting side note is that the 2 percent incidence figure is more accurate than the oft-noted 1-in-10 percentage. The lower figure is brought in when needed to bolster this slight effect, but generally overlooked by the media elsewhere.
These are only three examples of popular studies that were later found to be unreliable due to failure to meet basic criteria for establishing scientific facts, lack of clarity on behalf of the researcher, faulty method of study, or ignorance of basic scientific premises. Other studies hold no weight because the conclusions have been insinuated rather than proven. It’s these flawed studies, however, that receive the most publicity.
Most recently, Dr. Robert Spitzer, one of the men who helped eliminate the American Psychiatric Association’s listing of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, acknowledged that some homosexuals can become heterosexual. In an interview with the CitizenLink online newsletter, Spitzer said, “The critics of this kind of therapy (to change homosexuality) don’t just argue that it is rarely effective; they argue that it’s never effective.” 12(Emphasis added.)
Only one kind of person
No solid scientific evidence exists today that people are born homosexual. 13
Interestingly enough, genetic predeterminants have also been theorized for alcoholism or depression. Neither alcoholism nor depression is embraced as healthy. Rather, we try to help people who suffer from these tendencies to find relief and recovery. 14
The same holds true for homosexuality. From conception, males differ from females. Every cell in the male body is different from every cell in the female’s. There are vast disparities between males and females that are currently overlooked by the popular media. But, by design, male was meant for female, and vice versa.
Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, president of the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, states, “We are all heterosexual. Some heterosexuals have a homosexual problem, but it does not mean there are two different kinds of people.” 15As such, the hope for finding freedom from its trap is all the more real.
In the words of Stanton Jones, Chair of Psychology at Wheaton College, “Anyone who says there is no hope (for change) is either ignorant or a liar. Every secular study of change has shown some success rate, and persons who testify to substantial healings by God are legion.” 16
2 Simon LeVay, “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Science, vol. 253 (1991): 1034-1037.
3 Simon LeVay on the “Phil Donahue Show” titled “Genetically Gay: Born Gay or Become Gay?” January 3, 1992.
4 David Gelman, “Is This Child Gay? Born or Bred: The Origins of Homosexuality,” Newsweek, September 9, 1991, 52.
5 Michael J. Bailey and Richard C. Pillard, “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 48 (December 1991): 1089-1096.
6 Dean H. Hamer, et al., “A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation,” Science, vol. 261 (1993): 321-327.
7 Paul Recer, “Researchers Find Genetic Link to Homosexuality,” The Associated Press, July 15, 1993.
8 G. Rice, C. Anderson, N. Risch and G. Ebers, “Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers on the X Chromosome in a Canadian Study,” presented at the 21st annual meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research, 1995, Provincetown, MA. This presentation is discussed in E. Marshall’s “NIH ‘Gay Gene’ Study Questioned,” Science, vol. 268 (1995): 1841.
9 Evan Balaban, quoted in V. D’Alessio, “Born to Be Gay?” New Scientist, September 28, 1996, 32-35
10 E. Marshall, “NIH ‘Gay Gene’ Study Questioned,” Science, vol. 268 (1995): 1841.
11 Neil Risch, Elizabeth Squires-Wheeler and Bronya Keats, “Male Sexuality Orientation and Genetic Evidence,” Science, vol. 262 (1993): 2063-2065.
12 Pete Winn, “A Crack in the Wall? A Respected Psychiatrist Rethinks Homosexuality,” CitizenLink, February 4, 2000, www.family.org/cforum/hotissues/a0009548.html.
13 Frank Worthen, “What is Homosexuality?” (San Rafael, CA: Love in Action, 1993), 1.
14 Bob Davies and Lori Rentzel, Coming Out of Homosexuality (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 44.
15 Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., “The Condition of Male Homosexuality,” speech presented at the Love Won Out conference, Dallas, TX, May 6, 2000.
16 Dallas, 11.Excerpted from the booklet The Truth Comes Out: The Roots and Causes of Homosexuality, published by Focus on the Family.
Copyright © 2001 Focus on the Family.
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