Is Homosexuality Natural?

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I don’t shy away from tough topics. I began reading the book of Romans this week. Just the first chapter is chock full of things I’d like to discuss, but in my Apologetics Study Bible is this article that is too interesting not to share. (You can also check out my previous “Something to Think About” post on this topic.)

Is Homosexuality Natural?

The answer to this question depends on how you define natural. If natural means “genetic or biologically determined,” then homosexuality is not natural. Decades of scientific research have failed to find a “gay gene” or a sole biological cause for same-sex attraction. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and even gay researchers all recognize that homosexuality cannot be reduced to biology alone. Instead, they acknowledge that social factors seems to play a key role in the development of homosexuality. No evidence suggests that it’s natural for homosexuals to be “born gay.”

Sometimes natural refers to design. Something is natural if it is functioning the way it was designed to function. But homosexual behavior isn’t natural in this sense, either. It goes against the natural function of the body. Male and female bodies have a “natural” fit because their genes have fashioned sexual anatomies to complement each other. Their reproductive organs work together harmoniously to produce another human being–a clear indication that natural design favors heterosexual rather than homosexual unions.

Romans 1:26-27 follows this same reasoning. Paul says that men abandoned the natural sexual function of women and engaged in unnatural sex with men [and vice versa]. His words make it clear that homosexual behavior is unnatural, because it is a rejection of God’s design for sex. Homosexual desire, then would also be unnatural for the same reason: It drives people to abandon the natural design and function of human sexuality.

Some argue that homosexuality is natural in the sense that God created people that way. But there is no reason to believe this. No major religious tradition teaches or affirms that homosexuality is natural or moral. Though some gay advocates deny that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior, they must resort to interpretive gymnastics that distort the clear and obvious meaning of the biblical text.

Homosexuality is “natural” in one sense, though. It “occurs in nature” in the sense that some human beings engage in homosexual behavior. Gay advocates argue that if it occurs in nature, then it’s morally appropriate. But to conclude that homosexuality is moral simply because it happens with some frequency commits an error in thinking known as the is-ought fallacy. Just because a behavior is occurring in nature doesn’t mean it ought to be considered moral. After all, if you accept the natural status quo as moral, then every behavior seems to pass the morality test. Murder, rape, and theft all “occur in nature.” Some animals kill their young or abandon wounded family members. Others cannibalize their mates. These behaviors occur more frequently than homosexuality, yet we wouldn’t give blanket approval to them just because they’re natural in this sense. Morality is often the opposite of doing what comes naturally, and the ability to overcome natural impulses is one of the things that separate humans from animals.

In summary, homosexuality is not a natural behavior if by natural you mean something that fits our anatomy or God’s design for sexuality and reproduction.

Shlemon, A. (2009). Is Homosexuality Natural? Apologetics Study Bible for Students, 1201. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

2 responses to “Is Homosexuality Natural?

  1. I completely disagree with the first point. The evidence suggests that sexual orientation is in fact primarily biologically determined through a complex interaction between genetic factors and early uterine environment. Environmental factors may play a minor role in the development of our sexuality, as they do in practically all aspects of our development, but there is limited evidence to suggest it is a significant one. One’s sexual orientation is, of course, not a choice.

    It is also clear from the evidence that a homosexual orientation is a normal, naturally occurring variation in human sexuality. As such, homosexuality is fully compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment. People with a homosexual orientation are not inherently more predisposed to mental health problems as is often suggested.

    • Even if it is true that there are genetic factors involved, it doesn’t diminish the accuracy of the article. Did you know that there are genetic factors involved in addiction as well? However, “genes do not act as master puppeteers within us. They are chemical structures that control the production of proteins; thereby indirectly affecting behavior…Genes do not determine one’s destiny” (Plomin, DeFries, & McClearn, 1990, p.13). If one is “predisposed” to addiction, one doesn’t automatically become an addict! An individual makes the conscious choice to indulge in alcohol, drugs, or in this case…homosexuality.

      God didn’t create us to be this way. At the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, a lot of things were introduced into this world that weren’t what God originally had in mind for us: disease, sickness, death (both spiritual and physical). God created everything good, pure, and perfect: man & woman (male & female), and heterosexual sex between man and woman (male and female). If He’d intended it any other way He would have made it so. Instead, we’re repeatedly told–in the story of Sodom & Gommorah (Genesis 19–which is repeated all throughout the Old and New Testaments), in Romans (chapter 1), in 1 Corinthians (chapter 6)–that these things are detestable to God and that those who practice them won’t enter into heaven’s gates.

      What’s interesting to note, is that God also tells us that He wishes that none should perish, but that all would come to Him (2 Peter 3:9); which tells just proves that God would never create us without freedom of choice. These individuals still have a choice to make.

      I believe wholeheartedly that God can transform and redeem the lives of individuals who struggle with homosexuality, just as He can with anybody struggling with any other type of sin; but we have to offer our lives to Him and give up the things that we desire, for the things that He desires for our lives.

      Plomin, R., DeFries, J., & McClearn, G. (1980). Behavioral genetics: a primer. San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman.

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