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.

Ethical Values vs Emotional Desires

I was doing homework and came across this in my text. It’s what I learned the hard way and have been trying to explain to all the women in my life. It’s too good not to share!

Other than the most rigid people, most people will find themselves caught in a tug-of-war between their ethical standards and their emotional desires, or feelings, with the latter often leading to some breaking down of moral behavior at some point in their lives. I have a counseling practice, and I often tell my clients that feelings and emotions are like the interior design of a house–moving and poignant, even beautiful at times–but only truly useful if protected by the exterior and structure of the house–the walls and roof, which are the framework, like our ethical standards, values, and principles. Thus, although human beings are certainly emotional beings, individuals with high character are not driven to act solely on the basis of their desires and passions.

In fact, individuals who are motivated primarily by emotions are often emotionally unstable, not because their emotions are wrong, but because their values and principles are not well enough defined and/or developed to contain or regulate their emotions, oftentimes leading to the inability to control their impulses. For instance, an employee might become angry with his boss and feel like striking him, but the employee doesn’t because he values nonviolence. A person’s ethical values should then be the rudder of behavior, and although there are certainly times when people will be driven by passion, or will need to follow their hunches, emotions and desires serve people best when they aren’t chief in the decision-making process.

Another reason why it is important to understand the relationship between our ethical values and our emotions is because we often use our emotions to justify our unethical behavior. Cheating on a test is wrong, unless he test is too hard and we hate our teacher; adultery is wrong unless we’re in a loveless marriage, are extremely lonely, and fall hopelessly in love with someone else; lying is wrong, unless we need the day off and will only get paid if we say we’re sick, even though we’re not; violence is wrong, unless we’re provoked; and drinking too much alcohol is wrong, unless we’ve gone two weeks without and just had a very bad day. Thus, one of the primary functions of ethical values is to keep us on a good moral track, particularly when we find our ethical values at odds with our emotional desires and urges. Certainly there are times when emotions should lead, and we certainly do not want to become heartless in our application of rules. When someone is driven to act solely on the basis of their values or rules, they are often deemed rigid legalists. But when someone behaves in a manner that is solely driven by their feelings and desires, they are often deemed immature, volatile, and impulsive.

Martin, M.E. (2011). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings, (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.