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.