Researchers at the Austrian Academy of Sciences altered one gene in a female fruitfly, and she began avidly sexually pursuing other female fruit flies. Pro-gay advocates are hailing this as proof that homosexuality is not a choice, but genetic in origin, and therefore, natural and normal.
I have yet to find any conservative scientific examinations of this study, but let me make the following comments:
- Sexual Orientation is probably caused by a combination of nature and nurture – like many human characteristics and diseases, there is usually a combination of genetic/hormonal and environmental/social conditions that give rise to the specific characteristic or disease. However, in each case, we must determine what proportion of nature v. nurture is involved. Is homosexuality usually more than 50% a result of genetics, or of conditioning?
- Genetics v. choice is a straw man, not the real argument – while some uneducated conservatives may look at homosexuality as a choice, most same-sex attraction starts very young, and is so deeply rooted in most gay’s psyches, that to call it a conscious choice is really not accurate. However, this does *not* mean that it is not a coping mechanism formed in reaction to environments that are unfavorable to healthy gender-identity formation. That is, gays may not have chosen their same sex attraction consciously, but it could still have been caused primarily by environment.
- If there is a gay gene in flies, is there one in humans? Odds are, there is, though it might not be a single-gene trait.
- Does the existence of a gay gene mean homosexuality is natural, and therefore normal and healthy? Not at all. Researchers are also looking at genes for aggression and depression, but that doesn’t make these conditions "normal." Conversely, though, it does not make it abnormal either – there are genes for sexual and personality development that are considered to have normal variants. The question is, is homosexuality a normal or abnormal variant? How do we even determine the answer to that?
- Homosexuality is an abnormal variant. This hotly contested point is up for argument. But consider in fruit flies – this genetic change would not be passed on to progeny because it is selected against – there would be no progeny! Not only could gay flies not have children, but they couldn’t even copulate per their "design." These arguments apply to humans as well.
- If there is a gay gene, can I abort my fetus if it is positive for this gene? Well, I’ll tell you one thing, this *will* happen if a gay gene can be tested for, and suddenly, gays will become pro-life in droves, which is fine with me. I certainly would not abort my own fetus if it was positive for such a gene.
- How would the identification of a gay gene in humans affect reparative therapy? As with all psychology, they would probably treat with a combination of drugs and therapy. Drugs to help balance their chemistry, and therapy to help them heal and develop healthy gender identities.
How would the identification of a gay gene in humans affect the moral arguments around homosexuality?
This is probably the best question of all. As discussed above, the argument from nature might show that it is unnatural, but does that make it immoral? Paul the apostle certainly argues that it is unnatrual and immoral in Romans 1, but I don’t think that automatically follows.
There are only two other ways to determine morality – by divine fiat, or based on an ethic, like preservation of life, environment, or society. Most would already agree that the Xian bible calls homosexuality a sin (divine fiat), but apart from that, does it hurt society? What ethic could deem it as harmful or immoral?
The best case that Xians can argue is that it leads to societal chaos via the breakdown of the traditional family. Of course, divorce and adultery and deadbeat parents also contribute to such. But has a correlation between societal acceptance and support of homosexuality and the breakdown of society been made?
I’m not sure that it has, but some Christian authors, such as Jim Black in When Nations Die, make good arguments that increasing moral, social, and cultural decline go hand in hand, and that open promiscuity, homosexuality, and other sexual deviance is one of the signs of a society in decline, in the name of "freedom", i.e. they use their liberty as a liscence for vice and immorality.
It appears to me that our culture labors in an advanced state of decadence; that what many people mistake for the triumph of our civilization actually consists of powers that are disintegrating our culture; that the vaunted ‘democratic freedom’ of liberal society in reality is servitude to appetites and illusions which attack religious belief; which destroy community through excessive centralization and urbanization; which efface life-giving tradition and custom.
As always, if you want to keep up on the ex-gay viewpoint on the science around gay recovery, visit the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).