27 October 2010

ARG: Nature vs. Nurture, So What?

Much time, energy, money, and other resources are spent to battle this one out. We can turn to science, reason, or religion, or a combination of all three for answers. We can spend billions of dollars researching genetic code and performing studies. Or, we can turn to our gay loved one and believe them when they answer the question "did you choose this?" Whatever source we go to, whatever conclusion we accept, does it really matter?

Lets say it was Nature. Then what? Well that would meant that it is natural, that it is instinctive and just as real as heterosexuality. It would mean that for some reason, God has allowed people to be gay. But coming to this conclusion doesn't end the internal conflict that gay people deal with in the face of a judgmental, prejudice, and often hateful society. It doesn't solve any problem. The problem is that our gay brothers and sisters are feeling isolated, alone, and unloved which often results in emotional, spiritual, and even sometimes physical death. The problem is that these people are silently suffering and living a life of self-loathing and fear.

Lets say it was nurture. Then what? We tell our gay loved ones that because A + B x 3 / .45y happened in their past, it turned them gay? What then? Can we simply erase their memory of those experiences and reprogram their brains to interpret a false history in a way that the majority deems acceptable? If it is possible, how much time, money, and human testing would need to be done before it is figured out? How much would it take to reorient you to feel the need for an intimate loving relationship with the same sex and not the opposite sex? Concluding that their environment turned them gay would do nothing to solve the problem. However it would still show that homosexuality is "natural" in that it is the natural result of a combination of certain environmental variables. But this still doesn't make these people feel loved and accepted and get them to embrace their individuality.

Ok, now that we have talked about how this argument really shouldn't make a difference, lets see what different people and organizations have said about the issue:

The LDS Church:

“Some people who seek help for homosexual problems may have concluded that experiences from their youth, such as perceived problems with a parent or some other older person, contributed to their inappropriate feelings. Some may believe that they have not consciously chosen to have such feelings in the first place. No general agreement exists about the causes of such problems."

           -Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems – Suggestions for Ecclesiastical Leaders, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1992.

“If someone seeking your help says to you, ‘I am a homosexual,’ or, ‘I am lesbian,’ or, ‘I am gay,’ correct this miscasting… it is simply not true. To speak this way seeds a doubt and deceit about who we really are."

           -Bishop Keith McMullen (2010)

"I don't know. I'm not an expert on these things. I don't pretend to be an expert on these things."

            -Gordon B. Hinkley (2004)

"'God made me that way,' some say, as they rationalize and excuse themselves for their homosexual perversions. ‘I can’t help it,’ they add. This is blasphemy. Is man not made in the image of God, and does he think God to be ‘that way’?

            -Spencer W. Kimball (1980)

Conclusion: Apparently church leaders from all times have been uncertain and unclear and have often contradicted each other. So I guess the only official answer from inspired leaders that doesn't contradict what others have said is, we don't know.


There have been studies and tests supporting both sides of this issue. There are mormon professionals who have concluded it is nature (William S. Bradshaw, Ph.D) There are non-mormon (but usually religious) professionals that have concluded that it is environment. However, the majority of psychologists, biologists, and other professionals who have spent much of their lives devoted to the subject seem to agree that homosexuality, at the very least, is to some extent genetic... it is in the DNA to some extent. However, opinions differ as to how much it is dictated by DNA. 

Conclusion: We don't really know. We have theories and evidences, but no real provable calculation. DNA is a complex thing.


Ask yourself this: When did you choose to be heterosexual? When did you make the conscious decision that you were going to be attracted to the opposite sex? Could it be that homosexuals also did not make a conscious choice?

Think about what would possibly drive a teenager to choose to be gay when that teen grew up in a society that highly values heterosexuality, went to a church where heterosexuality was essential to his salvation, raised in a heterosexual family, grew up in a community that had nothing good to say about homosexuality, and where all the stories of happily-ever-after and the songs of love were all devoted to a heterosexual ideal. If it was environment, why did this very heterosexual environment produce such a very homosexual boy? Why would a teenager choose to be ridiculed and made fun of, hated and judged, at a time in his/her life when all they want is acceptance? Why do so many choose death? Why would they choose a path that would make them feel like their only option for happiness is suicide?

Lastly, look around you. Talk to your homosexual brothers and sisters. Ask them. 

Conclusion: Perhaps my logic is flawed... it very well could be. But it seems to me that logic would point to nature. Not that this argument even matters. Not that it does anything to relieve suffering. But take whatever value there is, and lets move on to address the real problems.


Cashflow Creator said...

Logic: To group all gays as without a choice as to their sexuality is as illogical as saying all gays have a choice. I have asked a number of gay friends about there feeling and some felt they had no choice in their sexual orientation and others say they did. The later, in my experience, is in the minority. That being said, sometimes feelings are not the best indicator of cause and effect. Just as feelings can create behavior so can behavior create feelings. Science in SOME cases indicates that sexual orientation is fixed early on but I know of other cases, where that is not the case. Some people on both sides of this argument have a tendency to all groups of people into one box. I think it would be more beneficial to define our terms. I don't think anyone has come up with a satisfactory of what is being "gay" except behaviorally. If I want to cheat, but don't am I a cheater? If I desire to lie, but don't am I a lier? In those two cases, I would suggest that to desire is not sufficient for the label. So if I desire another of the same sex and don't consummate that desire, am I gay? What is the difference?

Gay Mormon said...

Thanks for your comment. I believe that there are people out there who choose it. Like you however, I feel that it is a minority.

Sexuality is much more complex than "liar" or "cheater." Sexuality is a core element of our make-up. In order for your statement to be true, all people are asexual until they have sex. Heterosexuals are not heterosexual until they act on their feelings?? I doubt we would find many heterosexuals who would say they weren't heterosexual even if they hadn't acted on their sexuality.

I reject the idea that "homosexual" (gay) or "heterosexual" (straight) are only terms that come into play based on action. A straight man can have sex with another man and not be at all attracted to men. Is that man gay? Same with a gay man. He can bury those emotions and get married and have sex with his wife, yet he isn't sexually attracted and still longs for emotional and physical intimacy with another man. Is he then straight? I do not believe our actions determine our sexuality.

I dated lots of girls before coming to terms with myself. To the world, based on my actions, I would have been "heterosexual." Yet inside, it felt torturous, unnatural, and emotionally painful to even hold a girls hand, let alone kiss her. But my actions only spoke to heterosexuality.

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