Responding to Pro-Gay Theology, Part I: Social Justice Arguments
This three-part series will address the pro-gay theology by dividing its arguments—or tenets—into three categories: social justice arguments, general religious arguments, and scriptural arguments. A brief description of these arguments will be provided, followed by a response/rebuttal to each.
Major denominations ordaining homosexuals, priests and clergy presiding over same-sex weddings, sanctuaries invaded by boisterous gay activists, debates over homosexuality ripping congregations apart-who would have guessed we would ever reach such a point in church history?
A vigorous debate between Christians and homosexuals shouldn't be surprising in and of itself. If author and commentator Dr. Dennis Praeger is right when he says the Judeo-Christian ethic is responsible for the Western World's disapproval of homosexuality, then conflicts between the Church and the gay rights movement are not only understandable, they are inevitable. (While acceptance of homosexuality in ancient cultures is well documented, the past 2000 years of Western thought have, by and large, rejected it, and the influence of both Old and New Testaments can be credited for that.)
What is surprising, though, is the current trend in which these ethics are not only being challenged, but rewritten as well, most notably in the form of the pro-gay theology.
The pro-gay theology is much like the broader gay rights philosophy, in that it seeks legitimization (not just tolerance) of homosexuality. Gay spokesmen have made no secret of this as being their goal in secular culture; activist Jeff Levi put it plainly to the National Press Club during the 1987 Gay Rights March on Washington:
We are no longer seeking just a right to privacy and a protection from wrong. We also have a right-as heterosexual Americans already have-to see government and society affirm our lives. Until our relationships are recognized in the law-in tax laws and government programs to affirm our relationships, then we will not have achieved equality in American society.
But pro-gay theology takes it a step further by redefining homosexuality as being God-ordained and morally permissible:
"I have learned to accept and even celebrate my sexual orientation as another of God's good gifts." -gay author Mel White
When God is reputed to sanction what He has already clearly forbidden, then a religious travesty is being played out, and boldly. Confronting it is necessary because it (the pro-gay theology) asks us to confirm professing Christians in their sin, when we are Biblically commanded to do just the opposite. As Christ's ambassadors on earth, we unfaithfully represent Him if a professing believer's ongoing sin has no effect on our relationship with that believer...which is, in essence, what Paul told the Thessalonians:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (2 Thes 3:6, 14- 15)
Likewise, when Paul heard of a Corinthian church member's incestuous relationship with his stepmother, he ordered the man be excommunicated (1 Cor 5:1-5), then explained the principle of confrontation and, if necessary, expulsion from the community of believers:
Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast. (1 Cor 5:6-7)
A healthy body purges itself of impurities; the Body of Christ cannot afford to do less. Error, like leaven, has a toxic effect.
The pro-gay theology is a strong delusion-a seductive accommodation tailor-made to suit the Christian who struggles against homosexual temptations and is considering a compromise. Some who call themselves gay Christians may be truly deceived into accepting it; others might be in simple rebellion. What compels them to believe a lie we cannot say. What we can say is that they are wrong...dead wrong.
But even as we say so, the caution of a proper spirit is in order. When we answer the pro-gay theology, we do so as sinners approaching other sinners, nothing more. Rev. Andrew Aquino of the Columbus Baptist Association expressed it perfectly during a recent interview:
My message to the homosexual is: We love you. Come and struggle with us against sin. Don't give in to it.
The Pro-Gay Theology in Brief
Exactly what do the "gay Christians" believe, and how did they come to believe it? The first question is more easily answered than the second. Explaining what a group believes is not hard. Explaining how they have come to believe it is another matter.
We cannot read minds or motives. That, I am sure, is one reason Jesus warned against judging (Mt 7:1). We can be certain the teachings themselves are false; why people have accepted them is something we cannot prove one way or another. Yet the Bible offers clues, and testimonies from members of the gay Christian movement are also enlightening, in helping to understand what the gay Christian movement believes, and what personal and spiritual factors may have influenced their beliefs.
The pro-gay theology is the cornerstone of the "gay Christian" movement (which is comprised of whole denominations, like the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, as well as gay caucuses within mainline denominations) just as the Athanasian and Nicene Creeds are the foundation of most Protestant's beliefs. The movement is diverse; some of its spokespersons-Episcopal Priest Robert Williams and Bishop John Shelby Spong, for instance -promote flamboyant and blatantly heretical ideas. But most groups within the gay Christian movement ostensibly subscribe to traditional theology. (The Statement of Faith of the Metropolitan Community Churches, for example, is based on the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.)
Although the pro-gay theology claims a conservative theological base, it includes additions and revisions to basic, traditional ethics. First, homosexuality is seen as being God ordained. As such, it's viewed as being on par with heterosexuality. Gay author Mel White points out, quite accurately, that "if you don't see that premise (that God created homosexuality) then gay marriage looks ridiculous, if not insane."
But to be seen as created by God, the traditional understanding of homosexuality needs to be discredited. This is done four basic ways within the "gay Christian" movement. First, prejudice against homosexuals is blamed for the understanding most Christians have of the Biblical references to it. The founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches, Rev. Troy Perry, asserts this is his writings:
To condemn homosexuals, many denominations have intentionally misread and misinterpreted their Bibles to please their own personal preferences.
So, according to Perry and others, not only are most Christians wrong about homosexuality, but many or most are intentionally wrong- deliberately reading their prejudice against gays into the Bible.
White goes even further, stating that major leaders in the Christian community-Jerry Falwell, James Kennedy and Pat Robertson-take public stands against the gay rights movement for the sake of raising funds and increasing their visibility.
Casting doubt on the motives of conservative leaders, and numerous denominations, makes it easier to discount their Bible-based objections to homosexuality. No wonder this tactic is so common in the "gay Christian" movement. Others within the movement contend the scriptures we understand to condemn homosexuality have actually been mistranslated. According to this view, the Bible should be taken literally in its original language; the problem with most Christians, they say, is that they don't know Biblical Greek and Hebrew well enough to realize our modern translations on homosexuality are all wrong.
Another claim pro-gay theorists make is that the Bible verses (Lev 18:22 and 20:13; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:9-10) which seem to prohibit homosexuality have actually been yanked out of context from their original meaning, or that they only applied to the culture existing at the time they were written. (Professor Robin Scroogs of Union Theological Seminary, for example, claims, "Biblical judgments about homosexuality are not relevant to today's debate.")
These arguments do not sit well with most serious Christians. The scriptures mentioned earlier are so clear and specific they defy interpretation of any sort. "Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman" requires no more interpretation than "Thou shalt not kill." It is intellectually dishonest to say conservatives "interpret" such verses out of prejudice against homosexuals. Those same "prejudiced" conservatives (Falwell, Kennedy, Robertson et al) also take scriptures against heterosexual sins quite literally. If they only prohibit homosexuality out of their own prejudice, why on earth do they, as heterosexuals, also condemn heterosexual sins? The argument makes no sense.
Neither does the "mistranslation" argument. We can allow some discrepancy in minor areas of translation, but, on something as important as sexual ethics, are we really to believe the Bible translators we rely on got it wrong five different times, in two different testaments? And only on the scriptures regarding homosexuality? (Pro-gay apologists seem to have no problem with the other scriptures condemning sins like adultery and child abuse.)
Equally poor is the "out-of-context" argument. The fact is, in Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, homosexuality is mentioned in the context of sexual and immoral behavior! The context is quite clear-a variety of behaviors are prohibited; homosexuality-along with adultery, fornication and idolatry-is one of them.
The "cultural" argument fares no better. In some cases, a scripture may seem culturally bound (injunctions against long hair on men, or women speaking to their husbands during church.) But again-five times? Five different scriptures, from both testaments, addressed to highly different cultures (from the Hebrew to the Roman) are obviously not culturally bound. The cultures they address are just too different.
All of which leaves conservatives highly skeptical of the "gay Christian" movement's claim to respect Biblical authority. It takes mental gymnastics to accept these inadequate arguments; those not having a stake in accepting them are unlikely to do so. But those having a personal interest the pro-gay theology are another matter. Twist the Scriptures hard enough and you can make them appear to say anything you please. Author Paul Morris raises this very issue when he warns:
But if I were a Christian homosexual, I think this one question would disturb me most: Am I trying to interpret Scripture in the light of my proclivity; or should I interpret my proclivity in the light of Scripture?
An unfortunate pattern of doing the former can be seen in the "gay Christian" movement's testimonials. Rev. Troy Perry writes about having already decided homosexuality was acceptable, then searching the Bible to equip himself to answer conservatives. Mel White alludes, in his book, to some earlier studies of the destruction of Sodom but his turning point seems to have come not from a careful, prayerful study of scripture, but from a psychologist who encouraged him to accept his homosexuality and find a lover! And gospel musician Marsha Stevens (composer of the beloved song "For Those Tears I Died" and now openly lesbian) gives a lengthy account of her acceptance of homosexuality without once explaining how she reached the point of believing homosexuality was scripturally acceptable. (The closest she comes is in telling how she prayed one night for confirmation that lesbianism was okay; the next morning someone gave her a pin saying "Born Again Lesbian.") Considering the background and theological training of the above-mentioned believers in pro-gay theology, their acceptance of it is astounding.
Or maybe it is not. Paul predicts an abandonment of truth for the sake of personal fulfillment:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Tim 4:3-4)
Self over truth, man over God-can a Christian be so deceived? Evidently- Paul referred to the Galatian church as having been "bewitched" (Gal 3:1), and Jesus warned that a prominent sign of the days before His coming would be an increase in deception (Mt 24:14). To confront the pro-gay theology, then, is to confront a deceptive element of our time- the tendency to subjugate objective truth to subjective experience.
That is one reason confrontation is not enough to change a heart. Being knowledgeable enough to dismantle all the "gay Christian" movement's claims will not be enough to persuade a homosexual to repent. The heart, having been hardened through deception or rebellion or both, has to be softened. And that is the work of God alone. Ours is to simply speak the truth, trusting Him to quicken it to our hearers.
To that end, this three-part series will address the pro-gay theology by dividing its arguments-or tenants-into three categories: social justice arguments, general religious arguments, and scriptural arguments. A brief description of these arguments will be provided, followed by a response/rebuttal to each.
Social Justice Arguments
Social justice arguments are effective because they sound so good. They demand an end to homophobia and insensitivity; who wants to say they are against such goals? But just as the question "When did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Jones?" assumes (without proof) that Mr. Jones has been beating his wife, so the pro-gay social justice arguments assume (without proof) that gays are victims, and that the conservative church is largely responsible for their victimhood.
These arguments are most effective in secular discussions (talk shows, interviews, university debates) where listeners are unlikely to judge them by Biblical standards. Instead of discerning which side is theologically correct, non-Christian audiences tend to side with whoever seems "nicest." Usually, that means the gay spokesman asking for anti- discrimination laws or support clubs for gay teenagers. The person against these things-usually a conservative Christian-does not seem "nice," no matter how nice he or she may truly be.
That is not to say pro-gay social justice arguments are unwinnable; answered properly and politely, un-Biblical ideas can be challenged in the secular arena. Paul proved that with the citizens at Mars Hill (Acts 17:22). But the challenger needs to be aware that often, because of his position, he will be seen as the bad guy. And that is all the more reason to speak with an equal measure of clarity and politeness.
Social Justice Argument #1: "Homosexuality Is Inborn."
Argument #1-A: Simon LeVay And the Hypothalamus
In 1991 Dr. LeVay, a neuro-scientist at the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California, examined the brains of 41 cadavers: 19 allegedly homosexual men, 16 allegedly heterosexual men, and 6 allegedly heterosexual women. His study focused on a group of neurons in the hypothalamus structure called the interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus, or the INAH3.
He reported this region of the brain to be larger in heterosexual men than in homosexuals; likewise, he found it to be larger in heterosexual men than in the women he studied. For that reason, he postulated homosexuality to be inborn, the result of size variations in the INAH3, and his findings were published in Science in August of 1991. This is the study most often quoted when people insist homosexuality has been "proven" to be inborn.
Response: This argument is exaggerated and misleading for six reasons:
First, LeVay did not prove homosexuality to be inborn; his results were not uniformly consistent. On the surface it appears all of LeVay's homosexual subjects had smaller INAH3's than his heterosexual ones; in fact, three of the homosexual subjects actually had larger INAH3's than the heterosexuals. Additionally, three of the heterosexual subjects had smaller INAH3's than the average homosexual subject. Thus, six of LeVay's 35 male subjects (17% of his total study group) contradicted his own theory.
Second, LeVay did not necessarily measure the INAH3 properly. The area LeVay was measuring is quite small-smaller than snowflakes, according to scientists interviewed when his study was released. His peers in the neuroscientific community cannot agree on whether the INAH3 should be measured by its size/volume or by its number of neurons.
Third, it's unclear whether brain structure affects behavior or behavior affects brain structure. Dr. Kenneth Klivington, also of SALK Institute, points out that neurons can change in response to experience. "You could postulate," he says, "that brain change occurs throughout life, as a consequence of experience." In other words, even if there is a significant difference between the brain structures of heterosexual and homosexual men, it is unclear whether the brain structure caused their homosexuality, or if their homosexuality affected their brain structure.
In fact, one year after LeVay's study was released, Dr. Lewis Baxter of UCLA obtained evidence that behavioral therapy can produce changes in brain circuitry, reinforcing the idea that behavior can and does affect brain structure. Therefore, even if differences do exist between the INAH3's of homosexual and heterosexual men, it is possible that the diminished size of the homosexual's is caused by his behavior, rather than his behavior being caused by the INAH3's size.
Fourth, LeVay was not certain which of his subjects were homosexual and which were heterosexual. Dr. LeVay admits this represents a "distinct shortcoming" in his study. Having only case histories on his subjects to go by (which were by no means guaranteed to provide accurate information about the patient's sexual orientation), he could only assume that, if a patient's records did not indicate he was gay, he must have been heterosexual.
Yet 6 of the 16 reportedly heterosexual men studied had died of AIDS, increasing the chances their sexual histories may have been incompletely recorded. If it is uncertain which of LeVay's subjects were heterosexual and which were homosexual, how useful can his conclusions about "differences" between them really be?
Fifth, LeVay did not approach the subject objectively. Dr. LeVay, who is openly homosexual, told Newsweek that, after the death of his lover, he was determined to find a genetic cause for homosexuality or he would abandon science altogether. Furthermore, he admitted, he hoped to educate society about homosexuality, affecting legal and religious attitudes towards it. None of which diminishes his credentials as a neuroscientist. But his research can hardly be said to have been unbiased.
Sixth, the scientific community did not by any means unanimously accept Dr. LeVay's study. Comments from other scientists in response to LeVay's work are noteworthy. Dr. Richard Nakamura of the National Institute of Mental Health says it will take a "larger effort to be convinced there is a link between this structure and homosexuality." Dr. Anne-Fausto Sterling of Brown University is less gentle in her response:
My freshman biology students know enough to sink this study.
Dr. Rochelle Klinger, at Psychiatrist at Medical College of Virginia, doubts we will "ever find a single cause of homosexuality." And Scientific American sums up the reason many professionals approach the INAH3 theory with caution:
LeVay's study has yet to be fully replicated by another researcher.
Argument #1-B: Twins
In 1991, psychologist Michael Bailey of Northwestern University (a gay rights advocate) and psychiatrist Richard Pillard of Boston University School of Medicine (who is openly homosexual) compared sets of identical male twins to fraternal twins (whose genetic ties are less close). In each set, at least one twin was homosexual.
They found that, among the identical twins, 52% were both homosexual, as opposed to the fraternal twins, among whom only 22% shared a homosexual orientation.
Pillard and Bailey suggested the higher incidence of shared homosexuality among identical twins meant homosexuality was genetic in origin.
Response: The argument is misleading and exaggerated for four reasons:
First, Pillard and Bailey's findings actually indicate that something besides genes must account for homosexuality. If 48% of identical twins, who are closely linked genetically, do NOT share the same sexual orientation, then genetics alone CANNOT account for homosexuality. Bailey admitted as much by stating, "There must be something in the environment to yield the discordant twins."
Second, all of the twins Pillard and Bailey studied were raised in the same household. If the sets of twins in which both brothers were homosexual were raised in separate homes, it might be easier to believe genes played a role in their sexual development. But since they were all raised in the same households, it's impossible to know what effect environment played, and what effect, if any, genes played.
Dr. Fausto-Sterling summarized the problem: "In order for such a study to be at all meaningful, you'd have to look at twins raised apart."
Third, Drs. Pillard and Bailey, like Dr. LeVay, did not approach their subject objectively. Their personal feelings about homosexuality, like Dr. LeVay's, certainly do not disqualify them from doing good research on the subject. But they must be, at the very least, considered. Pillard said, in fact: "A genetic component in sexual orientation says, 'This is not a fault,'" and both he and Bailey stated they hoped their work would "disprove homophobic claims."
Fourth, a later study on twins yielded results different from Pillard and Bailey's. In March of 1992, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a report on homosexuals who are twins (both fraternal and identical) and found that only 20% of the homosexual twins had a gay co- twin, leading the researchers to conclude that "genetic factors are insufficient explanation of the development of sexual orientation." Not only, then, has Pillard and Bailey's work not been replicated; when a similar study was conducted, it had completely different results.
Argument #1-C: Genes
In 1993, Dr. Dean Hamer of the National Cancer Institute studied 40 pairs of non-identical gay brothers and claimed that 33 of the pairs had inherited the same X-linked genetic markers, thus indicating a genetic cause for homosexuality.
Response #1: The argument is misleading and exaggerated for two reasons:
First, like LeVays' study, Hamer's results have yet to be replicated. Again, it should be noted a lack of replication does NOT mean a study is invalid; it only means the study's conclusions have not been confirmed by further research.
Second, a later, similar study actually contradicted Hamer's conclusions. George Ebers of the University of Western Ontario examined 52 pairs of gay brothers, and found "no evidence for a linkage of homosexuality to markers on the X-chromosome or elsewhere."
Ebers also, with an associate, studied 400 families with one or more homosexual male, and found "no evidence for the X-linked, mother-to-son transmission posited by Hamer." Again, like Pillard and Bailey's earlier work, a later study similar to Hamer's yielded clearly different results.
Response #2: This argument, like those based on LeVay, Pillard, and Bailey's work, is illogical in that it assumes inborn means normal or morally acceptable. That assumption is faulty, for three reasons:
First, "inborn" and "normal" are not necessarily the same. Even if homosexuality is someday proven to be inborn, inborn does not necessarily mean normal. Any number of defects or handicaps, for example, may be inborn, but we'd hardly call them normal for that reason alone. Why should we be compelled to call homosexuality normal, just because it may be inborn?
Second, inborn tendencies towards certain behaviors (like homosexuality) do not make those behaviors moral. Studies in the past fifteen years indicate a variety of behaviors may have their roots in genetics or biology. In 1983 the former Director of the National Council on Alcoholism reported on a number of chemical events that can produce alcoholism; in 1991, the City of Hope Medical Center found a certain gene present in 77% of their alcoholic patients. Obesity and violent behavior are now thought to be genetically influenced, and even infidelity, according to research reported in Time, may be in our genes!
Surely we're not going to say that obesity, violence, alcoholism and adultery are legitimate because they were inherited. So it is with homosexuality. Whether inborn or acquired, it is still, like all sexual contact apart from marriage, immoral. And immoral behavior cannot be legitimized by a quick baptism in the gene pool.
Third, we are a fallen race, born in sin. Scripture teaches we inherited a corrupt sin nature affecting us physically and spiritually (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12). We were born spiritually dead (Jn 3:5-6) and physically imperfect (1 Cor 15:1-54). We cannot assume, then, that because something is inborn, it is also God ordained. There are mental, psychological, physical and sexual aspects of our beings that God never intended us to have. "Inborn," in short, does not mean "divinely sanctioned."
Response #3: Professional opinion is by no means unanimously convinced of the "Homosexuality is Inborn" Argument.
Some researchers, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, actually say the "born gay" theories are "unfounded and politically dangerous." Dr. William Byne of Columbia University calls the "inborn" evidence "inconclusive" and compares it to "trying to add up a hundred zeroes so you can get 1." Dr. Fausto-Sterling says the studies, and ensuing debate, are not even about biology but about politics, and Professor John D'Emilio of the University of North Carolina, while willing to consider the possibility of inborn homosexuality, says there's "too much else we haven't explored."
Social Justice Argument #2: "Homosexuality Cannot Be Changed."
"Sexual orientation simply cannot be changed," a gay psychiatrist says confidently, warning "there may be severe emotional and social consequences in the attempt to change from homosexuality to heterosexuality." This argument draws heavily from the social sciences, as it must; the Bible supports no such claim. Indeed, St. Paul makes the opposite remark, clearly stating homosexuals can change, when he asserts:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders... will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6: 9-11; emphasis added)
Still, the "I-tried-to-change-but-I-couldn't" argument is quite popular among homosexuals who have accepted their orientation and insist others do the same.
Response #1: The "unchangeable" argument is misleading. While many mental health authorities believe homosexuality is unchangeable, many others believe it can be changed.
In 1970, the Kinsey Institute reported that 84% of the homosexuals they studied had shifted their sexual orientation at least once; 32% of them reported a second shift, and 13% reported five changes, during their lifetime, in their sexual orientation!
The Director of the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training, no doubt aware such changes occur, remarked on the "misinformation spread by certain circles that homosexuality is untreatable," saying it did "incalculable harm to thousands."
Dr. Irvine Bieber concluded (after treating over a hundred homosexuals) that "a heterosexual shift is a possibility for all homosexuals who are strongly motivated to change."
Sex researchers Masters and Johnson (hardly a pair of standard-bearers for the traditional view!) said the "homosexuality cannot be changed" concept was "certainly open to question." Drs. Wood and Dietrich, writing about the effectiveness of treatment for homosexuality, confirmed "all studies which have attempted conversions from homosexuality to heterosexuality have had significant success." And the New Report of the Kinsey Institute explains people do not "necessarily maintain the same sexual orientation throughout their lives," then explained that "programs helping homosexuals change report varying degrees of success."
But no one says it better than Stanton Jones, Chair of Psychology at Wheaton College:
Anyone who says there is no hope (for change) is either ignorant or a liar. Every secular study of change has shown some success rate, and persons who testify to substantial healings by God are legion.
Response #2: This argument is illogical in that it assumes if a condition is unchangeable it is therefore desirable.
For the sake of argument, suppose it could be proven that homosexuality, as a condition, is unchangeable-that no amount of prayer, counseling or efforts of any sort could make a homosexual become attracted to the opposite sex. What then? Should that change our view of homosexual behavior as being sinful? Hardly. There's no contingency in any scriptural reference to any kind of sin, in the Old or New Testament, saying: "Thou shalt not do thus and so!" ("Unless, of course, you tried hard to change, went for prayer and counseling, and found you just could not stop wanting to do thus and so. If that's the case, then thus and so is no longer a sin. It's an inborn, immutable gift and you can indulge it!")
The Apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh, whatever it may have been, was unchangeable; despite his prayers for deliverance, God allowed it to remain. But it certainly was not desirable (2 Cor 12:7-9). Other conditions-alcoholism, for example, or various addictions-are widely believed to be unchangeable, and have to be coped with daily. That hardly makes them desirable, natural or God-ordained.
Social Justice Argument #3: "10% of the Population Is Gay. Could So Many People Be Wrong?"
This argument has been so roundly disproved, in secular, clinical and theological sources worldwide, that it may be unnecessary to mention it. But on the chance that the reader may need to confront it in future discussions, we will briefly review what is commonly called the "10% Myth" and how to respond to it.
In 1948, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which listed his findings after taking the sexual histories of 5,300 American men. The findings, especially on homosexuality, shocked American sensibilities: 37% of the subjects admitted at least one homosexual experience since their adolescence, and 10% claimed to have been homosexual for at least three years.
Word was out-ten percent of the male population was homosexual! Knowing there is power in numbers, pro-gay theorists and spokesmen repeated the statistic relentlessly until it became a given: one out of every ten males was gay; therefore, homosexuality was much more common than anyone had previously thought. The concept was extremely useful to activists when, decades later, they would ask how anyone could believe ten percent of the population was abnormal, immoral or just plain wrong.
Response #1: The argument is exaggerated; Kinsey did NOT claim 10% of the male population was homosexual.
Kinsey's wording was plain-10% of the males surveyed claimed to have been homosexual for at least three years. They had not necessarily been homosexual all their lives, nor would they necessarily be homosexual in the future. Future studies by the Kinsey Institute, in fact, would confirm that sexual orientation is not necessarily fixed, and may change throughout a person's lifespan. The 1990 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex states:
Some people have consistent homosexual orientation for a long period of time, then fall in love with a person of the opposite sex; other individuals who have had only opposite-sex partners later fall in love with someone of the same sex.
Response #2: The "10%" is misleading for two reasons:
First, Kinsey's data was not taken from a population accurately representing American men. Dr. Judith Reisman, in her book Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People has soundly discredited Kinsey's conclusions and methods. One of her important findings was that 25% of the men he surveyed were prisoners, many of whom were sex offenders. Naturally, a higher incidence of homosexuality would be found among prisoners, especially sex offenders, many of whom may have been in prison for homosexual behavior. (In the 1940s that was quite possible; today, thankfully, people are not incarcerated for homosexuality.)
Second, subsequent studies have disproved the 10% claim. USA Today reported on April 15, 1993, a new survey of 3,321 American men indicating 2.3% of them had engaged in homosexual behavior within the previous ten years; only 1.1% reported being exclusively homosexual.
This was only the latest in a series of studies proving Kinsey wrong. In 1989, a U.S. survey estimated no more than 6% of adults had any same-sex contacts and only 1% were exclusively homosexual; a similar survey in France found 4% of men and 3% of women had ever engaged in homosexual contacts, while only 1.4% of the men and 0.4% of the women had done so within the past five years. The article concluded, not surprisingly, that the 10% statistic proposed by Kinsey was "dying under the weight of new studies."
A candid remark by a lesbian activist explains how the 10% figure stayed in the public's awareness for so long:
The thing about the 'one in ten'-I think people probably always did know that it was inflated. But it was a nice number that you could point to, that you could say 'one in ten,' and it's a really good way to get people to visualize that we're here.
If what she's saying is true, gay spokesmen were willing to repeat something they knew to be false, for the sake of furthering their cause. With that in mind, one wonders what other "facts" on homosexuality ("gays are born gay," "gays cannot change") will someday be disproved as well-exposed as propaganda that people "always knew was inflated," but promoted anyway because the end justified the means.
We can accept some parts of these pro-gay arguments. We can allow, for example, the possibility of genetics someday being found to play a role in the development of homosexuality. We can agree that, in many cases, the homosexual condition-sexual attractions to the same sex rather than the opposite one-begins very early in life. And while it's common knowledge that ten percent of the population is not, nor ever has been, gay, we'll admit there are probably far more homosexuals in the population than we're aware of. Their claim of not having asked for their orientation is, in most cases, true; we ought to feel genuine compassion for people struggling with, or mistreated for, something they never chose. Stanton Jones of Wheaton College puts it well:
If you cannot empathize with a homosexual person because of fear of, or revulsion to, them, then you are failing our Lord.
But where we must part company with promoters of the pro-gay theology is in the conclusions they've drawn. We cannot rewrite scripture, as they have, to accommodate a sin simply because it has been shown to be inborn, unchangeable or common. On this point, we might well borrow a quote from, of all people, the liberal playwright Lillian Hellman:
I cannot and will not cut my conscience to suit this year's fashions.
Praeger in Broward Jewish World, October 16, 1990, cited in Grant and Horne, Legislating Immorality (Chicago: Moody Press,1993), p. 24-25.
See Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 61- 87, Grant and Horne, p. 21-38, and Churchill, Wainwright, Homosexual Behavior Among Males (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1967), p. 121- 141.
Bayer, Ronald. Homosexuality and American Psychiatry (New York: Basic Books, 1981), p. 15.
Praeger, Dennis. "Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality" Mission and Ministry: The Quarterly Magazine of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Summer Edition, 1995, Vol. 10, No. 3, p.13.
From Jeff Levi's speech to the National Press Club during the 1987 Washington Rally, cited in Shadow in the Land Dannemeyer, William (San Francisco: Ignatious Press, 1989), p. 86.
White, Mel. Stranger at the Gate (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), p. 311.
From television special "Gays and the Church" ABC World News Tonight, February 28, 1996.
See Hanegraff, Hank. Christianity in Crises (Eugene: Harvest House, 1993), p. 317 for the roles both creeds play in the essentials of Christianity.
Perry, Troy. Don't Be Afraid Anymore (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990), p. 342.
Frame, Randy. "Seeking a Right to the Rite," Christianity Today, March 4, 1996, Vol 40, No. 3, p. 66.
Perry, p. 39.
White, p. 295, 300, 309, 315.
Scroogs, Robin. The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p. 127.
Morris, Paul. Shadow of Sodom (Wheaton: Tyndale Press, 1978), p. 89.
Perry, p. 39.
White, p. 36-39.
Ibid., p. 156.
Pennington, Sylvia. Ex-Gays? There Are None! (Hawthorne: Lambda Christian Fellowship, 1989), p. 388.
LeVay, Simon. "A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men," Science, August 30, 1991, p. 1034-1037.
Ankerberg, John. "The Myth That Homosexuality Is Due to Biological or Genetic Causes" (Research Paper), PO Box 8977, Chattanooga, TN 37411.
"Is This Child Gay?" Newsweek, September 9, 1991, p. 52.
Los Angeles Times, September 16, 1992, p. 1, as cited in NARTH Newsletter, December 1992, p. 1.
"Sexual Disorientation: Faulty Research in the Homosexual Debate," Family (a publication of the Family Research Council), October 28, 1992, p. 4.
"Is This Child Gay?", p. 52.
Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1991, Section A, Page 1.
Time, September 9, 1991, Vol. 138, #10, p. 61.
Newsweek, September 9, 1991, p. 52.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 1992, p. A7.
"Gay Genes Revisited," Scientific American, Nov. 1995, p. 26.
Bailey and Pillard. "A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation," Archives of General Psychiatry #48, 1991, p. 1089-1096.
Gelman, David. "Born or Bred?" Newsweek, February 24, 1992, p. 46
King and McDonald. "Homosexuals Who Are Twins," The British Journal of Psychiatry March 1992, Vol. 160, p. 409
Hamer, Dean. "A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation," Science, 261, July 16, 1993, p. 321- 327.
"Gay Genes Revisited: Doubts Arise over Research on the Biology of Homosexuality" Scientific American, November 1995, p. 26.
Frank Siexas, former Director of the National Council on Alcoholism, quoted in the Boston Globe, August 8, 1983.
Dallas, Joe. "Born Gay?" Christianity Today, June 22, 1992 p. 22.
"Rethinking the Origins of Sin," Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1993 Section A, p. 31.
Wright, Robert. "Our Cheating Hearts," Time, August 15, 1994, Vol. 144, No 7, p. 44-52.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 1992, p. A7.
Richard Isay, PhD. "Gays and the Church," ABC World News Tonight, February 28, 1996.
Isay, Richard. Being Homosexual (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1989), p. 112.
Wood and Dietrich. The AIDS Epidemic (Portland: Multnomah, 1990), p. 238.
Fine, Ruben. Psychoanalytic Theory, Male and Female Homosexuality: Psychological Approaches (New York: Hemisphere, 1987), p. 84-86.
Bieber, Irving. Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study (NewYork: Basic Books, 1962), p. 318-319.
Masters and Johnson. Homosexuality in Perspective (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1979), p. 402.
Wood and Dietrich. The AIDS Epidemic (Portland: Multnomah, 1990), p. 238.
Reinisch, June. The New Kinsey Report (New York: St Martin's Press, 1990), p. 138, 143.
Jones, Stanton. "The Loving Opposition," Christianity Today, July 19, 1993, Vol 37, No. 8.
Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia: Saunders Press, 1948), p. 625.
Ibid., p. 638.
Reinisch, p. 138.
Reisman, Judith. Kinsey, Sex and Fraud (Layfayette: Huntington, 1990), p. 9.
Lesbian activist with ACT-UP, interviewed in "Gay Rights-Special Rights" video.
Permission to reprint granted by Genesis Counseling.
17632 Irvine Blvd Suite 220
Tustin, CA 92780
Joe Dallas, founder of Genesis Counseling, is the author of three books on homosexuality: Desires in Conflict, Unforgiven Sins, and A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement. A former gay rights activist and staff member of a Metropolitan Community Church, he has worked with hundreds of men and women struggling with homosexuality and related problems. Mr. Dallas is available for conferences and seminars.
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