Once Again – Not Born This Way. Reflections on a new large-scale study on Sexual Orientation

Oct 7, 2019 by

by Christopher Shell, Anglican Mainstream:

There are five rules of announcing the results of new scientific studies in the mass media. One – dress the results up as being sensational. Two – do so even if they are exactly the same as the results of former studies. Three – never mention former studies. Four – present the results as being a surprise if they go against the received ‘wisdom’ of those in prominent places who have never read or cited a study in their lives, and whose assumptions (or should that be preferences?) have never had any scientific credentials (why would they have?). Five – spin the results so that you emphasise the angles that your editorial policy demands and de-emphasise those it abhors.


But there are reasons why some studies deserve the acclaim they receive. First – they are conducted on a large and/or international scale – covering multitudes of people over long periods of time. Second – they are procedurally rigorous: random rather than self-selecting; objective rather than asking leading questions; comparatively comprehensive in what questions they ask, so that there is no undue focus on one topic – especially on the sort of topic where ideology is in danger of being rife among respondents. One such study is Andrea Ganna et al., ‘The Genetics of Sexual Orientation’ (Science, 30.08.19).


You’re strongly advised to read the abstract of this article carefully. However – here are four headline findings.


-The top five genetic markers among those who had ever engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour were able to explain less than 1% of said behaviour.


-All tested genetic variants accounted for 8 to 25% (call it an estimated one sixth) of same-sex behaviour’s variation from opposite-sex behaviour. This tallies up well with the established consensus that the chances of a self-identifying gay identical twin having a gay twin are around 11% (though of course the increased tendency among such twins to mirror each other’s behaviour needs also to be factored in).


-No support was found for what to advocates and laypersons might seem the most fundamental popular assumption of all: a Kinseyesque smooth ‘orientation’ spectrum where same-sex is one pole and opposite-sex is the other. This is for various reasons, notably that there was not an increase found in the main same-sex genetic markers (such as they are) among those who might have seemed to be the most firmly same-sex individuals as identified by apparent ‘orientation’ and behaviour. Mark Steyn elsewhere helpfully puts it like this: the relevant phenomena were originally conceptualised as sodomy – a type of behaviour; then as homosexuality – a condition; and then finally as being gay – an identity. Campaigners for LGBT causes prefer the last, because one cannot disrespect another person’s identity, and therefore the preferred indulgence can be indulged in guilt-free – which (not by coincidence?) happens also to be the dream scenario, But the science points strongly to the idea that we are dealing with a behaviour (as indeed Christians had always said) rather than a pathology, let alone an essence. The idea is that all should treat ‘homosexuality’/’gay’ as the very name of our topic, and that this should be an unquestioned assumption! You can see why some might want that. This policy or tactic has enjoyed much success, but it is baseless. By all means use such words as ‘homosexuality’ and ‘gay’ if that is the way the science points; but it is unjustifiable and bullying to expect such terms to be employed unquestioned if it is not. Accordingly none should use these 2 words unless they can make an case for doing so that addresses counter-arguments.


-Finally, nothing in the field of same-sex genetic markers proved at all determinative. For no-one would be able on the basis of a medical examination to say that an individual was or was not same-sex attracted, whereas even the most primitive midwives have always been able to say ‘It’s a boy, he’s Chinese, he’s 18 inches and 9 pounds.’. A same-sex-attracted individual is not a scientifically identifiable reality even after the most exhaustive research – so to what degree is it a usable (let alone primary) category at all? This zero-percent chance of certainty upon examination (which also applies to so-called ‘gender identity’: one would not, for example, be able to determine if someone was lying about this) contrasts with the hundred-percent chance when it comes to sex and pigmentation. Between zero percent and one hundred percent lies ( literally) all the difference in the world. Yet – wait a minute. The mantra of ‘age, sex, race, sexual orientation…’ attempts to lump together zero-percent phenomena with 100-percent phenomena. This serves a purpose for the advocate and those who’d declare an interest, but how can it possibly be allowed? In earlier Indian cricket teams, the captain, whom one might expect to have been first among equals on the field of play, actually scarcely contributed with bat or ball, owing his superior status to aristocracy. And we see the same here. Contributing zero percent (in the case of the privileged or entitled) somehow does not prevent being treated on the same level as a contribution of 100 percent. And for decades many have quite naturally wanted honesty on the following parallel point: if a kind of behaviour is the main correlate for a large epidemic, not least for pathological reasons, how is it that the behaviour continues to be affirmed and ‘cannot’ be criticised while non-participants are ‘naturally’ expected to help foot the huge bill for the necessary treatment and research? Aristocrats or the privileged would expect to be treated that way – but who else would have the nerve?


In What Are They Teaching The Children? (Wilberforce / VfJUK, 2016), chapter 11,  I tried to show the colossal scale of this popular deception. The ‘born this way’ ideology (it is not a theory, because theories are the result of research) would predict 0% difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals in certain areas where a multiple-hundred percent discrepancy in reality exists. That makes it not just wrong but about as wrong as a perspective can be. The figures I give there suggest that culture alone can change aspects of sexual behaviour 400% in 2 decades; that lesbian parenting produces a 400%+ increased chance of later lesbian self-identification; that urban environment for men brings a 700% increase and college environment for women a 900% increase in ‘gay’/lesbian self-identification; and that molestation when young brings a 500% increase. Gay identical twin pairings, as mentioned, are in reality one ninth of what they ‘ought’ to be: this is an 800% discrepancy. A pattern emerges in these percentages. All that is before we even come to the central issues of fluidity of ‘orientation’ and brain plasticity in the context of formative experiences.


How then should we characterise and ‘place’ same-sex sexual behaviour? Studies like this produce rich mines of correlations that help us in this task. Tobacco, cannabis, risk-taking and openness to new experiences (the latter two – and indeed the former two – being close to what Christians might term ‘rebellion’) seem to be especially strong correlates. An earlier very large scale Danish study ( Archives of Sexual Behavior 35.5: October 2006), concerning which individuals undertook same-sex marriage, found the following associations among the strongest. For men: an absent father or an older mother, and/or divorced parents. For women: being the only or only female child – or having sadly been bereaved of their mother in the midst of their adolescence. What are the common denominators here?


First, homosexual (against-biology) behaviour can be a manifestation of the spirit that says ‘Don’t tell me what I can’t do, for I will then do it all the more’ – two fingers to the moral establishment. This association of homosexuality with hypersexuality (loosened boundaries) has long been part of the Christian view, and is indeed seen in Romans 1.


Second, family is crucial and formative. A defect in the family make-up affects the individual at root – and if the root has not been treated, there continues to be no healing. We note that ‘action and reaction are equal and opposite’ when rebellious children or adolescents react in proportion against weak teachers or against inattentive, unreliable or immature parents. How would it be otherwise with divorce or absent dads? Are we expecting no reaction at all? A significant reaction would be expected and average .


Third, the said family patterns not only increased but increased massively with the onset of the sexual revolution. It follows that the reactions to them will also have increased massively, and that these things are not necessary, since in settings where (and to the degree that) the sexual revolution is not adopted they will not manifest. It looks therefore that the sexual revolution (unsurprisingly) is causing disaffection and estrangement from natural biological family-based identity: there is a flight both from biology and away from family into lonely individualism. Can we therefore deny that it is causing much of the homosexual and transgender behaviour that we now see? That would tally with the observation that these things have so much increased in precisely the relevant period.


But if family is central (a perspective which so many Christians would strongly affirm), and apparently produces far stronger correlates than genetics does, we should remember that the relevant ingredients within a family, ingredients inimical to healthy and happy development, will often be present from a child’s birth or shortly after. So when people say they have always known they are different in this way, we should take them seriously. We could characterise homosexual behaviour not mainly as the fruit of biology/genetics but more as the natural reaction to what was deficient within a person’s fundamental root experience – precisely those lacks which will have greatly, artificially and unnecessarily increased within the families of the last 55 years. Divorce and fatherlessness. Boo, boo, boo to those who normalise such things in the lives of our precious children – for as Judas found with his state of anomie, the removal of one’s centre of meaning is unutterably painful and produces a restless and potentially despairing rootlessness that can never be resolved outside Christ.

See also: “Gay Yesterday” – Core Issues Trust: Poland Report, 2019from Core Issues Trust: We visited Poland recently and participated in three events celebrating with Polish Christians the freedom we have to choose our own identities, follow Jesus and encourage others to seek freedom from the gay lifestyle.

And our list of articles on the latest research confirming again that there is no “gay gene”.


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