Thinking Anglicans

origins of homosexuality

Updated 29 August

Back in late July, the Church Times published an article by Professor Michael King, titled How much is known about the origins of homosexuality?

The full text of the earlier report from the Special Interest Group mentioned in this article can be found here.

This week’s Church Times contains several letters responding to the article. (These are not yet available online, except to subscribers.)

As promised, here is a link to last week’s Church Times letters, Sexual orientation and the Church: navigating between the competing claims of the extremes and the middle.

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Leonardo Ricardo
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“The Royal College of Psychiatrists holds the view that LGB people should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. This includes equal access to health care, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader, freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation” That says it all!… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader” My problem with this as a Christian is that it seems to confuse rights with freedoms. If God calls someone to priesthood in the Church, no-one has the right to stand in their way. If not, then we can say what words we like over them, they aren’t priests. But no-one has a “right” to be a priest. It is a privelege and a responsibility, but not a right as secularly understood. Indeed , if we oppose the ordination of someone God has called, I’d be much more… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Ford:

I think what the Royal College’s statement intends is that the GOVERNMENT cannot act to prevent a gay person from practicing his religion as a lay person or cleric. How this applies in the UK, with an established national church, is beyond my purview as a Yank.

JCF
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JCF

“as an Anglo-cathoic, I have huge issues with society dictating to God what He will and will not accept”

Of course, Ford, you have to concede that—this side of heaven—“what God will and will not accept” CANNOT be determined, apart from subjective (conflicting!) HUMAN discernment.

And there enlies the conundrum. Whose (subjective, conflicting, fallible) human discernment will prevail?

Lord have mercy!

[Re the article: my basic reaction is “And lo, the sky is blue, and water is wet” ;-)]

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Thanks loads for reposting the Professor King article. In brief words it aptly summarizes just where empirical data have offered us (A) disconfirmations of long (2 millenia of Christendom if not longer?) held errors in our negative beliefs about queer folks as humans, plus (B) the slow and painstaking empirical research that is still surprising all of us, since most of us were raised to believe in all the old flat earth stuff. I have needed a clear, brief summary of how our views are changed and changing, so this will do nicely for classes or training workshops. The eight… Read more »

jnwall
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jnwall

No one who supports ordination of partnered gay folk supports it as a right for any specific individual apart from the regular processes of discernment. Claiming otherwise files in the face of the facts and confuses the issues. What is desirable — to me — is for gay folk who feel called to ordained ministry to have the same access to the process of discernment as straight folk. I have no argument with Ford when he claims “no-one has the right to stand in the way” of someone called by God to priesthood. Absolutely — but what we now have… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

One wonders how seriously the Lambeth Conference organisers considered the offering of Professor Michael King’ original article – with the hope that it might be considered by theologians before the conference began? In the light of Bishop Gene’s lack of an invitation to submit his own personal view of the actual situation of Gays in the Church to the Conference, this might just have provided useful insights into the aetiology of homosexuality and its natural appearance in the human condition. Regarding Ford’s objection to the semantics of ‘freedom’ v. ‘right’; as a catholic Christiasn myself, I have to agree that… Read more »

davidwh
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davidwh

Well, I think it’s hard to disagree with much that Prof King said in his CT article: Same sex attraction does seem to be generally caused by an interaction of genetic / womb environment with the environmental conditions in early childhood. Sexual orientation certainly isn’t usually malleable. And it wouldn’t be surprising if it showed up in neurological studies – since it is basically a question of the brain’s perceptions. However, some people do report “discovering they are gay” later in life – a sign that other factors CAN come into play.. and some people “go straight” in mid life… Read more »

davidwh
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davidwh

I couldn’t resist.. here’s another abstract, showing family environment affectiing SSA’s (in a population study of 2 million people): http://lib.bioinfo.pl/pmid:17039403

counterlight
Guest

Does anyone ask what “causes” heterosexuality?
Perhaps someone should.

Weiwen
Guest

A very interesting article by Dr King.

As we know, the conservative view is that homosexuality is a sinful choice, and psychologists have known for some time that sexual orientation isn’t a choice.

I’m from Singapore. You would not believe how stupid the Evangelical churches there are on this issue. There is not even any discussion that sexual orientation could be relatively hardwired.

In any case, even if sexual orientation were completely chosen, my stance is that as long as the relationship is mutual and non-exploitative, it is OK.

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

A couple of the printed responses make the point that, as is the case with most psychiatrists and many doctors, Michael King’s training equips him only to ask – or focus on – *one* of the main relevant fundamental questions: namely, is homosexuality ‘natural’ or ‘normal’? There are various issues here: (1) Everything [that happens in the ‘natural’ world we inhabit] can be correctly termed ‘natural’. (Many of those things being harmful, many neutral and many beneficial.) (2) This raises the question of the ambiguity of the term ‘natural’. Failure to address this ambiguity is a problem of Dr King’s… Read more »

magistra
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The Royal College of Psychiatrists is saying *as a professional and secular body* that they can see no reasons to deny LGB people roles in religious leadership. There are groups who they might feel in their professional opinion should not have a right to be religious leaders (i.e. who it would be reasonable to discriminate against in this blamket way). For example, I suspect they would not think that people with developmental disabilities should have the right to become religious leaders, but that they should have the right to practice a religion. I don’t think they’re saying that LGB people… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“I presume that is the reason that he makes the weird split between “gene – environment interactions” and “environmental factors”.” That isn’t a wierd split at all. And, please, SSAs? You are reducing a state of being to behaviour patterns. By virtue of reducing what someone IS to a mere set of behavioural issues, the point is missed entirely. That’s a big flaw in reparative therapies, which are about behaviour control. Essentially, the idea is that “homosexual behaviour” is a symptom of the “disease” of homosexuality, and such treatments are about managing the disease. This framework is inappropriate as a… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

Christopher Schell, might your last statement not be more accurately applied to you?

“any number of things can be accurately classed as ‘normal variations’ without any reference to their benefit or otherwise.”

One of the things we see that is both ineffective and harmful is so called “reparative therapies” (see point 8 in the first link).

counterlight
Guest

Who gets to decide what’s “normal” and who elected them?

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

davidwh: “However, some people do report “discovering they are gay” later in life -…..”

That’s because your ilk do everything they can to suppress, deny, repress and scold anybody of that persuasion to either buy into your narrow-minded mantra “get saved, i.e., force an unnatural changed for that individual and “pretend”, or be insured of going to hell. No wonder many are so out of touch with their deep inner feelings, often resulting in suicide, or at least to muck up a marriage and ruin a spouse’s life due to living out a lie.

Rubbish.

RudigerVT
Guest

“Furthermore, the person I know best who has SSAs did have the classical dominant mother and withdrawn father.” 1. What fraction of heterosexual males endured the same, allegedly homosexualgenic family structure, yet emerged resolutely straight (if not also neurotic?) 2. Given the incidence of truly absent fathers within low-income communities, then why is there no signs of a high rate of ‘resulting’ gay men? Shouldn’t most ghettos end up looking like Chelsea? 3. For these, and other reasons, this alleged correlation has been entirely debunked. In addition, from a sort of psychoanalytic perspective, it has also been opined that fathers… Read more »

Nick Thompson
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Nick Thompson

davidwh and Christopher Snell observe that some conditions that occur in the natural world don’t seem to benefit the humans endowed with them. This is probably true, but I suspect that behind this observation is a bit of question-begging that often goes unchallenged. The implicit comparison that I imagine is being made (and correct me if I’m misinterpreting) is that homosexuality can be equated with alcoholism or various other forms of debility, in that, however they arise, they’re harmful to those who possess them, and harmful to the people around them. But that in fact is the question begged: is… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“Who gets to decide what’s “normal” and who elected them?” The Elect get to decide, by virtue of the fact that God elected them. “So what genuine harm is done, when Christians believe in good faith…..the best way in which they can play the hand that some combination of genes, ante-natal environment, physiology and social environment has dealt them?” Well, first of all, those who bought into the self loathing and spent their lives pretending to be straight have the folly of their decision made clear. That causes them a great deal of cognitive discomfort. They can’t understand why we… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

comment deleted.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“davidwh: “However, some people do report “discovering they are gay” later in life -…..” Or they realise they are bisexual later in life. In any case, where homosexuality comes from may be of theoretical interest, but it can have no further application than that. I’m blissfully in love in an extremely happy relationship. It doesn’t bother me at all whether I am capable of loving my love because of genetic, environmental or any other reasons. I rejoice that I can love like that and thank God that he has shown me this wonderful person who, by a true miracle, feels… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“Even *if* (and I’m not conceding the following, but offering it for the sake of argument) we compare homosexuality to a mild disability such as deafness, we don’t frown on deaf people using their hands to communicate. In other words, we don’t generally disapprove of people with differently configured abilities using those abilities in a different way where it seems to offer them and those around them some advantage. No one, for example, argues that Sign Language is in danger of precipitating the demise of spoken English.”

Brilliant, Nick T! Well done!

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“No one, for example, argues that Sign Language is in danger of precipitating the demise of spoken English.”

Now, texting, on the other hand…..

Mark
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Mark

I’ve never thought that the question whether there’s a genetic predisposition to homosexuality should be decisive in the church’s understanding, any more than a genetic predisposition to addiction would determine what we think about alcoholism. It’s quite possible that giving us something to overcome is the most loving thing a loving God could do.

I support homosexual inclusion because my experience of faithful, committed gay couples is that they are mediators of God’s grace in much the same way faithful, committed heterosexual couples can be. They’re signs of God’s faithfulness. “Test everything; hold fast to what is good.”

davidwh
Guest
davidwh

Ford, I’m being technical. Prof King called sexuality a “characteristic” – not a state of being. If you take a glance at the studies I linked to above (each abstract is short) you will see that sexuality is neither a “given” nor necessarily fixed. Though I’m sure it is usually not very susceptible to “treatments”, people can find help to come to terms with living with it, if they don’t want to live in a same-sex sexual relationship. Some people are well know as post-gay (ie they don’t deny that they still experience SSA – sometimes less tha before –… Read more »

Treebeard
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Treebeard

So why on earth, apparently compare gayness with alcoholism ? Or at least bracket them together like you have ? Now the real parallel is — the genetic predispostion to heterosexuality. As you apparently ‘support inclusion’ please please review your use of language. Get a couple of gay friends to assist you. It’s letting you down at the moment. Clue : Many of us gays are none too keen on the heavy use of terms ‘homosexulatiy’ and ‘homosexual’. Try ‘gay’. ‘I’ve never thought that the question whether there’s a genetic predisposition to homosexuality should be decisive in the church’s understanding,… Read more »

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

I need know nothing more –this is wonderful !

I rejoice with you !

‘I’m blissfully in love in an extremely happy relationship. It doesn’t bother me at all whether I am capable of loving my love because of genetic, environmental or any other reasons. I rejoice that I can love like that and thank God that he has shown me this wonderful person who, by a true miracle, feels the same about me.

What else is there to know?’

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 23 August 2008 at 6:06pm BST

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

DavidWh, forgive me for intervening in your dialogue with others… (your dialogue with Ford): People use words in a variety of ways. For example, Professor King on ‘characteristics’: “Like all complex human characteristics, evidence on the origins of sexual orientation is difficult to obtain and to interpret. This is because it involves study of human development from the embryo to the adult, of brain structure and function, physiological processes, and of evolutionary and psychological theory. “ – when you see the text in full, “characteristic” clearly refers to a complex aspect of being. We are all able to be described… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Who recalls those discussions with people who say they have “eldest child” issues, or “only child”, or “middle child” or “youngest child”? One thing they all have in common is a bunch of people trying to blame their circumstances for what they are. There’s that “R” word – responsibility. You’re here on this planet, so you might as well accept it and get on with living with it. We can spend eternity throwing rocks at each other, or we can just accept that God has thrown a diverse mish mash of souls together, added sentience and free will and then… Read more »

counterlight
Guest

Excellent post Nick Thompson. Ford, I’d be delighted to save myself a lot of trouble and tax money if we could just defer all our decisions about everything to The Elect (whoever they are, and I don’t see God poking His head through the veil of time and space to point them out to us). Think of it, no more legislatures, no more laws, no more bothersome elections, and we could grant them absolute police powers to purify the planet of the abnormal. Oh, I see that’s been tried already, and many times. “I just do think that God’s opinion… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Beloved – let us love one another”

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Hmm, so now we are supposed to believe the repeat conservative mantra that nobody hates queer folks, and of course, the added spin doctored line, I only have the queer folks best interests at heart, really I do, ever so much. Sorry, cannot buy it. If we were relying on conservative believers to offer us queer folks civil rights or human rights protections – you know the deal, work plus housing protections plus equality of access to opportunities and resources involving even-handedness and involving merit considerations when particular queer folks meet those standards – we should still no doubt be… Read more »

Bob in SW PA
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Bob in SW PA

davidwh “God loves everybody incredibly, He blesses everybody who comes to Him, and He uses people as His ministers.” He, Him, He His!!! So are we calling God, The Divine a HE? Secondly, would you go to a doctor who practiced medicine using the same tools, having the same education as someone who lived between 2000 and 3000 years ago? Why is it so many people condemn so many others based on a book written between 2000 and 3000 years ago?? We seem so hell bent on knowing the mind of God instead of following the example of Christ. Sorry… Read more »

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

Nick T, People will do what they will do (and find a way to rationalize it), but the aim in reasonable conversation is to see what is true. In creation order – nature if you want – it is clear male and female are designed for relation, and without that you would not be here to dispute it! Most people in most societies who have reflected on this seriously have recognized it, and scripture even when surrounding culture existed in confusion is clear about this. That is the first and the basic point. The second, as to harm, it is… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I just do think that God’s opinion on what constitutes a sexual sin is different from late 20th century humanism’s view!”

From a 21st century HUMAN’s view (mine), I think you know “God’s opinion” on precious little, DavidWh (I know I don’t—well, I might venture as far as “Do justice and love kindness”, but no further!)

Seriously: I find the equation of “sexual sin” with MARITAL INTIMACY—in ANY marriage, of any two loving spouses—truly revolting. Lord have mercy!

magistra
Guest

Ben W,

If we’re talking about creation order, do you think old people should have heterosexual sex? If there is no possibility of procreation, is sex between a married couple to be seen positively, and if so, why? (Bear in mind that we may be talking about people who married aged in their 50s/60s and for whom procreative sex was never part of their married life). In the early church the expectation was certainly that the old (even within a marriage) must be continent. Are you arguing for this stance?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“The playboy philosophy has had its part in promoting homosexuality and trivializing sexuality (with the chief commandment of “condoms for everyone”).” Playboy is priceless, I wish I had thought of it! You mean like those historically well documented rabid gays like Cassanova in all his different names across the planet, the gigolos in all their facets, all those males in the Bible who needed mistresses as well as wives, the Kings in our history (I’m thinking here first and foremost of that well known gay Henry VIII)… and that appallingly camp inventor of Playboy (can’t think of his name right… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Ben W wrote: “People will do what they will do (and find a way to rationalize it), but the aim in reasonable conversation is to see what is true. “ True enough. You do it all the Time. Ben W wrote: “”…In creation order – nature if you want – it is clear male and female are designed for relation…” Designed??? Ben W wrote: “That is the first and the basic point.” I find it funny that this “first and the basic point“ was invented only in 1978, in California by one Don Williams in a book: The Bond That… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The only exception I know of is a certain Professor Schlyter at Upsala, who in his 1837 lectures on the history of law tried to defend the beating of Wives (already in disrepute by then, but stricken from the books in 1908!) “for the lower class of people”, only, justifying sub-ordination by Genesis 1:27 and 2:24!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Magistra wrote: “In the early church the expectation was certainly that the old (even within a marriage) must be continent.”

Quotes please!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Its interesting that nearly all of those who claim not to be gay any longer are religionists of a conservative nature. The issue is that the actual problem here is the religion. Give up the religion, and there is no problem with being gay. There is no point in trying to make conservative religion more gay friendly. The aim should be to oppose conservative religion and everything about it. The first step must be abandonment of the nonsense that somehow conservative and liberal Christianity is the same. They are totally, utterly different. That is the one thing which religious conservatives… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

I always wince when people dicmiss the word ‘humanism’ , as though it were purely (or ‘impurely’?) secular – without spiritual implications. It has been said that the glory of God is shown in humanity fully alive – is that humanism? It certainly has a connection with humanity; being made in the image and likeness of God. And what about the whole process of the Incarnation of Jesus? Was that not a case of the Most High God wanting to identify with his human children – in a way that was unmistakably, and irrevocably humanist? If God was happy about… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Strictly speaking “humanism” is the same as Platonism, making “man” the measure of things, not God.

It is entirely uncompatible with any thought of Incarnation.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The point being that “humanism” is i n h u m a n e.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

davidwh, Gay people, especially of my generation, have spent their lives rescuing themselves from a culture that told them they were voluntarily evil, sick, predators of children, and fully deserving of punishment, even death, people whose families were fully justified to, indeed, some would say required to, abandon them. When you speak in terms of “SSAs” and such like, you are seen, rightly or wrongly, as coming from that oppressive culture. Think of it this way: the traditional view of the Annunciation is of God telling Mary what He wanted and of her subserviently obeying her obviously male master, which… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David Wh Sorry, I only saw your question to me now: “Erica, I would love to know your observations on whether lost relationships with your mother may be a factor in women who are in long-term homosexual relationships.” I don’t know much about lesbian and bi-sexual women’s relationships with their mothers, I only really know my own that that of my partner. I was extremely close to my mother, who was a difficult woman with mental health problems but a devoted mother to her three children. She died when I was in my 30s, still happily married to my father.… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The first step must be abandonment of the nonsense that somehow conservative and liberal Christianity is the same. They are totally, utterly different. That is the one thing which religious conservatives recognise and religious liberals seem to be reluctant to face.” – Posted by Merseymike MM, I *would* do this—resolve that “conservative and liberal Christianity … are totally, utterly different”—if I could do so in some SYSTEMATIC way, beyond “Conservative Christianity is an alien religion, because I disagree w/ it.” I mean, it would be easy, if conservative Christians formed their faith upon the Qur’an! But they don’t: they’re formed… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

You see David Wh, it isn’t what is said, it what really happened and how does it REALLY apply to our situation today. Bob in SW Pa said it best, do you apply ancient prescriptions to modern day ailments?

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“their sources of Tradition are the same” I disagree, JCF. At least as far forth as we are talking about Evangelical Conservatives. Their position is actually an explicit rejection of much of the Tradition of the first 1000-1500 years. That was the point of the Reformation, after all: the Church had become corrupt as a result of following the “traditions of men” and the only way to return to True Christianity was to return to the Scriptures as the only reliable source of information as to what the truth actually was. The extent to which this attitude informed the various… Read more »