Justin Lee, well known founder of the Gay Christian Network, both defines “gay” and then sketches typical claims about reasons why people are gay. He details this in his book Torn.
“Gay” for Justin Lee means that someone is “attracted to the same sex” (52-53). It does not refer only to same-sex sexual relations or to behavior. So when asking “Why?” the issue is about why some people are attracted to people of the same sex.
What do you think? How do you explain the reasons for homosexuality? Do you think the Bible ponders this question? Where?
Big one: If being gay is biological, do you think that is a game-changer?
Here are the reasons typically given:
First, some people choose to be gay. Justin did not want to be gay; it is commonly said that no one would “choose” to be gay, but for him also there’s a definition issue: most who say people “choose” to be gay are not defining gay by attraction but by behaviors. People, he would argue, do not choose to be gay when it comes to attraction; he would agree people choose their behaviors. Some people are involuntarily attracted to people of the other same while some are involuntarily attracted to the same sex.
Second, some people are seduced or tricked into being gay. Some connect being gay to being teased as a child. Sexual abuse, studies show, is not in the background of the majority of gay people. Justin himself was not abused.
Third, some people are gay because of their parents. Sometimes this is called the “reparative drive.” In the Freudian model young boys want to kill their fathers to marry their mothers, and distorted parenting caused this development phase to fail. Gay males had fathers who were distant and detached and hostile with mothers who were overprotective. So Bieber, a Freudian, saw the problem for gay males to be parenting. The psychology community no longer believes this theory is supported by the facts. Many Christians still adhere to this older theory, and he points to Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi. The evidence, though, does not support the theory: Justin himself had loving parents and a good relationship with them. Justin suggests gays have about the same ratio of good/bad parents as straights.
Fourth, some people are gay because of their biology, including brain development differences. “Just because an attraction or drive is biological doesn’t mean it’s okay to act on, so whether behavior is sinful or not doesn’t tell us anything about whether the related attraction has biological roots” (62). So for Justin “Is it a sin?” and “Does it have biological roots?” are two different questions. Yes and Yes could be the answers, he says.
Some gay males have brain development more like straight females; some lesbians have brain development more like straight males. He means some specific structures, not whole brains. Some research suggests gays may have been exposed in different ways to hormone levels during pregnancy. Also, gays tend to have some skills (verbal, spatial) characteristic of the opposite sex. Research among animals may suggest being gay is biologically shaped. Gay men tend to have more older brothers, and this one appears also to have some biological connection.
Justin Lee’s conclusion: “… many scientists now believe that sexual orientation is related to the hormone levels a baby experiences during its development in the womb” (65). Simon LeVay’s research is what he cites (“prenatal sexual differentiation of the brain” — 66). Justin Lee is not an ideologue: “Researchers haven’t definitively proven that hormones are the cause…” (67) and “the evidence makes it look very likely that biology has something to do with sexual orientation.”
His conclusion: “We don’t know for sure.” He warns about choosing a theory on the basis of what we want to be true. “I believe our goal should be truth, no ideology” (68).