John Frame on “But God Made Me This Way?”

This is a very interesting article by John Frame. Enjoy:

[Tabletalk 21:3 (Mar., 1997), 8-11. Also published in Immanuel 107 (Mar., 1997), 3.]


Homosexuals today commonly claim that they cannot help being homosexual. Homosexuality, they argue, is innate: perhaps genetically determined, in any case so deeply ingrained in their very being that it is, for them, an inescapable condition. Therefore, they conclude, church and society should accept homosexuality as natural and normal. Surely, they insist, it is unfair to condemn people for what they cannot help doing.

Indeed, those homosexuals who want recognition as Christians interpret the “inescapability” of their condition theistically: “God made me this way.” How can Christians, then, condemn a condition that God himself created?

This question comes up in many areas of discussion other than homosexuality.

The rapid progress of genetic science has led to lively discussions concerning whether some behavior patterns are innate.  Some years ago, it was learned that an abnormally high proportion of boys with a double “y” chromosome engages in anti-social or criminal behavior. Does this discovery imply that criminality, in some cases, at least, is an innate and inescapable condition? What then?  Should we abort children who have this genetic combination? Should we test children early for this condition and take special pains to steer xyy boys into constructive paths? Should we seek ways to change the genetic makeup of such children?

Later came the discovery that a certain gene is associated with a relatively high percentage of alcoholics. And still more recently, Simon LeVay, a gay activist and neuroscientist, published a paper in Science(253:1034-1037) arguing that there are some minute but statistically significant differences between heterosexual and homosexual men in the size of the “INAH-3″ region of the anterior hypothalmus, part of the brain. Some have argued that this discovery tends to establish what gay activists have long been saying, namely that homosexuality is an innate condition rather than a “choice,” that it cannot be helped, and therefore it should be accepted as normal.

I am not competent to evaluate LeVay’s research. I do think that we are wise to suspend judgment until LeVay’s work is corroborated by others who are more objective on the question. However, we should note as others have that there is an unanswered “chicken and egg” problem here: how do we know that this condition (or perhaps the larger unexplored physical basis for it) is the cause, and not the result, of homosexual thought and behavior?

And of course we must also remember that these discoveries were made through studies of the brains of people who were exclusively homosexual, compared with brains of people who were presumed to be exclusively heterosexual.1 But there is a wide spectrum between these two extremes. The exclusively homosexual population seems to be between 1% and 3% of the population (the widely used Kinsey figure of 10% is now largely discredited). But many more people have bisexual inclinations, and still others are largely heterosexual but willing to enter homosexual relationships under certain circumstances (experimentation, prison, etc.) Is there a genetic basis for these rather complicated patterns of behavior? Neither LeVay nor anyone else has offered data suggesting that.

But let’s assume that there is an innate physical basis for homosexuality, and for alcoholism, and indeed for general criminality. I suspect that as genetic science develops over the years there will be more and more correlations made between genetics and behavior, and that will be scientific progress. What ethical conclusions should we draw?

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