Clarifying Biblical and Secular Reasons for Same-Sex Attraction

I recently posted a video answering a challenge: When did you choose your heterosexuality? Someone asked a follow-up question, and I thought I’d share my response.

Here’s the question:

I listened to Alan's challenge about not choosing to be heterosexual. What my question is. Romans 1 says that people who reject God will burn in their lust for the same sex. I don't understand Alan's response. He said that same sex attraction comes from early experiences from age 1 to 5. Children at that age can't reject God because they haven't reached the age of accountability.  

So my question is, does same sex attraction come from a bad experience in early childhood, or does it come as punishment for rejecting God as Paul says in Romans?

Below was my response:

Your question is a good one. I agree with you that my answer sounds confusing in light of Romans 1. That’s my fault. Let me clarify.

In my attempt to explain the causes of same-sex attraction, I did not intend to negate the impact of sin in the world or our sin nature. The world is fallen, we are sinful, and that contributes to a huge amount of the sin we commit. Furthermore, Romans 1 tells us that homosexuality is evidence of man’s deep-seated rebellion against God and how he ordered creation (specifically humans) to function.

Now, I wouldn’t say as you have that “people who reject God will burn in their lust for the same sex,” since not every person who rejects God is a homosexual. Rather, sexual desire for the same sex is one possible symptom of rebellion towards God. But you are otherwise correct about the importance of Romans 1 in our understanding of homosexual activity that Paul observed.

Let me add an additional qualification to the video. I often answer the question of what causes same-sex attraction from both a biblical (special revelation) and scientific (general revelation) perspective. Usually, in a teaching environment, I have more time to address the challenge, but these videos are intended to be under five minutes. That’s why I left out the biblical answer. Plus, I was answering the question with the non-Christian skeptic in mind. Since such a person would not consider biblical information as authoritative, I only gave an answer based on secular research.

The secular explanation that I offered, by the way, is only one known pathway towards same-sex attraction. I believe it’s the most common, but it’s certainly not the only one. If you want more detail about developmental pathway in childhood that can contribute to same-sex attraction, I encourage you to check out my short book The Ambassador’s Guide to Understanding Homosexuality that explains it. Or, for an abridged (and free) explanation, check out my article “Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture” (that I co-wrote with Greg Koukl) discussing one cause of same-sex attraction.

Anyway, thanks for asking your question and allowing me to clarify and explain myself.

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Alan Shlemon