Challenge Response: When Did You Choose Your Heterosexuality?

Here's my response to this week's challenge:


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Today's challenge is, “When did you choose your heterosexuality?” You might be asking, “How is that a challenge?” They think your answer is going to be, I didn't choose to be heterosexual. I didn't choose my heterosexuality; I’ve just always felt attracted to the opposite sex. They’re thinking, in the same way, a homosexual did not choose his homosexuality. Therefore, since he didn't choose it, he must have been born that way. If he's born that way, then you can't say that homosexuality is wrong. That's, in essence, what the challenge is here.

The main problem with this challenge is that it presumes a very naïve and limited understanding of an important question: What are the causes of sexual orientation? It presumes the answers are either you're born that way or you choose to be that way, but of course, those are not the only options. Sure, there are some characteristics that we get because we are born a certain way. There are some characteristics that we develop because we choose to behave in a certain way. But there are still some other characteristics that are a result of developmental factors, and indeed, this is the case with same-sex attraction. It's not just you’re either born that way or you choose to be gay, but in reality, there's a third option. That is, homosexuality is a developmental condition that develops between birth and young adulthood.

If it’s a developmental condition, then this explains why many homosexuals will report to you with something like, “Ever since I can remember, I always felt like I was a little bit different than other people. I always felt attracted not to the opposite sex, but to the same sex.” Or, “I always felt different than some of the other boys in the way they behaved.” Because homosexual attractions are something that begins to develop at a very young age, between the ages of 1 and 5 years old, it’s often the case that they don't remember the causes that led up to that. That's why, by the time they reach the age of five or six and they start to remember their childhood, they think, “I just feel like I always have been this way.” It wasn’t because they were born that way; rather, it was because something happened that caused them to develop these feelings. 

This developmental pathway is not something that we came up with today. Rather, scientists have known for over a hundred years that homosexual attraction, same-sex attraction, is something that develops. Scientists, psychiatrist, psychologists, and other researchers have been looking at this for a long time and have had a fairly good understanding of what causes same-sex attraction. The problem is that in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association decided that they would remove homosexuality from their encyclopedia that lists all other mental disorders that they normally diagnose. As a result, homosexuality is no longer viewed as a mental condition that needs to be treated. 

That decision was not made because there was some new scientific discovery that repudiated a hundred years of research. It wasn’t like they found a gay gene, and it wasn't like there was a new study that said homosexuality isn’t a developmental condition, it’s something that you’re born with. No, there was nothing like that. Rather, it was voted on as a result of political pressure and political correctness.

What happened after 1973, scientists refer to as the “big chill.” This is a period of time since 1973 where researchers, therapists, psychologists, and physicians are no longer encouraged to pursue research about the developmental causes of same-sex attraction. They can pursue [their research], but they are intimidated about it, they are pressured against it, and if they try to get research published consistent with their conclusions, they have a hard time doing it.

There are a lot of researchers today who continue to pursue looking into the developmental causes of same-sex attraction. These aren’t Christian researchers or pastors, they’re secular scientists, even gay researchers, who have come to the same conclusion. I’m thinking of people like Camille Paglia and Dr. Martin Duberman, who identify as gay themselves, and who say homosexuality and the development of same-sex attraction is not an inborn trait, it's an adaptation.

Again, the problem with this challenge is it perpetuates the false dilemma between, you’re either born gay or you choose to be gay. Not only are these not the only possible options for what causes same sex-attraction, but it also ignores a century of science for the purpose of being politically correct. When scientific facts have to cave to political pressure, it doesn't really matter what the science says, and it doesn’t matter what the facts are. We just follow what's politically correct, and that, unfortunately, is what's happened with the question about what causes same-sex attraction.

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Alan Shlemon