Genetics and Sin

As the Delaware House of Representatives is preparing to hear testimony regarding same-sex civil unions, the national government in Canada is also now at the same time being urged to repeal laws criminalizing polygamy and bigamy. What is the significance of this? Well, it was only as recently as 2005 that Canada legalized same-sex marriage. This illustrates the slippery slope that we could be starting down in Delaware.

Christians should already know that whenever we begin to reject the wisdom of God we will go astray. A world that rejects God has never been able to arrive at a stable definition of morality. Interestingly, “[h]omosexuality had been classified as a mental disorder in all of the editions of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (known as the DSM) since its inception in 1952. It was in the sixth printing of the second edition of the DSM in 1973 that homosexuality was reclassified as acceptable behavior.”[1] And this reclassification was not on the basis of clear evidence. The scientific community still does not have such evidence. 

Harvard professor, Richard J. MacNally, tells the story of the change:

“Gay activists strongly objected to this characterization [of homosexuality as a mental illness], and they began to stage protests at APA meetings in the early 1970’s. At the 1970 meeting, activists disrupted a session on the treatment of homosexuality, seizing a microphone and denouncing aversive techniques for altering sexual orientation. Disruptions occurred the following year and activists demanded the removal of homosexuality from the DSM-II. To placate the activists, the APA scheduled sessions to allow gay speakers to present their point of view. Dr. Anonymous, a hooded and cloaked gay psychiatrist, gave the most riveting presentation. He revealed that more than 200 APA members were homosexual, and that this group, the Gay Psychiatric Association, met secretly each year at the annual APA conference.”[2]

So how did the change happen in the DSM III? It happened when a series of comittees, followed by the APA Board of Trustees voted to approve the change.

What was the response by the broader psychiatric community? Again, MacNally tells it best:

“Traditional psychoanalysts were enraged. They mobilized their colleagues to support a referendum to decide whether the decision should be reversed. although both sides of the debate couched their arguments in terms of science, democracy prevailed. The APA voted to determine whether homosexuality is a mental disorder. Formal democratic procedures seldom answer classification questions in science. Indeed, until astronomers recently voted to kick Pluto out of the planetary solar system, the APA vote to decertify homosexuality as a mental disorder may have been the only instance in modern times.”[3]

So declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness had little to do with science and a great deal to do with intimidation, radical activism, and then finally, political process. Science was not the deciding factor for that group to determine that homosexuality was no longer a deviant behavior.

In fact, many studies today continue to emerge which say that “nurture” has at least as much to do with influencing people to live a homosexual lifestyle as “nature” does. There are “numerous studies that indicate some contribution of family and environment to the development of homosexual orientation…Recently, two enormous and sophisticated studies involving tens of thousands of subjects have suggested that familial socialization…and familial instability…make statistically significant contributions to the development of same-sex attraction.”[4] This should be a wake-up call to Christians who are tempted to fall headlong into unthinking acceptance of popular assertions that homosexuality is a genetic trait.

A world without God and without his revelation of objective moral truth, can never arrive at any stable definition of morality. Christians should appreciate what knowledge they gain from the sciences and should be encouragers of careful research. But Christians can only gain their worldview from the Bible, which is where God tells us how we are to relate to him and to each other. Whether or not homosexuality is eventually proven to be influenced by genetics or not, Scripture says that it is a sin and that we are responsible to God for both our desires and our actions.

It is important to realize that a philosophical worldview is driving the political agenda here in DE. It is a certain worldview that looks at the same evidence that we do and simply interprets it differently. A Christian’s worldview, on the other hand, must be directed by the Bible. And we can take comfort in the fact that we are the only ones who have a truly stable worldview. Our house is not built upon sand and it will not fall when the winds and the rains come. God has spoken, and we can and must stand firmly on his Word as truth. As Scripture says, “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  


[1] Andreas J. Kostenberger, God, Marriage and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, 2nd ed. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010, p. 355, note 1.

[2] Richard J. MacNally, What Is Mental Illness?, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011., p. 22.

[3] ibid., p. 23.

[4] Stanton L. Jones, “An Integration Response to Levels of Explanation,” Psychology & Christianity: Five Views, ed. Eric L. Johnson, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010, p. 82.

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