Question:I always thought I was born a homosexual, everybody thought I was because I was very feminine. I read in the Bible that it is a sin, and now I have constant worries about being gay; but I have desires for sex with other guys. Do you think I can really change if I start going to mass? I don't think I can change into a heterosexual because I truly believe it's genetic, but I want to get rid of my sex drive.
I'm inclined to argue that you did not always think of yourself as a homosexual. Prior to puberty, children rarely think about sex unless someone forces the idea upon them. Even then, most children's initial reaction is "Yewh!" I will assume that you started entertaining the idea of homosexuality during your adolescent years, as most do.
Is Homosexuality Proven to be Genetic?
You stated that you believe homosexuality is genetic. Such is a popular belief today, but it is a belief that has not been founded upon any facts. First we should note that homosexual practices is not as prevalent as commonly believed. In The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, published in 1994, it is stated "The most widely accepted study of sexual practices in the United States is the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). The NHSLS found that 2.8% of the male, and 1.4% of the female population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual." This same study found only 0.9% of males and 0.4% of females reported having exclusively same-sex partners. The 2000 United States Census supports this finding. Only 0.42% of the households surveyed are made up of unmarried, same-sex partners.
Second, let us examine what evidence exists that homosexuality is genetic. In 1991, Simon LeVay published a study claiming a subtle difference between the brains of homosexual men and heterosexual men. LeVay assumed that homosexual desires were caused by these differences. Unfortunately, this study was never duplicated -- an essential requirement before a conclusion is accepted. It was also found that nineteen of the twenty homosexual men involved in the study died of AIDS. AIDS lowers the testosterone levels in the body, which in turn can affect structures in the brain. LaVay is quoted in 2001 as saying "It is important to stress what I didn't find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn't show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain."
Also in 1991, Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard carried out a study on identical twins, fraternal twins, non-twin brothers, and adoptive brothers to see if homosexuality was passed genetically in a family or if it was due to environmental issues. Even though the authors of the study claimed that their research "shows that male sexual orientation is substantially genetic," there are glaring flaws in the study. First, only 52% of the identical twins of homosexual men were also homosexual. If the case was substantially genetic, you would expect the number to be closer to 100%. Second, the study showed a similar rate of homosexuality between non-twin brothers and adoptive brothers (9.2% and 11% respectively). If homosexuality had a genetic cause, you would expect the rate between non-twin brothers to be significantly higher than between adoptive brothers. Attempts to repeat the study gave similar trends, but the percentages were significantly less than what Bailey and Pillard reported (over half for identical twins both being homosexual (i.e. a rate of 25%). The noted reason for this difference is that Bailey and Pillard did not use a random sample of homosexuals for their study; hence their results were badly skewed.
In 1993, Dean Hamer claimed to have found a link to male homosexuality in a gene on the X chromosome (the chromosome passed to a man from his mother). Hamer claimed to have found statistical evidence that a gene that gives a propensity toward homosexuality exists. The main flaw in this study was that no heterosexual men where examined! You would think that it would be useful to know if this "gay gene" existed in the general population. Another problem is that Hammer only found the common gene in 33 of the 40 pairs of homosexual brothers that he examined. He did not attempt to explain why 7 pairs of brothers did not share this gene. Since Hamer's study was also done with a selective sampling instead of a random sampling, his results do not reflect the general population. In 1999, George Rice attempted to extend the study to 182 families. Their result? "It is unclear why our results are so discrepant from Hamer's original study. Because our study was larger than that of Hamer et al., we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as reported in that study. Nonetheless, our data do no support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation ..."
Can a Homosexual Change His Behavior?
More recent studies have shown that homosexual orientation can be altered. If homosexual orientation is genetically based, it should not be alterable. Robert Spitzer published a study in 2003 dealing with 143 male and 57 female self-selected participants. He stated, "The majority of participants gave reports of change from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year." In 1997, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality reported similar results. "Before treatment, 68 percent of the respondents perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, with another 22 percent stating that they were more homosexual than heterosexual. After treatment, only 13 percent perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, while 33 percent described themselves as either exclusively or almost entirely heterosexual."
Hence, we must conclude that evidence does not yet exist that there is a genetic cause to homosexual desires. But this is site devoted to Bible study. Does the Bible indicate that homosexualism is fixed or can it be changed? "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). The two Greek words of interest are malakos and asenokoites. The first word, malakos, is the Greek word for soft. When used to refer to a person, it means an effeminate person who allows himself to be used for homosexual acts -- much as you described yourself. The word arsenokoites is a compound word: arsen which means "male" and koites which means "bed." The word koites is used for more than just the place we sleep. Like English, it also refers to what takes place in bed, i.e. intercourse. In fact our English word "coitus (sexual intercourse)" is derived from this word. Hence, arsenokoites is a man who lies with another man for sexual relations. Arsenokoites describes the active role in a homosexual relationship while malakos refers to the passive role. Both are condemned, but notice that Paul said that the church in Corinth had members who once were homosexuals. They had not remained homosexuals because something changed them.
You asked if attending mass would make a difference in your desires. I'm sorry to inform you that simply attending any church service is insufficient to make such a life altering change. The power to change your life comes from converting to true Christianity. That is what Paul was referring to when he told the Corinthians that they were washed, they sanctified, and they were justified. True life-changing conversion involves learning enough of God's word to accept it as truth. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). That means you need to find someone to help you learn your Bible. Only then can you develop true faith. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14). A bit later Paul also said, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
As you learn about God and His will for you, it will become obvious that you don't measure up to God's expectations; none of us do. That will produce sorrow, but it should be a sorrow that doesn't wallow in self-pity but rather a sorrow that causes a person to say "I'm going to do something about this!" "Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:9-11). Repentance is from a Greek word that literally means to do an about face. "... they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:20). Without the willingness to put effort into changing, conversion will not take place. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
The change in your life cannot be a quiet, private thing. For true conversion, it must inspire boldness to publicly change. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).
In the Old Testament, an Israelite showed his obligation to the covenant by having the foreskin of his penis circumcised. In the New Testament, Christians show their acceptance of Christ's covenant by baptism. "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13). Notice that baptism is described as a burial. This is not the Catholic practice of sprinkling drops of water on a baby's head. Bible baptism is a complete burial underwater in which our old life with its sins are symbolically buried and we arise alive in righteousness. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7). Or as Ananias told Paul, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). (Remember that Paul told the Corinthians that they were washed?)
As Paul stated in Romans 6, just because baptism washes away our sins, it doesn't mean we continue to live in sin. It means we have started a journey to transform our lives. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2). Past sins are left behind, and we fill our lives so full of righteousness that there is little room for sin. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:1-3). It takes effort, but it is well worth it both in this life and in eternal life to come.
Can You Remove Your Sexual Desires?
You said you would like to get rid of your sex drive since it seems to be leading you to have sex with other men. What you ask is equivalent to asking for hunger or thirst to be removed. It just won't happen because it is a part of the way God designed the human body. We all have desires: desires for food, desires for drink, desires to be liked, desires for sex. The desires are supposed to be there in normally functioning body. The only difference between our desire for sex and our other desires is that the desire for sex doesn't awaken until we pass puberty. Instead of seeking the impossible, we need to set a more reasonable goal: how do we channel our desires into proper outlets.
We all have a desire to drink that is not easily ignored. But just because I am thirsty, it doesn't mean that I have the right to consume large quantities of hard liquor (the sin of drunkenness). Liquor is not the proper way to fulfill the desire to drink. I might get hungry, but my desire to eat doesn't give me the right to eat constantly (the sin of gluttony). Overeating is not the way to handle the desire to eat. What we need to learn is to control our desires and satisfy them in acceptable and proper ways.
"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual intercourse within the confines of a marriage is both honorable and undefiled. Sexual intercourse outside of marriage (fornication) or during marriage but not with your partner (adultery) is subject to judgment from God. Hence, homosexual relations are condemned because they take place outside the bounds of marriage. Yes, I know people are pushing for government recognition of homosexual marriages, but the Scriptures only recognize a marriage between a man and a woman. "And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."" (Matthew 19:4-6). In this case, homosexuals are no different that those heterosexuals who flit from bed to bed with no desire settle down and get married. Both are equally condemned by God as committing sin. God gives a man only two choices, ignore your sexual desire or get married to a woman. "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9). If you cannot ignore your sex drive, you are far better off getting married so that you have a proper way to satisfy your body's need.
What Causes Desires for the Same Sex?
The usual objection at this point by the person caught up in homosexuality is: "But I have no desire for sex with someone of the opposite sex." To address this, we need talk about what triggers our sexual desires. There are two components to sexual desire: 1) the physical need in men to release semen when the seminal vesicles become full, 2) the psychological attraction to someone. The physical ability to have intercourse with someone of the opposite sex is obviously there. It is the way your body was designed. However, sex doesn't work well without the accompanying psychological attractions. Allow me to illustrate this with a more mundane example. When I'm hungry, I could eat broccoli to satisfy that hunger. Now I might not like broccoli, yet physically the broccoli would serve the purpose of filling my stomach.
So what forms the basis of psychological attraction? Ah, that is the question that people have been trying to answer for ages. I might as well ask why do some men seek out skinny women when others prefer a plump woman and still others don't care. However, there are some things that have been observed.
When people first hit puberty, their minds initially do not know how to handle the desires awakened. Boys are particularly aware of this as they begin experiencing erections. Initially anything, everything, and no particular thing will trigger erections. The new desire for sex is completely unfocused to the point that even non-sexual things will produce a sexual reaction. As the brain begins to train itself, many people go through a phase of "hero worship" that involves someone of the same sex. Most go through a phase where they find people of the same sex attractive. If you think about it, it makes sense. Prior to puberty most children find members of the opposite sex unattractive. "Boys are dumb!" "Girls don't know anything!" When sexual desires are first awakened and wide open, there is a pull toward what is familiar. Other people of the same sex are more easily assessable and you are able to talk about and compare experiences. [See the section titled "Gay" on the very well done web site called "Boys Under Attack" for details and records of many men's experiences with developing sexual desires.] For the vast majority of people, it is just a passing phase. Sexual attraction moves on to be focused on members of the opposite sex and then narrows down until your attraction is to your spouse. But for a few people, this progression gets derailed.
Every homosexual that I have talked to and just about every one whose account I have read trace their desires back to their teenage years -- to the days when sexual desire was still wide open. Each one had a sexual experience with a person of the same sex that resulted in focusing their desires too soon. This should be surprising. Sex is a powerful binder. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (I Corinthians 6:15-17). Paul's point is that when a man has sex with a prostitute, it isn't just an action that is immediately forgotten about (at least not in the early experiences). With each person you physically couple, you also forge spiritual and emotional bonds. Of course with a prostitute there is no commitment and so the emotional and spiritual bonds are ripped apart. With each experience the person becomes more and more callous to his feelings -- a callousness that also damages his relationship with Christ.
When a sexually inexperience boy has his first encounter with sex with another male, it has the strong potential to cause his developing desires to be pulled into the wrong direction. Each successive encounter re-enforces the idea. But that is the nature of sin: it is deceitful. It presents a false view of reality and soon a person is "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13). Physically, every homosexual is capable of having sex with a member of the opposite sex, but mentally they have deceived themselves into thinking that their only desire is for members of their own sex. [This process also explains how people develop strange fetishes and attractions to pornography.]
The solution requires facing the truth. Homosexuality is a sin. Homosexuality is not natural. "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:24-27). Just as sexual desire can be focused on incorrect objects of desire, it can be retrained to a proper focus. It takes time and it takes a strong will to do what is right, but it is doable and the brethren in Corinth show us that it can be done.
is the Way God Made Me" -- A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality
and the "Gay Gene" by Brad Hurrub, Ph.D., Bert Thompson, Ph.D.,
and Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Can a person be born gay?