If you didn’t read part 1 click here.
For many people whether or not differing sexualities are sinful is a question of biology/creation. Did God make people attracted to a certain (or multiple) gender type(s)? The reasoning follows, “If God made people that way then it can’t be a sin, but if He didn’t then it is a choice and can be/is sinful.” There is a lot going on here: If sexuality is biologically determined then is it by God’s design (eye color) or something else (schizophrenia)? Does this mean it can be “cured” with a pill or is it just a “normal” biological process? How will this all be solved in a tiny article? Will there be acronyms, italics, and funny punctuation?! Let’s start with a current scientific study and go from there.
For my scientific resource I’m drawing on the book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desireby Lisa A. Diamond. She is Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah and the book is based on her study of women’s sexuality. It should be noted the book is not on the subject of how/why people are oriented a certain way. Rather the focus is on women’s sexuality and how female orientation is not as fixed as male. However, in chapter two of the book a brief overview is given of the scientific study of sexuality. Before getting into the nitty-gritty Diamond writes on page 19, “Readers will notice that all research findings I review are mixed. This area of study has yielded no cut-and-dried answers.”
After reading chapters two and three this appears to be an understatement. Research for one all-encompassing answer seems to be elusive, or wrong. All of the studies referenced (from heritability to hormone levels during gestation) seemed to answer yes for some people and no for others. Also there seems to be no universal model for how LGBQ persons realize they are non-heterosexual, especially for women. For some people other factors seem to play an additional role. Diamond suggests that many past assumptions, methodologies of study, and even the whole discipline have muddied the pool. To getinto all of it in detail would be beyond the scope of this article. Let’s just say the literature on the topic is diverse and there doesn’t seem to be any agreement at all on a specific scientific answer for “why are people X-sexual?” Rather, there seem to be a lot of answers, just not one that is all encompassing.
What we can say is the idea that “permissive” societies “make” more people non-heterosexual is invalid. Diamond writes on page 33 “…Denmark, the Philippines, and Thailand are relatively non-homophobic societies, they have low rates of same-sex sexuality.” So the idea that more people have become non-heterosexual as America (or for that matter Christianity) becomes more tolerant is invalid.
So what does all this mean theologically?
To this Examiner it means that in the world of sexual orientation science may not be able to give us any clear cut answers, but it can give us some input. It is hard to imagine biology not playing a role, in some way, with so many studies pointing toward it. If biology does play a role then God does make/create the possibility for people to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, bi-curious, fluid, unlabeled, heterosexual, questioning, etc. How then can we label other sexualities as sinful? God has given knowledge; to ignore it is the sin.
God loves complexity as much as He loves diversity. He has created diversity in so many ways; it doesn’t seem a stretch to think God is opposed to people finding love in one another. Love is not a scientific venture. Science is reasonable, love is not. Maybe science cannot give us a magic bullet to explain our sexual orientations because a person is more than hormones, genes, chromosomes, and environment. We are luminous beings. Greater than the sum of our parts we cannot allow specific identities to dictate our thoughts and feelings about ourselves or one another. In the conversation over sexuality and Christianity it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are not talking about abstract topics and labels, but the very core of a person’s soul. When we insult and deny a person’s sexual orientation, no matter the motivation, we attack a part built (hopefully) with and/or out of love.
I may not know much, but I do know that God is love.
Check back for part 3 the Kingdom of God (edited)