Culture,  Ethics

Is it True that Homosexuals are Born That Way?

How significant is the argument that homosexuals are born that way? And, is it valid? In 2015 the Supreme Court decided that, against millennia of human history and biblical teaching, the definition of marriage should be expanded to include homosexual relationships. The case was Obergefell vs. Hodge, and Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. In his reasoning, he demonstrated that the born that way argument held significant influence on his decision. He argued that it was important to give homosexuals the right to marry since homosexuals are born that way and can’t change.

“Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.”

Anthony Kennedy, Obergefell v. Hodges, June 26, 2015.
LGBT rights often say they are born that way

The key word used by Kennedy is “immutable.” The idea that gay individuals are born that way with an unchangeable sexual orientation was a key driving force in changing the perception of Western culture to be more accepting of same sex relationships, and ultimately opening the door for same sex marriage. However, is it true? Are homosexuals born that way?

The Shift in LGBT Culture Away from the Born That Way Viewpoint

Shortly after same sex marriage was legalized, the narrative began changing immediately. It began to be widely acknowledged that there is no genetic evidence for immutable sexual orientation, and that culture was also an influence on sexual orientation. As one gay writer in the BBC put it, “Our desires are oriented and re-oriented throughout our lives.”

Dr. Lisa Diamond has popularized the idea that sexual orientation is on a spectrum and fluid, not rigid. The tides have turned so significantly over the last few years that Diamond argues the LGBT community does not want to be viewed as someone who is born that way (which would promote pity). Rather, Diamond argues that the LGBT community wants “dignity, autonomy, and self determination.” So although the born that way argument was helpful to promote the community and garner more support from the communities at large. In the words of Diamond, the LGBT community doesn’t need pity anymore, they want to be celebrated in their autonomous choice.

Legislation and the Born That Way Argument

Regardless of the science and the LGBT community’s desire, the born that way argument remains a convenient way to fight against biblical morality. Consider, for example, the Bill C-4, a recent law passed by the Canadian parliament to ban conversion therapy. The law’s preamble specifically states that it is a “myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.” In addition to the clear rejection of biblical teaching on God’s created order, the bill goes on to explicitly condemn any “practice, treatment or service” which does the following:

(a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual;

(b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender;

(c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth;

(d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour;

(e) repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or

(f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.

Bill c-4 sec 320.‍101

The bill is also clear that this law only works one way. The bill explicitly allows for exploration of other sexual identities beyond one’s “sex assigned at birth.” These are dark days for Canadian Christians as this bill makes it illegal to tell someone to repent from their sexual sins and turn to Christ.

The Biblical Response to the Born That Way Argument

Although the born that way argument has been largely rejected now that the LGBT community has achieved broad societal acceptance, it still has a lingering affect in the churches and as a convenient means of passing laws and legislation. But what is the biblical response to the born that way argument?

The Bible makes no excuse for sin, and God will judge sin. Even if there could be proven genetic predisposition to homosexuality, that would mean nothing. Just substitute homosexuality for adultery. Would the church be justified in excusing and accepting a serial adulterer simply because he had a genetic predisposition toward that kind of sin? Absolutely not. Same could be said about getting drunk or struggling with anger.

Further, the Bible is clear that those who make a practice of sinning will not inherit the kingdom of God (cf. 1 John 3:4-8). As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

In light of the above two verses, perhaps many would have no hope. But, Scripture is filled with the hope of sinners who have changed. The very next verse states, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

That phrase, “And such were some of you,” is one of the sweetest phrases in all of Scripture. The point is that we as Christians were counted among those who practice sinning. There are former homosexuals, former transgender, former thieves, former murderers, former fornicators, former drunkards. The church is filled with those who used to be dominated by sin, and yet they were “washed” and “sanctified” through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

The message of Christianity is that there is no individual who is born in any way that Christ cannot deliver from sin’s bondage. Christ calls all to repent of all our sins and to come and follow Him because He is Lord and His burden is light (Matt 11:30). As Christians we sin against our fellow man when we affirm that any individual is “born that way” (i.e., he or she has no hope of changing sinful patterns). We preach a message of repentance and hope to a dying world. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Such were some of you.” A life enslaved to sin is not the only option.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He is a husband, father, and sports enthusiast.

8 Comments

  • Ken

    Spot on post. I enjoyed reading it. It’s a pleasant surprise to find your blog. I found it because a google search for a problem I was having with understanding the book of Hosea where it said, “I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel,” ( NLT ) led me to your article on it here: Was Jehu Punished for the Bloodshed of Jezreel? – Shepherds Theological Seminary

    I thought your conclusions on it were well done so I appreciate your work.

    I’ve got some very interesting questions to ask you about the rape passages in Deuteronomy. I’ve reached out to some scholars on it but nobody ever replied to me. Perhaps you can help. What’s the best way to contact you?

  • Jerome Martin

    Your right to say that We as equal people cannot live right with rules policies laws that accepts sinful sexual ways if We the people make claims that We was born this way choices from our brains against the sexual way God created us to be for him only Not for Our selfish brain wants of sex desirers then I agree with You that We all can start lying to Ourselves that We was all born this way to be a Prositute Raper Trick Turner Child Predator or Sex with Animals Those are all sins of the flesh From Satan thoughts into Our Lost Confused Up Brains even for believers or unbelievers We all have sinned and come short before God so This is not a legal right to judge hurt or kill any lesbian gay or transsexual person from this writer. They have the rights to live with their good or bad choices to learn like all us sinners I am a sinner writing this to sinners. Only God is saving me from me. Thank You for your writing this to so many lost souls who gotten to see it then read it also We together pray for their clear understanding of it and escape Satan brain traps as God has only helped us escape.

  • Alexander Krause

    You don’t believe in a “sin nature?” It seems Paul thought himself “sold under sin” (Rom. 7.14 ESV). Idea of being sold in a slave market seems inherent in this phrase and includes all humanity in Adam. How am I wrong?

    • Peter Goeman

      Hi Alex, thanks for reading. I do believe in a sin nature for unbelievers, while believers live in the Spirit (cf. Rom 8:5). Believers still battle the flesh (Gal 5), but they have been delivered from the slavery of sin as described by Paul in Romans (cf. Rom 6:6).

      • Alexander Krause

        Yeah, Perhaps I read the phrase: “As Christians we sin against our fellow man when we affirm that they are born that way in any sinful capacity” out of context. I still don’t quite know how to take it. Could you clarify? How do we sin against our fellow man by saying they have a sinful capacity? I think your article was good and timely but am just stuck on that one sentence in the last paragraph. I can be slow at times.

        • Peter Goeman

          I don’t think you’re slow, I think I just write poorly sometimes! You rightly identified some problematic ambiguity, so thank you! I have tried to clarify the last paragraph more from your feedback.

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