The secular American Psychological Association—an LGBQT-affirming organization—summarizes the state of research on what we know about the causes of homosexuality:
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation.
Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
Mark Yarhouse explains:
Many people struggle with how to make sense of sexual ethics if a person does not choose experiences of same-sex attraction.
However, the Christian sexual ethic does not hinge on the causes of sexual orientation.
Whether an impulse comes “from within” or is the result of one’s environment or, more likely, if an impulse is the result of some combination, Christianity teaches that believers evaluate their impulses in light of God’s revealed will for behavior and whether a pattern of behavior ought to characterize the Christian over time.
As Christians, we know that “nature” and “nurture” have a complex inteprlay under the sovereignty of God with regard to our development in both positive and negative ways. David Powlison helpfully breaks down nature into creation nature (our nature as the result of being created in God’s image) and sin nature (our nature as a result of falling into sin), and then sin nurture (ways in which rebellion is modeled and encouraged) and grace nurture (ways in which godly behavior is modeled and encouraged).
Putting it all together, we can see there’s a lot of ground between “born this way” and “a conscious, punctiliar, autonomous choice.”
In the video at the top of this post, Professor Christopher Yuan—author of Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story—explains about what we know and can conclude about genetics and sexual attraction.
For further reading, see:
- Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
- Sam Allbery, Is God Anti-Gay?
- Christopher Yuan, Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story—
- Rosaria Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
- Jackie Hill Perry, Gay Girl, Good God
- Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope