I’ve always thought that if they ever prove that a “gay gene” exists, it doesn’t change a thing for me.
Fifteen years ago, I was completely sexually attracted to men. I was comfortable with my sexuality and with my identity as a gay man. Over time, I began to realize that I was never fulfilled, and I was always lonely. I turned towards spirituality and embraced a relationship with Jesus Christ. I also found Exodus International – an organization that helps those seeking freedom from unwanted same-sex attraction. Gradually, my attractions changed, and my identity was transformed. I now live a content life as a single man and fulfilled, hopeful individual.
In light of my experiences, it’s always interesting to see the latest news in the search for the “gay gene.” New research is currently being conducted at Northwestern University in Chicago. Interestingly enough, federal tax dollars are funding it. Dr. Alan Sanders, lead researcher of the new study, said he suspects it’s not just one gene, but a combination of genetic factors that determines one’s sexual orientation. His motivation for this research is questionable, however. “If we confirm that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic, we are much more likely to get the courts to rule against discrimination,” Sanders said. Hmmm…
For me, this type of research poses an interesting set of questions. If they are able to identify a “gay gene” in homosexuals, how do they explain me? I was once an out-and-proud gay man who was fully supportive of gay socio/political goals, but now I have embraced a healthy heterosexual approach to relationships. If there is a “gay gene,” it did not impede my ability to pursue such a dramatic change. “Gay gene” or not, the issue is settled for me.
If they prove that a “gay gene” exists in my DNA, why then aren’t those genes controlling my life now? How was I able to willfully walk away from my pursuit of Mr. Right to live a content single life? How is it that I have defied the supposition that genetics overrule self-determination? The truth is that we all have the freedom to make decisions about our sexual behavior. I’ve chosen to live in congruence with my faith.
Interestingly enough, there is hopeful new research that proves my point. Researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse released the results of a three-year study this September that show sexual orientation change to be possible for some individuals undergoing religiously mediated programs, like Exodus. They also found that pursuing this option does not cause psychological harm to the patient, on average. Their conclusions directly contradict critics who say that change in sexual orientation is impossible, and attempting to pursue this alternative is likely to cause depression, anxiety or self-destructive behavior. One of those critics is the American Psychological Association, and, ironically, former APA President Nicholas A. Cummings, Ph.D., Sc.D., praised the research methods of Jones and Yarhouse, “This study has broken new ground in its adherence to objectivity and a scientific precision that can be replicated and expanded, and it opens new horizons for investigation.”
Life, love and relationships are so much more than an educated guess at the causation of homosexuality. It’s time for more scientists and truly rigorous researchers, like Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, to step up to the plate and let science reveal itself instead of guiding science to confirm an already established, although inadequate, set of suppositions.
It’s not enough to just study a “gene.” Science must take into account the complex, unique individuals that God made us to be. Scientists must also study the “why” behind homosexuality that encompasses identity, motivation and behavioral decisions.
Genetics? No big deal to me. I remember who I was, and more importantly – I know who I am now.
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