The Gene Debate

Homosexuality is firmly rooted in genes and biology. We don't understand it completely. We don't know the exact location of all the genes involved.  But we do know, from endless lab tests with fruit flies and mice and other animals that sexuality is biologically determined, the result of a certain mix of genes, chemicals and hormones. To be more accurate, sexuality ­ whether gay or straight ­ is the result of a certain mix of genes, chemicals and hormones. This ìmixî may be different for the homosexual, resulting in a sexuality than varies from the norm.

It is now generally understood that a personís sexuality is already firmly in place by the time he or she enters kindergarten, perhaps even before the child leaves the womb of itís mother.

An excellent book on this subject was recently written by Chandler Burr called A separate creation: how biology makes us gay. Burr does a complete run-down on all the research thatís been done till now, and even shows us the direction in which future research is going, covering all the territory in the homosexual gene debate.

Regarding the first tentative steps in this field of research by Dr Simon Levay, and the storm of media fury that arose when he announced results that showed brains of homosexuals were slightly different than heterosexuals, Burr says, ì...If this research showed that homosexuals were biologically different from other people in tiny variations in genetic helices and patterns of microscopic neurons deep inside them, it also said that in the large, important ways ­ in their basic humanity, in their capacity for feeling and thought, in the aspects of day-to-day life ­ heterosexuals and homosexuals were the same.î

Burr begins the discussion with Darwin, and how Darwinís theory of evolution caused a profound crisis in the world of religion, and in the way human beings look at themselves. Some found Darwinís conclusion that man descended from apes to morally repugnant. Some still find this conclusion repugnant and refuse to accept it. One gets the sense that these people are not really interested in objective facts, but rather, they are interested in subjective notions about who and what they think they are, preferring their own fancies no matter what contrary evidence presents itself. Evolution, they seem to think, would take away our cherished notions about ourselves.

As any good genetics professor could tell you, human beings share the vast majority of their DNA with other animal species. In the case of chimpanzees and higher primates, we share 95 percent or more in identical DNA. With some primates species, it rises to 98 or 99 percent.

DNA controls things like hair color, eye color, body size, organ tissues and so on. To know that a gorillaís DNA is more than 97 percent completely identical to our own is to look at the world in a different way. To know that there is only a 1 percent genetic difference between a human being and a chimpanzee is to understand that ìGodís ways are not our waysî, that life is far more complex and mysterious than we could have ever imagined.

Thus, the research going on into homosexuality will most likely prove to be just as hard to swallow as Darwinís theory of evolution, painting as it does, the biological and genetic basis for homosexuality. It will no longer be possible to discuss homosexuality as a moral matter, just as being left handed is not a moral matter, and neither is having blonde hair.

It will also knock heterosexuality off its self-righteous pedestal because in the world of biology, there really is no such thing a ìrightî hair color and a ìwrongî one, or a ìrightî sexuality or a ìwrongî one. They are all variations and possibilities and assigning moral significance is out of the question.

We cannot, yet, prove that homosexuality is a genetic, biological condition. But this inability to definitively ìproveî and establish that human sexuality is rooted in biology should be taken at face value. We can't ìproveî, for example, the existence of gravity. That does not mean that gravity does not exist. We know it does. We can tell you a great deal about it. We can guide spacecraft to other planets with it. But we can't prove it. Not yet, and despite decades of trying. But someday we will.

Really clever types opine that a biological basis for Homosexuality means nothing: homosexuality is still abnormal and ìwrongî no matter what the scientists say.

They add ­ sometimes quite convincingly ­ that cancer is a biological thing and we certainly don't want to encourage people to celebrate cancer. They'll say Down's Syndrome is a genetic condition, and not ìnormalî and those suffering from Down's Syndrome should not engage in sexual relationships, that they should be pitied, not imitated, that their affliction is a test from Allah.

The extremely clever ones will say allowing homosexuality to be considered ìnormalî will encourage other forms of sexual ìdevianceî ­ such as child molestation. They'll say that child molesters will claim their preference for children is normal, and that they should have the right to have sexual relationships with children, that they were born with a preference for children and cannot change. Groups like the North American Man Boy Love Association will proliferate.

These clever types fail to make some basic distinctions. It is possible ­ indeed, a fact of life ­ to co-exist peacefully with a genetic condition which does not harm the quality of life of those so afflicted. Height is a genetic condition. Skin color is a genetic condition. We can make an issue of these, if we so choose, as indeed we have sometimes. Skin color used to be indicative of one's worth in Western countries. If your skin was white, you were morally superior to those whose skin color was otherwise. What sort of sense did that ever make. Is skin color a moral issue? Can we say that just because skin color is genetically determined doesn't mean that black skin is okay? Can we compare skin color to cancer, claiming both ­ while naturally occurring in populations everywhere ­ are not to be ìcelebratedî? Absurd? Yes. And just as much so when applied to Homosexuality.

A child molester may indeed claim his preference for sexual relationships with children is normal, and for him, a biologically-based reality. This may or may not be the case. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that child sexual abuse has more to do with power than it does with the mechanics of sex. We do not know enough about this issue to say one way or the other. Unlike homosexuality, however, a child molester engages in activity which damages the other ìpartnerî ­ a child who usually has no idea whatís really going on. In no way could it be said or argued that young children are willing participants, or even aware of the consequences of their actions. Those consequences are real, as is the damage inflicted upon them by the molester. Children are, by definition, not ready for the world of sex and relationships.

Ranking homosexuality with the sexual molestation of young children is rather misleading. There is a vast difference between what 2 consenting adults choose to do, and what one adult does with a child to satisfy his needs for power or sex.

Those who argue that the genetic basis for Homosexuality should not be used to excuse or condone homosexuality seem strangely unaware of the fact that the same biological mechanism that churned out the homosexual is the same one that churned out the heterosexual.

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