Historian Says No One is Born Gay or Straight – Society Does That

Posted on April 8, 2014 in Sexuality by

gay geneThere is no such thing as a “gay gene” and no one is “born that way.”

Oh, by the way, no one is born heterosexual either.

In fact, being heterosexual or homosexual is nothing but a social construct developed in the 19th century in response to the pathologization of homosexual experiences by doctors.

That is the essence of a recent article by David Benkof at The Daily Caller in which he explains that LGBT historians are fighting the idea that anyone is born gay. Benkof’s purpose for the article is difficult to determine as he at times seems to call into question the idea that homosexuals don’t choose their sexuality due to a “gay gene.” But then he immediately asserts that sexuality in general is in part biological and mainly a social construct developed only in the last 150 years.

The following paragraph will give an idea of how difficult to follow this article is:

“Virtually no serious person disputes that in our society, people generally experience their gay or straight orientations as unchosen and unchangeable. But the LGBT community goes further, portraying itself as a naturally arising subset of every human population, with homosexuality being etched into some people’s DNA.”

Well, actually, as a very serious person in this discussion I would contend that plenty of people experience their gay or straight orientations as expressly chosen and quite changeable. Perhaps Mr. Benkof has not read any of the accounts of people who were once homosexual but have since left that lifestyle to pursue heterosexuality. Their stories show that sexuality is at times both chosen and changeable, all within the same person.

I’ve personally met several people who at one time in their life were homosexuals involved in long-term same-sex relationships. They have since abandoned that expression of sexuality in their life to be heterosexuals. I’ve even known some people who freely admit that they are gay but resist those feelings due to their belief that it would be wrong to act upon them. Instead they live as heterosexuals in self-described fulfilling, happy, marriages to opposite sex spouses.

Benkof goes on to make this dizzying statement:

“Of course, none of this means people don’t have sexual orientations today, it just means sexual orientations are specific to our culture, and thus not basic human nature. In tech-speak, that means being gay is in the software of some people’s lives, but it’s in nobody’s hardware.”

He asserts that not only is sexual orientation a construct of recent years, no one is actually born homosexual or heterosexual. Benkof believes that human nature is sexually undetermined and that social pressures and experiences, along with some biological influence, help determine whether a person will be gay or straight. While I am happy to admit that social and familial influence can contribute to ones sexuality, I am unwilling to consider that a person is not born with an innate, inherent sexuality.

Perhaps my theological training is coming out here, but I do believe that people are born straight, in accordance with God’s design for man. Without getting into a very deep theological discussion the idea that God would create someone with a sexual nature that He has declared sinful seems obtuse to me. And yes, I do believe that active participation in homosexual actions is sinful.

If only familial and social influences factor to determine a person’s sexuality how would Benkof explain the child of homosexual parents that grows up to be heterosexual, and vice versa? Additionally, how would Benkof explain the four year old that declares she is a lesbian? Is four years really enough time to determine sexuality?

At the risk of sounding silly during this serious discussion I do believe that basic human nature carries with it a fixed sexuality. My religious beliefs do play a part in this as I believe God created man and woman to desire the opposite sex in accordance with His plan for procreation. Other forms of sexuality that find expression in a person’s life are, I believe, in direct opposition to the natural sexuality which is inherent in every person.

I can easily agree with Benkof on one point, that no one is born gay. I find it interesting that a growing number of LGBT history professors are working to contradict the “born that way” rhetoric being espoused by gay activists. But as the following quote shows, it’s hard to agree with Benkof for more than one sentence at a time:

“According to the experts on homosexuality across centuries and continents, being gay is a relatively recent social construction. Few scholars with advanced degrees in anthropology or history who concentrate on homosexuality believe gays have existed in any cultures before or outside ours, much less in all cultures. These professors work closely with an ever-growing body of knowledge that directly contradicts ‘born that way’ ideology.”

While Benkof tries to explain why he and others don’t believe “gays have existed in any culture before or outside ours” throughout the article, I am not convinced. His attempts cause me to skeptically wonder if he is secretly advocating for greater sexual liberation for LGBT peoples. I get that he means no persons identifying specifically as gay has existed, I just don’t agree. Again, going back to my biblical roots I see where God expressly forbid the practice of homosexuality in the book of Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. There would be no point in doing so if there were not already people living the homosexual lifestyle. Additionally, the accounts of Sodom and Gomorrah show us that entire cultures were consumed with homosexual practice. Saying that these people were not gay seems like a stretch of reality, at best.

I see plenty of evidence in history of people being gay. Perhaps the reason there was not a gay minority, as Benkof points out, is that society as a whole simply did not accept the lifestyle as legitimate. It was viewed as unnatural and therefore people engaged in such a lifestyle were not viewed favorably. Isn’t that the whole point in “coming out”? Our society today however has decided that any form of sexuality is acceptable and should be celebrated. Efforts to normalize homosexuality have led to not just a minority of gay people but a minority of transgender and polygamous people; not to mention the pedophiles, flexi-sexuality advocates, and others.

Maybe Benkof would be able to see the evidence of gay people throughout history while maintaining that there is no gay gene if he were looking through the right lens. Revisionist history always seems to present problems for people seeking the truth.

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