A question is being debated by not only scientist, but religious leaders and the general public as well: Is homosexuality a choice that someone picks, or a trait that someone is born with?
Some people, like religious leaders view homosexuality as a choice, and go as far as calling it a personality disorder. Others protest that someone’s sexual orientation is a trait that someone is genetically born with, and insist that the reason for someone’s sexual preferences is due to a hormonal change in their genetic make up. Many, however, feel that it is both that determine the sexual stance of someone. Known to be the largest association of psychologists, The American Psychological Association (APA), feel that this question is more complex than some might think it to be.
“There are numerous theories about the origins of a person’s sexual orientation; most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality. In summary, it is important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person’s sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people.”
Some people refuse to believe that homosexuality is a trait. Gregory Cochran, a physicist who developed some new ideas in evolutionary medicine and genetic anthropology, suggests that genetics will not and can not explain a person’s sexual orientation because such ‘gay’ genes would have been exterminated from the population over time. Cochran suggested that homosexuality can be connected to disorders such as MS, heart disease, chicken pox, or any bacterial or viral conditions. When hearing this ‘Gay Germ Theory’ many people were outraged.
“I think it’s a very interesting idea. The idea that homosexuality resulted from overprotective mothers was also an interesting idea. But when it was tested, it turned out to be completely untrue. Whether Cochran’s theory is true or false is an experimental question and needs to be answered by observation and by experimentation, not by chitchat, says Dean H. Hamer, Chief of gene Structure and Regulation at the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the National Gene Structure Cancer Institute.”
When it comes to religion, many views on whether or not it should be condemned create controversy. One passage from the Old Testament states that:
‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination’ (Leviticus 18:22).
Upon reading this, one can obviously assume that the passage bluntly states homosexuality is an ‘abomination’. However, Michele Brand Medwin, Rabbi of Temple Sholom in Monticelle, New York begs to question whether or not the Old Testament really condemns homosexuality.
“These verses [Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13] were not meant to be used to foster hate against homosexuals or to condemn individual gay men and the loving relationships they form…The Canaanites used homosexual acts as part of their pagan rituals. Therefore the Israelites were prohibited from doing this, not because it was an act between two men but because it was symbolic of pagan ritual. In today’s world this prohibition now has no meaning. We are no longer threatened by Canaanite pagan religion and homosexuality today is not a pagan ritual. Homosexuality in Biblical terms is no longer an issue for us today.”
What is more interesting is that the majority of people might not notice that nearly all references refer to men performing intimate gestures with each other, not women. This leads people to further the question on whether or not homosexuality is a trait or a disorder. Either way, this topic will continue to have two sided opinions and will probably always be a questioned too complex to answer.
By: Roxanne Allen, IB12