60 Second Summary: Same-Sex Science
Articles you need to know about, summarized in 60 seconds (or less).
The Article: Same-Sex Science
The Source: First Things
The Author: Stanton L. Jones, a provost and professor of psychology at Wheaton College.
The Gist: The social sciences cannot settle the moral status of homosexuality.
Is homosexuality biologically determined at birth? A pervasive understanding is settling into Western culture that homosexual orientation, indeed any and all sexual orientations, has been proven by science to be a given of the human person and rooted in biology. Why does this falsehood---that homosexuality has been proven to have an exclusively biological cause---matter? It is the basis for asserting that sexual orientation is the same sort of characteristic as race or skin color, which has become, for instance, the foundational metaphor in the push for the right to marry someone of the same sex.
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Recent studies show that familial, cultural, and other environmental factors contribute to same-sex attraction. Broken families, absent fathers, older mothers, and being born and living in urban settings all are associated with homosexual experience or attraction. Even that most despised of hypothesized causal contributors, childhood sexual abuse, has recently received significant empirical validation as a partial contributor from a sophisticated thirty-year longitudinal study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Of course, these variables at most partially determine later homosexual experience, and most children who experienced any or all of these still grow up heterosexual, but the effects are nonetheless real.
The Bottom Line: Jones explains that when it comes to homosexual orientation, biology does appear---contra the view of many social conservatives---to play a modest part and psychological and environmental variables also appear---contra social progressives---to play at least a modest part. While Jones believes it is possible for homosexuals to experience a change in orientation, what we know about sexual orientation is dwarfed by what we do not know. What we know for sure is that "it is remarkable how little scientific humility is in evidence given the primitive nature of our knowledge."
YSK Rating: Although the article is highly recommended, it should be read in the context of Professor Sam Williams' discussion on the differences between having same-same attraction, same-sex orientation, and being "gay" or "lesbian."