Consider Moral Dilemma of a ‘Gay Gene’…If One Exists  :  Published March 2007 All Rights Reserved


Consider Dilemma of a ‘Gay Gene’…If One Exists

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, enjoys writing and  providing outreach to his Christian followers. But he was also a bit peeved by recent media reports that overwhelmingly took his words out of context. It is, unfortunately, a rather common occurrence in the media to misquote and misunderstand points of view -- especially when those points are about homosexuality and come from a devout Christian leader. (That was not Mohler's claim, but it is the conclusion of Think & Ask.)

Mohler hosts a daily radio program on the Salem Radio Network and he blogs about moral, cultural, and theological issues.

The recent firestorm began 2 March 2007 when Mohler posted a story titled: Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?

He said his purpose of writing the article was to draw attention to a threat against human dignity that lurks as a possible future problem in society. "This is the possibility that, if a biological marker (real or not) is ever claimed to mark homosexuality in prenatal testing, widespread abortion of such babies might well follow," Mohler said. However, he wrote that in such an event, it would be biblical Christians, opposed to all elective abortions, who would stand for the full human dignity of all human beings, born and unborn.

Possible genetic alteration is undoubtedly an important topic for all parents. Mohler simply asked his audience what they would do should they be told the fetus is homosexual, and there was a pre-natal treatment to ensure the baby was born as heterosexual. "Would you do it?" Mohler asked. One does not need to be Christian to participate in the debate, and at a high level the issue is to allow a birth, but at such time when genetic alteration is available, future births ensure that only heterosexuals arrive.  It could also be taken to mean --in biblical terms-- one less sin for the books.

In drawing conclusions from recent studies using sheep, Mohler wrotes: "Why so many gay rams? Is it too much socializing with ewes? Same-sex play with other lambs? Domestication? Nope. Those theories have been debunked. Gay rams don't act girly. They're just as gay in the wild. And a crucial part of their brains--the 'sexually dimorphic nucleus'--looks more like a ewe's than like a straight ram's.

"Gay men have a similar brain resemblance to women. Charles Roselli, the project's lead scientist, says such research 'strongly suggests that sexual preference is biologically determined in animals, and possibly in humans.'"

Mohler admits that the research fascinates him. "...That the same scientists who are documenting the rather surprising sexual behaviors of male sheep think they can also change the sexual orientation of the animals. In other words, finding a biological causation for homosexuality may also lead to the discovery of a cure for the same phenomenon."

He adds that homosexual activists recognize the biological marker for cause translates to a biological effort to eliminate the trait.

So, what is the problem? If indeed there was a way to inject some hormone into the fetus to prevent homosexuality in the adult world, which parents would not opt-in for treatment? In Mohler's words the result cuts back on the number of yet to be born hair stylists: "Will liberal moms who love their hairdressers be as tolerant when faced with the prospect of raising a little stylist of their own? And exactly how pro-choice will liberal abortion-rights activists be when thousands of potential parents are choosing to filter homosexuality right out of the gene pool?"

"The development of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis [PDG] is one of the greatest threats to human dignity in our times," Mohler concluded. "These tests are already leading to the abortion of fetuses identified as carrying unwanted genetic markers. The tests can now check for more than 1,300 different chromosomal abnormalities or patterns. With DNA analysis, the genetic factors could be identified right down to hair and eye color and other traits. The logic is all too simple. If you don't like what you see on the PDG report . . . just abort and start over. Soon, genetic treatments may allow for changing the profile. Welcome to the world of designer babies."

Mohler advises Christians to think about the following points:

1. So far, there is no incontrovertible or widely accepted proof that any biological basis for sexual orientation exists.

2. Nevertheless, point No.1 is likely to change. Research into the sexual orientation of sheep and other animals, as well as human studies, points to some level of biological cause for sexual orientation in at least some individuals.

3. Given the consequences of the Fall (from God's judgment) and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found.

4. The Bible's take on homosexual behavior would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery.

5. The discovery of a biological basis for homosexuality would be of great pastoral significance, allowing for a greater understanding of why certain persons struggle with these particular sexual temptations.

6. The biblical basis for establishing the dignity of all persons -- the fact that all humans are made in God's image -- reminds us that this means all persons, including those who may be marked by a predisposition toward homosexuality. For the sake of clarity, we must insist at all times that all persons -- whether identified as heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, bisexual, or whatever -- are equally made in the image of God.

7. Thus, we will gladly contend for the right to life of all persons, born and unborn, whatever their sexual orientation. We must fight against the idea of aborting fetuses or human embryos identified as homosexual in orientation.

8. If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.

9. We must stop confusing the issues of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. We sin against homosexuals by insisting that sexual temptation and attraction are predominately chosen. We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation.

10. Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior. The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This does not alter God's moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), but it does hold some promise that a deeper knowledge of homosexuality and its cause will allow for more effective ministries to those who struggle with this particular pattern of temptation. If such knowledge should ever be discovered, we should embrace it and use it for the greater good of humanity and for the greater glory of God.

After the article went live, Mohler followed-up on 16 March that the media twisted his premise and conclusions.

"Why? We may never know -- but the controversy represents both a challenge and an opportunity," he blogged.

What Mohler says he did not say is that babies were born gay. "Other articles and reports claimed that I suggested that homosexuality may be genetic in origin and that genetic therapies should be used to create customized and corrected babies. I never even mentioned genetic therapies or germ-line experiments, and I am adamantly opposed to genetic therapies of such a sort -- real or hypothetical."

Mohler reported being frustrated by the conservative Christians who read secular headlines "without even bothering to read my article."

"I have received a great deal of hate mail from those identifying themselves as homosexuals outraged that I believe homosexual acts to be unconditionally sinful. But I also received mail that can only be described as hateful from those who identified themselves as Christians -- people who clearly had never read my article and simply jumped to conclusions or accepted misrepresentations. Furthermore, some who identified themselves as Christians spoke of homosexuality and homosexuals with hate-filled language that literally made me shudder. Do we really love sinners? Do we not understand ourselves to be sinners saved by grace?" he asked.

Mohler simply said he was trying to open discussion on an important topic to him.

"All manifestations of homosexuality are thus representations of human sinfulness and rebellion against God's express will. Nothing can alter this fact, and no discovery in science or any other human endeavor can change God's verdict," he wrote.

He goes on to suggest that some Christians are convinced that there is no defining sexual orientation. "There is a point to be made here. No orientation can alter the sinful status of sinful acts. Some have written me to say that there is no such reality as a homosexual, only those who perform homosexual acts."

"In one article, I was said to advocate genetic therapies. I never said that, and I resolutely oppose such proposals."

"The hypothetical question I addressed had nothing to do with genetic factors at all. Furthermore, genetic factors are likely to be so complex and inter-related that no single genetic factor or set of factors is likely to be found to cause anything as complex as sexual attraction," he wrote.

While Christians who identify as homosexual have no idea where same-sex attraction originated, "they do know that they did not choose this pattern of attraction. Again, that does not reduce their moral responsibility in any way or to any degree," Mohler wrote and added that despite that "caring Christians, fully committed to the sole authority of the Bible, must want to help persons to understand and deal with this specific temptation to sin."

"We must be committed to being relentless in seeking to ground our thinking in biblical truth. The issues we face are daunting. The issue of homosexuality will not go away. Bromides and careless thinking will not serve the church well," he wrote.

Mohler also advises those identifying as homosexual by saying all he can do is be clear on what the Bible reveals about God's verdict on all homosexual acts. "Christians are called to love homosexual persons, but we cannot love homosexuality. That is simply not an option."

Mohler added that due to e-mails he received he would take into account how deeply some struggle with homosexuality.

Visit Mohler's website http://www.albertmohler.com


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