Do We Need To Know Why People Are Gay?

Note: For the record, I wrote this post before reading VanHelsing’s about Ellen and Portia’s “marriage”. It can be called a legal union, I suppose, but marriage is, by definition between a man and a woman. A union between three people, a person and a dog, a person and an inanimate object, etc. is not marriage. It is some other contractual agreement, but it’s not marriage.


So, I’m reading this very good, thorough article by Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe about what makes a person gay. It cites the limited research that has been done (mostly on men, lesbianism is less studied) and concludes that no one knows for sure why, but it looks like genetics and uterine environment play a part in creating homosexuality.

This is a tricky subject. In fact, it pains me to even write about it. I have gay friends who I love very much. I don’t want them harassed or hurt. I remember two boys from High School who were clearly homosexual and they weren’t persecuted, thankfully. It was bad enough to see their relative social isolation. I have had friends who have made themselves sick by staying in the closet.

Conversely, I know men who have selfishly gotten married, because they wanted the legitimacy of heterosexual marriage and/or wanted children, and have given their wives STDs or left their women feeling like they were defected because of non-interest. These angry fellas eventually came out, but blazed a destructive path along the way.

It has been my experience that there is very little that can be done about who a person is attracted to. I know two very religious men who struggle with this whole deal. They feel the homosexual act is morally wrong, but I suspect that neither one is winning the war of the flesh. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.

And yet, it seems that for the sake of society’s health, a line needs to be drawn around the ideal. By doing that though, some behavior is outside the lines. The ideal, for a healthy society, has been a monogamous heterosexual relationship where destructive things like alcohol, drug, and sex abuse, gambling, and other addictions don’t enter relationship. That would make homosexuality outside the lines.

Given that, does it matter why someone has a certain sexual orientation? There have always been, and always will be homosexual people. (Unless the hope of all this research is to find a genetic magic bullet to engineer non-gay children.) Some will resist homosexuality behaviorally for moral or social reasons. Some will enter the lifestyle because to not live that way feels unaligned with one’s true self. No matter, homosexuality is outside the ideal religiously, societally and even evolutionarily speaking.

To me, this is where tolerance enters. While certain behaviors might not be preferred, proscribing them would cause greater harm. In a free society, people have a right to self-determination. There should be a lot of latitude given to people to define what that means. The rest is between man and Maker.

Cross-posted at

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