EFCA Theology Conference Session 2 – Stanton Jones

Science and the Morality of Homosexual Conduct – Stanton L. Jones

Major challenges to traditional view

  • Call to love and acceptance
  • Supposed silence of Scripture
  • “New ethical truth” (e.g. Gentiles, divorce)
  • Spirituality among gays
  • New truth from Science

Why engage science? Two divergent Christian Motivations

  • As an exercise in Natural Theology or Natural Ethics

Presumes: Reason can lead to a consensus ethic apart from Revelation

Method: Inductive

Goal: Establish homosexual conduct as wrong (or right) via reason

  • As an Apologetic Defense of Revealed Ethic.

Presumes: Science and Ethics are not disconnected but relationship is complex

Method: Review science on science’s terms; examine logic of application of science to moral question

  • Does science prove (or validate) natural ethics?
  • Does science disprove (or invalidate) natural ethics?

Challenging “Scientific” Assertions

  • Being gay is as healthy as being straight
  • Sexual orientations is a biological determined variable, no moral issue
  • Sexual orientation cannot be changes
  • Homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual
  • Identity is properly rounded in sexual orientation

To respond to claims of “Science says…” we must

  • Ascertain the real finding of science and critique with great care
  • Examine carefully the logic by which the findings of science are applied to the moral question.

Quote from “Gay Fruit Flies” 6/05

  • “Science is closing the door on right-wing distortions” they go from fruit flies to social policy.
  • Critique: well, humans aren’t fruit fly, their reproductive pattern is very influenced by their genetics, but has no application to human sexual reproduction. When the gay fruit flies were placed with heterosexual fruit flies they all started basically a conga line of gay fruit fly sex, showing it is more environmental than genetic

Great Weakness of Homosexuality Research

  • Inability to identify a representative sample of GLB persons
  • Statistical infrequency contributes to this problem
  • Further compounded by definitional issues “who counts?”
  • Leads to severe problems with “volunteer bias”

Etiology of Homosexuality: Biologically-Determined, right?!?

  • Newsweek article: Is This Child Gay? Focused on 2 studies: A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men: compared the brain structures of gay and straight men.

Background on Brain Studies:

  • There ahs been a pattern of publicized findings that have never been replicated
  • Brain differences may or may not be genetic
  • Brain differences may be either cause or effect of behavioral/psychological differences
  • Hypothalamus regulates some sexual behavior
  • LeVay reported that the INAH3 of heterosexual females was significantly smaller

Problems:

  • Classification: subjects presumed heterosexual unless explicitly noted in medical files
  • Many subjects, heterosexual, and homosexual died of AIDS
  • Many had been treated with adrenergic drugs: influence on brains? (testosterone like drugs)
  • Reports circulated for years of failures to replicate.

William Byne (2000, 2001)

  • Careful sampling
  • Replicated that the INHA3 of heterosexual females is smaller than heterosexual males
  • Homosexual males to be intermediate between heterosexual males in INAH3, not significantly different than either
  • Found homosexual and heterosexual males to have the same number of neurons in INAH3
  • “Sexual orientation cannot be reliably predicted by size of INAH3 alone

Behavioral Genetics

  • The closer genetic relationship the closer psychologically they will be

Bailey and Pillard (1991) found males

  • Identical Twins – 52% concordance (29/56)
  • Fraternal twins – 22% concordance
  • Nontwin brothers – 9% concordance
  • Adopted brothers – 11 % concordance
  • Bailey actually found 56 gay individuals
  • He got a volunteer bias sample
  • Refuted study in 2000 in Australian twin registry
  • Of 27 twin pairs total, 3 pairs of twins were gay
  • His subsequent study got not public media

Direct hormonal effect on gender characteristics model

XY -> SRY -> testes -> Hi T -> Masculinization

XX -> no SRY -> ovaries -> Lo T -> Feminization

Been argued that this idea is too simplistic

/ epi-marks = T hypersens \

XY -> SRY -> testes -> Hi T -> Masculinization

/ epi-marks = T hypersens \

XX -> no SRY -> ovaries -> Lo T -> Feminization

Problems:

  • No direct evidence for it
  • Directly reliant on assumption that male homosexuality is transmitted through mother and female homosexuality transmitted through the male, neither solidly proven
  • Counts on corroboration from data showing greater fecundity of relatives of Gays & Lesbians actual data quite mixed
  • Assumes pure biological programming of sexual preference

Etiology of Homosexuality: no evidence of non-biological causes, right?!?

  • Bearman & Bruckner (2002)
    • Group with highest rate of homosexual boys is one who was born with a twin sister. Condition that wiped this effect out was when there was an older brother in the family.
    • Frisch & Hviid (October 2006)
    • “Childhood family correlates of heterosexual and homosexual marriages: A national cohort study of two million Danes”

You find in conservative Christian circles that biology does not contribute: it does, everything contributes to this.

We always have to ask moral questions about the human condition

The Question of Change: Unchangeable, right?!?

  • “Change of behavior is always possible. God holds people responsible for their actions (which they choose) not their proclivities (many of which they do not choose)”
  • Dozens of studies have been published that change is possible.
  • Jones and Yarhouse (2007, 2011) Ex-Gays?

Two Key Issues:

  • Is change possible?
  • Is it harmful?

So: some people can change and the change is not intrinsically harmful

What are we do to?

  • Manifest Love
  • Live the truth
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