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Is there such a person as a “social” homosexual?

Is there such a person as a “social” homosexual?


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One of my former work colleagues was an (unhappily) married woman, who divorced her husband. Afterward, she "dated" (and lived with) a number of women.

Apparently "sex" wasn't the driving force in her new lifestyle. It was more that she wanted the dominant "man's" role in her relationships (she was a "boss" at work).

Conversely, could there be a male homosexual that was such mainly because of a submissive, passive, nature rather than sexuality?

And could such a woman and such a man find mutual happiness is a socially "roles reversed" relationahip between a dominant "masculine" woman and a submissive "feminine" man, while enjoying their natural physical "fit?"


This question seems to be asking several things at once, but to answer to the title: yes, there exist "social" relationships where either one or all of the people involved are disinterested in sex. The term for a person who is not interested in sex is "asexual", and asexual people may be aromantic (not interested in any romantic relationship), or bi-, hetero- or homosexual (though bi-, hetero- or homoromantic would probably be a better term here). Scherrer (2008) reports on a survey of asexual people:

In this sample, eleven participants described themselves as aromantic while twenty-five described themselves as romantically oriented. Like the issue of masturbation, I did not know to include questions regarding romantic identity, however, as this data suggests, this theme emerged as important for many participants. For Mark, his romantic identity, “means [that] I separate the romance feeling from the sexual aspect.” For Mark, as well as others, there is a difference between sexual and romantic identities. Alice, a twenty-two year old white woman, describes her identity as, “Asexual. (And aromantic, i.e. no 'romance drive', no desire to find a partner).” For Alice, as well as others, claiming a romantic identity is descriptive of a person's interest in being in a partnership. [… ]

While a romantic dimension might be a relatively unique axis of sexuality, asexual individuals in this survey also described their sexual identity in relation to the gender of their partner(s). Twenty three participants indicated some type of queer identity and twenty-eight indicated a heterosexual or straight gender identity. None of the self identified aromantic asexual individuals indicated gender as important in relationships, in contrast to those who identify as romantic, where all but one described the gender of their partner(s) as important to their sexual identity. Lydia, a twenty-two year old white woman, describes her sexuality saying, “I am asexual. I am also queer but that isn't about my sexuality. Just thought I'd mention that.” [… ]

While only twenty-three of the ninety (25%) participants who responded to this question indicated an lgbtq identity, this nonetheless represents a relatively substantial subset of participants who describe their romantic orientation incorporating same-sex attachments as either possible or preferred. For instance, Hannah, a twenty-four year old white woman emphasized that for her, “In asexual circles, I tend to identify as asexual or asexual lesbian. In the (sexual) queer community, I tend to identify first as queer, then lesbian, then asexual lesbian.” As this description of Hannah's highlights, while adopting an lgbtq identity is not at odds with an asexual identity, neither are these identities uncomplicatedly related. Hannah invokes the sexual identity that both fits her sense of self, and fits the community she is actively engaged with. This is not dissimilar from other findings that individuals may invoke particular aspects of one's sexual identity as they are relevant (or less stigmatized) in a given situation Chrobot-Mason et al., 2001; (Horowitz & Newcomb, 2001; Rust, 1992; 1996).

Of the twenty-three queer individuals in this sample, eleven (48%) of them identified as bi-, bisexual, or bi-curious. This is a relatively high percentage of bi-identified individuals as in most studies that include bisexual and lesbians or gay males find much lower percentages of bi-identified people (Rodriguez-Rust, 2000; Rust, 1992). While I am not making a claim about the demographics of asexual communities, this concentration of bi-identities does illuminate the construction of asexual identities.

In addition to the article I cited, you may also want to take a look at http://www.asexuality.org/ , which has more information and perspectives on asexuality.

References

Kristin S. Scherrer (2008). Coming to an Asexual Identity: Negotiating Identity, Negotiating Desire. Sexualities. 2008 October 1; 11(5): 621-641. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2893352/


Homosexuality may be caused by chemical modifications to DNA

“Baby, I was born this way,” Lady Gaga sang in a 2011 hit that quickly became a gay anthem. Indeed, over the past 2 decades, researchers have turned up considerable evidence that homosexuality isn't a lifestyle choice, but is rooted in a person's biology and at least in part determined by genetics. Yet actual “gay genes” have been elusive.

A new study of male twins, scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in Baltimore, Maryland, today, could help explain that paradox. It finds that epigenetic effects, chemical modifications of the human genome that alter gene activity without changing the DNA sequence, may have a major influence on sexual orientation.

The new work, from Eric Vilain's lab at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles, is “exciting” and “long overdue,” says William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at UC Santa Barbara, who proposed in 2012 that epigenetics plays a role in sexual orientation. But Rice and others caution that the research is still preliminary and based on a small sample.

Researchers thought they were hot on the trail of “gay genes” in 1993, when a team led by geneticist Dean Hamer of the National Cancer Institute reported in Science that one or more genes for homosexuality had to reside on Xq28, a large region on the X chromosome. The discovery generated worldwide headlines, but some teams were unable to replicate the findings and the actual genes have not been found—not even by a team that vindicated Hamer's identification of Xq28 in a sample size 10 times larger than his last year. Twin studies suggested, moreover, that gene sequences can't be the full explanation. For example, the identical twin of a gay man, despite having the same genome, only has a 20% to 50% chance of being gay himself.

That's why some have suggested that epigenetics—instead of or in addition to traditional genetics—might be involved. During development, chromosomes are subject to chemical changes that don't affect the nucleotide sequence but can turn genes on or off the best known example is methylation, in which a methyl group is attached to specific DNA regions. Such “epi-marks” can remain in place for a lifetime, but most are erased when eggs and sperm are produced, so that a fetus starts with a blank slate. Recent studies, however, have shown that some marks are passed on to the next generation.

In a 2012 paper, Rice and his colleagues suggested that such unerased epi-marks might lead to homosexuality when they are passed on from father to daughter or from mother to son. Specifically, they argued that inherited marks that influence a fetus's sensitivity to testosterone in the womb might “masculinize” the brains of girls and “feminize” those of boys, leading to same-sex attraction.

Such ideas inspired Tuck Ngun, a postdoc in Vilain's lab, to study the methylation patterns at 140,000 regions in the DNA of 37 pairs of male identical twins who were discordant—meaning that one was gay and the other straight—and 10 pairs who were both gay. After several rounds of analysis—with the help of a specially developed machine-learning algorithm—the team identified five regions in the genome where the methylation pattern appears very closely linked to sexual orientation. One gene is important for nerve conduction, whereas another has been implicated in immune functions.

To test how important the five regions are, the team divided the discordant twin pairs into two groups. They looked at the associations between specific epi-marks and sexual orientation in one group, then tested how well those results could predict sexual orientation in the second group. They were able to reach almost 70% accuracy, although the presentation makes clear that—in contrast to what a provocative ASHG press release about the study suggested—this predictive ability applies only to the study sample and not to the wider population.

Just why identical twins sometimes end up with different methylation patterns isn't clear. If Rice's hypothesis is right, their mothers' epi-marks might have been erased in one son, but not the other or perhaps neither inherited any marks but one of them picked them up in the womb. In an earlier review, Ngun and Vilain cited evidence that methylation may be determined by subtle differences in the environment each fetus experiences during gestation, such as their exact locations within the womb and how much of the maternal blood supply each receives.

Such subtle influences are “where the action is,” says psychologist J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “Discordant [identical] twins comprise the best way to study this.” But he and Rice caution that the study must be replicated with more twins to be fully credible. Sergey Gavrilets, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a co-author of Rice's epigenetics model, adds that the study would also be “more convincing” if the team could link the regions showing epigenetic differences to testosterone sensitivity in the womb.

Vilain's team stresses that the findings shouldn't be used to produce tests for homosexuality or a misguided “cure.” Bailey says he's not worried about such misuse. “We will not have the potential to manipulate sexual orientation anytime soon,” he says. And in any case, he adds, “we should not restrict research on the origins of sexual orientation on the basis of hypothetical or real implications.


When a Person Is Neither XX nor XY: A Q&A with Geneticist Eric Vilain

Eric Vilain discusses the biology and politics of mixed-sex individuals, arguing that terms such as "hermaphrodite" and "intersex" are vague and hurtful.

About one in 4,500 babies show ambiguous genitalia at birth, such as a clitoris that looks like a penis, or vice versa. For the Insights story, "Going Beyond X and Y," appearing in the June 2007 issue of Scientific American, Sally Lehrman talked with noted geneticist Eric Vilain of the University of California, Los Angeles, about the biology of sex determination, gender identity and the psychology and politics behind both. Here is an expanded interview.

When did you first discover your interest in intersex individuals and the biology of sex development?

I started in Paris as a medical student, and my first assignment was to a unit of pediatric endocrinology in a Paris hospital, and it was the center of reference for all of France for babies born with ambiguous genitals. And I was actually literally shocked by the way decisions were made on these patients. I felt it didn't rely on solid scientific evidence. I mean, I'm a scientist, I'm a big believer of you can't just do things without being supported by evidence. In this case it was more like people would say it was just common sense&mdashif the clitoris sticks out this much, you have to fix it. Or if the penis is really too small, it has to be bigger. Otherwise what life is this child going to have? And you know, I was never convinced by common sense. I kept asking, "How do you know?" There was no good answer to that.

There were a lot of patients and it was always the same discussions. And it was mainly about clitoral reduction.

So there were sexual politics there, too?

Yes. I was reading at the time this book by Michel Foucault. He has book that's called Herculine Barbin. He basically tells the story of this girl who clearly has a large clitoris. She goes and gets sexually aroused as she sleeps in the bed of other girls, as it was normal for girls to do. She goes to this religious institution for girls until eventually someone finds out, and then it's a big scandal. She becomes a pariah, and she ends up committing suicide. I was reading that, I was pretty young, I was like 18.

Defining normality has always been an obsession of mine. How do you define what's abnormal versus normal? I guess it's the philosophical roots of the French educational system.

But why choose to study intersex questions for the rest of your career?

My scientific inclination was excited by this because not only was it understanding a rare condition that makes people different, all of these social aspects, but also it has scientific implications in the basic biology of developing male or female. Always in biology, you want to look at the exception to understand the general. So understanding intersex individuals makes us understand how typical males and typical females do develop.

So what has your research overall been able to say about sex development?

We've identified new molecular mechanisms of sex determination. In particular we've discovered genes, such as WNT4, that's female-specific and not present in males, and that's sort of shifted the paradigm of making a male as just activation of a bunch of male genes. In fact it's probably more complicated. What we've shown is that making a male, yes, is activating some male genes, but it's also inhibiting some antimale genes. It's a much more complex network, a delicate dance between pro-male and antimale molecules. And these antimale molecules may be pro-female, though that's harder to prove.

It sounds as if you are describing a shift from the prevailing view that female development is a default molecular pathway to active pro-male and antimale pathways. Are there also pro-female and antifemale pathways?

Modern sex determination started at the end of the 1940s&mdash1947&mdashwhen the French physiologist Alfred Jost said it's the testis that is determining sex. Having a testis determines maleness, not having a testis determines femaleness. The ovary is not sex-determining. It will not influence the development of the external genitalia. Now in 1959 when the karyotype of Klinefelter [a male who is XXY] and Turner [a female who has one X] syndromes was discovered, it became clear that in humans it was the presence or the absence of the Y chromosome that's sex determining. Because all Klinefelters that have a Y are male, whereas Turners, who have no Y, are females. So it's not a dosage or the number of X's, it's really the presence or absence of the Y.

So if you combine those two paradigms, you end up having a molecular basis that's likely to be a factor, a gene, that's a testis-determining factor, and that's the sex-determining gene. So the field based on that is really oriented towards finding testis -determining factors. What we discovered, though, was not just pro-testis determining factors. There are a number of factors that are there, like WNT4, like DAX1, whose function is to counterbalance the male pathway.

Why are genes such as WNT4 and others necessary for sex development?

I don't know why it's necessary, but if they're doing this then probably they're here to do some fine-tuning at the molecular level. But these antimale genes may be responsible for the development of the ovary. And WNT4 is likely to be such a factor. It's an ovarian marker now, we know. But if you have an excess of WNT4, too much WNT4 in an XY, you're going to feminize the XY individual.

Is the conceptual framework for sex determination changing, then, because of these discoveries?

I think the frame has slightly changed in the sense that even though it's still considered that the ovary is the default pathway, it's not seen as the passive pathway. It's still "default" in the sense that if you don't have the Y chromosome, if you don't have SRY, the ovary will develop. [ SRY, or sex-determining region Y, encodes the so-called testis determining factor.] That's probably the new thing in the past 10 years, that there are genes that are essential to make a functioning ovary. That really has changed, and WNT4 is one of the reasons for it.

What do you feel are your group's most important contributions to the sex biology field so far?

The two things that we contributed was, one, to find the genes that are antimale, and reframing the view of the female pathway from passive to active. And the second thing is in the brain. We're the first ones to show that there were genes involved in brain sexual differentiation, making the brain either male or female, that were active completely independently from hormones. Those were probably our two main contributions.

Do you think this difference in gene expression in the brain explains anything about gender identity?

About identity, it says nothing [yet]. It might say something. So those genes are differentially expressed between males and females early during development. They're certainly good candidates to look at to be influencing gender identity, but they're just good candidates.

At a recent international meeting to discuss management of people with genital and gonadal abnormalities, you successfully pushed for a change in nomenclature. Instead of using terms such as "hermaphrodite" or even "intersex," you recommended that the field use specific diagnoses under the term, "disorders of sex development." Why did you and other geneticists feel a nomenclature change was necessary?

For the past 15 to 16 years now, there really has been an explosion in the genetic knowledge of sex determination. And the question being, how can we translate this genetic knowledge into clinical practice? So we said maybe we should have a fresh approach to this.

The initial agenda was to have a nomenclature that was robust but flexible enough to incorporate new genetic knowledge. Then we realized there were other problems that were in fact not really genetic, but that genetics could actually answer them. Ultimately individuals who are intersex will each have their diagnosis with a genetic name. It's not going to be some big, all-encompassing category, like "male hermaphrodites." And that's much more scientific, it's much more individualized, if you will. It's much more medical.

How did the conference participants respond to the proposal?

The majority of health care professionals were very happy with it. There were some, there was a conservative side that said, "Why change something that was working?" There was significant minority dissent that was saying, "Why do we care?" Because it was working, for us it's an intellectual frame that has worked. So it required a little bit of education, saying, you know, it's important not only because it's more precise and it's more scientific, but also the patients would benefit from it by removing the word "hermaphrodite" and so forth. About the change to disorders of sex development, there was no issue at all in the group.

Why is the medical emphasis of this new term problematic for some?

The one piece in the nomenclature that remains highly controversial is the replacement of "intersex" with "disorders of sex development." And I'll say a few things about that. One is that intersex was big. Sometimes we wouldn't know who to include and who not to include.

"Intersex" was vague and "disorders of sex development" at least is a very medical definition, so we know exactly what we're talking about. For instance, if there are chromosomal abnormalities, if you have a patient who is missing one X chromosome&mdashTurner syndrome&mdashor having an extra X&mdashKlinefelter's syndrome&mdashboth those, now we do include them in "disorders of sexual development." They're not ambiguous. They do belong in this large category of people with "medical problems," quote-unquote, of the reproductive system. So intersex was vague, DSD is not vague.

What were some of the social issues you were trying to address?

There was another issue with the old nomenclature, which was the actual word, "hermaphrodite." "Hermaphrodite" was perceived by adult intersex individuals as demeaning. It also had some sexual connotation that would attract a flurry of people who have all sorts of fetishes, and so the intersex community really wanted to get rid of the term.

Cheryl Chase, executive director of the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), said she has been promoting a nomenclature change for some time. Why?

People like Cheryl would say intersex issues are not issues of gender identity, they are just issues of quality of life&mdashwhether early genital surgery was performed appropriately or not, and that's really what has impaired our quality of life. She and others at ISNA do support the change because of an interesting side effect&mdashbecause it becomes a very medicalized definition, the medical science should apply. It should apply strongly. That means it's not as if now we're talking about something that's not a disorder, that is just a normal variant, a condition. If it's just a condition that's a normal condition, then there is no need for medical attention.

So basically my point of view is really, let's separate the political from the medical, the science. There's a whole psychology to this, you know, the surgeons often are under the impression that there is this tiny, vocal minority of activists who just want to destroy their work.

Intersex individuals are really distinct from, for instance, the gay and lesbian community that does not have any a priori medical issue, there is no difference in the development of any of the organs, or they don't need to see a doctor when they're a newborn. I think it's quite different. Sure, some intersex are gay or lesbians, but not all are.

Why was it necessary for intersex individuals to take an activist stance at one time?

Because otherwise nothing would have changed in the practice. Otherwise this consensus conference would just not have happened. It was really in response to activism. They put the problem on the table and it required, it really forced the medical community to address an issue that was rare enough not to be addressed.

Some have called the new term a political setback, because it pathologizes what could be seen as normal human variation.

First of all, we can call normal variants everything we can call cancer a normal variant. Of course, it kills you in the end, but it is a normal variant. We can play with words like that, but for practical purposes these "normal variants" have a lot of health risks that require lots of visits to the doctor for a bunch of issues that intersex patients have: fertility issues, cancer issues (the testis inside the body can increase the risk of cancer), sexual health issues. So if you're to start going to the doctor a lot for your condition, you can call it a normal variant, but that's not really useful. You're calling it a normal variant for political purposes. I'm calling it a disorder because I want all the rules and the wisdom of modern medical practices to be applied to the intersex field. I don't want intersex to be an exception: To say, "Um, you know, it's not really a disease," so therefore [physicians] can do whatever they want. That's what has been driving this field, people saying, well, you know, we can experiment, it's a normal variant.

There has been considerable controversy over whether surgeons should immediately make a decision about an infant's sex and quickly correct ambiguous genitalia. The consensus statement seems to promote a more cautious approach to surgery, while still assigning gender rapidly. What is your view?

I'm saying intervene [with surgery] only if you've proven that intervention is actually of benefit to the patient. Not of benefit to the parent. Because you know that surgery is used a lot to help the parent psychologically. It's a quick fix, if you will. The child looks different, it's very distressing for everyone, and one way to make it go away is just to make the kid look like everyone else. And that's really psychological help for the parents. But that should not be a parameter for surgery. We're talking about psychological distress to the parents, and that should be treated appropriately by a psychologist or psychiatrist, but not by surgery of the child.

Do you think this consensus statement will change the common practice of performing sex-assignment surgery early on?

(laughing) Well, yes. See, the consensus statement is a house of cards. You build it once, and there's no one that really inhabits it it can be destroyed. They're not guidelines. I think it will change, but it will require some additional work. One of the things I think should happen next is to have a few leading clinics actually apply all the consensus recommendations and then do studies showing whether they actually impact the health and the well-being of the patient. It's not easy to do, because some of the recommendations require money. Like saying, "We need a psychologist"&mdashthat's easier said than done. There's no funding for having a psychologist in all these clinics. So I think it will influence some things. For instance, the nomenclature will change. I get a lot of phone calls and e-mails from authors of major textbooks, they're going to change. Also from editors of journals who publish articles about intersex, so that's going to change. But will that change the general outcome of patients? I don't know. I hope so. I think it's a step in the right direction.

Many physicians and geneticists look at intersex simply as a medical condition that should be addressed. You seem to take patients' social and political concerns very seriously, too. Why?

I've always been interested in the fact that medicine is very normative, and reductionist&mdashit reduces people to their pathologies….'' Medicine should be in the business of making people as a whole better, rather than just curing the disease. And anyway, I'm not the only one saying that. Actually, I always use cancer as an example. A lot of cancer doctors are very well aware of this. They're offering options that sometimes do not include treatment just because they're aware of the fact that the treatment would ruin the quality of life so much that it's just not worth it.

How do you handle working in a field that is so volatile socially and politically? Everything that you do, people jump on and make claims about sexuality or gender.

I interpret everything conservatively. You have to not make the mistake of overinterpreting anything. That's my way of trying to navigate that. You also have to be aware of the social sensibilities. You can't just have an autistic approach to it and say, I'm just going to ignore it completely. If you're aware of the social sensibilities, and if you don't overinterpret your data, you're in good shape.

How do you stay aware and informed?

Being part of ISNA is one way [as a member of its medical advisory board]. It forces me to listen to what the patients have to say, which is really not part of the medical culture, at least in this field. The way to assess the well-being of a patient is to really listen to what the patient has to say.


Being Gay Not a Choice: Science Contradicts Ben Carson

Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful, recently apologized for a statement in which he said being gay is "absolutely" a choice.

In an interview on CNN, the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate commented that "a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out they're gay, so did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."

Since then, he has apologized for the divisiveness of his comments, but hasn't backed down from the notion that being gay is something people choose.

Most scientists would disagree. Years of research suggest that people can't change their sexual orientation because they want to, and that trying can cause mental anguish. What's more, some studies suggest that being gay may have a genetic or biological basis. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]

Biological origins

Humans aren't the only species that has same-sex pairings. For instance, female Japanese macaques may sometimes participate in energetic sexual stimulation. Lions, chimpanzees, bison and dolphins have also been spotted in same-sex pairings. And nearly 130 bird species have been observed engaging in sexual activities with same-sex partners.

While the evolutionary purpose of this behavior is not clear, the fact that animals routinely exhibit same-sex behavior belies the notion that gay sex is a modern human innovation.

No studies have found specific "gay genes" that reliably make someone gay. But some genes may make being gay likelier. For instance, a 2014 study in the journal Psychological Medicine showed that a gene on the X chromosome (one of the sex chromosomes) called Xq28 and a gene on chromosome 8 seem to be found in higher prevalence in men who are gay. That study, involving more than 400 pairs of gay brothers, followed the 1993 report by geneticist Dean Hamer suggesting the existence of a "gay gene." Other research has found that being gay or lesbian tends to run in families. It's also more likely for two identical twins, who share all of their genes, to both be gay than it is for two fraternal twins, who share just half of their genes, to both be homosexual. Those studies also suggest that genes seemed to have a greater influence on the sexual orientation of male versus female identical twins.

A 2012 study proposed that epigenetic changes, or alterations in marks on DNA that turn certain genes on and off, may play a role in homosexuality. This type of gene regulation isn't as stable as DNA, and can be switched on and off by environmental factors or conditions in the womb during prenatal development. But this so-called epigenome can also be passed on from generation to generation, which would explain why being gay seems to run in families, even when a single gene can't be pinpointed.

How such gay genes get passed down from generation to generation has puzzled scientists, given that gay couples cannot reproduce. One study found that gay men are biologically predisposed to help care for their nieces and nephews. Essentially, these gay uncles are helping their relatives to reproduce. "Kin therefore pass on more of the genes which they would share with their homosexual relatives," said evolutionary psychologist Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge in Canada, in a past Live Science article.

Orientation change

If being gay is truly a choice, then people who attempt to change their orientation should be able to do so. But most people who are gay describe it as a deeply ingrained attraction that can't simply be shut off or redirected.

On that, studies are clear. Gay conversion therapy is ineffective, several studies have found, and the American Psychological Association now says such treatment is harmful and can worsen feelings of self-hatred.

For men, studies suggest that orientation is fixed by the time the individual reaches puberty. Women show greater levels of "erotic plasticity," meaning their levels of attraction are more significantly shaped by culture, experience and love than is the case for men. However, even women who switch from gay to straight lifestyles don't stop being attracted to women, according to a 2012 study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Those results suggest that while people can change their behavior, they aren't really changing their basic sexual attraction.


Interpretation and Questions

Perspective

Prejudices, fears and misconceptions about homosexuality are deeply rooted in our culture. The subject evokes strong emotions which may hinder understanding it from a Biblical perspective. Many common beliefs and attitudes about homosexuality actually have their origins in our cultural traditions rather than in the Bible. The Bible prohibits homosexual intercourse but does not treat it as one of the major sins. There are only 7 Bible passages on this topic, and it is not one of the major sins mentioned in the Ten Commandments or by Jesus. (In comparison, the sin of hatred is mentioned 21 times, lying and false testimony 30, greed, avarice and covetousness 40, theft 42, adultery 52, murder 57, self-righteousness 79, and idolatry 169 times.) When read in context, a majority of the Bible passages refer to specific homosexual practices which violate other important Bible prohibitions such as idolatry, rape, prostitution or pederasty.

Interpretation

D. H. Field, writing in the New Bible Dictionary, has a more detailed and nuanced analysis: 4

The Bible says nothing specifically about the homosexual condition (despite the rather misleading RSV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9), but its condemnations of homosexual conduct are explicit. The scope of these strictures must, however, be carefully determined. Too often they have been used as tools of a homophobic polemic which has claimed too much.

The exegesis of the Sodom and Gibeah stories (Genesis19, Judges 19) is a good case in point. . On both occasions the sin condemned was attempted homosexual rape, not a caring homosexual relationship between consenting partners.

The force of the other OT references to homosexuality is similarly limited by the context in which they are set. . Viewed strictly within their context, then, these OT condemnations apply to homosexual activity conducted in the course of idolatry, but not necessarily more widely than that

Regarding New Testament passages about homosexuality, all of which are attributed to the apostle Paul, Field writes:

But in recent years, a number of questions and issues have been raised which challenge traditional interpretations. For example, Presbyterian theologian Mark Achtemeier argues against the traditional view of homosexuality in his book, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, An Evangelical's Change of Heart: 8

Achtemeier concludes that traditional condemnations of homosexual acts are based on a fragmentary reading of the Bible that is inconsistent with overall Bible teachings:

At the beginning of this journey, described in chapter 1, I had found strong reasons for doubting whether the church’s traditional condemnations of homosexuality were in line with the will of God. Now I found myself considering how it was possible for those teachings to be mistaken, even though they seemed to be based on a reasonably straightforward reading of individual passages taken from the Bible. I found strong evidence, both in the history of the church and in the testimony of the New Testament, supporting the conclusion that this fragment approach to interpreting biblical Law is unreliable and highly prone to error. These findings lent further credibility to my initial strong suspicions that the traditional condemnations were contrary to the will and plan of God.

. The predecessor denominations of my own Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) split over the issue of slavery in the mid 1800s. Going back and reading about that history, one discovers that the pro-slavery churches were defending their positions by appeal to the Bible! Isolated fragments, pulled out and interpreted apart from the overall witness of the Scripture, led those devout southern Presbyterians to conclude that their pro-slavery cause was blessed by God. Another such episode, which extends into more recent times, saw well-intentioned Christians appealing to isolated scriptural fragments as they argued to keep women in subordinate roles within both church and society. The fragment method clearly has a long and sad history of providing “biblical” justification for teachings that we can recognize in hindsight as contrary to the will of God.

Questions

Same-sex intercourse is forbidden in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Are these teachings important spiritual principles for all times? Or are they, like the Bible teachings on slavery and subjugation of women, remnants of Biblical-era culture that we must now reject as incompatible with the more important Bible teachings about God's love and mercy for all people?

These and other questions have been discussed in recent times. Answers tend to be strongly influenced by one's personal feelings about homosexuality. But, if we are sincere about using the Bible for guidance, we must not assume that the Bible passages on homosexuality support our own conservative or liberal viewpoints. Instead, we must put aside our own ideas, feelings and fears and prayerfully seek the truth.


There's Something Queer about That Face

Although I've always wanted this particular superhuman power, I've never been very good at detecting other men's sexual orientation. Findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, however, suggest I may be underestimating my gaydar abilities.

The January 2008 study investigated people's ability to identify homosexual men from pictures of their faces alone. In an initial experiment, researchers Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady from Tufts University perused online dating sites and carefully selected 45 straight male faces and 45 gay male faces. All of these photos were matched for orientation (only faces shown looking forward were used) and facial alterations (none of the images contained jewelry, glasses or facial hair). To control for context, the faces were also cut and pasted onto a white background for the study. These 90 faces were then shown to 90 participants in random order, who were asked simply to judge the target's "probable sexual orientation" (gay or straight) by pressing a button. Surprisingly, all participants (both men and women) scored above chance on this gaydar task, correctly identifying the gay faces. Even more surprisingly, accuracy rate was just as good when the images were exposed at a rapid rate of only 50 milliseconds, which offered participants no opportunity to consciously process the photo.

A parsimonious explanation for these findings would be that the countenance of these photos&mdashan online dating site&mdashmeans that they're likely stereotypical in some way. In other words, perhaps it's not the target's face per se that signals his sexual orientation, but the way he expresses himself facially when trying to attract a member of the same or the opposite gender. Or maybe hairstyles are suggestive of sexual orientation. Wary of these possible criticisms, Rule and Ambady conducted a second experiment that controlled for such extraneous variables as self-presentation and hairstyle.

In this second study, the authors used images from the social networking site Facebook rather than online dating Web sites. This way, the targets hadn't so obviously selected photos of themselves meant to attract prospective sexual partners. In fact, the authors had a rather elaborate selection procedure for choosing the target photos in this follow-up study. They first searched for men who'd indicated in their Facebook profile an interest in other men. Then, they did a second search to find other Facebook users who had posted photos of these gay men in their own profile. They followed the identical criteria for straight targets. "Thus," the authors wrote, "by using photos of gay and straight individuals that they themselves did not post, we were able to remove the influence of self-presentation and much of the potential selection bias that may be present in photos from personal advertisements."

Again, the authors superimposed these male faces (this time 80 gay and 80 straight) onto a white background. They then photoshopped off the participants' hairstyles, this time truly leaving only the faces as a source of information about sexual orientation. And even with these more stringent controls, the participants were able to identify the gay faces at levels greater than chance&mdashagain even on those trials where the faces were flickered on the screen for a mere 50 milliseconds.

Furthermore, in an even more rigorously controlled series of experiments published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Rule and his colleagues replicated their discovery that people are able to accurately guess male sexual orientation. This time, the researchers demonstrated that perceivers were able to do this even when they were shown only individual features of the target's face. For example, when shown only the eye region ("without brows and cropped to the outer canthi so that not even "crow's-feet" were visible"), perceivers were amazingly still able to accurately identify a man as being gay. The same happened when shown the mouth region alone. Curiously, most of the participants underestimated their ability to identify gay faces from these features alone. That is to say, people seem to have honed and calibrated their gaydar without knowing they've done so.

Frankly, these findings are a little puzzling to me. Rule and his co-authors mention a few lackluster evolutionary reasons why it would be biologically adaptive for women to know which men aren't worth the trouble and for men to know who's not really a sexual competitor. But they also acknowledge that it's impossible to know from these findings what exactly it is about these facial features that give gays away. "Future studies," the authors wrote, "may wish to examine what aspects of these features lead to accurate judgments, what their origins might be, and how we acquire the ability to detect them."

I was curious enough about Rule's findings to look up "gay face" in the Urban Dictionary, a popular Web site that offers informal, user-contributed definitions of everyday (often crass) sayings. I like the Urban Dictionary because it captures people's understanding and use of words and phrases independent of their actual meaning it's therefore as much a gauge of human psychology as it is a compendium of slang. There were several definitions of "gay face," including this derogatory doozy:

Now, that one's rather silly and sensationalized&mdasheven politically suspect&mdashand there's certainly no scientific evidence in support of these claims about the "mongoloid" features of homosexual men's faces. But perhaps there is a kernel of truth to another definition of "gay face" in the Urban Dictionary:

Again, a tad derogatory&mdashbut that doesn't mean there isn't some logic there, as well. On the one hand, the "muscular activation hypothesis" seems plausible enough to me. But on the other hand, remember that Rule and his co-authors largely controlled for these superficial giveaways in their stimulus photos. For example, in the second experiment, participants could still ferret out the gay face when shown the eye region sans eyebrows and cropped to the outer canthi. And I'm not entirely sure how to fashion&mdashlet alone scientifically operationalize&mdasha "surprised-looking and predatory" eye expression. I think I would get a headache if I attempted that.

In addition, contrary to this urban definition, there may indeed be subtle, yet presently unknown, differences between gay and straight faces. (For example, one of my PhD students, David Harnden-Warwick, has a casual hunch that gay men may have sharper, clearer irises than straight men.) If so, this would add to a growing list of physiological and biological markers of sexual orientation. It was only a few years ago that researchers discovered that, unlike straight men, gay men tend to have hair whorl patterns that run in a counterclockwise direction. Such differences may evade conscious detection while registering at some level in people's social awareness.

All we know at the moment is that there's something endemic to our faces (in particular, our eyes and mouths) that betrays our "hidden" sexual orientation.

In this new column presented by Scientific American Mind magazine, research psychologist Jesse Bering of Queen's University Belfast ponders some of the more obscure aspects of everyday human behavior. Ever wonder why yawning is contagious, why we point with our index fingers instead of our thumbs or whether being breastfed as an infant influences your sexual preferences as an adult? Get a closer look at the latest data as &ldquoBering in Mind&rdquo tackles these and other quirky questions about human nature. Sign up for the RSS feed or friend Dr. Bering on Facebook and never miss an installment again.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Psychiatry expert: ‘scientifically there is no such thing as transgender’

OTTAWA, January 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) &ndash A prominent Toronto psychiatrist has severely criticized the assumptions underlying what has been dubbed by critics as the Canadian federal government's "bathroom bill," that is, Bill C-279, a private member&rsquos bill that would afford special protection to so-called "transgender" men and women.

Dr. Joseph Berger has issued a statement saying that from a medical and scientific perspective there is no such thing as a "transgendered" person, and that terms such as &ldquogender expression&rdquo and &ldquogender identity" used in the bill are at the very least ambiguous, and are more an emotional appeal than a statement of scientific fact.

Berger, who is a consulting psychiatrist in Toronto and whose list of credentials establishes him as an expert in the field of mental illness, stated that people who identify themselves as "transgendered" are mentally ill or simply unhappy, and pointed out that hormone therapy and surgery are not appropriate treatments for psychosis or unhappiness.

"From a scientific perspective, let me clarify what &lsquotransgendered&rsquo actually means," Dr. Berger said, adding, "I am speaking now about the scientific perspective &ndash and not any political lobbying position that may be proposed by any group, medical or non-medical."

"&lsquoTransgendered&rsquo are people who claim that they really are or wish to be people of the sex opposite to which they were born, or to which their chromosomal configuration attests," Dr. Berger stated.

"Some times, some of these people have claimed that they are &lsquoa woman trapped in a man&rsquos body&rsquo or alternatively &lsquoa man trapped in a woman&rsquos body&rsquo."

"The medical treatment of delusions, psychosis or emotional happiness is not surgery," Dr. Berger stated.

"On the other hand," Dr. Berger continued, "if these people are asked to clarify exactly what they believe, that is to say do they truly believe whichever of those above propositions applies to them and they say &lsquono&rsquo, then they know that such a proposition is not true, but that they &lsquofeel&rsquo it, then what we are talking about scientifically, is just unhappiness, and that unhappiness is being accompanied by a wish &ndash that leads some people into taking hormones that predominate in the other sex, and even having cosmetic surgery designed to make them &lsquoappear&rsquo as if they are a person of the opposite sex."

He explained that cosmetic surgery will not change the chromosomes of a human being in that it will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating, and having children, nor will it make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm that can unite with an egg or ovum from a woman and fertilize that egg to produce a human child.

Moreover, Dr. Berger stated that the arguments put forward by those advocating for special rights for gender confused people have no scientific value and are subjective and emotional appeals with no objective scientific basis.

"I have read the brief put forward by those advocating special rights, and I find nothing of scientific value in it," Dr. Berger said in his statement. "Words and phrases, such as 'the inner space,' are used that have no objective scientific basis."

"These are the scientific facts," Dr. Berger said. "There seems to me to be no medical or scientific reason to grant any special rights or considerations to people who are unhappy with the sex they were born into, or to people who wish to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex."

"The so-called &lsquoconfusion&rsquo about their sexuality that a teenager or adult has is purely psychological. As a psychiatrist, I see no reason for people who identify themselves in these ways to have any rights or privileges different from everyone else in Canada," he concluded.

REAL Women of Canada asked Dr. Berger for a statement on the issues surrounding Bill C-279 after the organization appeared before the review committee hearings on the bill.

Gwen Landolt of REAL Women told LifeSiteNews that after being initially refused permission to present their perspective on the bill to the review committee, the group was accepted, but found that all other groups and individuals who had been accepted to appear before the committee were supporters of Bill C-279.

"It can scarcely be an impartial review of any bill if only the witnesses supporting the bill are invited to speak to it," Landolt said.

Landolt explained that after passing second reading on June 6, 2012, Bill C-279 went to the Justice and Human Rights Committee for review.

At the review committee hearings, REAL Women of Canada presented a 12 page brief setting out the harms created by the bill, and pointing out that the terms &ldquogender expression&rdquo and &ldquogender identity," as written in Bill C-279, were so broad that they could be used to protect pedophilia along with other sexual perversions, if passed into law.

REAL Women provided the committee with evidence that post-operative trans-gendered individuals suffer substantially higher morbidity and mortality than the general population, placing the so-called &ldquosex reassignment&rdquo surgery and hormone treatment under continued scrutiny.

They pointed out that a pioneer in such treatment, Dr. Paul McHugh, distinguished professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, stopped the procedures because he found that patients were no better adjusted or satisfied after receiving such treatment.

McHugh wrote in 2004 that &ldquoHopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness&rdquo by catering to the desires of people who wanted surgery to change their biological sex.

&ldquoWe psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia,&rdquo he stated, adding that &ldquoto provide a surgical alteration to the body of these unfortunate people was to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.&rdquo

Landolt noted that the committee hearings ended in confusion over the terminology presented in the bill, and that even the bill's sponsor, NDP MP Randall Garrison (Esquimalt &ndash Juan de Fuca), was not clear as to who is included and who is excluded in these terms.

"The definition for 'gender identity' proposed by Mr. Garrison is a subjective one that he defined as a 'deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth'," Landolt said, adding that "The committee engaged in extensive discussions on the meaning of &ldquogender identity&rdquo and &ldquogender expression&rdquo without much clarification."

"As a result, instead of a smooth, orderly dispatch of this bill through the Committee orchestrated by Garrison, Conservative MP Shelly Glover (St. Boniface, Manitoba) and Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Delta-Richmond-East, BC), the committee hearings broke down in confusion at the final hearing on December 10th. The result is that the bill will be reported to the House of Commons as originally written without amendments," Landolt stated.

Following this state of confusion over terms at the review committee, REAL Women sought out an expert in order to provide the scientific and medical evidence relating to "transgenderism" and the other terms used in the bill.

Gwen Landolt told LifeSiteNews that REAL Women of Canada will be including Dr. Berger's statement in an information package to be sent to MPs before the bill comes to final vote.

"It is crucial that MPs know that this legislation is harmful, not only to those who think themselves transgendered but also to society, and should not be passed into law," Landolt said. "We must therefore write to our MP&rsquos to request that they speak against this troubling bill."

Dr. Berger is certified as a specialist in Psychiatry by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is an elected Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is also a past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association.

Berger has been an Examiner in Psychiatry for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for twenty five years, has taught as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and is the author of many published papers on different aspects of Diagnosis and Independent Psychiatric Assessments, as well as author of the book &ldquoThe Independent Medical Examination in Psychiatry&rdquo published by Butterworth/Lexis-Nexis.

To contact Prime Minister Harper and the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, about Bill C-279:

The Rt. Hon. Stephen J. Harper
Office of the Prime Minister House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: [email protected]

The Hon. Robert Nicholson
Minister of Justice House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-992-7910
Email: [email protected]


Is there a "gay gene"? Major new study says no

There's no such thing as a single "gay gene" that drives a person's sexual behavior, concludes the largest genetic study ever conducted on the issue. Instead, a person's attraction to those of the same sex is shaped by a complex mix of genetic and environmental influences, similar to what's seen in most other human traits, researchers report.

"This is a natural and normal part of variation in our species," said researcher Ben Neale, director of genetics with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. "That should also support the position that we shouldn't try and develop gay cures . That's not in anyone's interest."

The international study focused on the genetic profiles of nearly 480,000 people from the United States and the United Kingdom, a group approximately 100 times larger than any previous study of the link between genetics and same-sex attraction, said lead researcher Andrea Ganna, a research fellow with the Massachusetts General Hospital's Analytical and Translational Genetic Unit.

The research team discovered five specific genetic variants that were significantly associated with same-sex behavior, but when combined these variants explained less than 1% of any person's attraction to their own gender , Ganna said.

Overall, genetics account for between 8% and 25% of a person's same-sex attraction, taking into account the thousands of genetic traits ultimately involved in shaping a person's sexual desires, Neale said.

"It's effectively impossible to predict an individual's sexual behavior from their genome," Neale said. "Genetics is less than half of this story for sexual behavior, but it's still a very important contributing factor. These findings reinforce the importance of diversity as a key aspect of sexual behavior."

Trending News

GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ advocacy group, said the results show that sexual orientation is just another normal piece of the human experience.

"This new study provides even more evidence that that being gay or lesbian is a natural part of human life, a conclusion that has been drawn by researchers and scientists time and again," said GLAAD Chief Programs Officer Zeke Stokes. "The identities of LGBTQ people are not up for debate. This new research also reconfirms the long-established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves."

The results also call into question the Kinsey Scale, a long-utilized rating scale of sexual attraction developed in part by sex researcher Alfred Kinsey , Ganna said.

"We discovered that the Kinsey Scale, which really places individuals on a continuum from basically exclusively opposite-sex partners to exclusively same-sex partners, is really an oversimplification of the diversity of sexual behavior in humans," Ganna said.

"That can't be a single line," Neale added. "The results are not consistent with that being a single line, but they don't actually tell us what those other dimensions are" that shape human desire.

Researchers are now considering whether a person's attraction to men and to women should be considered separate from each other, with the two characteristics shaping the person's overall sexual identity and desires, Ganna said.

The findings were published Aug. 29 in the journal Science.

The results did show that genetic variation has a stronger influence on same-sex sexual behavior in men than in women, possibly demonstrating the complexity of women's sexuality, said Melinda Mills, a professor of sociology at Oxford University who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.

"This reflects voices from the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+) community arguing that a range of sexualities exist," Mills wrote. "Sexuality is dynamic, with the ability to express and realize sexual preferences, and is thus also shaped and regulated by cultural, political, social, legal and religious structures."

The five specific genes related to same-sex desire cropped up in odd places, the researchers noted.

For example, one was located in a stretch of DNA that contains several genes related to the sense of smell, Ganna said.

"We know that smell has a strong tie to sexual attraction, but its links to sexual behaviors are not clear," he said.

Another gene was associated with male baldness, which is closely linked to how the body regulates sex hormones and might suggest a relationship between hormone regulation and same-sex desire, Ganna said.

Despite their overall small effect, "these genetic variants could hint at some biological pathways that may be involved in same-sex sexual behavior," Ganna said.

First published on August 29, 2019 / 2:58 PM

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


What does the Bible say about gay marriage?

While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26&ndash27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be “shameful” and “unnatural.” First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are “wrongdoers” who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since homosexuality is condemned in the Bible, it follows that homosexuals marrying is not God’s will and would be, in fact, sinful.

Every mention of marriage in the Bible refers to the union of a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2&ndash16 and Ephesians 5:23&ndash33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

The biblical understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is found in every human civilization in world history. History thus argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children. So psychology also argues against gay marriage. Anatomically, men and women were clearly designed to fit together sexually. The “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse is procreation, and only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. In this way, nature argues against gay marriage.

So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman&mdashwhy is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labeled as hateful people or intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of gay couples having the same legal rights as married couples through some form of civil union?

The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural. Romans 1:18&ndash32 says that God has made the truth plain. But the truth is rejected and replaced with a lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed. One way to suppress the truth is to normalize homosexuality and marginalize those who oppose it. And a good way to normalize homosexuality is to place gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional, opposite-gender marriage.

To sanction gay marriage/same-sex marriage is to approve of the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently labels as sinful. Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong, logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts apart from the Bible. One does not have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.

According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God as the lifetime union of a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21&ndash24 Matthew 19:4&ndash6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we do not condone or ignore sin. Rather, we share the love of God and act as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We point to the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).


Homosexuality

Homosexuality can refer to both attraction or sexual behavior between people of the same sex, or to a sexual orientation.

When describing the latter, it refers to enduring sexual and romantic attraction towards those of the same sex, but not necessarily to sexual behavior.

Homosexuality is contrasted with heterosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality.

Lesbian denotes a homosexual woman.

Most scientist today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors.

Although homosexuality does not appear to be adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint, because homosexual sex does not produce children, there is evidence of its existence through human history.

Although a number of biological factors have been considered by scientists, such as prenatal hormones, chromosomes, polygenetic effects, brain structure and viral influences, no scientific consensus exists as to how biology influences sexual orientation.

Most scientists agree that it is unlikely that there is a single "gay gene" that determines something as complex as sexual orientation, and that it is more likely to be the result of an interaction of genetic, biological and environmental/cultural factors.


Being Gay Not a Choice: Science Contradicts Ben Carson

Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful, recently apologized for a statement in which he said being gay is "absolutely" a choice.

In an interview on CNN, the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate commented that "a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out they're gay, so did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."

Since then, he has apologized for the divisiveness of his comments, but hasn't backed down from the notion that being gay is something people choose.

Most scientists would disagree. Years of research suggest that people can't change their sexual orientation because they want to, and that trying can cause mental anguish. What's more, some studies suggest that being gay may have a genetic or biological basis. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]

Biological origins

Humans aren't the only species that has same-sex pairings. For instance, female Japanese macaques may sometimes participate in energetic sexual stimulation. Lions, chimpanzees, bison and dolphins have also been spotted in same-sex pairings. And nearly 130 bird species have been observed engaging in sexual activities with same-sex partners.

While the evolutionary purpose of this behavior is not clear, the fact that animals routinely exhibit same-sex behavior belies the notion that gay sex is a modern human innovation.

No studies have found specific "gay genes" that reliably make someone gay. But some genes may make being gay likelier. For instance, a 2014 study in the journal Psychological Medicine showed that a gene on the X chromosome (one of the sex chromosomes) called Xq28 and a gene on chromosome 8 seem to be found in higher prevalence in men who are gay. That study, involving more than 400 pairs of gay brothers, followed the 1993 report by geneticist Dean Hamer suggesting the existence of a "gay gene." Other research has found that being gay or lesbian tends to run in families. It's also more likely for two identical twins, who share all of their genes, to both be gay than it is for two fraternal twins, who share just half of their genes, to both be homosexual. Those studies also suggest that genes seemed to have a greater influence on the sexual orientation of male versus female identical twins.

A 2012 study proposed that epigenetic changes, or alterations in marks on DNA that turn certain genes on and off, may play a role in homosexuality. This type of gene regulation isn't as stable as DNA, and can be switched on and off by environmental factors or conditions in the womb during prenatal development. But this so-called epigenome can also be passed on from generation to generation, which would explain why being gay seems to run in families, even when a single gene can't be pinpointed.

How such gay genes get passed down from generation to generation has puzzled scientists, given that gay couples cannot reproduce. One study found that gay men are biologically predisposed to help care for their nieces and nephews. Essentially, these gay uncles are helping their relatives to reproduce. "Kin therefore pass on more of the genes which they would share with their homosexual relatives," said evolutionary psychologist Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge in Canada, in a past Live Science article.

Orientation change

If being gay is truly a choice, then people who attempt to change their orientation should be able to do so. But most people who are gay describe it as a deeply ingrained attraction that can't simply be shut off or redirected.

On that, studies are clear. Gay conversion therapy is ineffective, several studies have found, and the American Psychological Association now says such treatment is harmful and can worsen feelings of self-hatred.

For men, studies suggest that orientation is fixed by the time the individual reaches puberty. Women show greater levels of "erotic plasticity," meaning their levels of attraction are more significantly shaped by culture, experience and love than is the case for men. However, even women who switch from gay to straight lifestyles don't stop being attracted to women, according to a 2012 study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Those results suggest that while people can change their behavior, they aren't really changing their basic sexual attraction.


Interpretation and Questions

Perspective

Prejudices, fears and misconceptions about homosexuality are deeply rooted in our culture. The subject evokes strong emotions which may hinder understanding it from a Biblical perspective. Many common beliefs and attitudes about homosexuality actually have their origins in our cultural traditions rather than in the Bible. The Bible prohibits homosexual intercourse but does not treat it as one of the major sins. There are only 7 Bible passages on this topic, and it is not one of the major sins mentioned in the Ten Commandments or by Jesus. (In comparison, the sin of hatred is mentioned 21 times, lying and false testimony 30, greed, avarice and covetousness 40, theft 42, adultery 52, murder 57, self-righteousness 79, and idolatry 169 times.) When read in context, a majority of the Bible passages refer to specific homosexual practices which violate other important Bible prohibitions such as idolatry, rape, prostitution or pederasty.

Interpretation

D. H. Field, writing in the New Bible Dictionary, has a more detailed and nuanced analysis: 4

The Bible says nothing specifically about the homosexual condition (despite the rather misleading RSV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9), but its condemnations of homosexual conduct are explicit. The scope of these strictures must, however, be carefully determined. Too often they have been used as tools of a homophobic polemic which has claimed too much.

The exegesis of the Sodom and Gibeah stories (Genesis19, Judges 19) is a good case in point. . On both occasions the sin condemned was attempted homosexual rape, not a caring homosexual relationship between consenting partners.

The force of the other OT references to homosexuality is similarly limited by the context in which they are set. . Viewed strictly within their context, then, these OT condemnations apply to homosexual activity conducted in the course of idolatry, but not necessarily more widely than that

Regarding New Testament passages about homosexuality, all of which are attributed to the apostle Paul, Field writes:

But in recent years, a number of questions and issues have been raised which challenge traditional interpretations. For example, Presbyterian theologian Mark Achtemeier argues against the traditional view of homosexuality in his book, The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, An Evangelical's Change of Heart: 8

Achtemeier concludes that traditional condemnations of homosexual acts are based on a fragmentary reading of the Bible that is inconsistent with overall Bible teachings:

At the beginning of this journey, described in chapter 1, I had found strong reasons for doubting whether the church’s traditional condemnations of homosexuality were in line with the will of God. Now I found myself considering how it was possible for those teachings to be mistaken, even though they seemed to be based on a reasonably straightforward reading of individual passages taken from the Bible. I found strong evidence, both in the history of the church and in the testimony of the New Testament, supporting the conclusion that this fragment approach to interpreting biblical Law is unreliable and highly prone to error. These findings lent further credibility to my initial strong suspicions that the traditional condemnations were contrary to the will and plan of God.

. The predecessor denominations of my own Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) split over the issue of slavery in the mid 1800s. Going back and reading about that history, one discovers that the pro-slavery churches were defending their positions by appeal to the Bible! Isolated fragments, pulled out and interpreted apart from the overall witness of the Scripture, led those devout southern Presbyterians to conclude that their pro-slavery cause was blessed by God. Another such episode, which extends into more recent times, saw well-intentioned Christians appealing to isolated scriptural fragments as they argued to keep women in subordinate roles within both church and society. The fragment method clearly has a long and sad history of providing “biblical” justification for teachings that we can recognize in hindsight as contrary to the will of God.

Questions

Same-sex intercourse is forbidden in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Are these teachings important spiritual principles for all times? Or are they, like the Bible teachings on slavery and subjugation of women, remnants of Biblical-era culture that we must now reject as incompatible with the more important Bible teachings about God's love and mercy for all people?

These and other questions have been discussed in recent times. Answers tend to be strongly influenced by one's personal feelings about homosexuality. But, if we are sincere about using the Bible for guidance, we must not assume that the Bible passages on homosexuality support our own conservative or liberal viewpoints. Instead, we must put aside our own ideas, feelings and fears and prayerfully seek the truth.


Homosexuality

Homosexuality can refer to both attraction or sexual behavior between people of the same sex, or to a sexual orientation.

When describing the latter, it refers to enduring sexual and romantic attraction towards those of the same sex, but not necessarily to sexual behavior.

Homosexuality is contrasted with heterosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality.

Lesbian denotes a homosexual woman.

Most scientist today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors.

Although homosexuality does not appear to be adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint, because homosexual sex does not produce children, there is evidence of its existence through human history.

Although a number of biological factors have been considered by scientists, such as prenatal hormones, chromosomes, polygenetic effects, brain structure and viral influences, no scientific consensus exists as to how biology influences sexual orientation.

Most scientists agree that it is unlikely that there is a single "gay gene" that determines something as complex as sexual orientation, and that it is more likely to be the result of an interaction of genetic, biological and environmental/cultural factors.


Is there a "gay gene"? Major new study says no

There's no such thing as a single "gay gene" that drives a person's sexual behavior, concludes the largest genetic study ever conducted on the issue. Instead, a person's attraction to those of the same sex is shaped by a complex mix of genetic and environmental influences, similar to what's seen in most other human traits, researchers report.

"This is a natural and normal part of variation in our species," said researcher Ben Neale, director of genetics with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. "That should also support the position that we shouldn't try and develop gay cures . That's not in anyone's interest."

The international study focused on the genetic profiles of nearly 480,000 people from the United States and the United Kingdom, a group approximately 100 times larger than any previous study of the link between genetics and same-sex attraction, said lead researcher Andrea Ganna, a research fellow with the Massachusetts General Hospital's Analytical and Translational Genetic Unit.

The research team discovered five specific genetic variants that were significantly associated with same-sex behavior, but when combined these variants explained less than 1% of any person's attraction to their own gender , Ganna said.

Overall, genetics account for between 8% and 25% of a person's same-sex attraction, taking into account the thousands of genetic traits ultimately involved in shaping a person's sexual desires, Neale said.

"It's effectively impossible to predict an individual's sexual behavior from their genome," Neale said. "Genetics is less than half of this story for sexual behavior, but it's still a very important contributing factor. These findings reinforce the importance of diversity as a key aspect of sexual behavior."

Trending News

GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ advocacy group, said the results show that sexual orientation is just another normal piece of the human experience.

"This new study provides even more evidence that that being gay or lesbian is a natural part of human life, a conclusion that has been drawn by researchers and scientists time and again," said GLAAD Chief Programs Officer Zeke Stokes. "The identities of LGBTQ people are not up for debate. This new research also reconfirms the long-established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves."

The results also call into question the Kinsey Scale, a long-utilized rating scale of sexual attraction developed in part by sex researcher Alfred Kinsey , Ganna said.

"We discovered that the Kinsey Scale, which really places individuals on a continuum from basically exclusively opposite-sex partners to exclusively same-sex partners, is really an oversimplification of the diversity of sexual behavior in humans," Ganna said.

"That can't be a single line," Neale added. "The results are not consistent with that being a single line, but they don't actually tell us what those other dimensions are" that shape human desire.

Researchers are now considering whether a person's attraction to men and to women should be considered separate from each other, with the two characteristics shaping the person's overall sexual identity and desires, Ganna said.

The findings were published Aug. 29 in the journal Science.

The results did show that genetic variation has a stronger influence on same-sex sexual behavior in men than in women, possibly demonstrating the complexity of women's sexuality, said Melinda Mills, a professor of sociology at Oxford University who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.

"This reflects voices from the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+) community arguing that a range of sexualities exist," Mills wrote. "Sexuality is dynamic, with the ability to express and realize sexual preferences, and is thus also shaped and regulated by cultural, political, social, legal and religious structures."

The five specific genes related to same-sex desire cropped up in odd places, the researchers noted.

For example, one was located in a stretch of DNA that contains several genes related to the sense of smell, Ganna said.

"We know that smell has a strong tie to sexual attraction, but its links to sexual behaviors are not clear," he said.

Another gene was associated with male baldness, which is closely linked to how the body regulates sex hormones and might suggest a relationship between hormone regulation and same-sex desire, Ganna said.

Despite their overall small effect, "these genetic variants could hint at some biological pathways that may be involved in same-sex sexual behavior," Ganna said.

First published on August 29, 2019 / 2:58 PM

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


There's Something Queer about That Face

Although I've always wanted this particular superhuman power, I've never been very good at detecting other men's sexual orientation. Findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, however, suggest I may be underestimating my gaydar abilities.

The January 2008 study investigated people's ability to identify homosexual men from pictures of their faces alone. In an initial experiment, researchers Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady from Tufts University perused online dating sites and carefully selected 45 straight male faces and 45 gay male faces. All of these photos were matched for orientation (only faces shown looking forward were used) and facial alterations (none of the images contained jewelry, glasses or facial hair). To control for context, the faces were also cut and pasted onto a white background for the study. These 90 faces were then shown to 90 participants in random order, who were asked simply to judge the target's "probable sexual orientation" (gay or straight) by pressing a button. Surprisingly, all participants (both men and women) scored above chance on this gaydar task, correctly identifying the gay faces. Even more surprisingly, accuracy rate was just as good when the images were exposed at a rapid rate of only 50 milliseconds, which offered participants no opportunity to consciously process the photo.

A parsimonious explanation for these findings would be that the countenance of these photos&mdashan online dating site&mdashmeans that they're likely stereotypical in some way. In other words, perhaps it's not the target's face per se that signals his sexual orientation, but the way he expresses himself facially when trying to attract a member of the same or the opposite gender. Or maybe hairstyles are suggestive of sexual orientation. Wary of these possible criticisms, Rule and Ambady conducted a second experiment that controlled for such extraneous variables as self-presentation and hairstyle.

In this second study, the authors used images from the social networking site Facebook rather than online dating Web sites. This way, the targets hadn't so obviously selected photos of themselves meant to attract prospective sexual partners. In fact, the authors had a rather elaborate selection procedure for choosing the target photos in this follow-up study. They first searched for men who'd indicated in their Facebook profile an interest in other men. Then, they did a second search to find other Facebook users who had posted photos of these gay men in their own profile. They followed the identical criteria for straight targets. "Thus," the authors wrote, "by using photos of gay and straight individuals that they themselves did not post, we were able to remove the influence of self-presentation and much of the potential selection bias that may be present in photos from personal advertisements."

Again, the authors superimposed these male faces (this time 80 gay and 80 straight) onto a white background. They then photoshopped off the participants' hairstyles, this time truly leaving only the faces as a source of information about sexual orientation. And even with these more stringent controls, the participants were able to identify the gay faces at levels greater than chance&mdashagain even on those trials where the faces were flickered on the screen for a mere 50 milliseconds.

Furthermore, in an even more rigorously controlled series of experiments published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Rule and his colleagues replicated their discovery that people are able to accurately guess male sexual orientation. This time, the researchers demonstrated that perceivers were able to do this even when they were shown only individual features of the target's face. For example, when shown only the eye region ("without brows and cropped to the outer canthi so that not even "crow's-feet" were visible"), perceivers were amazingly still able to accurately identify a man as being gay. The same happened when shown the mouth region alone. Curiously, most of the participants underestimated their ability to identify gay faces from these features alone. That is to say, people seem to have honed and calibrated their gaydar without knowing they've done so.

Frankly, these findings are a little puzzling to me. Rule and his co-authors mention a few lackluster evolutionary reasons why it would be biologically adaptive for women to know which men aren't worth the trouble and for men to know who's not really a sexual competitor. But they also acknowledge that it's impossible to know from these findings what exactly it is about these facial features that give gays away. "Future studies," the authors wrote, "may wish to examine what aspects of these features lead to accurate judgments, what their origins might be, and how we acquire the ability to detect them."

I was curious enough about Rule's findings to look up "gay face" in the Urban Dictionary, a popular Web site that offers informal, user-contributed definitions of everyday (often crass) sayings. I like the Urban Dictionary because it captures people's understanding and use of words and phrases independent of their actual meaning it's therefore as much a gauge of human psychology as it is a compendium of slang. There were several definitions of "gay face," including this derogatory doozy:

Now, that one's rather silly and sensationalized&mdasheven politically suspect&mdashand there's certainly no scientific evidence in support of these claims about the "mongoloid" features of homosexual men's faces. But perhaps there is a kernel of truth to another definition of "gay face" in the Urban Dictionary:

Again, a tad derogatory&mdashbut that doesn't mean there isn't some logic there, as well. On the one hand, the "muscular activation hypothesis" seems plausible enough to me. But on the other hand, remember that Rule and his co-authors largely controlled for these superficial giveaways in their stimulus photos. For example, in the second experiment, participants could still ferret out the gay face when shown the eye region sans eyebrows and cropped to the outer canthi. And I'm not entirely sure how to fashion&mdashlet alone scientifically operationalize&mdasha "surprised-looking and predatory" eye expression. I think I would get a headache if I attempted that.

In addition, contrary to this urban definition, there may indeed be subtle, yet presently unknown, differences between gay and straight faces. (For example, one of my PhD students, David Harnden-Warwick, has a casual hunch that gay men may have sharper, clearer irises than straight men.) If so, this would add to a growing list of physiological and biological markers of sexual orientation. It was only a few years ago that researchers discovered that, unlike straight men, gay men tend to have hair whorl patterns that run in a counterclockwise direction. Such differences may evade conscious detection while registering at some level in people's social awareness.

All we know at the moment is that there's something endemic to our faces (in particular, our eyes and mouths) that betrays our "hidden" sexual orientation.

In this new column presented by Scientific American Mind magazine, research psychologist Jesse Bering of Queen's University Belfast ponders some of the more obscure aspects of everyday human behavior. Ever wonder why yawning is contagious, why we point with our index fingers instead of our thumbs or whether being breastfed as an infant influences your sexual preferences as an adult? Get a closer look at the latest data as &ldquoBering in Mind&rdquo tackles these and other quirky questions about human nature. Sign up for the RSS feed or friend Dr. Bering on Facebook and never miss an installment again.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Psychiatry expert: ‘scientifically there is no such thing as transgender’

OTTAWA, January 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) &ndash A prominent Toronto psychiatrist has severely criticized the assumptions underlying what has been dubbed by critics as the Canadian federal government's "bathroom bill," that is, Bill C-279, a private member&rsquos bill that would afford special protection to so-called "transgender" men and women.

Dr. Joseph Berger has issued a statement saying that from a medical and scientific perspective there is no such thing as a "transgendered" person, and that terms such as &ldquogender expression&rdquo and &ldquogender identity" used in the bill are at the very least ambiguous, and are more an emotional appeal than a statement of scientific fact.

Berger, who is a consulting psychiatrist in Toronto and whose list of credentials establishes him as an expert in the field of mental illness, stated that people who identify themselves as "transgendered" are mentally ill or simply unhappy, and pointed out that hormone therapy and surgery are not appropriate treatments for psychosis or unhappiness.

"From a scientific perspective, let me clarify what &lsquotransgendered&rsquo actually means," Dr. Berger said, adding, "I am speaking now about the scientific perspective &ndash and not any political lobbying position that may be proposed by any group, medical or non-medical."

"&lsquoTransgendered&rsquo are people who claim that they really are or wish to be people of the sex opposite to which they were born, or to which their chromosomal configuration attests," Dr. Berger stated.

"Some times, some of these people have claimed that they are &lsquoa woman trapped in a man&rsquos body&rsquo or alternatively &lsquoa man trapped in a woman&rsquos body&rsquo."

"The medical treatment of delusions, psychosis or emotional happiness is not surgery," Dr. Berger stated.

"On the other hand," Dr. Berger continued, "if these people are asked to clarify exactly what they believe, that is to say do they truly believe whichever of those above propositions applies to them and they say &lsquono&rsquo, then they know that such a proposition is not true, but that they &lsquofeel&rsquo it, then what we are talking about scientifically, is just unhappiness, and that unhappiness is being accompanied by a wish &ndash that leads some people into taking hormones that predominate in the other sex, and even having cosmetic surgery designed to make them &lsquoappear&rsquo as if they are a person of the opposite sex."

He explained that cosmetic surgery will not change the chromosomes of a human being in that it will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating, and having children, nor will it make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm that can unite with an egg or ovum from a woman and fertilize that egg to produce a human child.

Moreover, Dr. Berger stated that the arguments put forward by those advocating for special rights for gender confused people have no scientific value and are subjective and emotional appeals with no objective scientific basis.

"I have read the brief put forward by those advocating special rights, and I find nothing of scientific value in it," Dr. Berger said in his statement. "Words and phrases, such as 'the inner space,' are used that have no objective scientific basis."

"These are the scientific facts," Dr. Berger said. "There seems to me to be no medical or scientific reason to grant any special rights or considerations to people who are unhappy with the sex they were born into, or to people who wish to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex."

"The so-called &lsquoconfusion&rsquo about their sexuality that a teenager or adult has is purely psychological. As a psychiatrist, I see no reason for people who identify themselves in these ways to have any rights or privileges different from everyone else in Canada," he concluded.

REAL Women of Canada asked Dr. Berger for a statement on the issues surrounding Bill C-279 after the organization appeared before the review committee hearings on the bill.

Gwen Landolt of REAL Women told LifeSiteNews that after being initially refused permission to present their perspective on the bill to the review committee, the group was accepted, but found that all other groups and individuals who had been accepted to appear before the committee were supporters of Bill C-279.

"It can scarcely be an impartial review of any bill if only the witnesses supporting the bill are invited to speak to it," Landolt said.

Landolt explained that after passing second reading on June 6, 2012, Bill C-279 went to the Justice and Human Rights Committee for review.

At the review committee hearings, REAL Women of Canada presented a 12 page brief setting out the harms created by the bill, and pointing out that the terms &ldquogender expression&rdquo and &ldquogender identity," as written in Bill C-279, were so broad that they could be used to protect pedophilia along with other sexual perversions, if passed into law.

REAL Women provided the committee with evidence that post-operative trans-gendered individuals suffer substantially higher morbidity and mortality than the general population, placing the so-called &ldquosex reassignment&rdquo surgery and hormone treatment under continued scrutiny.

They pointed out that a pioneer in such treatment, Dr. Paul McHugh, distinguished professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, stopped the procedures because he found that patients were no better adjusted or satisfied after receiving such treatment.

McHugh wrote in 2004 that &ldquoHopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness&rdquo by catering to the desires of people who wanted surgery to change their biological sex.

&ldquoWe psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia,&rdquo he stated, adding that &ldquoto provide a surgical alteration to the body of these unfortunate people was to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.&rdquo

Landolt noted that the committee hearings ended in confusion over the terminology presented in the bill, and that even the bill's sponsor, NDP MP Randall Garrison (Esquimalt &ndash Juan de Fuca), was not clear as to who is included and who is excluded in these terms.

"The definition for 'gender identity' proposed by Mr. Garrison is a subjective one that he defined as a 'deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth'," Landolt said, adding that "The committee engaged in extensive discussions on the meaning of &ldquogender identity&rdquo and &ldquogender expression&rdquo without much clarification."

"As a result, instead of a smooth, orderly dispatch of this bill through the Committee orchestrated by Garrison, Conservative MP Shelly Glover (St. Boniface, Manitoba) and Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Delta-Richmond-East, BC), the committee hearings broke down in confusion at the final hearing on December 10th. The result is that the bill will be reported to the House of Commons as originally written without amendments," Landolt stated.

Following this state of confusion over terms at the review committee, REAL Women sought out an expert in order to provide the scientific and medical evidence relating to "transgenderism" and the other terms used in the bill.

Gwen Landolt told LifeSiteNews that REAL Women of Canada will be including Dr. Berger's statement in an information package to be sent to MPs before the bill comes to final vote.

"It is crucial that MPs know that this legislation is harmful, not only to those who think themselves transgendered but also to society, and should not be passed into law," Landolt said. "We must therefore write to our MP&rsquos to request that they speak against this troubling bill."

Dr. Berger is certified as a specialist in Psychiatry by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is an elected Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is also a past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association.

Berger has been an Examiner in Psychiatry for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for twenty five years, has taught as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and is the author of many published papers on different aspects of Diagnosis and Independent Psychiatric Assessments, as well as author of the book &ldquoThe Independent Medical Examination in Psychiatry&rdquo published by Butterworth/Lexis-Nexis.

To contact Prime Minister Harper and the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, about Bill C-279:

The Rt. Hon. Stephen J. Harper
Office of the Prime Minister House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: [email protected]

The Hon. Robert Nicholson
Minister of Justice House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-992-7910
Email: [email protected]


What does the Bible say about gay marriage?

While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26&ndash27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be “shameful” and “unnatural.” First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are “wrongdoers” who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since homosexuality is condemned in the Bible, it follows that homosexuals marrying is not God’s will and would be, in fact, sinful.

Every mention of marriage in the Bible refers to the union of a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2&ndash16 and Ephesians 5:23&ndash33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

The biblical understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is found in every human civilization in world history. History thus argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children. So psychology also argues against gay marriage. Anatomically, men and women were clearly designed to fit together sexually. The “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse is procreation, and only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. In this way, nature argues against gay marriage.

So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman&mdashwhy is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labeled as hateful people or intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of gay couples having the same legal rights as married couples through some form of civil union?

The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural. Romans 1:18&ndash32 says that God has made the truth plain. But the truth is rejected and replaced with a lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed. One way to suppress the truth is to normalize homosexuality and marginalize those who oppose it. And a good way to normalize homosexuality is to place gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional, opposite-gender marriage.

To sanction gay marriage/same-sex marriage is to approve of the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently labels as sinful. Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong, logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts apart from the Bible. One does not have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.

According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God as the lifetime union of a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21&ndash24 Matthew 19:4&ndash6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we do not condone or ignore sin. Rather, we share the love of God and act as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We point to the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).


When a Person Is Neither XX nor XY: A Q&A with Geneticist Eric Vilain

Eric Vilain discusses the biology and politics of mixed-sex individuals, arguing that terms such as "hermaphrodite" and "intersex" are vague and hurtful.

About one in 4,500 babies show ambiguous genitalia at birth, such as a clitoris that looks like a penis, or vice versa. For the Insights story, "Going Beyond X and Y," appearing in the June 2007 issue of Scientific American, Sally Lehrman talked with noted geneticist Eric Vilain of the University of California, Los Angeles, about the biology of sex determination, gender identity and the psychology and politics behind both. Here is an expanded interview.

When did you first discover your interest in intersex individuals and the biology of sex development?

I started in Paris as a medical student, and my first assignment was to a unit of pediatric endocrinology in a Paris hospital, and it was the center of reference for all of France for babies born with ambiguous genitals. And I was actually literally shocked by the way decisions were made on these patients. I felt it didn't rely on solid scientific evidence. I mean, I'm a scientist, I'm a big believer of you can't just do things without being supported by evidence. In this case it was more like people would say it was just common sense&mdashif the clitoris sticks out this much, you have to fix it. Or if the penis is really too small, it has to be bigger. Otherwise what life is this child going to have? And you know, I was never convinced by common sense. I kept asking, "How do you know?" There was no good answer to that.

There were a lot of patients and it was always the same discussions. And it was mainly about clitoral reduction.

So there were sexual politics there, too?

Yes. I was reading at the time this book by Michel Foucault. He has book that's called Herculine Barbin. He basically tells the story of this girl who clearly has a large clitoris. She goes and gets sexually aroused as she sleeps in the bed of other girls, as it was normal for girls to do. She goes to this religious institution for girls until eventually someone finds out, and then it's a big scandal. She becomes a pariah, and she ends up committing suicide. I was reading that, I was pretty young, I was like 18.

Defining normality has always been an obsession of mine. How do you define what's abnormal versus normal? I guess it's the philosophical roots of the French educational system.

But why choose to study intersex questions for the rest of your career?

My scientific inclination was excited by this because not only was it understanding a rare condition that makes people different, all of these social aspects, but also it has scientific implications in the basic biology of developing male or female. Always in biology, you want to look at the exception to understand the general. So understanding intersex individuals makes us understand how typical males and typical females do develop.

So what has your research overall been able to say about sex development?

We've identified new molecular mechanisms of sex determination. In particular we've discovered genes, such as WNT4, that's female-specific and not present in males, and that's sort of shifted the paradigm of making a male as just activation of a bunch of male genes. In fact it's probably more complicated. What we've shown is that making a male, yes, is activating some male genes, but it's also inhibiting some antimale genes. It's a much more complex network, a delicate dance between pro-male and antimale molecules. And these antimale molecules may be pro-female, though that's harder to prove.

It sounds as if you are describing a shift from the prevailing view that female development is a default molecular pathway to active pro-male and antimale pathways. Are there also pro-female and antifemale pathways?

Modern sex determination started at the end of the 1940s&mdash1947&mdashwhen the French physiologist Alfred Jost said it's the testis that is determining sex. Having a testis determines maleness, not having a testis determines femaleness. The ovary is not sex-determining. It will not influence the development of the external genitalia. Now in 1959 when the karyotype of Klinefelter [a male who is XXY] and Turner [a female who has one X] syndromes was discovered, it became clear that in humans it was the presence or the absence of the Y chromosome that's sex determining. Because all Klinefelters that have a Y are male, whereas Turners, who have no Y, are females. So it's not a dosage or the number of X's, it's really the presence or absence of the Y.

So if you combine those two paradigms, you end up having a molecular basis that's likely to be a factor, a gene, that's a testis-determining factor, and that's the sex-determining gene. So the field based on that is really oriented towards finding testis -determining factors. What we discovered, though, was not just pro-testis determining factors. There are a number of factors that are there, like WNT4, like DAX1, whose function is to counterbalance the male pathway.

Why are genes such as WNT4 and others necessary for sex development?

I don't know why it's necessary, but if they're doing this then probably they're here to do some fine-tuning at the molecular level. But these antimale genes may be responsible for the development of the ovary. And WNT4 is likely to be such a factor. It's an ovarian marker now, we know. But if you have an excess of WNT4, too much WNT4 in an XY, you're going to feminize the XY individual.

Is the conceptual framework for sex determination changing, then, because of these discoveries?

I think the frame has slightly changed in the sense that even though it's still considered that the ovary is the default pathway, it's not seen as the passive pathway. It's still "default" in the sense that if you don't have the Y chromosome, if you don't have SRY, the ovary will develop. [ SRY, or sex-determining region Y, encodes the so-called testis determining factor.] That's probably the new thing in the past 10 years, that there are genes that are essential to make a functioning ovary. That really has changed, and WNT4 is one of the reasons for it.

What do you feel are your group's most important contributions to the sex biology field so far?

The two things that we contributed was, one, to find the genes that are antimale, and reframing the view of the female pathway from passive to active. And the second thing is in the brain. We're the first ones to show that there were genes involved in brain sexual differentiation, making the brain either male or female, that were active completely independently from hormones. Those were probably our two main contributions.

Do you think this difference in gene expression in the brain explains anything about gender identity?

About identity, it says nothing [yet]. It might say something. So those genes are differentially expressed between males and females early during development. They're certainly good candidates to look at to be influencing gender identity, but they're just good candidates.

At a recent international meeting to discuss management of people with genital and gonadal abnormalities, you successfully pushed for a change in nomenclature. Instead of using terms such as "hermaphrodite" or even "intersex," you recommended that the field use specific diagnoses under the term, "disorders of sex development." Why did you and other geneticists feel a nomenclature change was necessary?

For the past 15 to 16 years now, there really has been an explosion in the genetic knowledge of sex determination. And the question being, how can we translate this genetic knowledge into clinical practice? So we said maybe we should have a fresh approach to this.

The initial agenda was to have a nomenclature that was robust but flexible enough to incorporate new genetic knowledge. Then we realized there were other problems that were in fact not really genetic, but that genetics could actually answer them. Ultimately individuals who are intersex will each have their diagnosis with a genetic name. It's not going to be some big, all-encompassing category, like "male hermaphrodites." And that's much more scientific, it's much more individualized, if you will. It's much more medical.

How did the conference participants respond to the proposal?

The majority of health care professionals were very happy with it. There were some, there was a conservative side that said, "Why change something that was working?" There was significant minority dissent that was saying, "Why do we care?" Because it was working, for us it's an intellectual frame that has worked. So it required a little bit of education, saying, you know, it's important not only because it's more precise and it's more scientific, but also the patients would benefit from it by removing the word "hermaphrodite" and so forth. About the change to disorders of sex development, there was no issue at all in the group.

Why is the medical emphasis of this new term problematic for some?

The one piece in the nomenclature that remains highly controversial is the replacement of "intersex" with "disorders of sex development." And I'll say a few things about that. One is that intersex was big. Sometimes we wouldn't know who to include and who not to include.

"Intersex" was vague and "disorders of sex development" at least is a very medical definition, so we know exactly what we're talking about. For instance, if there are chromosomal abnormalities, if you have a patient who is missing one X chromosome&mdashTurner syndrome&mdashor having an extra X&mdashKlinefelter's syndrome&mdashboth those, now we do include them in "disorders of sexual development." They're not ambiguous. They do belong in this large category of people with "medical problems," quote-unquote, of the reproductive system. So intersex was vague, DSD is not vague.

What were some of the social issues you were trying to address?

There was another issue with the old nomenclature, which was the actual word, "hermaphrodite." "Hermaphrodite" was perceived by adult intersex individuals as demeaning. It also had some sexual connotation that would attract a flurry of people who have all sorts of fetishes, and so the intersex community really wanted to get rid of the term.

Cheryl Chase, executive director of the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), said she has been promoting a nomenclature change for some time. Why?

People like Cheryl would say intersex issues are not issues of gender identity, they are just issues of quality of life&mdashwhether early genital surgery was performed appropriately or not, and that's really what has impaired our quality of life. She and others at ISNA do support the change because of an interesting side effect&mdashbecause it becomes a very medicalized definition, the medical science should apply. It should apply strongly. That means it's not as if now we're talking about something that's not a disorder, that is just a normal variant, a condition. If it's just a condition that's a normal condition, then there is no need for medical attention.

So basically my point of view is really, let's separate the political from the medical, the science. There's a whole psychology to this, you know, the surgeons often are under the impression that there is this tiny, vocal minority of activists who just want to destroy their work.

Intersex individuals are really distinct from, for instance, the gay and lesbian community that does not have any a priori medical issue, there is no difference in the development of any of the organs, or they don't need to see a doctor when they're a newborn. I think it's quite different. Sure, some intersex are gay or lesbians, but not all are.

Why was it necessary for intersex individuals to take an activist stance at one time?

Because otherwise nothing would have changed in the practice. Otherwise this consensus conference would just not have happened. It was really in response to activism. They put the problem on the table and it required, it really forced the medical community to address an issue that was rare enough not to be addressed.

Some have called the new term a political setback, because it pathologizes what could be seen as normal human variation.

First of all, we can call normal variants everything we can call cancer a normal variant. Of course, it kills you in the end, but it is a normal variant. We can play with words like that, but for practical purposes these "normal variants" have a lot of health risks that require lots of visits to the doctor for a bunch of issues that intersex patients have: fertility issues, cancer issues (the testis inside the body can increase the risk of cancer), sexual health issues. So if you're to start going to the doctor a lot for your condition, you can call it a normal variant, but that's not really useful. You're calling it a normal variant for political purposes. I'm calling it a disorder because I want all the rules and the wisdom of modern medical practices to be applied to the intersex field. I don't want intersex to be an exception: To say, "Um, you know, it's not really a disease," so therefore [physicians] can do whatever they want. That's what has been driving this field, people saying, well, you know, we can experiment, it's a normal variant.

There has been considerable controversy over whether surgeons should immediately make a decision about an infant's sex and quickly correct ambiguous genitalia. The consensus statement seems to promote a more cautious approach to surgery, while still assigning gender rapidly. What is your view?

I'm saying intervene [with surgery] only if you've proven that intervention is actually of benefit to the patient. Not of benefit to the parent. Because you know that surgery is used a lot to help the parent psychologically. It's a quick fix, if you will. The child looks different, it's very distressing for everyone, and one way to make it go away is just to make the kid look like everyone else. And that's really psychological help for the parents. But that should not be a parameter for surgery. We're talking about psychological distress to the parents, and that should be treated appropriately by a psychologist or psychiatrist, but not by surgery of the child.

Do you think this consensus statement will change the common practice of performing sex-assignment surgery early on?

(laughing) Well, yes. See, the consensus statement is a house of cards. You build it once, and there's no one that really inhabits it it can be destroyed. They're not guidelines. I think it will change, but it will require some additional work. One of the things I think should happen next is to have a few leading clinics actually apply all the consensus recommendations and then do studies showing whether they actually impact the health and the well-being of the patient. It's not easy to do, because some of the recommendations require money. Like saying, "We need a psychologist"&mdashthat's easier said than done. There's no funding for having a psychologist in all these clinics. So I think it will influence some things. For instance, the nomenclature will change. I get a lot of phone calls and e-mails from authors of major textbooks, they're going to change. Also from editors of journals who publish articles about intersex, so that's going to change. But will that change the general outcome of patients? I don't know. I hope so. I think it's a step in the right direction.

Many physicians and geneticists look at intersex simply as a medical condition that should be addressed. You seem to take patients' social and political concerns very seriously, too. Why?

I've always been interested in the fact that medicine is very normative, and reductionist&mdashit reduces people to their pathologies….'' Medicine should be in the business of making people as a whole better, rather than just curing the disease. And anyway, I'm not the only one saying that. Actually, I always use cancer as an example. A lot of cancer doctors are very well aware of this. They're offering options that sometimes do not include treatment just because they're aware of the fact that the treatment would ruin the quality of life so much that it's just not worth it.

How do you handle working in a field that is so volatile socially and politically? Everything that you do, people jump on and make claims about sexuality or gender.

I interpret everything conservatively. You have to not make the mistake of overinterpreting anything. That's my way of trying to navigate that. You also have to be aware of the social sensibilities. You can't just have an autistic approach to it and say, I'm just going to ignore it completely. If you're aware of the social sensibilities, and if you don't overinterpret your data, you're in good shape.

How do you stay aware and informed?

Being part of ISNA is one way [as a member of its medical advisory board]. It forces me to listen to what the patients have to say, which is really not part of the medical culture, at least in this field. The way to assess the well-being of a patient is to really listen to what the patient has to say.


Homosexuality may be caused by chemical modifications to DNA

“Baby, I was born this way,” Lady Gaga sang in a 2011 hit that quickly became a gay anthem. Indeed, over the past 2 decades, researchers have turned up considerable evidence that homosexuality isn't a lifestyle choice, but is rooted in a person's biology and at least in part determined by genetics. Yet actual “gay genes” have been elusive.

A new study of male twins, scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in Baltimore, Maryland, today, could help explain that paradox. It finds that epigenetic effects, chemical modifications of the human genome that alter gene activity without changing the DNA sequence, may have a major influence on sexual orientation.

The new work, from Eric Vilain's lab at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles, is “exciting” and “long overdue,” says William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at UC Santa Barbara, who proposed in 2012 that epigenetics plays a role in sexual orientation. But Rice and others caution that the research is still preliminary and based on a small sample.

Researchers thought they were hot on the trail of “gay genes” in 1993, when a team led by geneticist Dean Hamer of the National Cancer Institute reported in Science that one or more genes for homosexuality had to reside on Xq28, a large region on the X chromosome. The discovery generated worldwide headlines, but some teams were unable to replicate the findings and the actual genes have not been found—not even by a team that vindicated Hamer's identification of Xq28 in a sample size 10 times larger than his last year. Twin studies suggested, moreover, that gene sequences can't be the full explanation. For example, the identical twin of a gay man, despite having the same genome, only has a 20% to 50% chance of being gay himself.

That's why some have suggested that epigenetics—instead of or in addition to traditional genetics—might be involved. During development, chromosomes are subject to chemical changes that don't affect the nucleotide sequence but can turn genes on or off the best known example is methylation, in which a methyl group is attached to specific DNA regions. Such “epi-marks” can remain in place for a lifetime, but most are erased when eggs and sperm are produced, so that a fetus starts with a blank slate. Recent studies, however, have shown that some marks are passed on to the next generation.

In a 2012 paper, Rice and his colleagues suggested that such unerased epi-marks might lead to homosexuality when they are passed on from father to daughter or from mother to son. Specifically, they argued that inherited marks that influence a fetus's sensitivity to testosterone in the womb might “masculinize” the brains of girls and “feminize” those of boys, leading to same-sex attraction.

Such ideas inspired Tuck Ngun, a postdoc in Vilain's lab, to study the methylation patterns at 140,000 regions in the DNA of 37 pairs of male identical twins who were discordant—meaning that one was gay and the other straight—and 10 pairs who were both gay. After several rounds of analysis—with the help of a specially developed machine-learning algorithm—the team identified five regions in the genome where the methylation pattern appears very closely linked to sexual orientation. One gene is important for nerve conduction, whereas another has been implicated in immune functions.

To test how important the five regions are, the team divided the discordant twin pairs into two groups. They looked at the associations between specific epi-marks and sexual orientation in one group, then tested how well those results could predict sexual orientation in the second group. They were able to reach almost 70% accuracy, although the presentation makes clear that—in contrast to what a provocative ASHG press release about the study suggested—this predictive ability applies only to the study sample and not to the wider population.

Just why identical twins sometimes end up with different methylation patterns isn't clear. If Rice's hypothesis is right, their mothers' epi-marks might have been erased in one son, but not the other or perhaps neither inherited any marks but one of them picked them up in the womb. In an earlier review, Ngun and Vilain cited evidence that methylation may be determined by subtle differences in the environment each fetus experiences during gestation, such as their exact locations within the womb and how much of the maternal blood supply each receives.

Such subtle influences are “where the action is,” says psychologist J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “Discordant [identical] twins comprise the best way to study this.” But he and Rice caution that the study must be replicated with more twins to be fully credible. Sergey Gavrilets, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a co-author of Rice's epigenetics model, adds that the study would also be “more convincing” if the team could link the regions showing epigenetic differences to testosterone sensitivity in the womb.

Vilain's team stresses that the findings shouldn't be used to produce tests for homosexuality or a misguided “cure.” Bailey says he's not worried about such misuse. “We will not have the potential to manipulate sexual orientation anytime soon,” he says. And in any case, he adds, “we should not restrict research on the origins of sexual orientation on the basis of hypothetical or real implications.


Watch the video: Why is there such a vicious person #shorts#drawing#animation#story#xiaolindrawing#cartoon#art#arts (May 2022).


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