I have been wanting to write on the topic of same-sex attraction for a while, but have been unable to find a way to do so. I was timid because I did not want to spark an internet debate, I only wanted to present my opinions and those of others. Then I attended a talk on Same-Sex Attraction given by David Prosen, a therapist who used to have same-sex attraction. That sparked my attention, and I now present to you my summary of his talk.
A person is not gay. A person is not a homosexual. You cannot define a person by their sexuality, they are a human person created in the image an likeness of God. A person is a person. A person experiences same sex attraction, but same-sex attraction is not an identity. However, this idea of homosexuality being an identity and a label is extremely prevalent in our culture. This stems from the belief that people are born gay.
Are people born gay or do they choose to be gay?
The problem with this question is that it is most often asked as an either or. Either you are born gay, or you choose it. However, this questions needs to be separated into two distinct questions. Is a person born gay? The answer is no. However, does a person choose to be gay? The answer, a lot of the time is also no.
Are people born gay?
So to tackle the first question, people are not born with same sex attraction. Boys are born boys and girls are born girls, and they are created for one another (boy for girl and girl for boy). There is no gay gene. Same-sex attraction is not inherited, it is not genetic. Just like there is no gene for a basketball player. However, there are genes that make a person more likely to choose to be a basketball player. Just as there are some genes which predispose a person to be tempted toward same-sex attraction. If you are a Christian, Scripture tells us it was man was not created for man, and woman was not created for woman. And if you are not a Christian, Science tells us that a man biologically isn’t created to fit with another man. There is absolutely no scientific proof that there is a gay gene.
Do people choose to be gay?
Does a person choose to be made fun of, to stick out, to be shunned? No. Some people may choose to be gay, but many people (I dare say most) could never recall a time when they actively chose to be attracted to the same sex. They have always felt this way, and they believe they have felt this way since birth. Despite the fact that their is no scientific evidence for a gay gene, there are many studies that prove that same-sex attraction can stem from many different events or occurrences in the way you grew up.
- A weak masculine identity from lack of male acceptance.
- A mother who is overly dependent, or is perceived as overly dependent.
- A mother who is absent
- A mother who is hurtful, or is perceived as hurtful
- Sexual abuse.
- Trouble making friends.
- Poor body image
- Unmet same-sex love need
Same-Sex Attraction is Normal
I want to address the last two items on the list above. Our culture is highly pro-choice. I am not talking in the realms of abortion alone, but what I mean is the idea that a human person can choose to do, act, and feel however he or she wants. Because of this our culture has become more and more tolerant and accepting of things that once were seen as sinful or shameful. Same-sex attraction is a normal healthy part of every person’s social experience. A man admires another man for his strength and his charm with women, and strives to be like him. A woman admires her friend because she is beautiful and talented. This admiration is a beautiful expression of appreciation for human relationships. However, when mixed with one of the above mentioned situations, a person may feel shame or self pity when admiring someone of the same sex. Sometimes this can lead from healthy admiration, to a sexualized feeling, especially during puberty when hormones are raging wild. Here is where our culture comes into play. Instead of redirecting the misled feelings of sexual attraction to healthy admiration of member of the same sex. Our culture says, it’s okay to have same-sex attraction. Someone who is struggling with same-sex attraction is immediately reinforced by media, magazines, television shows, and especially psychologists that being ‘gay is okay’ and normal. When someone with unwanted same-sex attraction goes to a counselor, more often than not the therapist will tell them that they are coming out, and they need to accept it. The counselor will change the person’s values and beliefs in order to match the feelings of same-sex attraction. This is called gay-affirmative therapy and it is the norm for psychologists and therapists these days. Well is there another option?
Unlike gay-affirmative therapy, gender-affirmative therapy doesn’t assume the person is coming out. They work with the person struggling with same sex attraction and guide them to explain their feelings in line with their values and beliefs. Gender affirmative therapy helps the person to develop nonerotic same-sex relationships, become more secure in their gender-identity, and enjoy heterosexual relationships. This may confuse people because due to our cultures misconception that you are born gay or you choose it, therefore there is no ‘cure’ for same-sex attraction. However, this is wrong.
Is there a Cure?
Cure is a strong word, and I wouldn’t use it in this case. There is not a 100% sure fire way to ‘cure’ same-sex attraction. I don’t like that language, and instead I will use ‘redirect and heal’. There is healing to be found in therapy for same-sex attraction. David Prosen struggled with poor body image his whole life, he had an absent father and he was constantly trying to get approval from other men. During puberty, this escalated and it turned into sexual feelings. David Prosen became a ‘homosexual’ and participated in same-sex relationships and behaviors. He didn’t want to be like this, and he didn’t choose it. But after a deep conversion in his life, he realized he wasn’t born this way either and he could change how he viewed men. David Prosen has not completely eliminated his feelings of same-sex attraction, however they have greatly diminished. Not only that, but he now is attracted to women. In many studies done on gender-affirmative therapy, 30% of the people in therapy had completely eliminated same-sex attraction. Another 30% noticed a major reduction in the feelings of same-sex attraction. (Bieber 1962; Clippinger 1974; Fine 1987; Kaye 1967; MacIntosh 1994; Marmor 1965; Nicolosi 1998; Rogers 1976; Satinover 1996). There IS proof that you can triumph over some same-sex attraction. Just like anything that anyone else struggles with, it does not define you as a person, it only hinders your ability to be the person you were created to be.
What about the 40% that can’t change? What about those who don’t want to change? Well this topic is large, and it is a very sensitive issue. I could write several more posts on the subject, and maybe someday I will. For now I will just simply keep it about the hope in the changes that people can make in their lives. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, I am simply summarizing a talk given by David Prosen. For more information: