Everyone knows that homosexuality is biologically determined.  The only problem is that to-date, there is no evidence demonstrating any biological link to same-sex attraction.  Several attempts have been made, but none have succeeded, despite the media hype suggesting otherwise.  For example, Simon LeVay’s study on the hypothalamus is often touted as proving that same-sex attraction is caused by the brain, and yet LeVay himself said of his study, “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find.  I did not prove that homosexuality was genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay.  I didn’t show that gay men were born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work.  Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.”

LeVay is not alone.  Those who work in this field know that no biological link has been found, and yet some choose to allow the myth to continue, because as LeVay himself noted, “People who think that gays and lesbians are born that way are also more likely to support gay rights.”  For example, consider American Psychological Association member, Lisa Diamond.  Recently she wrote a book about sexuality in which she made the following, stunning admission:

Some activists feel that the climate is not yet right for such a shift in our thinking about sexual freedom.  Given the recent resurgence of conservative antigay activism (much of it focused on banning same-sex marriage), it may well be that for now, the safest way to advocate for lesbian/gay/bisexual rights is to keep propagating a deterministic model: sexual minorities are born that way and can never be otherwise.  If this is an easier route to acceptance (which may in fact be the case), is it really so bad that it is inaccurate?[1]

In other words, so long as the myth achieves the normalization of homosexuality, those who are in the know need not concern themselves with correcting the public’s misunderstanding.  The end justifies the means.  Such is the nature of advocacy.

But what if a biological link was discovered tomorrow?  What follows from this, morally speaking?  Nothing.  Genetics cannot tell us anything about what is moral.  Genetics are descriptive, describing the way things are.  Morality, however, is prescriptive, prescribing the way things ought to be.

Just because one has a natural disposition toward some desire and/or to engage in some behavior does not mean that desire/behavior is moral.  We can desire many things that are immoral.  The cause of the desire—whether biological or otherwise—cannot change the moral nature of the act itself.  What if a biological link was found for incestual desires?  Would that make incest morally acceptable?  What if a biological link was discovered for pedophilia?  Would that make pedophilia morally acceptable?  Would we have to consider such desires and behavior “normal?”  Of course not!  The same is true of homosexuality.  If a biological link is discovered, it may help us to better understand the origin of same-sex attraction, but it can do nothing to better our understanding of sexual morality.

Humans regularly desire that which is immoral.  A large part of moral and ethical behavior is the suppression of desires that come naturally.  This applies no less to the person struggling with same-sex desires than it does to the person struggling with opposite-sex desires for someone other than his/her spouse.


[1]Lisa M. Diamond, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 256-7.