Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Maybe if my mother had raised me differently

I want you to imagine for a minute a poll that asked the American public this after left handedness: Do you think it is something people are born with, linked to upbringing, or just how some prefer to write?

Surely we would think such questions absurd, despite the fact that for many centuries people thought left handed people were immoral, stupid, or even evil. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am left handed.)

Well, that's the basic question the Pew Research Center asked in July about homosexuality. They found that 36% of Americans think that homosexuality is innate (up 6% since 2003), 13% think it is linked to upbringing, and 38% say it's "just how some prefer to live." Now, the good news is that there have been significant increases in the view that homosexuality is innate among college graduates, liberals, mainline Protestants, and those who seldom or never attend church.

But, am I the only one who finds it offensive that questions of science are being put to public polls? There is a great deal of science about what causes each of us to have a particular sexual orientation, and although some of the prenatal and genetic factors are still being understood, surely we know that it's not upbringing nor is it a choice. I always ask people who advance the choice argument "When did you first know that you were heterosexual? Was it a choice you made?"

There is a lot of education to be done. I'm pleased to tell you that we have received a grant from the Carpenter Foundation to begin the development of a Study Note on sexual difference, which will help congregations and clergy address both the science of sexual orientation and a theological framework on sexual difference. We hope it will be available by late spring 2007.

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Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the grant...

Anonymous said...

Dear Debra and Matt,
I see to my delight that you have listed my blog on your blogroll. I have changed the URL of this blog and would appreciate it if you could update it. My blog can now be found at
Thank you. All the best to you and your important work.
Niels Teunis