There is an ongoing debate between homosexual activists and leaders of the ex-gay movement over the origins of homosexual tendencies. The homosexual community staunchly contends that God created them the way they are, and therefore their behavior cannot be considered sinful. However, ex-gay ministers vehemently oppose this view. They believe that they were not created with same-sex desires but rather that certain impulses developed as a direct result of poor parent-child relationships in early childhood.
I humbly submit that both sides are right and both are wrong. Homosexual desires begin in a variety of ways with different people. Let’s explore some of the different factors involved with homosexuality.
1. The Depravity of Man
Over the sixteen years I have been counseling men from a homosexual background, I have had many tell me that they had felt a sexual attraction to other men from as early as they can remember. How can this be? Traditional theology maintains that sin entered the human race at the Fall in the Garden. The infection has spread through to our generation. Consequently, all of us are predisposed to certain types of sin. There’s not a person alive who doesn’t have to overcome some inherent lust for sin. The fact that some individuals have a bent toward homosexual sin shouldn’t surprise us.
However, the idea that God purposely “created” some people to be homosexuals reveals a very weak (or perverted) understanding of traditional theology. Homosexual lust is a direct result of the Fall and those who choose to remain in that sin will be held responsible for their actions. Homosexual activists who argue that they are not culpable for their behavior are obviously very deceived—and apparently want to be.
Be that as it may, many gay men and women insist that they have always been attracted to the same sex. Young Betty is a case in point. By the time she was ten years old, Betty was a seasoned tomboy. She hated dolls, refused to wear dresses, and preferred to play cowboys and Indians with the neighborhood boys. When she wore blue jeans and a baseball cap, many people mistook her for a boy. This never seemed to bother her—she actually took it as a compliment.
Her masculine tendencies continued to grow stronger in her teenage years. Although she had always been a quiet, decent girl, she eventually fell in with a group of young lesbians who helped her to gain acceptance in the gay community.
Betty is an example of someone who had homosexual tendencies long before puberty and is a classic case of someone with a predisposition toward homosexual sin. Those who believe homosexuality is entirely a result of a “dysfunctional” family, would argue that had Betty been raised in a loving home, she wouldn’t have become a lesbian. That may very well be true. I know of some girls who were very tomboyish, who didn’t become lesbians (also sensitive men who didn’t pursue homosexuality). Perhaps with the proper love and acceptance, the young person will not feel the need to pursue that lifestyle.
However, the point remains that—for some people—there is a sexual/emotional attraction toward the same sex from their earliest days.
2. Poor Upbringing
Many others involved in homosexuality come from the stereotypical family where there is a strong mother and a weak or absentee father. The absence of a good male role model seems to create a certain need inside some little boys in their formative years, which may lead them to seek acceptance through sexual activity with men later on.
Take Gene for example. The oldest of four children, he always longed to be close with his father and often wondered why his dad wasn’t warm, caring, and involved in his life like other fathers. Gene’s father rarely spent any time with the family—always too busy working, drinking, or having affairs with other women. So this meant that his mother had the dual task of disciplinarian and caregiver. A deep resentment began developing in the young boy’s heart toward his father.
Gene does not recall ever having a sexual attraction to men as a young boy. In fact, he looked forward to the day he could win some young girl’s heart. At age 10, he and one of his male cousins began to experiment sexually with each another. While many other boys do the same and go on to live heterosexual lives, Gene had discovered a way to gain “acceptance” from men and satisfy his desire to have sex. The lack of a father figure in his life made him very vulnerable to homosexuality.
At first, these desires lay dormant within him, but as he progressed into his teen years, his attraction to men grew. Although he was sexually active with several girls during this time, just after he turned 20, he had his first homosexual encounter as an adult. This experience set him on a course of perversion that would last for almost ten years. Eventually he found victory at our Residential Program.
Others are exposed to homosexuality as a result of being molested as young boys. Such experiences can ignite a homosexual lust, which is further inflamed by pornography, fantasy, and other similar encounters, as they grow older.
When he was nine years old, Matt was molested by his friend’s older brother. After that experience, he initiated homosexual encounters with other boys his age. He continued this habit throughout his teen-age years and on into adulthood.
Matt also cannot remember ever having any attraction toward men before this experience, but the difference between he and Gene was that his family definitely did not fit the stereotype mentioned above. Unquestionably, his problems began the day he was molested.
4. Pornography Influence
Jerry’s entrance into the realm of homosexuality was completely unforeseen. Even though he was a sexual addict, he was unquestionably the macho type—a “man’s man.” The thought of any sexual involvement with another man had always been repulsive to him. However, as his addiction to pornography and illicit sex grew, he found that the level of gratification he received from it began to diminish. As he continued to spiral downward, his craving for sex launched his curiosity for more degrading behavior.
Because he spent years watching couples have sex in pornographic videos, he became fascinated with men. He began having “bisexual” experiences in the movie arcades of adult bookstores. At first he only allowed homosexuals to gratify him. But, once he crossed that line, he became susceptible to further temptation. As his sexual encounters with women became less satisfying, his interest in men continued to grow. One day he finally gave over to his new lust. Before long, he became the aggressive homosexual in the bookstores looking for heterosexual men. His obsession with homosexuality became so powerful that he gave up heterosexual experiences altogether.
5. Cultural Influence
Historically, homosexuality has always flourished in prosperous, licentious cultures. Over the past forty years homosexuality has spread like wildfire in America.
Are the staggering statistics of homosexuality a true indication of how many people are born that way—as the homosexual activists would have us believe—or is it simply that in today’s permissive society, many choose a lifestyle of perversion simply because it’s so readily accessible? I believe that the latter is the truth.
Michael’s story is a perfect picture of this. Although he was always a sensitive young boy, he never had any homosexual desires until some friends took him to a gay nightclub one night. Because he had always been a loner, this was the first time he had ever really felt accepted by others. This experience ushered him into the gay lifestyle which he embraced for many years, until eventually, he made an about-face. He became a Christian and started a ministry to help other men come out of homosexuality.
Response to Homosexual Desire
Regardless of how a man acquires homosexual lust, he still has a choice as to whether he will give himself over to it or not. As I have stated earlier, every one of us is predisposed to some sin. James said, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” (James 1:14) As has already been stated, all of us are predisposed to certain types of sin. The lust for sin is inherent in every human being.
So, should we focus our attention on how homosexual sin originated? Absolutely not. It makes no difference if a person struggles with a lust for possessions, or power, or drugs, or homosexual sin. People who have a bent toward homosexuality must resist those desires which come out of their lower nature, repent of their sin, and commit themselves to living in obedience to God’s Word.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
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