Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Greg Koukl on the Causes of Homosexuality

Greg Koukl’s “Stand to Reason” has published a 12-page overview that discusses some of the causes of homosexuality, taken from Alan Shlemon’s forthcoming booklet, The Ambassador’s Guide to Discussing Homosexuality. This is an excerpt:


Christians find themselves in a fight they did not choose—facing overwhelming odds and fierce opposition—with a culture demanding we abandon the Bible on homosexuality and instead “celebrate diversity.” Unfortunately, believers often oblige. Faced with an apparent dilemma of fidelity to faith or fidelity to friends, they choose their friends. They may not abandon Christ, but they reject the Bible, at least on this issue, making it easier to compromise again on other inconvenient truths. With controversial issues, you have to start with facts before you start giving opinions.

The complete document is here. It is helpful to offer some of the factual information that is presented about the root causes of homosexuality in a person’s life:

Heterosexual Development in Males
In normal heterosexual development, a boy develops a male identity when he identifies with and bonds with his father (and other males around him) during his first years of life.

Though a boy initially deeply connects with his mother as she holds and feeds him, the mother-son bond extends to the father when he gives his son attention, affection, and affirmation. When Dad provides these three essentials, his son’s source of gender identification shifts from mother to father.

As he grows, the boy will continue to draw his identity from males. He’ll pursue male friends. He’ll model male behavior and mannerisms. He’ll understand other boys. Maleness will become familiar to him.

Girls, on the other hand, will seem mysterious and odd. They talk, play, and relate so differently than boys he’ll take less interest in them. Females—the other gender—will become increasingly unfamiliar to him.

At puberty when a boy’s sexual interest emerges, his mysterious opposite—girls—begins to intrigue him. Their former “weirdness” is now attractive, even stimulating. “Exotic becomes erotic,” Cornell’s Daryl Bem quipped. The foreign gender is the sexually appealing gender. Again, opposites attract.

Homosexual Development in Males
This process isn’t automatic, though. Under certain circumstances, gender identity development follows a different path.

Sometimes with boys the identification with mother fails to transfer to father. In some families, the son won’t connect with a father who seems weak, passive, withdrawn, or hostile. Bonding is difficult if the boy thinks his father is unsafe.

Further, if his mother has a strong personality and the son is overly attached to her, it will be especially hard for him to connect with his dad.

An unhealthy marriage complicates matters. When parents don’t relate well to each other, the father is less involved with the family, thus appearing passive instead of strong, interesting, and benevolent—the role model his son needs.

The assertive, over-involved mother steps into the gap—understandably—lavishing the needed attention, affection, and affirmation on her son. Because her marriage is unfulfilling, Mom may unwittingly use her son to satisfy her emotional needs, making it even more difficult for the boy to attach to his father.

In cases where the son is sensitive and introspective, every experience is intensified. The father’s disinterest in or rejection of him—whether actual or perceived—is magnified and internalized. The result: The son feels anxious or ill-at-ease with his father and other males.

Sexual abuse by an older male may also result in homosexuality. The physical and psychological trauma may cause the boy to view men as dangerous. Instead of connecting with his father and other boys, he’ll gender identify with the “safer” females.

Because of his failure to transition, the boy develops a self-protective “defensive detachment” towards masculinity, causing him to feel anxious around other males. Though he has a natural longing for male bonding, he might grow up with a subtle, hostile disposition towards males.

The boy will look to his mother, sister, or other girls as his gender role models. He’ll mimic their mannerisms and model their behaviors, eventually identifying more with them than males.

Boys, on the other hand, will become increasingly unfamiliar to him. Because of his psychologically defensive posture, he’ll grow more distant from them. They’ll become the different, mysterious, other gender.

At puberty when his sexual interest emerges, he’ll perceive males as his opposite. The male gender— the different and exotic—will seem erotic. The website, peoplecanchange.com, created by former homosexuals, summarizes the process:

As long as we felt that men were the opposite from us, while we identified with women as our sisters, we remained attracted to our opposite—the mysterious, unknown masculine....Being sexually attracted to them felt natural. Initially, at least, we didn’t feel homosexual so much as we felt genderless and, lacking sufficient maleness within ourselves, attracted to that which we felt would make us feel masculine and whole.

Growing up masculine-deprived, homosexual men pursue other men to satisfy their craving for the male connection and the affection they never received as children. Their desire is not principally about sex, though. Instead, they hope to achieve wholeness through sexual acts with men who appear to have the masculinity they lack. The encounters don’t satisfy, though, since the underlying gender identification needs are not met.

Does this explain every case of homosexuality? No. Not all homosexual males have a female gender identity. The majority of men with SSA that I speak to, though, do have gender identity issues. Almost every time I teach on homosexuality, a homosexual man tells me his upbringing included many of the elements just described.

Sometimes gender identity is not the issue, though. When men in prison have sex with each other it’s usually more about dominance than gender identity. Also, in the Middle East, strict gender segregation encourages young men to sexually experiment with other men.

Though the list of causes given above is not exhaustive, these patterns are commonly reported by gay men. No particular dynamic dictates a boy will lean towards homosexuality. Scientific research, though, indicates that psychological factors play a key role in SSA.


  1. The chief cause of homosexuality is Calvinism and the "born that way" bs that it teaches.

    1. That's a fairly ridiculous thing to say. Calvinism is not a "cause" for anything. It is a big-picture explanation of why things are the way they are. The explanation given here is much more granular, and it is consistent with the concept of God's sovereignty.

    2. Sheesh. Read Calvin, James Jordan! There's a huge attention to sanctification and the duty toward God's Law.