Is homosexuality really fixed and immutable as some argue?
Authored by Joe Dallas
Social justice arguments are effective because they sound so good. They demand an end to homophobia and insensitivity; who wants to say they are against such goals?
But just as the question “When did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Jones?” assumes (without proof) that Mr. Jones has been beating his wife, so the pro-gay social justice arguments assume (without proof) that gays are victims, and that the conservative church is largely responsible for their victimhood.
These arguments are most effective in secular discussions (talk shows, interviews, university debates) where listeners are unlikely to judge them by Biblical standards. Instead of discerning which side is theologically correct, non-Christian audiences tend to side with whomever seems “nicest.” Usually, that means the gay spokesman asking for anti-discrimination laws or support clubs for gay teenagers. The person against these things – usually a conservative Christian – does not seem “nice,” no matter how nice he or she may truly be.
That is not to say pro-gay social justice arguments are unwinnable; answered properly and politely, non-Biblical ideas can be challenged in the secular arena. Paul proved that with the citizens at Mars Hill (Acts 17:22). But the challenger needs to be aware that often, because of his position, he will be seen as the “bad guy.” This is all the more reason to speak with an equal measure of clarity and politeness.
Social justice argument: ‘Homosexuality cannot be changed.’
“Sexual orientation simply cannot be changed,” a gay psychiatrist says confidently,(1) warning “there may be severe emotional and social consequences in the attempt to change from homosexuality to heterosexuality.”(2) This argument draws heavily from the social sciences, as it must; the Bible supports no such claim. Indeed, St. Paul makes the opposite remark, clearly stating homosexuals can change, when he asserts:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; emphasis added).
Still, the “I-tried-to-change-but-I-couldn’t” argument is quite popular among homosexuals who have accepted their orientation and insist others do the same.
Response #1: The ‘unchangeable’ argument is misleading. While many mental health authorities believe homosexuality is unchangeable, many others believe it can be changed.
In 1970, the Kinsey Institute reported that 84 percent of the homosexuals they studied had shifted their sexual orientation at least once; 32 percent of them reported a second shift, and 13 percent reported five changes, during their lifetime, in their sexual orientation! (3)
The Director of the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training, no doubt aware such changes occur, remarked on the “misinformation spread by certain circles that homosexuality is untreatable,” saying it did “incalculable harm to thousands.”(4)
Dr. Irving Bieber concluded (after treating more than a hundred homosexuals) that “a heterosexual shift is a possibility for all homosexuals who are strongly motivated to change.”(5)
Sex researchers Masters and Johnson (hardly a pair of standard-bearers for the traditional view!) said the “homosexuality cannot be changed” concept was “certainly open to question.”(6) Drs. Wood and Dietrich, writing about the effectiveness of treatment for homosexuality, confirmed “all studies which have attempted conversions from homosexuality to heterosexuality have had significant success.”(7) And the New Report of the Kinsey Institute explains people do not “necessarily maintain the same sexual orientation throughout their lives,” then explained that “programs helping homosexuals change report varying degrees of success.”(8)
But no one says it better than Stanton Jones, Chair of Psychology at Wheaton College: “Anyone who says there is no hope (for change) is either ignorant or a liar. Every secular study of change has shown some success rate, and persons who testify to substantial healings by God are legion.” (9)
Response #2: This argument is illogical in that it assumes if a condition is unchangeable it is therefore desirable.
For the sake of argument, suppose it could be proven that homosexuality, as a condition, is unchangeable — that no amount of prayer, counseling or efforts of any sort could make a homosexual become attracted to the opposite sex. What then? Should that change our view of homosexual behavior as being sinful? Hardly. There’s no contingency in any Scriptural reference to any kind of sin, in the Old or New Testament, saying: “Thou shalt not do thus and so — unless, of course, you tried hard to change, went for prayer and counseling, and found you just could not stop wanting to do thus and so. If that’s the case, then thus and so is no longer a sin. It’s an inborn, immutable gift and you can indulge it!”
The Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever it may have been, was unchangeable; despite his prayers for deliverance, God allowed it to remain. But it certainly was not desirable (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Other conditions — alcoholism, for example, or various addictions — are widely believed to be unchangeable, and have to be coped with daily. That hardly makes them desirable, natural or God-ordained.
Joe Dallas founder of Genesis Counseling, is the author of four books on homosexuality, including Gay Gospel? How Pro-gay Advocates Misread the Bible.
This article was used by permission from Exodus International, North America.
This article was originally published on 16 August 2006.
(1) Richard Isay, Ph.D., “Gays and the Church,” ABC World News Tonight, February 28, 1996.
(2) Richard Isay, Being Homosexual (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1989), p. 112.
(3) Wood and Dietrich, The AIDS Epidemic (Portland: Multnomah, 1990), p. 238.
(4) Ruben Fine, Psychoanalytic Theory, Male and Female Homosexuality: Psychological Approaches (New York: Hemisphere, 1987), p. 84-86.
(5) Irving Bieber, Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study (New York: Basic Books, 1962), p. 318-319.
(6) Masters and Johnson, Homosexuality in Perspective (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1979), p. 402.
(7) Wood and Dietrich. The AIDS Epidemic (Portland: Multnomah, 1990), p. 238.
(8) June Reinisch, The New Kinsey Report (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1990), p. 138, 143.
(9) Stanton Jones, “The Loving Opposition,” Christianity Today, July 19, 1993, Vol. 37, No. 8.