In the noisy and bitter aftermath of Proposition 8’s failure in California, national protests by gay and straight groups are sweeping the country.  The gay marriage issue isn’t really about marriage, it’s about homosexuality which, like abortion, is viewed by Christians as a moral issue and not a political one.

Morality, however, is a fruitless avenue of debate here because morality implies choice.  Morality implies that gays have chosen their particular “lifestyle,” no different from choosing what car to buy or where to invest one’s money.  Discussion these days about homosexuality and, by extension, gay marriage, needs to be re-framed in scientific terms.  With all due respect to The Bible, what would it mean for Christians to realize that homosexuality is genetic, no different from being born with cerebral palsy or six toes, blue eyes or black hair, gifted with genius or athleticism, burdened with low intelligence, blessed with great beauty or distressed by homeliness?  Since Christianity preaches that God loves all his creations, from the slow to the swift, doesn’t it follow that we Christians must accept the homosexual in the same spirit?  It becomes not a matter of morality, which is inherently and correctly judgmental, but rather a matter of faith in the very God who made them…and us.

Genetics renders morality irrelevant.  We can’t be judgmental about biology.  As God’s creatures, we are given what He gives us, case closed.  The real immorality occurs when we marginalize or discard those creatures born not to our liking or convenience, despite the biology.  We don’t judge a child with Down Syndrome, for instance, so why do we judge the homosexual! 

If homosexuality is genetically hardwired, then it is not a “lifestyle,” which is generally freely and consciously chosen.  Genetics gives homosexuals no choice at all.  If it did, that would mean that an otherwise intelligent, often very artistic and talented person deliberately selects a pattern of behavior that is guaranteed to bring him vilification, ridicule and contempt.  Who in his right mind would invite this rebuke for their entire lives? Our natural survival instincts, indeed, common sense, would eliminate homosexuality as a deliberate lifestyle choice.  

My (first) wife and I numbered many gay men as dear friends in our lives as performers for fifteen years in musical theater in New York, an end point for many gays.  We lived, worked and partied with them.  Our bond was our talent and love of the stage.  No open-minded person could come away from these associations and declare that their homosexuality was a “lifestyle.”  No, clearly it was their essence.   

Each knew from an early age that they were somehow different or “strange,” “unlike the rest,” or whatever label others had attached to them.   (To my pals and me on the streets of South Philly and New York in the ’50’s, such boys simply were “sissies.”) As kids, their demeanor was different from others, as were their interests, toys and friends.  Further, they all felt the same unique personality characteristics whether they had come from a big city, a mid-Western farm town or the deep south.   Such startling similarities don’t suggest lifestyle, they suggest genetics. 

Granted, my “evidence” is anecdotal, but close to a hundred gays were part of my circle in those fifteen years, which is a fairly substantial sample. The elephant in the room in any discussion of homosexuality is, of course, sex.  Gay sex is clearly abhorrent to straights (unless they indulge in it).  But if genetics is what has determined those desires, if God-given, randomly selected genes have made gays who they are, then their sexual activity is part of the package God created.  Not that we need to like it, condone it, or take a peek, but it goes with the territory and as Christians we are compelled to accept it.  Otherwise it would be like accepting someone to whom God gave great strength, but expressing disapproval when he wants to lift something.

To be sure, some in our increasingly coarsened culture hedonistically pursue sex with men and/or women for pleasure.  Others are truly confused or in denial about their own identities.  There have even been articles about college students experimenting with bi-sexuality, as if it were a purchasable item selected off the moral shelf.  And some women consciously choose the love and affection of another woman because they think, rightly or wrongly, that only someone of the same gender can understand their emotional needs.  

These are not the people I’m talking about.  For them, their lifestyle seems to be a deliberate choice.  I’m talking about (mostly) men and women who are helpless to change what they were born with.As a thought experiment, I’d like to see concerned Christians temporarily jettison the notion of morality to reflect upon what it would mean to them if homosexuality was genetic.  What would it mean to their faith if God had deliberately chosen to create a category of human beings known as homosexuals?  What becomes of their moral argument against homosexuality if it is genetic, i.e., part of God’s plan. 

This is how I believe the discussion on homosexuality should be framed.  In any event, until the biology of gays is researched and understood fully, this issue will never be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.  And gay marriage protests will continue.

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