The Family Beacon

The Magical Disappearing Gay Gene

For years there has been ongoing debate about whether or not same-sex attraction is genetic, including speculation over the possible existence of a “gay gene.” When a study was released this week by Science magazine, many sources reported that this study has resolved the debate. The problem? Depending on where you look, commentary on this study either claims that the study unequivocally proves that same sex attraction is genetic, or insists that the study forever puts to rest that claim. Who should we believe?

What you should know about the study:

Lead study author Andrea Ganna stated, in light of her findings, that “There is no ‘gay gene.’” The study found genetic patterns that indicate that same-sex attraction has a genetic component, there was no evidence of a single gene that determines a person’s sexuality. The study found that genetics could explain 8-25% of sexual behavior. In other words, genetics do not explain at least 75% of a person’s sexual behavior.

Genetic determinism and the “Born this way” trap:

One thing that this study most certainly did not prove is genetic determinism – that is, the idea that genetics are such that a person cannot help but adhere to a particular lifestyle. Genetic factors play a role in a lot of things. What if we were to apply this attitude of genetic determinism to other situations?

Take Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) or eating disorders. There is evidence of genetic factors in both. In fact, in the case of alcoholism, some sources estimate that roughly half of the contributing factors are genetic. (Incidentally, like the “gay gene” studies, search for a single “alcoholism gene” found that there was no one genetic factor at play, but several.)

 When it comes to alcoholism or eating disorders, we do not simply sit back and say that the person struggling has no choice and is stuck that way forever. Such a response would be neither compassionate nor truthful. A deterministic approach to genetics paints a very bleak, hopeless picture of the world.

The Presence of Other Factors

In CNN’s coverage on the story, they point out that the authors of the study realize the presence of other, non-genetic factors:

“In the end, genes cannot be used to predict who will be gay or straight. Sexual orientation "is influenced by genes but not determined by genes," said Brendan Zietsch, senior author of the study and a genetic researcher at the University of Queensland. "Non-genetic influences are also important, but we know little about these and our study does not shed light on them."

The purpose of this study was to look at one potential factor – genetics – and how much of a role it plays in whether or not a person will experience and act on same-sex attraction. The authors of the study acknowledged that human sexuality is complex and that there are a number of factors that come into play. Other factors, such as environment, also play a role. What is important to keep in mind is that there is not a single factor, or a single gene, that makes someone gay.

“Stop telling people to change” is not as compassionate as it sounds

An attitude of genetic determinism tells people that they are controlled by factors that they cannot change, and that they simply have to live out the tendencies they are genetically predisposed towards. 

One source reporting on this study insisted, “Stop calling it a choice; biological factors drive homosexuality.” But biological factors are not the only factors at play. Those who insist that it is wrong to say that people can make meaningful choices about their sexuality should consider—isn’t it also wrong to say that a genetic predisposition that is found to contribute between 8-25% of the factors determining a person’s sexuality should be treated as if it is the only factor at play? And further, that someone should be encouraged to adopt a homosexual lifestyle even if they do not want to, simply because genetic predispositions are present?

If people were truly immutable—incapable of change—then we would all be in a very bad way. Each of us, regardless of our past, our sexuality, our genetics, or whatever temptations we individually struggle with, would be trapped in our sin and unable to experience grace. Thankfully, the Gospel offers the hope that we do not have to be trapped, unchanging, in our sin.

In a fallen world, brokenness affects everything, including human sexuality. And yet, Scripture tells us that God is making all things new. The brokenness that we experience now is not forever, nor does it exclude us from experiencing the goodness of God’s design for his creation.

Despite any genetic or environmental factors at play, everyone can realize God’s good design for sexuality—celibacy outside of Christian marriage and faithfulness within it. This study does not disprove that, nor does it prove that certain people are excluded in such a way that they can never experience that design.

Minnesota Salutes Grandparents Day...By Considering Physician-Assisted Suicide?

On Sunday, the United States celebrated Grandparents’ Day, a day set aside since 1978 to honor grandparents and the important role that they play in their families. The original proclamation from the first Grandparents’ Day says, “Just as a nation learns and is strengthened by its history, so a family learns and is strengthened by its understanding of preceding generations. As Americans live longer, more and more families are enriched by their shared experiences with grandparents and great-grandparents.”

Grandparents bring to a family the wisdom and experience that comes with age, and it is right to honor them. But has our care and appreciation of the elderly declined? It is horrifyingly ironic that, just days after a day of appreciation for grandparents, Minnesota legislators are holding an informational hearing on a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in our state.

Physician-assisted suicide is presented as “compassionate care” and a way of offering “options” and “dignity” for those who are terminally ill. This is a far cry from reality. Physician-assisted suicide devalues human life and preys on vulnerable people, especially the elderly, and often results in a painful and frightening death. 

Our culture increasingly believes and promulgates the idea that the lives of people with disability, illness, or people who are aging are lesser and not worth living. This lie has taken hold to such an extent that a recent study found that one in five adults who had elevated beta-amyloid, which is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, would consider physician-assisted suicide if they experienced cognitive decline. 

Last year, Australian scientist David Goodall traveled to Switzerland to kill himself under the assisted suicide laws there. His reason? Merely age, not illness. Concerns that physician-assisted suicide will have an adverse effect on quality of life and care for the elderly are not simply fear-mongering.

Earlier this year, an op-ed arguing that Minnesota ought to legalize physician-assisted suicide pointed to the demographic shift in Minnesota as a large portion of our population ages as a that our state should allow physician-assisted suicide. Considering that among those obtaining prescriptions for life-ending drugs in 2018, 64 percent said that they were becoming a “burden” to their friends, family, or caregivers, an aging population should be just one of many reasons that physician-assisted suicide remains illegal. What a devastating tragedy -- that someone would seek to end their own life out of fear of becoming a burden! That would represent a massive failure of our much-vaunted health care system here in Minnesota. 

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide not only enables this kind of predation, but it communicates that some people are less valuable than others and promotes a culture of death. Legalization is associated with increase in overall suicide rates, especially among people age 65 and older—an age demographic that already has the highest suicide rates globally. 

Furthermore, physician-assisted suicide prematurely robs our society of precious and valuable lives and sickens our entire culture. As Ryan T. Anderson pointed out,

[Physician-assisted suicide] would harm our entire culture, especially our family and intergenerational obligations. The temptation to view elderly or disabled family members as burdens will increase, as will the temptation for those family members to internalize this attitude and view themselves as burdens. Physician-assisted suicide undermines social solidarity and true compassion.

The 1978 Grandparents’ Day proclamation is right when it says that our lives are enriched by grandparents and great-grandparents and that “it is appropriate… that we salute our grandparents for their contribution to our lives.” It is appropriate that we value and honor the aging members of our families, as well as of our communities. Surely Minnesota can offer a far better salute than physician-assisted suicide. Let’s expose the lies of physician-assisted suicide and offer true compassion and care, instead.

Superior is the Latest City to Enact Draconian "Conversion Therapy" Ban. Are Minnesota Cities Next?

Recently, Superior became the eighth Wisconsin city to instate a counseling ban on “conversion therapy,” preventing teens who are struggling with unwanted homosexual attraction from seeking the help they want. The Star Tribune reports that a number of Minnesota cities are considering similar measures, after a state-wide ban failed to pass last session. If this is the case, it is certainly cause for concern, as these counseling bans are an attack on free speech, and an intrusion upon counselor-client relationships. 

When We Make Abortion Illegal: The Facts

Perhaps you’ve seen the coat-hanger pins worn by abortion activists, communicating that if abortion were to become illegal, there would be a dramatic increase in unsafe, back-alley abortions. But is this really the case? What will happen when abortion becomes illegal? 

A Big Step Forward for Religious Freedom in Minnesota!

This morning, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Carl and Angel Larsen, St. Cloud videographers whose right to tell stories that reflect their deeply-held religious beliefs was thrown into question after a district court decision last year, can now proceed in their battle.

This is great news for religious freedom! The Larsens, who were featured guests at our COURAGE TO STAND event earlier this year, are not just ordinary videographers. They want to tell a story with each video they create - and they want to honor God in the process. But under Minnesota’s draconian “anti-discrimination laws” they could face jail time if they choose not to film same-sex weddings!

"Trans Women" Are Men

“Gender Dysphoria” is a legitimate diagnosis of mental disorder. It can still be found in the pages of the DSM-5, the manual of mental disorders produced by the American Psychiatric Association. However, unlike with other ailments, the accepted treatment for gender dysphoria is attempting to make one person’s illness into a universal delusion. That is a problem.

If a white person is under the impression that she is African-American, she will be laughed at - no one takes her seriously. This actually happened in the case of Rachel Dolezal. She may have a legitimate mental disorder - in fact, nothing is more likely - but no one thinks that humoring her delusion is a good thing, either for her or for society. Rather, it’s clear to almost everyone that getting her to accept her white ethnicity is the healthiest thing for her, and to encourage her in her delusion would be to make racial categories meaningless.

So why is it so different with sex and gender? Why is someone’s sex, which is even more central to their God-given identity than race, up for grabs? 

Beauty in Disability: The Value of Being Human in a Culture of Death

Twenty-five year old Preeti Singh has had cerebral palsy for entire life, causing her to be wheel-chair bound. In an article, Singh outlined society’s flaw in seeing those with disabilities not as equally valuable to those around them, but rather as people defined by their disabilities, objects to be either pitied or praised.

Singh wrote, “When I was nine, I went to my hometown for my grandmother’s funeral. There, a couple of women caught me alone and told me that I was a burden on my parents. They said that I should have died, and that it was stupid of my parents to spend so much money on my health and education. In the months that followed this incident, I became severely depressed.”

What Does a Decline in LGBT Acceptance Actually Mean?

The Accelerating Acceptance survey from the LGBT media monitoring organization, GLAAD recently uncovered a dramatic drop in “LGBT acceptance” among young adults aged 18-34. Taken aback, LGBT activists immediately laid the blame on “an increase in hateful rhetoric in our culture”, but a more likely explanation is that the consequences of the LGBT movement have come home to roost, and the resulting effects on women's rights, child health, and First Amendment protections are just too glaring to ignore.

Shadowy Clinic Targeting Minnesota Teens for Transgender “Therapy”

“True U clinic” is advertising to Minnesota teens and young adults through social media. What services does True U provide? Puberty blockers and cross-sex chemicals: a quack cure for a real ailment. When teens and young adults are confused about their gender, they should be carefully and patiently helped to become comfortable in their own bodies, not given drugs that will irreversibly change them.

Overturning Myths About Planned Parenthood’s “Care” for Women

A tired, emotionally drained seventeen year old sits in her idling car and aimlessly stares out her window. Her eyes gradually fix on the silver lettering that contrasts against the wooden background of the Minneapolis Planned Parenthood facility. It seems like the right choice, certainly the easiest choice, to walk through those doors and quickly leave her pregnancy behind her forever. However, this young woman will soon realize she does not need Planned Parenthood. Instead, she needs and deserves healthcare that gives her hope.

Was Planned Parenthood CEO Fired for Refusing to Include "Trans Men?"

Here, as in the rest of the United States, men are men and women are women. No one is born in the wrong body. Abortion is a disgusting, murderous act that is done to women’s bodies, not men’s. It is absurd, then, to pretend that taking hormones makes someone with XX chromosomes and a functioning female reproductive system into a man. But that’s what Planned Parenthood wants to do, and that’s what Leana Wen took issue with. And now she’s gone.

For Girls to Win, We Need to Protect Women’s Athletics

It’s great news for girls that professional women’s sports are finally making it big. This week, the U.S. Women’s National Team had the attention of the world as it took a record fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup title, its second in a row. The US women were unstoppable, becoming the highest scoring team in Women’s World Cup history, and making the USA only the second nation to successfully defend a World Cup crown. With clear benefits to girls, the popularity of women’s sports is changing the world for the better. But do girls’ sports stand a chance if we force them to compete against boys?