Does DNA Determine Sexual Preference?

I’m often asked if there really is a “gay gene”—one that predetermines certain people to be homosexuals. From the beginning of creation, God designed men and women to be equal but not interchangeable. He designed marriage to be exclusively heterosexual. Science even supports the Bible’s answer to this important question.

The idea of a gay gene became popular from a misunderstood 1993 study in the journal Science. It reported that some male homosexuals who were related through a maternal line—such as gay sons with gay uncles on their mother’s side—shared some similarities within a large DNA region on the X chromosome.1

Though some researchers were unable to duplicate those results, a 2014 analysis of a larger group of test subjects found a similar link.2 But the similar sequences did not include a gene, nor did the research support the conclusion that any DNA directly or indirectly determines sexuality. If this DNA determines sexuality, then why does it often look the same in homosexual and heterosexual males? Also, the data show no link between gay and straight women. According to these results, DNA does not cause homosexual behavior. In general, studies confirm that human behaviors are too complicated for just one gene or region of the genome to explain.

The supposed warrior gene illustrates this. Some individuals with a certain version of the MAO-A gene, when combined with an abusive upbringing, have a much higher likelihood of eventually committing a violent crime. However, plenty of people with the same combination never commit such crimes, showing that genes and backgrounds do not directly determine behaviors.3 Nobody has yet found a gay gene or a criminal gene. They may never find one.

Even those who report subtle genetic links between some homosexuals agree that homosexuality, like other human behaviors, comes from a complicated mix of genetic and other factors. For example, Michael Bailey, senior author of the 2014 study, told International Business Times, “It is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved.”4

If genes do not determine homosexuality, then how does it arise? The Bible describes how turning away from God can lead to homosexuality.

Their foolish hearts were darkened….[They] exchanged the truth of God for the lie….[T]he men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful.5

When we refuse to acknowledge our Creator and His clear design for our lives, the consequences are devastating. God’s Word says that individual decisions at key points in a person’s life influence behavior, and science does not refute this. Personal choices seem to be a key precursor to homosexual behavior, and the answer for that—as for all self-serving conduct—is the redemption available to all through Jesus Christ.

Those who argue that God somehow made them homosexual by placing a gay gene inside them have no science or Scripture to stand on.

References

  1. Hamer, D. H. et al. 1993. A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation. Science. 261 (5119): 321–327.
  2. Sanders, A. R. et al. 2015. Genome-wide scan demonstrates significant linkage for male sexual orientation. Psychological Medicine. 45 (7): 1379-1388. Published online before print November 17, 2014.
  3. Hagerty, B. B. Can Your Genes Make You Murder? National Public Radio. Posted on npr.org July 1, 2010, accessed March 18, 2015.
  4. Mintz, Z. Does A ‘Gay Gene’ Exist? New Study Says ‘Xq28’ May Influence Male Sexual Orientation. International Business Times. Posted on ibtimes.com February 14, 2014, accessed March 3, 2015.
  5. See Romans 1:21-27.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: Brian Thomas, M.S. 2015. Does DNA Determine Sexual Preference?. Acts & Facts. 44 (6).

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