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THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE

The Influence of Nature and Nurture on Homosexuality Shontell White Liberty University COUN502 Professor Jimmy Myers May 8, 2013

THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE

ABSTRACT The nature verses nurture debate has been an argument that existed hundreds of years ago until present day explaining why people behave in certain manners, (Karwowski, 2004). Homosexuality is one of the many situations caught in the debate of nature and nurture. The church believes that people choose to become homosexuals because it is not human nature and that God did not create man to become homosexuals. Christians also believe that environment, lifestyle, and other factors in life can cause people to develop psychological or mental issues, or even decide to participate in same sex relationships. Scientists, secular psychologists, and some others within the medical field believe that nature through genetics can stimulate homosexual behavior. There are many people psychologists, counselors, Christian counselors, who combine nature and nurture to determine why or how a person decides to become homosexual. Many scientists have conducted research that proves that nature and nurture are factors that can determine a persons sexual preference. The debate will forever be ongoing, but many people are starting to agree that both components are factors that help determine a persons sexuality. Karwowski, M. (Mar. 2004) Contemporary Review. 284.1658 p180

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The nature verses nurture debate has been an argument that existed hundreds of years ago until present day explaining why people behave in certain manners, (Karwowski, 2004). Homosexuality is one of the many situations caught in the debate of nature and nurture. The church believes that people choose to become homosexuals because it is not human nature and that God did not create man to become homosexuals. The church believes that environment, lifestyle, and other factors in life can cause people to develop psychological or mental issues, or even decide to participate in same sex relationships. Psychologists and others in the medical field believe that homosexuality can be a product of nature or genetics. Most of the theories and ideas of nature verses nurture are a matter of personal opinion. The research provided in various articles lean toward one or the other. Observations conducted on the human brain have been conducted to find evidence of homosexual activity in parts of the brain. There are many people psychologists, counselors, Christian counselors, who combine nature and nurture to determine why or how a person decides to become homosexual. Some more churches have started to accept homosexuals as equals within the church and even ordain gay individuals as ministers. The liberal churches cannot associate themselves completely with the teachings of Christ if they ordain gay or lesbian men and women. Churches that accept homosexual relationships and go as far as to marry those individuals are contradicted themselves if they claim to follow the instructions of the Bible because the Bible speaks against homosexuality and heterosexual acts outside of marriage. Many scientists have conducted research that proves that nature and nurture are factors that can determine a persons sexual preference. The debate will forever be ongoing, but many people are starting to agree that both components are factors that help determine a persons sexuality. The debate whether nature or nurture as the cause of homosexuality has been

THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE

an argument for many years. After much research the only conclusion provided for nature, nurture and homosexuality is that both components can determine sexual preference.

Nature can be defined as traits that are inherited. We often hear people say it is human nature to do certain things; which simply means certain ways that people act is due to genetics. In the study of development, nature refers to the inherited (genetic) characteristics and tendencies that influence development. Some inherited characteristics appear in virtually everyone. For instance, almost all children have the capacity to learn to walk, understand language, imitate others, use simple tools, and draw inferences about how other people view the world. Thus all children have a set of universal human genes that, when coupled with a reasonable environment, permit them to develop as reasonably capable members of the human species. Inherited characteristics and tendencies are not always evident at birth. Many physical features emerge gradually through the process of maturation, the genetically guided changes that occur over the course of development (McDevitt). The church has long belief that it is not natural to participate in same sex relationships and marriages stems from the Bible. Scripture give instruction and provides laws, (Gods commandments), and inform Christians of what God wants and what is sinful in HIS eyes. Scripture tells Christian believers that if certain acts committed are sinful in Gods sight, then those acts should not be committed and if man disobeys Gods instructions and laws there will be punishment. Goldingay, LeMarquand, Sumner, & Westberg (2011) provide direct scriptures that focus on how God intends for man and woman and not man and man or woman and woman to come together in marriage and then participate in intimate activities after marriage; Genesis 2:24 is explicitly about marriage; "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh." The Bible reiterates on the old testament that marriage should only be tween a man and

THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE

woman. The Bible did not highlight that sexual relationships should be between a man and a woman because God also forbids sex before marriage. There are only a few texts in Scripture about same-sex relations, but in the words of Richard Hays, these "are unambiguously and unremittingly negative in their judgment":26

1. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. The act of a man lying with another man "as with a woman" is categorically prohibited - note that the act in general is proscribed, and that it is not relevant to consider the motivations for the act (exploitation, prostitution, and so on).

3. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1Timothy 1:10. In these passages, those who practice homosexual behavior are included in fists of the kind of persons who will not inherit the kingdom of God. The scriptures within the Bible are Christians prove that homosexuality is not by nature. If people go directly by Gods description of how and why he created man and woman, and his purpose for man and woman, then one can truly say that homosexuality is not genetic because God did not design man to desire a relationship with another man. If mankind follow scripture, the theory that homosexuality can derive from nature or genetics cannot be true if people follow according to Gods word. Nurture is natures partner; nurture is the environmental conditions that influence development. Childrens experiences in the environment affect all aspects of their being, from the health of their bodies to the curiosity of their minds. Nurture affects childrens development through multiple channels: physically through nutrition, activity, and stress; intellectually through informal experiences and formal instruction; and socially through adult role models and peer relationships (McDevitt). The church blames homosexuality on environment. People can live around homosexuality, be raised around conditions that may lead to homosexuality, be

THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE

incarcerated, and many other factors that can contribute to a change of lifestyle. Situational conditions, such as prisons, as well as economic factors, such as payment for sexual services, can cause some people to behave homoerotically without the corresponding desire, but not all people who are subjected to such constraints behave homosexuality, suggesting some kind of selfselection process at work, (Mcshee, 2008). Mcshee,(2008) states that there are circumstances that can lead to homosexuality but based on three different meanings of homosexuality; same-sex desire, which is an internal state of mind; homosexual behavior, an external manifestation of desire; and gay identity, a signifier of desire with both verbal and non-verbal elements. To nurture means to mold, take care, train, or teach. Mothers and fathers nurture their children by providing a home, food, and clothing for their children. Nurturing can cause negative and/or positive affects in a persons life; the environment that people live in and present to their children is all a part of the nurturing process. People who are trained to act a certain way, do specific things, and have certain values instilled in their lives tend to hold these traits within and value these specific traits throughout their lives. Religious groups that practice Christianity are more than convinced that a way of life can be the result of society and environment. Studies have provided evidence that hold the theory that society and environment can determine sexual preference, attitude, temperament, and other components to human life. In 1990, Swaab found in his postmortem examination of homosexual males' brains that a portion of the hypothalamus (suprachiasmatic nucleus) was twice the size of its heterosexual counterparts. In 1991, Simon LeVay conducted another experiment on hypothalamus of the human brain and concluded that homosexual and heterosexual men differ in the central neuronal mechanisms that control sexual behavior. This difference in anatomy was no product of upbringing or environment, but rather prenatal cerebral development and structural differentiation, (Y. Marfatia , M. Modi , J. Sarna

THE INFLUENCE OF NATURE

and A. Sharma 2008). If two homosexual parents raise their children to believe that it is a normal way of life to have a relationship with the same sex, then those children may grow up to have relationships with the same sex as well. Homosexual relationships are becoming more common in todays society. Many states allow same sex marriages, and many people involved in same sex relationships are raising families. A large portion of Society have accepted or ignored the fact that homosexuality is common and more individuals are coming forward and are open about their sexuality. Society and its new norm and homosexual parenting are both considered as an environment; a way of life. Both society and homosexual parenting help nurture children and influence their adult life. The proof that nurture is a definite factor that determines the sexuality of an individual is visual in everyday life. When children are changing rapidly in any area, they are especially prone to influence by the environment. In many and probably most other developmental areas, however, children may be most receptive to a certain type of stimulation at one point in their lives but be able to benefit from it to some degree later as well, (McDevitt). The church can rightly say that they have the proof that they need to justify that God created man to marry and mate with a woman, and that all other sexual desires are coerced by an ever changing evil society that accepts everything based on individual happiness. Another theory included with nature and nurture is the theory that evolutionary psychology presents. First formalized a quarter of a century ago under the rubric of 'sociobiology' (Wilson, 1975, 1978) the field now called evolutionary psychology rests on certain controversial assumptions, most of which concern the structure of the human brain, insist that past environmental challenges have produced certain uniform `design features' in human brains everywhere. Some of these are common to male and female brains, but (more controversially) others are said to be sex-specific. Evolutionary psychologists believe that every human feeling

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was placed in the human brain through natural selection; however, evolutionary psychologists also believe that homosexuality is adaptive. The theory that homosexuality is adaptive is based on the concept of kin selection and kin altruism. Kin selection and kin altruism state that even if a homosexual individual does not have children of their own, their nieces and nephews can also be gay because they share some of the same genes, and by helping those relatives of keeping contact with those relatives will keep copies of the genes circulating, (Stewart 2002). Other than the truly, 100% genetically determined characteristics such as those you can see (eye color, birth marks) and those you can't (blood type), many of your traits can be altered by the choices you make, Whitbourne 2010. Some people believe that neither nature nor nurture contribute to homosexuality. Many homosexuals hold to the belief that they are the way that they because it is their choice and their right. Homosexuals feel that religious groups and all other anti-gay groups practice hate and do not understand homosexuals, their feelings and why they chose to love or be in a relationship with someone of the same sex (Eliason 2009). Bellamy (2012), the author of To Gay, or Not to Gay? ridicules the entire nature verses nurture concept. Bellamy believes that nature and nurture identify homosexuals as a species and not as human. Bellamy argues that homosexual relationships are no different from heterosexual relationships and genetics and environment do not necessarily determine a persons sexual preference. To Gay, or Not To Gay states that; it is impossible to posit any totalizing, unifying, or monolithic definition for homosexuality. There is no single factor or trait that they are share which can be posited at the specific thing which makes them a homosexual, (Bellamy 2012). Goldingay, J. E., LeMarquand, G. R., Sumner, G. R., & Westberg, D. A.( 2011), provides insight from a religious, liberal, and scientific perspective. The liberal perspective is equal to the opinions of Bellamy and Eliason. The liberal perspective states

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that homosexuals are not different and cannot help that they are gay. Many liberals feel that homosexuality is natural and that people should accept this fact and not spend so much time analyzing why people choose same sex relationships. The theory that both nature and nurture can both be contributing factors to homosexuality is becoming popular as more people become more knowledgeable of the research concerning the so called gay gene. In Davies article, (2001), Davies states that scientists at the University of California, San Francisco recently described a fascinating example of how heredity and environment can interact. Davies uses for an example a person that inherited perfect pitch gene from parents, but may not achieve perfect unless training is provided before the age of six. Davies example of how a person may possess a specific gene but cannot utilize the gene unless he or she has been provided guidance and instruction helps one to understand how nature and nurture can work together to produce a homosexual individual. Davies believes that nature cannot work without nurture and nurture cannot work without nature. Theology explains homosexual behavior one way and psychology has its own way of interpreting why people turn to the same sex for intimacy. Many Christians believe that homosexuality is an evil spirit, or the work of the devil. Since Christians base their beliefs on the teachings of the Bible, they become aware that there are evil spirits that enter into the human body, control the human mind, and cause chaos in the lives of those that fall prey or fall victim. Some churches in the United States and other parts of the world hold sessions to help gay or homosexual individuals denounce their participation in homosexual behavior, (Eliason 2009). The belief of Christianity can be interpreted scientifically as environment. Christians and some other scientists and theorists believe that changing environments can modify behavior. Whitbourne (2010) provide Krausss theory which makes the suggestion that even though we

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can genetically develop certain traits, human behavior can be modified if people are placed in a different environment; Krausss research supports the nurture theory. Krauss states in her article that some physical traits cannot be modified but many other human traits can be modified. From a theological perspective it is believed that human, as the Bible states, are created in the image of God; therefore anything that is not like God or of God such as homosexuality, is evil and wicked. Psychology presents the idea that homosexuality can be something that a person was born with, that homosexuality cannot be controlled because it is genetic, or people may suffer some form of trauma in their life, such as sexual abuse, that can lead to promiscuity or homosexual behavior. Many people assume that if a male child shows a little femininity, then he is or will be gay once he reaches adulthood. Women or girls who society considers to be tomboy are also labeled as gay. It is visual to see that a large of females that do show more masculinity than usual and males that do show more femininity than usual are gay. When a homosexual individual Portray his or herself as the opposite sex, he or she is confident and feel free to express themselves. Society has provided a comfort zone for all types of people. It is because of society, which is part of human environment that more and more people are opening up about their homosexual relationships. Even though research has been conducted and explanations have been provided, not enough evidence has been provided to prove that nature is one of the causes for homosexual behavior. Mustankis research found similar DNA regions in the gay brothers. Keller (2005) provides research evidence stating that the gay gene seemed to run in families. Kellers article provides more studies that researched the entire genome rather than just x and y chromosomes. The study

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went even further to determine where the ay gene came from, (mom or dad). Keller concluded by stating that the research still cannot provide evidence that genetics is the only factor that determines homosexuality. The theory that nurture can cause behavioral and sexual patterns is proof within itself. There are people who abuse other people because they have been abused, gay people who claim that their sexual preference was brought out after being raped or molested. The different events in human life can cause changes to occur mentally for the human being. People who live in neighborhoods where this a large number of violence and homosexuals, are raised watching the violence and watching the same sex relationships. After a while, the child starts to develop the same lifestyle or way of life. Sociobehaviorists in the article Indian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS presented by Marfatia, Y; Modi, M.; Sarna, J.; and Sharma, A. argue that childhood elements such as play factors contribute to determining sexuality. The three authors conclude that homosexuality can be caused by scientific and psychological and environmental factors with not one being the only factor. Researchers scientific data provides information to suggest that homosexuality is a genetic trait. Religious groups provide Biblical scripture which states that God did not create men and women to participate in homosexual behavior; therefore homosexuality cannot be genetic. The constant debate and battle over how people turn to homosexuality will probably never end. The question still remains after many published articles and reviews whether or not homosexuality stems from nature or nurture. Nature describe human behavior developed from genetics while nurture argues the fact that people can be trained to live a certain way, and modify behavior to create a different lifestyle. Nurture is backed by Christians and other religious groups. Christians believe that God created people to marry the opposite sex first then mate. People in todays society are now more open and less caring about the opinions of others. People

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are more open about their sexuality whether they are accepted or not. Mankinds carefree openness is due to an ever changing environment that is becoming more and more accepting than in the past. Evidence proving that nature plays a part with some individuals choice to become a homosexual and evidence proving that nurturing children and young adults can influence a specific way of life including homosexuality is evidence to some researchers that both nature and nurture can co-exist. The researchers and theorists state that nature and nurture cannot operate alone; they have to work together. Nature can begin the process of homosexuality while nurture finishes the behavior. An example of nature and nurture working together is when a male child acts more feminine than the average or typical boy. The scientific genetic reasoning may be identified but still needs more fuel to the fire to act out on the desires of homosexual. As the little child gets older, he sees more people who are openly gay, and a society that accepts homosexuals. The child is influenced and more convinced to act out on his inner feelings and accept that he is gay; the nurturing of society has finished the process that nature started. In the future there will be more research conducted claiming that nature causes homosexuality and there will be research to claim that nurture is the cause of homosexuality. Many will argue that their theory is the one true answer to the aged question of whether nature or nurture is the explanation for individuals practicing homosexuality.

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References Bellamy, D. (2012) To Gay or Not To Gay?. Stance (1943-1880), 585-96. Eliason, M. J. (2009). AN INTEGRAL APPROACH TO SEXUAL IDENTITY: Beyond Religion and Science. Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 4(2), 67-87. Goldingay, J. E., LeMarquand, G. R., Sumner, G. R., & Westberg, D. A. (2011). Same-sex marriage and anglican theology: A view from the traditionalists. Anglican Theological Review, 93(1), 1-50. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/854441490?accountid=12085 Karwowski, M. (Mar. 2004) Contemporary Review. 284.1658 p180 Keller, J. C. (May-June 2005) Science & Spirit. 16.3 p21.

Marfatia, Y; Modi, M.; Sarna, J.; and Sharma, A. (January-June 2008) Indian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS. 29.1 p54. McDevitt, T. M.; Ormrod, J. E. Nature and Nurture

McShee, S. (2008). Can Biology Vanquish Bigotry?. Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, 15(1), 27-29. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=280 59615&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Stewart, V. L. (2002). Of hoggamus and hogwash: Evolutionary psychology and gender relations. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 30(2), 101-101. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/223673893?accountid=12085

Whitbourne, S. K. (2010) Its Time for a New Look at Nature and Nurture. Psychology Today

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