JCD View on Homosexuality:
Greetings from Family Talk, and thank you for your recent letter to Dr. Dobson. I hope you will understand why he is unable to respond personally; the responsibilities he maintains here at the ministry require that he seek assistance with his correspondence. It is my privilege to get back to you on his behalf.
We appreciate the time you have taken to solicit Dr. Dobson's views on the causes of homosexuality. As a child psychologist and author of a number of volumes on the growth and development of children, Dr. Dobson has studied the topic carefully. Recently, he has taken an in-depth look at this issue as it pertains to adolescent boys and men in his book Bringing Up Boys where, by permission, he shares the insights of clinical psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., whom he regards as the foremost authority on the antecedents of homosexuality.
At the outset, let me state that Dr. Dobson, along with Dr. Nicolosi, strongly opposes the idea that homosexuality results from irresistible genetic/biological influences, as some have suggested. In fact, there is no valid scientific evidence to indicate that homosexuality is inherited, despite repeated efforts to find a so-called "gay gene" or other indicators of genetic transmission. If homosexuality were indeed specifically genetic, all identical twins would share that trait, since they have the same chromosomal pattern. Yet, when one twin is homosexual, the probability is only 50 percent that the other will have the same condition. Additionally, if homosexuality were the result of inherited characteristics, it would be "constant" across time. Instead, there have been people groups throughout the ages, such as Sodom and Gomorrah and the ancient Greek and Roman empires, where homosexuality reached epidemic proportions. These cultures and many others gradually tumbled into depravity (as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 1), resulting in sexual perversions of all varieties. Dr. Dobson notes that this ebb and flow within the life cycle of societies runs counter to the predictable way in which biologically inherited characteristics are expressed within the human family.
Furthermore, if homosexuality were genetically transmitted, it would be inevitable, irresistible, and untreatable. Though many individuals and groups work hard to convince the public this is the case, such assertions are simply false. Prevention is effective; change is possible (although often difficult); hope is available; and Jesus Christ is in the business of healing. There is no refuting the fact that countless individuals have left the homosexual lifestyle and found wholeness in their newfound heterosexuality.
With these things in mind, Dr. Dobson believes there is a much more verifiable explanation than genetics for the causation of same-sex attraction. It is his view that homosexuality is a disorder that results most commonly from early developmental problems. He feels this is the case despite the denials of professional organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association and their attempts to declare homosexuality as "normal." He is also careful to clarify that homosexual attractions are not typically "chosen." A variety of environmental factors play a role in some individuals, including one or more of the following:
serious family dysfunction that wounds and damages the child
early sexual abuse
the influence of and/or sexual exploitation by an older homosexual during a critical period of adolescence
homosexual experimentation, such as mutual masturbatory activity in boys in early adolescence
peer rejection or labeling.
There is, of course, a great deal of variance in how these and other forces interplay in individual circumstances.
As stated earlier, Dr. Dobson elaborates on the early developmental causes of male homosexuality in Bringing Up Boys by providing the credible, researched perspectives of Dr. Nicolosi. It's Dr. Nicolosi's firm belief that "mothers make boys [but] fathers make men." In other words – unlike a girl – a boy must accomplish the extra developmental task of disidentifying from his primary caregiver of infancy (mother) and identifying with his father in an effort to formulate a masculine identity. As early as eighteen months of age and most usually by the third year of life, a boy will begin this process known as "disconnection and differentiation." The child begins to observe gender differences and decides, albeit subconsciously, which gender he is going to be. In the vast majority of incidences, the young boy starts to see his father (or perhaps other significant males in his life) as a model of masculinity and sameness. However, as Dr. Nicolosi points out, this natural and healthy progression of gender identification can go awry – especially if the father is absent, rejecting, or abusive and there is no sufficient male substitute in the boy's life. A boy who is turned off by his dad's (or other men's) representation of maleness can gravitate back to his mother and take on more of her characteristics. Such gender confusion and feelings of alienation may be exacerbated when a child is ridiculed and rejected by same gender peers who perceive that he is "different."
Perhaps it will be helpful to mention at this point that it is Dr. Dobson's position that homosexuality is not primarily about sex. He writes:
It is about everything else…loneliness, rejection, affirmation, intimacy, identity, relationships, parenting, self-hatred, gender confusion, and search for belonging. This explains why the homosexual experience is so intense – and why there is such anger expressed against those who are perceived as disrespecting gays and lesbians or making their experience more painful. (Bringing Up Boys, p. 123)
In light of these dynamics, it's not difficult to understand why homosexuality appears to be on the rise. Given the high incidence of broken families and marriages, as well as the prevalence of pro-gay teaching in the public schools that urges boys and girls to "think gay" and experiment with role-reversal, Dr. Dobson feels that we are laying a foundation for an increase in homosexual behavior in our society.
How, then, should Christians in our culture think about this subject from a spiritual perspective? We believe it's important to emphasize that the Lord is infinitely just. We do not feel God would speak of homosexual relations in the Scriptures as an abominable sin if men and women bore no responsibility for engaging in it (see I Corinthians 6:9-10). What's more, the Bible makes clear that God intends human sexual expression exclusively for the bond of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Jeremiah 29:6; Mark 10:6-8; Ephesians 5:22-33). This is His code for moral conduct no matter how a heterosexual or homosexual individual might be tempted to go outside that boundary. God calls all of us to these same standards. Upholding righteousness, however, does not preclude extending grace. We can demonstrate unconditional love without approving of behavior the Bible condemns. Since some individuals are drawn toward homosexual behavior for reasons they may not even understand, they need our care and compassion as they struggle to deal with forces that lie within.
We hope this response has been helpful. Thanks, again, for writing. May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to honor Him in every endeavor!