Finnish study finds genetic effects associated with homosexual intention and behavior

An August, 2007 study in Biological Psychology has come in under the radar. The study of twins provides some interesting findings of interest to discussions here. For now, I am going to post the abstract, discussion section and reference.

Abstract

We investigated the potential to engage in homosexual behavior in 6001 female and 3152 male twins and their siblings finding that 32.8% of the men and 65.4% of the women reported such potential ( p < 0.001). 91.5% of these men and 98.3% of these women reported no overt homosexual behavior during the preceding 12 months. The potential to engage in homosexual behavior was influenced by genetic effects for both men (37.4%) and women (46.4%) and these overlapped only partly with those for overt homosexual behavior.

Discussion

The results show, for the first time, prevalent potential for homosexual response in both men and women, even among individuals who do not report any overt homosexual behavior. Women reported more potential which is in accordance with previous findings showing that their sexual orientation may be more changeable (Kinnish et al., 2005). These results suggest that sexual identity, behavior and potential may often be quite disentangled as suggested by both Escoffier (2003) and Pathela et al. (2006). The phrasing of the question does not suggest that the homosexual sex would take place in the absence of possibilities for heterosexual sex, indicating that the responses refer to homosexual behavior by choice. Therefore, the concept of PHR should not be mixed with situational homosexuality occurring in all-male or all-female environments such as prisons.

PHR was also influenced by genes. These genetic effects overlapped only partly with overt homosexual behavior. Any alleles underlying the genetic effect on PHR should be relatively common and, therefore, also likely to have served some evolutionary purpose, such as limiting the aggressiveness of males and thereby making them more attractive to females (Miller, 2000). PHR was more prevalent among women, a result that is not in line with suggestions that the alleles influencing homosexuality would be predominantly linked to the X-chromosome (Hamer, 2002). It is also of interest to note that there was no evidence of any shared environmental effects on either phenotype. Such results suggest no role for neither intrauterine effects, arguing against hormonal theories of sexual orientation, nor for familial effects shared by all siblings to the same degree, arguing against simple parental personality or parenting style effects.

Conclusion

The results imply that we should rethink how the phenotype of homosexuality is defined. Finally, previous

psychological and genetic correlates of homosexual orientation may actually have more to do with why some people engage in homosexual behavior as opposed to being correlates of a potential to do so.

Delaware school requires “treatment” for bad thinking

I have been following the development of a story out of Delaware regarding the University of Delaware and residence life trainings to address student worldview. The link is to the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Eduation (FIRE). According to the website and documents I have seen, the university keeps a portfolio on students to ascertain progress toward institutional goals. The goals include forced views of white privilege and “heterosexism.” There are links on this site to the university’s ideological program.

It occurred to me that even my sectarian college does not micromanage the views of our students. I do not know how this will all shake out but I am following it. While I am sure there are some reasonable behaviors that the school would like to encourage, taking a “re-education” methodology (if this is implemented as described) seems counterproductive.

UPDATE: University of Delaware has stopped the program – see here.

Post-mortem on the Obama-McClurkin dust up

The conservative Weekly Standard provides some dandy analysis of the Obama-McClurkin episode. Surprising to me is the writer Dean Barnett’s reference to McClurkin as “semi-gay.” Now we have yet another term to add to the collection, albeit not one that is likely catch on. Guess you can color him skeptical.

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From meddling to preaching; two important articles on shifts in Evangelicalism

David Kirkpatrick has a lengthy analysis of shifts in evangelicalism in yesterday’s New York Times. Called “The Evangelical Crackup,” the article describes what appears to be a shift in evangelicalism away from political activism.

And then the Rocky Mountain News describes a similar shift underway at Focus on the Family with the advent of Jim Daly as head of the organization.

Obama a no-show; McClurkin cheered

This AP article gives a report from the Embrace the Change concert in South Carolina.

According those on the scene, McClurkin was featured and presented his beliefs near the end of the concert.

My guess is he will get points from African-Americans in South Carolina but he will lose the state.

Obama says his staff did not check out McClurkin’s views well enough (read: we didn’t think anyone would mind that much).

NARTH convenes in Dallas

This morning, the Dallas Morning News has an article covering the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). According to the article, the membership has decreased (now 800, from 1000) with a fairly small turnout for the conference (around 50). You can see the conference schedule here.

And here is another view of the conference and the protest by area gay groups.

In the name of change, what hurts?

Recently, I received an email from Michael Bussee asking me to consider the harmful aspects of trying to change sexual orientation. My first reaction was to remind him of the prior posts on the blog regarding potentially harmful practices and perspectives. I may be one of the few social conservatives to leave the zone of comfort and openly question the status quo among those who work toward change. And I have been clear that I work for congruence with values rather than focus on change. Part of the rationale behind the sexual identity therapy framework was to address practices which can exacerbate the kinds of experiences Michael described in his email. Here is his list:

Overpromises hurt

Being told you are sick or damaged hurts.

Parents are hurt when they are blamed.

Wives and kids are hurt by ill-advised marriages.

Those with serious psychitric problems are hurt by “counselors” with no training or expertise.

Vague definitions of “change” hurt.

False advertising hurts.

Shunning hurts.

Blaming and shaming hurt

“You are not enough, did not try hard enough and don’t have enough faith” messages hurt.

Being told you are not saved and were never really a Christian anyway hurts.

Being told that you will now burn for all etermity — because you could not achieve the ill-defined “change” hurts.

I agree that some approaches to change may result in these hurts. For instance, one person told me that they sought help from one change therapist because he promised change would occur if the therapist’s program was followed precisely. After a year, despite following the program, there was no change in attractions, and the client felt disillusioned and defeated. Another person told me that he came forward in a church service for healing prayer. Despite words of knowledge for healing, the same-sex attractions persisted. He was sure he lacked faith and felt farther away from God. I have written about similar results in my article, A Valued Life. My friend, Jim, had tried change approaches and reflected back in this way:

A few years ago, when I was debating whether or not to “embrace” my homosexuality, I heard a radio broadcast from a ministry I trusted. I still highly respect them, even today. But I believe that they have blinders on, that allow them to see homosexuality in only one way. Anyway, I listened to the broadcast on homosexuality, complete with some very moving testimonies. And then the host came on and said, essentially, that homosexuality was a sickness, and Jesus Christ was in the business of healing. Well, I’ve been a Christian since 1971, have asked God to take my attractions to men away so many times I’ve lost count, and still struggle with it.

It was a moment of complete hopelessness.

While I have not addressed all of Michael’s list, I believe sexual identity counselors and ministry leaders should evaluate our work to avoid harmful practices. I have consistently spoken to the need to examine theories and techniques for fidelity to research and ethical practice. No one is immune from error however, and we need to approach this arena with care and as much humility as frail human beings can muster. While I believe sexual identity ministry has achieved great benefit in the lives of many, this does not take away the harm that has occured. I hope to keep learning and will continue to promote and refine the sexual identity therapy framework for the better.

McClurkin supports Obama; says he has been misunderstood

To the Chicago tribune, Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin says he met up with Obama at an Oprah gathering and liked what he heard from the Senator.

“I believe in his stance. I believe in his platform and his agenda. So when they asked me if I would be a part of it, there was no problem,” said McClurkin, who has performed at both parties’ conventions and identifies himself as a Democrat. “We don’t have to agree on everything, but we do have to agree on the main thing: that there needs to be change and I believe he is the candidate to bring it.”

Regarding his stance on homosexuality, he says:

For years, McClurkin has talked from the pulpit about how he was raped by a male family member as a child. It was that act, he has said, that sent him into living as a gay man for the better part of 20 years. He now says he is straight and that his ministry is open to those who say they no longer want to live as a gay person. What he doesn’t do, he says, is crusade against homosexuality.

“There’s never been a statement made by me about curing homosexuality. People are using that in order to incite anger and to twist my whole platform on it. There’s no crusade for curing it or to convert everyone. This is just for those who come to me and ask for change.”

Elsewhere, the Human Rights Campaign weighs in to change the name of the concert series to “We Forced the Change.”

And this isn’t the first time that the Human Rights Campaign has crossed paths with McClurkin.