The Expository Files.

"Studies Have Shown That Homosexuality is a Matter of Biological Determination!"

Mantras of the 90's -- #8  
Special Series  

On August 30th, 1991, the headline on page one of the McAllen Monitor read: "Scientist detects biological difference between homosexual, heterosexual men." (McAllen, Texas).

Headlines have a necessary function in journalism. The blunder many fall victim to is - reading a headline, drawing a conclusion and asserting something as fact, without even reading the story beneath the headline! I can visualize, for instance, having a discussion with someone about homosexuality someday, perhaps years from now, and in defense of homosexuality the remark is made:

"Studies have shown that homosexuality is a matter of biological determination!"

Of course, the headline doesn't state this; neither does the article! I read the entire Associated Press article, and listened to an interview on Good Morning America (ABC, Aug. 30, 1991). Here are some of the facts beneath the headline:

Simon LeVay, of the Salk Institute for biological Studies, San Diego, was the researcher. He studied the brains of 41 men and women (post mortem), including 19 homosexual men. In that portion of the brain called the "anterior hypothalmus," which some say relates to male sexual behavior, LeVay discovered a cluster of cells which was smaller in homosexual men, then offered the conjecture that there might be a link between "the size of that group of cells and the sexual preference of males." That's it! This was the study that was published in the journal Science, and widely reported in the news, beginning about 1991.

A careful reading through the Associated Press article will reveal {a} the inadequate grounds of the study, and {b} the very cautious, uncertain attitude of LeVay, and others who have looked at his study. Judging just from the headline, the casual reader may think this is some sort of gigantic leap in knowledge or a breakthrough. But just notice these things, quoting from within the AP report:

This cluster of brain cells "may guide the sex drive of men." The relation of this cell group to male sex drive is not an established fact.
This small body of research is "suggesting that homosexuality could be a matter of biological destiny ..." Those who only quote headlines need to understand - this is only a suggestion about what could be! {Of course, I deny that homosexuality is a matter of biological destiny. But right now, I'm exposing the folly of men, who jump to conclusions and make assertions on very inadequate and tentative grounds, sometimes just a headline.}

The article clearly states: "researchers still aren't sure which is cause and which is effect." Scientists who study such things cannot prove that this works the other way around. That is, the homosexual activity (persisted in) may have this effect on this particular cell group. In fact, the chief researcher, LeVay, stated: "I don't know if the structure caused the behavior ... or if the behavior modified the structure." This vital observation isn't in the headline.

The Associated Press article is filled with cautious, uncertain language and clarifications. Beneath the bold headline, there is language like this: "LeVay cautioned ... researchers still aren't sure ... the odds are ... I don't know ... possibly ... could ... I would put my money on ... may be .. highly speculative ... very difficult to determine ... science does not yet know ... may not be ... could well be ... it might ... just pure speculation ... " On and on, clarifications, expressions of doubt and admissions of human speculation not hinted at in the headline!

Good Morning America featured Dr. Robert Kolodny, who specializes in endrocronology. He commented on the LaVey study with caution and reservation, expressing three problems he had with the results: {1} The brain specimens in this study were taken from the bodies of men and women who had died of AIDS, raising the question of the impact of the HIV virus on brain cells. {2} This study was greatly limited in number; only 19 homosexual men. {3} The other specimens came from heterosexuals, but this was just assumed; these "heterosexuals" could have actually been homosexuals.

So, there is a great deal to be learned under the headlines. Actually, with regard to this issue - the headlines may not be true; the article under it may not be true. But here's something you can count on ... The Word of God is true! What you read in the newspaper may be thoroughly false, or it may be reporting what men have said (which is false)! So-called "scientific studies" may be characterized by uncertainty (may be . could be .. speculative .. odds are), but the Word of God decrees the will of God: Homosexuality is sin [Gen. 18:16 - 19:20; Jude 7; 2 Pet. 2:6; Amos 4:11; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:9-11].

By Warren E. Berkley 
From Expository Files 4.8; August 1997