One explanation which is popular among a small percentage of religious conservatives is
that homosexuality is in fact caused by demon
possession. The Bible talks extensively about possession of humans by demons and other evil spirits. It extensively discusses Jesus' exorcisms. The Bible does indicate that such possession has ceased today, so many conservative Christians believe that Satan and his demons remain active in the world seeking those they may destroy.
Pat Robertson is one believer in demonic possession. On his CBN network TV show in 2010-JAN he said that some slaves in Haiti once swore a pact with Satan in order to end slavery and eliminate French oppression over their land. None of the people who would have sworn the pact in 1791 are alive today, but Robertson implied that their descendents are still being punished -- presumably by God -- because of that demonic pact for which no evidence exists. 1 This would be another example of punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty.
On a different episode, Robinson expressed the belief that homosexuality "... is somehow related to demonic possession." 2
Steven S. Showers, in his essay "The crucial relationship between homosexuality and demon possession" writes:
"The 'homoerotic' impulses experienced by homosexuals are the product of demon influence. The strong feelings, and the fantasies, which homosexuals have, which have the power to draw these individuals into same-sex relationships, these are all projections intended to snare the soul into a life of homosexual slavery to the possessing demon. If the soul surrenders to these demon-initiated impulses, the soul makes the transition from simply being 'influenced' by the demon, to a state wherein the demon has actually possessed the soul, and imprisoned it within a framework of control from which the soul cannot escape on its own power." 3
Believers in demonic possession often believe that
it can be passed on from parents to children through
generational curses created by the sin of a parent or grandparent -- or even an ancient ancestor.
belief is consistent with the findings from identical twin studies. If a woman suffers from generation curses and demon possession, each of her twins would both presumably be faced with the possibility of of inheriting the curse from her, or of escaping the curse entirely.
very few people who are not religious conservatives believe in the possibility of
possession by evil spirits.
Comments from non-evangelical conservative Christian groups:
Some non-evangelicals express the same beliefs about the origin of homosexuality:
The Catholic Medical Association wrote:
"If same-sex attraction were genetically determined, then one would expect identical twins to be identical in their sexual attractions. There are, however, numerous reports of identical twins who are not identical in their sexual attractions." 4
"...genes are not the only explanation [for homosexual
orientation], because if they were, the concordance rate among
identical twins should have been 100 percent." 5
"Granted, if homosexuality was solely gene
dependent, Bailey and Pillard would have found 100 percent gayness in
identical twins." 6
conservatives often attribute the cause of homosexuality to:
Emotionally absent fathers.
Sexual molestation during childhood by an adult.
Some combination of the above.
The implications of the nature vs. nurture debate for reparative therapy:
One logical result from the belief that homosexuality is caused by experiences in one's upbringing is
that many gays and lesbians should be able to overcome their childhood conditioning and become heterosexual through adult therapy. Thus, we see many
conservative Christian groups still promoting reparative therapy and/or
transformational ministries, which attempt to convert gays and lesbians into heterosexuals through prayer and counseling.
Unfortunately, although there have been tens of millions of dollars invested in recent years to prevent equality for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, 7 no group has ever bothered to invest a small fraction of this amount to evaluate these forms of therapy for their safety and long-term success rate. From what little anecdotal evidence of the success rate that we have been able to uncover, it is much less than 1%. There appears to be considerable evidence that when therapy directed at changing one's sexual orientation fails -- as it always or almost always does -- then serious depression often results that can lead to completed suicide.
One exception is God's Rainbow, a gay-positive group in Lakeport, CA. (Since at least 2010-MAR-03, their web site has been offline.) They conclude that genes cause some gays and lesbians to develop a homosexual orientation.
They feel that other homosexuals develop a same-sex attraction because of elements in their early environment.
They give the familiar explanation
that genetics are not the complete cause of homosexuality, reasoning that:
"...since identical twins have exactly the same
genetic code, one would expect a 100% correlation in their sexual orientation. When one identical twin is gay / lesbian, the other
should be too."
They conclude that some people develop a homosexual orientation because of genetic causes;
others because of a factor in their early childhood. If the latter exists, it would
presumably be treatable with therapy.
Typical conclusions of geneticists:
Most genetics researchers, and other investigators who are not religious
conservatives, have examined the data from various studies and have concluded that
the conclusion of most religious conservatives is wrong. Studies prove that
homosexuality is not caused by poor parenting or child molestation.
Rather it is caused by genes with a penetrance factor less than 100%. This is easily verified:
Assume that 5% of males have a homosexual orientation as adults. Consider two identical newborn twin boys who were
separated at birth and raised in different homes without any contact with
each other. If homosexuality were caused by something that they experienced
during childhood, and if twin #1 turned out to be gay, then the chances of the other twin
becoming a gay adults would only be about 5%. That is because the second
twin would have been exposed to a totally different environment during his
upbringing. So his chances of being gay would be the same as for any other male -- about 5%.
However, studies have reliably shown that if one twin is
gay, there is about a 55% chance that the other twin will be gay -- an increase of about 11 times. Thus people are born homosexual, but only discover it later in life.