The Challenge of Homosexuality

A recent research report out of Stockholm shows that the structure and function of homosexual brains is similar to that of the opposite sex. That is, a homosexual man’s brain is similar to that of a heterosexual woman’s brain. The study’s sample size was only 90 persons: 25 heterosexual women (HeW), 25 heterosexual men (HeM), 20 homosexual men (HoM), and 20 homosexual women (HoW).

Previous research had shown that men and women’s brains were “wired” differently. This research showed that there was a similar difference between sexual orientation. So finally we have scientific proof that women love to go shopping with their gay male friends.

Using PET and MRI scans which measured blood flow the study showed:

  • The brains of heterosexual men (HeM) and homosexual women (HoW) were similar in that the volumes of their two brain hemispheres were not symmetrical (rightward cerebral asymmetry).
  • The brains of homosexual men (HoM) and heterosexual women (HeW) were similar in that the volumes of their two brain hemispheres were symmetrical.
  • There were also opposite sex similarities between the gay and heterosexual participants in the way their amygdalae connected.

The authors of the study conclude: “The results cannot be primarily ascribed to learned effects, and they suggest a linkage to neurobiological entities”. You can read the report here. The next step is to find what exactly accounts for the difference and by what mechanism it is activated.

homosexuality-brain-scan-image

More and more science is taking baby steps towards an explanation of homosexuality that is anchored in biological rather than behavioral basis. That is, it may eventually offer conclusive proof that homosexuality arises from human genetic makeup. Some scientists are persuaded already by the present findings of this and other research but not all.

We are certainly not there yet but the trend from recent research reports points that way. If this is indeed realized at some time in the future, then I believe it will present the Baha’is with a severe challenge because most believe that homosexuality is an aberration from the “natural” and that, more importantly, it is a “spiritual affliction” which can be overcome by expressing a moral choice and through conscious effort (such as prayer).

Such views would become anachronistic if homosexuality is shown to be a genetic substrate wholly outside a person’s volition and choice.

Here is a thought provoking essay on “Sex and Values” from the late R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram.