So, have they really found a “gay gene”?

DNA (square)New Scientist this week published a report on the ongoing search for a “gay gene” focusing on what is seen as the most promising candidates for such a thing in men: gene markers in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome and in the 8q12 region of chromosome 8.

As is to be expected of such writing when so much completely unscientific concerns are riding on it, the reporting is full of self-contradiction. For instance, compare statements in the magazine:

“A genetic analysis of 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of twins, has provided the strongest evidence yet that gay people are born gay.”

Ah! So, they have found evidence that people are actually born homosexual! Or have they? Well, no, they haven’t. From the same article, further down:

“Whatever the results, [study leader Alan] Sanders stresses that complex traits such as sexual orientation depend on multiple factors, both environmental and genetic. Even if he has hit on individual genes, they will likely only have at most a small effect on their own, as has also been seen in studies of the genetic basis for intelligence, for example.”

So, the beginning says they have found “the strongest evidence yet” that homosexuals are born homosexuals, yet later on the lead scientist in the study stresses that even if the study’s findings stand it would still only mean that being a homosexual depends on “multiple factors, both environmental and genetic” and, in fact, that the genetics “will likely only have at most a small effect on their own.”

That is truly sloppy writing on the part of New Scientist magazine–and, unless he is simply suffering under poor editors, the article’s author.

The self-contradiction within the magazine is not limited to the article, itself. For instance, while the article stresses that “Even if he [Sanders] has hit on individual genes [that may be related to homosexuality], they will likely only have at most a small effect on their own.” Yet a different article elsewhere in the issue–an editorial titled “Gay gene discovery has good and bad implications” (or “Get over it” in the print version)–states, “But as we report this week, there is growing evidence that male homosexuality has a strong genetic contribution.”

The contrast is stupefying. “[Genes] will likely only have at most a small effect on their own” versus “evidence that male homosexuality has a strong genetic contribution” — which is it, New Scientist?

Such irrational self-contradiction is what you get when such strong social bias infects science and science journalism. Science reporting becomes social advocacy, and results are replaces with desired, fanciful interpretations — something that New Scientist is, regrettably, very good at. (Very tempted to borrow one of the schticks of the WSJ’s James Taranto and declare New Scientist to be two magazines in one.)

There is much to say on this, so let me categorize things into a Q & A:

Have they found a “gay gene”?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Noooooooo. Longer answer: The only way to answer “Yes” is (1) to completely ignore what the words “gay gene” mean to most people and (2) to ignore the actual results of the study.

Concerning (1), when some claim to believe in a “gay gene” they are stating a belief that homosexuality is determined by your genetics — that there is no real choice, environmental, or psychological influence involved, but rather it is just how you are “coded” in your DNA. That is, they believe there is genetic coding that completely determines your sexual preference just as it might determine your hair color or eye color.

This is what most people think of concerning the words “gay gene,” and no such “gay gene” has been found in any way, shape, or form. No genetic instructions have been found that determine one’s sexual preference. Nothing in this study changes that fact.

[UPDATE, 11/21/2014 PM: I came across a webpage referencing an earlier Guardian article on the same work. That article, too, showed a similar confusing mix of statements and words that implied more than they should. But it also contained some straight out clarity in a few statements. For instance, it pointed out: “The genes were neither sufficient, nor necessary, to make any of the men gay.” A far cry from a “gay gene,” to be sure, if some homosexuals have them and some don’t and if some heterosexuals have them and some don’t. Clearly, not a gene determining sexual preference. Then, too, there was this fact, which many seem to like to forget: “The flawed thinking behind a genetic test for sexual orientation is clear from studies of twins, which show that the identical twin of a gay man, who carries an exact replica of his brother’s DNA, is more likely to be straight than gay. That means even a perfect genetic test that picked up every gene linked to sexual orientation would still be less effective than flipping a coin.” That is, studies on twins have proven beyond doubt that sexual preference is not genetically determined. There may be a variety of influences in a person’s life — biological, emotional, sociological, psychological — that create vulnerabilities to certain temptations, but no true “born that way” excuse to completely justify any sinful lifestyle or remove the possibility of repentance and change has ever been demonstrated, and these studies are no exception. There is no “gay gene” as the concept is popularly understood, and homosexuals are not born that way in the same manner that zebras are born with stripes and leopards with spots. — WGS]

So what has been found?

What the recent study has done is try to establish more solidly that on two particular genetic regions there seems to be a correlation between certain DNA markers and homosexuality in some men. Previous studies had suggested such a correlation, but later studies had made that correlation questionable. This study uses a larger group of men and establishes more robust conclusions than the studies before it, and it suggests that such a correlation may exist.

Yet, as I understand it, it does not show that all homosexual men have this DNA marker and it does not show that all men with this marker are homosexual. It does not establish that the DNA marker is actually in any way causing a tendency to homosexuality, though that is something that the scientists will now explore. The two regions where a noticeable correlation seemed to exist between the presence of markers and homosexuality: region Xq28 of the X chromosome and region 8q12 of chromosome 8, have many genes. As the article above says, “Both regions contain many genes, and the next step will be to home in on which ones might be contributing to sexual orientation.”

Notice the important word there: “might.” They don’t even know if the gene correlation implies any sort of causation — that is, that anything in these regions is actually causing any effect on sexual preference, at all. All they have found is strong suggestion of a correlation between certain genetic markers and the homosexual preferences of the men being studied.

Still, doesn’t a correlation imply that one causes the other?

That is a very common misconception, but, no, correlation does not imply causation. Actually, that error is humorously illustrated by a fun website I came across not too long ago (admittedly, “fun” is a matter of taste) that demonstrates real correlations between sets of data that are completely unrelated. The title of the website is plain enough, Spurious Correlations, and here are a few of its examples:

Correlation - Cheese consumption & Bedsheet entanglement deaths - tylervigen

Correlation - Maine divorce rate & Margarine consumption - tylervigen

Correlation - Swimming pool drownings & Nicolas Cage films - tylervigen

So, just because things correlate that does not mean that one causes the other. (Though they really should look into that Nicholas Cage thing, though.

Now, that said, correlation is a place to start, to be sure. While the presence of a correlation between two things does not imply that one causes the other, at the same time if one causes the other in some way then you would expect a correlation. The new study, if it continues to hold up to scrutiny, would demonstrate a possible correlation that should be followed up on. Without the follow up, the study really tells no tale of anything significant. As the article said, from here they should go on to look if any of the genes in those regions “might” (their word) have an influence.

And there are things that make the correlations more compelling as something worth investigating. For instance, the Xq28 region is an area of the X chromosome containing genes that help regulate the androgen receptor protein, connected to testosterone. (Not pretending to be an expert, here. Just a Wikipedia user.)

What if a genetic influence is found?

Well, what if it is? The analysis you get from those who are already “pro-homosexuality” will be pretty inconsistent. The New Scientist editorial I referred to above is a good example. There, the editor says,

“To socially liberal and tolerant people, this new knowledge will be entirely unchallenging. It is in circles where homosexuality is still considered problematic – of which there are many – that it could have implications.”

There are other evidences of irrational biases in the paragraph, but let’s look at just this statement. It is, of course, completely false.

The idea that sexual preference could be biologically determined would, indeed, have the potential to have a great impact on “socially liberal and [errantly described as] tolerant people.” For instance, I’ve read some homosexual activists who hate the idea of identifying a “gay gene” because they believe “sexual freedom and self-determination” is the goal, and they wouldn’t want to see any sort of biological determinism one way or the other. Also for young people surrounded by and soaking up such a “socially liberal and [so-called] tolerant” worldview as promoted by this editorial, any feelings they may experience that they might interpret as homosexual in nature would be seen through the lens of the “some are born this way” doctrine. Such a coloring of their perception and processing would lean some much more heavily toward accepting that they may be “one of those by nature,” while, in a worldview lacking in such biological determinism, they would be more inclined toward considering the experience to be something fleeting.

The author actually explores one of those possibilities, without recognizing the other side. He talks of genetic testing where a child in the womb who is found to have “that gene” is aborted or “cured” through genetics-based medicine. What he doesn’t talk about is the possibility that those who find their child has “that gene” might then alter the child’s environment and their approach to raising him in such a way that actively shapes him toward homosexuality, making it that much harder for him to choose otherwise than it would have been — mistaking such a finding as an imperative to raise a child in accordance with some fantasized genetic “destiny.”

And on the author’s second sentence, I have found the reverse to be true: As someone who definitely considers homosexuality to be “problematic” I don’t see any implications, at all, if a genetic connection is eventually discovered.

But, if there is a genetic connection (admittedly, not yet shown), shouldn’t that change whether or not homosexuality is morally acceptable as a lifestyle?

No, not at all. What is considered moral is not determined by genetics in any way, shape, or form. Really, that’s obvious, right?

I’ve made the point before as a model of logical thinking and identifying assumptions (check that out here: “Australia’s ‘You’re having a lesbian’ ad versus Logic”), but let me make the point again with another recent article.

Almost as recently as this New Scientist article, the Daily Mail Online published an article in October of this year titled, “Are criminals born with a murder gene? Scientists identify cause of violent behavior.” The beginning of the article summarizes the rest well:

“Researchers have claimed that some people may be born with genes that makes them inherently violent.

If true it would indicate some are simply born to be violent, rather than being criminalised by society.

The scientists identified two genes that may be associated with extremely violent behaviour.”

Actually, if you read the article (caveat navita stans: the Daily Mail tends to include a lot of trashy celebrity-oriented articles and pics in its margins), you’ll find that, concerning the study, it reads very similar to the article about the study of homosexuals. If anything, the differences in the study seem to make the conclusions of the “violence” article stronger.

So, if it ends up being true that scientists have, indeed, “identified two genes that may be associated with extremely violent behaviour” and make them “inherently violent” then we should embrace such behavior as morally acceptable?

Of course not.

And such possible genetic linkages have been found with other problems, as well, such as alcoholism. Should we accept alcohol abuse as moral behavior if genetics plays some sort of role in one’s susceptibility? Again, of course not.

I realize that at this point some might take offense that I am lumping homosexuality in with the vices of extreme violence and alcohol abuse. To that I would say two things. (1) If that bothers you, then you prove my point. You are saying that there is a moral difference between the behaviors, yet you are judging that independently of genetics. If genetic tendencies played a role in determining what is morally acceptable, you would see no difference. And (2) consider something that is not negative, then. There have been findings that suggest some have a genetic predisposition toward greater intelligence. Do we then declare “intelligence” to be a moral virtue? Are those who are less intelligent somehow less moral, as well? (Let me say: Wow, I hope not!)

If that hasn’t yet made the point that genetics should not be used to determine what is moral or immoral, consider this paragraph from the New Scientist article:

“‘This study knocks another nail into the coffin of the “chosen lifestyle” theory of homosexuality,’ says Simon LeVay, the neuroscientist and writer who, in 1991, claimed to have found that a specific brain region, within the hypothalamus, is smaller in gay men. ‘Yes, we have a choice in life, to be ourselves or to conform to someone else’s idea of normality, but being straight, bisexual or gay, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with.'”

Now, reimagine that exact paragraph to be talking about extremely violent offenders:

“‘This study knocks another nail into the coffin of the “chosen lifestyle” theory of violent behavior,’ says Doctor von Doctor, the German biologist and neuroscientist who claimed to have found that a specific brain region, within the central lobe, is darker in violent offenders. ‘Yes, we have a choice in life, to be ourselves or to conform to someone else’s idea of normality, but being passive, aggressive or extremely violent, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with.'”

Who in the world would be OK with that second paragraph? By the way, that is a real German neuroscientist, Dr. Gerhard Roth, who discovered that, indeed, there is a “dark patch” in the central lobe area of the brain in many violent offenders — a discovery which “led him to believe that some criminals have a ‘genetic predisposition’ to violence,” according to the Daily Mail article referenced above. I removed his name from the quote above in the hope that no one would accidentally grab that terrible, fake quote and give it as something he actually said.

Because such a thing would be a terrible thing to say. Yet it is logically equivalent to the previous, very real paragraph in New Scientist quoting Simon LeVay.

We could do the same thing with the last paragraph of the New Scientist editorial:

“Ultimately, what causes homosexuality doesn’t matter as much as the fact that homosexual people exist, and have always existed, in every society on earth. In the words of the activists: some people are gay. Get over it.”

Redone:

“Ultimately, what causes extreme violence doesn’t matter as much as the fact that extremely violent people exist, and have always existed, in every society on earth. In the words of the activists: some people are extremely violent. Get over it.”

Logical? No. Scientific? No. Advocacy? Yes. (Fitting that the New Scientist editor is quoting activists at the end. His article shows that he is among them.)

So, no, if some genetic influence, whether strong or weak, related to homosexual temptations were ever discovered (and, again, one has not been discovered, yet), it would be irrelevant concerning whether or not homosexuality is morally right or wrong.

What is right or wrong is not in the hands of geneticists, and it certainly isn’t in the hands of the writers of New Scientist magazine. It’s in the hands of God. And, frankly, it’s a lot safer there.

Morals of the story: (1) Read science articles very carefully, especially if they touch on a social “hot topic.” (2) Even after reading a science article, keep in mind that the author may not be properly conveying the actual results of the study being discussed. (3) No “gay gene” has been discovered, and this recent work does not change that. Some interesting possibilities have shown themselves, but they need more research and, even if confirmed in the strongest sense, they still don’t look like they would demonstrate the magical “gay gene” some people hope so desperately to find. And (4) what is moral or immoral is not determined by genetics, and people only pretend it is when doing so supports something they have already pre-determined is morally OK.

25 thoughts on “So, have they really found a “gay gene”?

  1. obeirne

    Mr. Smith, as it’s Sabbath night and I’ve been listening to Dr. Meredith deliver the sermon entitled, Build a Positive Attitude, I will not read this through tonight. I did briefly see this article or one related to it posted to Facebook. When I shared it on Facebook, I made a comment on the gist of it, I suggested that the inference that the gay ” gene ” had been found was comparable to the many false and discredited claims over the decades that the missing links in the evolutionary chain had been discovered. These deceivers will insist that the square peg fits perfectly into the round hole.

  2. Dave Machanick

    There goes my ice cream gene theory!
    We are here to develop character which means we have to overcome our sins, bad habits, and vices.

  3. Steve

    One of my best friends is a retired criminologist. He talked about false correlations all the time. (Did you know that most murderers are right handed?)

  4. There is a strong likelihood that what I deal with neurologically has either a genetic or an epigenetic basis. Left untreated, it certainly caused me and others problems. Should I argue therefore that a problem is not a problem, no matter what the actual cause is? Short answer, long answer, ditto, ditto…
    This whole world needs a healing, body, soul and spirit. The difference is that some of us humans don’t want to admit it.
    Great exposition, Mr. Smith. 🙂

  5. Thomas

    The number of people who drowned by falling in a swimming pool vs the number of films Nicholas Cage appeared in. lol. The correlation might mean something if they had thrown themselves in the swimming pool after watching a Nicholas Cage movie. Otherwise, making the consumption of margerine illegal should do wonders for marriage (at least in Maine). Thanks for the link to spurious correlations. Definitely one to bookmark!

  6. Teresa

    Well, I’m just really glad that I stopped eating margarine years ago!

    I heard this study announced on our NPR news station a few days ago, and I think even the reporter mentioned at the end of the piece that there wasn’t really any evidence to substantiate the claim. I thought that was an interesting remark considering the liberality usually shown in NPR reporting.

  7. Teresa: An interesting remark? Ha! I’m actually shocked that NPR would make such an admission. I’d be even more shocked if MSNBC did. 😀 (Hoping I’m not being unfair or cynical, I’m still a tad influenced by what I’ve heard them say on other subjects.)

    I remember the last time (unless I missed a time or three) someone really pushed this idea of a “gay gene” publicly. I was living in San Francisco at the time. Someone made that claim in a paper he read at the yearly meeting (in SF) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The SF Chronicle reported that not only did he stir up considerable opposition in the AAAS, but strikingly, in the local GLBT community. “There are many reasons people become gay,” said one of the most prominent women in that community. I personally could vouch for that, as one woman I knew became a lesbian in reaction to rape and a man I knew did so out of lack of affection from his father.

    I’m aware of other, epigenetic conditions in fetus and child development, one of which has come to public notice very recently in the person of someone claiming to be an Olympian’s girlfriend. Apparently if certain “protein switches” don’t get toggled at various stages of fetal and post-birth development, certain problems arise. That’s partly why I wrote: this whole world needs a healing, body, soul, and spirit. I pray that God will grant us the ability to heal even such problems as those as a witness to His eternal power and Godhead.

  8. James

    A healing indeed is needed, Mr Wheeler, in more ways than we realize. I know of someone disowned by his devout Christian parents and evicted when he “came out”. With no place to go, he called another Christian family whom he was well aware did not agree with or condone his behavior. Though they had no room (he slept on their living room sofa) and was extremely inconvenient and intrusive for them, they agreed to house him until he could figure out his next move.

    He had a normal upbringing with his biological parents. He felt an attraction to boys ever since he could remember and did not know why. He hated this feeling and thought it would go away but never did. He felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Talks with his parents did not amount to much. Suicidal thoughts were constant.

    He eventually moved out of state, got his bachelor’s degree, and is currently employed. Although he is a practicing homosexual, he and the family stay in contact. He constantly thanks them for being the only ones who did not treat him like a “dirty diaper” and showed him unconditional love as suicide was his next option. He told the Christian family he hopes to change one day. I tell this story as a reminder and example of how to “hate the sin yet love the sinner”. The phrase is thrown around quite frequently often lacking practicality.

    On a similar note, years ago, before the “gay gene” hit mainstream, my wife’s grandmother cared for a woman whose daughter was pregnant with a boy. Doctors performed a new type of litmus hormonal test and determined her child would be born with homosexual tendencies. His concerned parents did everything in their power to masculinize him. Today he is a practicing homosexual.

    After this incident, I wondered if some of our “irrational” behaviors, including homosexuality, could be the result of a birth defect. Years of no studies had me wondering if the very thought qualified as one :). Over the last several years, studies have surfaced, but the jury is still out on this also. Whichever way this plays out, we should love them anyway. Our predictions, analyses, evaluations, warnings, and judgments are prone to fail, but love never does (1 Co 13:8-9).

  9. Thanks for your comments, James. I would add that, in the first case, I would not be too quick to judge the first family nor to praise the second. Concerning the first, there may be details unknown and unshared. Concerning the second, I would hope they provided not only a roof, bed, and food, but also the same sort of impassioned counseling one would give to a fellow who was considering a life of methamphetamine addiction.

    And in the second case, I would be interested to hear more of such a hormonal litmus test. We’re such to exist, I would expect to hear more advocates making use of it as a key brick in the edifice of their “born that way” arguments. And, still, were someone born with a defect in hormone production, I would expect it to be treated as any other similar defect, such as one in insulin production.

    And I do agree: “Hate the sin but love the sinner” is often applied poorly. On one hand, people fail to love the sinner, while on the other some fail to truly hate the sin. And it is the sinner, not the sin, who suffers apart from repentance and is eventually destroyed.

    Thanks, again, for your comments.

  10. James

    Thank you for taking your valuable time to reply.

    I never heard of that type of test either. Was hoping you or someone else did. Not sure if any hormonal therapy was administered. I would have to assume there was, given the prognosis. Most intriguing to me is the failed efforts to consciously masculinize him. No details on that either. We lost contact with the situation when grandma retired.

    As far as failing to hate the sin. I agree. As humans, we can fail to hate (i.e.,without malice) perfectly. But as the scriptures proclaim love “never” fails. Not that we will love perfectly, but that it will prevail over everything else including hate. So if love “never” fails, can we safely deduce hate “can” fail? Since we will die in this imperfect state, it would be better facing the judgment of Christ erring on the side of loving the sinner rather than hating the sin. The sinner gets another chance to get it right, we will not. Am I in the batter’s box with this or out of the ballpark? 🙂

  11. Mr. Smith: Sometimes God says He hates the sinner too, as do His servants, and it can hardly be a matter of the Hebrew idiom for “loving less” by comparison (e.g., Genesis 29:30-31; Luke 14:26; Matthew 10:37). For example:

    (Psalms 5:4 RSV) For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee.
    (Psalms 5:5 RSV) The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers.
    (Psalms 5:6 RSV) Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the LORD abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.

    (Psalms 139:21 RSV) Do I not hate them that hate thee, O LORD? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee?
    (Psalms 139:22 RSV) I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.

    I believe I have a solution to this conundrum. As Christians we make both impersonal logical judgments and personal value judgments when we consider people and their deeds, just as God does. The first kind have to do with God’s law as such, and on that level God “hates” both sinners and their sins, as do His servants. The second kind are driven by how much God valued all of us while we were yet sinners and sent Jesus Christ for the sake of sinners and their sins. On that level, God loves us despite our sins, and His servants follow that example.

    Perhaps David speaks above (in Ps. 139) of those who rise up against God due to their rebellion against His law, which is a matter of logical judgment as our concepts of justice and legality are rooted in those forms of consciousness. In that case his total opposition to such people would be justified.

    Thoughts?

  12. Mr. Wheeler: Interesting thoughts. It would take more salted caramel mochas than I am willing to ingest today to address that conundrum in depth. 🙂

    James: Yeah, I’m still suspicious that such a hormonal test exists that would cause doctors to draw such a conclusion. I would suspect that the real story there is not as it was conveyed to you. (Not assuming duplicity there on the individuals’ part! Just humanity. 🙂 )

    As for the “hate the sin, love the sinner” thing, there, part of the problem is it can’t truly be an “either/or” at its heart. We can’t really “err on one side” because the two are too related. Failing to truly hate the sin and to recognize its role in someone’s life will result in failing to love that person as fully as we should. And failing to love the person will result in failing to properly hate the sin that is truly destroying them.

    The world tries to sell an idea that loving the sinner and hating the sin can be separated into an “either/or” or “rather than” pair. I would need some convincing that this is so.

  13. Mr. Smith:: Salted caramel mochas or not (I prefer Starbucks Doubleshot Mocha, the canned variety, myself when considering such things 🙂 ), I’m glad you find the feedback interesting on whatever level.

    Anyway, if I understand David’s preferred way of perceiving and deciding correctly, his “child’s heart” indeed would how he looked at God’s law as a logical system (the whole Law of Moses, or the Ten Commandments as a whole, not from this perspective a “parts list” of statutes and judgments) – no wonder he was so deeply opposed to Those Who Simply Refused to Get With the Program. And that can teach us something about the conundrum, too.

  14. Norbert

    The mention of “eviction” brought back a high school memory. At the time, one of my friends in his senior high school year decided that he no longer needed to do his chores around the family house, after all he was an adult. It didn’t take very long for his Dad to sit him down an offer him two options. Do his chores and continue living in the house or two: His father would hire a lawyer and then legally disown him. He decided to go with option number one.

    Adult children can be disowned for a number of reasons, sometimes the situation can be resolved. I imagine whatever outcome happens, a lot is dependant on where your treasure is.

  15. James

    (Psalms 5:4 RSV) For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee.
    (Psalms 5:5 RSV) The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers.
    (Psalms 5:6 RSV) Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the LORD abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.

    Psa 139:21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
    Psa 139:22 I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.

    Mr. Wheeler: Forgive my intrusion and “simplectual” approach :). Trying to wrap my head around this. David recognized the possibility of his thoughts being less than perfect (Ps 139:23-24). In Ps 5:4-6, David describes God’s ability to hate evildoers, which God can do “perfectly” (without malice).. Hating perfectly eluded David (Ps 41:10; Pro 20:22) and the rest of us humans—at least it does this human. In Ps 139:21-22, perhaps in his incomplete spiritual maturity, David expressed his imperfect attitude of “complete” hatred towards the enemies of God, counting them as his enemies. We know it was imperfect because Christ alludes to and corrects it:

    Mat 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and ***hate your enemy***.
    Mat 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
    Mat 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

    Christ alluded to David’s example to shift our focus from an incomplete and spiritually immature approach of hating the evil person and their inextricable tie to their sins, which we fail to do perfectly, to focusing our attention and efforts on loving the evil, unjust person. Although He recognizes we can also fail to do this perfectly, He assures us it is the more complete, spiritually mature, foolproof approach (Mat 5:48;1 Co 13:8). Thoughts?

  16. James: There’s a risk of pre-empting Mr. Smith on his own blog, which I don’t have the right to do. But let me put it this way: David spoke, as few others ever have, from a deep, personal relationship with the very same Personage who spoke as Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. David, “a man after God’s own heart”, knew that Personage’s nature and imitated it as far as his role in God’s plan and his personality growing into character could let him. Therefore, we may rely on his statements as valid. God hates sinners, and so did David. The only question is what David meant by “hatred”. It does have different meanings in different contexts.

    I believe the right understanding is that the “hatred” – complete opposition – was based on logical judgment, which is impersonal. It is a different “form of consciousness” from the kind of “love” which values a person for his inherent worth, despite his sins and his sinfulness, and wishes him to come to repentance. And these two can and do coexist in God’s mind and in His servants’ minds, without mental contradiction (yet often not without emotional upset, as God and Jeremiah together reveal especially).

    On this question at least, Jesus refuted the Law as it was being taught by the scribes and Pharisees, not “as it is”. Nothing in the Law of Moses gives one the right to “love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. That is how the scribes interpreted the Law. That is not how the Law interprets the Law. May you and Mr. Smith both forgive this long citation from John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible, chock full as it is of Victorian prolixity:

    Matthew 5:43
    Ye have heard that it hath been said,….
    By, or to them of old time. This law has been delivered to them,

    thou shalt love thy neighbour, with this appendage to it, or false gloss upon it,

    and hate thine enemy; for the first of these only is the law of Moses, Lev_19:18, the other is the addition, or wrong interpretation of the Scribes and Pharisees: wherefore the Jew (o) has no reason to charge Christ, or the Evangelist, with a false testimony, as he does, because the latter is no where written in the law, nor in the prophets: nor does Christ say it is; he only observes, that it had been traditionally handed down to them from the ancients, by the masters of the traditions of the elders, that the law of loving the neighbour was so to be understood as to allow, and even enjoin, hatred of enemies: in proof of which, take the following instances (p).

    “When one man sins against another, he may not hate him in his heart, and be silent, as is said of the wicked; Absalom spoke not with Amnon: but it is commanded to make it known to him, and to say to him, why hast thou done to me so and so? As it is said, “rebuking, thou shalt rebuke thy neighbour”; and if he returns, and desires him to pardon him, he shall not be implacable and cruel; but if he reproves him many times, and he does not receive his reproof, nor turn from his sin, then מותר לשנאותו, “it is lawful to hate him”.”

    Again, they say (q),

    “Every disciple of a wise man, שאינו נוקם ונוטר כנחש, “who does not revenge, and keep as a serpent”; that is, as the gloss explains it, “enmity in his heart”, as a serpent, is no disciple of a wise man.”

    And so Maimonides (r), one of their better sort of writers, says;

    “A disciple of a wise man, or a scholar, whom a man despises and reproaches publicly, it is forbidden him to forgive him, because of his honour; and if he forgives him, he is to be punished, for this is a contempt of the law; but “he must revenge, and keep the thing as a serpent”, until the other asks pardon of him, and then he may forgive him.”

    Thus they bred their scholars in hatred and malice against their enemies. This arises from a mistaken sense of the word “neighbour”, which they understood only of a friend; and concluded, that if a friend was to be loved, an enemy was to be hated; not the Gentiles only, but anyone, among themselves, which could come under that name.

    (o) R. Isaac Chizuk Emunah, par. 2. c. 11. p. 402. (p) Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora precept. neg. 5. Vid. Maimon. Hilchot Rotseach, c. 13. sect. 14. (q) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 22. 2. & 23. 1. (r) Maimon. Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 7. sect. 13.

  17. The point is that Jesus refuted the personal “hatred” taught by at least some of the scribes and later rabbis. The case illustrated by Amnon and a statute in the Law is actually closer to the impersonal “hatred” one must manifest when one refuses to repent after admonition. There are times when even the New Testament Church of God must manifest such law- or doctrine-based opposition to someone who is disfellowships and marked for being disposed to heretical [“opinionated”] thinking. It’s “nothing personal”, but it’s absolutely necessary.

    (Titus 3:10 ESV) As for a person who stirs up division [through being “opinionated” contrary to God’s logical framework legally and doctrinally, if I may amplify the intent], after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,
    (Titus 3:11 ESV) knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

  18. James

    Mr. Wheeler: My apologies to you and Mr. Smith. Didn’t mean to come across that way. My passion for the word sometimes overrides my better judgment.

  19. Greetings, again, James, and I don’t see any reason for you to apologize. I don’t see any way you have “come across” in your previous comments, so, no worries! 🙂

    I appreciate the comments folks have left, though I’d hate to get too far from the basics, and I’ve been happy to let you guys talk about the details you have without my own comment. And I’m still quite content to allow that “conundrum” to go unaddressed by me (so you’re not preempting my non-forthcoming thoughts John 🙂 ), though perhaps that conversation can continue between y’all elsewhere if you’d like.

    (As an aside: Some unrequested public speaking advice, James: Saying that your fault is having your judgment overridden by your passion for God’s Word will come across to most as what is popularly called on Twitter a “humblebrag.” 🙂 I know you didn’t mean it that way, which is why I call it “public speaking” advice. Just ask John: I’m full of such unrequested advice!)

    Really, to wrap us what I’ve tried to say and to allow things to move on: (1) The families in the related tales can be judged — both well and poorly — too easily based on such anecdotes, when the details make a huge difference. Given the small descriptions we have, neither of those families can be understood as having done what is right or wrong by that young man. Mercy triumphs over judgment, yet sometimes even the eviction of a child can be a great mercy, while showing “tolerance” can be functionally equivalent to showing hatred (cf. Prov. 13:24). Let’s not judge such families as doing things wrong or right, nor use them as examples of such, based on such little information. (2) Properly loving a sinner requires having God’s perspective on their sin and what it is doing to them: Something that is destroying their character and coming between them and God. Hating the sin and loving the sinner is not as separable a matter as some would have people think.

    Again, I don’t see any offense, James, so no need for apologies! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

  20. James

    Mr. Smith: Thank you for replying and bringing to my attention the humblebrag. I will be more conscious of it.
    Mr. Wheeler: Thank you for your input and opportunity to want to discuss it further. I do not see a need to continue. Between all the posts, the church’s position was made more clear. Besides, would not want to risk being accused of breaking the spirit of Titus 3:10-11. May you both have a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  21. Again, James, I wasn’t trying to say that you were doing a humblebrag. Just that it could come across that way. Racked up a few of them, myself, after all, so I speak with authority on the matter! 🙂 And it didn’t seem to me that you were violating the spirit of Titus 3:10-11, at all. Thanks for your thoughts!

  22. James

    Mr Smith: No worries. I was merely expressing my appreciation for raising my awareness to a potential character flaw. Always appreciate your input.
    Mr. Wheeler: I have some thoughts about your Davidic post, which I will be more than happy to continue in private, not a public forum. But only if you promise not to remove your Titus “model 3-1011” from your holster :). My email is “james2ko”at gmail dot com. Email if you’re interested. Cheers.

  23. Bryan

    Horrendous! This article from New Science is exceedingly high on the goofy scale. Thank you for nailing it, Mr. Smith.

    Wrong-headed genetic determinism is a scourge of modern “science.” In fact it is more pre-scientific than modern: ideas of biological determinism can be found in caste structures in India and feudal serf/noble social structures in Europe in the Middle Ages and even NAZI-type eugenics. They implied that birth and blood was the sole determinant of a person’s social, intellectual and physical destiny. God must be confused: He thinks we can choose life and blessings.

    We can’t argue that genes do not exist. =) However, genes simply cannot act independent of environmental influence. Twin studies already alluded to are perfect examples of how even when a genetic influence exists, the gene must be “toggled” as John said on or off by an environmental influence. For instance, genes associated with cancer (among other disease) can be hidden or revealed by the activity of such things as histone deacetylases (HDAC’s) that are in turn inhibited by environmental factors. Genes cock the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.

    Individual choice rears it’s horrifying head once again. The environment that influences your genes is first your cells, and your cells are found within the environment of your body. Though our body is found in the visible environment around us, we make a lot of choices that influence our body chemistry, thereby exert a huge influence on which genes are toggled on or off. Though not in a simple way, genetic expression responds to the food you eat and the thoughts you think.

    As a side note only very simple-minded thinking would ascribe such a complex topic as sexual behavior to one gene. Though genotypes and phenotypes are fairly straightforward, for instance, I believe it is only about 2% of genetically-influenced diseases are linked to a single gene. As complexity goes up, so does the number of influencing factors as well as the interplay between those factors.

    Major topic that presents a massive ideological hurdle for the godly life.

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