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Gender Issues : Bible and Biology

Resolution to be considered:

In view of current events concerning refugees and same sex marriage, and especially the present controversy and turmoil in our churches regarding the latter, I, Ron Chamberlin, have proposed that we adopt the following statement.

“Wadsworth First Mennonite Church is an OPEN and AFFIRMING congregation. We welcome all without regard to RACE, GENDER IDENTIFICATION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, OR SEXUAL IDENTITY.”

Further, we shall publicize this is in an appropriate manner, such as on the web site, as bulletin heading, as signage in the church, and communication with news media such as ““The Mennonite” and the “Central District Reporter”, as well as local print media.


As examples, I include three statements from other churches. The first of these from the University United Church of Christ, San Diego, CA. HERE.

The second of these, closer to home, from Grace United Church of Christ, Loyal Oak (Norton OH) HERE. ( I like the completeness of this for the home page of their website)

From our hometown neighbors, Trinity United Church of Christ.

In order to facilitate discussion, we present articles which speak to the biblical basis as well as the concept that homosexuality has a biological origin.

Biblical Verses

If we are going to stake our opinion on gay marriage based on what the Bible says about homosexuality it would be a good idea to have read the scripture. Here is a list of the twelve scriptures on homosexuality that can be found in the Bible.

This is a page from a bible study website. In the same listing, I found this commentary.

”God’s timeless Word reveals His plan for humanity and His intentions for marriage and sexuality. While Scripture teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, these Bible verses aren't about condemning homosexuals, gays, lesbians, or transgender people. Rather, read God’s loving warning and offer of grace for those who have strayed from His will for sex. We live in a fallen world with a fallen nature, but in Christ, we can be new creations.”

THIS is an article which posts a video from Matthew Vine, a “gay Christian” discussing six biblical passages in context. Well worth watching this short video.

Recent Mennonite Church Articles

A lengthy article, published in 2015. “Human Sexuality: A Biblical Perspective
A Tool for Conversation”HERE
A power Point presentation (in pdf form for convenience) prepared by former conference minister Lois Johns Kaufman.
“A Brief History:

Biological Basis of Sexuality

There are numerous articles, most quite technical in nature, discussing the research into this topic. This statement, from a Wikipedia article (reference to follow) nicely sums up the present state of knowledge.

“The relationship between biology and sexual orientation is a subject of research. A simple and singular determinant for sexual orientation has not been conclusively demonstrated; various studies point to different, even conflicting positions, but scientists hypothesize that a combination of genetic, hormonal, and social factors determine sexual orientation.[1][2][3] Biological theories for explaining the causes of sexual orientation are favored by experts[1] and involve a complex interplay of genetic factors, the early uterine environment and brain structure.[4] These factors, which may be related to the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual orientation, include genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure.”

The Wikipedia article, though technical in part, sets out all of the factors which are currently being investigated. Since I am not a professional biologist, I had to look up some terminology, but it is a reasonably rewarding exercise, and I urge you to spend a little time with it. Read it here

A study published by New Mexico State U is interesting. It dives deeply into genetic factors in homosexuality, particularly into epigenetics. This term is relevant for a search for a "gay gene". Epigenetics refers to changes in an organism caused by modification of gene expression rather than by alteration of the genetic code itself ( I had to look this one up - thank you, Google). The entire article is HERE
This is a statement from the conclusion of the article.

“The preponderance of evidence from sexual orientation research strongly suggests that human sexual orientation has biological underpinnings and that it is tightly regulated at the molecular level. Although the “gay genes” are yet to be identified, there is little doubt that genetics plays a role in this trait. Epigenetics appears to be another important contributor, particularly in mediating environmental effects, such as the intrauterine milieu. However, much work remains to be done on both fronts to identify which genes are involved in the control of sexual orientation.”

Since identical twins are thought to be just that, identical, there has been research to see if there are DNA differences between gay and straight twins. One such study, reported in the LA TIMES, found such differences. The article can be read HERE. This is written for a layman’s understanding, with the general conclusion that the epigenetic and genetic factors, nature and nurture, both have a role to play. Nurture, i.e., environment, family, parental influence can cause differing expressions of genes, thus determining who we are. One reviewer commented :“The relative contributions of biology versus culture and experience in shaping sexual orientation in humans continues to be debated,”said University of Maryland pharmacology professor Margaret M. McCarthy, who was not involved in the current study.“But regardless of when, or even how, these epigenetic changes occur,” she added, “the new research demonstrates a biological basis to partner preference.”

Finally, for completeness, a writer commenting on same sex marriage, expressed his doubts and discussed refutation of the current research and conclusions. This is that article.

Two final articles, both of which have been posted on our church website for some time, are these: From the EVOL= website. The opening paragraph of this article is
“Despite societal discrimination and religious persecution, homosexuality and bi-sexuality, like heterosexuality, are inborn traits that cannot be changed and are not a choice. Attempted suppression does not work. It always pushes through. Human sexuality is very complex. It is not simply one moment or one single dividing cell, that affects one’s sexuality but a series of changes and combinations of androgens released prenatally at specific times (or not) which establish a person’s sexual orientation.” As we have seen, it is probably more complex than this, but this is a one of the underlying factors.

The second article, from the “ Religious Tolerance ” website, is the intro to a very extensive discussion of same sex marriage, from legal and religious grounds. Read it here.

Some final personal thoughts. This is obviously a very complex issue, and religious persons from many backgrounds have differing opinions. My opinion is that when statements in the Bible are at odds with facts which have been learned in the advancement of human knowledge about the universe, its origins, and operation, what is needed is discernment of what the real meaning of the Bible is. For example, the creation stories are not evolution or cosmology, the Noah's Ark story is highly implausible and unrealistic on physical grounds, as is Jonah in the whale, to name just a few. Perhaps we should consider them as hints as to what the authors thought their relationship was with their Creator, and to what our relationship should be. I do not expect anyone to change their religious beliefs about these or about homosexuality and same sex marriage if they cannot accept the scientific findings. For myself, I believe that homosexuality is not a sin, but is part of genetically determined and conditioned human nature, like all sexuality, and is not a choice that can be made. Thus, I believe we should declare ourselves an open and affirming congregation. By that affirmation, we recognize that sexuality is existential, not behavioral. Even if you believe homosexuality is sinful, this affirmation should apply. Our Christian theology teaches that we are all sinners, and we would not hesitate to affirm each other.

Thank you for reading.