I can’t help that I am attracted to men.

Put down your pitchforks, please. Let me explain, for the sake of every side of the homosexuality origin issue.

When I took psychology in college, I learned about the “nature vs. nurture” argument. For years, psychologists have argued over which is stronger, if either truly defines our personality, or if it is dependent upon each individual and individual circumstance.

Those on the nurture side say that a person’s environment is the primary force that shapes him; those on the nature side counter that a person’s genetics, their DNA, determine everything about him.

After much study and introspection over the past several years, I have determined this: both are true. It isn’t about “nature vs. nurture” — it’s about nature and nurture, working together.

Back to my opening line: I can’t help that I am attracted to men. I can look at my life and see both nature and nurture contributing to my sexuality.

My childhood environment included a mostly absent father, abusive brothers, and barely any male friends.

My genetics included a culturally “non-masculine” body with heightened interests in fashion, music, art, and cooking, along with a natural draw toward the male physique over the female physique.

That last one, that draw, I can clearly recall from as young as 6 or 7 years old.

You combine my nature and my nurture, and it’s like I was in a pressure cooker set for gay sex.

I’ve had others ask me: would you have been attracted to men in a different environment? Or would a different genetic makeup have made any difference?

Honestly, I don’t think so. I think altering one or the other would have made my attractions slightly different, but considering my circumstances and my genes, I still would have been attracted to men either way.

The general reaction to this idea is condemnation from the Church and a call for submission to my attractions from the world. And for a while, I thought these were the only two options.

Then I made my own decision.

After my decision to remain a man, I began to feel more equipped to decide what I wanted to do based on what I believed, not what others believed.

I accepted that I had same-sex attractions. I also accepted that I didn’t have to act on them if I didn’t believe I should.

The Church calls me weird. The world calls me foolish. Honestly, neither knew what to do with me for a long time.

But I knew I was doing what I wanted to do; for me, I was following Jesus.

So, am I still attracted to men? Yes. But my attractions are like anyone else’s, sexuality aside.

Straight men don’t stop being attracted to other women because they’re married. Gay men don’t stop being attracted to other men when they’re married either. Honestly, people usually don’t just stop being attracted to other people because they’re “happy” in a relationship.

Attraction is an extremely complex phenomenon that scientists are barely able to understand, even now. Isn’t it foolish to assume we can resolve it by so simply stereotyping people because their attraction tends toward one gender or another or somewhere in between? Human sexuality is way more complex than that.

Why don’t we start by acknowledging we know little about why people are attracted to other people and go from there? Every person is different; every story will be different.

And everyone has a choice to make.

It’s not even a choice about attractions; it’s a choice about following Jesus.

And no matter who you are attracted to, that is the more serious and more important decision each person must make.

Have you wondered why you are attracted to men in the nature vs. nurture argument? Where do you land, and how do you choose to follow Jesus moving forward?

* Photo courtesy ksayer, Creative Commons.

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  • A very sensible debate, Dean. I never could resolve the nature/nurture thing either and gave up trying to long ago. In the end, what does it solve, really? I have attraction for my sex, men, and where it came from is rather irrelevant, I think. But, yes, what I do with that is now my business and not anyone else’s business. I do choose Jesus, but I also choose to live with a man. I do not believe the choices contradict each other, though many do. Has it been easy to get to this place? No, not at all. I hid, I denied, I tried to pray it all away, I struggled and fought and kicked, but all to no avail. So now I accept who I am, my sexuality being an integral part of me, and I live with my choice, just as you live with yours. I have faith in God my Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe, I pray, I read the Bible (but don’t worship it or believe it is without error. I might if I could believe it came intact from God without being tampered with by men. Lol!) I don’t go to church, only because where I live I can’t be gay and be Christian, sadly. That’s the choice of the church here, not my choice. I long to fellowship with others, but cannot in the place in which I live.

    • Thank you for sharing, Jeremy- I always enjoy hearing the stories of others who have made similar or different decisions. I know many who have made a decision to keep their faith and embrace a same sex relationship. While I chose differently, I still am always interested in hearing how others came to that decision. I appreciate your openness on here!

  • Hey man, the nature nurture thing used to be my go to when I wanted to explain or blame something else for feeling guilty getting turned on by guys. Following Jesus tho, don’t you find when you think you’ve really got things figured out rock solid you’re further away from the truth, his truth? I do, a lot, especially with things like attraction the whys escape me. Every morning I’m dealing with what’s real in my life. In one corner is my guy thing and in the other corner is my Jesus thing, and faith’s telling me the Jesus thing is gonna work out, and work out better.
    I have a guy thing for Jesus, but it’s not sexual. I mean he’s like the perfect guy. He was strong being a carpenter, he did the 40 days in the desert survivor thing, he was loyal to his friends, did good to others, loved God more than anything, and he was honest and always told people what the deal was. I want to be like him and faith’s telling me my guy thing in the other corner won’t get me there. I don’t have a lot of why answers but I know who I want to get to. And I’m hoping when I get there, get to Jesus, I can rest my head on his chest like John and he’ll say, welcome home. Faith’s telling me he’s the answer to my whys. As long as there’s that faith and that hope of being with Jesus, I’m going on, following him.

  • Love this post! Thanks Dean :). For me, I too have pondered that ‘why’ question and after much headache/heartache I think for me it’s a futile quest. For me, attractions quickly deteriorate into lust and whether it’s toward men, cars, money, food, etc. lust is bad for me like a parasite robbing me of real life. I want real lust free life and it has come with my choice to follow Jesus. He alone daily frees me from my lusts and gives me Himself — a real man who has chosen me, who loves me and wants hugely to make me like Him. I have never met anyone who loves me that way :). I, too want that wholeheartedly and I strive daily with all of me to cling to Jesus. What is wild is though my striving is weak and even pathetic though I reach an inch He reaches a mile toward me. Always, always….now I’m in tears……..

    • The “why” can definitely be an endless journey! Hence the reason I like to focus on Christ and His Salvation as opposed to the reason for my attractions. It’s a better us of my time I believe. I pray your tears turned to tears of joy at the thought of God’s Grace!

  • The experience of so many of us seems to make it clear that we don’t know why we’re the way we are (any more than why we’re shy or outgoing). If psychologists ever figure it out, maybe they can also come up with a way to prevent people from developing ssa, especially if the cause is “nurture.” But it also seems clear that for the vast majority of us who are same sex attracted, there is no cure that obliterates the attraction. There are different ways of coping.
    Once I came to believe that I couldn’t change my orientation, and therefore didn’t have to keep trying, I took it for granted that my life would be celibate. Unfortunately, this all happened before it was really thinkable to be “out,” and the need to stay closeted impeded me from forming good friendships. I’m reasonably happy in my life, but I would probably be even happier with some really close friends who knew me fully. For me, though, the important thing is that my commitment to Jesus is primary, and if I fall into the sin of watching porn, I seek forgiveness and try to sin no more.

    • Close friendships are key. I pray you find them soon! It will help immensely in your walk with Christ!

    • I have friends (both straight and SSA) who I have shared with and found them safe, including my own sister. It has been important to me to make this part of my life (SSA) known to others who love me and accept me. Scary to do the first time, but the love I received was worth it to me.

  • I also tend towards believing it is a mix of both; being born with traits that made me more likely to have SSA as I experienced the life that I did.
    For example, I was seeing a psychologist for OCD, and he gave me an article that claimed that having people tell you not to lust after women can leave you “resorting” to lusting after men. To this day, I can’t watch women in porn or even try to think about them like I do men w/o feeling extremely guilty.
    I don’t think it makes any difference in terms of our responsibilities, but it helps me to better understand my attractions instead of simply being swept away by them.

    • I recall the reprimand to not lust after women as I was growing up. That was a small part of the larger piece that was my nature side of things. I do agree that understanding our attractions does not free us from being responsible in how we act or don’t at in them. We have to choose what we do with them- and ultimately, it should be based on our walk with Christ.

    • I agree with you. I felt guilt about lusting after women and somehow lusting after men seemed a better alternative. Not logical, but this religious influence caused confusion for me.

      • I always felt it was better to look at porn that to fantasize about a male friend. I don’t do either now, but it was difficult for me to change the way I felt about pornography for that reason.

      • I know this is an old comment, but wow!
        I have felt the exact same way for a long time, but never realized it until I read this. I was addicted to a certain kind of internet fodder. Homosexuality was only one of the many ungodly perversions involved in what I viewed. I will not mention what else was involved in an effort to not lead others in temptation.
        I just made the connection now. All of them stray as far from possible from a normal man and woman relationship. And whenever I stumbled across “normal” fodder, I felt an intense shame. I’ve always associated, wrongly, shame in normal relationships. Whenever a friend would comment on the figure of another woman, I was always embarrassed. I was always told as a very little kid to keep myself pure and, jokingly, “avoid girls”. My brain took this too far and is one of the reasons, I believe, that I struggle against SSA (among other unnatural perversions). Thank you for getting me to this realization!

  • I think you’re right-on with the nature and nurture thing. I don’t believe for a second that I was born gay. But I was born with a need for male leadership, guidance, acceptance, and love. I was also born with artistic, creative talents and a somewhat more sensitive nature than other males, perhaps. And I was born into a society and culture in which these aspects of me were either neglected or rejected. Good article, man.

    • Thank you, Kevin! That means a lot to me coming from you. I agree with you hat society tells us that certain traits are more inherently “masculine” or “feminine”. It’s interesting to see how that has shaped the lives of so many.

  • Dean–I can agree that my SSA is a combination of nature and nurture, but I weigh in more heavily on the nurture (or lack of healthy nurture) in the formation of my SSA. An unwanted addiction to gay porn motivated me to look at my past nurture issues. I found unmet emotional needs there and when I begin to address those emotional needs in healthy ways my SSA began to decrease. I mean I still have SSA, but now I find great joy in my male friends in non-sexual relationships. And when I experienced a decrease in my sexual SSA, my sexual OSA increased. I know that my experience is not true for all men with SSA.
    It was my faith in Jesus that motivated me to end my gay porn addiction and that in turn led me to deal with my past and seek peace with the nurture issues that contributed to my SSA. I am heterosexualy married, so my choice has been to live in a way that I find consistent with my faith.

    • I think, Alan, that it’s different for each person. I have known men with great environments who pursued same sex relationships and other men with terrible environments who never thought twice about same sex relationships. We’re all different and will rest differently to our differing environments. Thank you for sharing about your own journey!

      • I agree with you that all men are different and that the same environmental factors don’t trigger SSA in everyone. But I found that when I shared stories with other SSA men, we had a lot in common with our nurture issues. The details varied a great deal, but the same general things created an environment that contributed to the development of SSA. From the People Can Change website under the section ROOT CAUSES — HOMOSEXUAL CONSEQUENCES I found this list: • Father-son relationship problems* • Conflict with male peers* • Mother-son relationship* • Sexual abuse • Other sexual experiences • Personality traits* I think that all of these except sexual abuse played into the development of SSA in my life. (I thank God I was not molested as a child.) I think that many men with SSA have at least some of these root causes (nurture and nature) in common. What do you think?

        • Interestingly, Alan, personality traits are primarily a genetic thing. Yes, certain personality traits are learned, but many are inborn. I do believe those items you listed can be environmental factors in one’s sexual orientation. I believe they can also heighten an existing genetic trait in somebody as well. I believe everyone is different and everyone reacts differently. We can offer general ideas as to what will or will not affect somebody a certain way, but we can only predict so much.

          • So true! In the Australian identical twin study, homosexuality was one of the things studied. Their research looked at over 30,000 identical twins. With twins, you could expect not only identical genetic backgrounds, but similar nurture/environments, yet only one set of identical twins out of every 9 sets of twins (with one homosexual sibling) was the other twin also homosexual. Eight times out of nine, the other twin was not homosexual. Yes, there is lots more to explain about how homosexuality develops. It is not simple to explain. It is quite complex. But there is also a common shared core of factors (both environmental and genetic) that seem to influence men and women who developed SSA. I shared all of the factors noted in the previous reply except I was not molested as a child.

        • I share all of these traits or past experiences and often thought my plight was more nurture than nature. I think that is also why I have started becoming attracted to women.

  • For me, I only admitted to myself that I really had SSA when my wife left in Nov of 2012. But, I have actually been struggling with it since I was a teen. Back then, any hint of SSA was met with a beat down (physically and verbally). I just COULDN’T have SSA. I was a Christian. I was terrified when I felt the feelings. I got married hoping that doing that would take care of it. It didn’t and with great reluctance I finally admitted to myself of my SSA. Sucks. Why couldn’t I like boobs instead? I’ll be honest, it’s been really difficult for me to feel like God the Father is ok with me now.

  • the best answer I can come up with is that it doesn’t matter. It is what is is. I wrote about it just today. http://thedailygroundhog.blogspot.com/
    I like women. They make great friends and it’s easier to get them to talk about personal stuff, but I do not delight in them. Being with the boys just makes me happy in ways I can’t describe…really. don’t make me..I have to stop now.

  • Lately, and by that I mean the last year, I have been focused on this very “inbetween” state as a SSA man. I have been so frustrated for my whole life and I feel even more isolated now, despite have a few people who support me. I think attraction can be a draw to a person too, like the kind of person you prefer to be around. Sometimes people mislabel this as an SSA attraction, when it is common to all people. That’s not to say a person isn’t SSA, it just means we, and I, used to carry around a lot of unnecessary guilt. I’m glad you brought up this subject and that you have weighed in on it thoroughly. I remember being 6 and preferring the company of girls rather than boys. At that age, I didn’t understand the difference between sexes, but I knew I like girls more than boys. That was the opposite of normal development. I always felt more comfortable with girl interests. When I was 7 I wanted to be Wonder Woman, the Linda Carter incarnation that is. I would crochet (yes, my aunt taught me when I was 6) lasso’s and asked for WW Underoos for Christmas. Of course I didn’t get them. This just continued on and on with effeminate interests. I was embarrassed to be myself most of my life, feeling like I had to hide my interests too, not just my attractions.

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