Fearless Questions

Following our Questions to Freedom

How We Talk: LGBT, Science and Truth

If you live in America and have turned on the news at any point this past year, you’ve probably heard the noise of a national debate over LGBT issues of equality and related social policies.

Like so many arguments in life, there seem to be two sides to the battle with both groups believing that their position is clear and morally superior to the other.

I believe there is a massive population of everyday folks who aren’t sure what to believe.  They (hopefully) know that they want to be fair and loving towards other people, but are at a loss for how different LGBT issues can be understood in the context of society, politics, and religion.

Yesterday The New Atlantis Journal released observations in a special report which examined existing research (over 200 peer-reviewed studies) from biological, psychological, and social sciences covering LGBT subject matter.

The report aimed to examine frequently shared public claims about sexuality and gender and whether these claims are supported by scientific research. 


Among their findings were the following:

  • “The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are ‘born that way’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.”
  • “While there is evidence that biological factors such as genes and hormones are associated with sexual behaviors and attractions, there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation. While minor differences in the brain structures and brain activity between homosexual and heterosexual individuals have been identified by researchers, such neurobiological findings do not demonstrate whether these differences are innate or are the result of environmental and psychological factors.”
  • “Longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80% of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults (although the extent to which this figure reflects actual changes in same-sex attractions and not just artifacts of the survey process has been contested by some researchers).”
  • “There is evidence, albeit limited, that social stressors such as discrimination and stigma contribute to the elevated risk of poor mental health outcomes for non-heterosexual and transgender populations. More high-quality longitudinal studies are necessary for the “social stress model” to be a useful tool for understanding public health concerns.”
  • “The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or “a woman trapped in a man’s body” — is not supported by scientific evidence.”

There is plenty more to read in the 140+ page report, but I’d like to offer you a few thoughts before you do anything with this data.

Whether you are a LGBT activist, a religious person fighting to defend your theological conviction, neither, or some blend of both…can we please set aside our agendas for this part of the conversation?

Can we all agree that we want to find the truth? 

I think we can.

But if we are going to do that together, we all have to hold with loose hands what we understand to be true.

There’s no need to get anxious.  Just because you are holding something loosely doesn’t mean you don’t believe it’s true.  All you are doing by holding a more humble posture is acknowledging that there is a vast body of knowledge you don’t yet understand and even more that is yet to be discovered.  That’s not watering-down the truth…that’s called recognizing that the truth is often bigger than you’ve had opportunity to learn yet.


What If?

Seriously…what if a scientific report like this says that we don’t see confirmation of the idea that someone is born gay.  But what if we also looked at the science of identity development and found that someone didn’t ‘choose’ to be gay either. 

What would ‘that’ conversation look like?

What would treating that person with genuine love and acceptance look like?

Political battles have loud talking points and ‘victory at all cost’ in mind.  People seeking truth regardless of outcome have conversations that are more complicated, sometimes nuanced, and often take much longer to have…but they are worth it!

If you are seeking truth together, then you don’t have to be inhumane in the way you treat someone with a different understanding of things than yourself.  You have grace for them, because you recognize your own need for increased understanding as well.  You don’t have to give up loving someone because they disagree with you. 

Look…I get it.  Because these are complicated issues, there are always complicated implications to be worked through for societal day-to-day life and even how we understand the questions themselves.  For instance, Nuriddeen Knight wrote a powerful reflection on complications of how we frame the Transgender Movement conversation in her article from June of 2015 entitled ‘An African-American Woman Reflects on the Transgender Movement’.  You can also find people of differing opinions and levels of expertise debate the legitimacy of Gender Dysphoria, gender reassignment surgeries, hormonal treatments, etc..

My point is, let’s at least deal peacefully with known truth and not hide from potential weak-spots in our current understanding of the issues at hand as we work through things together as friends, communities, nations, and as one world.

As I’ve heard Mike McHargue (aka Science Mike) say so helpfully, “In gender, orientation, race, economic background, and ethnicity…it’s vital that we get to know humans as individuals and not as stereotypical labels.  It not only improves their life experience…it improves your own as well.”

So remember…There’s no need to be anxious about these conversations.

Just be nice to each other as human beings and be on the lookout for truth.

I have a feeling you’ll make a lot of new and unexpected friends along the way.

About Jeff Blackburn

Jeff Blackburn is a Spiritual Coach and passionate Truth-Seeker. An alumnus of Oxford University, Jeff is someone who advocates for Freedom and Fullness of Life for All. He believes Jesus offers good news for people everywhere today…not just eternity. Jeff is the Executive Director of Fearless Questions, Inc. and has spent the past 20 years working with people searching for God.

2 Replies

  1. This is such a great article, Jeff! Thanks so much for taking the time and attention to write it. May it bless so many…

    1. Jeff Blackburn

      Glad you enjoyed it Amy.