Monday, January 3, 2011

Chapter 2: What Causes Homosexuality?

I've decided to post my book (Homsexuality: A Straight BYU Student's Perspective) one chapter at a time.  You can access the whole beast in .docx and .pdf at (   I think many will find the .pdf format the most readable.  Also, I'd be happy to sell you a hard copy if interested.  Feedback welcome!

Chapter 2: Causation

I now turn the tone from an emotional appeal in chapter 1 to a logical appeal as I here address the question of the causation of homosexual orientation.  I will use a number of acronyms in this chapter- the first one is HO (homosexual orientation).  You may choose to don your thinking cap for this chapter. 
The structure will be as follows:
1)      A primer on sexual determination
2)      A scientific inquiry into two competing theories for the causation of HO
3)      A religious inquiry into the LDS view of the causation of HO

Sexual Determination

*I have found it useful during this research to look up brief summaries of unfamiliar topics or terms in Wikipedia- the reader might consider a similar practice. 
I have recently been helping a professor write an ethics case on hydraulic fracturing (HF).  The crux of the case is this: an efficient method of extracting natural gas, HF, promises America another decade or two of cheap energy.  However, some of the chemicals used in this process may be entering the food chain and accumulating in our tissues.  By itself this possibility is not terribly surprising or alarming- however, as Theo Colborn persuasively argues in her book, Our Stolen Future, some industrial chemicals may be messing up the fertility and sexual development of human populations.  How?  Endocrine disruption.  Keep this story in mind- more on it in a page or two.
What makes a man a man and a woman a woman?  What is the causation of physical sex?  What is physical sex?  The answers to these questions are neither simple nor straightforward- but parts of those answers are well understood, so we’ll start there.  There are two common ways of causing/determining sex in the biological world: 1) nongenetic factors (such as environmental temperature) and 2) genetic factors.  Humans fall into the latter category, based on the genotype of chromosome 23: XY individuals are male and XX are female.  This genetic difference causes a number of measurably different phenotypes (physical traits)- different shaped faces, different genitalia, different brains, different hands, different hematocrit (red blood cell count), different muscle mass, and different hormone profiles to name just a few.  All right, nothing new here so far.  How does the genotype difference translate into these phenotypes? 
Here the answer begins to get more complex.  The default phenotype in humans is female.  For a short period after an egg is fertilized, the zygote is bipotential, meaning it can become either a male or a female, and has both Mullerian ducts (precursors to the uterus and fallopian tubes) and Wolffian ducts (precursors to the prostate and seminal vesicles).  A simplified, two-step explanation of how the default female embryo is converted into a male:
Step 1: the SRY (Sex-determining Region Y) gene from the Y chromosome is translated into a protein known as TDF (Testis Determining Factor). 
Step 2: TDF causes a consequence cascade, which in concert with hormones causes the phenotypic differences observed between males and females. 
Now, as you might imagine, things can go wrong at a number of points during this process.  In Step 1, the SRY gene could be broken or missing- this results in XY, or X_ persons that are phenotypically female (Turner syndrome).  The SRY gene could be translocated to an X, resulting in an XX person that’s phenotypically male (XX male syndrome).  The SRY gene could be faulty, resulting in an XY phenotypic female (Swyer syndrome).  This is just the beginning, though, as these abnormalities result only from Step 1 problems.
Step 2 problems are even messier.  Step 2 problems also demonstrate why genes are not the whole story when it comes to sex determination.  Before I illustrate some Step 2 problems, let me describe epigenetics by comparing the endocrine system to a football team. (note to geneticists- I recognize that epigenetics usually refers to genetic imprinting and methylation.  Here I follow Robin Holliday’s precedent[1] in using the term more broadly- in this case to refer to regulation of gene expression and other downstream effects caused by hormones). 


“The construction of a building is as important as the blueprint.”  -Our Stolen Future, page 204
Hormones (such as the androgen testosterone) are like footballs; hormone-producing glands such as the adrenal gland are like the quarterbacks that throw the footballs; and wide receivers are the hormone receptors- proteins embedded in cell membranes or cytoplasm which “catch” the football and pass its signal down into the cell.  After being caught, the hormone football then degrades.  The football’s signal exerts influence upon (epi) the genetic (genetic= hence, epigenetics) expression of the cell.  The most typical cellular responses to catching the football are to up- or down- regulate gene expression: meaning that the number of proteins the cell translates from a particular gene goes either up or down.  If there are too many or too few received footballs, disaster can occur (e.g. testes won’t develop).  Okay, so we’ve got the basics of the endocrine system- what next?
Without the activity of the endocrine system, especially of androgens, an embryo cannot become phenotypically male.  For instance, for a short time embryos have a pair of partially developed organs that if left to themselves will turn into ovaries.  If acted on by “downstream” elements from TDF, however, the gonads will become testes.  Similarly, many typically male phenotypes are dependent, not only on genes, but upon precise dosages and timing of specific hormones.  Though the causes of fetal hormone variance are not substantially understood, their role in sex determination is.  For emphasis, I’ll repeat the bottom line: sex determination is not merely genetic; it relies necessarily on the endocrine system.  Now for why this matters.
I noted above that Colborn’s book argued that some industrial chemicals are affecting human fertility and sex determination.  The reason?  The industrial chemicals do what some plants have been doing for millennia: they manipulate the human endocrine system to decrease human fertility (the evolutionist might argue that so doing results in less predation of the plant over time).  The most common ways chemicals disrupt the endocrine system:
·         They block the ball (for instance, by binding to or disfiguring the hormones)
·         They hold the receiver (by binding to the receivers’ hands so there’s no room for hormones)
·         They throw their own football-like balls into the air (known as hormone mimics)
·         They tackle the quarterback (block the glands from producing or releasing hormones)
These endocrine disrupting effects often take place entirely independent of genes or gene expression.  Because some wide receivers will catch about anything that’s lofted to them, the mimics oftentimes don’t even need to bear a resemblance to an actual football- even a lampshade sometimes does the trick.  To complicate matters, hormone mimics and defensive linemen tend to stick around, rather than degrading like good little footballs do after they’re caught- thus, they can go through the cycle again and again. 
The same effects caused by endocrine disrupters can occur if genes coding for hormone receptors are flawed, or if glands don’t produce hormones in the right conformations (shapes) and amounts and at the right times.  What kinds of effects do we see in the animal kingdom (including Homo sapiens) when these internally and externally induced Step 2 problems occur?
·         Over a single decade, Florida eagles showed a sharply atypical lack of interest in nesting or courtship during the mating season for several consecutive years[2]
·         Minks in the Great Lakes area, despite being bred as they had always been by mink breeders, dropped from birthing on average 4 pups to 2 pups, then to even less, and many of the pups died shortly afterward[3]
·         In the early 70’s, for the first recorded time male-female nesting pairs of western gulls were replaced by same-sex female pairs with extraordinarily large numbers of eggs.  The eggshells were thinner than usual, and the next two decades witnessed the spread of this phenomenon from Southern California to the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, and the coast of Massachusetts[4]
·         CAIS (Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) – human beings that are phenotypically female but genetically male.  These individuals have gonads inside, but they’re testes instead of ovaries.  The genetic maleness of these people usually isn’t noticed until puberty when menstruation fails to start. 
·         PAIS (Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome)- the phallic structure varies in every degree between a penis and a clitoris.  The genotype is male (XY).  Some have a single orifice connected to both the urethra and the vagina.  These people span the entire range from predominantly phenotypically female to predominantly phenotypically male.
·         During the 80’s, alligators in the Florida lakes decreased hatching percent from 90% to 18%, and half of the baby gators died within 10 days.  Though there was a pesticide spill in their lake in 1980, the effects weren’t witnessed until years later.  This is an example of the transgenerational effects of some endocrine disruptors- meaning that you don’t see problems until the fetuses that got the wrong dose at the right time or the right dose at the wrong time reach sexual maturity and have trouble reproducing a generation later[5]
·         A review of 61 studies revealed that from 1938 to 1980, human sperm abnormalities are up, sperm counts are down, testicular cancer is up, the incidence of undescended testicles is up, and the incidence of shortened testicles is up[6]
·         The sons of female rats given a small dose of dioxin (a hormone mimic) on the fifteenth day of pregnancy, a crucial window in sex determination, had sperm reductions as high as 56% less than their peers whose mom’s hadn’t been given the dioxin (interestingly, rats have ridiculously more sperm than they need, so even a hit of 56% won’t likely affect their fertility.  Humans, on the other hand, have just barely enough).  Additionally, the sons whose moms were poisoned were much less likely to sexually act like males and much more likely to arch their backs in the typically female response known as lordosis, and allow another male to mount them[7]

I could go on, but the other effects follow similar lines, i.e. they confirm that sexual differentiation and reproductive problems result from endocrine disruption.  The timing and doses of hormones floating around in the womb during the critical sex determining phases of fetal development are like the small rudders which turn huge ships.  Bottom line of this primer on sex determination?  Both 1) genes and 2) the intra-organismal environment (i.e. the womb) play a huge role in sex determination. 


Now why in the world did I spend all that space giving a primer on sexual determination?  Because it provides vital context to the second of two theories that we will test in this section.  To the LDS reader hesitant to proceed, I note that Elder Oaks in a 2007 press conference found on the official Church Newsroom said: “The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.[8]  I hope you will take him at his word, as I have done, and seriously consider that very scientific question here.  You are free to safely choose whichever causation theory you wish.  

The Parking Lots Test

If John claims that the car is parked in lot C, and his wife Sarah claims that the car is parked in lot D, how do you test who’s right?  The answer: you walk to the two parking lots and see which lot the car is parked in!  This kind of organized common sense is at the root of scientific inquiry, and it is the method we will use to test two competing theories that claim to explain what causes homosexual orientation (HO).  I point out that we will not be testing the causation of homosexual behavior, nor of some mix of homosexual behavior and HO- we will only be testing the narrow question of what causes HO.  The lineup:

Theory 1: MIC

This is the non-biological factors theory.  Though there could be any number of non-biological factors, I have named the theory after some of the popular ones I hear most often: molestation, infection, and choice.  Molestation is the idea is that people become HO as a result of childhood and/or adulthood molestation.  Infection is the idea that people become HO as a result of some kind of contact with someone who’s already HO, such as the way you might get recruited into the NRA, the way you catch a cold, or the way you “inherit” from your upbringing the practice of waiting until prayers are said before you start eating.  This “infection” idea is similar to memetic inheritance, if you’re familiar with the concept.   (A meme, analogous to a gene, is an idea, belief, or pattern of behavior which is "hosted" in one or more individual minds, and which can reproduce itself from mind to mind- it’s how cultural information is spread)[9].  Under this umbrella you could also place “the way you were raised,” or parenting styles, which have also been proposed as causative factors.  Choice is the idea that a person chooses to be HO.  I’m going to aggregate this constellation of factors such that any one of them, or any combination of them, whichever results in the strongest presumption in its favor, will be tested below (in the parking lots below, we’ll assume whichever combination will help MIC make the best predictions).  I will refer to this set of factors as MIC, which stands for Molestation/Infection/Choice theory.  

Theory 2: GPRE

This is the biological factors theory.  Though there could be any number of biological factors, I have named the theory after some of the popular ones I hear most often: Genes and PRE-natal hormones (GPRE).  Now is where I drive home the relevance of the primer on sex determination.  This theory considers sexual orientation to be a subset of sexual development.  The most likely placement of sexual orientation is under the umbrella of prenatal sexual differentiation of the brain.

Okay, so now we have the lineup.    Four problems and two terms before we get started:
Mixed Causation
What if HO is caused by a mix of MIC and GPRE?  This would mess up our test, which requires that these theories exclude each other. 
For the moment I resolve this tension by imposing a 90% threshold.  The relevant question here is a common statistical one: what % of the variability in trait A is caused by factor X?  The question is usually answered with a confidence interval.  Examples: 90% (or .9) of the variability in autism, +/- 10 percent, is due to heritable factors.  Anorexia is 70% +/- 10% heritable.  40% of the variability in alcoholism, +/- 10%, is due to heritable factors.  Using these three examples as a precedent, I will set both MIC and GPRE to 90% +2%/-2% (meaning 90% of the variability in HO, plus 2% or minus 2%, is due to MIC/GPRE).  This basically means that we will test two hypotheses: (a) 90% of the variability in HO is due to MIC and (b) 90% of the variability in HO is due to GPRE.  Because this standard excludes the opposite theory from having even the possibility of accounting for more than 12% of the variability, our test may proceed- duo non possunt in solido unam rem possidere (two cannot possess one thing each in entirety). 
What about those who consider themselves intermediate between homo- and hetero- sexual orientation?  This is a difficulty which is further compounded by the fact that males and females demonstrate different sexual orientation distributions on the Kinsey scale (e.g. the male bell curve is bimodal and the female has only one mode as measured by the Kinsey scale, a frequently employed metric of sexual orientation).  In the studies where there are only two categories, we assume that individuals reported their predominant orientation.  In studies that do report bisexuals as a discrete group, we will consider the implications of bisexual orientation.  As I will explain immediately below, the possible errors resulting from assuming that individuals report their predominant orientation cut in favor of MIC.
The Difficulty of Self-Reporting
Many of the parking lots we will visit will have a set of data for heterosexual people and a separate set of data for homosexual people.  In most cases the subjects were separated by self-report.  The criticism here is that the reporters could be mistaken or lying.  This is a difficulty, and is not unique to our test- for instance, it is a difficulty in happiness research as well (i.e. if Sally says she’s happy, we can’t just take her at her word- she could be honestly mistaken or lying!)  However, the difficulty is also not fatal to our test.  There are two and only two types of error that could come from self-reporting: false positives and false negatives.  A false positive would be a heterosexually oriented person who reported as HO.  A false negative would be a HO person who reports as heterosexually oriented.  Interestingly, both false positives and false negatives favor MIC and disfavor GPRE, since most of the lots we will visit measure biological phenomena.  Stated another way: let’s say a claim is made that homosexuals on average have bigger toes than heterosexuals.  The false negatives would make the heterosexual toe size mean (average) closer to the homosexual mean, and the false positives would make the homosexual toe size mean closer to the heterosexual mean.  Thus, self-reporting problems favor MIC- meaning that a conclusion that MIC is a better theory than GPRE would be suspect, but a conclusion that GPRE is a better theory than MIC could only be strengthened by reporting errors. 
The number and magnitude of pathways to HO will also cut in favor of MIC during the bulk of our parking lot tour.  Imagine for a moment that some people are raped into HO, while others are merely born that way.  In this hypothetical there are two separate pathways to HO- which again will mean that both the number and size of non-GPRE pathways to HO, if they exist, will further vitiate confidence in a MIC> GPRE conclusion, but serve to strengthen a GPRE> MIC conclusion.
Reliability of Studies
How can the reader know that what we see in the parking lot is legitimate?  The short answer is, she ultimately can’t.  The longer answer is that she can take reasonable steps to become more confident in the legitimacy of the studies.  I am reminded of a TV show I used to watch called “Reading Rainbow.”  Star Trek Commander La Forge actor LeVar Burton was the host.  After a child would give a tantalizing book review, the child would always immediately afterward encourage the watchers to read the book for themselves, parroting Levar’s signature catch phrase: “But you don’t have to take my word for it![10]  I will modify his phrase and insist: “Do not, do not, do not take my word for it.”  You will note that with some exceptions, I don’t heavily reference the studies/parking lots we are about to visit (though I note here that I use some of Bradshaw and LeVay’s language in this section).  This is a strategic decision.  I feel that the 80+ additional pages I could, by virtue of my academic training in the biological sciences, compose on the nitty gritty of the science would 1) merely replicate what more capable authors have already accomplished and 2) distract somewhat from my intended objectives for the book as a whole.  Most of the studies are readily accessible by anyone with internet access, and each and every study is cited and available in at least one of the two resources I’m about to describe.  To the discriminating reader who wants to satisfy herself as to the reliability of the studies and my applications of them, I emphatically recommend all of these three steps: 1) read Bill Bradshaw’s analysis and treatment of the studies by downloading his 57-page .pdf entitled The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality, which I have made available for the reader (with permission) at; 2) read Simon LeVay’s 295-page Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: the Science of Sexual Orientation, published in 2010; and 3) using the bibliographies in both of these resources, “peer review” the studies yourself. 
Two terms to know
Prevalence: the total number of cases in a given population at a specific time.  Incidence: frequency of occurrence, usually in a defined time period.
Okay, now we’re almost ready to embark!  Together we shall make a multi-stop journey through a countryside filled with parking lots.  As we journey, please keep a tally of points.  Example: if we were contrasting “flat earth” vs. “spherical earth” theory, one parking lot might be to get on a spaceship, fly out into space, then turn around and look at the earth.  Flat earth would predict they’d see something like a piece of paper; spherical earth would predict they’d see something like a sphere.  You would likely award -1 (a demerit) to flat earth since its prediction was contradicted, and +1 (a point) to spherical earth for being vindicated.  Similarly, MIC and GPRE will, like John or Sarah above, make a prediction of where the car will be.  As we visit each lot, award a point to either or both theories whose predictions are matched by our observations, and award a demerit to the predictions which are contradicted.  At the end, I will ask you what score you came up with.  Also, please be aware that a portion of readers have found the next fifteen or so pages exhaustive.  Though the scientist in me considers the material germane and important (hence the choice to include it in the text), some readers may nonetheless fast-forward through some segments.

Parking Lot 1: Gay hands?

The hands of men and women are, on average, distinctly different.  Specifically, the 2D to 4D (second to fourth digit, or ring to forefinger) ratio is closer to one in women than it is in men.  MIC would predict that either 1) the male HO population will have the same mean ratio as the male heterosexually oriented population; 2) somehow the choice or infection of HO changes finger length; or 3) a molestation or choice event retroactively changes finger length.  2 and 3 are possible but not particularly likely, which leaves MIC with prediction 1.  GPRE would predict the opposite, namely that the mean ratio for HO men will be closer to that of heterosexually oriented women, and that the mean ratio for HO women will be closer to that of heterosexually oriented men.  What do we observe?  HO men’s ratios are shifted in the direction of straight women, and HO women’s ratios are shifted in the direction of straight men[11]. 
Some scientists would put the matter to bed right here in parking lot 1, claiming that it’s ludicrous to think that MIC causes HO- after all, 1) the differences are significant; 2) these populations were selected on a single variable, HO; 3) self-reporting and multiple-pathway errors cut in favor of MIC; 4) the study has been independently replicated many times; 5) with a little training on taking precise measurements + a large sample, almost anyone can replicate this experiment; and 6) there is no reason why molestation, choice, or infection would alter the length of a person’s fingers (in any case, fingers can be measured in the womb and in early childhood well before either parenting, infection, choice, or molestation have an opportunity to alter the 2D:4D ratio).  So some scientists would say.  I, on the other hand, have promised a parking lot tour, not a one-stop trip- thus, we shall proceed.   

Parking Lot 2: Twins

Will same-gender identical twins or fraternal twins be more likely to share the same sexual orientation?  MIC would predict that, at a large sample size, either type of twin will be about equally exposed to cultural influences, molestation, and choice.  In any case, an individual’s molestation, choice, and infection experiences will be a much better predictor of whether that person is HO than biological factors, since biological factors are not primary etiological factors of HO.  Thus, two brothers or two sisters are neither more nor less likely to share the same orientation as fraternal or identical twin siblings.  GPRE, on the other hand, would make two very specific predictions: One, that identical twins will share the same orientation more often than non-twin siblings because they share a greater portion of their genes (and genes are partly the cause of HO).  Two, the identical twins will not always share the same orientation, because that would mean HO is only genetic, rather than being a product of both genes and pre-natal hormones (because the fetal twins develop at different paces and are positioned differently in the womb, we’d expect at least slightly different results if pre-natal hormones are causative agents).  What do we observe?  Same-gender identical twins on average share the same sexual orientation much more than fraternal twins[12].  The author of the seminal study writes: “The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality – the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay point to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence.[13]  The broadest twin study just came out in 2010:
“We used data from a truly population-based 2005–2006 survey of all adult twins (20–47 years) in Sweden to conduct the largest twin study of same-sex sexual behavior attempted so far. We performed biometric modeling with data on any and total number of lifetime same-sex sexual partners, respectively. The analyses were conducted separately by sex. Twin resemblance was moderate for the 3,826 studied monozygotic and dizygotic same-sex twin pairs. Biometric modeling revealed that, in men, genetic effects explained .34–.39 of the variance, the shared environment .00, and the individual-specific environment .61–.66 of the variance. Corresponding estimates among women were .18–.19 for genetic factors, .16–.17 for shared environmental, and 64–.66 for unique environmental factors. Although wide confidence intervals suggest cautious interpretation, the results are consistent with moderate, primarily genetic, familial effects, and moderate to large effects of the nonshared environment (social and biological) on same-sex sexual behavior…
It has been suggested that individual differences in heterosexual and homosexual behavior result from unique environmental factors such as prenatal exposure to sex hormones, progressive maternal immunization to sex-specific proteins, or neurodevelopmental instability (Rahman, 2005). Although the unique environmental variance component also includes measurement error, the present results support the notion that the individual-specific environment does indeed influence sexual preference.[14] 

Parking Lot 3: Childhood gender-nonconformity

You don’t have to be an expert to know that little boys and little girls behave differently.  As LouAnn Brizendine elegantly illustrates in her books The Female Brain and The Male Brain (both highly recommended reads- you can see my summary of The Male Brain on my blog[15]), little boys and little girls differ significantly on their risk taking, looking at their mothers’ faces, and turn-taking behaviors.  They also differ in how much they engage in rough-and-tumble play, how often they convert domestic objects into weapons, and whether they prefer boy or girl clothing.  Are girly-behaving boys or boyish-behaving girls more likely on average than their gender-conforming counterparts to report HO as an adult?  MIC would predict that knowing a subject’s childhood behavior would on average tell you nothing or very little about whether the person is HO, since the MIC factors of choice, molestation, and infection usually exert the majority of their influence in later childhood or afterward.  GPRE, on the other hand, which considers sexual orientation to be largely if not completely a brain-located reality whose development is almost wholly complete by six months post-partum, would predict on average a high correlation between childhood gender non-conformity and adult HO.  What do we observe?  Over 40 studies confirm a high correlation between childhood non-conformity and adult HO[16].  Remember to tally the points for MIC and GPRE as we go along- I’ll be asking you for the scores you awarded later on.

Parking Lot 4: The older-brother effect

Psychiatrists at London’s Maudsley Hospital predicted in the 60’s and 70’s that later-born boys would be more likely on average to be HO.  Later this prediction was modified slightly: men that have older brothers are more likely than all other men to be homosexually oriented.  What would MIC think of this prediction?  Ceteris paribus (all else being equal), either 1) MIC would conclude that the prediction would fail- after all, what could having older brothers have, on average, to do with infection or choice or molestation?, or 2) MIC would ratify the prediction because older brothers are more likely to molest their younger brothers, but for that same reason would limit the prediction to a weak correlation, as the increased likelihood would be moderate.  GPRE would look again to the endocrine system and genetics for answers, and would find a potential answer in each.  From epigenetics is the hypothesis that a mother’s immune system may conclude that this Y-chromosome-antigen-exposing XY creature inside her XX self is foreign, and will mount a moderate defense in the course of the pregnancy, the residual effects of which may disrupt end-user endocrine action in a subsequent male pregnancy.  From genes the answer may be that maternal line of gay men tend on average to be more fecund (have more kids) than other mothers, or that heritable factors make a fetus more susceptible to a homosexualizing maternal anti-male antibodies response.  Thus, GPRE would not be surprised if the prediction is verified.  What do we observe?  Compared with having no older brother, each older brother increases the likelihood of a subject being HO by 33%[17]. 

Parking Lot 5: Handedness

MIC: handedness will not help you predict whether a subject you’ve never met is HO- only a knowledge of the subject’s environment (molestation and infection) and personal choices will.  GPRE: if handedness is related to the same genes that affect sexual orientation, or if handedness is related to hormone activity, then such a correlation is possible, though not necessarily an intuitive prediction.  What do we observe?  Gay men are on average left-shifted in handedness compared with straight men, and lesbians very shifted toward non-right handedness compared with heterosexual women[18]:
“The authors conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies that compared the rates of non-right-handedness in 6,987 homosexual (6,182 men and 805 women) and 16,423 heterosexual (14,808 men and 1,615 women) participants. Homosexual participants had 39% greater odds of being non-right-handed. The corresponding values for homosexual men (20 contrasts) and women (9 contrasts) were 34% and 91%, respectively[19]” (emphasis added).

Parking Lot 6: Older-brother effect and handedness

How about another twist on the older brother effect?  Say the London Psychiatrists now claim that the older-brother effect applies only to right-, but not left-, handed men.  MIC’s response: “Bizarro!  Perhaps you’re not getting the message- HO is not caused by biology, it is caused by infection, molestation, and/or choice.  Handedness in concert with the number of older brothers is not going to tell you anything about whether a person will turn out HO.”  GPRE’s response: “If right- but not left- handedness is correlated to the same genes that cause either increased maternal fecundity or male HO, as is suggested by the left-shift in handedness, then such a prediction may be verified.”  What do we observe?  The older-brother effect only applies to right-handed men[20].   

Parking Lot 7: Limb length to trunk length ratio

This lot is very similar to lot 1 above.  MIC: the ratio of limb:trunk length will not help you predict a person’s sexual orientation because that ratio is biological, and biology does not cause HO.  GPRE prediction: HO men will have a ratio shifted toward that of heterosexual women, and HO women will have a ratio shifted toward that of heterosexual men.  What do we observe?  HO men have a ratio shifted toward that of heterosexual women, and HO women have a ratio shifted toward that of heterosexual men[21].

Parking Lot 8: Gait and voice-quality

This lot is similar to lots 1 and 7.  MIC prediction: these “gaydar” signals won’t work because, again, they’re biological (though perhaps gaydar signals cause persecution of such individuals, and the persecution makes them gay).  GPRE prediction: gender-atypical intermediate gait and voice quality for HO men and women.  What do we observe?  Gender-shifted gait and voice quality, as well as other aspects of body function, in both lesbian women and gay men[22].

Parking Lot 9: Cross-cultural rates of HO

Because culture and choices vary so widely, MIC would predict that the prevalence of HO will accordingly vary from culture to culture.  GPRE would predict that, absent some regional endocrine influence or lineage-conserved genotypic trend, prevalence of HO will be fairly uniform across cultures.  What do we observe?  Consistent cross-culture prevalence of HO[23]. 

Parking Lot 10: Female to Male HO ratio

Would MIC predict that men or women would more often be HO?  Are men or women molested more on average than the other gender?  If so, the M of MIC would predict the more-often-molested sex.  Are men or women more susceptible to HO infection?  Under the I of MIC, the more susceptible gender would have a higher prevalence.  Are men or women more likely to choose HO?  Under the C of MIC, the “more likely to choose” gender is predicted to manifest a higher prevalence.  Because the answers to this question are unclear, one might reasonably conclude that this parking lot cannot cut for or against MIC.  GPRE, on the other hand, would definitively predict that the default sexual orientation, female-type (towards men), would have a higher prevalence simply because there are more steps that must go “just right” in order to result in male-type orientation (towards women).  What do we observe?  Consistent 1.5 to 2.0 times the rate of gay to lesbian HO[24]. 

Parking Lot 11: Personality and gender-associated occupational preference

MIC: there will be no difference between HO and heterosexual populations for either gender as to gender-associated occupational preferences, physical aggressiveness, empathy, expressiveness, and aesthetic/technological interests unless they on average either 1) result from MIC factors or 2) lead to MIC factors.  GPRE: HO men will consider themselves less masculine, and HO women more masculine, than their heterosexual counterparts, including in the listed categories.  What do we observe?  Gay men consider themselves less masculine, and lesbian women more masculine, than their heterosexual counterparts.  Significant gender shifts in physical aggressiveness, empathy, expressiveness, aesthetic/technological interests, and gender-associated occupational preferences are also observed. 

Parking Lot 12: Cognitive traits

Will HO men and heterosexual men score differently on tests where each gender is known to perform differently, such as male-favored mental rotation of objects, targeting, navigation and female-favored tasks such as verbal fluency, letter fluency, synonym fluency, judgment of line orientation, and remembering the location of objects on a page?  How about HO and heterosexual women?  MIC prediction: no.  GPRE prediction: yes, the HO population will perform more like the heterosexual norm of the opposite gender.  With the exception of lesbians who don’t do worse than straight women on object location, the HO subset of both genders does indeed perform atypically on these metrics for their gender in the direction of the opposite gender. 

Parking Lot 13: Molestation rates

In what way does molestation cause HO?  One hypothesis is that whichever gender a child first has sexual contact with will determine the orientation of that person for life (e.g. if molested by a man or experiments with a male peer, a boy will grow up HO.  If molested by a woman or experiments with a female peer, he will grow up heterosexually oriented, and vice versa for girls).  The less popular theory is that the person will grow up attracted to the opposite gender of their first sexual experience partner/molester.  MIC would certainly endorse at least one of these hypotheses, and absent genes dependent on subsequent external stimulus, GPRE would predict an absence of effect. 
One study indicates that both gay men and lesbians are more likely to have had sexual contact with an older person of their own sex when compared to heterosexual people.  This study requires the assumption that the adolescents and children were sexually passive targets.  Especially for the adolescents, the molester may have either picked up on clues about the target’s sexual orientation from childhood indicators and selected on that basis, and/or the target may have invited or resisted less the molestation than their heterosexual counterparts.  In the study, 68% of the men and 62% of the women subjects identified themselves as homosexual before the molestation took place.  The authors also said: “[Molestation] may not, however, be a causal factor in either gender.  Perhaps children or adolescents with a higher potential for homosexual behavior are more likely to enter a situation that leads to same-sex molestation.”  In similar molestation studies, over 95% of the subjects report being aware of their own HO before the incest or sexual relations with adults. 
Another study reported that molested males, though not molested females, were more likely than non-abused males to form homosexual partnerships in adulthood.  The latter study’s finding could be limited to homosexual behavior rather than HO, and thus might be beyond the scope of this tour. 
The fact that most young people in at least America develop an awareness of their sexual orientation while they are still virgins and/or before they’ve have sexual experiences with members of the preferred sex belies the molestation hypothesis.  The reality that one out of three US women is sexually abused before age 18, yet the prevalence of HO in women is far less than 33%, is another factor vitiating the first hypothesis (similarly, the difference between the % of molested men and the prevalence of HO even without subtracting the unmolested HO population argues against molestation as an etiological factor).  Last, the undisputedly high incidence of HO persons who were never molested indicates at the least that there’s more to the HO story than molestation (though the “molestation produces HO” idea has led to fruitless “molester witch hunts” in some LDS wards and other communities when one of their members comes out).
Some in the MIC camp predict that sexual abuse of girls by men would cause an increased incidence of HO in women.  GPRE would predict that the abuse would be irrelevant.  What do we observe?  No greater percentage of lesbians than straight women report having been abused. 
In conclusion, I’m not sure how to score this lot- it seems dicey.  You choose for yourself- I’m going to give both MIC and GPRE neither a point nor a demerit. 

 Parking Lot 14: Boarding school

Homosexual behavior is common among British children and adolescents who attend single-sex boarding schools.  MIC would predict a higher incidence of HO in this population than the general population.  GPRE would predict no difference.  What do we observe?  Adult Britons who attended these schools are no more likely to engage in homosexual behavior than those who did not.  Once again, this behavior-based outcome may be beyond our “HO causation only” tour.

Parking Lot 15: Systemic cultural molestation

There are a number of cultures with require male youth to engage in homosexual acts, some of them believing that semen improves vitality.  An example of this norm is found in the Sambia tribe of New Guinea.  If indeed molestation causes HO, then MIC would predict elevated levels of HO in the men of this tribe.  GPRE would predict no difference in orientation.  What do we observe?  As adults, these men marry and behave heterosexually.  Again this behavior outcome may be outside our “orientation only” scope.

Parking Lot 16: HO as a subset of gender socialization

If the psychology of gender is socialized (meaning that the mental and behavioral traits that differ between males and females are learned from parents and society more generally), why couldn’t HO be simply a subset of gender learning gone awry?  For instance, across cultures boys engage in rough-and-tumble play more than girls.  Perhaps all the cultures of the world reward boys’ rough play and punish girls’ rough play.  Or perhaps a child just imitates other role models, such as older boys that play rough.  MIC would predict that if you raise a child as a girl the child will adopt a female gender identity, including an attraction to men.  Biology-bound GPRE would predict that sexual orientation is mostly independent of socializing factors.  What do we observe in this parking lot?  Studies of genetic males who were reassigned as females while babies (due to severe congenital malformations of the pelvic area) report being attracted to females when they reach adulthood.    Additionally:
“In 1995 Diamond reviewed the arguments that homosexuality is an acquired/learned condition. His summary of the earlier work of investigators in both the United States and Great Britain who examined the family and social backgrounds of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual adults was “Their basic finding was that no common parameter of family or upbringing could be linked causally to sexual orientation, nor could any link be found between any aspect of an individual’s childhood or adolescent experiences and homosexual or bisexual activities.” Nothing published in the subsequent 14 years appears to contradict this conclusion.[25]

Parking Lot 17: HO as a product of parent orientation

HO could result from a child role-modeling her parents.  MIC would predict that HO parents that raise their own or others’ offspring would have a higher incidence of HO among those raised children.  MIC would further predict that, on average, straight parents will raise fewer HO children.  GPRE would predict than either correlation would be due to genetics and prenatal hormones (biological parentage) rather than how the parent raises the child.  What do we observe?  The vast majority of HO people have straight parents, and according to numerous studies children raised by HO parents don’t differ in sexual orientation from children raised by straight parents (with the exception of the female biological children of lesbians).

Parking Lot 18: Choice

MIC would predict that many if not all HO people chose to be HO.  The MIC camp is split on whether heterosexually oriented people chose their orientation- some say heterosexual orientation is just as chosen as homosexual orientation, while others say heterosexual orientation is endemic to all people, but HO people choose to deviate from the orientation they were born with.  GPRE would predict that neither HO nor heterosexual people choose which sex to be sexually attracted to.  What do we observe?  Only 4% of gay men and 15% of lesbians say that choice has anything to do with why they are HO.  One may speculate that heterosexually oriented people would on average respond similarly- namely that choice has little to do with why they are heterosexually oriented.  (For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be a survey reporting heterosexuals’ response to the inquiry). 
One also questions here why on earth large numbers of people, especially in the church, would choose to be HO:
“Join us and very possibly break your parents’ hearts, throw the family into chaos, run the risk of intense self-loathing, especially if you are religious, invite the disgust of much of society, give up the warmth and benefits of marriage and probably of parenthood.[26] 
If the heavily predominant preference is for heterosexual orientation and that is an available alternative, why are so many otherwise good, reasonably normal people choosing what many consider an exceptionally difficult life as an HO person?

Parking Lot 19: Animal HO

Some people claim that a number of animals are homosexually oriented.  MIC would predict that animals would not manifest HO because, with a few exceptions (species which can learn from their peers, such as ravens and higher mammals and primates), animals are merely products of their environment and are incapable of sexually abusing, being molested, being “infected” with cultural information, or choosing.  Also, even from an evolutionary perspective, homosexuality will be selected against since it doesn’t produce offspring- right? 
Looking to the substantial prenatal and genetic similarities between ours and other species, GPRE would predict widespread homosexual conduct (which serves as the indicator of HO animals since they cannot self-report) in the animal kingdom.  What do we observe?  More important than the strength of the evolutionary arguments[27] for either side (which are abundant and available) is the reality suggested by our observations.  We observe homosexual, bisexual, and/or transgender courtships, sex, affection, pair bonding, and/or parenting in about 1,500 species, with substantial documentation for 500 of those 1,500.  Examples: 8% of male rams behave only homosexually (turns out the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the medial preoptic area is half the size in the gay than in the straight sheep); one report is that 9 of 10 giraffe pairings occur between males; in some penguin species same-sex individuals mate for life and refuse to mate with females even when given the chance; and many others (gulls, mallards, dolphins, elephants, lions, bison, bonobos, and hyenas to name a few).  Speaking of same-sex penguin pairings, Carol Lynn Pearson wrote:
“I have followed the charming story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins who met in a zoo holding tank in 1998 in New York’s Central Park.  They became inseparable, built a nest, defended it from others, and “engaged in what zookeeper euphemistically call ‘ecstatic display.’”  They showed signs of wanting to be parents, so the zookeepers gave them a dummy egg, which they successfully incubated, then gave them an actual egg.  When the baby chick was born, Roy and Silo cared for it, fed it, kept it warm, and successfully launched it into maturity.  Years later, the couple is still going strong and is regarded as just another couple by their heterosexual penguin peers.[28]
Also, “Sexual behavior is clearly under genetic control in animals. A single gene… controls male and female sexual behavior in fruit flies. When the female route of expression of the gene is experimentally induced in genetic males, they do not exhibit male courtship movements and sounds. When the male route of expression of the gene is experimentally induced in genetic females, they behave sexually like males. It is not valid to dismiss evidence obtained from non-humans with the rejoinder that, “But, of course, people are not fruit flies.” Evidence continues to mount that the biochemical mechanisms that operate during embryonic life are remarkably similar, in general outline, among animals, and a large number of the genes that control development in fruit flies and people (and worms, and frogs, and mice) are the same.[29]
Another observation- remember the rat sons referenced in the sex determination primer?  The landmark study on the rat genome noted: “the rat genome contains about the same number of genes as the human and mouse genomes. Furthermore, almost all human genes known to be associated with diseases have counterparts in the rat genome and appear highly conserved through mammalian evolution, confirming that the rat is an excellent model for many areas of medical research.[30]  Our reliance on mouse and rats for the experimenting with new drugs evidences our trust in the biological similarities between rats and humans.  In the experiment referenced above, a single dose of a known endocrine disruptor was given to mothers.  MIC would perhaps concede that HO in animals is biological, but inasmuch as HO in animals is similar to that in humans, a biological factor such as an endocrine disruptor won’t affect HO.  GPRE would predict hyper-masculinizing or feminizing of the sons, depending on the effective direction of the endocrine disruption.  What do we observe?  The small dose of endocrine disruptor was enough to turn the rat sons to homosexual behavior.  Other studies, such as one where moms were exposed to plant estrogens, resulted in sons who show less mounting behavior and fewer ejaculations.  The latter study shows that the first ten days after a rat’s birth (rat’s aren’t as developed as humans at parturition) are the critical period for those areas of the brain linked to sexual behavior.

Parking Lot 20: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)

CAH “refers to any of several autosomal recessive diseases resulting from mutations of genes for enzymes mediating the biochemical steps of production of cortisol from cholesterol by the adrenal glands.”  Individuals (usually women) with CAH frequently had too little or too much of sex steroids such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogens during development.  MIC would predict that there will be no difference between HO and heterosexual populations as a result of the biological factor of CAH presence.  GPRE would predict masculinized or feminized orientation, based on which steroids were present at altered levels, and the magnitude of alteration.  Because very elevated testosterone is the most frequent occurrence, GPRE would predict increased incidence of HO.  What do we observe?  No less than 19 studies evidence that CAH women are on average very significantly shifted in the direction of HO.

Parking Lot 21: Auditory pathways

Did you know the cochlea makes sounds in addition to sensing them?   It’s true- and the sounds are called oto-acoustic emissions (OAEs).  A sensitive microphone placed inside the ear can detect the OAEs frequencies.  Any particular person will have between zero and about a dozen different OAEs.  It turns out that the number and volume of these OAE varies predictably by gender (women have on average more and louder OAEs).  This sex difference also exists in monkeys and sheep.  MIC’s prediction: HO and heterosexually oriented individuals from either gender will not differ in their OAE’s because anyone can choose/become infected/be molested into HO, and none are significantly biologically predisposed.  GPRE: HO males will be shifted toward the heterosexual female norm, and HO females toward the heterosexual male norm.  What do we observe?  HO men show no difference from heterosexual men, and HO women are shifted towards the heterosexual male norm.
Additionally, men and women differ in their prepulse inhibition (PPI), which is the degree to which they are startled by a loud sound stimulus if they are exposed earlier to a weaker sound.  This non-learned behavior is measured via eye blink, and is lower in women than it is in men.  MIC would predict no PPI differences; GPRE would predict gender shifts for this sexually dimorphic trait.  What do we observe?  Homosexual women manifest a significantly masculinized PPI. 

Parking Lot 22: DES exposure

What is DES?  “Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic nonsteroidal estrogen that was first synthesized in 1938. Human exposure to DES occurred through diverse sources, such as dietary ingestion from supplemented cattle feed and medical treatment for certain conditions, including breast and prostate cancers. From about 1940 to 1970, DES was given to pregnant women under the mistaken belief it would reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and losses.[31]  DES is also a known estrogen mimic.  MIC would predict that DES exposure would not affect the likelihood of either gender’s HO, since the pre-natal hormones aren’t causes of HO.  GPRE would predict a discernible difference between DES-exposed and non-exposed people.  What do we observe?  There was no indication that DES influences the sexual orientation of sons.  Out of 30 women whose mothers were not exposed, none indicated either a bisexual or a HO.  Out of 30 women whose mothers were exposed, 24% reported a lifelong bisexual or HO.  When studying sister pairs where one sister had been exposed in the womb to DES and the other hadn’t, 8% of the unexposed sisters reported lifelong bisexual orientation, while 42% of the exposed sisters reported a lifelong bisexual orientation[32]. 

Parking Lot 23: HO running in the family

Additionally, what would MIC and GPRE predict about homosexuality running in families?  MIC might or not predict HO running in families based on how conserved the family culture is through generations, which culture could affect HO incidence in the family.  GPRE would predict a moderate correlation based on the genetic component of HO.  What do we observe?
“Data from random samples show that gay men are about three times more likely to have gay brothers than are heterosexual men (9% compared to about 3% in the general population). Lesbians tend to have a higher incidence of lesbian sisters (6-25% compared to about 2% in the general population).[33]


Parking Lot 24: Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS)

“In another human intersexual condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), the gene that encodes the protein receptor that mediates signaling by testosterone is mutant. Males with this condition cannot respond prenatally to the male steroid hormones and are convincingly female in anatomy. These persons are nearly always raised as women, are no different in psychological well-being compared to control women…[34] 
MIC would predict that AIS would not affect homosexual orientation- after all, the HO is overwhelmingly caused by molestation, choice, or cultural infection rather than biology.  GPRE would predict that fetal androgen sensitivity is vital to converting the default orientation towards men into an orientation towards women, as a lack of prenatal exposure to androgens leads to a sexual orientation toward males- sublata causa, tollitur effectus (the cause being removed, the effect ceases).  What do we observe?  AIS men uniformly exhibit sexual attraction to men. 

Parking Lots 25-32: The brain

This could be the most important lot visited on the tour- as your guide I have “saved the best for last.”  Though brains are plastic in some limited ways until about age 25, most structural aspects are static and measurably different for men and women by a few months after birth, which is before the time that MIC factors could exert influence.  If girl and boy brains are different from each other- how about the brains of HO men and women?  MIC would predict no difference.  GPRE would predict, as it has in the many parking lots before this one, that the brains of HO men and women will be atypical for their gender in the direction of the opposite gender.  Additionally, GPRE would predict marked differences in parts of the brain that are likely candidates as sexual orientation centers.  What do we observe? (award points for each bullet) 
·         HO men are gender-shifted in terms of the relative sizes of the left and right cerebral hemispheres in the direction of the heterosexual female norm. 
·         Both gay men and lesbian women are gender shifted toward the opposite gender in their brain responses to compounds thought to be sex pheromones. 
·         Gay males, like females, have better verbal abilities than straight males.
·         Both gay men and lesbian women are gender shifted toward the opposite gender in the functional connectivity of their amygdalas, the emotional center of the brain, as measured by cerebral blood flow. 
·         The isthmus of the corpus callosum, whose size heritability is a whopping 94%, is different between heterosexual and homosexual men.
·         Viewing a female face produced a strong reaction in the thalamus and medial prefrontal cortex of straight men but not of gay men.  Gay male brains reacted more strongly to the face of a man.
·         The anterior commissure (superfast cables connecting the brain hemispheres) are larger in gay than in straight males. 
·         Significantly, gay men are gender shifted in the size and density of the third interstitial nucleus of the hypothalamus, which is a sexually dimorphic cell group concerned with male-typical sexual behavior. 

The 32-stop parking lot tour is now complete!  Thanks for coming along for the ride- next let’s check the scoreboard.  Now, there could be some error (which could go either way) in assuming each parking lot merits the same amount of points- nevertheless for the sake of convenience, presume each lot can give out no more than two demerits or two points [five possibilities: 1- both MIC and GPRE’s predictions failed (one demerit each), 2- they both succeeded (one point each), 3- one succeeded and the other failed (one point, one demerit), 4- one either succeeded or failed and the other neither succeeded nor failed (one point or demerit), 5- neither succeeded or failed (none)].  What did you get?  My tentative tally is MIC, -22 GPRE, 27.  We must remember that the size and magnitude of multiple pathways, if they exist, will frustrate GPRE’s claims but serve to substantiate MIC’s claims.  Also, if any persons in the sample groups mistakenly reported their orientation or lied, such errors will similarly reduce or eliminate the differences between heterosexual and homosexual norms in the parking lots which measured physical attributes.  To account for these MIC-favoring self-reporting and multiple-pathway errors, I will award a modest one demerit to MIC, leaving MIC -23 and GPRE 27 for a point spread of 50.   

Causation of HO: the LDS view

Okay, now the parking lot test is done.  Was the parking lot test a valid approach to gaining knowledge for a Latter-day Saint?  Abrogating a longer epistemological discussion, I will here merely assert that there are two valid sources of truth approximations for a Latter-day Saint: revelation (explored below) and observation/science (analyzed above).  Joseph Smith taught: “one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.[35]  Also:
“Diversity of opinion does not necessitate intolerance of spirit, nor should it embitter or set rational beings against each other. ... Our religion is not hostile to real science. That which is demonstrated, we accept with joy; but vain philosophy, human theory and mere speculations of men, we do not accept nor do we adopt anything contrary to divine revelation or to good common sense.[36]
Thus, I conclude that the scientific approach taken above is a legitimate one that merits consideration for a Latter-day Saint.  Having heard some from observation/science, we will now give voice to what revelation has to say: audi alteram partem (hear the other side).
To construct the revelation-based LDS view on the causation of HO, I will cite approximately 60 statements by church leaders (I count 47 from those sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators) over the years that could reasonably be interpreted to bear on the question of the causation of homosexual orientation.  To avoid the potential of casting an unfavorable light on any particular church authority I have evidenced authorship in the endnotes rather than in-text.  This construction will be difficult since it seems that sometimes terms such as homosexuality and perversion refer to either {homosexual behavior + homosexual orientation}, homosexual orientation, or just homosexual behavior.  I will leave it to the reader to discriminate how the terms are used, since I struggle.  I remind the reader that statements which bear on only homosexual behavior are outside the narrow scope of this chapter.

·         “Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.[37]  (2010)
·         “There is a reason why we in the Church do not talk more openly about this subject. Some matters are best handled very privately. With many things, it is easy - very easy - to cause the very things we are trying to avoid. On one occasion, with a friend of mine, I went to the medical center of a large university to see another friend who was a doctor there. In the waiting room before us was a low table covered with pamphlets describing various diseases. My friend observed: ‘Well, there they are. Read enough about it and you'll think you've got it…’ and I have already said that we can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them.[38]" (1978)
·         “First, far less is known about the causes of same-gender attraction than is claimed to be known.  Preliminary findings are touted as proven facts while retractions or contradicting evidence about the same issue receive little, if any, attention. The result is an abundance of untruth and distortions worthy of Isaiah’s warning: ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil…[39]” (2010)
·         "homosexuals can be assured that in spite of all they may have heard from other sources, they can overcome and return to normal, happy living.[40]  (1970)
·         “There appears to be a consensus in the world that it is natural, to one degree or another, for a percentage of the population.  Therefore, we must accept it as all right. However, when you put a moral instrument on it, the needle immediately flips to the side labeled "wrong." It may even register "dangerous…" The answer: It is not all right. It is wrong! It is not desirable; it is unnatural; it is abnormal; it is an affliction.  When practiced, it is immoral.[41]” (1978)
·         “If someone seeking your help says to you, ‘I am a homosexual,’ or, ‘I am lesbian,’ or, ‘I am gay,’ correct this miscasting… it is simply not true. To speak this way seeds a doubt and deceit about who we really are.[42]” (2010)
·         “Please notice that I use [homosexual] as an adjective, not as a noun: I reject it as a noun. I repeat, I accept that word as an adjective to describe a temporary condition. I reject it as a noun naming a permanent one.[43]” (1978)
·         “First, it is important to understand that homosexuality is not innate and unchangeable. Research has not proved that homosexuality is genetic. Even more important, many researchers whose studies have been used to support a biological model for homosexuality have determined that their work has been misinterpreted. What is clear is that homosexuality results from an interaction of social, biological, and psychological factors. These factors may include temperament, personality traits, sexual abuse, familial factors, and treatment by one’s peers.[44]” (1999)
·         “To the ‘misinformed’ who believe ‘God make them that way… This is as untrue as any other of the diabolical lies Satan has concocted.  It is blasphemy.  Man is made in the image of God.  Does the pervert think God to be ‘that way?[45]’” (1975)
·         “’God made me that way,’ some say, as they rationalize and excuse themselves for their [homosexual] perversions.  ‘I can’t help it,’ they add.  This is blasphemy.  Is man not made in the image of God, and does he think God to be ‘that way’?”[46]” (1980)
·         “Today we are aware of great problems in our society. The most obvious are sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, drug abuse, alcoholism, vandalism, pornography, and violence.  These grave problems are symptoms of failure in the home—the disregarding of principles and practices established by God in the very beginning.[47]” (1982)
·         “For centuries men have sought to find the cause of this condition… but it is not a physical disorder. A most extensive physical examination will not reveal one shred of evidence that it is. Physicians have never located any tangible control center in the body that can be adjusted by medical or surgical means to change this condition. The next obvious place to look is the emotional or psychological part of our nature. Here we come closer.[48]” (1978)
·         “Some people who seek help for homosexual problems may have concluded that experiences from their youth, such as perceived problems with a parent or some other older person, contributed to their inappropriate feelings.  Some may believe that they have not consciously chosen to have such feelings in the first place.  No general agreement exists about the causes of such problems.[49]” (1992)
·         “There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited. How can this be? No scientific evidence demonstrates absolutely that this is so. Besides, if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness. Our designation as men or women began before this world was. In contrast to the socially accepted doctrine that homosexuality is inborn, a number of respectable authorities contend that homosexuality is not acquired by birth. The false belief of inborn sexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.[50]” (1995)
·         “Is this tendency impossible to change? Is it preset at the time of birth and locked in? Do you just have to live with it? For example, the shutter of an expensive camera is calibrated at the factory and cannot be adjusted in the field. If such a camera, by chance, is thrown out of calibration or damaged, it cannot be fixed locally. It must eventually go back to the factory, for only there can it be put in order. Is perversion like that? The answer is a conclusive no! It is not like that. Some so-called experts, and many of those who have yielded to the practice, teach that it is congenital and incurable and that one just has to learn to live with it. They can point to a history of very little success in trying to put whatever mechanism that causes this back into proper adjustment. They have, to support them, some very convincing evidence. Much of the so-called scientific literature concludes that there really is not much that can be done about it. I reject that conclusion out of hand.[51]” (1978)
·         “The chief psychiatrist at one of Washington’s largest hospitals says, ‘A normal 12- or 13-year-old boy or girl exposed to pornographic literature could develop into a homosexual.’[52]” (1970)
·         “Having same-gender attraction is NOT in your DNA…[53]” (2009)
·         “First is the misconception that same-gender attraction is an inborn and unalterable orientation. This untrue assumption tries to persuade you to label yourselves and build your entire identity around a fixed sexual orientation or condition.[54]” (2009)
·         “Some who become tangled up in this disorder become predators. They proselyte the young or the inexperienced. It becomes very important for them to believe that everyone, to one degree or another, is "that way"… Do not be deceived. If you are one of the few who are subject to this temptation, do not be misled into believing that you are a captive to it. That is false doctrine![55]” (1978)
·         “There are said to be millions of perverts who have relinquished their natural affection and bypassed courtship and normal marriage relationships. This practice is spreading like a prairie fire and changing our world. They are without ‘natural affection’ for God, for spouses, and even for children.[56]” (1971)
·         “In the two most common responses, 42% of this public sample said gay or lesbian people are born that way, and 36% said they choose to be that way.  Both of those responses are factually wrong… As two Columbia University researchers put it, ‘the assertion that homosexuality is genetic . . .must be dismissed out of hand as a general principle of psychology’… even though no universal explanation exists, some patterns do fit many same-gender attraction cases. For example, we know from the research that among women up to 80% who have same-gender attraction were abused in some way as children. Among men, especially during the years just before and during puberty, as President Boyd K. Packer has said, ‘What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing [your] gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.’ In other words, before puberty, boys are typically more interested in other boys than in girls. Then their interest gradually shifts to girls, but a few boys don’t make this transition. Often these boys are emotionally sensitive, introspective, and, especially among Church members, perfectionistic. When puberty hits this group, they can be sexually aroused by many factors. When those factors include other boys, they can become fixated on the fear that they are “gay,” especially if they have male sexual experiences, including male pornography. Then their fixation can block their normal emotional-sexual development.[57]” (2009)
·         “Every form of homosexuality is sin. Pornography is one of the approaches to that transgression.[58]” (1974)
·         “[A]nimals do not pair up with their own gender to satisfy their mating instincts.[59]” (1992) 
·         “Now it is not all that unusual for a boy or a girl, in a moment of childish play with someone of the same gender, to enter into some mischief… two young men or two young women, motivated by some attraction or responding to a desire for affection - any kind of affection - sometimes are drawn almost innocently into unnatural behavior. They can be drawn into some circumstances that makes them, for the moment, doubt their identity. Do not be deluded into thinking that such thoughts and feelings are normal for you. Just because you experience some period of confusion, do not make of that thing something that it is not. Do not order your life to conform to a transient thought or experience[60].” (1978)
·         “Find a therapist who can help you identify the unmet emotional needs that you are tempted to satisfy in false sexual ways[61].” (2009)
·         “There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior. However, such thoughts and feelings, regardless of their causes, can and should be overcome and sinful behavior should be eliminated. This can be achieved through faith in God, sincere repentance, and persistent effort.[62]  (1991)
·         “The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.[63]
·         “Children learn how to love in a stable, healthy family. Parents need to know that lack of proper affection in the home can result in unnatural behavior in their children such as homosexuality or inability to be an effective parent when the time comes.[64]” (1975)
·         “"We are told that as far back as Henry the VIII, this vice was referred to as 'THE ABOMINABLE AND DETESTABLE CRIME AGAINST NATUREWe know such a disease is curable… and promise him if he will stay away from the haunts and the temptations, and the former associates, he may heal himself, cleanse his mind and return to his normal pursuits and a happy state of mind.  The cure for this malady lies in self mastery…[65]” (1964)
·         "Homosexuality is an ugly sin, but because of its prevalence, the need to warn the uninitiated, and the desire to help those who may already be involved with it, it must be brought into the open. It is the sin of the ages....[66]” (1977)
·         “We talked of the influences that had put [a young gay man] where he is, of the home from which he came, of associations with other young men, of books and magazines read, of shows seen.[67]” (1975)
·         “It is easy to hypothesize that inheritance plays a role in sexual orientation. However it is important to remember, as conceded by two advocates of this approach, that ‘the concept of substantial heritability should not be confused with the concept of inevitable heritability. ... Most mechanisms probably involve interactions between constitutional predispositions and environmental events… Satan “seeks to undermine the principle of individual accountability, to persuade us to misuse our sacred powers of procreation, to discourage marriage and childbearing by worthy men and women, and to confuse what it means to be male or female.[68]” (1995)
·         “Thus prophets anciently and today condemn masturbation....While we should not regard this weakness as the heinous sin which some other sexual practices are, it is of itself bad enough to require sincere repentance.  What is more, it too often leads to grievous sin, even to that sin against nature, homosexuality.  For, done in private, it evolves often into mutual masturbation – practiced with another person of the same sex – and then into total homosexuality…. Sin in sex practices tends to have a ‘snowballing’ effect. As the restraints fall away, Satan incites the carnal man to ever-deepening degeneracy in his search for excitement until in many instances he is lost to any former consideration of decency.  Thus it is that through the ages, perhaps as an extension of homosexual practices, men and women have sunk even to seeking sexual gratification with animals[69].” (1971)
·         “If an individual tries to receive comfort, satisfaction, affection, or fulfillment from deviate physical interaction with someone of his own gender, it can become an addiction! At first it may fill a need and give comfort of some kind, but, when that has faded, feelings of guilt and depression follow. A greater need soon emerges.[70]” (1978)
·         “It should go without saying that many of these problems would be alleviated if parents would spend more time teaching and rearing their children. Related to the story that I gave at the beginning of my talk is evidence of a clinical researcher who, after studying 850 individual cases, stated: “Homosexuality would not occur where there is a normal, loving father-and-son relationship.” Any of our people living in righteousness would normally avoid being involved in these problems.[71]  (1977)
·         ““So-called gays and lesbians...may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control.[72]” (1998)
·         “The Lord defined some very basic differences between men and women. He gave the male what we call masculine traits and the female feminine traits. He did not intend either of the sexes to adopt the other’s traits but, rather, that men should look and act like men and that women should look and act like women. When these differences are ignored, an unwholesome relationship develops, which, if not checked, can lead to the reprehensible, tragic sin of homosexuality. In other words, we have a responsibility as priesthood bearers to be examples of true manhood.[73]” (1971)
·         “There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another…  When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.[74]” (1976)
·          “Normal desires and attractions emerge in the teenage years; there is the temptation to experiment, to tamper with the sacred power of procreation. These desires can be intensified, even perverted, by pornography, improper music, or the encouragement from unworthy associations. What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.  If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and to an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a fixed part of your nature. With some few, there is the temptation which seems nearly overpowering for man to be attracted to man or woman to woman. The scriptures plainly condemn those who “dishonour their own bodies between themselves … ; men with men working that which is unseemly” or “women [who] change the natural use into that which is against nature…” The gates of freedom, and the good or bad beyond, swing open or closed to the password choice. You are free to choose a path that may lead to despair, to disease, even to death.”[75]” (2000)
·         There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just "that way" and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil.[76]” (1976)
·         “Important as it is, building stronger homes is not enough in the fight against rising permissiveness. We therefore urge Church members as citizens to lift their voices, to join others in unceasingly combatting, in their communities and beyond, the inroads of pornography and the general flaunting of permissiveness. Let us vigorously oppose the shocking developments which encourage the old sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, and which defile the human body as the temple of God.[77]” (1977)
·         “Freedom from this kind of enslavement is up to a trail that an individual must walk alone. If you stumble, get up and move on. Soon your bruises will heal. You will grow stronger. Your battle it two-thirds won, or three-fourths or four-fifths won, when you take charge of your identity.  Accept yourself as belonging in the tabernacle that God has provided for you. Your body was provided as an instrument of your mind. It has the purpose to bless others. Don't be mixed up in this twisted kind of self-love.[78]” (1978)
·         “A 1977 Sacramento Bee article “gave expert evidence that homosexuals certainly are not born – they are made – further defusing claims that they ‘can’t help it.’[79]”” (1978)
·         “The Church refutes the idea that homosexual orientation is genetically determined.…Furthermore, a genetic/biological cause of homosexual attraction has not found support in the scientific literature. “Science has never proved a genetic link to sexual orientation. Moreover, the Church repeatedly, in nearly every statement about homosexual relations, teaches that homosexual attraction is not inherent to a person's particular genetic make-up and that they are quite able to change.[80]” (2001)
·         “BYU does not intend ‘to admit to our campus any homosexuals. If any of you have this tendency and have not completely abandoned it, may I suggest that you leave the university immediately after this assembly; and if you will be honest enough to let us know the reason, we will voluntarily refund your tuition. We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence.’[81]” (1965)
·         “[BYU] will never knowingly enroll an unrepentant person who follows these practices nor tolerate on its campus anyone with these tendencies who fails to repent and put his or her life in order.[82]” (1965)
·         “A problem they caused, or they were born with?  Answer: I don't know. I'm not an expert on these things. I don't pretend to be an expert on these things.[83]” (2004)
·         “Once the carnal in man is no longer checked by the restraints of family life and by real religion, there comes an avalanche of appetites which gathers momentum that is truly frightening. As one jars loose and begins to roll down hill, still another breaks loose, whether it is an increase in homosexuality, corruption, drugs, or abortion. Each began as an appetite that needed to be checked but which went unchecked.[84]” (1978)
·         “There appears to be a consensus in the world that [sexual perversion] is natural, to one degree or another, for a percentage of the population. Therefore, we must accept it as all right. However, when you put a moral instrument on it, the needle immediately flips to the side labeled "wrong." It may even register "dangerous"… The answer: It is not all right. It is wrong! It is not desirable; it is unnatural; it is abnormal; it is an affliction.[85]” (1978)
·         “The words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns [or pronouns] to identify particular conditions or specific persons. . . . It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.[86]  (1995)
·         “Usually, there will be some resistance, particularly with the abandonment of the people for many perverts will claim to have great "love" for some with whom they have been involved, especially where there has been a sustained relationship, but since the problem is in the mind more than in the body, it is necessary to find a new climate and to make possible the elimination of the evil thoughts which drive him back to his trouble.[87]” (1970)
·         “Since homosexuals have become a nationwide entity, and have come out of hiding to demand their place in the sun, many of them claim that they are what they are because they were born that way and cannot help it.  How ridiculous is such a claim.  It was not God who mad them that way, any more than He made bank robbers the way they are[88].  (1978)
·         “Do not be misled by those who whisper that it is part of your nature and therefore right for you. That is false doctrine![89]” (1978)
·         “It was not God who made them [homosexuals] that way....He gave all mankind free agency.[90]  (1978)
·         “Sexual immorality creates a barrier to the influence of the Holy Spirit with all its uplifting, enlightening, and empowering capabilities. It causes powerful physical and emotional stimulation. In time that creates an unquenchable appetite that drives the offender to ever more serious sin. It engenders selfishness and can produce aggressive acts such as brutality, abortion, sexual abuse, and violent crime. Such stimulation can lead to acts of homosexuality, and they are evil and absolutely wrong.[91]” (1994)
·         “When one projects himself in some confused role-playing way with those of the same gender in an effort to become more masculine or more feminine, something flips over and precisely the opposite results. In a strange way, this amounts to trying to love yourself. A male, in his feelings and emotions, can become less masculine and more feminine and confused. A female can become, in her emotions, less feminine and more masculine and confused. Because the body cannot change, the emotional part may struggle to transform itself into the opposite gender. Then an individual is on a hopeless, futile quest for identity where it can never be achieved.[92]” (1978)
·         “Only be the destruction of those who practice them. Why, if a little nest of them were left that were guilty of these things, they would soon corrupt others, as some are being corrupted among us... how can this [sodomy] be stopped?  Not while those who have knowledge of these filthy crimes exist. The only way, according to all that I can understand as the word of God, is for the Lord to wipe them out, that there will be none left to perpetuate the knowledge of these dreadful practices among the children of men. And God will do it, as sure as He has spoken by the mouths of His prophets.[93]” (1897)
·         “When we understand fundamental moral law better than we do, we will be able to correct this condition routinely.[94]” (1978)
·         “Be choosy about the professionals you enlist. Many are proponents of the “you were born that way” philosophy. Ensure that the counseling is consistent with gospel principles.[95]” (1999)
·          “Now it is not all that unusual for a boy or a girl, in a moment of childish play with someone of the same gender, to enter into some mischief that should remain essentially innocent and meaningless and should be forgotten. And two young men or two young women, motivated by some attraction or responding to a desire for affection - any kind of affection - sometimes are drawn almost innocently into unnatural behavior. They can be drawn into some circumstances that makes them, for the moment, doubt their identity. Do not be deluded into thinking that such thoughts and feelings are normal for you. Just because you experience some period of confusion, do not make of that thing something that it is not. Do not order your life to conform to a transient thought or experience.  And just because someone has stubbed his toe a bit, or just because someone did not watch carefully where he was going and got off the track into some unnatural behavior, or just because he may have fallen victim to some clever predator, that is no reason to jump off the cliff into spiritual oblivion[96].” (1978)
·         “begin the ruinous practice of perversion through curiosity and then become entangled in its tentacles.[97]  (1971)
·         “First, it is important to understand that homosexuality is not innate and unchangeable. Research has not proved that homosexuality is genetic.[98]” (1999)
·         “Many questions, however, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life.[99]” (2007)
·         “The cause of this disorder has remained hidden for so long because we have been looking for it in the wrong place. When the cause is discovered, it may be nothing so mysterious after all. It may be hidden because it is so obvious.  Have you explored the possibility that the cause when found, will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness - selfishness in a very subtle form? Now - and understand this - I do not think for a minute that the form of selfishness at the root of perversion is a conscious one, at least not to begin with. I am sure it is quite the opposite. Selfishness can attach itself to an individual without his being aware that he is afflicted with it. It can become imbedded so deeply and disguised so artfully as to be almost indistinguishable.  It is hard to believe that any individual would, by a clear, conscious decision or by a pattern of them, choose a course of deviation. It is much more subtle than that. If one could even experiment with the possibility that selfishness of a very subtle nature may be the cause of this disorder, that quickly clarifies many things. It opens the possibility of putting some very sick things in order… When one has the humility to admit that a spiritual disorder is tied to perversion and that selfishness rests at the root of it, already the way is open to the treatment of the condition. It is a painful admission indeed that selfishness may be at the root of it, but we do not have much evidence that one can cure perversion by trying to cure perversion. If unselfishness can effect a cure, we ought to be desperate enough by now at least to experiment with the possibility. I repeat, we have had very little success in trying to remedy perversion by treating perversion. It is very possible to cure it by treating selfishness... you can understand unselfishness and selfishness. You can learn to cure perversion. [100]” (1978)

The next collection of excerpts comes from two pamphlets published in 1970 and 1971 by the LDS church.  The first is for church leaders, entitled Hope For Trangressors (1970):
 “In the event that you have members who have homosexual tendencies or activities, it will be your privilege and responsibility to assist them to effect a cure and bring their lives back into total normalcy.  This dread practice is becoming widespread in the country and there is some of it even among our members which we deeply regret.”  [In the years following this statement some HO people underwent aversion therapy at BYU to “effect a cure.[101]  They were shown heterosexual and homosexual pornography[102].  Physiological responses (based on a penis-attached device) from homosexual porn were punished by electric shocks and/or induced vomiting, and soothing music was played during the heterosexual porn[103].  At least two of the subjects committed suicide after the therapy, with most of the rest leaving as broken people[104].]
“Reason might also be employed to convince the individual that there is no future for a homosexual… the day will come in his life when there is nothing left but chaff and dust and barrenness and desolation.”
“The entrenched homosexual has generally and gradually moved all of his interests and affections to those of his own sex rather than to the opposite sex and herein is another step.  When you feel he is ready, he should be encouraged to date and gradually move his life toward the normal.”
“If they will close the door to the intimate associations with their own sex and open it wide to that of the other sex, of course in total propriety, and then be patient and determined, gradually they can move their romantic interests where they belong.” 
“Homosexuality CAN be cured.” 
From Horizons for Homosexuals, published by the church in 1971:
“Next to the crime of murder comes the sin of sexual impurity as expressed in its many manifestations: adultery, fornication, homosexuality and related transgressions.   Man is created in the image of God and prostitutes his God-given powers and image in such practices.  No amount of rationalization can really neutralize the pollution.  The death penalty was exacted in the days of Israel for such wrong-doing.”
“Satan tells his victims that it is a natural way of life; that it is normal; that perverts are a different kind of people born ‘that way’ and that they cannot change.  This is a base lie.  All normal people have sex urges and if they control such urges, they grow strong and masterful.  If they yield to their carnal desires and urges, they get weaker until their sins get beyond control.  ‘The knowledge that homosexuality can be effectively treated must be made more generally known, to offset the effect of organized groups of homosexuals who would have society accept homosexuality and relieve them of the pressure to undergo the changes that can be effected through appropriate treatment… It can be overcome and the case of difficulty of overcoming depends largely upon the strength or weakness of the individual, the depth of his entrenchment, the quality and quantity of his desire and determination.’ Psychiatric Spectator, Vol II No. 4- January 1965.”
“Some continue until, when the changing gets difficult, they admit their inability to cope with it and yield.  They rationalize that they are of another class of people; that the Lord made them that way; that they cannot change.  The powerful Lucifer has had his day.” 
“You might be able for a time to deceive your associates and leaders.  But, you cannot lie to yourself nor to your lord, for in spite of all the rationalization, you know deep in your heart what you are.  You may be able to convince your mind that it is not so wrong but deep in your heart, you will always be uneasy and unhappy and know that your sin is vicious and base.  Remember there are no rooms with such tight windows or with blinds so heavy but that the Lord and his angles know what is going on.” 
“When I say this is sin, I am quoting the Creator of the world.  Truth is truth and needs no eloquent tongue nor brilliant brain to portray it.” 
“God made no man a pervert.  To blame a weakness and transgression upon God is cowardly.” 
“Whether or not you believe those scriptures or the things written above, they are still true and they are still true and will ever be a testimony against you… Having read this letter, you will never in time nor eternity forget it, nor its message totally.” 
“God did not make men evil.  He did not make people ‘that way.’” 

Another way to represent the church’s stances on HO causation is through a table of authoritative statements (from only those sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators) on the subject[105]:







Abnormal, transgressive affliction

Aggressive acts

Avoiding domesticity


Combination of several factors

Constitutional predisposition





Free agency

Ignoring sex roles






Not biological




Not known


Parental failure


Peer rejection

Physical perversion


Powerful inclination


Satanic influence



Search for psychosexual role

Seductive fathers


Social permissiveness

Speaking about it

Unchecked appetites

Unconscious biological compulsions



























Numbers inside black boxes indicate number of multiple references to this topic in same year

This table and the above collection of excerpts, mostly from the past 50ish years, paints a reasonable picture of the historical/present LDS view on the cause(s) of HO.  Many of my homosexually oriented LDS friends have read many of these quotes before, having snapped up all church statements they can find on the subject in their search for hope and truth.  Some of these same friends have expressed to me the extreme pain they found in revisiting these quotes.  Said one (I will keep him anonymous):
“You've done your homework. You know the references that all of us (we being those who live with same-sex attraction) have read and memorized, and the pamphlets we've kept on our bookshelves… The sleepless nights in reading page after page of study and press conference and archived talks and letters.
And yet, ultimately, from my perspective as a Mormon who has lived with this all my life, being totally and completely truthful… the most depressing composition I've read since I was 16 and almost killed myself because of SSA [same-sex attraction].” 
It is my hope that most readers have a more positive experience.  To use another’s words which articulate my own hope[cvi]:
“I believe my approach can be faith-promoting for believers seeking to understand their religious community as led by fallible humans who struggle to achieve God’s will.  For religious believers who do not view the LDS church and its leadership through the lens of faith, I hope they will read this study with the charity they expect others to give to the humanness of leaders in their own religion’s history.  I would also expect secular readers not to hold LDS leaders to a standard of infallibility which secularists deny to everyone else.
Charity is a virtue I have often found among secular humanists as well as among believers in various religious traditions.  It has been my guide in appreciating an extraordinary people and in restraining personal judgments about many matters I have examined. ‘Of course, there are aberrations in our history,’ current LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley has publicly stated[cvii]. ‘There are blemishes to be found, if searched for, in the lives of all men, including our leaders past and present.  But these are only incidental to the magnitude of their service and to the greatness of their contributions.”


Given the wholly inconsistent, contradictory, and bizarre picture of HO causation painted by these 60ish statements, the apologist in me seeks for some way to reconcile or ignore such confusion.  I will do so by selecting a recent statement that I prefer, then arbitrarily giving that statement incredible weight.  Inasmuch as the above LDS statements endorse the MIC theory, per Elder Oaks’s 2006 statement they may be summarily rejected in favor of a better-performing etiology (causation) theory: “The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.[cviii] 
Thus, I conclude that HO is very likely caused predominantly by genes and pre-natal hormones, and not by factors such as parenting, infection, molestation, or choice. 

[1] Holliday, R., 1990. Mechanisms for the control of gene activity during development. Biol. Rev. Cambr. Philos. Soc. 65, 431-471.
[2]  Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future. 
[3] Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future, chapter 1.
[4] Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future, chapter 1.
[5] Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future, chapter 1.
[6] Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future, chapter 1.
[7] Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future, chapter 1.
[8] Description: “The following interview was conducted in 2006 with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. These senior Church leaders responded to questions from two members of the Church’s Public Affairs staff.”  Available at
[11] See Levay, Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: the Science of Sexual Orientation, pg. 138-142.  Some of the primary literature: Hall, L. S. & Love, C. T. (2003). Finger-length ratios in female monozygotic twins discordant for sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 32, 23-28; McFadden, D. & Shubel, E. (2002). Relative lengths of fingers and toes in human males and females. Hormones and Behavior. 42, 492-500; Brown, W. M., Hines, M., Fane, B. A. & Breedlove, S. M. (2002b). Masculinized finger length patterns in human males and females with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Hormones and Behavior. 42, 380-386; Rahman, Q. & Wilson, G. D. (2003b). Sexual orientation and the 2nd to 4th finger length ratio: evidence for organising effects of sex hormones or developmental instability? Psychoneuroendocrinology. 28, 288-303.
[12] Some of the primary literature: Bailey, J. M. & Pillard, R. C. (1995). Genetics of human sexual orientation. Annual Review of Sex Research. 6, 126-150; Bailey, J. M., Pillard, R. C., Neale, M. C. & Agyei, Y. (1993). Heritable factors influence sexual orientation in women. Archives of General Psychiatry. 50; Bailey, J. M., Dunne, M. P. & Martin, N. G. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 78, 524-536.
[13] Dean Byrd wrote an article for the NARTH website dated April 4, 2007 quoting Collins’ book, The Language of God, on genetics and homosexuality. Byrd’s review provided accurate quotes but implied that Collins believes free will is involved in the development of homosexuality. Subsequently, David Roberts at ExGayWatch wrote Collins to find out if Byrd had captured his views properly. Collins responded by saying the quote in an email.  Available at
[14] Eva Carlstrom, Niklas Langstrom, Paul Lichtenstein, and Qazi Rahman, “Genetic and Environmental Effects on Same-sex Sexual Behavior: A Population Study of Twins in Sweden.”  Archives of Sexual Behavior (2010) 39:75–80.
[16] Bailey, J. M. & Zucker, K. J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behavior  and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology. 31, 43-55.  See also Katarina Alanko, Pekka Santtila, Katarina Witting, Markus Varjonen, Patrik Jern, Ada Johansson, Bettina von der Pahlen, N. Kenneth Sandnabba, "Psychiatric symptoms and same-sex sexual attraction and behavior in light of childhood gender atypical behavior and parental relationships," Journal of Sex Research, Sept-Oct, 2009 49, 494-504; Ploderl, M. & Fartacek, R. (2008).  Childhood gender nonconformity and harassment as predictors of suicidality among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual Austrians.  Archives of Sexual Behavior 38, 400-410; Cardoso, F.L. (2009).  Recalled sex-typed behavior in childhood and sports’ preferences in adulthood of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men from Brazil, Turkey, and Thailand.  Archives of Sexual Behavior 38, 726-736.
[17] See Levay, Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: the Science of Sexual Orientation, pg. 260-270.  Some of the primary literature: Blanchard, R. & Bogaert, A. F. (1996). Homosexuality in men and number of older brothers. American Journal of Psychiatry. 153, 27-31; Bogaert, A. F. (2003a). The interaction of fraternal birth order and body size in male sexual orientation. Behavioral Neuroscience. 117, 381-384; Bogaert, A. F. (2003b). Number of older brothers and sexual orientation: new tests and the attraction/behavior distinction in two national probability samples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 84, 644-652; Bogaert, A. F. (2006). Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men's sexual orientation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103, 10771-10774.
[18] Though one study detected the shift in women only: Mustanski, B. S., Bailey, J. M. & Kaspar, S. (2002). Dermatoglyphics, handedness, sex, and sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 31, 113-132.
[19] Lalumiere, M.L., Blanchard, R. and Zucker, K.J. Sexual orientation and handedness in men
and women: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 525 (2000).
[20] Blanchard, R., Cantor, J. M., Bogaert, A. F., Breedlove, S. M. & Ellis, L. (2006). Interaction of fraternal birth order and handedness in the development of male homosexuality. Hormones and Behavior. 49, 405-414; Bogaert, A.F., Blanchard, R. & Crosthwait, L.E. (2007).  Interactino of birth order, handedness, and sexual orientatino in the Kinsey interview data.  Behavioral Neuroscience 121, 845-853; Blanchard, R. & Lippa, R.A. (2008).  The sex ratio of older siblings in non-right-handed homosexual men.  Archives of Sexual Behavior 36, 163-176.
[21] Martin, J. T. & Nguyen, D. H. (2004).  Anthropometric analysis of homosexuals and heterosexuals: implications for early hormone exposure.  Horm. Behav. 45, 31-39.
[22] Johnson, K.L., Gill, S., Reichman, V. & Tassinary, L.G. (2007).  Swagger, sway, and sexuality: Judging sexual orientation from body motion and morphology.  J Pers Soc Psychol. 93, 321-334; Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. Al, Gygaz, L., & Bailey, J. M. (2010).  Dissecting “gaydar”: Accuracy and the role of masculinity-femininity.  Archives of Sexual Behavior 39, 124-140.
[23] Whitam, F. L. (1983).  Culturally invariant properties of male homosexuality: Tentative conclusions from cross-cultural research.  Archives of Sexual Behavior 12, 207-226; Wellings, K., Field, J., Johnson, A. M. & Wadsworth, J. (1994). Sexual Behavior in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. Penguin Books.
[24] See Levay, Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: the Science of Sexual Orientation, pg. 13-15.  Some of the primary literature: Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T. & Michaels, S. (1994).  The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Statistics Canada, (2004) Canadian Community Health Survey 2003.  Available at accessed January 14, 2010; Smith, A. M., Rissel, C. E., Richters, J., Grulich, A. E. & de Visser, r. O. (2003).  Sex in Australia: sexual identity, sexual attraction and sexual experience among a representative sample of adults.  Australia New Zealand Journal of Public Health 27, 138-145.
[25] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at pg. 14.
[26] Carol Lynn Pearson, No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones pg. 16. 
[27] See e.g. Jeff Kirby, “A new group-selection model for the evolution of homosexuality,” Biology and Philosophy 18:683-694, 2003.
[28] Carol Lynn Pearson, No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones pg. 16. 
[29] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at pg. 7.
[30] NIH New Release, National Human Genome Research Institute, March 31, 2004, "Scientists Compare Rat Genome With Human, Mouse: Analysis Yields New Insights into Medical Model, Evolutionary Process," available at
[32] Theo Colborn, Our Stolen Future, pg. 65.
[33] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at pg. 6.
[34] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at pg. 12.
[35] History of the Church 5:499.
[36] ^ First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund), "Words in Season from the First Presidency", Deseret Evening News, 1910-12-17, sec. 1, p. 3.
[37] Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel” October 3 2010.  I report the version I heard from his lips when I watched General Conference.
[38] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978 and published in 1978 by “Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, popularly distributed afterward in this pamphlet form. 
[39] Bishop Keith McMullin, Evergreen International Annual Conference, Saturday, September 18, 2010.
[40] First Presidency Circular Letter, March 19, 1970, LDS Church Archives.
[41] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[42] Bishop Keith McMullin, Evergreen International Annual Conference, Saturday, September 18, 2010.
[43] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[44] A. Dean Byrd, “When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction,” Ensign, Sep 1999, 51.
[45] "Dogma According to Kimball", August 13, 1975, pp. 14 and 16, available at
[46] Spencer W. Kimball, Church President,  “President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality”, Ensign, November 1980, p. 97.
[47] Ezra Taft Benson, Presiding Apostle November 1982, “Fundamentals of Enduring Family Relationships”, Ensign, p. 59.
[48] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[49] Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems – Suggestions for Ecclesiastical Leaders, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1992.
[50] James E. Faust, “Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil,” Ensign, Sep 1995, 2.
[51] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[52] Victor L. Brown Sr., 2nd Counselor in Presiding Bishopric, April 4, 1970, Conference Reports, April 1970, p. 31.
[53] Elder Bruce C. Hafen,  Evergreen International Annual Conference, 19 September 2009.  Available at
[54] Elder Bruce C. Hafen,  Evergreen International Annual Conference, 19 September 2009.  Available at
[55] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[56] Spencer W. Kimball, Delivered April 3, 1971, “Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future, Ensign, June 1971, p. 16.
[57] Elder Bruce C. Hafen,  Evergreen International Annual Conference, 19 September 2009.  Available at
[58] Spencer W. Kimball, Church President, October 4, 1974,”God Will Not Be Mocked”, Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 4.
[59] Boyd K. Packer, “Our Moral Environment,” Ensign, May 1992, 66.
[60] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[61] Elder Bruce C. Hafen,  Evergreen International Annual Conference, 19 September 2009.  Available at
[62] Office of the First Presidency, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, November 14, 1991.  To: All Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Dear Brethren and Sisters: Standards of Morality and Fidelity.  Available at
[63] “Church Responds to HRC Petition,” 12 October 2010.
[64] Victor L. Brown Jr., BYU Instructor, “Two Views of Sexuality”, Ensign, July 1975, p. 50.
[65] Spencer W. Kimball, July 10, 1964, “A Counseling Problem in the Church” – BYU Devotional for LDS Seminary & Institute Instructors.
[66] “The Foundations of Righteousness,” General Conference, Spencer Kimball 1977.
[67] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Opposing Evil”, Ensign, November 1975, p. 38.
[68] Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle, October 1995, “Same-Gender Attraction”, Ensign, pp. 7-8.
[69] “The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature: A Revised History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980” by Connell O’Donovan.  Available at  Quoting chapter six, “The Crime Against Nature,” of The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer Kimball, pg. 77-78.
[70] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[71] J. Richard Clarke, 2nd Counselor in Presiding Bishopric, “Ministering to Needs through LDS Social Services”, Ensign, May 1977, p. 85.
[72] Gordon B. Hinckley, Church President, October 1998, “What Are People Asking About Us?”
[73] Victor L. Brown Sr., 2nd Counselor in Presiding Bishopric “The Meaning of Morality”, Ensign, June 1971, p. 55.
[74] Boyd K. Packer, “To Young Men Only,” General Conference Priesthood Session, October 2, 1976.
[75] Boyd K. Packer, Acting Presiding Apostle, October 8, 2000, “Ye Are the Temple of God”, Ensign, Nov. 2000, p. 72.
[76] Boyd K. Packer, “To Young Men Only,” General Conference Priesthood Session, October 2, 1976.
[77] Spencer W. Kimball, Church President, “The Foundations of Righteousness, Ensign, November 1977, p. 4.
[78] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[79] Mark E. Petersen, Apostle, January 14, 1978, “The strong delusions”, Church News, p. 16.
[80] Dean Byrd, October 2001, Homosexuality and the Church of Jesus Christ: Understanding Homosexuality According to the Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cedar Fort Press.
[81] Ernest L. Wilkinson, “Make Honor Your Standard”, Deseret News, Church News supplement, November 13, 1965, p. 11.
[82] Spencer Kimball, “Love versus Lust,” 5 January 1965, later published in BYU Speeches of the Year.
[83] Gordon B. Hinckley, Church President, December 26, 2004, interview with Larry King, on CNN’s “Larry King Live”; transcript available on
[84] Spencer W. Kimball, Church President, “Listen to the Prophets,” Ensign, May 1978, p. 76.
[85] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[86] Dallin Oaks, Apostle, Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, Oct. 1995, 9.
[87] Spencer Kimball, Hope for Transgressors, pamphlet published by the church in 1970.
[88] Mark E. Petersen, Apostle, December 16, 1978, “Sin is no excuse,” Church News, p. 16.
[89] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[90] Mark E. Petersen, Apostle, December 16, 1978, “Sin is No Excuse”, Church News, p. 16.
[91] Richard G. Scott, “Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 37.
[92] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[93] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996) p. 417; and O’Donovan, “Abominable”, p. 144- George Q. Cannon, 1897.  Also available on pg. 53, The year of jubilee: A full report of the proceedings of the fiftieth annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in the large tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 6th, 7th and 8th, A. D. 1880 ; Also a report of the exercises in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, on the Sunday and Monday just preceding the conference, Volume 1.  Also October 1897, Report of the 68th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 65-66.
 By Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, George F. Gibbs, John Irvine (reporter).
[94] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[95] A. Dean Byrd, “When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction,” Ensign, Sep 1999, 51.
[96] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[97] Spencer Kimball, New Horizons for Homosexuals pamphlet, 1971.
[98] A. Dean Byrd, “When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction,” Ensign, Sep 1999, 51.
[99] (2007).
[100] Elder Boyd K. Packer, To the One, delivered at 12-stake regional conference March 5, 1978.
[101] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[102] Max Ford McBride, Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy 1976.   
[103] Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-sex Attraction, edited by Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes, pg. xxv. 
[104] “The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature: A Revised History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980” by Connell O’Donovan.  Available at  “I also personally recall an Affirmation meeting in 1988 when a man showed up calling himself only David. He sat alone in a corner during our meeting and became extremely jittery when anyone approached him. I spoke with him but he requested that I remain at least six feet in distance away from him. He then rolled up his shirt sleeves and showed me his arms. The deeply-scarred skin on the inside of his arms looked like raw hamburger and I almost vomited from the sight. He informed me that he had participated in electric shock therapy at BYU in 1977 and had been allowed to turn up the voltage as high as he wanted to.”
[105] Abridged table received from Connell O’Donovan, October 2010.  Used with permission.
[cvi] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. vii-ix.
[cvii] Sheri Dew, Go Forward With Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, pg. 391, qtd in D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. ix.
[cviii] Description: “The following interview was conducted in 2006 with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. These senior Church leaders responded to questions from two members of the Church’s Public Affairs staff.”  Available at

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