from Books &
Interview with Stanton Jones
Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific
Research in the Church's Moral Debate
(Courtesy of InterVarsity Press)
How did this book come about?
We (Stan and Mark) have watched for years as the supposed
"scientific evidence" has been used in the ethical/moral
debates of the various Christian denominations over the
divisive topic of homosexuality. The majority of the time, the
"evidence" has been used against the traditional moral
position that sees homosexual behavior as sin.
Stan began writing about this subject in the late 1980s,
and was joined by Mark as a co-author in the mid-1990s.
Together, we wrote a very well-received article in the
Christian Scholar's Review that attempted a complete
overview of all of the major scientific studies that had been
cited as having some bearing on the moral/ethical debate.
This article was applauded by scientific scholars who
managed to read it, but we were disappointed that the article
was not more understandable to the educated Christian public.
This book was conceived as a way to explain the scientific
evidence to pastors and educated Christian laypersons so that
they could be better informed about two major areas: first,
what the scientific evidence really says, and second the real
bearing of this scientific evidence on the ethical/moral
debate about homosexuality.
Why did you decide to focus on this particular
There were really three reasons for choosing to focus on
homosexuality. First, as scientists, we were deeply disturbed
by the way that the supposed "findings of science" were being
used in this ethical conflict within the church.
"Science" is seen as having more relevance to what the
church should believe ethically and pastorally about
homosexuality than about any other topic that is currently
being debated in the church.
Second, as evangelical Christians, it seemed to us that
homosexuality is the area where more pressure is being put on
the church to depart from the explicit moral teachings of
scripture than any other area.
Third, we have also been concerned for the well-being of
individuals who we know who struggle with homosexual
orientation and who themselves receive very confusing messages
from church and society about how they are to live their
lives. Often, it is "science" that is given as the reason for
advice that departs from the teachings of scripture.
How prevalent is homosexuality today?
The prevalence of homosexuality is widely estimated to be
10% or more of the general population. This estimate stems
from a terrible misinterpretation of the badly biased Kinsey
studies of the 1950s. Gay rights advocates have used this
statistic to overestimate the prevalence of homosexuals in
order to accentuate the significance of this sub-population as
a political and socioeconomic force.
The best research is very clear, however, in suggesting a
much lower prevalence, likely somewhere in the range of 1.5% -
3% of homosexual individuals in the general population.
What does scientific research actually show about
To answer this question would actually require that we
summarize the entire book! Perhaps one of the most crucial
questions that is being asked is the question of causation:
"what causes homosexual orientation?" What we attempt to show
in the book is that there is no simple or conclusive answer to
this question at this stage in the evolution of science.
After a number of years when genetic causes have been
celebrated and proclaimed as "THE cause," it now seems clear
that genetic influences are weaker than has been suggested in
recent years, and are probably only present for a
sub-population of homosexual individuals. It is possible that
there are other biological influences at work for some poeple,
including the possibility of prenatal hormones having some
It is likely that familial, psychological, and experiential
variables influence the development of homosexuality, though
there is no conclusive evidence about how this happens.
In short, we do not have any conclusive answers to the
question of what causes homosexuality. We do have a number of
tantalizing clues that genetics, prenatal hormones, and early
childhood environment and experiences, along with adult
choice, can all be participants in the mix of causal factors.