Circumstances, Psychic Determinism, Genes or . . . Choice?


And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat (Genesis 3:9-13).

In the Garden of Eden. God said, "Adam!" Adam said, "Eve." And, Eve said, "The serpent." Thus began the pattern of blaming others ("Not I, Lord"), shirking responsibility (it was someone or something else), and playing the victim. The "don’t-blame-me—I’m-not-responsible" victimization role for mankind is a theme played over and over again throughout human history. Humanity seems to possess an iron-clad desire to shift blame and responsibility onto others and to play the victim.

Circumstantial Determinism

When Adam said, "Eve," he was communicating a deterministic view of life. He was saying that the sole reason for violating God’s commandment was the woman. You can hear him saying, "If it weren’t for this woman, I wouldn’t have broken your commandment." Adam refused to take internal responsibility ("I did it"), but instead blamed his commandment-breaking on an external factor (Eve). Blame Eve: "She’s responsible for tempting me; I’m a victim. If it weren’t for Eve, I never would have done it." It was a determinism rooted in external reasons, not internal choices. Eve, on her part, passed the blame on to the serpent, shirked responsibility for what she did, and played the victim as well.

What we see with Adam and Eve is a desire to please self and not God and an immediate sinful response to externalize the blame and responsibility and to play the victim. "Yes," Adam would say, "I did do it, BUT I was forced to do it; I had no other choice under the circumstances." The era of circumstantial determinism began with our first parents. The circumstances included the availability of the tree and Eve’s encouragement. Adam might even add, "My desire to please my wife caused me to do it."

Psychic Determinism

This long era of circumstantial determinism still exists today. However, beginning in the last century and continuing to the present is another very influential determinism. That new determinism or causation, if you will, began with the work of Sigmund Freud.

In the book The Freudian Fallacy, E. M. Thornton wrote:

Probably no single individual has had a more profound effect on twentieth-century thought than Sigmund Freud. His works have influenced psychiatry, anthropology, social work, penology, and education and provided a seemingly limitless source of material for novelists and dramatists. Freud has created "a whole new climate of opinion"; for better or worse he has changed the face of society. The vocabulary of psychoanalysis has passed into the language of everyday life.1

Freud postulated that the reason we think and act the way we do is because early in life (from birth to age 5) we go through what he called psychosexual stages of development. As a result, we supposedly incorporate our early human history into our unconscious. Freud taught that our childhood then determines what we do. Just as in the Garden of Eden there was blaming others, shirking responsibility, and playing the victim, so too with Freud’s psychic determinism.

According to Freud, the reason we do what we do and think what we think is because we are psychically determined to do so. In the Freudian system, I blame my early psychosexual stages of development; I am not responsible because I was programmed by early life experiences to do and think; and I am a victim of the results of my psychosexual stages of development, which have been programmed into my unconscious.

Genetic Determinism

Today, however, we are not limited to the blaming possibilities of circumstantial determinism and psychic determinism. A new kind of determinism began this century, and its popularity has been increasing rapidly during the past ten years. It is the genetic, biological, organic determinism. Whereas circumstances and the unconscious were the popular ways in the past for shifting blame and responsibility, the genetic, biological, and organic determinism is the current culprit behind doing and thinking.

Homosexuality

One of the best ways to examine genetic determinism is in reference to homosexuality. Explaining homosexuality from the Freudian system of psychic determinism is very different from explaining it according to genetic determinism. In psychic determinism homosexuality would be related to a failed resolution of the Oedipal conflict. Freud’s explanation would supposedly involve a passive father and a dominant mother.

Now let’s look at genetic determinism as it pertains to homosexuality. The question we need to answer is this: Is homosexuality a matter of genetic determinism? In other words, are some people "born that way"?

Homosexual Brains

Gay rights activist and neuroscientist Simon LeVay, while at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, made international headlines in 1991, when he reported that a certain area of the brain tended to be smaller in homosexual men than in heterosexual men. Although LeVay has been cautious about interpreting his results, he has suggested that since this particular area of the brain may be closely connected to sexual behavior, it could well affect sexual orientation.2

LeVay autopsied the brains of 19 gay men, 16 heterosexual men and 6 women. The portion of the brain Simon LeVay reported to be smaller in gay men, known as the third interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus (INAH 3), is closer in size to the corresponding area in female brains.3

However, this brain research has been challenged on several grounds. Three of the homosexual men in LeVay’s study, for instance, had INAH 3 areas as large as those of heterosexual men, as did two of the presumably heterosexual women. Another problem was that all the homosexual men and some of the heterosexual men in the study had died of AIDS, and no one really knows the effects of AIDS and its complications on the size and shape of the dying brain. Nor has anyone demonstrated a relationship between INAH 3 and sexual behavior in humans. What’s more, only the male AIDS patients in LeVay’s study—and not the presumed heterosexuals who had died of other causes—had been asked their sexual orientation before they died.4 Therefore the results are inconclusive.

LeVay himself has said:

I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are "born that way," the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.5

There are many other studies examining the genetic and biological factors as they relate to homosexuality. In the conclusions we read such words as "it seems as if," "it may be that," and "it could well be that." Nothing is conclusive.

A recent report in a Harvard Medical School newsletter states:

Although the theory that sexual orientation is innate has become increasingly popular, genetic and hormonal studies and observations of brain structure indicate that the evidence supporting this theory is quite weak.6

Neuroimaging (brain imaging) and Brain Changing.

Scientists are now photographing and imaging in detail the structure, metabolism, and electrical activity of the brain. Researchers using neuroimaging techniques at UCLA found that "behavior modification therapy produces metabolic functional changes in the brain like that of drug therapy."7

This research is quite preliminary, but think of it. If behavior therapy can physically alter brain function in a specific mental disorder (obsessive compulsive), then it is possible that our brains are altered by our ongoing thinking and doing. If one follows the Holy Spirit or one follows the flesh, the brain may be altered as a result. AIDS autopsies done by LeVay could have merely revealed a brain altered by behavior. One of the reasons LeVay’s study was inconclusive was because no one knows whether the homosexual behavior was encouraged by the brain abnormality or if it was the other way around.

Genetics and Crime

We are definitely in an era of genetic determinism. Yes, circumstantial and psychic determinism are still around and even thriving. However, they are giving way to genetic, biological and organic excuses for behavior.

One of the most sensitive areas of research in America is seeking to relate genetics and crime. The U.S. is thought to be the most violent nation in the industrialized world.8 There is great concern that the burden will fall on African Americans, because of their disproportionate involvement in crimes. Twenty million dollars were to be devoted to the study of biochemical anomalies linked to aggressive behavior. The furor that followed forced the Secretary of Health and Human Service to resign. It is politically correct to relate genetics and homosexuality but politically incorrect to relate genetics, crime, and race.

Biology May Be Involved

Even if biology is eventually shown to be implicated in homosexuality, crime and other behaviors, there is no mandate to follow biology. The notion that homosexuality is an inescapable orientation for some is without research support. In fact, most homosexual men have changed their sexual preference (same or opposite) at least once and 13 percent have changed orientation at least five times.

The lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life are the directions of every man. Testosterone is a hormone that has to do with the sexual urge, but never does it prescribe or mandate that a man should rape a woman. Never are men, as a result of biology, compelled to murder, rob or rape.

God’s Commandment and Curse

God has both prescribed and proscribed the area of human sexuality and sexual relations. Consequences of disobedience have been disastrous. The sexual promiscuity in America has reached epidemic proportions. The New York Times reports: "more than one in five of all Americans, or 56 million people, are infected with a viral sexually transmitted disease."9

In a book titled The Catastrophe Ahead, the authors sketch three scenarios of how HIV may progress by 2002. The authors believe that with modest behavioral changes and no significant medical solution there will be almost 15 million people who will have been affected with HIV. Another projection is 34 million by the end of this decade.10 It is estimated that by the year 2000 the epidemic could drain over 500 billion dollars from the world economy.

The Real Issues

God’s Word says:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).

God’s Word says:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

God’s Word says:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).

God’s Word says:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others (Ephesians 2:1-3).

While the world looks for excuses through circumstantial, psychic, and genetic determinism, it ignores what God has said about the human race: BORN IN SIN and SINFUL BY NATURE. Without God’s intervention of grace and His gift of new life, every person born into this world is determined to be a sinner. That is biblical determinism.

Biblical determinism—by nature a sinner—allows people to act and even choose according to their own nature. However, because every aspect of that nature is tainted with depravity, he cannot please God or save himself. Yet, within the scope of his nature, man does make individual choices and God holds him responsible for those choices.

God called to Adam; Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent. And ever after, to escape God’s truth about human depravity, mankind has said:

1. It’s not me. It’s my circumstances, or

2. It’s not me. It’s my psychic determinism (my parents’ fault), or

3. It’s not me. It’s my genetics or biology or brain or hormones or . . . .

Yet God holds us responsible and tells us why in Romans:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . . Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Romans 1:21-25).

The Lord inspired Paul to write to the Corinthians:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Conclusion

In Genesis 3:1 the serpent asks Eve, "Yea hath God said?" And isn’t this what it has come to today? Will we follow God or the lust of eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life?

In Gay Theology without Apology, the author says: "I would suggest that our approach to the Bible become less apologetic and more critical—that we approach it not as an authority from which we want approval, but as a document whose shortcomings must be cited."11 At least that author understands the Bible condemns homosexuality. But, he has left God and His Word behind.

In contrast, an unknown writer wrote:

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the reward of saints, and the doom of sinners. Its histories are true, its doctrines holy, its precepts binding. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. It is a river of pleasure, a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be Holy.

When the Holy Spirit convicts a heart, you never hear blame, shirking responsibility, or victimhood. You never hear, "I was determined to sin because of my brain, biology, or birth." You hear the cry of the sinner, truly convicted by the Holy Spirit, who now sees God, and cries, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13).

(Adapted from Martin Bobgan's talk at the Summer School of Theology at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. Not long after the talk was given, the pastor, Dr. Peter Masters, gave us the following quote. In a letter titled "Fading Genes," Professor James Busvine says: "Sir: If as is claimed, homosexuality has a genetic basis and such individuals generally have few or no offspring, it is somewhat surprising that it has not been eliminated in the course of evolution."12)


1E. M. Thornton. The Freudian Fallacy. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1984, p. ix.
2American Health, March 1993, p. 72.
3Ibid., p. 74.
4Ibid., pp. 74-75.
5David Nimmons, "Sex and the Brain." Discover, March 1994, p. 66.
6William Byne and Bruce Parsons, "Biology and Human Sexual Orientation." The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Vol. 10, No. 8, February 1994, p. 5.
7"Behavior therapy may help alter some disorders in brain," Santa Barbara News-Press, September 16, 1992, p. A-3.
8Time, April 19, 1993.
9"Sex-linked Diseases on Rise, Study Says," Santa Barbara News-Press, 4/1/93, p. A-3.
10Santa Barbara News-Press, 6/13/93, p. A12.
11Gary D. Comstock. Gay Theology without Apology. Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1993, pp. 38-39.
12James Busvine, "Fading Genes." London Daily Telegraph, July 19, 1993.

(From PAL V2N3)


PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110
www.psychoheresy-aware.org

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