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Infinite Influences

While a child’s relationship with his same-sex parent is believed to play the most prevalent role in determining sexual orientation, an almost infinite number of influences can contribute to homosexual development.

Some children may have had an excellent relationship with their same-gender parent but experienced rejection from their same-gender peers or were victims of sexual molestation. Anything that creates a sense of disconnection between a child and his or her gender, consciously or unconsciously, can stifle gender identification and potentially create homosexual attractions. Here are some of the most common influences:

  • Rejection by one’s same gender parents or peers (real or perceived lack of physical and emotional closeness with one’s same sex parent, caregiver, or peers during the formative years of development)
  • Sexual molestation
  • Temperament (a child’s natural inclination to be sensitive or artistic versus athletic or mechanical)
  • An abnormally close relationship with one’s opposite sex parent
  • Lack of identification with one’s gender (having no sense of “belonging” to one’s gender)
  • Genetics

For easy reference, I will italicize each of these factors when they appear in the following paragraphs. It’s important to note that no single factor will guarantee homosexual development; rather, it is the interrelationship of multiple factors that can cause homosexuality.

Since rejection by one’s same gender parents or peers is often the prelude to the development of homosexual attractions, any inborn characteristic that might perpetuate this rejection can contribute to homosexuality. For example, a boy who is born with a more artistic or sensitive temperament might have a more athletic father who has a hard time connecting with him. The father may intentionally or unknowingly reject his son.

Another factor that can affect sexual development is an abnormally close relationship with one’s opposite sex parent. For males, attraction to men can be intensified by a repulsion to women. If a boy had a mother or a female caretaker who smothered him because of her neediness, the development of heterosexuality could be interrupted. An abnormally close mother-son relationship can cause a male child to, unconsciously, fear women later in life. The last thing he would want is a relationship with someone who is anything like the woman he despises.

I had a physically present but emotionally distant father. He did his best to love me, but his love was overshadowed by periodic fits of rage when things didn’t go his way. In response to his lack of emotional stability, I never allowed myself to bond with him. My inability to connect with my father left me spending most of my childhood relating to my mother, the only emotionally safe person in the household. My consequent overidentification with her created in me a distaste for the feminine that I have had to work at overcoming.

In the case of a female, a distaste for men can be created by an abnormally close father-daughter relationship. Also, physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse may have taken place during her formative years that taught her to hate men. Dr. Carol Ahrens, a therapist who has done extensive work with women, writes that for girls who were sexually abused, “the association of the male body with a childhood trauma may make the thought of sex with men repulsive or frightening.”

Oftentimes, a male child whose father is brutal and insensitive will reject his father’s masculinity. He will unconsciously say to himself, “If this is what it means to be a man, I don’t want anything to do with it.” In such a case, he will be prevented from identifying with his gender. This is extremely significant because the child who rejects his father’s masculinity rejects his own masculinity as well, likely favoring the more sensitive and thoughtful characteristics that he sees in his mother. In the same way, a girl whose mother is brutal and insensitive and whose father is sensitive and thoughtful may be compelled to reject her femininity and identify instead with dad and masculinity.

Sometimes, when a parent who desired a female child gives birth to a male (or vice-versa), the child is rejected for being the “wrong” sex. For example, a mother who desperately wanted a male child might give her daughter a shorter haircut and dress her in boyish clothing. As soon as the child realizes that her femininity has been rejected by her mother, she may reject it as well.

Some boys may be born with characteristics that are considered feminine, or girls may be born with a more masculine appearance or demeanor. But that does not guarantee that they will develop homosexual attractions. It does, however, make it more likely that they will.

People tend to embrace those individuals who best represent the stereotypes associated with their gender. Those who possess opposite sex characteristics are sometimes at a heightened risk of being rejected by their same sex parents or peers, which can stifle gender identification. These children are also more likely to get called names like “fag” or “dyke,” which sometimes become self -fulfilling prophecies.

Although there are many homosexuals who like sports, a disproportionate percentage of male homosexuals seem to have a more artistic, sensitive temperament. Dr. Nicolosi refers to the average prehomosexual male as the ‘kitchen window boy,’ who looks out at his peers playing aggressively and, what appears to him, dangerously.”

Growing up in a culture that calls sensitive attributes “feminine” or “sissy” makes the essential task of bonding with one’s same gender peers during childhood extremely difficult for boys with these attributes. Furthermore, children who are born with sensitive temperaments, whether male or female, are more likely to internalize even minor forms of rejection from their same-gender peers, which heightens the possibility that they may experience same-gender attractions.

In fact, sensitive children may perceive rejection that’s not even there. This is why boys who have a very strong father presence in their lives can still develop homosexual attractions. Their temperament will not allow them to fully receive their father’s love. In the same way, a boy can have a father who is distant and uncaring, or not father at all, and still experience heterosexual development because there was another male figure for him to identify with, such as a grandparent, a neighbor, or his peer group. The same is true of females. The concept that is at work here is called surrogacy.

CHAD W. THOMPSON
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would (2004) Brazos Press: Grand Rapids: Michigan

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