I grew up with four amazing sisters and great parents who loved each other and loved and took care of us. In college, especially during my last two years as I found the courage to fully admit my SSA to myself and God, I began asking myself and God “why me?” Although at times this question was tinged with bitterness and anger, it was mostly an honest heartfelt question. “Why did I struggle with this and not any of my other sisters?”
Hallman asked this same question as she points out that many women with SSA come from fairly stable families with parents who loved and took care of them. There are also women with SSA who had parents or family members who neglected or abused them. On the other hand, there are many women who come from abusive families who did not develop or struggle with SSA. How are such variations in background explained? (p. 51)
Since female homosexuality is multidimensional and complex it therefore cannot be explained by any one single factor. Instead a combination of factors and how each of those factors affects and relates to all the other factors needs to be examined. “All that is human, including sexuality, involves a mysterious weaving of our biological blueprint with our experiences, perceptions, cognitions, emotions, reactions and choices” (p. 51). Janelle goes on to say that “female homosexuality is a multi-dimensional infrastructure, intricately linked to a woman’s biology, experiences, cognitions, emotionality, relational networks, concept of self and inherent design as a female made for relationship and meaning” (p. 52).
With that being said, there are also several “common themes” that Janelle has observed while working with these women. She says, “By presenting the common traits and experiences of women with SSA, I will be suggesting how each factor may have an influence within a context of many other factors and processes; I do not believe that any single factor individually determines or directly causes female SSA” (p. 54).
Over the next several posts we are going to explore these themes; the first of these being “biological components.”
I want to start off by speaking to those of you who are a bit wary, and rightly so, of articles that speak about biological causes of sin issues. The fear is that if we allow for biology to play a part in why certain people struggle with certain issues then we have now given them an excuse to sin and have taken the responsibility for their sin off of them and onto their genetic makeup. I get that fear. I agree that the ultimate responsibility for sin lies with the individual and the sinful choices they make. However, most of us would agree that we all have a physical body that has been deeply and thoroughly affected by the fall and the sin nature that we were born with. To completely ignore the possibility of biological influence on the sin struggles of individuals would be, in my humble opinion, irresponsible and unbiblical. This topic could be hashed out further but since this is not the point of my blog I will ask those wary readers to, at the very least, keep an open discerning mind and hear me out.
For those interested in reading further about a biblical perspective of the dynamics between biology and sin issues I would recommend reading Blame It on the Brain? : Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience. By Edward T. Welch.
Our biological traits affect how we see our environment and interpret our experiences. “Who we are directly affects how we perceive and process our worlds” which “in turn affects who we become” (p. 51).
In a recent study “Bailey, Dunne and Martin (2000)—pioneers in the research on causal factors of homosexuality…failed to find a significant genetic influence on homosexual orientation” (Jones & Kwee, 2005). This does not mean that genetics do not play some role in sexual orientation; it means that the exact role is inconclusive, is most likely small, is ill defined in terms of “underlying mechanisms,” and is one of many other psychobiological and psychosocial factors (Zucker, 2001, p.11)” (Hallman, 2008, p. 53).
Hallman lists seven characteristics and personality traits, most likely inherited, that she frequently observes in the women she works with:
- They have above average intelligence.
- They are profoundly sensitive and attuned to other people and relational dynamics.
- They are observant and curious (Stevens, 1992), with a propensity to ponder, analyze and reflect.
- They exhibit gender nonconforming abilities and interests (e.g., tomboyishness).
- They have an innate sense of justice.
- They are gifted and talented; their creativity is far reaching.
- They have a high level of energy and are adventurous and often athletic. (p. 55)
It is not uncommon for the parents of these women to report that “their daughters exhibited special abilities and sensitivities and a passion for humanitarian concerns at a very young age” (p. 55). These women also often “hold postgraduate degrees, have received endless honors and awards, and have achieved national recognition in their field of expertise or athleticism” (p. 55).
The Role These Personality Characteristics Can Play
These characteristics of intelligence, sensitivity, curiosity and reflectiveness can cause a young girl to be “gravely affected by subtleties in parental influences or her broader environment,” in many cases causing hurt that was unintended and not a “matter for blaming anyone (Moberly, 1983, p. 3)” (Hallman, 2008, p. 56).
These characteristics can cause a child to feel burdened due to their hyper-awareness “of painful and difficult aspects of her family’s environment, including her parents’ personal and relational needs, weaknesses and imperfections” (p. 55).
In one example Hallman used, Pamela, who grew up in a generally stable and loving home was nevertheless “attuned to what she perceived to be an inequity between the men and women in her family” (p. 55). These perceived inequities created in her a deep resentment towards men.
Obviously there are women who do not struggle with SSA who have some of these same characteristics as well as women who do struggle with SSA who do not have these characteristics. These are simply characteristics that Hallman has observed are commonly shared in women with SSA and that often play a part in how they have perceived and processed their worlds, leading them to struggle with SSA.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(Unless otherwise noted, all of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)
Hallman, Janelle. (2008). The heart of female same-sex attraction: A comprehensive counseling resource. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
Moberly, E. (1983). Homosexuality: A new Christian ethic. Greenwood, SC: Attic Press.