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Smithsonian: “Nature: Journalists Distort Animal Studies of ‘Gay’ Sexuality” Biologists take journalists to task for teasing titillation.
Biologists Andrew Barron and Mark J.F. Brown have confirmed that many journalists sensationalize studies of animal sexual behavior. Their report, published in Nature, is illustrated with a number of tasteless examples. They ascribe the motivation to a greedy desire to increase readership. Their interpretation of the problem with this sort of journalism deserves our attention.
The biologists examined 48 articles from the mainstream media concerning 11 scientific studies. They write, “The vast majority of studies reporting sexual contact between pairs of males or females were presented in media articles as documenting gay, lesbian or transgender behavior. This is not innocuous — these are terms that refer to human sexuality, which encompasses lifestyle choices, partner preferences and culture, among other factors.”
They object to applying to animals terms that describe human behavior and sexual orientation. As an example of how scientists can influence the proper reporting of their research, they quote a conservation biologist who steadfastly pointed out to reporters, “Lesbian is a human term. The study is about albatross. The study is not about humans.” When reporters pressed her to make interpretations applicable to humans, she refused.
“To the general public,” they write, “such inaccurate coverage implies that homosexuality is some sort of illness, which marginalizes a section of human society.”
Evolutionary scientists investigate questions such as “How did such traits evolve, and what are their functions and biological bases?” Barron and Brown object to sensationalistic reporting because they say such journalistic treatment “inaccurately” presents homosexual behavior as aberrant. “To the general public,” they write, “such inaccurate coverage implies that homosexuality is some sort of illness, which marginalizes a section of human society.”1
Thus, Barron and Brown consider such reporting irresponsible. Why? Because they consider taking advantage of the fact that homosexual behavior is somehow more appealing to people’s voyeuristic natures than heterosexual behavior promotes the notion that human homosexual behavior is aberrant.
We would agree that the use of titillating headlines about animals is an unprofessional journalistic practice. Such material often graphically describes what would in humans be quite unseemly. The Apostle Paul described the widespread development of homosexuality in Romans 1 and in Ephesians 5:11–13 cautioned, “It is shameful even to speak of those things which are done in secret.”
Far from doing the “gay” community a disservice by implying their behavior is deviant, however, many people have used such animal behavior to strongly imply that homosexuality is simply natural and therefore acceptable human behavior (since we’re seen as animals as well). Author Luiz Sérgio Solimeo in the book excerpt “The Animal Homosexuality Myth” explains the false logic underlying their claim. He explains the origins of such animal behavior from a logical point of view based on the biblical distinction between humans and animals. God’s Word tells us the truth about homosexual behavior—it is not “natural” according to Romans 1:26–27. Scripture also makes clear, incidentally, that male-female sexual activity outside of marriage is also sinful.
Ascribing human moral standards to animals reinforces the unbiblical concept that humans are merely highly evolved animals. Humans are made in the image of God and therefore have a uniquely spiritual nature not shared by animals. Additionally, our Creator, who both understands human needs and has the right to govern His creation, established marriage and standards to govern our sexuality, clearly setting us apart from animals in this regard. Even Peanuts cartoon character Charlie Brown once revealed an important theological distinction when, speaking to his dog Snoopy, he said, “You dogs are so lucky. You don’t have to worry about things like sin and salvation.” Snoopy replied, “Yes, theologically speaking, we dogs are off the hook.”2 Evolutionary thinking in the final analysis pretends that humans are not accountable to God or responsible to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Creator and Redeemer. But fooling ourselves with assumptions from secular science will never get us “off the hook” with God.
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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.