Fathers and Sexual Identity
Revolutions grow slowly but, once they have gathered steam, can surprise everyone with their force and influence. For example, the span of time that occurred between Karl Marx’s publication of “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848 and 1917, the year the Bolsheviks seized power over an empire, was less than 70 years. For much of that time, communism was little more than a feature of dingy backrooms filled with ill-dressed near-do-wells, intellectuals too lazy to work and too extreme to be taken seriously.
But in 1903, the Bolsheviks established themselves as an autonomous movement. The stage had been set deliberately and persistently for decades. The rest is tragic and bloody history.
In the past roughly 40 years, we’ve seen the rise of the “gay rights” movement. Its latest iteration, transgenderism, has risen so rapidly we are awash in reports of gay pride marches and drag queen story hours. Debates about transgenderism are raging in state legislatures and on college campuses.
Yet lost in the crisis of sexual identity is the fact that nearly three out of five people who say they fall somewhere in the LGBTQ-plus category say they are bisexual — that they are interested sexually in both genders. A Gallup survey conducted in 2022 showed that nearly 60% of the 7.2% of Americans who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella are attracted to both sexes.
In Generation Z, composed of young people born between about 1997 and 2010, nearly 20% of those surveyed say they are somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum, yet more than 65% assert bisexuality. This would indicate more confusion than confidence.
Many people, especially young ones, are searching desperately for a place to belong, to be part of a community, to obtain some kind of affirmation from their peers. During a time when the adolescent body is undergoing major changes, the influence of peers, social media, popular films and television programs, and things taught in public education can wreak havoc with a young person’s understanding of himself or herself.
It stands to reason that one of the key reasons for bisexuality is the lack of strong, kind, and consistent fathers in the lives of so many of our youth. For example, Dutch researcher Geertje de Lange has written that “father-absent boys show a more feminine or less masculine gender identity and report lower self-esteem than father-present boys.” And “father-absent” families are increasingly common. According to Census Bureau data, in 2021 more than one in five youth lived in a home without a dad.
The harmful effects of being raised without a father are documented extensively. One thing, though, merits particular consideration when it comes to a child’s understanding of his or her sexuality: When the security and strength of a father is not present, the vulnerability of the boy or girl to harmful influences accelerates. Insecurity plus biological change plus social rejection plus the attention of same-gendered peers becomes a recipe for sexual ambivalence.
“Even from birth,” states one respected study, “children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.” As Rockefeller University science writer Joshua A. Krisch notes, “Kids who grow up with a present, engaged dad are less likely to drop out of school or wind up in jail. … When children have close relationships with father figures, they tend to avoid high-risk behaviors, and they’re less likely to have sex at an early age. They’re more likely to have high-paying jobs and healthy, stable relationships when they grow up. They also tend to have higher IQ test scores by the age of 3 and endure fewer psychological problems throughout their lives when dads take the role of a father seriously.”
Can a father in the home prevent bisexuality in his children? It’s hard not to conclude that disengaged or absent fathers fail to fill a major hole in the lives of their children, one that makes these children more susceptible to peer influence and social conditioning. It is equally reasonable to assume that a boy or girl who receives the affirmation, support, compassion, and behavioral modeling of a loving and wise dad is much less likely to experience gender confusion than not.
Most importantly, men with children have a supreme duty to honor the God Who made them. “Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge,” we’re told in Proverbs 14:26. Fathers who love Jesus Christ build a fortress to which their children can run. There’s no higher calling or privilege for any man.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.