Myths About Homosexuality
There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end leads to destruction. (Proverbs 14:12) Many churches and much of our society are embarked on a new course in the way they deal with homosexuality. Motivated by compassion and a desire to be open and tolerant, the homosexual person and the the life that he or she lives are becoming accepted as they have never been before in any time or culture.
That we should cease persecuting or discriminating against people who happen to have a homosexual orientation is right and consistent with all that we should stand for in a free, democratic nation, and more importantly with what we are taught as Christian believers. We all are created in the image of God; we all fall short of God's standard; Jesus came to save all who would accept His sacrifice for us--gay or straight.
On the other hand, acceptance of the individual, has never had to mean we accept or endorse all that the individual does. Whether it be our children, our neighbors or our friends, at times people we love will do things that we cannot condone. Many in the gay community, however, demand not only that we accept them as persons, but that we accept homosexuality; that we declare it a good and acceptable thing, and ultimately that we recognize homosexual relationships as the equivalent of heterosexual marriage.
Many people in their desire to be compassionate to the "gay or lesbian person" have accepted this linkage. This has happened, I believe, because the bridge between the person and the behavior has been constructed on many modern myths about homosexuality. Viewing gay and lesbian persons as "different" types of people, born to be homosexual, with no other options open to them, and viewing the gay or lesbian person in the context of the radical sexual revolution of the past 30 years, modern western culture is taking a view of homosexuality that is unique in the history of man.
Books could be--and have been--written on theories about the causes of homosexuality, its changeability, etc. Most people are not going to dig deeply into these subjects. However, I believe even a cursory view of these subjects will reveal that many of our assumptions about these subjects are based on nothing more than myths, and that with the removal of these myths we can start to view the homosexual issues that are dividing society and the church so significantly with greater objectivity.
Let me review with you what I believe are myths about homosexuality:
The Myth of the Gay or Lesbian Person - A homosexual or gay or lesbian person is one whose primary sexual and romantic attractions are to people of the same sex rather than to people of the opposite sex. That's all. It's quite plain and simple. The concept of a "homosexual person" is of fairly recent (19th Century) origin. But to define a person primarily by his or her sexual attractions is absurd. Those attractions are only a small part of who we are. Defining a person primarily by his or her sexual attractions is wrong, as wrong as defining a person primarily by the pigment of his or her skin. The gay and lesbian community is often the first to point out--as in the struggle over gays in the military--that except for these sexual and emotional feelings they are just like anyone else. Gays and lesbians point to studies that show that the psychological makeup of the gay or lesbian person on average is indistinguishable from the heterosexual. The concept of the homosexual person has suited people who not only reject homosexual behavior, but also want to reject the person drawn to that behavior. Ironically, the concept of the homosexual person has also been embraced by gays and lesbians who for political reasons, and reasons of personal power, wish to create a solidarity among men and women who have homosexual attractions. Both reasons are unworthy, and both groups are wrong.
The Myth of Inborn Homosexuality - The debate over the causes of homosexuality, like the debates of the causes of other forms of behavior may never be resolved. Why I do what I do, and whether or not I could do differently are at their basis philosophical or theological issues, seldom subject to scientific analysis. Human beings are complex; we cannot put them in test tubes and experiment with them in ways that will prove our theories. Still, due to constant repetition by those who desperately want to believe that there is a genetic cause for homosexuality, many believe that the proof of genetic causes is already in and is widely accepted in the scientific community. This is absolutely false. Every year new studies come forth that purport to show a pre-natal cause for homosexuality. In recent years we have had the hypothalamus study (LeVay), the twin study (Bailey and Pillard) and the chromosome study (Hamer-NIH). Each of these widely publicized studies, and those that have gone before them, have made a one-time splash in the media. None of them has been replicated by subsequent research. Interestingly each of these studies has been conducted by a gay researcher. The sexual orientation of the researcher certainly does not invalidate the study, but the question arises: Why have the 97% of the scientists who are heterosexual never replicated one of these studies. Furthermore, most of these studies have been shown to be seriously flawed, and in the case of the twin study, a later English study came up with very different results.2
Quite likely, homosexuality comes about from a number of causes. Inborn characteristics, choices we make,* and developmental issues all may contribute. The destructive myth, however, is that we have proven that homosexuality is written into our genetic code and therefore is unchangeable. That brings us to our next myth.
The Myth of the Fixed Nature of Homosexuality - A study published in Pediatrics magazine in 19923 revealed that 26% of children aged 12 are uncertain of their sexuality.3 This figure declines to 5% by age 17, with an average unsure for all age groups of 10.7%. As gay and lesbian persons make up less than 3% of our population, the great majority of these children--barring specific contrary influences--will turn our to be heterosexual in their orientation. At an early age, our sexuality is quite fluid. Despite that 1973 deletion of homosexuality as a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM III, many professional therapists continue to treat homosexually oriented people who want to change and find excellent results. Masters & Johnson reported a 71.6% success rate after a 6-year follow up. Mayerson & Lief experienced a 47% success rate with a follow-up of 4 years. Gerard van den Aardveg found that among 101 clients, 65% experienced either a "radical" or "satisfactory" change.4 In over 150 Christian ministries like Regeneration around the world thousands of men and women who are unhappy with their homosexuality are experiencing major changes in their behavior, in their identity and in their sexual attractions. Any honest and serious consideration of homosexuality would involve a serious investigation into the claims of these groups. Sadly, such investigations are seldom made, particularly by the people in the church who are already predisposed to accept homosexuality.
The Myth of New Understanding and Knowledge - Those who advocate the acceptance of homosexuality often speak vaguely of new information, or a new understanding that should cause us to re-think our attitudes toward homosexuality. I challenge them to explain to us what this new understanding is. Except for the concept of the "constitutionally homosexual person"--for which there is absolutely no proof, I have never heard what this new understanding or knowledge is. Have you? The Myth of the Benign Nature of Homosexuality To run down the statistics on promiscuity, disease, alcohol and drug addiction, is to sound like gay bashing (and sometimes it is), but to refuse to look at these statistics is to engage in deadly denial. It is simple fact that for a man to pursue a homosexual life enormously increases his chance of contracting a serious disease or of experiencing an early death. A recent study of over 5,000 obituaries in gay papers showed the average age of death for gay men from all causes to be 41.5 True much of this is the result of AIDS, but not all of it. Homosexuals account for 80% of the serious sexually transmitted disease in the United States.6 Gay men are six times more likely to have attempted suicide than straight men.7 One study showed that between 25 and 33% of homosexual men and women are alcoholics.8 A major source of the destructive nature of the homosexual life is the tendency towards promiscuity, even compulsive behavior, among gay men. Few studies, even in the age of AIDS, show gay men having fewer than 50 lifetime partners, and a Kinsey institute study showed 43% of gay men estimating that they had had 500 or more partners, 28% over 1,000.9 Over half of the respondents to this survey revealed that the majority of their sexual partners were people they did not know the day before they had sex with them. The rebuttal to these statistics is always that it is society's fault. If society sanctioned and supported committed gay relationships, this wouldn't occur. History is not bearing this out. The great increase in the acceptance of homosexual relationships over the past 20 years indicates no such result, nor do demographics. The places where homosexuality is the most accepted are also the places where the rates of homosexually transmitted diseases are highest.
If what I have called myths are indeed true--gays are a unique class of people who were born to be homosexual and who cannot change, and if there is really nothing wrong with homosexuality, then on a secular basis at least, we could justify accepting homosexual behavior and affirming homosexual relationships. But, if in fact, none of these myths is a proven fact, then we could be on a terribly dangerous course, locking the person with homosexual attractions into a narrow life, walled in by what could be totally false beliefs. For men, this means we are confining them to a life that is extremely dangerous. We are sending a confusing and wrong message to our children, especially the significant number who at some point in their life are confused about their sexual identity. To support the 'concept of the "homosexual person" and to affirm gay relationships, we are forced to redefine "family" at a time when when the fragility of the family is proving to be the source of most or our severe modern social problems.
What is perhaps most astounding--and tragic--is not that this is the course that the secular world is on, but that so many in the church have bought into secular myths so totally, that they are willing to discard the historic teachings of the faith with respect to human sexuality.
I grew up with strong homosexual feelings from a very early age. However, I grew up in a culture and in an Episcopal Church that said to act out of these feelings was wrong. For years I tried not to act out on them--often unsuccessfully. I did not take on a "gay" identity, but sought to live life as best I could as a Christian man. I am forever grateful that I did not buy into any of the myths described here. To my great blessing, because of the home and the church in which I was raised, I had a hunger for God, a hunger that would never let me go. Eventually--20 years ago--I reached the point at which I was willing to surrender these feelings and desires to God, and I embarked on a path of change. Through Regeneration and other like ministries, thousands of men and women have gone down this same path.
You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
* No knowledgeable person claims that an individual consciously and intentionally chooses to be homosexual. However, in retrospect many of us have seen how choices we made in how we would respond to the world around us have contributed to the development of our homosexuality.
Copyright © 2003, Alan P. Medinger. All rights reserved. Used with permission.