WHAT IS HOMOSEXUALITY?
This question does not have an answer that everyone accepts.
One reason is the many differences in the people to whom the description ‘homosexual’ is applied. Some people experience same-sex attractions and consider themselves to be homosexuals. Others experience same-sex attractions but consider themselves to be bi-sexual. Still others consider themselves to be people who experience unwanted same-sex attractions and they do want to be called homosexual. Some people who identify themselves as homosexuals claim they have "always been different” while others have lived a heterosexual life for many years, even marrying and having children, who then turn to homosexuality. Baker's Encyclopedia of Psychology identified 10 types of homosexuality (reference: Homosexuality : Classification, Etiology and Treatment, pages 519-525, Baker's Encyclopedia of Psychology, Pub. 1985).
Usually, homosexuality is described as a persistent and predominant sexual attraction to persons of one’s own gender – men being sexually attracted to men and women being sexually attracted to women. However, not everyone who experiences same-sex attraction chooses to identify himself or herself as gay or lesbian.
What is Sexual Orientation?
Sexual orientation is a way of referring to the direction of a person's predominant sexual attractions over time. A person who experiences persistent sexual attraction to the same sex is said to have a homosexual orientation. A person who experiences persistent attraction to the opposite sex is said to have a heterosexual orientation. A person who experiences persistent attraction to both men and women is said to have a bisexual orientation. Even after more than 40 years of investigation there is still much that we don't know about sexual attractions.
Different Facets of Homosexuality
Not only does the word 'homosexuality' have several meanings, the experience of homosexuality also takes several forms and complexities. It may be helpful to consider four aspects:
The feeling of attraction to the same-sex takes several forms and complexities. The onset of same-sex attractions in young people has different statistics than the onset of opposite-sex attractions. Some people develop same-sex attractions later as an adult, sometimes developing as late as during a mid-life crisis. Some people describes their same-sex attractions as persistent. Others describe them as intermittent. Some describe them as strong while others describe them as weak. Some people report that same-sex attractions began after a specific event or experience. Some people say they know when and why they started to experience same-sex attractions. Others describe them as feelings they have always had. Sex researchers responded to this complexity by proposing that we use a sliding scale to describe sexual attractions and that people be found anywhere along the sliding scale. One thing that many people agree upon, including Exodus Global Alliance, people don't choose to have homosexual feelings. No one simply chooses to have same-sex attractions. And no one can simply choose not to have them.
Behaviour also takes several forms and complexities. A child may experiment with gay sex at an early age but never have gay relations later in life. The majority of young people who have one or a few experimental episodes of gay sex never move beyond this experimentation stage; instead they go on to develop heterosexuality. Some people who have same-sex attractions never act on their feelings or fantasies. And some people engage in same-sex behaviour even though they do not have same-sex attractions. Homosexual feelings need not automatically result in life-long homosexual involvement. There are many people who have never acted on their homosexual attractions. However, like any appetite, the more one 'feeds' the urge (through pornography, fantasy and masturbation), the stronger the urge becomes. This will increase the chances for homosexual involvement.
We live in a culture addicted to identity labels. We seek to summarize everything essential about an individual in a word, phrase, or 140 characters. With every label and category there comes another level of segregated identity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of sexual identity.
One can look at the gay community and see the level of identity fragmentation represented in the use of acronyms such as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Ally). The sexual identity label has become a method of reducing individuals to a micro narrative of sexual orientation. People embrace identity and build a sense of purpose upon it.
But such labels are not compatible with our identity in Christ. Scripture says that people who submit their lives to Jesus Christ receive a new identity in Christ. Scripture calls people to put off all other identities. Scripture says that our identity in Christ enables us to be continually transformed in his image.
Way of Life
Some people involve themselves with a supportive gay subculture. They may surround themselves with gay friends, work at a gay establishment, frequent gay bars or nightclubs, etc. With all of these, the person feels a sense of belonging.
When you meet someone who says they are a homosexual, think of these different categories and the complexity in each one. A person may be anywhere in these categories. Ask them what they mean when they say "I am homosexual". Are they describing their feelings? Do they mean their sense of self is based on a gay identity? Are they involved with a supportive gay subculture? Are they involved in homosexual conduct? Your response to the person will be partly determined by where they are in these categories.
What is God’s view of homosexuality?
First, God loves people who experience same-sex attractions and wants them to be reconciled to Himself just as He wants people with opposite-sex attractions to be reconciled to Himself. He makes no distinction when Scriptures says that God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son Jesus Christ into the world so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life - John 3:16.
Second, God explains that sin has an impact on everyone's sexuality; we are all born with a fallen nature and live in a fallen world. One result is that we will all experience temptations to use our sexuality and engage in sexual activity in ways that are outside God's design and intent. Some people, both Christians and non-Christians, will experience same-sex attractions - Romans ...
Third, God considers sexual activity with a person of the same gender to be sin (See Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:9-10). God sets boundaries for sexual activity and asks all people, regardless of who they are attracted to, to live within His boundaries. His boundaries are the same for all people. While Scripture clearly says that homosexuality is sin, it is also clear that God does not consider homosexuality the BIGGEST sin. God considers adultery, stealing, drunkenness, selfishness, lying and cheating to be sin just like homosexual activity and He responds the same way to all of them (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Lastly, God responds to people who experience same-sex attractions and people who have engaged in same-sex relationships with an offer of mercy and forgiveness, not rejection and condemnation. Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s response when He dealt with people involved in sexual sins. He offered mercy and forgiveness, not judgement and condemnation. And He offered hope and freedom from the bondage of sexual sin. He also made it clear there is a need for repentance, forgiveness and growth. Christ can and will intervene with His super abundant love and power. No one must remain trapped in homosexuality. Any person who experiences same-sex attractions, like any other person, can become a new person in Christ and begin a new life with God. In fact, the Bible clearly states that the early church in Corinth included people who had been homosexuals but no longer were (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). God’s love and mercy is so much greater than any sin. God will bring about the necessary changes as the person remains in Him.
When dealing with a person who experiences same-sex attractions or is involved in homosexuality, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with more than a specific, sinful behaviour. We are dealing with an entire person. They are people with real needs (for closeness to God, involvement with others, giving and receiving love). They may have profound personal hurts. They want a hope and a future.
This article briefly touched on a lot of different issues. Other articles take a more in depth look at how God intervenes in people’s lives, how you can relate to a gay person and what the position of the church should be in regards to homosexuality.
For more comprehensive information, we recommend the following book: