What is homosexuality?

The term “homosexual” is used to describe a person who in adult life has an enduring, definite and preferential erotic/sexual attraction to members of the same sex and who usually engages in overt sexual relations with them.1 The term “gay” is typically used to describe homosexual men and “lesbian” to describe homosexual women.

  • Biological Sex in human beings is genetically determined from the moment of conception as being male (boy) or female (girl). Approximately 0.02% of the population is at risk of being born with external genitalia that differ from the standard male and female appearance and an intersex condition occurs in about 0.05% of births2, 3 (which does not automatically result in the individual experiencing same sex attraction), but even in intersex individuals, their sex is determined and assigned within a few weeks after birth and following medical examination.
  • Gender identity answers the question: “Am I male or female?”, and is related to social and cultural beliefs about masculinity and femininity. Our gender identity is developed through the growing years of childhood until young adulthood.  When gender identity is not successfully developed, confusion over sexual identity may arise.
  • Sexual identity answers the question: “Am I heterosexual (sexually attracted to the opposite sex) or homosexual (sexually attracted to the same sex)?” Some people consider themselves bisexual (sexually attracted to members of both sexes). Sexual identity is related to, but not the same as, gender identity.

Contrary to popular understanding, homosexuality is not so much driven by sexual needs as it is driven by a (conscious or unconscious) desire to be loved and to love another person, especially of the same-sex.4, 5

Endnotes
1. Lawrence Hatterer, Changing Homosexuality in the Male: Treatment for Men Troubled by Homosexuality (New York McGraw-Hill, 1970)
2. Garry L. Warne (MBBS, FRACP), Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. (Victoria, Australia: Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Royal Children’s Hospital, 1997)
3. Emily NussbaumA Question of Gender. (Discover, January 2000, pp 92-99)
4. Jason Park, Overcoming Male Homosexual Problems (Century Publishing, 1998)
5. Anne Paulk, Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2003)

What makes a man “gay”?

Often, a boy who is unable to form a meaningful connection and bond with his father (or older, trusted male equivalent) may be left confused and conflicted about his own gender identity. He may view his father as cold and distant, and detach himself from males because of the hurt or rejection experienced in his search for a masculine role model. When the boy reaches the next stage of his identity development, he may sub-consciously seek to establish that connection and bond with another man.

Other factors that make up each homosexual man’s unique struggle may include:

  • Sexual violation, such as incest, molestation or rape
  • Sexual experimentation with men/boys
  • Exposure to pornography
  • Media influences
  • Personality and temperament
  • Negative body image
  • Teasing, peer labelling, harassment/bullying or alienation
  • Fear of or inability to relate to the opposite sex
  • Dysfunctional family relationships
  • Negative spiritual influences

Homosexuality is complex and a combination of factors is at work; it is too simplistic to attribute undue significance to any single aspect as the cause.1

“Gay” as a term has been used both derisively and in a celebratory manner. In comparison with the more clinical-sounding word “homosexual”, it is emotionally as well as politically-charged and may thus not be useful in aiding our understanding of the issue.

Endnotes
1. Mike Haley, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality(Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004)

What causes homosexuality?

Until now, there has been no conclusive scientific proof of a genetic cause for homosexuality. On the contrary, there is extensive research and growing evidence indicating that many developmental issues and environmental factors in a family or an individual’s experience can strongly influence one’s sexual orientation.

Human sexuality is so complex that no one-size-fits-all explanation can account for all sexual behaviours and attractions. That said, counsellors have noticed a pattern of family relationships that frequently appears in a homosexual’s family of origin: a domineering/over-bearing mother and a passive/absent father.

Another psychological factor is early sexual experience. Many homosexual people cite backgrounds of being sexually molested or having had sexual experiences early in their childhood1. These experiences range from sexual abuse (from another homosexual or family member) to an early childhood sexual experience that could be described as pleasurable. In an attempt to rationalize the feelings that surface from the same-sex experience, the child often begins to sub-consciously believe that he or she may be homosexual, act on those feelings and pursue similar sexual experimentation.

Other contributing factors include school environment, peer pressure and even prevailing media and societal norms. The cues children receive from their home environment, their relationship with one or both parents, and their peers, impact how they see themselves and their emerging sexuality2.

In general,experiences that affirm the child’s sense of self and worth lead to a healthy heterosexual identity. Yet even a child raised in the best home environment could turn out on the contrary because human beings have the free will to choose3.

 

Endnotes
1. Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008)
2. Alan Chambers, God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door: Reaching the Heart of the Gay Men and Women in Your World (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2006)
3. Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008)

How does the Church “love the sinner but not the sin” when it comes to homosexuality?

To say that you hate homosexuality but love homosexuals doesn’t make sense to those whose primary identity lies within their sexuality.

~ Randy Thomas, former Vice-President of Exodus International

A person experiencing same-sex attraction can be particularly sensitive towards any criticism made of homosexuals or remarks that homosexuality is wrong. Although this is to be expected of anyone engaging in potentially sinful or wrong behaviour, unlike other sins that a person commits, it is extremely difficult to separate the homosexual act (sin) from the homosexual person (sinner).

  • See the person, not a lifestyle. Instead of approaching a homosexual person only in his or her identity as a homosexual, approach him or her as a person with a homosexual issue, and along with it, a complexity of fears, hopes and needs. Premature judgments, rejection and condemnation merely lend weight to the homosexual activists’ stereotyping of “homophobia”.
  • Win the heart, not the argument. We don’t need to become an expert with all the answers. Find out what you don’t know – even about the Bible – and get back to them later. God’s love working through the Church can touch their hearts and lead them to greater obedience of Christ’s teachings.
  • Keep standards consistent. It is important that the Church applies a consistent standard of holiness and handles wisely a violation to Scripture, regardless of the type of sin committed – whether it is premarital sex, spouting profanities, or homosexual activity.
  • Lovingly address sexual sin. All sexual sin is contrary to the Bible so Christians must consistently teach and deal with sexual immorality within the Church. Confrontation of any sexual sin should stem from a heart posture that seeks to lovingly restore the individual to wholeness.
  • Give hope of something better. Be the bearer of good news, not the pronouncer of judgment that their lifestyle is sinful. Encourage them with real testimonies of people who have overcome their homosexuality. Celebrate life and healthy relationships, and build them up to keep motivated to pursue Christ and wholeness.

The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, but holiness.

~ Christopher Yuan, ex-homosexual

  • Reach out to homosexual people in the community. The Church can counter its reputation as “an enemy of gays” by reaching out to the sexually broken with supportive care and authentic relationships. Small groups can provide a safe place where people can openly discuss their struggles without shame or rejection, and be strengthened in their faith towards spiritual maturity and wholeness.

Are all homosexuals activists?

Not all homosexual people promote the gay agenda. We need to distinguish between the homosexual agenda and the homosexual person.

While we should not seek to label homosexual people, these broad categorizations may help us better appreciate how to relate to and care for people with same-sex attractions.  4Quad

  • Overcomer: Persons who have successfully dealt with same-sex attraction to some degree. This can range from completely changing their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual (perhaps, even getting married to someone of the opposite sex and establishing a family together), to committing themselves to celibacy while still experiencing same-sex attraction. They typically try to distance themselves from homosexual activism but often become unfortunate victims in the debate.
  • Struggling: Persons seeking some resolution to their unwanted same-sex attraction. They may have sought counselling or therapy, but continue to contend with whether change is really possible and how “different” they are. The gay agenda does not help them as they desire private intervention, and not for their personal struggles to be the subject matter of public discourse.
  • Moderate: Homosexuals who are happy with the way they are and wish to “live and let live” – i.e., have the discretion to live their lives the way they choose. They may become activist if they perceive that attacks on the gay agenda are being directed at them. As homosexuality increasingly affects the public sphere, it becomes more challenging to exercise the proper, nuanced sensitivity towards them.
  • Activist: Homosexuals who not only celebrate the way they are but expect others to approve of their lifestyle as well. They proactively push for special rights as homosexuals and can be aggressive towards those who oppose what they stand for. The gay agenda serves to advocate against the hurt they may have faced or affirm the experience and belief that their homosexuality cannot be changed.

Even where there is little common ground for building relationship and when a gentle, well-reasoned response does little to turn away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), we should nonetheless maintain civil discourse as a matter of being loving and truthful in our response.