4. What is Homosexuality?
by Frank Worthen
Please study this disclaimer before reading further
Many people are confused about what homosexuality actually is. Sometimes people label themselves "homosexual" erroneously, creating an additional roadblock in their efforts to accept their new identity in Christ. On the other hand, others will rationalise a problem with homosexuality and refuse to confront it. This happens sometimes to parents of family members who do not want to face the fact of their loved one's homosexuality. The following may contribute to a better understanding of the subject.
There is no agreement in either the scientific community or religious groups, or amongst homosexual people themselves, as to the definition of homosexuality. However, Lawrence Hatterer, author of Changing Homosexuality in the Male, gives this definition: "One who is motivated, in adult life, by a definite preferential erotic attraction to members of the same sex and who usually, but not necessarily, engages in overt sexual relations with them". I have found this to be a good working definition, though a full explanation of homosexuality goes much deeper.
The majority of homosexual people believe they were born "gay". This belief often supplies them with comfort, relieving them of any responsibility to change. However, there is no solid scientific evidence that people are born homosexual. The overwhelming majority of "gay" people are completely normal genetically. They are fully male or fully female.
I believe homosexuality is learned behaviour which is influenced by a number of factors: a disrupted family life in early years, a lack of unconditional love on the part of either parent, a failure to identify with the same-sex parent. Later, these problems can result in a search for love and acceptance, envy of the same or the opposite sex, a life controlled by various fears and feelings of isolation. One thing that does seem clear: homosexuality is brought about by a multitude of root causes. It is simplistic thinking to lay the blame on any single cause. Fears of the opposite sex, incest or molestation, dominant mothers and weak fathers, demonic oppression: all of these may play a part in causing homosexuality but no individual factor alone can cause it. Along with outside factors in a person's life, his own personal choices have played a key rôle in forming and shaping his homosexual identity, though few will admit this.
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible clearly states in five places that homosexuality is sin: Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10. Although the stand of Scripture on homosexual behaviour is very clear, some have wondered, "Does the Bible say homosexual feelings are also wrong?" Following a lengthy discussion on homosexuality, Romans 1 ends with this verse: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but approve of those who practice them". It is evident that even approval of the homosexual lifestyle falls under the category of sin. Colossians 3:5 says, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry". Sexual lust and fantasy, both homosexual and heterosexual, are sinful according to God's Word. On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that temptation is not sin: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it". There is a difference between experiencing a pull towards homosexual acts or fantasy and choosing to give in to that pull. This is the difference between temptation and sin. We cannot fully control that which tempts us, but the choice of whether or not to pursue that which tempts us is within our power. This power of choice is strengthened by the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
The Four Components of Homosexuality
The problem of homosexuality involves much more than simply a sexual act. Those caught up in this sin usually have entered the homosexual lifestyle to some degree. To better understand the circumstances of the homosexual person seeking help, I have divided homosexuality into four components: behaviour, psychic response, identity and lifestyle.
Often it is assumed that all homosexual people engage in homosexual acts, but this is not always the case. Another wrong assumption is that all people who engage in homosexual acts are homosexual people. But the truth is this: acts are the least reliable indicator of whether or not someone is homosexual. There are huge numbers of heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts for a variety of reasons, such as being in prison or anywhere where heterosexual sex is unattainable. Also, I do not believe that a child who is involved in a homosexual act early in life will become homosexual unless these acts fulfil needs that are not being met in other ways, such as needs for love, acceptance, security and significance. In these cases, the child's involvement in the act is viewed as a "trade-off" for the non-sexual needs he is obtaining. It is possible that the act and the fulfilled needs could become synonymous, which could lead to the development of a homosexual orientation. Whoever, statistics show that most children who experience homosexual acts leave them behind, growing up to lead a normal heterosexual life. On the other hand, many homosexual people never engage in "gay" sexual acts at all. Because of fears or strong religious convictions, they refrain from sexual behaviour, yet they still experience an intense battle with homosexuality.
A brief definition of this term is: "sexual excitation (stimulation) caused by visual perception or fantasy speculation". Although many people claim that they have experienced visual or sexual attraction for the same sex "for as long as they can remember", there is a progression in a person's life that leads to a homosexual psychic response. A child may start out with a need to compare himself with others to see if he measures up to societal standards. When he feels he does not compare favourably with others, he develops admiration for those traits and physical characteristics he feels he does not possess. Admiration, which is normal, may turn to envy. Envy leads to the desire to possess others and finally to consume others. This strong desire becomes eroticized somewhere along the way, eventually leading to homosexual psychic response. As psychic response begins to grip someone's life, a certain amount of scheming takes place. Sexual situations are pictured in the mind. When the first sexual encounter takes place, it may be the result of several years of planning and fantasy. However, homosexual behaviour can precede psychic response, which then develops as a conditioned response to pleasant, fulfilling encounters with those of the same sex.
Some people enter into homosexuality through "identity". These are people who have not experienced sexual attraction for the same sex or have any homosexual encounters. However, from an early age, they have felt they were "different" from other people. They feel abnormal, as if they do not fit into the heterosexual world. They reason, "If I'm not heterosexual, then I must be gay", and they accept the interpretation. A person troubled with shyness, fear of the opposite sex, and lack of athletic or social skills, need not accept the label "homosexual". But people do take on the identity of their label. Once a label is accepted, the implied characteristics of that label begin to develop in a person's life. What we believe about ourselves if of extreme importance.
A homosexual person may insist that he bears no responsibility for his identity, his psychic response or even his first sexual encounter, which may have been forced upon him. However, every homosexual person must bear the responsibility for his or her choice to enter the homosexual lifestyle. People enter this lifestyle to varying degrees. Some live in the heterosexual world for the most part, seeking out only sporadic, impersonal sexual encounters. Others immerse themselves in the total "gay subculture", a setting in which the person may work, live and socialise in a totally gay environment. There are all the varying degrees between these two extremes, but the gay lifestyle, for many people, is the first place where they have experienced any form of acceptance at a more-than-superficial level. In spite of the acceptance that is available, however, the homosexual lifestyle often proves to be a painful and unrewarding way of life, particularly for older gays who are no longer desirable sexually.
As you can see from looking at these four components, homosexuality is a complex problem with many definitions and variations. If someone tells you, "I am a homosexual", he has really told you very little about himself. It takes a deeper look into his life to determine the degree to which homosexuality has become a part of his identity. This also illustrates why homosexuality can be a difficult problem to overcome.
It is true that the way out of homosexuality is not easy, yet there are thousands who have left homosexuality behind and have become "new creatures in Christ". Many have married and raised families, while others remain celibate, yet lead joyful lives devoted to God's service. God gives us the desires of our heart. Satan is not pleased when someone sees through the deception of homosexuality and discovers the way out. There are many battles to be fought, but "greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
"Do not be afraid or discouraged...for the battle is not your, but God's" (2 Chr.20:15).
Copyright © Love in Action. Revised with permission by Turnabout.
Reproduced with thanks from a pamphlet published by:
True Freedom Trust, P.O.Box 592, LONDON SE4 1EF, England.
This page was created on 30 January 2001
Last updated on 30 January 2001
Reproduced with Thanks