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Religious Tolerance logo

A Christian, intra-religious translating dictionary

Homosexual & other terms
related to sexual orientation

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Homosexual terms, phrases and slogans:

We compare here:

bulletDefinitions used by many most fundamentalist, other evangelical Christian, Roman Catholic, and other religious conservative groups like the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, Traditional Values Coalition, etc.,


bulletDefinitions used by others -- including most liberal & mainline Christians, followers of other religions' mainline & liberal wings, persons who don't identify themselves with any religion, therapists, counselors, human sexuality researchers, gays, lesbians and bisexuals, transsexuals, etc.

These definitions tend to reflect closely the group's or individual's beliefs about the nature of homosexuality: whether it is:

bulletA behavior or an innate nature,
bulletChosen or unchosen,
bulletChangeable or fixed,
bulletA preference or an orientation.

The terms and what meaning they are given automatically bias the discussion in one direction or another.

Common usage by religious conservatives Usage by others Comments
"Sexual preference" "Sexual orientation" Preference implies choice; orientation implies a fixed nature.
"Homosexual lifestyle" "Homosexual orientation" "Lifestyle" implies a chosen, changeable  way of living, like choosing to live in an urban area rather than rural, or being self-employed rather than work for a large company. "Orientation" implies an unchosen, fixed fundamental nature like race or gender.
A person is either a homosexual or a heterosexual A person may be a homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual Bisexuality -- being attracted to both men and women -- is often ignored by evangelicals.
There are about 30 sexual orientations including incest, pedophilia, prostitution. There are only three possible sexual orientations: heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual Some fundamentalist Christian groups recognize numerous new sexual orientations in order to fight hate crime bills that would protect people of all sexual orientations.
"Promoting homosexuality" Educating others about the dynamics and diversity of human sexuality Many evangelicals feel that to explain sexual orientation is to promote homosexuality and that this would lead more youth to choose to become gay or lesbian.
All homosexual behavior is sinful. Same-sex sexual behavior is sinful if it is unsafe, manipulative, coercive or non-consensual. So is opposite-sex behavior under these conditions. Some "others" would add that all sexual activity (same sex or opposite sex) outside of a committed relationship is sinful.
Homosexuality is a behavior. Homosexuality is an orientation, a feeling, and an identification. This difference causes massive confusion and prevents meaningful dialogue. 
Homosexual behavior is an unnatural and sexually deviant behavior. Homosexuality is a normal and natural sexual orientation for a minority of adults.  There are many studies that show which one of these beliefs is correct. However, none are accepted by both sides.
Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle; an act of rebellion. It is sometimes a type of addiction. Homosexuality is determined by genetics and may be triggered by unknown environmental factors before school age. The term "lifestyle" implies choice, as in choosing a single lifestyle, or urban lifestyle.
Some Evangelicals define sexual orientation as including: homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, abusive pedophilia, incest, prostitution, etc. Sexual orientation comes in three varieties: heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. By defining  30 or so sexual orientations, evangelicals try to claim that civil rights based on sexual orientation may decriminalize abusive pedophilia, etc. 
Homosexuals can leave homosexuality and become ex-gays. Homosexuals can change their behavior by becoming celibate, if they wish. But their homosexual orientation continues. Bisexuals can choose to confine their relationships to opposite-sex persons, and thus also appear to become ex-gays.
Homosexuals demand special rights & privileges. Homosexuals seek equal rights.  
"children... will be subjected to homosexual propaganda... indoctrination" 1 Children in public schools will be educated with facts about sexual orientation and sensitized to the discrimination felt by sexual minorities.  
Hate crime legislation gives special privileges to gays and lesbians Hate crime legislation which includes sexual orientation as a protected class gives precisely equal privileges and protections to everyone, whether heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. Hate crime legislation only takes effect if a crime (e.g. murder, attempted murder, assault) has been proven in a court of law. It then increases the sentence that the defendant receives.
High suicide rate among gays and lesbians caused by the disordered nature of homosexuality itself, and being told that they have little or no hope of ever becoming "ex-gay." High suicide rate among gays and lesbians is caused by the high level of homophobia in the culture, much of which gays and lesbians have internalized. There are lots of studies that show which one of these beliefs is correct. However, none of the studies are accepted by both sides as valid.

 * "Others" include most mental health professionals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, religious liberals, etc.

See also conflicting definitions about same-sex marriage (SSM)


  1. James Dobson, "Update on California," Focus on the Family, 2001-OCT, at:

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Copyright © 2000 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-OCT-02
Latest update and review: 2012-SEP-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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