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Religious terms / Homosexuality / The LGBT community


Two definitions & six interpretations
about homosexuality and bisexuality

A conversation:


Question: To a lesbian from a woman grieving over the death of her husband: "Do your people feel sad when your partner dies?"

bullet Response: "You see me as a little less human, and for me to realize it, breaks my heart."

Some visitors have objected to the above quotation. They suggest that nobody could be so lacking in knowledge about homosexual relationships as to believe that a death of one partner would not trigger a grieving process. We believe that the conversation actually occurred.

The following group of essays describes six views that people have towards homosexuality. The most conservative view believes that gays and lesbians are incapable of love; they are driven only by lust. A person holding this opinion might well be puzzled about a homosexual's reaction to the death of a partner. They might wonder if the surviving partner experiences actual grief, or merely an inconvenience while searching for a substitute partner.

Two definitions of "homosexuality:"

bullet Religious conservatives, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or of another religion, often define homosexuality in terms of behavior. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are what a person does. A homosexual is a person who engages in some same-gender sexual behavior; a heterosexual is one who engages only in opposite-gender sexual behavior. They generally refer to a person who has sex with both males and females as a homosexual; bisexuality, as an orientation, is rarely acknowledged. A person who is sexually inactive, is considered a heterosexual regardness of their actual orientation.

They believe that behaviors can be changed by an act of will:
bullet Bisexuals -- persons who are sexually attracted to both men and women -- can choose to confine their activity to opposite-sex relationships. They are often described as "having left the homosexual lifestyle" or as being "ex-gays."

bullet Persons with a homosexual orientation who are sexually attracted only to members of the same sex can decide to remain celibate. They are also described as "having left the homosexual lifestyle" and as being "ex-gays."

bullet By changing one's behavior, people can switch from being homosexual to being heterosexual. Many conservatives believe that the success rate of changing people's sexual orientation through reparative therapy is high. Decades of almost complete failure at this type of conversions is causing some religious conservatives to abandon this therapy.

bullet Most religious liberals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, human sexuality researchers, therapists, etc. define homosexuality in terms of feelings of sexual attraction and self-identification.
bulletA homosexual is a person who is sexually attracted only to members of the same sex.

bulletA bisexual is attracted to both women and men, although not necessarily to the same degree.

bulletA heterosexual is a person who is attracted only to persons of the opposite sex.

bulletBisexuals can choose to confine their activity to one sex or the other; however they still remain bisexual.

bulletHomosexuals can choose to remain celibate; however they still remain homosexual.

bulletAdult sexual orientation is generally regarded as fixed; it cannot be changed through therapy or prayer. The success rate of reparative therapy is extremely low, close to zero.

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The two most vocal understandings of homosexuality:

Throughout most of the essays in the homosexual and bisexual section of this web site, we have stressed two extreme positions:

bulletThe religiously conservative stance generally considers homosexuality to be an abomination -- a serious, immoral,  changeable, abnormal, and unnatural addiction that is hated by God and is destructive to the individuals who choose to follow the lifestyle. It is generally chosen after puberty.

bulletThe other, more liberal position, views homosexuality to be one of three unchosen, fixed, and morally neutral sexual orientations which is normal and natural for a minority of adults. Children who will grow up to be gay can generally be detected before the age of five..

Although these viewpoints are certainly the most vocal in the media, there are other voices that hold intermediate positions. This section will describe, contrast and compare six discrete perspectives. They can be called


bulletChange is expected,

bulletCelibacy is expected,

bulletMarginally acceptable,

bulletEquality and


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Topics covered in this section are:

bulletExpanding two viewpoints on homosexuality to six
bulletA brief description of each of six viewpoints, from the most conservative to the most liberal.
bulletA comparison of six viewpoints on the following topics:
bulletInformation sources / God's pattern for sex / When is sex morally permissible?
bulletThe biblical message  / Homosexual orientation exists? / Incidence of homosexuality
bulletConversion rates /  Emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of homosexuality
bulletGod's expectations for homosexuals, faith groups and society as a whole
bulletCan we differentiate morally between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior / Groups supporting the various viewpoints

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Webmaster's personal note:

Writing this series of essays has been a major learning experience for me. Active involvement in a religious forum on homosexuality has also been educational. I sensed the profound gulf that exists among individuals and groups who hold these different, contrasting belief systems. Many tenaciously hold beliefs that are contrary to observable facts. It would seem that beliefs about homosexuality are formed early in life and are rarely changeable.

Dialogue appears to be rare and getting more so. People often have little contact with others who hold different opinions. My impression is that real progress could be made if the various sides looked upon each other as individuals and not as an enemy force pushing an agenda. But I don't have the foggiest idea how this can be encouraged.

Another problem that we are faced with is the gradual shift in the meanings of terms. For example, the word "homosexual" simply referred to a person with a homosexual orientation; they were sexually attracted to persons of the same sex. But as of 2014, it is transitioning to become a snarl word within some groups. The preferred term now is LGBT or LGBT community. LGBT is an acronym for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual.

Useful reference:

L.R. Holben, "What Christians think about homosexuality: Six representative viewpoints," Bibal Press, (1999). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

Site navigation:

 Home page > Definitions > here

 Home page > Religious Information > Glossary of terms > Multiple definitions > here

or Home page > Religious Information > Multiple definitions > here

Home page > Conflict > Homosexuality > Religious impact > here

Copyright © 2004 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2004-SEP-14
Last update: 2017-JAN-23

Author: B.A. Robinson
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