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SUBDIVIDING TWO EXTREME BELIEF SYSTEMS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY INTO SIX DISCRETE VIEWPOINTS

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The two most vocal belief systems:

Throughout most of the essays in the homosexual and bisexual section of this web site, we have stressed two extreme positions. We have tried to describe them accurately, without bias, and with clarity. These two viewpoints are generally the most vocal. They are frequently seen and heard on the media and in sermons. They tend to be the viewpoints of the movers and shakers who are changing legislation and North American culture.

In this series of essays, we will call the most conservative position "Abomination," because that is the term that is frequently used by religious conservatives to condemn what they call the homosexual lifestyle. We will name the most liberal viewpoint "Liberation," following a book by lecturer and author L.R. Holben. 1

A comparison of the these positions follows:

Abomination Liberation
Who? Position taken by many religious and social conservatives. Who? Position taken by many gays, lesbians, religious liberals, civil libertarians, etc.
What? Homosexuality and bisexuality are behaviors: what a person does. What? Homosexuality and bisexuality are sexual orientations. They are part of what a person is.
Incidence: Less than 2% of the adult population. Incidence: 5 to 10% of the adult population.
Same-sex activity is: Same-sex activity is:
bulletSomething that should be criminalized.
bulletSomething that should be as legal as opposite-sex activity.
bulletSinful and immoral, no matter what the relationship.
bulletAs morally neutral as is heterosexuality.
bulletHated by God. God calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. (Leviticus 20:13)
bulletAs fully accepted by God as is heterosexuality.
bulletIndicative of mental illness
bulletUnrelated to mental illness
bulletCaused by incompetent parenting and/or sexual abuse during childhood, and/or an addiction, and/or the result of sin or idolatry. Emerges during teenage years. (Romans 1:24-27)
bulletEither genetically caused, or is set up by a combination of genes and triggered by an unknown environmental factor in early childhood.
bulletChosen.
bulletNot chosen.
bulletChangeable through repentance and being saved, prayer, and/or reparative therapy. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
bulletFixed; cannot be changed. Prayer is ineffective. Therapy is useless and potentially dangerous.
bulletAbnormal for everyone.
bulletNormal, for a minority of adults.
bulletUnnatural for everyone.
bulletNatural for a minority of adults.
Same-sex marriage (SSM) is: Same-sex marriage (SSM) is:
bulletAn extreme danger to society, particularly to our most vulnerable citizens -- our children. Marriage is the main building block of civilization. SSM would destroy the institution of marriage.
bulletSSM is beneficial for those gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who wish to embrace it. It is good for persons of all sexual orientations. It advantageous for marriage, and for society as a whole.

These two viewpoints are obviously in virtually total opposition.  One can see why this topic creates so much heat, so little light, almost no dialogue, and endless amounts of angry and fruitless debate.  Persons at the two extremes agree on almost nothing about the nature of homosexuality.

Some of the above beliefs can be proven to be either true or false. However, it appears to be impossible to develop proofs that are convincing to everyone. People's beliefs on homosexual topics tend to be relatively rigid.

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Intermediate viewpoints on homosexuality:

The 1998 Lambeth Conference of the worldwide Anglican Communion discussed homosexuality in its Section Group One committee -- titled "Called to Full Humanity." The group issued a draft statement which dealt in part with human sexuality. They declared that some forms of sexual activity are "inherently contrary to the Christian way and are sinful." Their list included adultery, incest, pedophilia, promiscuity, prostitution, female circumcision and rape. It did not include homosexual activity in the list. They admitted that "We must confess that we are not of one mind about homosexuality." Rather than emphasize the two extreme positions evidenced during their discussions, they reported that the bishops "generally subscribe to four main perspectives on homosexuality:" They were described as: 
bulletthose who see homosexuality as a disorder, but subject to healing;
bulletthose who see genital sexual activity by homosexuals as going against scripture and the church's teaching and, if unrepented, serving as a barrier to salvation;
bulletthose who regard committed homosexual relationships as outside biblical norms but preferable to promiscuity;
bulletand those who advocate the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions."

Author L.R. Holben subdivides viewpoints on homosexuality further. 1 He adds two additional categories to those suggested by the Lambeth Conference committee -- a viewpoint that emphasizes the importance of celibacy for homosexuals, and another which emphasizes sexual liberation and identifies homophobia as the main evil.

The result is six discrete viewpoints:

Name Basic viewpoint
"Abomination" Homosexuality is profoundly immoral at all times.
"Change is expected" Homosexuals can change their sexual orientation, with effort
"Celibacy is expected" Homosexuals must either change or be celibate.
"Marginally acceptable" Committed homosexual relationships are the least awful option.
"Equality" Seek equal rights. Like heterosexuality, homosexuality, is morally neutral.
"Liberation" Reinterpret the Bible. Homophobia, not homosexuality, is the main evil.

The essays in this section will explain and compare all six viewpoints. For simplicity, we will refer almost entirely to homosexuality. But the same arguments would apply to persons with a bisexual orientation if they engage in sexual activity with a member of the same sex.

The essays largely describe conservative and liberal Christian perspectives. However very strong parallels exist with conservative and liberal Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and other religions.

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Useful reference:

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

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Site navigation:

Home page > Conflict > Homosexuality > Religious impact > Six views > here

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Copyright © 2004 & 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2004-SEP-14
Last update: 2005-APR-12.

Author: B.A. Robinson

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