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Using dialogue to resolve people's conflicting LGBT beliefs

Current diversity of American & Canadian beliefs

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The two solitudes: Beliefs about homosexuality:

It is somewhat of an oversimplification to divide the beliefs of North American adults into only two groups. But from discussions on this topic, E-mails that we have received, letters to the editor, books, texts, and reports in the media that we have read, it seems that most adults do fall into one of two categories, which we will simply call "conservative" and "liberal."

We call the two groups "solitudes" because they disagree on almost everything, toss verbal rocks at each other regularly, are rarely involved in debate, and almost never enter into dialogue. They prefer to remain separate, to protect their cherished beliefs, and almost never resolve any differences. Unfortunately, the lack of resolution does nothing to reduce the high levels of depression, anxiety, suicide ideation and suicide rate among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals and transsexuals (LGBTs).

You may well fully agree with one of the belief systems described below, and totally reject the other. We recommend that you read and try to understand both viewpoints. Hopefully this essay will help you enter into a dialogue with a person who believes differently from yourself. Perhaps you can read this essay to simply understand how others think.

It is important to realize that a great deal of confusion is caused by both sides having defined the term "homosexual" in different ways: conservatives view it as a behavior -- a lifestyle. Liberals see it as a sexual orientation. So, for example, when a bisexual who has been involved in same-gender sexual activity in the past decides to confine their relationships to the opposite sex, conservatives regard them as having been gay, and have changed to heterosexuality. Meanwhile, liberals view them as having been bisexual, continue to be bisexual, but confine their activity to the opposite-sex.

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Beliefs of conservatives:

Conservative beliefs on homosexuality are held by almost all religious conservatives, almost all social conservatives, many members of mainline religious groups, and by some others.

Twelve beliefs commonly found among conservatives are:

  1. Homosexuality is defined in terms of sexual behavior. Homosexuality is the lifestyle that homosexuals engage in.

  2. Homosexuality is a chosen, changeable behavior which is intrinsically abnormal and unnatural.

  3. Surveys show that only about 2% of adults are homosexuals.

  4. Conservatives give great weight to the condemnations of homosexual behavior found in their holy book, whether it be:

    bullet The Jewish Torah,

    bullet The Bible's Jewish Scriptures and Christian Scriptures

    bullet The Muslim Qur'an,

    bullet etc.

    Many regard these books as inerrant (free of error), written by authors who were inspired by God. Others regard them, as a minimum, as reliable guides for behavior today. If the findings of science conflict with their interpretation of their holy book, then the latter is regarded as accurate.

  5. These passages condemn all homosexual activity, whether by men or women.

  6. Homosexual behavior is immoral, sinful, and hated by God regardless of the nature of the relationship.

  7. Some conservatives would prefer that homosexual behavior be re-criminalized.

  8. Adults choose homosexuality because they have not had a close, loving relationship with the parent of the same gender during childhood. They continually seek a substitute love through sexual contacts with another adult of their gender. Other homosexuals choose the lifestyle because of having been sexual molested by a member of the same gender during childhood. The perpetrator is typically an older person.

  9. Homosexuals can leave the lifestyle through prayer and/or reparative therapy.

  10. Once experienced, homosexual behavior quickly becomes addictive.

  11. Conservatives generally think of bisexuality in terms of behavior, not as a sexual orientation. Bisexuals are people who sometimes engage in homosexual (same-gender) sex and sometimes in heterosexual (opposite-gender) sex.

  12. Conservatives are generally opposed to granting equal rights to gays and lesbians. If this were done, then homosexuality will become more attractive. Increasing numbers of youth and young adults would then choose the lifestyle.

  13. Homosexual partners make incompetent parents, because their children are deprived of the guidance and example of one gender.

  14. If a person leaves the homosexual lifestyle, either by developing a sexually active relationship with a member of the opposite sex, or by remaining celibate, then they are considered to be an ex-gay.
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Beliefs of liberals:

Liberal beliefs are held by almost all religious liberals, secularists, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, human sexuality researchers, mental health therapists, and some others.

Twelve beliefs commonly found among liberals are:

  1. Homosexuality is defined in terms of a sexual orientation. It is a fundamental part of a person's identity. A homosexual is typically attracted to persons of the same gender, has fantasies about members of the same gender, identifies themselves as a homosexual, and may have feelings of revulsion towards the idea of engaging in sexual behavior with members of the opposite sex. In short, homosexuals are a mirror image of heterosexuals.

  2. Homosexuality is an un chosen, always or almost always fixed sexual orientation which is normal and natural for a minority of adults. Heterosexuality and bisexuality are the two other normal and natural sexual orientations.

  3. About 5% of adults are homosexuals. Some gay and lesbian groups claim 10%. In addition to these numbers, a smaller percentage are bisexual.

  4. The Bible and other religious texts condemn certain specific same-gender sexual behaviors. However, the passages were written in a pre-scientific age by authors with little knowledge of human sexuality. They cannot necessarily be used as a reliable guide for behavior today. Other passages, written by the same authors, condemn the eating of shellfish, wearing clothing made from a blend of fabrics, obtaining tattoos, etc.

  5. The Bible condemns:

    bullet homosexual rape (Genesis 19),

    bullet homosexual ritual sex in Pagan temples (two passages in Leviticus),

    bullet homosexual prostitution (many places in the Old Testament)

    bullet men molesting boys (1 Corinthians 6)

    bullet heterosexuals who engage in same-gender sexual behavior (Romans 1)

    bullet men engaging in bestiality with angels (Jude 7). Bestiality is sexual behavior between species.

    But the Bible is silent on same-gender sexual activity within a committed relationship. The Bible does describe three close relationships between persons of the same gender. However, there is no indication whether or not they were sexually active.

    If the findings of science conflict with their interpretation of the Bible, then the former is regarded as reality, and an alternate interpretation is sought.

  6. All manipulative, non-consensual or unsafe sex is sinful. However, consensual sexual activity within a committed relationship is not sinful, whether performed by same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

  7. No consensual private safe sexual activity by mature individuals should be criminalized.

  8. Some liberals assert that all sexual orientations, heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual, are determined at conception by one's genetic makeup. The closeness of the relationship of a child with her/his parents will not influence their sexual orientation. Others believe that one's genes set up a minority of humans to potentially be homosexual, but that an unknown factor in the environment is required to trigger those genes and make a person have a homosexual orientation.

  9. Sexual orientation in adults is fixed, or almost always fixed. The safety and efficacy of reparative therapy has yet to be precisely determined. But many professional mental health associations believe that it is ineffective and potentially dangerous.

  10. Once experienced, most people find that sexual behavior that matches their sexual orientation is pleasurable and a desirable activity.

  11. Bisexuality is a third, separate sexual orientation. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to both males and females, but not necessarily to the same degree.

  12. Liberals generally favor the granting of equal rights to gays and lesbians. Since one's sexual orientation is not chosen, oppressing gays, lesbians and bisexuals will not reduce their numbers. It will only make their life more miserable, create mental health problems and occasionally lead to suicide ideation.

  13. Children raised in families led by homosexual partners differ from children raised by opposite-gender parents in one main way: they are more tolerant of minorities. Most gay and lesbian parents involve adults of the missing gender in family activities so that the children will be exposed to the guidance and example of adults of both genders.

  14. Sexual orientations are always or almost always fixed in adulthood. If a person with a homosexual orientation decides to remain celibate, his orientation is unchanged; she or he remains a homosexual who merely chooses to not act on their desires. If a person with a bisexual orientation decides to confine their relationships to members of the opposite gender, he or she remains a bisexual.

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  1. "Evelyn Hooker, Ph.D.," University of California, Davis, at:

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Copyright © 2003 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-SEP-4
Latest update: 2011-SEP-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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