Using dialogue to resolve people's conflicting LGBT beliefs
Current diversity of American & Canadian beliefs
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.
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:
- Homosexuality is defined in
terms of sexual behavior. Homosexuality is the lifestyle that
homosexuals engage in.
- Homosexuality is a chosen, changeable behavior which is intrinsically abnormal and unnatural.
- Surveys show that only about 2% of adults are homosexuals.
give great weight to the condemnations of homosexual behavior found in
their holy book, whether it be:
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.
- These passages condemn all homosexual activity, whether by men or women.
- Homosexual behavior is immoral, sinful, and hated by God regardless of the nature of the
- Some conservatives would prefer that homosexual behavior be re-criminalized.
- 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.
- Homosexuals can leave the lifestyle through prayer and/or reparative therapy.
- Once experienced, homosexual behavior quickly becomes addictive.
- 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
- 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
- Homosexual partners make incompetent parents, because their
children are deprived of the guidance and example of one gender.
- 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.
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:
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
- 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
- About 5% of adults are homosexuals. Some gay and lesbian groups
claim 10%. In addition to these numbers, a smaller percentage are bisexual.
- 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.
- The Bible condemns:
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.
||homosexual rape (Genesis 19),
||homosexual ritual sex in Pagan temples (two passages in Leviticus),
||homosexual prostitution (many places in the Old Testament)
||men molesting boys (1 Corinthians 6)
||heterosexuals who engage in same-gender sexual behavior (Romans 1)
||men engaging in bestiality with angels (Jude 7). Bestiality is sexual behavior between species.
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.
- 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.
- No consensual private safe sexual activity by mature individuals should be
- 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.
- 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.
- Once experienced, most people find that sexual behavior that
matches their sexual orientation is pleasurable and a desirable
- Bisexuality is a third, separate sexual orientation. Bisexuals are
sexually attracted to both males and females, but not necessarily to the same
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Evelyn Hooker, Ph.D.," University of California, Davis, at: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/
Copyright © 2003 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-SEP-4
Latest update: 2011-SEP-11
Author: B.A. Robinson