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Homosexual & bisexual orientations

Are they changeable or unchangeable?
Are they normal or abnormal?

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Note: The first draft of this essay was written in 1996 and uses the term
"homosexual" in its scientific sense as one of three normal and natural sexual

orientations. Since then, the word has become a hate/snarl word within some groups.

It is not intended to be a derogatory term in this essay and on this website,
merely a term describing the gender(s) to which a person is sexually attracted.

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Quotations:

bullet These postings illustrate the great chasm between the two "solitudes" on matters related to same-sex behavior. They were taken from the "Why I left my gay sexual lifestyle" discussion group on Amazon.com:


bullet Comment: "I'm curious why it is so hard to believe that someone can change."

bullet Response: "Because so many of us have tried so hard without even the hint of change. And then we find out that those who promised us 'change' still have homosexual desires."

bullet Comment: "Everyone that I personally know who is homosexual experienced some sort of sexual trama as a child."

bullet Response: "I live within the gay community and have for over 30 years -- and I've never met a gay man or lesbian who experienced some sort of sexual trauma as a child.

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Can a Person Change their Sexual Orientation?

bullet Some say no. The vast majority of human sexuality researchers, therapists, religious liberals, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals agree that a person's future sexual orientation is determined before they reach school age -- perhaps at birth; perhaps at conception. Once established, sexual attractions are always or almost always unchangeable.

In terms of behavior by sexually active adults, researchers accept three normal, natural expressions of sexual feelings and attractions:

bulletHeterosexuals (over 90% of the adult population) can chose to enter into sexual relationships with members of the opposite sex, or be celibate.

bulletHomosexuals (about 5%) can chose to become involved with members of the same gender or be celibate.

bulletBisexuals (fewer than 5%) can become involved with members of either gender or be celibate.
 
bullet Some say yes. Many of the conservative religious organizations feel that sexual orientation is a matter of choice, is sinful behavior, and can be changed through counseling and prayer. Some religiously based ministries, and mutual support/self help groups, and a very small percentage of therapists specialize in changing the behaviors of persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. Such groups often mention that "change is possible." They often talk about "leaving the homosexual lifestyle." However, they don't say what type of change is possible, or what leaving a lifestyle specifically means. It seems that it doesn't refer to changing a person's sexual orientation, only their behavior. Their long-term successes appear to be in two areas:

bullet convincing bisexuals to restrict their sexual activities to members of the opposite sex.

bulletconvincing homosexuals to remain celibate.

"Ex-gay" groups rarely advertise that they are unsuccessful at changing their clients' sexual orientation. They mainly discuss successes at behavioral change.

We have not been able to find a single case where an adult with a homosexual orientation has been able to develop an attraction to a person of the opposite gender through counseling or prayer. Some who are bisexual change their behavior from same-sex to opposite-sex involvement. Others who are homosexual, decide to remain celibate. Some are able to train themselves to engage in heterosexual behavior by fantasizing that they are with a person of the same gender. They may even marry. But almost all such marriages are doomed to failure. In reality, same-sex attraction always or almost always remains.

Mel White, who once ghost-authored many books for Evangelical leaders, found his business collapse when he came out of the closet and became publicly known as gay. He wrote the book: "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America,"  a heart-wrenching story of his decades-long attempts to convert his orientation from gay to straight. 1

Most religious Conservatives base their conclusions on three passages and groups of passages from the Bible:

bullet They believe that various Biblical verses -- often called "clobber passages"-- condemn all forms of same-sex behavior. Many secularists and religious liberals believe that these same passages refer to homosexual rape, homosexual prostitution, homosexual ritual sex in a Pagan temple, heterosexuals engaging in same-sex orgies, males sexually molesting boys, and bestiality -- men having sex with non-humans. The latter conclude that these passages are silent about loving, consentual same-sex behavior.
 
bullet The Bible consistently represents marriage as only occurring between a man and one or more women. St. Paul and other New Testament writers in particular condemn sexual activity, except between married spouses. In the Jewish and early Christian communities, this meant a man married to one or more women.
 
bullet Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, writes that "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul refers to many behaviors that will prevent a person from attaining heaven. He concludes: "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Most religious conservatives interpret these passages as teaching that when gays and lesbians become born again, their sexual orientation will be automatically changed and they will become heterosexual. If they do not change, then they are apparently not saved.
 
bullet Since there are numerous passages in the Bible that guarantee that God always answers the prayers of believers, conservative Christians generally believe that prayer can change a sincere individual with a homosexual orientation into a heterosexual. However, in reality, prayer has limitations. Just as prayer will not cause an amputated leg to regrow, it seems to be unable to change a person's sexual orientation. Like gender identity, sexual orientation appears to be unchangeable.
 
bullet Most of the appears to agree with the former belief system -- that sexual orientation is fixed. As early as 1998-JUL, the McLaughlin Group 2 conducted a public opinion poll via the Internet on the effectiveness of "love, understanding and the word of God" in converting a gay or lesbian to heterosexuality. 93% believe that such techniques are ineffective in changing one's sexual orientation.

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Is homosexual behavior normal and natural?

This of course depends upon your definition of "normal". Homosexual behavior certainly does not feel normal or natural for heterosexuals; they often have strong feelings of revulsion towards the idea. Similarly, heterosexual behavior does not feel natural for homosexuals. Both homosexual and heterosexual behavior feels natural to persons with bisexual orientation.

Homosexual behavior is natural in the sense that it is extensively found in nature. It has been observed in all mammals and some other species, including: antelopes, boars, bulls, chimpanzees, cows, ducks, cats, dogs, fruit flies, geese, gorillas, gulls, horses, humans, langurs, rams, sheep, macaques, monkeys, turkeys and vervets.

Bruce Bagemihl, a biologist from Seattle, WA, found that in zoos, at least 5% of Humboldt penguin pairs are gay. He has prepared an encyclopedic survey of homosexual or transgender behavior among more than 190 species, including butterflies and other insects. An Amazon.com reviewer commented:

"Throw this book into the middle of a crowd of wildlife biologists and watch them scatter. But Bagemihl doesn't let the scientific community's discomfort deny him the opportunity to show 'the love that dare not bark its name' in all its feathery, furry, toothy diversity."  3

The reviews of this book are well worth reading for their own value.

Whiptail lizards, (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus) found in the American southwest, are all females. They reproduce by parthenogenesis. Unfertilized eggs develop, producing an exact clone of its mother. Even though no males exist, the females still exhibit sexual mating behavior. Those that attract a lesbian partner have been found to produce more and healthier eggs. 4,5

Another source states that "Homosexuality exists in proven ratios in all mammal species....It is as natural as blue eyes, left-handedness, or the genetic predisposition to walk on two legs." 5

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Related essays:

bulletWhat determines a person's sexual orientation?
bulletBeliefs about homosexuality. Studies of sexual orientation
bulletIs it beneficial to society; should homosexuals have equal protection?
 
bulletAttempting to change one's sexual orientation via reparative therapy
bulletWhat the Bible says about homosexuality.
bulletLesbian/gay terminology

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References:

  1. Mel White, "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America,"  Plume, (1995). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  2. The McLaughlin Group's home page is at: http://www.mclaughlin.com
  3. Bruce Bagemihl, "Biological Exuberance: Animal homosexuality and natural diversity," St. Martins Press, (1999) Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  4. Athenadorus, "Homosexuality: Its Genetic Basis & Evolutionary Benefit," at: http://www.danaanpress.com/
  5. "El Paso Herepeofauna: Lizards: New Mexico Whiptail" at: http://www.utep.edu/epbionet/cheklist/herps/

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Site navigation: Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Basic data > here

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Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-JAN-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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