Conflicting concepts associated
with the term "homosexuality"
Conflicting concepts of homosexuality:
There are six common viewpoints about the causes of, nature of, and appropriate response to homosexuality that we have found in the literature.
Described below are two extreme belief systems about homosexuality that are frequently heard in the media, often to the exclusion of at least four intermediate
beliefs. They have not been named, so we suggest the terms "traditional" and "progressive:"
More detailed description of the traditional view:
Many religious conservatives, whether
Jewish, Muslim, or other, believe that homosexuality is a
behavior that is chosen
at or after puberty. It is changeable, abnormal, unnatural, and hated by
God. A person is influenced to choose homosexuality inadequate parenting,
and/or sexual abuse during childhood. Most view homosexuality as a mental illness, a
spiritually sinful state, and/or an addiction. Being a disordered state,
homosexuality often causes depression, other forms of mental illness, suicidal
ideation, and even completed suicide.
Bible has about six passages that condemn all forms
of homosexual behavior, whether by men or women. All are still valid today. To avoid going to
Hell, it is vital that
each homosexual converts to heterosexuality or remains permanently celibate. Some religious conservatives believe that if one is
saved by repenting of their sins and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, the
Holy Spirit will do this conversion for them. If a conversion does not
happen, this may be an indication that the person was not truly saved.
Reparative therapy and/or
transformational ministry programs are the two main methods to achieve
this conversion. Both have a high success rate; they are safe, but require a
consistent, sustained effort.
More detailed description of the progressive view:
Many religious liberals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, therapists, human sexuality
researchers, a small minority of religious conservatives, secularists, and others believe that homosexuality is an
that is discovered during childhood or after puberty. It is fixed in adulthood, and is normal and natural for a minority
of people. A homosexual orientation has been shown by studies of identical twins -- who were separated
at birth and raised independently -- to be caused by some factor prior to birth --
probably genetic. The orientation may be triggered by some unknown factor in the environment or it may remain dormant.
It produces symptoms that can be detected by child psychologists when the
child is at a pre-school age. Over three and a half decades ago the American
Psychiatric Association (APA) determined that homosexual orientation is
not a mental illness. Other professional associations
of therapists, social workers, and educators subsequently followed the lead
of the APA.
However, many gays and lesbians can benefit from
Gay Affirmative Therapy (GAT) if they are
unduly distressed about their sexual orientation. Through GAT, they are often able to come to terms with their orientation, and accept it.
The Bible does refer to same-sex sexual behavior:
||The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)
condemns rape, both homosexual and heterosexual. It also disapproves of same-sex
sexual behavior in Pagan temples.
||The Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
condemns heterosexuals engaging in same-sex behavior during Pagan
orgies.It also condemns men sexually abusing boys and bestiality -- men having sex with
One's behavior is unrelated to one's sexual orientation.
However, the Bible is silent about to consensual sex within loving,
committed same-sex relationships.
Many gays and lesbians are depressed and even suicidal. However this is
not caused directly by their sexual orientation; it is caused indirectly by society's
homophobia, which is often internalized by the homosexual
therapy is unsafe and ineffective. It can trigger serious depression and
Harmonizing the tranditional and progressive belief systems:
It is difficult to imagine two belief systems that could be more mutually
exclusive. Normally, it would be possible for the two sides to enter dialogue, and design studies that would determine whether homosexuality is normal or abnormal, fixed or changeable, chosen or discovered, etc. However, the two sides use different definitions of truth:
- Persons holding the traditional view look for truth in their interpretation of biblical passages.
- Persons holding the progressive view look for truth in research projects and observation of persons of all sexual orientations.
To make a consensus even less likely, the two sides use different definitions for the same terms. This makes dialogue almost impossible.
About the term "homosexuality:"
Conflicts over sexual orientation extend even to the use of the term "homosexual" itself:
Many LGBTs dislike the term because they feel that it has become a "snarl word" 1 often used to project hatred against sexual minorities. Also, since it is used by medical and therapeutic professionals, it has become a medicalized term.
- Many human sexuality researchers and therapists consider the term to be a neutral term used to describe one of three normal and natural sexual orientations.
- Religious and social conservatives use the term frequently, but often change the meaning from referring to the gender to which a person is sexually attracted, to the description of a person who is sexual active with members of the same gender.
- Meanwhile, the phrase "gay and lesbian" which is the most common substitutes for "homosexual" is considered by some to refer to a politically active person.
- Finally, the acronym LGBT is often not useable in essays on sexual orientation because it includes transgender persons and transsexuals.
As a compromise, this website will continue to follow human sexuality researchers and use "homosexual" as a morally neutral term to refer to persons who are sexually attracted only to other persons of the same gender.
"Snarl words" and "Purr words" are terms coined by S. I. Hayakawa (1906-1992). a professor of English and general semantics. They "... describe highly connotative language that often serves as a substitute for serious thought and well-reasoned argument." A comment by Richard Nordquist, About.com guide, at: http://grammar.about.com/
Copyright © 2006 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2006-NOV-17
Last update and review: 2011-APR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson