Teaching about homosexuality in North American public
Suggested topics 1 to 3
|The Church... is called to be faithful to Godís Word in all things. For
this reason the Assemblies of God opposes homosexuality and the gay
lifestyle recognizing such as sin. But we encourage all members to reach out
in love to homosexuals extending to them the grace that leads us all to
Christís forgiveness. Homosexuality is both a sin against God and
mankind. It runs contrary to the divine plan, purpose, and will of God who
created us in His image (Genesis 1:27) and redeemed us so that this image,
marred because of sin, might be renewed (Colossians 3:10). Most
fundamentally, homosexuality is sin because it perverts the created order of
human sexuality, the heterosexual fulfillment of both man and woman|
Topics 1 to 3:
We recommend that a comprehensive course in homosexuality at the high school level
involve seven main topics. Topics 1 to 3 are: teaching students on the following topics:
This essay is
currently being expanded
Different secular and religious groups and individuals sometimes assign conflicting
definitions and meanings to some homosexual terms. This makes dialogue very difficult. It
also makes it hard for people in one group to understand talks and articles
prepared by individuals from other groups. Students need to be aware of these
differences in terminology in order to be able to understand material from
|Social conservatives, conservative religious groups and members, and Evangelical Christian para-church organizations,
such as the Christian
Coalition, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family,
Traditional Values Coalition, etc. may use one definition.
|Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, human sexuality researchers,
professional mental health organizations, religious liberals, secularists,
etc often use a different definition. We list these below under "others."|
|However there is a lot of cross-over usage where one group will use the
definitions of another.|
Common conservative religious usage
Common usage by others
|Homosexuality is defined as:
||A sexual preference
||A sexual orientation
||Preference implies choice; orientation implies a fixed state.
|Homosexuality itself is...
||A sexual orientation
||Again, lifestyle implies a choice; orientation implies a fixed state.
|Nature of homosexuality
||A behavior; what one does
||An orientation, based on one's feelings, sexual
fantasies and self-identification.
||This is an important distinction because it defines who is gay and
who is "ex-gay"
||Some define it very broadly to
include: bestiality, homosexuality, necrophilia, abusive pedophilia,
||Comes in one of three types: homosexuality, homosexuality, and
||By including criminal activity within the definition of
homosexuality, it would totally change hate-crime legislation.
|Role of sex-ed classes which discuss homosexuality
||May involve the promotion of homosexuality
||Involves education about homosexuality
||This involves whether education about something implies promotion of
||Considered one of three sexual orientations
||Again, this can define who is gay and who is "ex-gay."
|Legislation guaranteeing human rights.
||Homosexuals seek special privileges
||Homosexuals and bisexuals seek equal privileges
||This involves whether homosexuality is an innate trait or a chosen
||A chosen lifestyle; an act of
rebellion against God and nature.
||Determined by genetics and perhaps triggered by
|By defining homosexuality as a preference or a lifestyle, one implies
that it is a choice. By using the term "sexual orientation" one implies that
it is a fixed and unchosen trait.|
|By defining homosexuality in terms of behavior, then a person with a
homosexual orientation who decides to be celibate is considered no longer a
homosexual. They are an "ex-gay" and are cured of their homosexual behavior;
they have left the homosexual lifestyle. So too for a bisexual who decides
to restrict her/his sexual activity to members of the opposite sex. By
defining homosexuality in terms of sexual attraction to, and fantasies of,
persons of the same sex, then a person with a homosexual orientation who
decides to be celibate is still a homosexual; they are a celibate
homosexual. A bisexual who decides to restrict his/her behavior to members
of the opposite sex is still a bisexual.|
|By defining homosexuality to include criminal acts totally changes the
meaning of human rights and hate-crime legislation. This definition is only
used by a minority of religious conservatives at this time, and has not been
recognized by legislatures, courts, dictionaries, etc. |
Throughout most of the essays in the
homosexual and bisexual
section of this web site, we have stressed the two extreme positions which
are commonly shown in the media.
|The position taken by many social and religious conservatives: They
define homosexuality in terms of behavior. They consider homosexuality to be an
abomination -- a serious, immoral, chosen, changeable, abnormal, unnatural
addiction that is hated by God and is destructive to the individuals who
decide to follow that lifestyle.|
|The position taken by most therapists (with the exception of those
therapists affiliated with the National Association for Research and Therapy of
Homosexuality [NARTH] ), social workers, human sexuality researchers,
human rights organizations, liberal students, liberal parents, gays,
bisexuals, and lesbians about homosexuality: They define homosexuality in
terms of sexual orientation -- one's feelings of sexual attraction,
fantasies, and self-identification. They view homosexuality to be one of
three unchosen, fixed, and morally neutral sexual
orientations, which is natural and normal for a minority of adults.|
While these two positions do reflect the beliefs of the most vocal activists, there appears to be at least
four other well defined viewpoints about homosexuality. Author L.R. Holben describe these in his book: "What Christians think about homosexuality."1
The four intermediate viewpoints appear much less frequently in newspapers, periodicals, during church sermons and on TV. But some of them are held by substantial numbers
of Americans and Canadians.
From the most conservative to the most liberal, these are:
|Abomination: Homosexuality is a profoundly immoral behavior
whether it is in the form of casual sex or within a committed relationship. It is
to be condemned and perhaps criminalized. Homosexuals are driven by lust and are
intrinsically unable to enter into meaningful, long-term, faithful
|Change is expected: Homosexuality is a broken, disordered
condition. Gays and lesbians can be easily healed by being converted to
heterosexuality through prayer and/or reparative therapy.|
|Celibacy is expected: Homosexuality is a fixed condition for all,
or almost all, gays and lesbians. God expects them to remain celibate
throughout their lives.|
|Marginally acceptable: For those gays and lesbians who are unable
to become heterosexuals and cannot remain celibate, the least awful
option is for them to enter into a committed same-sex relationship.|
|Equality: Homosexuality and bisexuality are fixed normal, natural sexual
orientations for a minority of adults. Both same-sex and opposite-sex
behavior can be moral or immoral, depending upon the safety of the act and
the nature of the relationship. Persons of all sexual orientation should share the same rights
and protections. They should all be allowed to marry the person that they love
and to whom they are committed.|
|Liberation: The morality of all sexual behavior -- same sex or
opposite sex -- is to be primarily based on its ability to generate joy,
love and emotional growth. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and their supporters
have a special role to liberate society and the church sexually.
The Bible's six "clobber passages" as they are
traditionally translated into English and interpreted by conservative
theologians, do not reflect the will of God. |
More information on the diversity of viewpoints.
Statements by various faith groups:
outnumber the membership of each of the smaller organized religious groups in
North America by a factor of about 50. Thus, the relationship between
homosexuality and religion in the U.S. and Canada is almost entirely the
relationship between homosexuality and Christianity.
According to the ARIS study of 2001, about 75% of
American adults identify themselves as Christian. The next largest organized
religions are Judaism at 1.3% and
Islam at 0.5%.
Within each major religion, there are conservative, mainline and liberal
faith groups. For example, within Christianity:
|Religiously liberal groups, like the
United Church of
Christ, and the
United Church of
Canada have resolved the "homosexual issue." The
denominations promote equal rights for gays and lesbians; they welcome
homosexuals as members and ordain them as clergy.|
|Mainline denominations, like the
(USA) and the
United Methodist Church are experiencing major internal conflicts over
the issue. Disagreements are deep and appear irresolvable, at least in the
short term. There is a great deal of impassioned debate and little true
dialog. Fault lines within the denominations may appear on many levels:
|Young people may take a more liberal view; older members are often
more conservative. |
|There are often geographical divisions, with north eastern groups
being liberal and southern groups being conservative. |
|A liberal/conservative split is seen between urban and rural areas.|
|There is a major division between those who look upon homosexuals as
a group, and those who personally know a gay or lesbian as a close
friend. The latter are far more accepting of sexual minorities.|
|Religiously conservative groups, like the
Assemblies of God, and other Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christian
denominations, have also resolved the issue. Some commit significant effort
to defeat hate-crimes legislation that would protect gays and lesbians in
accommodation and employment, and promoting legislation that will prevent
same-sex couples to enter into marriage or civil union. Some denominations
regard homosexuality as a special type of sin. Some teach, on the basis of
1 Corinthians 6:9, that gays are prohibited from
Kingdom of God (heaven).
They refuse membership and ordination to sexually active gays and lesbians.
They have no expectation of changing their policy in the future.|
Many gays and lesbians remain partially or completely in the "closet".
They often view the church as the last place that they would want to "come
out", because they would expect to experience rejection and
homophobia. This is a Catch 22 situation, because the most effective way of
changing a heterosexual's beliefs about homosexuality is for them to
befriend a homosexual.
More information on the beliefs of individual
Christian denominations, Jewish traditions, and other religions.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still valid today.
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.
There is no consensus on the total number of Muslims in the U.S. Estimates range
from 0.5% to over 2%.
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2005-MAY-8
Latest update: 2005-MAY-11
Author: B.A. Robinson