The term "homosexual" generally refers to a sexual orientation. It is defined by feelings of sexual attraction, restricted only towards members of the same sex, and is found among a minority of teens and adults. Homosexuality is viewed as a trait that is either:
Caused directly by a single gene or group of genes buried somewhere in a the DNA of a minority of people. This possibility now seems doubtful because scientists have been searching for this gene(s) for decades without much success.
Or is caused by an epigenetic tag. These are chemicals that latch onto a person's DNA and help turn genes on or off. This appears to be the cause of homosexuality, because an initial, small scale study during 2015 was able to identify which adult males were gay from a group of twins in which one twin was gay and the other heterosexual, with an accuracy of 83%. This accuracy will probably be improved over time as the test is further refined.
These communities generally believe that a homosexual orientation is set before one's birth, is discovered rather than chosen by the individual, and is unchangeable in adulthood. However, people of all sexual orientations can decide to not act on their sexual orientation and attempt to remain celibate. The medical community bases their beliefs on the findings of studies performed by human sexuality specialists and subsequently accepted by large therapeutic groups such as the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, etc. Liberal religious communities typically base their beliefs on such studies and on a liberal interpretation of biblical passages. NOTAs, etc. generally follow scientific findings.
Among conservative religious faith groups: Homosexuality is commonly defined in terms of same-gender sexual behavior. Many view it as anactivity that is chosen, at or about the time of puberty and is changeable -- perhaps with difficulty, -- through prayer and/or reparative therapy. They typically base their beliefs on a conservative interpretation of some key biblical passages and on the historical teachings of Christianity and Judaism. Where the findings of science conflict with their interpretation of passages in the Bible, they primarily trust the Bible as the source of reliable information.
In contrast, the term "bisexual" in the medical and liberal religious communities refer to a sexual orientation involving feelings of sexual attraction towards both sexes. Most bisexuals have different levels of attraction to women and men. They are the only group who can be meaningfully said to have a "sexual preference." The term within conservative religious communities is rarely used. When it is used, it generally refers to sexual behavior with persons of both genders over the course of a person's life.
Different groups also disagree on the nature and frequency of the three main sexual orientations:
Medical and liberal religious communities, NOTAs, etc. generally consider all three sexual orientations to be both normal and natural. It is seen throughout much of the animal kingdom in addition to humanity. About 90% of adult humans are heterosexual, and the remainder is divided up more or less equally between homosexual and bisexual.
Conservative religious communities generally consider only heterosexual behavior to be normal and natural; they regard homosexual and bisexual behavior as intrinsically and profoundly sinful, unnatural, and abnormal. Their faith-based information sources generally teach that heterosexuals form a much larger percentage of the human population; they believe that homosexuals are a much smaller minority, perhaps 2%. They often do not refer to bisexuals at all. However, many conservative Christian believers hold the opinion that homosexuals constitute about 20% of the adult population. perhaps because of the major attention being paid to them in recent years. It is difficult for polling groups to obtain an accurate measure of the percentage of sexual minorities because many lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are "in the closet" and even those who our "out" to friends are reluctant to answer a poll taker's questions.
Different groups also differ in their reporting of the latest scientific findings about homosexuality:
Druign 2017-JAN, the author of this essay did a Google search for the words:
epigenetic homosexual cause
and found 66,600 hits. 5 Almost all were from scientific web sites, and liberal media. While scanning through the results, only 3 of the hits among the first 55 linked to religious web sites:
The first hit was this web site, religioustolerance.org at #10. This site attempts to accurately describe all beliefs and opinions about religious topics.
The second hit was at patheos.com at #23, which is another of the very few web sites on the Internet that discuss religion from a wide variety of perspectives.
The third hit, and the first from a conventional religious web site -- Calvary Chapel, -- was buried at #48. Unfortunately, since few surfers who use Google go beyond the first or second page of results, most of them would never find this article. It was written by Luman Wing, a pastor at Olive Branch Christian Fellowship located in Poway, CA. He noted that no gene causing homosexual orientation has been isolated and concluded that it is unlikely to be found because of:
"... the strong selective pressures against such a gene. It is unlikely that a major gene underlying such a common trait could persist over time without a major counterbalancing mechanism." 6
He is referring to the fact that persons with a homosexual orientation have fewer children on average, compared to heterosexuals. Thus, if homosexuality was genetically caused, it would diminish with each generation and eventually die out within the population over many generations. Yet, historical evidence shows that humans with a homosexual or bisexual orientation have probably existed forever as relatively small minorities.
Such a counterbalancing mechanism actually has been found. Studies have shown that female relatives of homosexuals tend to have more children than female relatives of heterosexuals. Thus the genetic or epigenetic cause of homosexuality has a dual effect; it increases the fertility of female relatives. Rev. Wing did not report this finding. He may not have been aware of it.
Related material from neutral or LGBT-positive sources:
On this web site, we have a series of essays that discuss what individual Christian denominations, Jewish traditions, and other religions believe about homosexuality: