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Divergent beliefs about the nature of homosexuality

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bullet "There could be hundreds of millions of straight men walking around with this gay allele [variety of a gene] but who are straight simply because it didn't penetrate."Chandler Burr, "A Separate Creation" 1
bullet "As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children." Anita Bryant, 1977 2
bullet "There is no scientific data that substantiates a genetic or biologic basis for same-sex attraction. Anybody can change."  Richard Cohen, at the year 2000 PFOX convention, 2000-MAY-19. 3
bullet "The epitome of evil is having spiritual leaders condone hate, in the name of God, against others such as our gay brothers and sisters." Rory Lewis (performer)

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Comparison of diverse beliefs about the nature of homosexuality

One author identified six different belief systems about homosexuality. Of these, the two most extreme belief systems are explained below -- one rejecting and the other accepting.

It is important to realize that many -- perhaps most -- North Americans hold beliefs that are intermediate between these two viewpoints. There is a strong variation of belief with age. Many youth and young adults have much more liberal views; many middle aged and elderly persons hold strongly conservative views. A major cause of this age difference is that hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth have refused to stay in "the closet." They have openly revealed their sexual orientation to fellow youth and given the latter an opportunity to learn the facts of homosexuality. Many older adults have never had this opportunity.

Sadly, there appears to be no way to resolve these differences. The two "solitudes" differ on their definition of truth; they differ in the meaning that they assign to important terms; they are both quite rigid in their beliefs. There is probably no study that could be created that would convince both solitudes to settle on a common belief on most of these factors, even if they agreed to cooperate.

Item The most conservative view,
typically promoted by conservative religious groups, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, etc.
The most liberal view,
Typically followed by religious progressives, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, mental health professionals and human sexuality researchers.
What it is Something that one does; a chosen lifestyle. Something that one is; an unchosen orientation that one discovers.
What causes it? Multiple causes including: poor parenting, sexual molestation during childhood, perhaps demon possession. Once they start experimenting, addiction traps them in the lifestyle. Genetically predetermined perhaps with some unknown environmental factor in early childhood which "turns on" the gene or genes.
At what age does it become obvious in an individual? Teenage years, after puberty, when it is chosen. Homosexual orientation can be reliably predicted in pre-school children.
Is it sinful? Yes. Some consider it more serious than many other sins. It endangers the family and thus social stability. It prevents sexually active homosexuals from attaining heaven after death. Neither heterosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality are inherently sinful. All three are free of sin if it is safe, consensual and, perhaps, within a committed relationship.
Is it natural and normal? It is an unnatural, abnormal, deviant, and disordered behavior. It is normal and natural, for a minority of humans.
What should a homosexual do with their life? Choose to remain celibate, or attempt to change their orientation to heterosexual. Choose either celibacy or monogamy with a same-sex partner. Changing sexual orientation is not possible in all, or essentially all, cases.
God's attitude towards the homosexual and towards homosexuality He loves the sinner, but hates same-gender sexual activity , which is always sinful, irrespective of the nature of the relationship. Loves the person. Various beliefs: Approves of the activity if it is based on love and commitment. Approves if it is safe and consensual.
Is it changeable? Yes, through counseling and prayer. But it requires effort because it is so addictive. No. Sexual orientation is always or almost always fixed and cannot be changed in adulthood.
Is reparative therapy effective? Yes; it is an effective method to changing homosexuals into heterosexuals with very high success rates to those who really want to change. It is a useless, ineffective, and potentially dangerous therapy that can trigger suicide.
Are anti-discrimination laws beneficial? No. It would grant them special privileges, and encourage more young people to choose homosexuality. Yes. They are a heavily discriminated-against minority in need of protection. Nobody chooses homosexuality. Rather, it is something that is discovered.
What happens to children raised by gays or lesbian parents? A large percentage will become homosexuals. Those who don't will be disturbed by the presence of homosexuality in the home. Children need their biological mother and father in the family for proper development. The vast majority of their children will be heterosexual -- apparently more accepting and less judgmental than average. Studies have shown that children raised by two men or two women develop as well as those raised by a man and woman.
Should churches recognize committed same-sex relationships? No. Gay relationships are an abomination, hated by God and intrinsically sinful. Many feel that all loving, committed adult relationships should be recognized and supported by religious groups.
Should same-sex couples given benefits now given to opposite-sex married couples? No. Same-sex marriages or civil unions threaten regular families and thus the stability of society. Yes. Official recognition of their relationship and government benefits are a fundamental civil right and contributes to the stability of society.
Should sexually active gays be eligible for ordination as clergy? No. It would be a major lowering of standards. It would condone seriously sinful behavior. Yes. One's orientation has no bearing on the ability to be a priest, minister, rabbi, or pastor.

Some additional beliefs by religious conservatives are:

bullet Some conservative Christians believe that a homosexual's feelings of attraction to members of the same sex will dissipate once they repent of their lifetime of sin, trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, and are thereby saved. They base this on a Biblical passage: 1 Corinthians 6:11. One interpretation of that verse is that some of the recipients of his letter to the church at Corinth were homosexuals before they became Christians, but were converted to heterosexuality after becoming saved.

bullet Some religious conservatives believe that homosexual behavior is an addiction similar to drugs and alcohol. 

bullet They feel that all efforts to treat homosexuality as a normal and natural practice must be resisted. Otherwise, more youth will experiment with it and get trapped in the lifestyle. 

bullet Some religious conservatives believe that the institution of marriage was created by God thousands of years ago. They interpret the Bible as saying that marriages must only be between one man and one woman, and that any sexual behavior outside of marriage is forbidden. Thus, they feel that all same-sex sexual activity is a sin, irrespective of the nature of the relationship. They are aware that gays and lesbians can marry each other throughout Canada, in the District of Columbia, in a few states of the U.S., and in other countries. However, they do not recognize these as true marriages. They conclude that homosexuals who cannot become heterosexual must remain celibate. Some favor a return to the criminalization of same-sex sexual activity.
bullet Bisexuality -- feelings of attraction to both men and women, although not necessarily to the same degree -- is often ignored and sometimes regarded as non-existent.

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More information on sexual orientation:

One's sexual orientation is defined by sexual attraction to men and/or women, by self-identification, and by one's sexual fantasies. Some people believe that there are only two sexual orientations:

bullet Heterosexual - a person who is sexually attracted only to members of the opposite gender, or
bullet Homosexual - a person who is sexually attracted only to members of the same gender.

This is not a useful model, because it ignores two minorities:

bullet asexuals - people who have feelings of sexual attraction to neither gender.
bullet Bisexuals - people who are attracted (usually to different degrees) to both genders.

Most researchers into human sexuality look upon sexual orientation as a continuum:

bullet Those with solely heterosexual feelings form one extreme. They are free to select celibacy, or to seek sexual activity with members of the opposite sex.

bullet Those with solely homosexual feelings form the other extreme. They are free to enter into relationships with members of their own sex; some can choose to remain celibate.

bullet In the middle are bisexuals. Being sexually attracted to both genders they can choose:
bullet Only heterosexual relationships
bullet Only homosexual relationships
bullet Relationships with both men and women
bullet Celibacy

Human sexuality researchers generally believe that one's orientation is fixed and unchangeable. Exceptions are those specialists in human sexuality who are also religious conservatives. Many of the latter are members of NARTH, a tiny professional organization that promotes conservative religious beliefs about homosexuality. 

A number of techniques have been used to try to suppress homosexual feelings and/or create heterosexual feelings in gays and lesbians: 1

bullet Lesbians had their breasts amputated.
bullet Lesbians had their perfectly healthy uteri removed.
bullet Male gays were given aversion therapy; e.g. clients were shown pictures of naked men and simultaneously shocked with electricity.

Other "treatments" included:

bullet brain surgery in the form of frontal lobotomies.
bullet castration.
bullet counseling and psychotherapy.
bullet drug therapy: e.g. animal-organ extracts, cocaine, estrogen, testosterone.
bullet positive therapy: e.g. men were asked to masturbate and then were shown pictures of women just before orgasm.
bullet prayer and spiritual counseling.
bullet therapy by tedium: men were shown homoerotic pictures until they became totally bored.
bullet During the Nazi regime in Germany, Himmler attempted to "cure" gays by requiring them to visit the camp brothel at Flossenburg. "Ten Ravensbruck women provided the services with little success. The women [were later]...shipped to Auschwitz" for execution.
bullet During the past apartheid regime in South Africa, gays and lesbians were considered deviants. They were sent to a special ward of a military hospital to be "rehabilitated." This involved electric shock treatments and chemical castration. Those who could not be "cured" were given sex-change operations. A number of "patients" died.

The success rate of these therapies in actually changing clients' sexual orientation appears to have been extremely low or zero. The success rate at changing clients' sexual behavior is much greater. Some of these techniques can persuade homosexuals to be celibate -- perhaps only for a short interval -- either through terror, guilt, or persuasion that God considers same-sex behavior to be an abomination. They can persuade bisexuals to choose to confine their sexual activities to members of the opposite sex. They may even be able to train gays to successfully have sex with a woman, while fantasize about making love to another man. But therapies do not seem to be capable of changing one's feelings -- one's sexual orientation -- in the vast majority of people. 4

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Related essays on this web site:


What are the beliefs of the public according to polls?

bullet What determines a person's sexual orientation?
bullet Is it unchangeable, abnormal or immoral?
bullet When do symptoms of homosexuality first appear?
bullet Is it beneficial to society; should homosexuals have equal protection?
bullet Attempting to change one's sexual orientation via reparative therapy
bullet What the Bible says about homosexuality.
bullet Lesbian/gay terminology
bullet Personal opinions of the webmaster

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  1. Chandler Burr, "A Separate Creation: The search for the biological origins of sexual orientation", DIANE Publishing, (1996), Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  2. "Quotations," at: and many other places on the Internet.
  3. "Best of the Federalist," at:
  4. Paul Kirk, "Apartheid army forced gay soldiers into sex change operations," q-online, 2000-JUL-28, at:
  5. Richard Green, "The 'Sissy Boy Syndrome' and the development of homosexuality", Yale University Press, New Haven CT (1987)
  6. Op Cit, Chandler Burr, Page 116-7.
  7. Frederick Whitam & Robin Mathy, "Male Homosexuality in Four Societies: Brazil, Guatemala, the Philippines and the United States," Praeger, New York NY (1986)
  8. Bruce Bagemihl, "Biological Exuberance: Animal homosexuality and natural diversity," St. Martins Press, (1999) Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

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Copyright © 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2013MAY-16
Author: B.A. Robinson
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