In my first post I told of my gay experience, and now I want to share what I discovered in my research about homosexuality. There are numerous opinions about the cause of homosexuality, as well as whether there is any real, permanent “cure.” I have found this subject to be extremely political. Be warned that you cannot always believe what you read, even by experts on human behavior. It is crucial that you investigate the author of any research you study. Who is the source of the information, and what is the background, sexual orientation, and political agenda of the reporter?
Politics of the gay lobby
The gay lobby in this country is alive and well. It teaches that homosexual sex is not a sin. They aggressively pursue their agenda to advance gay issues. Members of this group can find research — sometimes conducted by active gays — that yields the results they like. Consider this example. The Kinsey study into human sexuality in the 1950’s, as well as other studies, show gays comprise about 10% of the population. This is important to the gay lobby for political reasons because it makes homosexuals a significant minority group. You may have noticed gay activists still sometimes claim homosexuals comprise around 10% of all Americans.
Politics of the Christian Right
Another lobby, the Christian Right, is also alive and well. They believe homosexual sex is a sin. They actively pursue their agenda to advance their causes, one of which involves gay issues. This group also can find research that yields results they like. Back to our example. The Christian Right can find studies that show gays only comprise 1-2% of the population. Politically, this is very important to them. They love to emphasize how tiny and insignificant a group gays really are. This example of the proportion of gays in America illustrates how the topic of homosexuality is influenced by groups with a political agenda. I share this as a caution. Consider the source of information you encounter. I invite you to adopt my attitude on the real proportion of gays in our population: I don’t care. It makes no difference whatsoever if gays comprise 1% or 10% of all Americans. I only want to know the truth. I suspect the real figure is around 3% to 5%, but because of problems with the way this data has been gathered, I may be wrong. At this point, I don’t believe we can say for certain.
My Current View
I would like to share with you my current view of homosexuality. This is based upon my life experience, education (B. S. in Psychology), hundreds of conversations with gays, and 19 years of gay sexual activity. It is also based upon my exposure to active gays who are Christian, Exodus (Christian men seeking healing from homosexual feelings), and my most recent study on the subject.
Please keep in mind that at different times in my life I have been in a monogamous gay relationship, sexually promiscuous and finally celibate. I have tried everything to make my life work. During these phases of my life I was exposed to the ideas of homosexuals from many groups with widely varying perceptions and experience. The gay lobby prefers to believe a homosexual orientation is inborn and fixed, that we are “born gay.” They love to say “God made us gay.” Others believe homosexuality is inborn, resulting from the sin condition like multiple sclerosis. People don’t have this disease because God made them that way. Rather, it exists because of the presence of sin on Earth. This second theory was my view until recently. In June, 1998 I attended an Exodus seminar and was exposed to well-presented theories focusing on environmental causes of homosexuality.
Innate or Environmental?
My thoughts on the cause of a homosexual orientation are evolving. While they are still in flux, I have come to some conclusions. I expect my thoughts to continue to change, because I have no political agenda and try to keep an open mind. I believe homosexuality is caused by a complex interaction of inborn and environmental factors which vary from individual to individual.
For some, inborn factors may be more significant than environmental ones. For others, environmental factors may be more significant. Politically, this is a crucial issue. The gay lobby strongly endorses innate factors as the cause of a homosexual orientation. Polls have shown most Americans feel more favorable toward gays when they perceive they are “born gay.” Further, the gay lobby prefers inborn causes of homosexuality because they argue no one should attempt to change an innate trait. Many gay activists argue an inborn trait is immutable and it would therefore be wrong to try to change it! You will find over and over the gay lobby and sexually active gays will generally support this view.
The Christian Right, ex-gay change ministries such as Exodus, and others with a similar political philosophy, tend to emphasize environmental factors as the cause of a homosexual orientation. One popular view is that boys who have distant, absent, controlling fathers will fail to bond and identify with men and will thereby develop a gay orientation. Because of the unfulfilled need to bond with a member of the same sex, they reject their fathers. A great need is left unsatisfied. When adolescence arrives, they reach out to members of their own sex to satisfy their craving for love and affection from a man. Their feelings become abnormally directed toward boys.
The political significance of this model and others like it is that gays can be changed. If you can identify the root environmental/relational causes, you can work through them like any other condition treatable with therapy. So, groups accepting this view believe it is not only possible but morally correct to attempt to change a gay orientation. Over and over you will find the Christian Right and ex-gay change ministries supporting environmental theories as the cause of a homosexual preference.
While I do not believe that only relational issues between father and son causes homosexuality in all men, I do believe this model fits many, if not most, gay men. I also believe inborn characteristics play a role, interacting with environmental factors in complex, varying ways from one individual to the next.
What is the significance of this background information? Men who are gay more because of innate conditions may not be able to change their orientation. For them, gay sexual relations or celibacy may be their only two options in life. On the other hand, men who are gay more because of environmental conditions may be able to experience real change through intensive, long-term therapy combined with divine power. Their gay feelings may gradually diminish while real heterosexual feelings increase. For this group, heterosexual relations may become satisfying. Like heterosexuals, they also have the option of celibacy.
To Change or Not to Change
A few very points need to be emphasized.
It would be misguided and harmful to try to convince someone to try to change his gay orientation if he was incapable of change. I have spoken with or heard from hundreds of men, Christian and otherwise, who have sincerely tried to change their gay orientation without satisfying, long-term results.
On the other hand it would be misguided and harmful to attempt to persuade someone from attempting to change his orientation if he, in fact, could change. I have spoken with or heard from a number of formerly gay men who claim to now have real, long-term heterosexual feelings along with the elimination of gay feelings. I am convinced some have changed. I am personally acquainted with many men with SSA (same-sex attraction) who are now married or celibate and have achieved varying degrees of success in their attempt to change.
I recommend not giving advice to gay men about seeking change. In my opinion only the individual with homosexual feelings can make this decision. The best thing you can do for sexually active gay relatives and friends is to pray for them. As for gay men, the only way to know what action we should take is to pray the Lord guide us through His Holy Spirit to make the right decision.
Homosexuality a Sin?
While homosexual sex is a sin, I have not found any reference in the Bible indicating that a homosexual orientation is a sin. I advise all to study this. It is extremely important to be able to differentiate between homosexual sex and a homosexual orientation. Gay-oriented Christians who are married to women or celibate are not living in a state of sin.
We are not someone to shun. We did not choose our orientation.
It is sad that even now we rarely come forward identifying ourselves as having SSA, even though we are among you in church. In my case, only my pastor knows that I am attracted to men. One way to understand homosexuality would be to invite a celibate gay Christian or married person with SSA into your church. Nothing beats a face-to-face encounter. You may think you know all about us and understand us, but you don’t. We hardly know and understand ourselves! On the other hand, no one can explain our gay life experience better than we can. I guess the real question is, Does your congregation care enough about gays to want to know us better?
Love Gays Into the Church!
If you have a gay or lesbian relative or friend, keep in mind that they are dealing with a special condition. It is sin only when acted out. If someone is ensnared with homosexual behavior, remember how difficult it is to turn away. Prayer is crucial.
God knows about those of us who long for healing. He knows all about our blood struggle to turn away from homosexual behavior. He does not require that we be anything other than what we are when we turn to Him. God does not condemn; He forgives. He opens His arms wide in loving acceptance to anyone who will come to Him. Every one of us should do no less.
The love and grace of God and His power to heal is the only hope any sinner has. Try to always remember this. I know it is quite possible to love sexually active gays right into the church. God did it for me. Could you do it for someone else? For almost any other type of sin Seventh-day Adventists seem to understand that God does not require they be freed from that problem before He welcomes them into fellowship and worship. For those who think this is somehow different for gays I entreat you to lay down your stones. Do not point out the sin of others; confess your own sins. Be like Jesus and draw even sexually active gays into your fellowship with loving acceptance. Therein lies true Christian power and influence. My dream is that Seventh-day Adventists, and all Christians, will accept gays into the church just as they are. Love them in. This is a good place to run John 3: 16 through your mind. Leave the convicting about homosexual sin to the Holy Spirit. Maybe then our church could really be a hospital for sinners. And maybe then we could grow our church by making new forever friends, even gay friends, for Jesus.
Original essay first published on the GLOW site in 1998. Slightly revised 2010. Permission to copy granted, providing a link back to this post is included. It would also be courteous to notify the author.
Statistics are always a bit depressing – when you think that the only reason mass amounts of money would be spent gathering data about a topic is to further someone’s pre-made agenda, or to promote a company/ product.
I love the anonymous survey which was conducted on an image board online which is famous and known for the feature that everyone on the website is anonymous to begin with, so people are honest and sometimes brutal – because there are no consequences – so in two ways the responses were anonymous and there was no reason to lie about anything.
(Of course it’s a terrible “random sample” but I trust the numbers more than I’d trust anything coming from a lobby group.)
What is your SEX?
Female 786 (12%)
Male 5199 (80%)
Transsexual 420 (6%)
None of the above 76 (1%)
What is your SEXUAL PREFERENCE?
Straight 4759 (73%)
Gay / Lesbian 239 (4%)
Bisexual 1262 (19%)
None of the above 220 (3%)
preserved archive of the data from Dec 26th 2010, 5:09pm
Very interesting comment. Thank you.
I note that the 80% of the users in this anonymous survey are male. Thus the statistics would be more applicable to the male population than to females. It is also my understanding that there are more than twice as many gay men as there are gay women. That should also be considered in interpreting these statistics.
I’m surprised on 73% said they were straight! I would expect the actual number to be higher. 19% said they were bisexual! What a high number. I think there is something to this. I believe more men, and women, are now open to experimenting with same sex activities and many once they do it, get hooked. The more we do something, the more neurological pathways are created and new habits are formed or strengthened. So 4% said they were gay or lesbian. That sounds about right to me. Some day better research will be done and we will finally discover the new numbers. We need good research with very large population samples. It should also be country by country because across cultures there would be major differences.
I may be standing alone here, but to me the phrase ‘sexual preference’ implies that I do or did have at some point a choice of orientation aka ‘leaning’. If indeed I had a choice and could practice that in reality, with my overwhelming orientation being gay, I would choose straight which would be my ‘preference’ since I would prefer that over being gay. Its about as irrelevant as asking would I prefer being male or female? Therefore, I cannot believe or agree that my orientation has anything to do with ‘preference’. It just is, and personally I would like to see the phrase ‘sexual preference’ dropped entirely due to irrelevance.
Will, I think you make a logical point. Some people who use the term “sexual preference” do, indeed, believe that people choose to be same-sex-attracted.
But then we also say that a child shows preference for the left hand, when we know it’s inborn. So not everyone who uses the phrase necessarily believes that a homosexual orientation is chosen.
I just read the book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate (You can buy it from Amazon.com by clicking on the link.) by Justin Lee, a long-standing member of our GLOWfriends list (which isn’t doing much now), and I think you would enjoy it, even while it challenges your thinking. He tells his own story and his search of God’s will for his life. Whether or not we agree with his final conclusion, I believe the Holy Spirit has been leading Him, as He will lead all of us who are committed to Him.
After telling his story, he tackles the five “clobber texts” that directly mention homosexual sex in the Bible and concludes that they are not nearly as clear as most conservative religious folks think they are. (I agree, and I have never used those texts in reference to gay sex in the twenty years of this ministry.) He also concludes that the Bible is not a set of rules, as he previously thought, but that the central message is one of unselfish love. And that is a conclusion many conservative Christians do not yet realize.
I think Justin still misses a few things: Bible writers throughout the OT and the NT demonstrate that God blessed heterosexual marriage, and there’s no such blessing on gay marriage. And it is also clear that God designed sex for enjoyment of a man and a woman bound together for life in the marriage covenant.
People may legitimately argue that today’s society has ignored God’s design even for heterosexual sex and marriage – even in conservative Christian circles. The divorce and remarriage practiced in conservative Christian churches is undoubtedly not part of God’s plan. But then God has dealt with His people over time and accepted second and third best. And it is on that basis that a biblical argument for gay marriage must rest. I am not comfortable recommending that because it involves a lot of my personal interpretation. However, I believe that anyone who is unreservedly committed to doing God’s will, wherever that may lead, will be led in safe paths. (See John 7:17)