A pastor stands at the pulpit, holding an electric cord as a prop, and warns the congregation, “Don’t mess with God’s original design. Gay sex is not natural, the parts don’t fit.”
A man thinks he needs to “protect” his family from his Christian gay brother. He tells to his brother, “Homosexuality is a perversion, and until you change, I cannot allow you in my home with my children.”
Parents send their lesbian daughter to a program they heard about at church. The visiting speaker says he is no longer gay. The newly-encouraged parents plea-fully say, “We want what is best for our daughter and we know she can change her preferences.”
About their fellow Americans, some may say: “I don’t mind gay people having civil unions. I just do not want to redefine marriage. Marriage is not a civil right, and they want special rights.”
Thinking they are pleasing and even defending God, moderate Christians assert: “I might be fine with gay people getting together, but it’s God and the Bible that are clearly against homosexuality. We love gay people and need to tell them the truth.”
For the most part, people that make these comments believe themselves to be considerate and sincere, and would not intentionally participate in “hate talk”. Yet, each comments is unkind, flawed, ill-informed, or ignorant.
Well-meaning, reasonable people repeat phrases like these again and again not understanding the offense and discrimination their words support and encourage. Many of the statements are rooted in ignorance or based on gay stereotypes. As an advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, in particular the Christian LGBT community, these may be some productive insights for those who no longer desire to participate in the unjust treatment of LGBT people.
The “gay lifestyle”
When communicating, it would be a major improvement to not use the term “the gay lifestyle.” What is a “gay lifestyle”? The manner in which LGBT people live their lives is as varied as the manner in which heterosexual people live theirs.
The gay and transgender people I know have “lives”, not “lifestyles”. If you feel compelled to condemn the way others express their sexuality, it might be more honest to stop using silly clichés. What many people really want to say is “I don’t like the concept and thinking about same-sex sex.” Simple, then don’t participate in it. And, if it bothers you to simply think about people having same-sex sex, easy, don’t think about it.
My “heterosexual lifestyle” is not the same as other heterosexual women. I have a life, not a lifestyle, and I conduct my own according to my faith, values and ethics. Likewise, it is also true with gay and transgender people. Grouping about 5% of the population together under one “lifestyle” umbrella is foolish.
Just as it wouldn’t be appropriate to reduce me to a sex act, the same also true for my gay and trans friends. We are each humans with beautiful diversity, that includes the way we express ourselves sexually, romantically, and emotionally.
“Gay sex is not natural, the parts don’t fit.”
The follow-up statement to the “gay lifestyle” comment is often: “Gay sex is not natural; the parts don’t fit.” If the parts “didn’t fit”, then gay people wouldn’t be having “gay sex.” So clearly, the parts do fit.
If you are bothered by imagining or thinking about “gay sex,” skip the next eight paragraphs. However, if you bypass them, you may miss a primer on human sexuality that might be applied to your own “heterosexual lifestyle” for added enjoyment.
In males, not just gay males, the prostate gland is adjacent to the anus. and upon stimulation, can cause an orgasm. So, evidently penile anal penetration can cause an orgasm for both participants in “gay sex.” And, for the record, there are plenty of heterosexual women stimulating their heterosexual partner’s prostate gland too.
Most people who are “offended by gay sex” have no problem thinking about, or rather fantasizing about, women having sex with women. (Just being honest here, folks.)
And how “successful” is the Part A into Slot B for women in heterosexual relationships? Interestingly, facts reveal that 75-80% of women are not having orgasms by inserting Part A into Slot B. However, with other types of clitoral stimulation, used by with women who participate in sex with women partners, the numbers flip. Almost 70% of women reach orgasm with external stimulation.
Evidently and statistically speaking, Part A into Slot B is not the only way that can brings enjoyment to the parties of a sexual union.
God, the Designer of Human Sexuality, sure did leave provision for satisfactory lesbian sex and gay male sex. How clever of Him to create the human body so that women have a fun center on the outside, and men have one on the inside!
The male plug and female adaptor electric cord analogy just has to go. It describes one type of sexual interaction; human sexuality is far more complex and beautiful than electricity.
Gay sex not only fits, it works.
“Homosexuality is a perversion”
A perversion is something that is unnatural or abnormal. Sex between two people of the same sex may trip your “ick factor” switch, but it is not unnatural (see above). Although it may not be the norm, it’s not abnormal.
Forty years ago, it was medically determined that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Unfortunately, during the indoctrination of the 1950s to the 1970s, people came to fear the “perverted homosexual.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) declassified “homosexuality” as a mental disorder in the 1973 Diagnostics and Statistical Manual (DSM) used in the mental health professionals’ field.
Still-popular urban, mostly Christian fundamentalist, myth is a story of “radical homosexual activists” storming and pressuring the APA to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. On the face of it, that is a mostly correct statement.
Out of frustration and the need to be heard and understood, gay activists did break into APA conference sessions during 1970-1972 and demanded to tell their stories. Finally, in 1973, before a packed room of his peers, a masked colleague answered questions, and told his story.
It took almost three years of pressure to finally be heard. The eventual declassification was the result of personal relationship and dialogue.
The head of the Nomenclature Committee, Robert Spitzer, witnessed the “normal behavior” of his colleagues in a gay bar one night after the convention. In a moment of beautiful humanity, Spitzer’s ugly biases were shattered, and he went directly back to his hotel room to rewrite the classification. In the next few months of 1973, homosexuality was deleted from the DSM.
Homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Using the words “perversion”, “sickness” and “abnormality” is not only medically incorrect, it is very hurtful to those intentionally targeted. LGBT people are expressing sexuality which is normal and natural to them. For them, to express sexuality in an opposite sex relationship, would be unnatural and abnormal.
Are gay people able to be sexual with members of the opposite sex? Of course, some can potentially be so. In the wise words of one of my friends, Michael, former leader of a you-too-can-be-heterosexual program and ex-husband of a woman, and father of two children: “With a whole bunch of fantasizing, you can do anything.”
Which leads into the next ill-informed statement.
“People can change their orientation”
No, they can’t.
Sexual expression, whether it be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, is an orientation, not a behavior, not a preference, not an addiction or a lust. Sexual orientation defines the consistent emotional, romantic and sexual attraction a person has for the opposite sex, same sex or both sexes. Sexual orientation has three components: sexual attraction, sexual identity, and sexual behavior.
A simple way of looking at the complexities of human sexuality is the Kinsey Scale. It classifies people as exclusively opposite-sex attracted to strongly same-sex attracted on a scale ranging “0” to “6.”
Can a “6” become a “0”? No. Certainly, Christian circles have been lead to believe this is possible, probable, and even beneficial for almost forty years.
Exodus International was the largest Christian ministry in the world dealing with those with “unwanted same sex attractions.” For almost all of its 37 years, Exodus had been assuring “motivated” Christian people who “struggle with homosexuality” that prayer, finding the root of the dysfunction, and denial of natural sexual expression would create both a new creature and new sexual identity in Jesus Christ.
Exodus International admitted publicly in 2012 that sexual orientation does not change. President Alan Chambers, who also admitted he is still same sex attracted 20 years into the Exodus program, stated:
The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction. I think there is a gender issue there, there are some women who have challenged me and said that my orientation or my attractions have changed completely. Those have been few and far between. The vast majority of people that I know will experience some level of same-sex attraction.
Families have been destroyed and gay people have walked away from faith communities in frustration and often, in shame.
Gay Christians and their allies have certainly heard this monumental news of the closing of the primary Christian reparative therapy mill, but the conservative church, in general, may sadly not hear it for quite some time. Another ministry group has stepped in to fill their void and amped up the rhetoric even higher.
Unfortunately many in the conservative Christian church will continue to believe and advocate for the “you can change” message because it supports a prevailing dogma about gay people. The messages of: “try harder,” “pray more,” and the worst one, marry a member of the opposite sex to “fix” their “sexual brokenness,” will echo in a black hole of ignorance on this issue.
Sadly, gay people will continue to walk away from God because churches burden them with unachievable expectations and demands.
The biological ability to produce children does not mean a person is straight. Living within a heterosexual relationship doesn’t mean one is straight. People who define themselves as “ex-gay” have their own purposes as to why they not longer identify as gay. These may include, but not limited to: the desire to have a family, the weight of familial, religious, social, and professional pressures, personal fear of consequences, their own non-acceptance of their orientation, or the threatened loss of God’s love and acceptance.
I know, I know — some of you are thinking of Former Gay Slut Alcohol Zombie Drug-Using Joe who is now a “new creature in Christ” and may even be married. Lumping cessation of personally destructive behaviors in with apparent sexual orientation modification blurs the lines of what has actually changed.
The whoring, drugs, and alcohol may be gone. This scenario creates a temptation to also announce a shift in sexual orientation. We each choose what to do with our sexual desires, but we cannot change sexual orientation.
In Christian-lingo, these paraded-about “ex-gays” got saved and God made him/her into a “new creature in Christ.” Unfortunately, this “new creature” is probably still gay, and in the “honeymoon” phase. A behavior change can be mistaken by onlookers as orientation change.
You will only hear praise and gratitude from this former miserable heterosexual screw-up for the great possibility of personal transformation in following Jesus. That Jesus-make-over, however, does not include sexual orientation.
For every rising star and “ex-gay” poster child you cite that is “no longer gay,” I offer hundreds of stories of my friends, most of them Christians, who tried to conform, hide, deny, or live as a heterosexual until they ultimately chose truth and authenticity. Families, relationships, and people have been destroyed and forced into shame because they bought into the “change is possible” lie.
Conveniently ignoring the existence of bisexuals who are in the 2 to 5 range on the Kinsey Scale inflates the “success” stories of conversion as well. This is a regularly used ploy.
Former leaders of Exodus and other “help-fix-me-I-am-gay” programs admit they never saw one change in the orientation of clients in decades of work. Although well-intended, ex-gay programs have been ineffective, and in fact, they have been destructive. Still, pastors, families, and shamed gay Christians believe the long-held lies.
“I don’t mind gay people having civil unions, but marriage is not a civil right.”
Married couples enjoy over 1000 civil, medical, and tax benefits which are not offered to non-married couples. Saying: “I have no objection to civil unions, just don’t touch marriage” may work nicely for those who enjoy the benefits of marriage for their families, but don’t ever think civil unions are fair or equal for same-sex couples.
Marriage might well be a “sacrament” in your economy, but it in America, it is a legal contract providing protections for individuals, couples, and families.
Further, there is a strong misconception among heterosexuals that marriage itself is not a civil right. Well, it is.
Marriage has already been designated as “one of the basic civil rights of man” by the Supreme Court of the US. In the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia case that invalidated the miscegenation laws prohibiting black/white marriage, marriage was deemed to be a basic right for all people. The decision states, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”
Marriage as a fundamental right under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment was again reaffirmed in the 1978 Zablocki vs. Redhail decision. That decision states “the right to marry as of fundamental importance for all.”
Civil rights should not be subjected to a popular vote; rights are evaluated and extended by close examination under the Constitution. The Constitution interprets for American citizens what is fair and just. Clearly, marriage is a basic right within our Constitution. Inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the right to marry is now legal in 35 states (updated 12/14).
“The Bible is against homosexuality.”
It is quite common for people to use God and their sureness of their own interpretation and ownership of “His views” to justify ones own moral, cultural, and religious biases. Millions of words have been written on this issue. I’ve written many of those words on my blog and book.
All of us, all of us, approach verses in the Bible with filters created by our: experiences, the teachings we have heard and read, interpretations, interactions, cultural influences, and doctrinal and denominational stances. I even wrote a book dealing with this.
Most commonly, eventually, relationships matter. When I went to a Gay Christian Network Conference in 2007 and stood amongst over 300 LGBT Christians, I was convicted of my own wrong judgments. Hearing professions of faith, testimonies of changed lives, and seeing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in gay and transgender Christians should challenge old paradigms. It challenged me.
Concerning the verses you’re confident that you know you know, the challenge is quite simple. Look at all (5 to 7, depending on your count) of the references to same-sex behavior in the Bible. In every instance, same-sex behavior is paired with rape, prostitution, abuse, lust, or worship of another god. None of those behaviors are pleasing to God.
- Gay people have lives, not “gay lifestyles.”
- God is a clever designer. The parts do fit and work quite well for same-sex loving couples.
- Homosexuality is a natural expression of human sexuality.
- People do not change sexual orientation.
- Marriage is a civil right in the US.
- The Bible is being wrongly used to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
We are guilty of oppressing a class of people because of our own ignorance and isolation. Be better than that. Get into relationships with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Get informed.
And stop saying stupid stuff.