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Definition of Terms Associated With Sexuality

General Questions |Questions Gay Christians Ask  | Terms & Definitions
Questions Straight Christians Ask |Q&A on Judging | Words Can Never Hurt Me?

Also see the essay "Words Can Never Hurt Me"

This page continues to be under construction. Please feel free to make suggestions.

asexual
adjective describing lack of sexual attraction to either gender. This may be the result of biological or sociological factors.
bisexual
adjective describing emotional and erotic attraction to both males and females. (See "Bi-sexual - Somewhere in the Middle") Someone truly bisexual never knows from what direction his attraction will come -- whether from the curvy girl in front of him in the check-out line or from the muscular man who is bagging his groceries. True bisexuality appears to be far more rare than a homosexual orientation.
celibacy (n.)
abstinence from sexual intercourse.
celibate (adj.)
adjective referring to someone who abstains from sexual intercourse, especially for religious reasons. (A person may be celibate while enjoying warm personal relationships, including loving touching, hugging, etc., without sexual overtones.)
chaste (adj.)
term properly used to refer to confining the practice of sex to a heterosexual marriage relationship. Thus, both single and married people may be said to live lives of chastity (noun). The term also implies purity of thought, which would exclude off-color jokes and sexual fantasies, and that is the biblical ideal. (Unfortunately, in the day community, the term 'chastity' has taken on a wholly different meaning, referring to a pattern of sexual practices.)
cross dressing
refers to practice of dressing in clothing typically associated with the opposite gender -- generally men dressing in women's clothing, since in our culture women often dress in clothing practically indistinguishable from men's wear.
This is sometimes practiced by heterosexual men for sexual stimulation. Such behavior may be rooted in early life experiences. It is also practiced by transsexuals because they feel more comfortable in such clothing. (To them the clothing of their own apparent gender feels "wrong.")
gay
term used instead of homosexual by most homosexually oriented persons as an adjective describing emotional and erotic attraction to persons of one's own gender, as in "I've come to the conclusion that I'm gay."
This term seems to mean different things to different people. We have noted that lately this term has been used by ex-gay ministries to refer to politically active homosexual individuals, and that puts a wholly different connotation on the term. 
gay lifestyle
term may be used to refer to a lifestyle that includes the frequenting of gay bars and clubs and promiscuous sex. Gay people who are in a monogamous relationship object to this term being applied to them.
heterosexual
1. adjective describing a person emotionally and erotically attracted to persons of the opposite gender. According to the biblical account, this was God's original design for humanity
2. noun describing persons emotionally and erotically attracted to the opposite  gender, whether or not they engage in sexual acts.
homophobia (noun)
1. term that describes the fear of homosexuality. Perhaps a better term than "fear" is the feeling of revulsion that heterosexually oriented Adventists are likely to feel towards the subject of homosexuality, with that revulsion being extended towards brothers or sisters in the faith who may have a homosexual orientation. (The Bible makes a clear distinction between sin and sinners; so should we. Also see "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.")
2. This term is sometimes incorrectly used to label any moral judgment of same-gender sexual practices.
homophopic (adjective)
1. an adjective that describes someone who is so revolted by the thought of homosexuality that s/he cannot relate to homosexually oriented persons as brothers and sisters in Christ. (This type of thing has driven many homosexually oriented Adventists out of the church in despair.)
2. incorrectly applied to Adventists or other Christians who understand that the God invented sex for the particular enjoyment of persons bound together for life in the holy covenant of marriage. 
homosexual
1. adjective describing emotional and erotic attraction to persons of one's own sex, as in "homosexual orientation."
2. noun describing persons emotionally and erotically attracted to their own sex, whether or not they engage in sexual acts.
3. (principally conservative Christian definition) adjective describing a person who engages in same-gender sex; adjective describing anything related to same-gender sex
4. (principally conservative Christian) noun describing a person who engages in same-gender sex
Editor's comment: The fact that most of the world uses Definitions 1 & 2 while conservative Christians use definitions 3 & 4 causes much mis-communication.
homosexual lifestyle
euphemism often used by Adventists and other conservative Christians to refer to same-gender sexual activity. There is no actual "lifestyle" that is common to all homosexually oriented persons. It would be better to refer to "homosexual sex" if that is what is meant.
homosexuality (n.)
1. condition of being emotionally and erotically attracted to persons of one's own sex, whether or not this attraction is acted out sexually.
The causes of homosexuality are not known, but appear to have different roots in different people. There is a body of evidence indicating that it may result from a complex interaction of biological and sociological factors whose influence is felt so early in life that most persons affected feel that they have been born that way.
2. sexual activity between persons of the same sex. This usage is no longer used by society at large but is common among conservative Christians, including Adventists, who make no distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior.
intersexuality (n.) intersexual (adj)
condition in which biological sex not immediately identifiable as male or female. Individuals affected  may have combination of genitalia (penis and ovaries), lack "corresponding" organs (penis but no testes, ovaries but no vagina), or have genitals cosmetically out of the norm (enlarged clitoris). This term encompasses what used to be called a hermaphroditic condition as well as other conditions which prevent clear expression of sexuality as either male or female. While in the past, surgery was performed in order to make an infantís body conform to an assigned sex -- male or female -- opinion regarding the advantages of such surgery is now sharply divided.
lesbian
adjective or noun used to refer to a woman with a homosexual orientation, as in "Marie feels has concluded that she has a lesbian orientation."
same-sex-attracted (SSA)
adjective often preferred by Christians instead of "gay." It means being attracted to the same sex, whether or not this is acted out.
same-sex attraction (SSA)
noun used by conservative Christians instead of "gay" to refer to attraction to the same sex. Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse made a "three-tier distinction between same-sex attraction, a homosexual orientation, and a gay identity." (Reference) The terminology is currently (2010) becoming more popular.
same-gender-attracted (SGA)
term used by some instead of "same-sex-attracted." The term was popularized by the Bridges-Across-the-Divide website. Currently (2010), SSA is more popular than SGA.
sexual orientation
describes the gender to which a person is oriented, such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Most persons are not aware of ever having chosen their sexual orientation.
transgender
adjective sometimes applied to practices or individuals who transgress accepted sexual norms, as in "transgender community," which comprises, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual persons.
transsexual
1. adjective describing persons who feel that their inner selves are the opposite of their physical sex and therefore behave and dress like a member of that sex. This may or may not be related to biological factors.
2. adjective describing persons who have had a sex change
transvestite
a person who habitually cross dresses. The Bible includes specific prohibitions against this practice which, in countries bordering Israel and Juday, was often associated with temple prostitutes.
virgin
a man or woman who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. Biblically, it is always a positive term, such as "pure, unsullied, untouched." However, in modern society, it unfortunately often has negative connotations because our society idolizes sex, in spite of the obvious fact that sex does not bring happiness.

Also see "Words Can Never Hurt Me"