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About the "Homosexual Lifestyle"

by Inge Anderson

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In the population in general, and among conservative Christians in particular, there are frequent references to the "homosexual lifestyle," with conservative Christians condemning it as being immoral.

On the other hand, I haven't heard people refer to the "heterosexual lifestyle." Is it supposed to be "righteous" by contrast? 

I can guess what people mean by "homosexual lifestyle." I'm assuming it is a euphemism for same-gender sexual relationships. But what a travesty to call sex a "lifestyle"! I find it all the more distressing that sincere Christians who have given up same-gender sex refer to having left "the homosexual lifestyle." They, of all people, ought to know that sex is not the same as a "lifestyle."

Admittedly, I know more homosexual persons who are faithful spouses to their heterosexual partners or who are living celibate lives than homosexual persons who engage in same-gender sex. But in either case, I know that homosexual persons, or "gay people," if you will, have all sorts of "lifestyles." Some are wealthy, some are poor, and many are somewhere in-between. And their lifestyle reflects it. They may live in expensive homes with swimming pools, or they may live in modest bachelor apartments. They may drive luxury vehicles or depend on public transportation. They work as doctors, teachers, pastors, musicians, computer consultants, nurses, administrators, waiters, hair stylists, business persons, or as any number of professions or blue-collar workers. To the rest of the world, they are indistinguishable from the average heterosexual or "straight" person.

So why do we talk about a "homosexual lifestyle"?

As nearly as I can figure out, the term reveals a vast ignorance of what it means to be "homosexual." Those who do not have genuine homosexual friends simply assume that to be "homosexual," one must choose to engage in same-gender sex. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Although there is likely an infinitesimally small percentage of persons who made a choice some time in their lives that they preferred gay sex over straight sex, the vast majority of homosexuals did not choose their sexual orientation any more than heterosexuals chose their sexual orientation. They were simply alarmed to find that when their peers became more interested in the opposite sex, they didn't. More alarming still, they found themselves heart-stoppingly interested in one of their own gender! And for many Christian homosexuals that was the beginning of a fearful and agonizing wrestling with God to please change their unchosen desires! 

When God didn't -- and I know of no one who was thus miraculously changed -- different people took different paths. Some concluded that, since God did not answer their heart-wrenching prayers, their understanding of Scripture must be wrong, and it must be OK to be gay and to engage in same-gender sex. Others made more difficult choices. They kept on wrestling with the issue till finally they were able to accept themselves as children of God while, at the same time, being true to their understanding of Scripture that God designed sex exclusively for the sacramental union of marriage -- heterosexual marriage.

And, again, there were choices to be made by those who did not feel free to engage in same-gender sex: Should they remain celibate the rest of their lives, or should they attempt to marry and be faithful spouses and fathers or mothers to their children.

I almost hesitate to publish this, because it gives so little evidence of the struggles, the soul-searching and, yes, the therapy involved in arriving at a state of equilibrium which involves self-acceptance and faithfulness to God's directives as these dear people see them in Scriptures.

Our GLOWfriends list was formed particularly for those who recognize that they are attracted primarily to their own gender -- whether or not they choose to call themselves "gay"-- and who understand the Scriptures to forbid same-gender sexual relationships. We have had hundreds pass through our lists and have seen the struggle for self-acceptance. And it pains me to see this particular group attacked from both sides. Conservative Christians are unwilling to accept any who recognize themselves as "gay." "Become heterosexual first!" seems to be the (usually unspoken) understanding. Somehow, conservative Christians seem to equate heterosexuality with righteousness. But is it really so?

Is the husband who has an affair with another man's wife more holy than the celibate gay man? 
Is he even more holy than the gay man who has an affair with another man?
Is the promiscuous heterosexual man more holy than the promiscuous homosexual man?
And are heterosexual fantasies more righteous than homosexual fantasies?

Unfortunately I know too well that many Christians would look at the above choices and be very sure that the heterosexual sinner is somehow more righteous than a "homosexual," no matter how the latter behaves. I suspect that the same Christians would have a very hard time accepting the Lord Jesus Himself were He to walk among us again. After all, He was known as a Friend of sinners. 

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Last modified 10 May 2010 11:07 AM