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« Sunday School for Atheists | Main | We Aren't at War »

November 27, 2007


I don't think the distinction is legitimate. Words are defined by their use, and these words are used interchangeably by just about everybody. They mean the same thing. It would be nice if we had different words for the people you describe, but I don't think we do.

I think it's a fair distinction. But I see Sam's point too. It does seem to be used by some interchangeably - but perhaps that's bc they are "gay"? But I don't really understand the gay culture, so..?

But I know that the word "gay" is taking on yet another connotation. My teenage son and his mates often use the word to refer to something that is un-cool. e.g. "That's gay!"

I believe there are actually three terms that we should use.

Same-sex attraction should be used to describe someone who has attractions to the same sex. These are what I would describe as feelings (not a choice).

Homosexuality should be used to describe someone who has acted out on their attraction with a person of the same sex. This is what I would describe as behavior (a choice).

Gay should be used to describe someone who has taken on the identity of the gay community (a choice).

I don't think those words will ever carry such distinct meanings, unless you spell it out like you just did. Linguistic difficulties aside, it's an important distinction to make. Those who view their homosexuality as a psychological disorder and wish to change should not be ignored. I'm glad that organizations like NARTH have stepped up to fill the void left by the APA and others who no longer offer therapy because they see homosexuality as a life style and not a disorder.

I think that distinguishing between gay and homosexual is making the wrong distinction.

The distinction that should be made is between people who have sexual feelings that are outside of what God has said is proper (marriage) & act on them and people who have those feelings (whether homosexual or straight) but acknowledge that acting on them is sin and so eschew them.

In this paradigm, homosexuals are just another kind of sinner (similar to adulterers) and the church can deal with them as sinners in need of redemption and not as some kind of pariah.

So, I think that we should refocus the discussion alongs the lines of sin and redemption and away from the concepts of inherent sexual orientation and lifestyle.

I appreciate an attempt at distinction, particularly the distinction between those who struggle (so to speak) and those who give in to feelings of same sex attraction.

I think the distinction is huge for the church as to how we deal with a person who either seeks help in overcoming feelings that cannot be satisfied in a biblical fashion versus a person who intends to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

In a very real sense, the same is true for a heterosexual unmarried person wrestling with feelings that cannot be met appropriately.

Yet, I'm not sure the "gay" vs. "homosexual" distinction works, since the terms are so synonymously used.

Would a person say he or she was homosexual, but say, "but I'm not gay"?

Gunny, the answer to your last question is Yes. There are many people who act out homosexually, but do not identify or live the gay life.

It certainly is a helpful distinction in terms of giving people who are trying to understand these things (us Christian outsiders) labeled mental categories. However, since many homosexuals/gays themselves don't seem to make this distinction (that I know of), I would be very hesitant to make this kind of blanket pronouncement in public about what words do and don't mean, especially if you are a heterosexual with no particular connection to these people groups. I suppose you could propose such a clarification of labels, but it may or may not stick. Inconvenient though it may be not to have definitive one-word labels, that's language, particularly in postmodern culture, so perhaps better to just rely on description rather than a particular word.

That said, the distinction you make between the groups is a meaningful one. It took a long time for me to realize it, perhaps because Christians/the church have not talked about it before. I'm glad that the debates over whether homosexuality is "natural" or not have subsided a bit so that we can see that the real issues are that (1) regardless of naturalness, it is contrary to God's purposes and sinful, and (2) many people are prone to sexual desires, not just blatantly "gay" people, and on the flip side, many of those who have homosexual desires indeed want and struggle to overcome it, and Christians need to let them know that there is indeed a place for them in the church and a relationship with God.

The not heterosexual crowd prefers to have many identifiers. LGBT is an abbreviation of just a few of these identifiers.

In regards to naming or labeling, there are biological sex, mental gender identity, sexual practice, and lifestyle to consider in the usage of terms.

These issues of sexual orientation/identity/preference/attraction etc. will continue to be a matter of debate and redefinition for some time.

For example, there are even some sociologist who now prefer a more numerical approach intended to describe a continuum and reject the terms homosexual and heterosexual. Others might even like to deny that women have much if any orientation the way that men might.

It is complicated, but, when you just don't know, ask "where is the innermost being?"

The distinction is valid, but the argument over terms is merely semantic. Don't let the confusion prevent you from ministering.

I would say that the distinction could likewise be helpful for ministering to heterosexuals who struggle with amorous feelings outside of marriage. With such a high divorce rate, there's something we're obviously not addressing effectively.

My name is Michael Hichborn, and I'm the media director for American Life League. I am currently contacting pro-life and Catholic bloggers all across the internet in a concerted effort to more effectively spread the word through what is being termed “the new media.” As such, I was hoping we could send our video releases to you for posting on your blog. I have recently established a regular webcast for American Life League, and I would be most honored if you would share it with your readers as they come out (approximately, every 2 weeks. If you are interested in this, please e-mail me at [email protected] and let me know. If not, just e-mail me and ask me not to bother you anymore. 
Thanks, and God bless!

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