By Bruce Lowe
The Homosexual's Nature
1. Homosexual Nature Is Unchangeable
Sexual orientation is part of everyone's nature. It cannot be changed. It is not a choice.
Louise, by “nature” I mean that which is unchangeable about the way each of us has been created. By nature I am male, white-skinned, right-handed and heterosexual. One's sexual orientation, gay or straight, is part of a person’s nature, and it cannot be changed. Psychologists and psychiatrists I have read accept this statement as a fact. Down through history same-gender sex was universally considered to be acts by (heterosexual) people who had chosen to engage in sex with someone of the same gender. Advances in the human sciences the past century have shown that not all people are heterosexual; some are homosexual, a nature that is unchangeable. The homosexual person has no choice in the matter.
The concept of a homosexual nature first appeared in print in Europe in 1869 and in the United States in 1889. Because of heterosexual revulsion to same-gender sex, general acceptance of the concept has spread slowly. Freud, in the early twentieth century accepted homosexuality as natural and considered it unchangeable.[i] The American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially recognized that it was natural, not a mental illness, in 1973. The American Psychological Association followed with similar action two years later.
Helmut Thielicke, a theologian conservatives respect highly and quote often, recognized in his work, The Ethics of Sex, written over forty years ago, that at least some gay men and lesbian women have “constitutional homosexuality,” and therefore we must “accept” the fact that it is “incurable,” and “our attitude toward [it] changes” [his italics][ii]
Other evidence that homosexuality is unchangeable includes: (a) ten thousand suicides each year of homosexual youth, unable to change and unwilling to face life with that orientation; (b) the high percentage of homosexuals who go to psychotherapists desperately wanting to change their orientation, and then (c) the very small percentage of them reportedly being changed after hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars being spent in psychotherapy; (d) the millions of homosexual people who live “in the closet,” not wanting anyone to learn of their orientation.
In 1998 the APA adopted a position opposing any therapy designed to change a person’s sexual orientation. The APA President stated, “There is no scientific evidence that reparative or conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. There is, however, evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive.”[iii]
Some fundamentalist religious groups have programs they claim produce "ex-gays." No long-term studies of their claims have been made, there is evidence of much recidivism, the claims of one group cannot be duplicated by another, and scientists discount any claim of changes being made. Many are known to call themselves "ex-ex-gays." One author told of his desperate attempt to change in one of the programs, and when they told him if he just had faith and "believed" that he was changed, he would be. So he believed. He really did, he said. And for a brief time he was certain he had been changed. But before long he realized that nothing was changed. He was inescapably gay.[iv]
Some say it may be unchangeable, but it is not a nature, only a predisposition like a predisposition to alcoholism; a person is not to blame for having it, but since acting on it can be so destructive, the person is responsible for not acting on it and, if he becomes an alcoholic, for taking steps to recover. New Testament professor Jeffrey Siker considers this analogy “not only useless but dangerous.” First, he says, the damaging effects of active alcoholism are readily apparent, but the APA ceased characterizing homosexuality as a disease “because there was no clinical evidence that homosexual activity resulted in any more destructive behaviors than was the case for persons engaging in heterosexual activity.” Further, we recognize that alcoholics need to “recover,” but the homosexual finds nothing in his or her nature that can be changed or needs to be recovered from. Finally, alcoholism is a disease triggered by the act of drinking; the focus is on the act of either drinking or abstaining from drinking. Homosexuality is not an act; it is a nature.[v]
Scientists do not know what causes homosexuality, just as they do not know what causes heterosexuality, but they are convinced that whatever the cause, the orientation is unchangeable. Homosexual people are homosexual by nature; it is never a choice for them.
2. Homosexual Nature Is Normal
The nature of the gay man or lesbian woman is just as normal as the nature
of a heterosexual person and should not be thought of in sexual terms.
Louise, people will never think clearly about homosexuals until they think of them as being normal people, just as they think of left-handed people as being normal. Sadly, “homosexuality” to too many people means “sex perversion.” For example, “homosexual act,” and “practicing homosexual” and "homosexual lifestyle" are rather common expressions; all mean “sex” in the mind of the one using the expression. What a perversion in that very common thinking! A homosexual act is a gay man shaving or a lesbian fixing her breakfast or any of a thousand other acts they perform each day. “Practicing”? Probably the piano or violin, considering how artistically talented so many of them are. "Lifestyle"? Doesn't that refer to a person's interests and activity in society? A homosexual's interests and activities do not differ from those of others. Gay men and lesbian women are normal people. The fact that millions of them walk among us without our knowing their orientation would seem to be conclusive on this point.
UCLA psychologist Evelyn Hooker conducted the “… very first investigation into whether or not homosexuality was an illness that examined a population of ‘normal’ gay men—men who were not residents of mental hospitals, prisoners, or distressed patients in therapy [common subjects of study at that time], but ordinary people living ordinary, if closeted, lives. … In 1956 Hooker presented her findings to the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association: that no psychological differences existed between homosexual and heterosexual men.”[vii]
Dr. Terry Norman expresses this: “I had always assumed that orientation was about sexual behavior … only to discover eventually that orientation was not about sex at all. Rather … about my innate need to love and be loved by another man in a committed, ongoing relationship.”[viii]
While some homosexual persons are sexually lustful and promiscuous, the percentage is surely not greater than that of heterosexual people who are such. The pornographic industry, estimated at up to one hundred billion dollars a year in America, is funded by heterosexual lust. That industry annually puts two thousand teenage girls into prostitution in the city of Dallas alone[ix] and imports up to 200,000 into the U.S.[x] Every fifteen minutes in America a heterosexual man rapes a woman (cases reported); homosexual men don’t rape women or kidnap young girls. If we think of a heterosexual man or woman and do not immediately think of sex, then when we think of a homosexual man or woman, we should not immediately think of sex. They are people like us with the same needs and concerns, problems and failures and successes and sorrows and joys that we have (plus lots of problems that we do not have—see section two titled "The Homosexuals Suffering").
Siker says a good analogy for our thinking about lesbians and gays is in the way the first Jewish Christians related to the Gentiles. Jews considered Gentiles as unclean, polluted, idolatrous, and sinful—the same revulsion many church people feel for homosexual people. Before Gentiles could be accepted as Christians, many Christian Jews thought they must first repent of being Gentiles, become Jews and obey Jewish laws such as Sabbath-keeping and kosher food; then they could become Christians. Today, unfortunately, the gay and the lesbian are often asked to repent of being homosexual before being accepted. Like the Gentiles, they do not need to repent of their God-created nature; they just need to be accepted the same way everyone else is.[xi]
Perhaps the best analogy is the left-handed person, created that way, and so, different from others. Different? Well, yes, but so what? If only we thought of a gay or lesbian person the same way. Gay - ? So what?
The root of homophobia is in the common false thinking of equating homosexuality with sex. Gay and lesbian people don’t want to have to live in “closets,” driven there by society’s homophobia; they so want to be seen as normal human beings. For them not to be is a great cruelty to them; it is also a great loss to our society.
3. Homosexual Nature Is God-created
All people are created in the image of God. The homosexuality of gays and lesbians, created by God, is good and not evil.
If all are created in the image of God, as the Bible tells us (Gen. 1:27), that includes all homosexual persons. Who can fathom the ramifications of being created in the image of God! What we can know is that, like everything else created by God, it is good, very good. We have to believe that homosexuality is just as good as is heterosexuality.
Theologian Thielicke says that homosexuality is “a divine dispensation” and “a talent that is to be invested (Luke 19:13f.).”[xii]
I believe God has a purpose for every life. If so, the lives of homosexuals have a God-given purpose. Then refusing to accept and affirm them in the same way we affirm others would be trying to thwart the purposes of God. Can we draw any other conclusion?
One gay man said, “God finally showed me, that there was no need to answer that prayer I had prayed so many times to ‘make me not gay anymore.’ God showed me he can't fix something that doesn't need to be fixed.”
4. Homosexual Characteristics Are Superior
Lesbian women and gay men in general have a potential for outstanding characteristics and accomplishments— greater than that of many heterosexual people.
It is well known that while certain characteristics are dominant in men and others dominant in women, all people have some of the opposite gender’s characteristics. Psychologists have found that the gay man has an exceptional supply of feminine characteristics, and the lesbian woman has an exceptional supply of male characteristics, and that these special combinations of characteristics often result in exceptional potential in homosexual persons.
Sigmund Freud found homosexuals persons to be “of high intellectual and ethical development” and “as characterized by special development of their social instinctual impulses and by their devotion to the interests of the community.”[xiii]
Psychologist Mark Friedman found that the gay and lesbian subjects he tested were superior to their heterosexual counterparts in such psychological qualities as autonomy, spontaneity, orientation toward the present, and increased sensitivity to the value of the person.[xiv] Thielicke remarked that the homosexual “is frequently gifted with a remarkable heightened sense of empathy.”[xv]
The eminent psychologist Jung gives five very positive aspects of the homosexual male:
A special hope for homosexual influence on society is expressed by psychotherapist John McNeill:
There is no doubt that the homosexual man is freer to develop aesthetic values than is his male counterpart in the heterosexual world, and thus he has an important role to play in guiding humanity to a deeper appreciation of aesthetic values. … There is the hopeful possibility that the homosexual community could serve the human community as a whole by making the male free to do works of service in the human community without feeling guilty about betraying the standards of his male identity.[xvii]
Many writers tell of the contributions gay men and lesbian women have made to our world and give dozens of examples, some of the world’s most famous statesmen, artists, writers, musicians, etc., present and past. While those who are gay and lesbian make up probably 3%-4% of the population, a study of the biographies of 1004 eminent people found 11% of them to be homosexual or bisexual, with certain categories higher: 24% of poets, 21% of fiction writers, and 15% of artists and musicians.[xviii]
Louise, it seems as though we ought to look on the gay man or lesbian woman as potentially a very special person, made that way by God, one we could find joy in associating with, and especially a benefit and blessing to our churches.
[i] From Ellen Herman, Psychiatry, Psychology, and Homosexuality, 33
[ii] Helmut Thielicke, The Ethics of Sex, 283-4
[iii] APA News Release No. 98-56, December 14, 1998
[v]Jeffrey S. Siker, “Homosexual Christians, the Bible and Gentile Inclusion:
Confessions of a Repenting Heterosexist” in Jeffrey S. Siker, Ed., Homosexuality in
the Church: Both Sides of the Debate, 181f
[vii] Herman, 57
[viii] Terry L. Norman, “A Journey toward Authenticity” in Tex Sample and Amy E
. DeLong, The Loyal Opposition, 139
[ix] The Dallas Morning News, October 7, 2001
[x] State Department estimate, U. S. News and World Report, June 23, 2003
[xi] Siker, 187f
[xii] Thielicke, 284
[xiii] Quoted in David L. Balch, Ed., Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of
[xiv]Psychology Today, Vol. 8, No. 10 (March 1973), 27-33
[xvi] C. G Jung, The Collected Works, vol. 9, pt. 1, 58-59
[xviii]David Myers “Sexual Orientation and Science” in LeDayne McLeese Polanski and
Millard Eiland, Eds., Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, 172