WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT LGBT?
There are a million and one questions about what it means to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. Homosexual is a commonly used word in reference to any of these, but it doesn’t stop there. Is it a sin? Is it okay? Does God make us like this? With less than 3% of the US population identifying as LGBT, we still want to make sure that we understand the basics of what God, science and the body is saying about this subject.
WHAT DOES LGBT MEAN?
LGBT is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. Homosexual is another word commonly associated with LGBT. The Oxford English Dictionary defines these words as follows:
Lesbian: [noun] a female who is sexually attracted to females
Gay: [noun] of a homosexual person. Although most commonly used to described males, this can either include or exclude lesbians.
Bisexual: [noun] a hermaphrodite, or a person who is sexually attracted to both sexes
Transgender: [noun] a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these
Homosexual: [adjective] involving or related to, or characterized by a sexual propensity for one’s own sex; of or involving sexual activity with a member of one’s own sex, or between individuals of the same sex
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION IDENTIFIES AS LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, OR TRANSGENDER?
A 2012 Gallup poll reported that 3.4% of the adult, American population answered “yes” when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Interestingly, this same survey revealed that the average American believes that 1 in 4 individuals identify as gay or lesbian, when in reality, this number is closer to 4 in 100.
I OFTEN HEAR PEOPLE SAY, “I WAS BORN GAY.”
IS THERE ANY SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS STATEMENT?
According to the American Psychological Association there is not agreement among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a particular sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
Source: American Sexual Health Association
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HOMOSEXUAL ACTS?
In Romans 1, the Bible describes homosexual acts as being impure, unnatural, contrary to nature, and an act that dishonors the human body.
“God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to their dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:24-27
SOMETIMES I STRUGGLE WITH SSA (SAME SEX ATTRACTION).
IS THAT A SIN?
No, being sexually attracted to the same sex is not a sin. However, when you choose to act on that attraction and start practicing homosexual acts, that however, is a sin according to Romans 1 (see above). In short, being tempted is not a sin … it’s what you do when you are tempted that you are accountable for. Do not let your temptation define you!
I AM NOT GAY, BUT SOMETIMES WHEN I GET CLOSE WITH A FRIEND OF THE SAME SEX I START DEVELOPING FEELINGS FOR THEM AND START GETTING OVERLY ATTACHED.
WHY IS THIS? HOW CAN I CHANGE MY RESPONSE?
First, you are not doing anything wrong. Second, the fact that you recognize these feelings and want to change your response is a great sign! Third, it sounds like what you are describing is sexualitzation of intimacy. This occurs when an individual begins to feel close to someone, and the way he or she makes sense of that closeness is to make it sexual even if the other party is the same sex. If an individual has trained themselves to associate intimacy with sex it can be difficult to tell the difference between feelings of closeness/intimacy and feelings of sexual attraction/intimacy.
Our advice to you would be to begin to notice your body and the sensations that you feel when you are attracted to someone versus what you feel when you feel connected or close to someone. Notice the difference. If they feel alike, then you will need to learn to recognize when you feel it, tell yourself that it is not sexual, and do nothing until you can separate the two.
IS IT A SIN TO BE IN A HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP IF IT IS A COMMITTED, MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIP?
Scripture clearly tells us that homosexual acts are a sin, so yes, the practice of homosexual acts in or outside of a committed, monogamous relationship are still considered sin.
WHAT ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE?
Over 6,000 years ago, God laid out His perfect blueprint for marriage in the Garden of Eden when He joined Adam and Eve together and said in Genesis 2, “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” It was here that God bestowed upon Eve the title of wife and clearly established marriage as being between a man and a woman. Additionally, for over a century, the Oxford Dictionary has defined marriage as the legally or formally recognized union of a man and a woman as partners in a relationship.
It was not until recently, that the US court systems began passing legislation that redefined marriage so that same sex couples could legally and financially benefit from the marriage title. We, as an organization, believe that God is the creator and founder of marriage, therefore, He is the one who defines it, not the US court system.
IN MY PAST, I HAVE STRUGGLED WITH SAME-SEX ATTRACTION, BUT WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE ONE DAY. SHOULD I TELL MY FUTURE SPOUSE ABOUT MY SAME-SEX STRUGGLES? WHEN? HOW?
Yes, we think you should tell your future spouse. Honesty is always the best policy. It will build trust and give you peace on your wedding day knowing that he or she knows it all and has still chosen you. It is all part of a beautiful, scary thing called vulnerability … and vulnerability requires courage.
As to when? There is no one perfect answer for every couple. We’d say, pray about it, ask your leaders/pastors, and go with your peace. Probably somewhere between “exclusively dating” and “engagement.”
As to how? We’d say gently, calmly, and respectfully. Your future spouse does not need to know every detail but they do need to know your past struggles, how you got free, and how long you’ve been walking in freedom.
WHAT IS A HERMAPHRODITE?
HOW CAN THEY HAVE A NORMAL, HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP?
There is a good review article on this from the National Institutes of Health listed below. What you are asking about breaks down into several categories: ambiguous genitalia, where outer genitals are not clearly male or female; pseudohermaphroditism, where the genitals are of one gender but with the child having some physical features of the other gender; true hermaphrodism, where the baby can have both male and female genitals (exceedingly rare); mixed gonadal dysgenesis, where some male structures and some female structures exist (testicles plus vagina and uterus, for example); congenital adrenal hyperplasia, the most common form of which causes a genetically female baby to look male; chromosomal abnormalities like Klinefelter’s syndrome (XXY) and Turner’s syndrome (XO); and a male embryo developing a female body type due to a mother taking steroids, a mother not producing certain hormones, or the embryo lacking testosterone receptors.
A baby’s genetic sex is created at conception. Normally, the mother contributes an X chromosome (women are XX), and the father (men are XY) determines the sex by delivering either a Y chromosome (resulting in a genetic male) or an X chromosome (resulting in a genetic female). All the sexual organs of either gender come from the same tissue in an embryo, and the chemical and hormonal processes that carry out sexual development can sometimes be derailed. These birth defects are rarely lethal, but they obviously pose a significant problem.
What can be done? Medical specialists of several types will be involved in the care of the baby or child. Treatment can include medicines, hormones, and surgery, among other options. Though historically it was considered easier to treat and raise the child as a female even if the chromosomes showed a genetic male, easy treatment did not guarantee problem-free results. Y chromosomes are not to be ignored.
How can people with sexual/reproductive organ birth defects fit into this world? Quite well, particularly if the problems are diagnosed and treated early. They can and do have normal and healthy relationships. As for people judging them, few would know about the problem or how it was treated, or have reason to. A spouse-to-be should know, both on the basis of openness and the frequent reality that infertility would exist. That’s where good pastoral and professional counseling would be helpful.
But what of the theology? God doesn’t make mistakes, but we do and worse – we sin and have since Adam and Eve, and that bore consequences such as birth and genetic defects, which were not part of God’s original intention for us, but a result of the fall. Still, God loves us tremendously, and such conditions are not a mark of judgment against people. We are all made in the “imago Dei,” or image of God, though for each of us the image is tarnished to one degree or another. Whatever the defect, God loves us deeply and has a great plan for our lives.