We have a fundamental problem in our public discourse regarding homosexuality. We’re talking about different things.
Consider the three statements below:
Doug: I’ve always been drawn to other guys. Being gay is not a choice.
Elsie: You can choose what you do with your body. Being gay is a choice.
Tara: I think people are born gay. Being gay can’t be a choice.
Doug, Elsie, and Tara sound like they’re engaging in a conversation about one topic, but they’re not. They’re talking about three very different subjects: Attractions, Behavior, and Identity.
Attractions – Doug’s talking about attractions.
Every one of us has things we’re attracted to: sunsets, chocolate cake, the scent of lavender, or people who make us laugh. And we all experience temptations—attractions toward things that are not good for us, however good or right they may feel. Most of us don’t choose our attractions or temptations. Everyone I’ve ever met who feels homosexual attractions did not choose them, they discovered them, and with a great deal of disappointment, shame, and fear.
Behavior – Elsie’s talking about behavior.
Behavior is what we do. Whenever Scripture speaks about the sin of homosexuality, it is speaking not of homosexual attractions, but of same-sex erotic or romantic behavior.
Identity – This is the area where there is the greatest confusion. In the example above, only Tara is raising a question of identity; she certainly isn’t talking about behavior or sexual attractions.
But Doug and Elsie also use the phrase “being gay.” They’re making a common mistake, suggesting wrongly that if you feel same-sex attractions or if homosexual behaviors feel good to you, then it means something about your identity.
In contrast, Christ reveals that attractions don’t define you, nor does what you’ve done, no matter how convincing your desires or feelings are. Christ alone has the rightful authority to define you. And his design for you is far better than what you’ve known.
If we’re going to respond helpfully to a culture confused about homosexuality, we need to listen well to what others are really saying and the conclusions they’re drawing.
And we need to know what we’re talking about.
Share Your Thoughts: How can the distinctions between attraction, behavior, and identity help you better relate with those who deal with homosexuality? If you deal with homosexuality personally, how do these distinctions help you?
Seeking a better definition,