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Yo, I’m back February 22, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

I spent the past week in Minnesota at an orientation at the University of Minnesota. I will be entering the doctoral program in Family Science this Fall. Met profs, current students, and other prospective students (I’m not prospective because I’ve already made up my mind).

Entering this program is my dream come true. Minnesota’s program is one of the (if not the) best Family Science program in the country. What I find so amazing is that I tricked the entire faculty into admitting me. I fear I’ll get busted this Fall when they realize everyone else they admitted is much, much smarter than I am .

So, I got into a discussion with a professor about religious teens who are dealing with their sexuality – specifically sexual orientation. Well, that is not the conversation I had intended on getting into, but I have to say that it was a good conversation.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept thinking about the assumptions that go into human sexuality when it involves sexual orientation.

Religious conservatives tend to assume the choice theory. This is a behavioral approach that skips along the surface. It’s wrong, you do it, so you are sinning. What else needs to be said? Yes, it can get very fundamentalist very fast.

Secular liberals tend to assume the genetic theory – born that way. If you are attracted to someone of the same sex, then you are gay – end of discussion. This can get just as fundamentalist as the religious conservatives.

So, my thinking on that late and sleepless night went this way: What if there are varying states of sexual development at various times in a person’s life which are unique to each person?

Let’s break that down a little:

1. Various states of sexual development – What if some people are solid in their sexuality? This would mean that there is no chance that whatever their sexuality is could ever change. However, we know this not to be true of all people because some straight people turn gay and some gay people go straight. So, some people might be fluid in their sexuality and orientation. Still further, some people might be diffuse (like a gas) and be highly reactive and erratic ion their sexuality.

2. Various times – Could it be that there are various times in some people’s lives where their sense of sexuality and orientation could perhaps be swayed one way or another? Certainly this would not be true of people who are “sexually solid.” But people who are fluid or diffuse (or at a fluid or diffuse stage) could go one way or the other depending on their context, who they find credible, and other factors. So, a person might be sexually solid for years, but then move into a fluid stage in their life as it relates to sexuality, and then there is the chance that their orientation might shift some or even change all together.

3. Unique to each person – Let’s say there are different states of sexual orientation development and there are different times that these stages can or do occur, that does not mean it happens the same for each person. One person might be solid from cradle to grave while someone else might be fluid, but only during adolescence. Another might be diffuse, but only when within this or that context.

Ultimately, it comes down to the classic nature versus nurture question. Gay affirmative proponents tend to land on the nature side while gay-negative proponents tend to side with nurture.

I would love to hear what you think on this topic.


1. Angie Burns - February 23, 2006

No wonder you couldn’t sleep! Now I can’t either! Let’s talk about sex!

I like your thoughts… Above all, you show how complex this subject really is. Yeah, we’d all like a simple answer, but we can forget that.

OK – I have really close friends who are gay and ex-gay (Christian and non-Christian on both sides). I have no problem genuinely loving and respecting them all… beautiful people who are all made in the image of God. But as a Christian, it puts me in an awkward position. I have to find a way to reconcile these different POV’s with my Christianity. So, this is my theory on sexual development – homosexuality, in particular – through my God filter.

Let’s get down & dirty:
Anatomically, everyone is born heterosexual. By that I mean God made males and females with the biological parts for sex with each other (part A fits perfectly into part B & makes a special delivery that part B is specifically designed to receive). So, I believe that all other sexual models (gay sex) are deviations from the original (yet, it can feel very right to homosexuals). Just b/c you’re born with parts made for hetero sex doesn’t mean you’ll grow up feeling it is right and wanting it. I believe sexuality develops throughout a person’s lifetime – and that journey isn’t all about sex. Hang with me & I’ll explain that.

From birth to death, I think there are three components at work in every individual:

1. Emotional / “I want it”
Our urges develop. We begin to notice the things in people that draw us to them or cause us to desire them. A baby wants Mama or Daddy & goes through attachment phases with both. All children are drawn to certain people for certain reasons long before anything sexual enters the picture. But I believe the foundations for the object of sexual desire are already in the works!

2. Physical / “I feel it”
The body’s raw sexual energy – hormones, puberty, sex drive, etc – comes into play. This component can exist with or without the emotional connection (masturbation, internet porn, etc). An individual may or may not act out sexually during puberty, but the body is undeniably open for business. The physical component of sex changes throughout life, evidenced by all the erectile dysfunction meds on the market today.

3. Mental / “I understand it”
The person’s ability to educate himself about sex in a larger context enters the picture. This may start with morals handed down from parents or lack of. Religious views play a part. Communal sharing about sex – gay or straight – plays into how we live out our sexuality.

So, my theory is that these things are involved, but are molded and shaped by tons of different things through every person’s life (nature AND nurture). I believe it’s most strongly shaped in the earliest years.

This is why I don’t see homosexuals as “perverts!” I believe same sex attractions are primarily relational issues (gender problems that began in the earliest part of life) that have been sexualized during puberty (that’s why gays always state they were born this way b/c those were some of their earliest feelings). That means that as children some will be more at risk than others if they experience trauma or deficiencies in some areas of development.

Let’s think about it emotionally looking at a few characteristics common in many gays and lesbians. Males w/absent or abusive fathers or fathers who are uninvolved emotionally will always long for that male connection they didn’t forge with Daddy; males or females who are sexually abused or who sexually experiment w/someone of the same gender at a young age are more at risk; boys with effeminate mannerisms or boys who are more drawn to the arts and drama are at risk since they don’t fit the macho man mold; boys or girls who are overly insecure about their bodies (not feeling comfortable in a male body or female body) or the way they are developing compared to others of their gender can be at risk; girls who are tomboys and would rather be a boy than a girl are at risk; any children who experience intense and painful teasing by peers could be more at risk as well. Most often there is a combination of factors that set them up for homosexuality. ANY of these issues can be intercepted in healthy ways to meet their natural, God-given needs. That’s what I meant by it not being all about sex. At the same time, addressing these issues would greatly increase their chances to feel heterosexual. The best case scenario would be for a child to have healthy affirmation for who he or she is… A girl who is a tomboy can still enjoy being a girl & shouldn’t have to stop doing tomboy things to be girly. Little boys who aren’t into football or nascar shouldn’t have to be forced to get into sports. Loving, healthy affirmation (especially from the same gender parent) for who they are and for their little unique personalities gives them the freedom to be themselves and know that they are fully loved and accepted. Then they won’t have to look to others to help them meet those needs.

These are just kids. If they could figure this stuff out and explain it to a parent or a caring adult, they could easily be intercepted and taken off the “at risk” list…. But they can’t explain what they’re feeling and in most instances silence/secrecy becomes THE major factor leading up to acting out homosexually or coming out as gay. At most, they’re scared to talk about it; at the very least, they’re uncomfortable. But without exception everyone I know has had desperately painful feelings of isolation and depression over the tension this causes in them and has kept it hidden for years and years. They test the waters with a trusted friend or adult, but usually those people really drop the ball and the silence continues.

OK, so here come the raging hormones… When puberty hits, the desires have already been formed. We tend to sexualize what we desire most or what we feel we lack… Little boys who don’t feel really male (b/c of no relationship to or connection with a father, b/c kids call him names like sissy or fag, etc.) will look to other males to get that feeling. They want to feel male. The normal need becomes a sexual fantasy. Sex is powerful stuff anyway… add these deep desires to the mix and you can understand why gay activists have such deep convictions. They mean it… to their very core. This is what they feel and believe and live.

Then comes the bigger picture. When faced with putting homosexuality into the context of God’s design for sex, intellect is easily trumped by emotion. They may be religious kids who have heard all their lives that homosexuality is wrong. But they are easily overpowered by their unresolved conflicting feelings. A gay person either has to reject God totally, accept a god/higher power of his choosing or work very hard to make the Bible read that homosexuality is legit – gay theology. Everyone will ultimately find their own intellectual way to categorize their sexuality either through rationalizing it or finding community in a group of people like themselves. Some people who are convicted by their relationship with God bravely begin to re-learn their sexuality in order to become ex-gay or to claim their heterosexuality. It’s a hellish process that can ONLY occur by His power and His holy spirit actively working in their lives. Some will give up and be ex-ex-gays because it’s just that hard. They work even harder to discredit ex-gay ministries b/c they truly believe it is not possible to change. And they don’t want to hear that someone else can change b/c they couldn’t.

Christians trying to change gay people usually start at the mental/logical level. Look… see what the Bible says about homosexuality? Can’t you see that it’s wrong? But it’s so, so much deeper than that. No wonder homosexuals have big-time problems with Christians! STOP trying to change people! Put some energy into understanding them… developing compassion and love for them (just as they are) and introducing them to the ultimate Father God and His transforming power. Drop the agendas and ulterior motives. Gay people will see right through you. The biggest change that needs to take place is in YOU!

OK – I may have started on the same thread as your blog… but I’m sure I’ve veered off. Sorry so wordy… can’t help it!

2. Paul - February 23, 2006

Here is a short reponse: Good luck in the program. I think I feel a disertation coming on!

I am glad I don’t have to answer all those questions!

3. julie - February 23, 2006

Angie, I know that you are trying to make sense of all this and I am going to throw a wrench in the beginning of your logic…we are not all born heterosexual. There are some babies born with ambiguous sexuality….I have seen it several times. I am a labor and delivery nurse and that is only that external…there are other who are ambiguous sexuality internally that we don’t find out about for a long time or never. Just thought I’d throw another problem in there…this is a very complex subject and shouldn’t be taken lightly or as a black and white issue.

4. Angie Burns - February 23, 2006

oooooh… great point Julie! THANKS! I want to be pushed in my thinking, and I really appreciate that.

So, add that to the “at risk” list instead! Seriously, though.. Too true that this is no black and white issue. Hermaphrodites, transsexuals and so many other factors I’m not thinking of are all a part of the mix.

So, no quick response from me! I’ll still be making the most earnest attempt to figure it out in my mind (it was posited as my theory and remains only that!).

But my bottom line remains the same… People want (and deserve) to be loved and accepted just as they are. Christians who are so anti-homosexual that they cannot love because someone is too difficult to understand really give the rest of us a bad name.

Sorry I’m not an official blogger yet… I’m working on that!

5. Beaner - February 23, 2006

We are all born with “something”. Sometimes our physical self doesn’t match our mental/emotional/spiritual self. Take, for instance, some handicaps: sometimes a person is physically 20 years old, but mentally 5 yrs. old. Do we say they should act their age? Do we focus on the physical aspects or emotional aspects of a person? What makes us who we are? I believe sometimes people are born physically a male, but mentally/emotionally/spiritually a female. This is not their fault, but the fault of genetics. However, the Bible is clear on what practices are not allowed. So….even though I don’t understand it, I believe that gay people have to make a HUGE sacrifice to live for God. God doesn’t explain why some people have to suffer & others don’t, but it does make me VERY compassionate for gay people w/o being judgemental. Christian heterosexual couples are called to be monagamous, but that is a struggle for some. The ultimate question is not ‘WHY’ this is the way it is, but ‘WHAT’ are we as Christians supposed to do about it. We’re told to love others. Let’s stop asking ‘why’ & start practicing ‘what’.

6. pegc - February 23, 2006

Thanks to angie and others for their views. I have a nephew who decided as a senior in high school that he was gay.

I think it was an experiment first and then he was convinced by “friends” that he was gay. That is totally my opinion as I have not been able to discuss this issue with him.

I also know of neighbor’s kids who have “decided” they are gay. They got into that mode of thinking from experimentation. Kids these days do a lot of experimenting and then Satan gets a hold of them and off they go. That is not always the case, but often. So…..I am always pondering this issue and even though I have little knowledge, I want to have compassion and learn how to accept the sinner and not the sin. Hard to do! I need help in drawing those lines.

I am interested in hearing more on this topic.

7. Joe James - February 23, 2006

Well… I am not sure about all of the “science” behind it – all I know is that this kind of talk is healthy. It is quite contrary to picking one side and blasting the other. It engages people to think seriously about the social context in which different people were brought up in. Yes! It is true! People were raised differently than you – in a different subculture, with different friends, family members, etc. What we really need is this conversation. It helps us thoughtfully examine the real issues underlying the destructive battle at the surface.

8. Randy & Kelly Vaughn - February 23, 2006

I do think this could be a dissertation topic! Maybe we could all help you write it ! HA!

I appreciate so much Angie’s thoughts. Much more articulate than my own. Well said Angie. I think you’ve got it (even with all the wrenches we could throw in). I don’t buy the “born that way”…I do think it has a lot to do like you said, Angie, because it seems like it’s been that way since the beginning (someone might say, “I’ve never been attracted to the opposite sex, so I must have been born this way”). But that really is not accounting for all the trauma, harm, influences (good and bad) that can occur during the first decade of life. By the time a young boy turns 13 (general ages here), and he has to examine where he is sexually, he’s going to say, “how do I feel about the opposite sex today?” We do need to listen more and understand more. I think you are also right, Angie, about rejecting the intellectual/scriptural arguments with gays, saying, “don’t you see it…it says it’s an abomination!” That stings and builds the wall up higher with what is in someone’s heart and mind about who they are in light of being God’s creation and that reality of what they are feeling. Just adds to the confusion and frustration. Doesn’t help a bit. Trust me on that one. During my own battles, it wasn’t until I was almost 25 years old before I heard the Lord’s Word saying “I love you child for who you are right now”. Even in my identity crisis, I found myself willing to surrender more to the Lord’s plan for me and not trying to figure out everything on my own (having felt abandoned by the corporate church). Once I accepted that unconditional love of Christ, and a love of a true Father, WOW, life took a whole new turn! Thanks Dennis Jernigan for your songs that ministered to me during those years.

Well, Chris, this really is a great topic. Very interesting. I just don’t understand it enough from the secular mindset or POV, so it’s hard for me to accept that. But it’s where so many people are.

This is one of the great challenges for the Body of Christ in this century!! Are we up for the discussions without turning fundamentalist to the point of turning people away! Are we comfortable enough discussing any kind of SEX publicly? We have to open up the floor for some frankness so our young people don’t wrestle with the same things we all did (gay or not gay). The world around us is alot more comfortable with SEX than we are…shouldn’t we take advantage of that and engage them in not the vulgarities or practices of SEX, but in the intimate feelings and thoughts we ALL have about it. Because, like Angie said (sorry Chris, not giving you much credit here), often these struggles are non-sexual at their core, but they play themselves out in the physical arena as manifestations.

I realize my thoughts are all over the map, so, Chris, I hereby resign as part of your dissertation writing team. Your smiling I can tell.


9. Angie - February 23, 2006

Chris, I just have to thank you for not deleting my comment. I know it was too long, but I sure appreciate you allowing me that. I couldn’t resist posting something because you have such a great blog. I learn something new every time I spend time here (and you have GREAT readers!).

I forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS on your big news. Tommy Stewart had mentioned that to me. Great news and I’m sure a dream come true for you. I just hope you’ll always be bloggin’ wherever you are!

I’m going to try blogging as well, though I’ll be a hard sell b/c I have too much trouble being concise (as you already know!).

HELP! I’m talking and I can’t shutup!!!!!!!

Thanks again, faceless friend

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