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Honest question: What is gay? November 7, 2006

Posted by fajita in Sex, Ted Haggard.

I realize that I approach a topic that is white hot in religious and political circles. It’s election day for pete’s sake and here I am picking a hot topic. But I need some help. You see, I don’t know if I have gotten smarter or dumber on the topic of homosexuality. I am going to ask a bunch of questions and bring out some hypotheticals based on the Ted Haggard scandal. I apologize ahead of time for offending anyone (everyone) with my questions. Some will wonder why I don’t have this figured out in  one way (you’re a Christian aren’t you?) while others will wonder why I don’t have this figured out in another way (you’re a family scientist, aren’t you?) Well, I am both and I am also willing to take the positon of not knowing. I know what the Bible says and I know what some of the scientific literature says. Feel free to air your comments to this post.

It used to be so clear and easy. There was straight and there was gay. They were opposites and that was it. One was right (straight) and one was wrong (gay). Gay people, as was my understanding, sought out intentionally to rebel against God and used homosexuality as their means by which to do it. Certainly there are many ways to rebel against God, but if someone used homosexuality as their means to show God their contempt, then that person had chosen the worst of all blasphemies. I really used to believe that once upon a time. And sadly, the fact that I do not hold that view now places me out of favor with some. That’s OK, I still love you.

The black and white, either/or thinking no longer works for me, nor does the strict moralizing and labeling. I cannot know a person’s motives. Good grief, half the time I don’t even have a clear grasp of my own motives. So, the days of demonizing gays are over, and have been for a while.

But that doesn’t really solve anything for me either. If only sexuality were not so confusing. I guess Ted Haggard is still on my mind. Whether the prominent, anti-homosexual pastor of a megachurch had gay sex or not is not the point. I think we can say with some certainty that he had some attraction to the idea of gay sex, and it is the attraction that I am getting at.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Ted Haggard did not have gay sex, but had a hidden attraction for it. It turned him on, but he never acted on it. Does that make him gay? He claims he’s not gay. I guess you could believe him on the one hand, but on the other hand, he really can’t afford to be gay. There is too much to lose.

So, does same sex attraction make someone gay?

Let’s do another hypothetical. Let’s say that Ted Haggard’s accuser is correct and they had a three year sexual relatinoship. Is Haggard gay? Is he bisexual? Again, he claims he is not gay, and I am sure he would deny being bisexual as well.  

So, maybe same sex attraction does not make one gay, but acting on it does? My hunch is that Haggard would say that it does not, but would say it on Biblical grounds more than experienctial grounds.

A step further. Perhaps one has to make a claim for a gay identity to be gay.

And that leads to another question: Can someone be a somewhat gay? There is some research to suggest a spectrum of sexuality that makes room for there to be some homosexuality in a heterosexual and vice versa.

And then there is the notion that someone can change their orientation. That’s a tough one to swallow when I consider myself changing orientations. It’s just not going to happen. And yet, there are literally thousands who claim that they have changed from gay to straight (I have also heard stories of someone straight changing to gay, but usually those are stories more so about someone who claims that they were always gay) Were they really gay in the first place? They had same sex attraction and were having gay sex, but were they really gay?

Is sexual orientation (attraction) exclusively biological? Is it partially biological? Is it strictly a nurtured and socialized thing? Cripes! Pigeon hole sexuality in any direction and you get yourself into trouble.

I very much welcome your wisdom, thoughts, and comments. All I ask is that you be respectful. You are a guest on my blog much like you would be a guest in my home. Comment here like you would comment in my home.



1. bek - November 7, 2006

i like that, comment here like you would comment in my home. well, for what its worth, here’s how i see it. i see homosexuality (the act) as a sin. i see homosexuality (the attractions, etc) as temptations. just like some people are more prone to certain temptations to sin: alcholism/drunkenness, lying, stealing, pride, etc. – – some people are more prone towards sexual sin, or specifically, homosexual sin. i honestly don’t see myself above any of that. i love my husband and we have an awesome relationship. and yet, i don’t think i am above being “tempted” in that area some time in my life. it can be outward circumstances (being in an artsy environment, for instance the very liberal college i went too, where i saw some a good christian girl “turn” gay) or it can be that inward temptation, the devil’s voice luring us in…..but i just can’t see it as an orientation (how can it be so easily changed?? i knew a bisexual girl in college who said that gays often talk about “how gay” they are on a scale. 10 being totally gay, and 5 being 1/2 gay, 1/2 straight – like her, and 1, obviously being totally straight). i don’t believe its in any individual’s good perfect design from God to be gay. i do believe someone can be born with STRONG tendencies already in them towards this sin, that will take them more of a battle to get past, then others. but to those individuals, i say, TAKE HEART! Jesus was tempted in every way. and He did not sin. and Jesus has OVERCOME THE WORLD! and there is GREAT BLESSING for overcomers. okay, i’ve said my piece, fajita. i’d be interested to keep hearing you work this piece through….

2. preacherman - November 7, 2006

Great post.
You look at children growing up, expierment all the time with sexuality. Working with teens and youth culture you see Bi-sexuality being a big thing with todays teenagers. I believe that having a homosexual experience doesn’t make you gay. Being gay is a life-style. Is it genetics? Maybe? I saw on Discovery Health channnel a Kat-Scan of a homosexual male and the things that fired off in the brain were that of a woman. If it is genetics then what does that tell us about God? Sin? Christianity? If it is genetics I think someone can be gay and not act on it. It would be extremely difficult to do so. Great thoughts and questions Chris. I think as Christians we have to look at what God’s word says and base our beliefs and oppinions upon His. I know as a Christian and minister I am going to do what I can to show even homosexuals the love, mercy and grace of God. I believe the church should be a place where sinners even homosexuals find God, healing, strength.

3. Rick Cendo - November 7, 2006

Obviously, Ted Haggard is a great example of “someone can be gay and not act on it.” So is Foley and the Catholic priests. Denial and suppression creates pathological behavior.

4. chrisclouse - November 7, 2006

At the risk of being labeled “old-fashioned” or “legalistic”, especially in an election year, I offer the following in response to your honest question of “what is gay?”

“Gay” is a word. Ta-Dah!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. Sorry, Chris, I couldn’t help myself.

Yet, all joking aside, “Gay” is merely a word. Our usage of the word today is similiar to that of a label. The word “homosexual” falls into the same category. Both words, in my simple understanding of things, even if used as labels, are words referring to an action not a state of mind. The action both these words (labels) refer to is that of sexual activities between persons of the same sex. According to this understanding, those who participate in sexual activities or relationships with someone of the same sex is considered gay or homosexual. Why, because the action is gay or homosexual.

With regards to Ted Haggard’s claim that he isn’t gay, I would be interested in knowing who he would call an adulterer You see, by his activities he has applied the label of gay or homosexual to himself. Nothing can change that. The word “adulterer” refers to one who has committed the act of adultery. One may not be an “adulterer” his whole life in action, but, once the action has been committed, the label is there. People will know you as such. And, I figure the same is true with the label “gay.”

However, there is hope. Even though the action of same-sex sexual activities is sinful, it can be forgiven. The label may stick, in the eyes and mouth of the world, but it is removed and forgotten in the eyes of the Lord.

What has happened is tragic. It will cause many to question the validity of the gospel and those who teach it. Yet, what has happened is no different than any sin committed by any person any day of the week. JESUS died for those who commit this sin as much as he died for those who cheat, lie, steal, and so forth. Through his blood there is life, there is hope.

Our response should not be that of stoning, but rather, that of Jesus — go and sin no more. We need to reach out and show people a better way, we need to show them Jesus’ way.

What is gay? It is a word, a label or a phrase that represents an action. Simple answer, perhaps.

5. johnben - November 7, 2006

I find you to be rather Plato-like, asking questions when it appears you already have answers.

6. justinmundie - November 8, 2006

My fiancee is a psych major, and I, being curious about things, have researched homosexuality and christianity. Things I’ve read are quite interesting and cast considerable doubt in my mind as to whether or not being in a monogamous homosexual relationship is a sin.

And I’ve seen far too many Christian guys struggle with, and ultimately give into their homosexuality (even going so far as to have sex with girls to try and get the gay out of them) to believe that its a choice. Maybe some people choose to be gay, but the vast majority don’t. I didn’t choose to be straight and I couldn’t choose to be gay.

Maybe if our churches realized that homosexuality isn’t a choice and stopped treating it as such (and as the greatest sin in the world) then Haggard wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. So many marriages end up failing (many christians especially) because one partner was gay, but married a heterosexual as cover (or out of denial).

I didn’t really answer any of your questions, just put in my two cents on the matter.

7. Fajita - November 8, 2006

Great discussion here. I wish I were like Plato and I did have the answers, but I do not. I really wonder what is gay?

Does same sex attraction = gay?
Does having gay sex = gay?
Does embracing a gay identity = gay?


8. justinmundie - November 8, 2006

Well, its kinda like what is male and female?

Is gender determined by what is inbetween your legs or is it determined by what you think you are?

9. chrisclouse - November 9, 2006

In the beginning God made them male and female, and, as simple as it may sound, the factor that determined which was which was what was between the legs. If that factor has changed, and apparantly many think it has, then it has changed as result of something other than God’s doing — namely the sin of mankind.

Call me simple! But, then again, it seems simple to me.

10. justinmundie - November 10, 2006

What about people born with both parts chris? Did God screw up?

Do you really believe that Genesis is literal about creation? If so, do you think that Genesis 1 or 2 is the correct creation story?

11. chrisclouse - November 11, 2006

Good questions, Justin… But, yes, I do believe in the Genesis account of creation. I believe my God has the power and ability to create this world exactly as the Bible says He did. In fact, I would find it hard to believe in the God following those chapters if I couldn’t believe in the God in those chapters.

Also, I believe that when God created everything, it was good. Time, the flood, exposure to radiation from the sun and sin are reasons for changes in dna and many of the things we see today.

Just my thoughts. Simple minded, remember.

12. fajita - November 11, 2006

Justin and Chris, good conversation and questions. The evolutionary factors and processes God has set in place are not a closed system, per se. There is human freedom to act, and each action matters. That is true if God did it all in 6 days or a million years. I don’t even care how God created everything.

Babies born with both parts is a weird anamoly, to be sure. I don’t know what to make of that. Does it guarantee that such a person is both hetero and homo sexual? Who knows?

13. Carlin Brooks - November 13, 2006

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1) – Cite This Source
gay  /geɪ/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[gey] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, -er, -est, noun, adverb

–adjective 1. having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2. bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
4. licentious; dissipated; wanton: The baron is a gay old rogue with an eye for the ladies.
5. homosexual.
6. of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues: a gay organization.
– noun 7. a homosexual person, esp. a male.
– adverb 8. in a gay manner.

I think Satan is behind the adopting of this particular word to describe homosexuals and their “acting out” of their fantasies and temptations. Does it help to compare this to describing adultrous behavior as “happy”? Sin is still sin no matter what you call it, but fortunately, grace is still grace.

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