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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.


Ted Haggard November 5, 2006

Posted by fajita in Ted Haggard.

Click here to see the Ted Haggard apology to his church.