I hadn’t intended to get into a religious discussion at any point during this blog – certainly not in relation to my sexuality – I even made a statement about religion in my 2nd post. However, I ended up asking a religious leader type guy what his/his church’s opinion was about homosexuality over twitter because he was ‘reaching out’ to me about my depression. I knew what his response was going to be and I should have known better than to engage in conversation knowing how much it was going to insult and irritate me, but I just couldn’t help myself. Anyway, I asked and he emailed me this ‘article’ he had written about it, which is followed by my email reply to him in bold. No wonder there is so much hatred in this world… his article reads:
I have been asked what the church’s view of homosexuality is. I am pleased to have this opportunity to set out an understanding of this subject as it is an issue that we need to think clearly about. It is a subject that frequently confronts and affects us and one that God addresses quite clearly in the Bible. There are many confusing ideas out there on the subject so I want to start by trying to gain an understanding of the processes involved in someone becoming homosexual.
Firstly, we will define what homosexuality is. I like this definition by Alan Medinger (whose writings and experience I have drawn on in this article and whose views coincide with my own):
‘Homosexuality is the condition wherein a person’s primary or exclusive sexual and/or romantic attractions are to people of the same sex rather than to people of the opposite sex.’
What are the root causes for the individual?
Is it inborn? In other words, is it in the genes? I think the answer has to be no. The teaching of the Bible would point us to that conclusion. God would be unfair if he was telling us that something was wrong if we had no control over it because it was down to our genes!
There is a lack of conclusive scientific proof. Many studies suggest that tendencies towards alcoholism or depression are inherited. If that is the case we would not accept these as alternative lifestyles so, of itself, the genes argument does not bear weight. Incidentally, my understanding is that, rather than a tendency towards alcoholism or depression being inherited, it is our temperaments that are passed down through the genes.
So what leads to homosexuality?
From the earliest age we can sense peace, warmth, comfort and love – even in the womb. This is at the heart of what it means to be human. I have often taught about the importance of the first year of a child’s life. It is in this vital first year that a secure bond is forged with mother that leads to a sense of personal identity. It is a bond that says, ‘I can trust this person – my needs will be met by mother.’ It is a bond of trust and is of untold importance. What is invested in that first year is like gold deposits in our emotional bank. If those deposits are not made then that child will spend the rest of his life looking for them. It is all too easy today to have a baby and then go straight back to the workplace. Giving maximum time in that first year will save pain and heartache later.
Psychologists call this bond ‘basic trust’. When this fundamental element is missing it leads to an inner emptiness. Then, depending on the temperament of the child as he or she grows and develops, this ‘separation anxiety’ can show itself as withdrawal, apathy and passivity or intense aggression and uncontrolled emotion.
Many people experience a degree of rejection in their early years but when a little boy doesn’t connect with his father or a little girl with her mother the groundwork is being laid for future sexual identity struggles. We are not primarily sexual beings – despite what Freud taught – we are people of heart and emotion. Our primary need is for warmth, love and acceptance. We can live without sex but life without love is not worth living. When sex is confused with our identity then we are in trouble.
I do want to put in a proviso at this point: I am not suggesting that you can look at a homosexual and always say – ‘this would not have happened if his mother had given him quality time in the first year.’ What I am outlining here is a pattern. These are factors that have frequently occurred in the lives of homosexuals. If we want to minimise the possibility of this happening to our child then we ensure that we do everything we can – for all sorts of reasons – to avoid these emotional deficiencies. If you are the parent of a homosexual, there is no harm in looking back at past patterns but it does not always mean that you have failed that child. As they grow up children make choices for which they become increasingly responsible.
Influence of temperament
Boys with a sensitive, intuitive, artistic nature are more vulnerable to disruptions in their relationship with their fathers. Imagine a macho father with a little boy with this temperament; or a switched off or weak father whose son is allowed to drift off into his own world; or an ‘absent’ father – too absorbed in his own interests and emotions.
If a strong and aggressive daughter has parents who can be even stronger then that child will be secure. Some mothers faced with a screaming child can take on an ambivalent attitude to that child. If the mother struggles to accept her active daughter, in other words can’t cope with her strength, the girl may further detach from her mother.
In these situations boys and girls can struggle with a ‘same-sex’ love deficit. Add to this the ‘separation anxiety’ which can show in later life as an overwhelming drive to connect with, and find identity in, another person, and then you have a powerful mix that can lead to homosexual thoughts and feelings. A girl will look for another female, in most cases bigger and stronger than she is. A boy will look for what he had hoped for from his father.
Boys’ growing up years
If a young lad is estranged from his father and is not being made aware of his masculinity then he can feel foolish, inept and confused. If his father’s ridicule is reinforced by that of his peers then he will soon isolate himself and withdraw which, in turn, deepens male disconnection – and he ends up being driven away from the very things he needs. There is therefore no proper development of his manhood.
Girls’ growing up years
The strong, active girl often has no interest in girlie things. While other girls are playing with dolls and, in their teens becoming aware of the opposite sex, the ‘tomboy’ is too busy climbing trees or roughing it with the boys. This clearly leads to further disconnection from other girls and a loss of appreciation of feminine qualities.
A factor that is often present in the development of tendencies towards lesbianism is abuse. The most common is incest – abuse by a father, grandfather, uncle or someone to whose care she was entrusted. In other words, a huge betrayal of trust, and because these were trusted figures the girl will tend to turn the abuse back on herself, thinking that there must be something wrong with her for this to have happened – she must a horrible person. This, in turn, will cause her to bury her feelings and not process them. Those feelings of deep hurt and rage will lead to a rejection of men and any desire for a relationship with them.
Dealing with homosexuality
So, a young man discovers that he is more attracted to men than to women; the young woman finds herself drawn to another woman. Hopefully, as a result of what we have just talked about, we now have some understanding of how this has come about. Is this really what the young man or woman would have chosen? Now, it is true that some flaunt their new-found ‘sexual identity’ – often for that very reason – it gives them an identity – but there are many who are deeply unhappy about what has happened to them. If someone wants help where do we start? I will try and give a sense of direction here whilst recognizing that we are talking about a process that moves the person, as with all of us, towards wholeness. This takes into account the fact that the person’s homosexuality is not the only struggle that they will be experiencing.
Steps along the way
Our starting point is to recognise that we are dealing with attractions. Attractions are not sin. We cannot directly change attractions but we can choose what we do with them. We can change what causes those attractions.
2. Break the link
We need to break the link between deep unmet needs and sex. Sex intensifies the emotions – but is not to be confused with the emotions. That is why sex is so meaningful in the context of the deep commitment that marriage provides – but becomes empty outside that relationship.
3. Discover the real needs
Remember what we said about the inner emptiness and ‘separation anxiety’ that results from a breach in the bond of trust? That is the root of our needs. We want to be loved, affirmed, and accepted. When that has not happened we can be acutely aware of loneliness, worthlessness and life can feel to be without meaning or direction.
4. Good news
The good news is that those needs can be met – and we can choose to have them met in healthy and constructive ways:
a. by walking with God
We were made with the capacity to know and love God – and to be known and loved by him. When that key relationship is missing we will struggle to find answers to the ultimate questions of life – questions of forgiveness, security, hope and purpose – questions that take us beyond this life and put us in touch with our inner capacity for eternity. When we are living in the good of friendship with God we find a deep peace within that forms the foundation for all other relationships.
b. in good company
The natural consequence of this relationship with God is that you find yourself in meaningful friendship with other people who also have this relationship. And because God’s Spirit lives in them he is able to communicate his love and acceptance through them. In other words, those unmet needs from childhood are now met in a safe and strong context as relationships develop with people who are themselves moving through to wholeness. Sex ceases to be the issue and real love becomes the norm. Men discover and value their masculinity by seeing other men fulfil their roles in a natural and comfortable way. Ladies likewise begin to appreciate their womanhood as they become more aware of their own qualities. They also learn that they can feel safe and cared for by the men of the church. Over time, this love and affirmation brings about changed attractions.
Why is God so against homosexuality?
Even a cursory reading of the Bible on the subject makes it clear that God is not pleased about the practice of homosexuality – in fact, he hates it. Some passages that relate to the subject are: Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-19; Deuteronomy 23:17; Genesis 19: 1-29; Judges 19. But why is he so against it? My own view is that it is the culmination of a whole series of breakdowns in relationships – starting with our relationship with God (Rom 1:18-32). Homosexuality is the end result of a series of failures within society in the key area of relationships.
Further, the relationship between a man and woman is meant to be a picture of that between God and man. It is fundamental to how society is meant to operate (Eph 5:31,32). It is a serious thing to so distort something so that God’s image in the people he has created is distorted beyond recognition.
We now have homosexual couples able to have their own children – including the removal, in law, of the need for a father. How this must grieve the heart of God – because he knows where this leads as far as the well-being of those children and society as a whole is concerned.
What should our attitude to the homosexual be?
Loving acceptance of the person is first and foremost. Rejection simply forges another link in a negative chain in their lives. If a man or woman is in a homosexual relationship this should be challenged. As we have seen, attraction is one thing – behaviour is another. God makes it clear that homosexual behaviour is sinful. When there is a desire to move away from homosexuality then let us walk with that person on their journey to wholeness.
We can be encouraged by what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians. He writes about ‘male prostitutes’ and ‘homosexual offenders’ but goes on to say, ‘some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11 (Good News Translation). What was true then still holds good for us now!
(Exodus International has an excellent website for those wishing to read more on this subject.)
After reading your article on depression where you got it so right and were so very insightful, I was incredibly disappointed to read your article about homosexuality where you have got it so wrong, and have displayed a truly ugly bigotry and arrogance. The first thing that struck me is your blind certainty that you are absolutely right in your beliefs, when you have no proof, research, experience or any founding on reality to any of your views. There is no ‘maybe’ or ‘if’ to your argument, just statements of ‘fact’. Well excuse me for asking but how the hell do you know? You’ve formed an opinion based on the translations of some long-dead scholars on some old manuscripts that some long-dead group of people decided should make up the ‘Bible’. Some other ‘books’ were omitted because they didn’t conveniently fit in with the current moral codes of conduct at the time.
You are taking your ‘code of conduct’ from some out of date translation and blindly following it to the letter. There is no ‘grey’ in your beliefs or opinions, it is all absolutely black and white. I’m sorry to have to shatter your illusions, but the real world isn’t just black and white; it has every shade of grey in between. It’s also not just about good and evil, it’s about every step and stage in between. It isn’t for you to pass judgement on anyone. You do not get to choose who is good or bad because you do not have the right to say – even by your own rules. It is nothing to do with you. You live your own life how you wish to live it and expect to be judged for it by your creator at the end of your days – don’t dare presume to judge others during your life because they happen to be different to you and because some 2000 year old storybook designed to teach the illiterate masses back then some kind of moral code, ‘might’ say that one thing is right and another wrong.
Blind faith – it’s the stuff suicide bombers are made of…. There, how do you feel about that statement? That’s how I feel about people like you who believe in god (of any religion), because ultimately you are all bigots. How many religions exist in the world? 100’s? 1000’s? You are all so certain that YOU are right. You all believe so absoultely that the others are wrong. You can’t all be right though can you? At best one religion is right and the other 1000 are wrong and therefore all doomed to hell. If they don’t live by your particular religious book’s teachings, then they will burn in hell right? Now if that isn’t blind faith then I don’t know what is.
From the ages of 13 – 17 years old I was a committed Christian (COE). My parents aren’t religious so it was my decision to devote my life to god and christ. I believed, I prayed, I read the bible, I honestly felt the spirit and truly believed the delusion of god. I did everything a good Christian was supposed to do. Until I woke up from the ridiculous lie. Thank god (please excuse the blasphemous pun). Unfortunately (apparently) I happened to be gay. I didn’t want to be, I certainly didn’t choose to be, I did not suffer abuse at the hands of my parents, I had a good, solid, healthy, loving childhood with parents who I respected and loved and still do, and an older brother and sister whom are like my best friends, all of whom have been nothing but supportive my whole life.
To read your ‘beliefs’ that some past ‘event’ is responsible for me becoming homosexual is extraordinarily insulting to say the least. It is the same as racism and it is just as ugly.
Read my blog about my sexuality (currently the most recent one: ‘Out Of The Closet Into The Fire’) – you’ll see a lot in there that you will think is explained by your theories. You are wrong. I was born this way, and much as I actually hate the fact, nothing can change that. I wish I could get married and have children like society has brought me up believing I should do, but I can’t. I have been celibate for years through choice… or actually probably more because of the dreadful guilt instilled in me throughout my life by people like you, but I still know what I am and NOTHING will ever change that.
What horrifies me the most is that you are actively recommending that gay people ‘pretend’ that it isn’t true by not ‘acting on it’, but actually all you are instructing your flock to do, is to tell lies. Telling a gay man to lie to some poor undeserving woman, marry her, have children with her and break her heart because her whole married life has been a lie… What kind of monster condones that behaviour? Do you really? …Really?
Your views create hate. This world is a poorer place because of people like you clinging on so dearly to such fossilised, archaic beliefs. Wake up. See all the glorious shades of grey that occupy the world that you live in, accept people for what and who they are and stop judging people because they live differently to you and don’t conform to some ancient story book. Darwin is right – you can deny it all you like. I’m not surprised that religion is dying. It’s a shame as it provides such a comfort and peace for some, but such hatred and condemnation for others.