Healing Perspective and Conclusion
If You Know You're Homosexual
Homosexuals. Gays. Lesbians. Queers.
Fags. Dykes. Butches. Fairies. Fruits. Femmes. Pansies. Homos. For
some people these words roll off the tongue with ease, contempt, and
loathing. And fear.
For others who are homosexual, or who know a loved one
who is, the words stab and scar with unimaginable force.
The fear for some people emanates principally from the
mystery of human sexuality--a confusing, tumultuous, electrifying drive
that can leave us breathless with wonder or plagued by guilt. Very simply,
we are not quite sure of ourselves in this sex thing. The apostle Paul
could have summed up eons of sexual tension with his admission in Romans
7:15: "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I
want, but I do the very thing I hate."*
In researching this article I've read hundreds of pages
of articles, reports, surveys, anecdotes, and testimonials on the subject
of homosexuality. I've received input, some of it unsolicited, from dozens
of heterosexuals and homosexuals. Upon hearing that we're tackling the
subject, people have commented, "I wouldn't touch that one." And
"Good luck! You'll need it!" I'm not certain they aren't right
in their concern.
This past summer's United States political conventions
featured, at least obliquely, the topic of homosexuals, and much rhetoric
and plotting and posturing were devoted to the "lavender scare"
on the campaign trail. Newsweek screamed on its cover,
"Gays Under Fire: What America Thinks." In that issue Morris
Chapman, president-elect of the 15 million-member Southern Baptist
Convention, was quoted as predicting that "in the 1990s homosexuality
will be what the abortion issue has been in the l980s."7
Christianity Today featured an article headlined "Born
Gay?" with the subhead "How politics have skewed the debate over
the biological causes of homosexuality."8
The Washington Post referred to "17 million plus voting age
INSIGHT ran a groundbreaking series of three
articles on homosexuality, written by Colin Cook. in 1976,10
Since then our most recent major article appeared in 1981, although
through advice columns we've answered personal questions on the
It's time to talk again. It's time for awareness and
understanding on the subject of homosexuality, and it's time healing,
The following are 12 starting points for understanding
homosexuality. 12 conclusions before healing can begin.
1. There's a difference between being a homosexual
and practicing 'homosexuality.
Understanding this difference is crucial in determining
our Christian response to homosexuals, As Letha Dawson Scanzoni writes in The
Other Side, homosexuals belong to "that minority of persons
who find themselves romantically attracted, through no conscious decision
of their own. to someone of the same sex. Their orientation is
homosexual. To speak of a homosexual orientation is to speak of a way of being
and feeling--whether or not those feelings are ever translated
into sexual acts."11
Other words used to describe this orientation are
"inclination," "inversion," "desires," and
"outlook." All of these are apart from actions or behavior.
"It's like telling me I can't have green eyes," one homosexual
says. "The color of my eyes is simply a natural part of me. Oh, I
could cover them up for a while, wear blue or brown contacts, but that
wouldn't change the reality. My eyes are green, and my sexual orientation
The repeated theme one hears from homosexuals is this:
"From my earliest memories, I always knew I was different."
Their secret crushes and sexual arousals focus on persons of the same sex,
and they often felt confused and trapped by their feelings.
I talked with Larry, a homosexual who told me that to
him the thought of sex between a male and a female was just as disgusting
as is the thought to me of sex between two males. That perspective
astounded me. I'd never considered it before (maybe you hadn't
2. Nobody chooses to be homosexual.
People may choose to engage in or not engage in
homosexual acts, but sexual orientation, as defined earlier, is not a
matter of choice. In this respect the term sexual preference is a
The exact causes of homosexuality are unknown. Many
single cause theories abound, but in general homosexuality is "likely
to be the result of an in interaction of several different factors,
including genetic, hormonal and environmental actors."12
Recently much media attention has been focused on the
findings of Dr. Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist at the Salk Institute of La
Jolla, California."13 Dr. LeVay
examined the brains of 41 cadavers, 19 of which belonged to homosexual
men, and found that a cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus, which is
believed to govern sexual activity. is on average smaller in homosexual
men than in heterosexual men.14
For centuries the "nature versus nurture"
debate on the cause of homosexuality has fueled fires in science and
society, and at first glance this discovery would appear to point to a
genetic origin for homosexuality. But LeVay's work will do little to douse
the flames until other questions are answered. As just one example, does
the size of this cluster determine homosexuality, or does homosexuality
determine its size? Nobody knows. Even LeVay admits his study leaves key
questions unanswered.15 William Byrne,
resident of psychiatry at Columbia University's College of Physicians and
surgeons, comments: If you look at any one piece of that evidence, it is
inconclusive. It's like trying to add up a hundred zeros so you can get
one." Richard Nakamura of the Internal Institute of Mental Health
echoes the majority of scientific opinion by concluding, "it will
take a much larger effort to be convinced that there is a link between
this structure and homosexuality."16
Why is the origin of homosexuality such a charged topic?
At the heart of the controversy is this: Is homosexuality a changeable
condition or not? If the root causes are strictly genetic, the chances for
change are comparable to changing a leopard's spots. If the environmental
context caused the condition, then changing the
"environment"--even if it's the paneling of a mind--is a process
that can effect change.
However, subscribing to an either/or approach can create
overdeveloped conclusions. The genetics theory may lead some to believe
that fate, or God's will, mandated the homosexual orientation. This in
turn could he interpreted to mean that nothing substantive can be (or
should be) done about it.
The environmental theory can leave parents of
homosexuals having great sighs of remorse. Maybe I was a dominant or
binding mother. Maybe I was a harsh or distant father. Maybe I didn't buy
the right brand of breakfast cereal. The guilt index can rocket
through the roof.
Moreover, homosexuals themselves may grapple with
oppressive guilt over their part in their sexual orientation. In that
sense, however, nature versus nurture becomes a moot question. Whether a
person is born with the orientation or it develops as a result of his or
her upbringing or it's a complex combination of both (which is most
likely), it is not a matter of choice.
A child chooses neither how she is born nor how he is
raised. We shouldn't hold a person responsible for her or his sexual
orientation any more than we hold a person responsible for skin color
(nature) or how a preschooler is dressed (nurture). Blaming the homosexual
for his or her sexual orientation is both wrong-spirited and wrong.
3. "How many people are homosexual?" is
The Washington Times says "10 percent
of American men are homosexual and 5 percent of women are lesbian (Nov.
19, 1991). USA Today refers to 25 million gay men and
lesbians (Nov, 13, 1991), based on 250 million population in the United
States. The American Psychological Association claims that homosexuality
is "an orientation found consistently in about 10 percent of the male
population and approximately 5 percent of the female population."17
The famous figure of 10 percent is often cited when referring to numbers
of homosexuals in the United States. Where does this figure
The figure comes from a study conducted in the 1940s. In
1948 Dr. Alfred Kinsey and others published Sexual Behavior in the
Human Male, in which they cited the 10 percent figure based on
their findings. What is not generally acknowledged, however, is that their
study was seriously flawed.
- Approximately 25 percent of the 5,300 individuals in
the study were prison inmates who by the nature of their confinement
couldn't have heterosexual sexual relations. Moreover, 44 percent of
these inmates had had homosexual experiences while in prison.18
- Kinsey admitted that "several hundred male
prostitutes" were used in his sample.19
- Because people responded to an ad to take part in the
study, a "volunteer bias" was evident. "Research has
shown that those responding to a study as intimate as the one Kinsey
was doing would not be representative of the general
population. In fact, the widely renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow
pointed this out to Kinsey before his findings were published, but he
refused to listen."20
In addition, contrary to what is often reported, the
study did not contend that 10 percent of the U.S. population was
homosexual. Rather, Kinsey's conclusion was that "10 percent of White
American males were 'more or less' exclusively homosexual for at least
three years between the ages of 16 and 65.
The statistic for females was 5 percent. The actual
percentage of those thought to be exclusively homosexual for their
entire lives was only 4 percent of men and 2 or 3 percent of women."21
This was all based on his allegedly representative sample of the
Other studies have been recently conducted with
different results. One study conducted between 1984 and 1987 by David
Forman, senior staff scientist at the Radcliffe Infirmary (Oxford.
England), found that only 1.7 percent of men in the sample had ever had
homosexual intercourse.22 And a 1989
study conducted at the University of Chicago resulted in a figure
"less than 1 percent exclusively homosexual."23
What is "exclusively homosexual"? Kinsey
developed the "Kinsey Scale of heterosexuality and
Homosexuality," a scale that runs from 0 (zero) to 6. Category 0
includes all people who are exclusively heterosexual in experience
and attraction. Category 6 represents those who are exclusively homosexual
in experience and attraction. The remaining categories are in between,
in differing degrees.24
In one sense, knowing the most accurate figures possible
matters a great deal. Understanding how many people are likely to
experience a homosexual orientation makes us better able to respond to
groups and to individuals.
In another sense the numbers don't matter. Whether in
this one country there are 25 million or 4 million homosexuals, as with
any human beings, they all need and deserve our attention.
4. Many gays are not gay about their sexual
I wrestled with terminology in this article, i.e.,
Should I use the term gays to refer to both male and female
homosexuals, or the politically correct terms gays and 1esbians?
And should I call heterosexuals straight? No, I decided, too much
is implied there. A heterosexual can be crooked in a thousand ways.
Really, many gays aren't gay in the sense of carefree
happiness; they can in many cases be characterized as frustrated, angry,
alienated and depressed by their situation. (Of course, heterosexual
people can be frustrated. angry, alienated, and depressed. too.)
Strict literalness may not be called for -- most Blacks
aren't black, and Whites are not white. Still, the term gay in
itself appears as a self-enclosed irony, an entombed oxymoron. Tim
Stafford writes, "Over 15 years ago I started a column on love and
sex for Campus Life, a Christian youth magazine. Among the
letters I received was a steady stream from young people who felt sexually
attracted to their own gender. Nobody could express more fear and despair.
They wanted to be Christians yet feared they were damned."23
Homosexual men are six times more likely to have
attempted suicide than heterosexual men. Studies also indicate that at
least 25 percent of homosexual men and women are alcoholics (the national
average is 7 percent).26 These
statistics may say as much about heterosexuals as they do about
homosexuals. Sick people in the "straight" community have long
been bent on guaranteeing that life for homosexuals is a living
The religious community hasn't always helped in the
understanding and healing process either. Pastors, ignorant as to the
nature of homosexuality, write off their homosexual parishioners as
basically bad people, destined to be eternally lost.27
Is it any great wonder that homosexuals lose hope and turn to
- Bill Turque et al, "Gays Under
Fire," Newsweek, Sept. 14, 1992.
- Joe Dallas, "Born Gay?" Christianity
Today, June 22, 1992.
- Michael Isikoff, "Gays
Mobilizing for Clinton as Rights Become an Issue," Washington
Post. Sept. 28, 1992.
- Dec. 7, 1976; Dec. 14, 1976, Dec.
- Letha Dawson Scanzoni, "Can
Homosexuals Change?" The Other Side, special
undated issue: Christianity and Homosexuality--A Discussion of
Biblical and Ethical Issues," copyright 1990.
- Tineke Bodde, "Why Is My
Child Gay?" a booklet published by the Federation of
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc.
- See, for example, David Gelman et
al, "Born or Bred?" Newsweek, Feb 24, 1992.
- Curt Suplee, "Brain May
Determine Sexuality," Washington Post, Aug. 30,
1991. Note this cluster is the size of a grain of sand.
- Denise Grady, "The Brains of
Gay Men," Discover, January 1992.
- In Dallas.
- Cited by Family Research Institute
is reported in Joseph P. Gudel, "Homosexuality and Fiction,"
Christian Research Journal, Summer 1992.
- "The Ten Percent Solution, Part
II," Peninsula, October/November 1991.
Also see Judith A. Reisman and Edward W. Eichol, Kinsey, Sex,
and Fad (Lafayette, La. Huntington House Publishers, 1990), p.
23. In Gudel.
- Alfred Kinsey et al., Sexual
Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia: Saunders Company,
1948), p. 216. In Gudel.
- See Abraham Maslow and James M.
Sakoda, "Volunteer Error in the Kinsey Study," Journal
of Abnormal and Social Psychology, April 1952. In Gudel.
- See June M. Refinish, dir., The
Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex (New York: St. Martin's
Press, 1990, p. 140.
- Reisman and Eichol, p. 194. In Gudel.
- Ibid., p. 195. In Gudel.
- Bodde, p. 2
- Tim Stafford, "Coming
Out," Christianity Today, Aug. 18,1989.
- Sy Rogers and Alan Medinger,
"Can Homosexuals Change?" Exodus Standard,
Winter-Spring 1991. See also Paul Cameron, William L. Playfair, and
Stephen Wellum, "The Homosexual Lifespan," Family Research
Institute, Feb. 14, 1992.
- See Elvin Benton, "Adventists
Face Homosexuality," Spectrum 12, No. 3 (1982); 34.
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