By: Frank Worthen

Understanding the full meaning of the term is essential is we are to minister effectively to those struggling with this issue.

In helping people overcome homosexuality, we’ve found that many are in confusion about what homosexuality actually is.

Lawrence J. Hatterer, author of Changing Homosexuality in the Male, gives this definition: “One who is motivated, in adult life, by a definite preferential erotic attraction to members of the same sex and who usually, but not necessarily, engages in overt sexual relations with them.”

We’ve found this to be a good working definition, though a full explanation of the condition of homosexuality goes much deeper.

Born Gay

The majority of homosexuals believe they were “born gay.” This comforting belief relieves them of any responsibility to change. However, there is no solid scientific evidence that people are born homosexual. The overwhelming majority of gay people are completely normal genetically and hormonally. They are fully male or female.

Learned Behavior

We believe homosexuality is learned behavior which is influenced by a number of factor, such as a disrupted family life in early years, a lack of unconditional love on the part of either parent, or a failure to identify with the same-sex parent.

Later, these problems result in a search for love and acceptance, envy of the same or opposite sex, a life controlled by various fears and feelings of isolation.

But homosexuality is brought about by a multitude of root causes. It is simplistic thinking to lay the blame on any single cause.

Fears of the opposite sex, incest or molestation, dominant mothers and weak fathers, demonic oppression: all of these may play a part in causing homosexuality, but no individual factor alone can cause it.

Along with outside factors, a person’s own personal choices play a key role in forming his homosexual identity, though few will admit this.

What Does the Bible Say?

The Bible states clearly in five places that homosexual behavior is sin: Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26,27; 1 Cor. 6:9,10; 1 Timothy 1:9,10. Sexual lust and fantasy – both homosexual and heterosexual – are sinful according to God’s Word.

On the other hand, 1 Cor. 10:13 assures us that temptation is not sin: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

There is a difference between experiencing a pull towards homosexual acts, and giving in to that pull. We can’t fully control that which tempts us, but we can choose whether or not to pursue the temptation. This power of choice is strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

Four Component of Homosexuality

The problem of homosexuality involves much more than certain sexual acts. To better understand this issue, we divide homosexuality into four components: behavior, psychic response, identity and lifestyle.

* Behavior. Many people assume that all homosexuals engage in homosexual acts, but this is not true. Because of fears or strong religious convictions, they may refrain from sexual behavior, yet experience an intense battle with same-sex attractions.

Another wrong assumption is that all people who engage in homosexual acts are homosexual. There are huge numbers of heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts for a variety of reasons, such as being in prison or somewhere else that heterosexual sex is unattainable.

* Psychic Response. This term means “sexual excitation (stimulation) caused by visual perception or fantasy.” Psychic response is also what people refer to as “homosexual orientation.”

Though many people claim they have experienced visual or sexual attraction for the same sex “as long as they can remember,” there is a progression in a person’s life that leads to a homosexual psychic response.

A child may start out with a need to compare himself with others to see if he measures up to societal standards. When he feels he doesn’t compare favorably with others, he develops admiration for those traits and physical characteristics he does not possess.

Admiration, which is normal, may turn to envy. Envy leads to the desire to possess others and, finally, to consume others. This strong desire becomes eroticized somewhere along the way, eventually leading to homosexual psychic response.

Sexual situations are pictured in the mind. When the first sexual encounter takes place, it may be the result of several years of planning and fantasy. On the other hand, homosexual behavior may precede psychic response, which develops as a conditioned response to pleasant encounters with those of the same sex.

*Identity. Some people enter into homosexuality through taking on the gay identity. These people may not have experienced sexual attraction for the same sex or have had any homosexual encounters.

However, from an early age, they have felt “different” from other people. They feel abnormal, like they do not fit into the heterosexual world. They reason, “If I’m not heterosexual, then I must be gay,” and they accept the homosexual label onto their lives.

Of course, this is a misinterpretation of feelings. A person troubled with shyness, fear of the opposite sex, or lack of athletic or social skills need not accept the label “homosexual.”

However, people do grow into labels. Once a label is accepted, the implied characteristics of that label begin to develop in a person’s life. What we believe about ourselves is of extreme importance.

* Lifestyle. A homosexual may insist that he bears no responsibility for his identity, his psychic response or even his first sexual encounter, which may have been forced upon him. However, every homosexual person must bear the responsibility for his or her choice to enter the homosexual lifestyle.

People enter this lifestyle to varying degrees, however. Some live in the heterosexual world for the most part, seeking out only sporadic, impersonal sexual encounters.

Others immerse themselves in the total “gay subculture,” a setting in which the person works, lives, and socializes in a totally gay environment.

There are all the varying degrees in between these two extremes, but the gay lifestyle, for many people, is the first place where they have experienced any form of acceptance on a below-the-surface level. In spite of the acceptance that is available, however, the homosexual lifestyle often proves to be a painful and unrewarding way of life, particularly for older gays who are no longer desirable sexually.

A Complex Problem

As you can see from looking at these four components, homosexuality is a complex problem with many definitions and variations. If someone tells you, “I am a homosexual,” he has really told you very little about himself. It takes a deeper look into his life to determine the degree to which homosexuality has become a part of his identity.

The way out of homosexuality is not easy, yet there are thousands who have left homosexuality behind and have become “new creatures in Christ.” Many have married and raised families, while others remain celibate, leading joyful lives devoted to God’s service.

The Lord gives us the desires of our heart. Satan is not pleased when someone sees through the deception of homosexuality and discovers the way out. God’s power is greater than any problem – including homosexuality. “Do not be afraid or discouraged… for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). May God give you strength and perseverance to fight this battle.

(The above material was published by Love In Action, San Rafael, CA.)

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