Did They Choose It?

One thing I have come to realize is that there is some groundwork I have failed to lay.  Since I’ve been reading and thinking on these topics for years, I forget some of the most basic questions I had when I first started becoming acquainted with the LGBT community.  So, here’s the biggie that perhaps some of you might still be asking.  And, if you’ve never investigated it, it’d be no wonder why you’d been disagreeing with virtually everything I’ve said thus far.

Does a person choose to be gay?

There are a very few precious things that I will assert on this blog with no room for dispute, but the answer to this question is one of them.  No.  No, they did not choose to “be gay”.  Do some people choose to have homosexual relationships?  Yes.  But do people choose to feel attracted to members of their own sex?  No, absolutely not.  I assert this one has no wiggle room because:

1.)  Even the most conservative of theologians, psychologists, sociologists, etc. that are informed on the issue would not assert that someone “chooses” same-sex attraction. 
2.)  I don’t see anything in Scripture that would indicate that someone would choose to feel attracted to members of their own sex.
3.)  I have met hundreds of people who deal with same-sex attraction and not one of them would say they “chose it”

There are a host of different theories on what “causes” same-sex attraction, including anything from poor parental relationships/bonding to being born with a genetic component that causes it.  Some of the theories, in my opinion, are a little crazy.  Others seem more viable.  One thing I feel pretty certain of is that it is “caused” by different things for different people.  Some people I’ve spoken with remember experiencing same-sex attraction before they ever knew what “gay” was, some of them as early as age 5 or younger.  Most LGBT people I have met would say that they think it’s inborn.  A few (very few) have told me they feel that life events influenced their attractions.  But all of them, every last one of them, have told me that it has not been a matter of their own decision.  Afterall, why would someone ever choose to feel in a way that would cause them to become an outcast of their culture, their Church, their family, etc?  No one would want to experience that sort of pain!  I have met so many people that have shared heartbreaking stories with me of how they would lay in bed every night, crying themselves to sleep, begging God to take away their feelings for members of the same sex.  Day in and day out they worked to try to become attracted to the opposite sex, with no progress.  Some of them went through times of prayer and exorcisms at their church as people tried to cast out the spirit of homosexuality from them.  Many of them chose to go through reparative therapy (or conversion therapy) in attempts to change their sexual orientation.  Some of them spent years in these pursuits and still could not change the way they felt towards the same sex.

So no, sexual orientation is not a choice.  Sexual conduct is always a choice, but orientation?  Nope.  Not a choice.  It’s probably for this reason that I feel so much compassion for the situation this community of people find themselves in.  I have thought to myself many times, “What if my love and attraction for my husband was the wrong orientation?  How would that feel to have the world tell me that what feels so natural and normal to me is wrong, perverted, disgusting?  How hard of a pill would that be to swallow?”  I’ll tell you – it would be hard.  Near impossible even.  I’m not sure what I would do if I found myself in that situation.  I’m not sure how I would view Scripture, the Church, God, my faith in general.  It is a difficult spot that many find themselves in, trying to reconcile their faith and their orientation. 

Orientation, no matter what causes it, is not chosen.  But faith in Jesus is.  And I’m so thankful for those that experience same-sex attraction, but have chosen Jesus nonetheless – people like the great Christian writer and priest, Henri Nouwen.  There are so many more like him, many that I met this weekend.  They have a perspective on sacrificially following the Lord that many of us could not possibly grasp, because our road has been easier, because we have always had heterosexual attraction.

So, in summary…. 
Sexual relationships?  Chosen.
Sexual orientation?  Not chosen.

7 thoughts on “Did They Choose It?

  1. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:24-27 (NIV)Sounds like God said it was a choice that they made, and He describes that choice as being unnatural, indecent, and perverse.Were pedophiles also born that way, or do they have a choice?

  2. Dear Anonymous, I have a couple things:1) this is supposed to be a safe place to discuss sexual ethics from a biblical perspective. Simply quoting Bible verses is not actually helpful. 2) I find your comparison between homosexuality and pedophilia extremely offensive, please tone down your rhetoric. Words matter.3) I'm not sure God is actually saying that it was a choice these individuals made. Verse 26 says that "[they] were inflamed with lust for one another" "because of this." The next question we have to ask is, what does Paul mean by "this?" According to verse 25 "this" refers to idolatry. So, an interpretation of this passage could read: Because of their idolatry they were inflamed with lust for one another." These homosexual sex acts were the result–not the cause. Given that temple prostitutes were quite common at that time, I'm left a little confused what Paul is actually referring to. Is he actually referring to loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships, or is he referring to idolatrous sex acts. I don't know that we can absolutely know for sure. You are absolutely entitled to your own opinion, and I encourage continued dialogue on this issue.

  3. 1) I didn't just quote Bible verses. I commented on them.2) I'm offended that you don't see any connection. Homosexuality is a sin. So is pedophilia.3) God specifically said that their homosexual behavior "degraded" their bodies, that their sexual relations were "unnatural," and that their men in their homosexual practice committed "indecent" acts. Is that really that unclear?

  4. There is a lot that is unclear in this passage.- Who are "they"? (men and women in committed relationships, individuals seeking good will of pagan gods?)- Are "they" equivocal with today's gay people?- What was the actual offense (sex acts as idolatry or simply the sex acts themselves) – Why did they commit these acts?These are not trivial distinctions.I'd love to continue this as conversation, but not as debate. I don't get the sense that you're interested in conversation. (However, I honestly didn't expect you to respond, so perhaps I'm wrong about that). The Bible is vague about a great many things. I think it's okay to ask questions about these vagaries – I don't think God is ever offended by us earnestly seeking to understand. If that's something you want to do with us, excellent, welcome! If you're here to prove us wrong then you're in the wrong place.

  5. Anonymous – I don't think it's unclear that what occurred in those verses was sin. But I also don't think those verses say anything about whether same-sex attraction is a chosen feeling. (I'm talking about feelings, not actions). It says that "God gave them over" and that they then "committed indecent acts" with one another. Sin is when we choose to do something that separates us from God. In these verses, there was a choice involved to "worship and serve created things" and to do that through "indecent acts" But I don't think the verses address the cause of feeling same-sex attraction. Do you disagree?I will remind you that this is a space for respectful dialogue. I am open and willing to entertain differing convictions, beliefs, and Scriptural interpretation, but only if it's handled lovingly with a spirit of searching for truth together and sharing our perspectives with open hearts to one another. No tomato throwing allowed. 🙂

  6. Not to make you feel swamped, anonymous, but there's another thing to consider.There's a serious theodicy if we take this verse at face value. Like God moving to harden pharaoh's heart, we broach very serious topics of free will and matters of choice when consider how exactly God "gave" people up to impurity. It's not trivial by any means, and is quite a bit bigger than a debate about the homosexual lifestyle.By your reasoning, God's giving somebody up to sexual impurity is the equivalent of their choosing to desire it – Quite a serious accusation to make about God. I will say, however, that I sympathize with you in your confusion about the distinction between sexual acts and sexual attraction. It's a distinction I've heard made often, but it doesn't hold much clout with me. Though, I do applaud those who hold it for acknowledging the inherit theodilogical issues in homosexuality being a sin.Your analogy with pedophilia lacks much sophistication. As far as layers of morals go, you've made several misteps.I'm assuming you're arguing sin is sin. So, by your reasoning, homosexuality = Fudging on your taxes, or driving around with expired tags on your car, or co-signing a loan. I disagree. I'm willing to discuss this at greater length, but I've really not met many in the Christian community who would seriously equate the seriousness of certain acts with all other sinful acts. It's meaningful in that all sin separates us from God. It's useless as far as discussing the damage it does down here in the physical world.The idea that two consenting adults participating in gay relations is the same as having sex with a person who is unable to express consent, or not mature enough to make such a decision is ludicrous.Also, where in the Bible does it ever say that pedophilia is a sin? By modern day standards, many famous Biblical men, esteemed by God, were pedophiles.

  7. Pingback: Resources Galore! « LOVEboldly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *