I don’t know if you’ve ever watched “The Simpsons.” I don’t watch it anymore, because I have young kids, but a frequent comic staple is Bart’s prank calls to Moe the bartender. Bart will call and ask for someone whose name is a double entendre. Then Moe shouts to the folks in the bar, asking for that person. Everyone has a good laugh at his expense, then Moe gets all bent out of shape when he realizes he’s been had. Funny stuff. In one episode, Bart asks Moe to page “Homer Sexual.” So, of course, Moe calls repeatedly for a “homosexual,” nobody admits to being one and everyone showers Moe with guffaws.
The topic of homosexuality has become commonplace in our culture. From the constant stream of jokes on sitcoms and talk shows to the Mark Foley and Ted Haggard scandals to the church and legislative debates over “gay rights,” you cannot escape the issue. Chances are good that you work with or at least know someone who identifies themselves as gay or lesbian.
So, what do you think about this issue? Do you simply laugh at the “gay is cute” jokes? Do you burn with anger at the “perversion”? What do you believe about homosexuality? How does that square with your faith?
I would not presume to address every single scientific study, piece of legislation or portrayal in pop culture, but here are six things to consider as you encounter this issue.
First, sexuality is a subject involving nuances and subtleties that must be handled with sensitivity. Our gender and sexual identity lie close to the soul and cannot be handled harshly without doing extensive damage.
Second, there is no agreed-upon definition. Does "gay" mean someone who struggles with same-sex attractions? Someone who currently engages in sexual activity with the same sex? Someone who had a same-sex encounter when they were young? Men who like musicals? Women who wear flannel?
Third, you cannot help your attractions. This may be hard to swallow. We like to hold people responsible for them, but our attractions are a peculiar merging of our unmet needs, our aesthetic tastes, our associations, childhood sweethearts, etc. That said, you can help what you do with your attractions. If you feed them, they will grow. If you choose not to reinforce them, they may well diminish. You may not be able to help the fact that a handsome man walking down the street makes your pulse quicken, but you can choose to not follow him down the street with your eyes.
Fourth, people don't choose to be "gay". Bear with me here. People don't choose to have same-sex attractions, but they do choose to feed that attraction, to reinforce it through acting out sexually and by pigeonholing themselves with a "gay" identity. They also often choose not to address the issues that have pushed them into that struggle. Given what some people have gone through, though, one can hardly blame them, particularly when a ready-made identity and welcoming "gay" community make the alternative easier than ever.
Fifth, no "gay gene" has been found. In spite of headlines claiming the contrary on newsstands over the past 10-15 years, a look at the current research (for what it’s worth) suggests that there is no specific cause. The causes are many, including both “nature” and “nurture” factors, and vary from person to person. As with alcoholism, there may be some slight genetic predisposition toward this struggle in some people but not a determining factor like gender or ethnicity over which a person has no control.
Sixth, change is possible but outcomes are not guaranteed. Not everyone who struggles with homosexuality will end up heterosexually married with five kids. Nor should that be the goal. Wholeness must be the aim, and that will ultimately be possible only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
So, the next time you're tempted to have a chuckle at "Will & Grace" or shun someone with a "funny" walk or talk, please consider these things.