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.