The problem of homosexuality involves much more than simply a sexual act. Those caught up in this sin usually have entered the homosexual lifestyle to some degree. To better understand the circumstances of the homosexual person seeking help, I have divided homosexuality into four components: behaviour, psychic response, identity and lifestyle.
Often it is assumed that all homosexual people engage in homosexual acts, but this is not always the case. Another wrong assumption is that all people who engage in homosexual acts are homosexual people. But the truth is this: acts are the least reliable indicator of whether or not someone is homosexual. There are huge numbers of heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts for a variety of reasons, such as being in prison or anywhere where heterosexual sex is unattainable. Also, I do not believe that a child who is involved in homosexual acts early in life will become homosexual unless these acts fulfil needs that are not being met in other ways, such as needs for love, acceptance, security and significance. In these cases, the child’s involvement in the acts is viewed as a ‘trade-off’ for the non-sexual needs he is obtaining. It is possible that the act and the fulfilled needs could become synonymous, which could lead to the development of a homosexual orientation. However, statistics show that most children who experience homosexual acts leave them behind, growing up to lead a normal heterosexual life. On the other hand, many homosexual people never engage in ‘gay’ sexual acts at all. Because of fears or strong religious convictions, they refrain from sexual behaviour, yet they still experience an intense battle with homosexuality.
A brief definition of this term is: “sexual excitation (stimulation) caused by visual perception or fantasy speculation.” Although many people claim that they have experienced visual or sexual attraction for the same sex ‘for 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 does not compare favourably with others, he develops admiration for those traits and physical characteristics he feels 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 eroticised somewhere along the way, eventually leading to homosexual psychic response. As psychic response begins to grip someone’s life, a certain amount of scheming takes place. 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. However, homosexual behaviour can precede psychic response, which then develops as a conditioned response to pleasant, fulfilling encounters with those of the same sex.
Some people enter into homosexuality through ‘identity’. These are people who may not have experienced sexual attraction for the same sex or have had any homosexual encounters. However, from an early age, they have felt they were ‘different’ from other people. They feel abnormal, as if 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 life. Of course, this is a mis-interpretation. A person troubled with shyness, fear of the opposite sex, and lack of athletic or social skills, need not accept the label ‘homosexual’. But people do take on the identity of their label. 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.
A homosexual person 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. 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 may work, live and socialise in a totally gay environment. There are all the varying degrees between these two extremes, but the gay lifestyle, for many people, is the first place where they have experienced any form of acceptance at a more-than-superficial 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.
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. This also illustrates why homosexuality can be a difficult problem to overcome.
It is true that 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, yet leading joyful lives devoted to God’s service. God gives us the desires of our heart. Satan is not pleased when someone sees through the deception of homosexuality and discovers the way out. There are many battles to be fought, but “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world”.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged ... for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15.