In the last presidential debate the candidates were asked the question: "Are people born homosexual or is homosexuality a choice?" Without expounding on the answers each candidate gave, allow me to address the question itself, because it is one that is often asked and one that we should have an answer for.
The answer to this question lies in what is meant by homosexuality. Homosexuality is the behavior of one who engages in sexual relations with some one of the same sex. We would say that he, or she, is engaged in homosexuality. The point is that it is a behavior. One can have a sexual attraction for others of the same sex, yet not respond to that attraction. It is not homosexuality until it becomes an act. Of course, in our secularized society today one apparently is expected to respond to their desires. To fail to do so is "repressive," and a refusal to be "what they really are."
We must differentiate between orientation and behavior. We choose our behavior; we do not choose our orientation. Let me state this plainly: Only those who commit homosexual acts are homosexual. In the same way, that only those who commit adultery are adulterers. Only those who rob banks are bank robbers. There are those who have a predisposition toward alcoholism – who must make the decision not to drink in order to stay free from the bondage they would find themselves in. Are they alcoholics? No – because they don’t drink alcohol.
Some people have a "homosexual orientation," in that they find themselves sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Why this is so is a mystery. Sexual attraction is not something I will attempt to explain. I am certain that there are a variety of factors that determine what we each find attractive. Nevertheless, regardless of my attraction, I must stay within the boundaries that God has established. Sex, homosexual or heterosexual, outside of the boundaries is sin.
Henri Nouwen, Christian author and conference speaker, acknowledged that from his earliest conscious memories, he was attracted to men. He had no explanation for this, but he did recognize that to act on that attraction would be sin. He also recognized that sinful, lustful thoughts would eventually lead to action. He therefore chose to be celibate, rather than yield to behavior that was in disobedience to the commands of God. Was this easy? I’m certain it wasn’t. But he chose to "cut of his right hand" rather than to sin against God. (I might add that he was frequently the target of verbal attacks by those who believed he should have acted upon his orientation.) Was he a homosexual? No – because he did not engage in homosexual behavior.
There are those in our society that desire to equate the issue of “gay rights” with the fight for civil rights in the 1960’s. But, of course, one major difference is ignored. The color of one’s skin is not a matter of choice, but to engage in sexual activity is.
Don Walker is a teacher, counselor, and writer living in the