What is sexual orientation?

What does it mean to have a sexual orientation, and what is a homosexual orientation?  It is a pattern of internal attraction unrestricted by biological genders. According to the American Psychological Association . . .

"Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions . . . sexual orientation is closely tied to the intimate personal relationships that meet deeply felt needs for love, attachment, and intimacy. In addition to sexual behaviors, these bonds include nonsexual physical affection between partners, shared goals and values, mutual support, and ongoing commitment. Therefore, sexual orientation is not merely a personal characteristic within an individual. Rather, one’s sexual orientation defines the group of people in which one is likely to find the satisfying and fulfilling romantic relationships that are an essential component of personal identity for many people."1

In a popular video piece done by Matthew Vines, a professing homosexual who also claims to be a Christian, who spoke at a United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas on March 8, 2012, he said . . .

"What sexual orientation is for straight people is their capacity for romantic love and self-giving. It’s not just about sexual attraction and behavior. It’s because we have a sexual orientation that we’re able to fall in love with someone . . . Gay people have the very same capacity for romantic love and self-giving that straight people do. The emotional bond that gay couples share, the quality of love, is identical to that of straight couples."2

The American Psychological Association says that sexual orientation is an "enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to men, women, or both sexes . . . [and] also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions." This definition is morally neutral. Matthew Vines' definition is similar in that it includes romantic attraction and it attempts to also be neutral.

Is Mere Orientation Good Enough?

Whether or not someone is naturally oriented to be romantically and sexually attracted to people of the same gender does not mean that it is automatically morally acceptable. If a person's natural predisposition toward same-sex attraction means that it is normal "for them" and thereby acceptable, then we run into problems. What do we do with people who are naturally oriented towards being attracted to children, i.e., pedophilia? Is it morally wrong? If so, why? You see, if we say that a "natural" orientation in sexuality should automatically be accepted because it is what is "natural" to a person, then the same logic could be used to support the idea that pedophilia--which people also claim is natural for them--is also acceptable.

"Using the same tactics used by 'gay' rights activists, pedophiles have begun to seek similar status arguing their desire for children is a sexual orientation no different than heterosexual or homosexuals."3

So, is one's sexual orientation a sufficient argument to justify homosexuality? No, it is not. One's orientation doesn't mean it is okay. If you say it does make it okay, then you must accept pedophilia since that is a person's "sexual orientation." If you say one's orientation doesn't make something okay, then you can logically reject pedophilia. But, this would mean that homosexual's arguments based on sexual orientation are void--and rightfully so.

What about those who have an orientation that is heavily in favor of lying? Does one's "truth orientation" make it okay to lie since that is how he was born? Or what if someone is oriented towards adultery or murder or violence or hatred, pornography, various fetishes, etc. Does one's orientation--that natural predisposition toward a certain behavior and attraction--automatically make it okay just because he was born that way?4 Of course not, yet that is the argument used by the homosexuals. 

They need a better argument other than "I was born that way."

The Bible says,

“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." (Rom. 1:26-27).

People are responsible for acting in a manner that is proper even if they don't feel like it. We don't approve of lying simply because that's what people like. We don't approve of adultery simply because people like to have sex. We don't approve of bank robbery because people might have a predisposition to theft. One's "orientation" does not justify behavior, nor does it qualify for government protection. The truth is when the ways of God are abandoned, people will receive "in their own persons the due penalty of their error." They will be given over to the depravity of their hearts and minds to believe the lie and to act in a manner contrary to the ways of God. But, in a world where people do whatever is right in their own eyes and are willingly led by their passions, the truth and absolute morality of God is relegated to the trash heap. The end result can never be good.

  • 1. apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx
  • 2. matthewvines.tumblr.com
  • 3. greeleygazette.com/press/?p=11517
  • 4. I am not admitting that people are born homosexuals. I am only working with the argument.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.