Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Orientation and Practice

At the risk of being labeled a homophobe, I have to make a confession here. There is something about the current debate over sexual orientation and practice that confuses me. For many, it seems, once sexual orientation is declared to be determined rather than chosen, it follows that acting on one’s orientation is therefore acceptable, even recommended.

For instance, the Reconciling Ministries Network’s mission statement is: “Reconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice.”

Actually, so far so good. But from here is where, for me anyway, the problem starts. As one pursues an understanding of the position of the Reconciling Ministries folks, one becomes familiar with “LGBT,” or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered.

Is my point of confusion clear? I have no desire to argue here the various points on orientation versus practice of “lesbian” or “gay.” It seems to be pretty clear, though, that when one moves into “bisexual,” one moves to a place where there is an obvious and necessary distinction between orientation and practice.

Whether or not there is justification for a sexual orientation called “bisexual,” it is obvious that bisexual practice is inappropriate for Christians because Christians are in broad agreement, as far as I know, that appropriate sexual behavior is “celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage.”

(This is one reason those on the Reconciling side of this argument fight for homosexual marriage; as it currently stands, church law and civil law forbid them from practicing fidelity in marriage.)

So here is my problem, and it is one that will undoubtedly have some on the “left” side of this issue banding me a homophobe. It seems to me that there is necessarily a difference between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. There is no law, either in The United Methodist Church or in the United States, that directly refers to, limits, or addresses sexual orientation.

Since we necessarily have the ability to differentiate between orientation and behavior, the standard argument identifying orientation and behavior is specious. Specifically, how does “fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness” not preclude bisexuality being acted out?

3 Comments:

Blogger Richard H said...

So what's the problem? You keep saying you have one but never tell us what it is. Or am I being hard of seeing again?

4:51 PM  
Blogger j2 said...

For Richard's sake:

It would be difficult, but not impossible, for one to be married to a person who was both male and female. Absent that, a bi-sexually oriented person who felt nature permitted gratifying "the way they are made" with both sexes would be guilty of adultery or fornication if they did behave that way.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Richard H said...

Thanks for speaking up "for my sake." I was mostly giving Steve (my brother) a hard time. I knew where he was headed, but when he said, "So here is my problem, and it is one that will undoubtedly have some on the “left” side of this issue banding me a homophobe. It seems to me that there is necessarily a difference between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. There is no law, either in The United Methodist Church or in the United States, that directly refers to, limits, or addresses sexual orientation." - I failed to see him express THAT as the problem.

11:56 AM  

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