This post is the 6th in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” Each post covers a reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. On Friday, we’ll conclude the series by addressing a few lingering questions that still remain. So if you have a question, please shout it out! Either in the comments or through my contact page. I look forward to hearing from you!
To check out other posts in the series:
- Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
- Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
- Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’
- Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
- Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
- LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
- Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions
Or to read the full article:
Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!
Seeking Clarity on Sexuality but Getting Confused
One smaller but influential reason why some Christians prefer to use “same-sex-attracted” over “gay” comes down to accuracy. They believe that “same-sex-attracted” fits them better and avoids misunderstanding.
And I get where they’re coming from. Accuracy is important when it comes to language. You definitely shouldn’t call yourself gay if you’re not gay! But on the other hand, if “gay” doesn’t fit your experience, “same-sex-attracted” is unlikely to do any better.
For example, when I ask a person for their ethnic background, I’m usually asking for more than just “I’m a minority,” or “I’m a non-minority.” I want to actually learn something, something that helps me understand them. Something like, “I’m Hispanic,” or, “I’m Polish on my dad’s side.” I’m asking for something specific.
And it’s the same thing when it comes to sexuality. I want to know more than just “I’m heterosexual,” or, “I’m non-heterosexual.” And “same-sex-attracted” doesn’t do that. It’s a catchall term for a vast array of non-heterosexual experiences that are tremendously different from each other and require tremendously different responses.
A Lesbian Ain’t Bisexual and a Bisexual Ain’t Gay
Sure, it might be easy to divide the world into same-sex and opposite-sex attracted, but people are not that cut and dry. The pastoral care that a lesbian needs will differ greatly from that of a gay man and yet again from that of a bisexual, and so on down the list. When we lump them all together, we only sow confusion.
For instance, how applicable is a “same-sex-attracted” Christian’s advice to a lesbian if this Christian is actually a bisexual and happily married to the opposite sex? It would be far more helpful to understand the specific nature of their experience, so that a bisexual woman could relate to the advice and a lesbian could appreciate its truth while understanding the application might be different.
Same-Sex-Attracted Just Doesn’t Fit the Bill
If we’re looking to be precise with our language, “same-sex-attracted” is poorly suited for the job. It applies unilaterally to everyone who happens to fall under the non-heterosexual umbrella and creates numerous pastoral issues as a result. To be fair, some people do argue that “gay” and “lesbian” are just as imprecise, connoting a sinful “lifestyle” antagonistic to Christian morality. If you’d like to read my response, I address this question here.
Ultimately, as long as we’re looking to be accurate, LGBT words do better. Obviously, this doesn’t make them perfect. Words like “gay” and “lesbian” just happen to be less confusing and more informative. On a purely practical level, they just do better than “same-sex-attracted.”
Wow! It’s time to wrap up the series! On Friday, I’ll tie up some loose ends and address a few lingering questions. If you’ve got a question related to the series, please shout it out! Either in the comments or more privately through my contact page. I’ll respond, and if it seems relevant to other people, I will definitely include your question in my post on Friday.
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In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Have you ever been frustrated with wanting to know more information than just “same-sex-attracted”? Or have you ever felt that using the term “same-sex-attracted” erased your particular experience?