Scientific and Biblical Understanding Sexual Orientation
Sexual orientation is defined as a lasting pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. According to Ford, sexual orientation may also mean a person’s sense of distinctiveness based on attractions, related behaviors, and relationship in the community with others who share similar attractions (26). Overall, sexual orientation has a variety of excusive attraction to the opposite sex and the same sex. Biologically, there are three forms of sexual orientation: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. Heterosexuals show romantic and/or sexual feelings to persons of the opposite gender; homosexuals comprise of gays (men) and lesbians (women) showing romantic and/or sexual “feelings” to the same gender (Burge, 6). On the other hand, bisexuals show romantic and/or sexual interest to both genders. Ideally, different cultures are grounded on distinct sexual orientation throughout the world. Biological identity of sex includes the anatomical, physiological, and genetic features which are associated with being male or female. The gender identity is psychological sense of belonging to a distinct category as male, female, or transgender. Nonetheless, Ford asserts that social gender also plays an important role in differentiating feminine and masculine behaviors based on culture (33). In most cases, sexual orientation is exclusively discussed as though it were a characteristic of an individual like sex, gender, or age.
However, sexual orientation should be defined with respect to how one relates with others. For instance, one is able to know his/her “peculiar sexual” orientation (lesbians, gays or bisexual) at the early stages of development (Ford, 54). Normally, the core attractions culminating into adult sexual orientation emerge between middle childhood and early adolescence with or without previous sexual experience. According to Ford, one can know his/her sexual orientation: lesbianism, gayism, or bisexualism long before engaging in an intimate relationship (54). However, homosexuals and bisexuals first hide their sexual orientations because of societal prejudice and discrimination.
Today, scientists look into genes, brain structure environment and hormones in trying to understand the intrigues around homosexuality and bisexualism. It is believed that such “sexual orientations” are more than just sexual behaviors (Burge, 77). This is owed to several cases of children with gender nonconformity behaviors and interests ending up becoming homosexuals and bisexuals. For example, studies conducted from early 1950s significantly attributed the increase of homosexual orientation to influences of families’ heritability factors. However, the studies faced “methodological” setbacks; small sample space, biasness in sampling techniques among others (Ford, 42). Consequently, there are three independent studies which are free of methodological biases conducted in Sweden, Finland, and Australia. In each of the study, the homosexuality rate was compared to monozygotic (same-sex) or dizygotic (opposite -sex) zygote of thousands of randomly sampled people. The results were significantly different in both cases with each showing country’s a reflection of sexual orientation. Overall, the rates of homosexual orientations were high in both studies. In Australia, 48% of males and females indicated heritability in sexual orientation. The Finnish males and females genetic influences stood at 45% and 50% respectively. On the other hand, Burge argues that Swedish males and females indicated 39%and 19% respectively (88). Therefore, the differences could be explained in terms of cultural diversity, and environmental among others factors like errors.
Religious Understanding of Sexual Orientation
Unlike scientific understanding, religious community has a significantly different view of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is solely viewed on a “biblical and sexuality” perspective (Dallas, 13). It gives various accounts of relationships between religion and homosexuality. This is owed to varying time and place with respect to the type of religions and denominations. Quite often, the religious faithful, the general public, and the critics are engrossed in heated debate on what the bible say about immoral sexual behaviors in the society including “fortification, adultery, and homosexuality” among others (Brownson, 22). However, the bible offers long and elaborate stories and history about sexuality and implications to sexual orientations. The biblical account of sexual orientation dates back to the book of genesis during God’s creation of Adam and Eve. The bible accounts that God created Adam in his own image after which He gave him a “deep sleep” and took away part of Adam’s rib and created Eve (Brownson, 31). This was because God realized Adam’s loneliness even with the freedom to associate with all other creatures. God thus told them to go and multiply and to fill the earth. Dallas argues that this biblical account implies that the Creator only recognized the union between man and woman for procreation and not any other sexual orientation (56). The centrality of sexuality in companionship thereby making such union to be emphasized because God purposed that man and woman shall only become one flesh after marriage. In this chapter, sexual pleasure is indicated to be the main goal of the union between man and woman; lacking procreation in the second account of creation.
Nonetheless, through Paul, the bible teaches (1 Corinthians 6; 1-9) that human bodies are the temple of God. The teaching is “replicated” in various biblical scriptures including Hebrews and New Testament (Brownson, 72). It is indicted that Rebecca was fair, Rachel graceful, Joseph was well built, and good looking. In another account, the bible talks about the role of genitals by giving reference to Rachel’s deception plot to Laban. Differently, the Hebrews indicates that celibacy is not good. There are many successful “heterosexual relationships” in the Hebrews bible including polygamous (1 King 11:3) (Dallas, 36). Isaac is shown as the only monogamous patriarch as opposed to Solomon who married many wives and further had hundreds of concubines.
On the other hand, Jeremiah is shown to have remained single because of impending disease (Jeremiah 6:2). In contrast, Brownson indicates certain passages in the Bible that explicitly account for same-sex relationships; Leviticus and Romans (30). Jonathan and David had fallen in love at first sight (1 Samuel 18: 1). Jonathan is said to have equated David’s love to be much more than that of a woman. However, there is no clear account that the two had intimacy had relationship. Moreover, Naomi and Ruth had a deep love for each other; Boaz was only used to impregnate Ruth. The bible claims the two promised to be everywhere at the same time (Ruth 1: 16). Nonetheless, it is not known whether they engrossed in lesbianism. In another account, “Sodom and Gomorrah” was destroyed because of homosexuality and immoral sexual behaviors including adultery (wisdom 19: 13, Ezekiel 16: 48-49) (Dallas, 66). The bible recognizes the existence of different sexual orientations and minorities.
The biblical Song of Songs highlights a delightful sensual and erotic scenario of an unmarried man and woman probably in their teenagers. They show mutual, “passionate and intimate” desire for each other (Brownson, 22). This is arguably one of the biblical scriptures where bodily beauty, pleasure is good, many forms of blessed relationships and sexual intimacy are viewed to be a source of both pleasure and pain in people’s lives. Therefore, Burge asserts that homosexuals and bisexuals are regarded as immoral sexual orientation in most religious communities (66). Religions may quietly condemn, actively forbid, oppose, and execute homosexuals in the society. However, some religious communities view homosexual and bisexual orientations as acceptable thus bless same-sex marriages and further support other forms of same-sex relationships.
Brownson, V. James. Bible, Gender, and Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2013. Print.
Dallas, Joe and Heche, Nancy. The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction. Oregon, USA: Harvest House Publishers. 2010. Print.
Ford, D. Julian. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Scientific and Professional Dimensions. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press, 2009. Print.
Burge, Ted. Science and the Bible: Evidence-based Christian Belief. Philadelphia, Pa: Templeton Foundation Press, 2005. Print.
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