Lost In Terminology?

This is an extremely important key to communicating with those who are seeking Christ.

Much is lost and/or misunderstood in not completely understanding the labels people use.  And using a label is unfortunate, however it makes a big difference in how you speak to your audience.

The terminology is changing, so that complicates things further. Never be afraid to ask the person you are talking to, how they identify and to explain their understanding of truth and how they identify themselves.  Some use terminology to describe themselves that may have a different meaning to those in the mainstream of the gay lifestyle.   Let’s begin here…

Gay –   Identifying as gay to parents or friends has always lent the impression that the person revealing him or herself to you, is attracted to the same sex and identifies with sexual relations with that gender.

Gay lifestyle –       In the forty years I lived as part of the gay lifestyle, I came in contact with thousands and thousands of individuals in the gay community.  Generally speaking, the lifestyle had little to do with long-term relationships and largely about partying, clubbing, dancing, drinking, drugging and excessive promiscuous behavior.  I lived during the sexual revolution which could explain why there was so much promiscuity.  There were committed relationships, but they were rare individuals we would admire.

Many of those relationships were “open relationships” allowing the partner to cheat or sometimes both partners would engage as a couple in sexual trists that would include one or more individuals.   I do not have statistics from that time, but I would guess that less than 2% of gays in a relationship were exclusive. It was certainly not what one would consider a wholesome lifestyle.

Gay Christian – Using this term could have some loose meanings currently. For probably the majority of those who identify this way, this would include the permission for a monogamous relationship within a variation of biblical beliefs.

Yet there may be some who will identify this way who are celibate and are not attracted to the opposite sex. To me… identifying this way is like insurance against a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex which could lead to a marital union. It seems to be an adamant limitation toward God.

Some, when first converted to Christian beliefs are not sure how to identify and for a time may call themselves  gay Christians.  It may be important to get clarification from the person you are speaking with in order to know what thought process they may be in.

Same-Sex Attracted – This indicates an individual who is relaying what it is that they are tempted with or have desires for. This would most likely be an individual who is living a life according to God’s instruction. This is usually a celibate individual.

Gay Adventist – An individual who openly declares him or herself as a gay Adventist would likely be on board with an SDA Kinship theology. Again this person most likely believes in an ordained same sex, monogamous relationship.  This is generally due to the fact that the overwhelming feelings of the individual over throw the truth and instruction given in God’s Word to us.

I have known of a push to identify this way even as a celibate individual. But since terminology is continually evolving, identifying this way after God has rescued you from a gay lifestyle or from being gay, seems to indicate our limitations of God. It would be far more important to claim your new identity as a New Creation in Christ Jesus, rather than a label of a lifestyle associated with the world. Of course that makes sense for all Christians, not just the homosexual who has given their life to Christ.

Ex Gay – Another term thrown loosely about is, ex-gay. This term was most likely made popular by the Exodus International ministry. In recent years it was believed that by following the concepts and principles of the ministry, one could claim to be ex-gay. However the impressions this gave was that one would no longer be tempted by same-sex attraction. Many found this a mountainous burden.

Once again those who experienced same-sex attraction and considered that they were now supposed to be ex-gay, would cave in under the expectation that ex-gay means you are straight and have the same sexual desires as a heterosexual.

The current president of Exodus International, Alan Chambers,  has brought about a change in the concepts of the organization. Still promoting sexual purity as God directs us to, the goal is holiness. Our direction in life, by being drawn to Christ is to become more like Him. Holy, instead of living in sin.  Many today will refer to themselves as redeemed.  The change in terminology has lessened the pressure to be straight. People are not automatically set up for failure.

Ex Ex-Gay –  There are now quite a number of individuals who after trying to live up to the expectations of being and Ex-Gay, found it impossible to try and be straight. Again it was the wrong expectation. So many have fled and returned to living as a gay in the gay lifestyle they had been rescued from.

Homosexual – Although this is the terminology used in the Bible, gays have sought to distance themselves from a term that has had such negativity associated with it, thus the word “gay.”  In today’s society it would be more appropriate to say …”Oh … she’s gay,” rather than saying …”Oh… she’s a homosexual.”

Homosexual Orientation – Keep in mind that sin is not in the orientation (label,) but in the carrying out of immoral behavior.  Temptation is not sin.  It is important in the conversion of someone who has lived in sexual immorality, not to be considered heterosexual simply due to baptism.  It’s a possibility that God will draw this individual to a special life-mate of the opposite sex. However some may be committed to a life of celibacy. Either way,… sexual purity as God intended us. When a sinner is converted and accepts Christ as their Savior it is wise to give your previous orientation to God and let Him guide you to  the cross. Be oriented for His kingdom

There is a fair amount of discussion around “homosexual orientation.”  To me, it seems that because of past ministries that have focused on sexual identity change, many current ministries seem to adopt a sympathetic edge allowing or encouraging converts to hang onto their “homosexual  orientation.”   This falls into identity. By identifying in Jesus Christ as a New Creation and a redeemed sinner, we are focused on our new life in Christ, not in a sinful orientation of our past.

Child of God – This would be what each of us are. And very thankful for this privilege. But for the sake of communication, it is sometimes necessary to use some of the above mentioned identifiers, in order to more effectively communicate with one another.

If I start talking to you and say… ” Oh I’m a child of God and I don’t believe in sex within the same gender,”  you don’t have a complete revelation of perspective.  But if I say …”Oh, I’m a same-sex attracted individual, but I don’t believe God ordains intimate relations within one’s own gender,”  then you automatically know I have struggled with attraction to the same sex, but choose to live according to the will of God.

Keep in mind that with various angles, theologies and proclamations made each day, the terminology keeps getting a bit muddled.  Always seek clarification for the best communication with whom you are speaking

Redeemed – Plucked out of a gay lifestyle by the Lord Jesus Christ. Inviting Him in to be my personal Savior, confessing my sins and accepting the blood that He shed for me, washing away my sins and redeeming me unto Himself.

A New Creation in Christ – This would be my personal favorite and just as Christ describes one who has submitted their will to Him, seeking forgiveness, desiring to live a life in Christ and being baptized. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!.

More terminology continues to evolve as do the understandings or lack thereof.