Here is where I will probably get into some trouble. Not that I have a problem with what I am about to say, but I know some folks will find it offensive, others too simplistic, and still others to be insensitive, just to name a few possibilities. But on the other hand, I have mentioned this to a few people struggling with their identities and they have found it helpful. We live in a sex-saturated culture that immerses us in ideas (whether right or wrong is not the subject of this post) that impact our thinking and likely our behaving. The culture presents us (via television, movies, the internet, school sex-ed classes and more) with a rather monolithic message that all sexual identities are equally valid, that it is perfectly okay and natural to be homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, that no one needs to feel constrained or shamed into now-outdated “traditional” sexual mores. The thing about monolithic messages is that they don’t allow room for other considerations. So, it strikes me that a different possibility to ponder may be worth putting on the table. The culture’s message implies the argument that if you find yourself attracted to someone, then that reveals your sexual orientation. Furthermore, you should then feel free to live into that orientation with the culture’s approval. (Just to keep it simple, the implied argument of the culture is that what we find attractive reveals our sexual orientation.) Without another voice speaking into our lives, it is easy to imagine how the already turbulent and confusing time of adolescence can go off the rails. Heck, without a competing option or voice, adults fall for the implied argument of the culture just as much as adolescents. I have had people sit in my office and tell me that they find Person Z attractive. Person Z happens to be someone of the same biological gender as the person sitting in my office. The person in my office has come to the conclusion that they must be homosexual. I can tell they aren’t exactly comfortable with that notion. (If they were, they wouldn’t be in my office.) Once they get good and worked up, I generally interrupt and say something to the effect that being attracted to someone has nothing to do with sexual identity or orientation. Here’s the thing. I believe we are hard-wired to worship. Our worship is rightly oriented toward God, but God has left indelible imprints of His glory all over His creation. When we encounter these signposts of God’s glory, something in us rises to worship. Now, it’s true enough, we often stop short of worshiping God and instead worship the created thing itself rather than letting the created thing become a window through which to glimpse the majesty of the Almighty God (see the apostle Paul in Romans 1 on that one). But it explains in part why we feel like we are in the presence of something holy when we behold the splendor of the star-strewn sky at night, or stand with jaw agape at the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, or feel something tugging us out of ourselves when we look up at the mountains or out across the vast expanse of the sea. It’s our wiring stirring us to do what we were made to do: worship God. Yeah, my apologies. That was a bit of a detour. But not really. When God created the heavens and the earth, the recording of that event in the Scriptures tells us that the creative activity moved ever toward increasing complexity and diversity. The most glorious of created things was made last. Mankind, both male and female, was made on the final creative day as the crowning glory of God’s handiwork. Mankind was to bear the very image of God, to reflect His glory, to be most like Him in all the earth. So, if we find stars and canyons, mountains and oceans, rousing and inspiring – if we find attractive the splendor and glory of these inanimate things – is it any wonder that we find ourselves attracted to people, both male and female, as the vice-regents of this world? If we didn’t find them attractive, something would be wrong with us – rather like someone shrugging when visiting the Grand Canyon and in boredom saying, “Yeah, big deal. So what?” But here’s the point. The impulse to worship the Creator that is activated by what we find attractive and inspiring – call it the Law of Attraction – is just that: it’s an impulse that should move us to worship God. It is NOT a sexual orientation. Attraction does not equal “I want to be intimate with you.” Finding men and women attractive does not equal bisexual orientation. Etc. But make no mistake about it. We are vulnerable to misunderstanding our impulses. If we only know the culture’s message and its implied argument, we could well draw a conclusion about our sexual identity that need not follow. We can be exploited by others, too, at this point. Pedophiles, sex traffickers, and pornographers all take advantage of this vulnerability. Interestingly enough though, having a counter argument to the culture’s insistent mantra that attraction equals orientation gives people a “choice” in terms of what to believe about their identity. And our culture values choice too. It’s good to have options to consider. Especially when it comes to essential matters of our identity.
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