Hello, I am a Christian pastor, and I am not a heterosexual.
Those are often my first words to a person who is in the gay community. It is fascinating to see the surprise in their eyes (and the walls that crumble down). Most people have labeled themselves long before I meet them. Many choose to place upon themselves the label of “gay” or “homosexual,” not because it describes what they want to be, but because it expresses what they are led to believe they are.
For years I thought there were certain labels that adequately described our sexuality. I would have—at one time—considered myself to be a “heterosexual” male. I would have considered those different from me to be “homosexual” men. But as I have grown and learned, I have become aware of the fallacy of these and other labels: they create a divide that should not exist. I have also come to learn that labels are libel.
The Origin of The Labels
The terms homosexual and heterosexual originated in 1869 when they were coined by Karl Kertbeny, a man terribly confused about human sexuality. Confusion so severe, in fact, that it effectively impaired his moral judgment and general decency. Kertbeny attempted not only to legalize, but also to normalize bestiality (sex with animals), coining the term “heterogenits” alongside his terms homosexual, heterosexual, and monosexual.
The same man who invented the label for “heterosexuals” also invented the terms for three deviations. He did so with a desire to legitimize unnatural sexual behavior and make it socially acceptable. Karl, later known as Maria, died at age 58.
When the church uses these labels, we endorse and validate them. We buy into the lie. Calling yourself “straight” degrades them as “crooked” (hence, the term “queer” to imply they are odd or weird). Stating that God created you unchangeably “heterosexual” immediately implies that God designed them irredeemably “homosexual,” as neither of you had a choice in how you were born. This is degrading, and it is biblically incorrect.
Worse yet, it only encourages and perpetuates an us-versus-them mentality.
Satan Labels People
- Adam and Eve lost Paradise because the Serpent deceived them into believing they could be “gods.”
- Using fear, Satan caused the Hebrew people to see themselves as “grasshoppers” next to their enemy, left to wander in the wilderness for 40 years because of it.
- Jonathan’s son, Prince Mephibosheth was deceived into labeling himself as nothing more than a “dog” before King David adopted him.
- On one occasion, Jesus healed a demon possessed man, but we are not sure of his true name: when asked, the man demonically said “I am Legion.”
How sad for Christians to fall prey to secular—and in some cases, even demonic—labels. Labeling someone “homosexual” and “heterosexual” is disgraceful, unbiblical, and destructive, only serving to perpetuate the us-versus-them mentality.
God Labels Behavior
God labels the behavior. Sexual behavior is either natural or unnatural. I have heard some Christians attempt to sound bold, using terms such as “sodomite,” “queer,” and even “faggot” to label those who are sexually deviant. We run into several biblical issues when we use these derogatory names, but let’s consider three:
1. Labels do not communicate the love of Christ
I have had Christians defend their sharp tongue with the account of Jesus calling the Pharisees “vipers.” My reply? Jesus also walked on water, how about you? Why aren’t you a water-walker yet?
Maybe because Jesus didn’t command you to walk on water. Part of “rightly dividing” the Word of God means we must understand the difference between what Jesus did and what He commanded us to do. Jesus, as both God and the Son of Man, did many things. Sometimes He chastised the Pharisees, but He commanded us to “love them” and “do them good.” Name-calling does not fulfill that command.
2. Labels Do Not Help
For the most part, our culture owns these labels and, in some cases, wearing them has become a badge of honor. A man living in sexual sin may very well identify himself as “queer” or “gay;” they take pride in some of these labels. These labels do not convict anyone, either (as if that were our job, anyway). God’s Word, however, is powerful. His Word always cuts to the heart. A man might convince himself to take pride in the “gay” label, but he cannot easily take pride in the term “unnatural.”
Others choose to flee sin, but they are forced to assume a label that describes how they see themselves rather than describing what they do. Condemning the label with its actions also condemns those who do not partake in the sin, leading to shame. The labels are beneficial in neither scenario.
3. Labels Do Not Edify
Some Christians decide, “I’ll just call them sodomites! That’s a biblical word.” The problem with this is two-fold. A sodomite, in context, is the male counterpart of a harlot: sex for hire. The average guy in the unnatural lifestyle is simply not a sodomite.
Furthermore, the word is not edifying. Many churches have bus ministries, and those bus ministries reach thousands of children who come from broken homes. The Bible has a word for children born out of wedlock: bastards. So why won’t churches tell people, “we want your bastards to come to church” each week? The word is biblical, but it is not edifying. We are to be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Let’s be more gentle and loving with our words, for the tongue holds the power of life and death.
Why is this so important?
It is important because, once we accept the term “homosexual” as a label, we are legitimizing that a person can be a homosexual, or that he could be born deviant by design, or that God made him a homosexual, or that he has no choice but to sin, or that he is NOT a “heterosexual.” The Bible never makes such a claim. In Scripture, God created a man and a woman who then bore children who were men and women. These men and women are capable of unnatural acts, but God never says that a person is a homosexual or a heterosexual.
Satan labels people by their actions, even identifying himself by his “I will” declarations in Isaiah. God, however, when introducing Himself to Israel, said, “I AM.” Labeling someone by what they do is Satanic; calling them by what they are is godly. A person might do unnatural things, but they are men and women made in God’s image. There is no us-versus-them.
Why would we accept the terms “heterosexual,” and “homosexual” after learning of their origin? Even when we use the term “heterosexual” we automatically acknowledge the idea that someone can be a “homosexual,” and by extension, someone can be “heterogenit” by birth. By accepting these terms in our vocabulary, we have lost the right foundation: God’s Word.
God created men and women—not homosexuals, heterosexuals, and heterogenits. In fact, God does not give any sexual orientation labels in the Bible. So why do we?
Possible Reasons We Label
1. We think we need to identify our orientation.
If there are variations, then we need to identify ours. But this is a fallacy. Biblically, there are no variations, only deviations. A deviation is what departs from an established course or accepted standard. By accepting the label of heterosexual, we make all deviations into variations.
2. We want to separate ourselves from those who choose unnatural lifestyles.
In attempting to distance ourselves from being one thing, we legitimize it. I am very comfortable not identifying myself as a heterosexual because I am not trying to identify myself as such. God created me and calls me a man. My actions are natural. I do not need to label it, just live it. I have no need to label others (nor do I have a right to label others), because God made them male or female as well.
3. Satan has deceived our culture into thinking these labels are legitimate.
Once again, understanding who conceived these names and why he did so should be enough to give them zero validity. The origin of these terms should provoke you to forsake these labels altogether, and the Biblical response only confirms it. Why should we allow any man to redefine what God has already made clear? We are human-beings, not human-doings.
4. It appears to give clarity when in truth it only adds to the confusion.
If there is a socially acceptable name for the behavior that deviates from God’s plan, then we create more confusion by validating it. Remove the labels, destroy the us-versus-them war, and reach out to your neighbor with God’s love.
So who are you, really?
We live in a culture of pride—a Nation consumed with self. In this Age of Self, the language is filled with phrases that glorify mankind instead of God. Pride will elevate personal choice above all other values: self-determination, self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-help, and even do-it-yourself. In this climate, no Christian is safe; no secular terms should be accepted without scrutiny. The touchstone of belief today is the individual, not his Maker. Christians much not fall to this.
The Bible tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). What does it mean to be a “new creation?” It means we have a new identity. That NEW identity has amazing implications for how we live our lives and how God works in and through us.
John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”