The Invention of Homosexuality . . . and Heterosexuality

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Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
October 6, 2011, 13:21

Interesting discussion of the invention of terms over time.

you can listen to the podcast or read the transcript


Sexual identity has split the Christian Church like no other issue has in recent years. Entire denominations, and the relationships between churches and the broader culture, are fracturing around questions like “Should gay priests be ordained?” and “Should gay marriages be recognized?”

But what if this very thing that is the source of so much contention, this thing called “sexual identity,” doesn’t really exist? Or what if it doesn’t exist, at least, in the way that we Christians have been brought up to believe? How would that change how we wrestle with these conflicts? Jenell Paris, a cultural anthropologist teaching at Messiah College, has posed these questions and provided her own answer in her recent book, The End of Sexual Identity. Her book makes the historical argument that the very concept of a homosexual versus heterosexual identity is a relatively modern invention.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
October 17, 2011, 12:32

Hi avb

Interesting article.

I like the questions posed at the top of the article:

Christians often ask, “Is homosexuality a sin?” The better questions are, “What is homosexuality?” and “Where did this label come from?”

It’s true that we need to really define the concept properly before we can ascertain whether it’s classed as sin or not. And I still don’t think we are close to truly understanding the complexity of ‘homosexuality’, whether from a biological or cultural context. And no one can agree regarding what was meant in biblical times where scriptures refer to certain same sex and other sexual acts. Therefore how can we judge it to be sin or not?

I think God’s best for us is not that we become heterosexual. I don’t think that’s the point. God’s calling for all of his followers is to holiness, to live lives grounded more and more in the love of Christ.

I think this is true.

But then the author goes on to say this:

With respect to sexuality, I think God’s best is sex within a marriage between a man and a woman.

I definitely don’t agree with that. I mean, how is that God’s best? And why is that better than sex between a same sex couple?


Ann Maree

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