At the risk of being labeled a homophobe, I have to make a confession here. There is something about the current debate over sexual orientation and practice that confuses me. For many, it seems, once sexual orientation is declared to be determined rather than chosen, it follows that acting on oneâ€™s orientation is therefore acceptable, even recommended.
For instance, the Reconciling Ministries Networkâ€™s mission statement is: â€œReconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice.â€
Actually, so far so good. But from here is where, for me anyway, the problem starts. As one pursues an understanding of the position of the Reconciling Ministries folks, one becomes familiar with â€œLGBT,â€ or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered.
Is my point of confusion clear? I have no desire to argue here the various points on orientation versus practice of â€œlesbianâ€ or â€œgay.â€ It seems to be pretty clear, though, that when one moves into â€œbisexual,â€ one moves to a place where there is an obvious and necessary distinction between orientation and practice.
Whether or not there is justification for a sexual orientation called â€œbisexual,â€ it is obvious that bisexual practice is inappropriate for Christians because Christians are in broad agreement, as far as I know, that appropriate sexual behavior is â€œcelibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage.â€
(This is one reason those on the Reconciling side of this argument fight for homosexual marriage; as it currently stands, church law and civil law forbid them from practicing fidelity in marriage.)
So here is my problem, and it is one that will undoubtedly have some on the â€œleftâ€ side of this issue banding me a homophobe. It seems to me that there is necessarily a difference between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. There is no law, either in The United Methodist Church or in the United States, that directly refers to, limits, or addresses sexual orientation.
Since we necessarily have the ability to differentiate between orientation and behavior, the standard argument identifying orientation and behavior is specious. Specifically, how does â€œfidelity in marriage and celibacy in singlenessâ€ not preclude bisexuality being acted out?