I think one of our gay readers would be better equipped to answer the question “how do i know if i am gay?” than me. I can only speak for people that i know personally and the one I know best is ME :). The other thing i know pretty well is the Bible. I would like to speak on those 2 things. The Bible first, then my experiences.
You mention that the bible “clearly differentiates between four different kinds of love”. Sorry to burst some favourite sermon or bible study bubble out there but that is simply not the case. Like english, greek has a large ronge of words that are used to deal with the various dynamics that exist in relationships and its not nearly as clearly defined as the comment suggests.
The septuagint (an ancient greek translation of the hebrew bible) does not use those words in those categories as you have described. In fact, it is much more likely to use what you have called philos to describe certain loving actions of God than agape. Likewise, Jesus rarely speaks about God’s love using agape. He tends to use completely different verbal constructs in all 4 gospels. It would also be a mistake to limit the greek word eros to sexual love. In classic and poetic greek literature it tends to be more an intoxicating all embracing, overwhelming love that flows from the gods themselves.(perhaps closer to what you might term agape or god kind of love.)
To say that the concept of love or the feelings, thought and actions that flow within the dynamic of relationships can be categorised by 4 greek words is incredibly limiting and even inaccurate. In your comment you mentioned that an older person acts selfishly or perhaps takes advantage of a particular relationship in order to satisfy his desires. And you strangly call that “sexual love”. What about words like “imflamed passion” or “lust”. Actually “rape” or “abuse” would be better words to describe what happens in such a power imbalance.
The point is, (communication principle No. 1). Words have no meaning outside of their context. I repeat….Words have no meaning outside of their context. . That is true in all of life’s communication just as it is true in Bible interpretaion. We cant simply take four words and define them as such…and such… and such…..
“James, I’m kinda pissed off with you but, what can i do,,,I love you!”
What does that sentence mean? I imagine you and i would need to have a fairly lengthy sit down chat before you could be confident you understood what i meant by the words “pissed off” and “love”. You need the context. Understanding the kind of relationship we enjoyed would have a lot to do with understanding the meaning of the words.
Sorry to labour the point here but i think its important. It is critically important when you consider how the word “homosexuality” is understood in a biblical context. The word “homosexual” was a 19th century invention. It amazes me that people can take such a modern word which was invented to address a particular social situation (originally in Germany in the 1860’s)- which has come to mean so many different things over the last 150 years- and apply it so confidently to a whole range of biblical situations, NONE of those bible situations, by the way, are talking about those emotions and actions carried out in loving ways by same sex attracted people.
Ok.. point 2. The situation you have described above betrays some serious prejudices, fears and misunderstandings that people have about sexuality and relationships, particularly those between people of the same sex.
I have been involved in 2 situations as a pastor where i was attempting to give support for men who had been abused by other men when they were young. One was abused by his older brother, the other by his uncle.
The big thing that they both took ages to admit to themselves…
Something that they both kept buried deep down inside and wouldnt dare tell anyone…
The thing that they were most afraid to face up to in the whole sorry affair….
THEY BOTH RESPONDED SEXUALLY TO THE ABUSE! They both had erections. they both experienced some form of sexual “pleasure” (if that is the right word??) and that, as i understand it, is a reaction of many people who have been sexually abused (both by same sex abusers and by opposite sex abusers). This whole mess is made even more confusing for the poor victims because their normal feelings of closeness and love for the family member who abused them gets tangled up in there as well.
So, what are those abused people to make of their sexual response and confused feelings? Are the men to conclude that they are gay? Is the girl to assume that she is some incestuous sex addict? Of course not! Good God! I hope anyone with such screwed up ideas would not be allowed anywhere near these poor victims of abuse in case they passed on such horrible and distorted views. The victims were abused…plain and simple. The sexual response has nothing to do with the victims sexual orientation. Actually, the abuse from the uncle and the big brother has nothing to do with the abusers sexual orientation either. Neither of the abusers in this case had homosexual orientation. In fact, it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It is about abuse and a whole different set of things come into play in these situations.
I’m not gonna speak further about the abuse side because, apart from my pastoral care of some abused people, male and female, i have no particular expertise in the field. Go read a book or seek out an expert … But im sure that none of them will describe the circumstances in cases of abuse as “homosexuality” any more than they would describe an uncle sexually abusing a niece as “family love”.
If you havent already, have a look at the post…”The Letter YOU sent to parliament Pt 3. JIm Wallace proves to be prejudice and unreliable.” Jim Wallace makes the mistake of assuming that male priests who sexually abuse teenaged boys are all homosexual. It is a statement of ignorance and it betrays his prejudice. This same prejudice is displayed by one commentator on that post who essentially said… “the priests were males… the boys were males….its homosexuality!”
None of what you describe in your comment has anything to do with same sex attracted people who desire to express their love to each other within the bounds of a lifelong committed and faithful relationship.
Ill try to make this as clear as a can.
There are people who desire to have lifelong loving and committed relationships with someone they are emotionally and physically attracted to. Some of them are same sex attracted. Some are not. You and i fall into this category.
There are some screwed up people who desire to rape and sexually abuse people whom they can overpower or manipulate in some way. Some of these occurrances are between people of the same sex. and some are not. You and I (i hope) do not fall into this category.
There is no direct connection, logical, factual, scientific or otherwise between these two groups.
Sorry…did you get that?
Ill say it again…coz the last few times ive tried to make this point on this blog obviously haven’t sunk in…
THERE IS NO DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE TWO GROUPS.
And anyone who sees such a connection are not speaking from fact or logic but from ignorance and fear and prejudice.
I imagine that others might want to answer in regard to the question…”how do i know if i am a homosexual or not”. Ive made the same mistake with a person in the distance. It never confused me about my sexual orientation.
I have one other observation. There are people who speak of the “gay lobby” as if there were some malicious groiup out there who want to get into our schools and confuse impressionable teens at an age of sexual exploration and try to make them homosexual. I hope your question doesnt grow out of such ill informed fears? Ive made my feelings on that idea clear in another blog. Its another fear belief with no factual basis. As i have said before. The only lobby group wanting to get into schools and society and actively change peoples sexuality is the conservative element of christian church.
And they are doing great harm to the people they distort and to the reputation of the church and the God they claim to represent.
I really feel passionately about this stuff James, as you can prolly tell :) I hope the passion in my argument hasnt offended you or put you off further comments. I hope that you come back with even stronger arguments so that we can continue to explore this whole question.
Thank you so much for your comment.