Practicing Homosexuals

What is a practicing homosexual? The term is quite bizarre if you sit and ponder about the implications. A quarterback of a high school football team may ask his field goal kicker if he is going "to practice" in the afternoon. Practice refers to the performance of a habit or custom in order to sharpen one's skills in that area. Does the practicing homosexual sharpen his skills in the arena of homosexuality? I used to practice playing piano when I was a teenager. My intent was to become a better player. Certainly this notion aligns with what is a "practicing homosexual." No?

A law firm is sometimes referred to as a practice. In this sense, then, the word is used as a noun. But in our specious term, "practicing homosexual," the word "homosexual" is the noun and "practicing" is the adjective describing the sort of homosexual in reference. Perhaps the bizarre phrase maintains reference to its archaic usage: "the act of tricking or scheming, especially with malicious intent"; "a trick, scheme, or intrigue." (TheFreeDictionary) Well, the only context that is "tricky" regarding homosexuality is when one encounters opponents of homosexuals; the homosexual, then, must "scheme" his way out of being scorned. As to "intrigue," I am not convinced that being homosexual is all that intriguing, and I am nearly certain that all three words noted here maintain an entirely different framework altogether.

I was reminded of the usage of this awkward and, let us face facts, demeaning phrase "practicing homosexuals" while re-reading Jimmy Creech's book, Adam's Gift:
As I drank my morning coffee at home, an hour or so earlier [from meeting with an emotionally upset parishioner, Adam], I had read a newspaper report that the General Convention of The United Methodist Church -- gathered in Baltimore, Maryland, for its quadrennial meeting -- had just passed a new policy prohibiting the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals."
I needed to put the book down and think a while on this phrase: practicing homosexuals. I wonder to myself in what sense heterosexuals practice their chosen and preferred heterosexuality. I write "chosen and preferred heterosexuality" for the benefit of those ill-advised conservative evangelicals who think that a homosexual person actively and willingly chooses his or her emotional/psychological/sexual same-gendered attraction. I suppose, then, that the heterosexual practices his or her chosen and preferred heterosexuality by demonstrating attraction towards someone of the opposite gender, desiring to engage such a one emotionally, psychologically, and, if all goes well, lovingly and physically (kissing, touching, sexual activity).

If this is a fair assessment, and I think that it is, then a "practicing homosexual," unlike its connotation from some conservative evangelicals implying any semblance of perversion, is a man or a woman who demonstrates attraction towards someone of the same gender, desiring to engage such a one emotionally, psychologically, and, if all goes well, lovingly and physically (kissing, touching, sexual activity). A "practicing homosexual," then, merely longs to love and to be loved. No longer should we permit conservatives, evangelicals, and traditionalists to get away with demeaning LGBTQ folk who merely want what all heterosexuals want: to love and to be loved.


What the traditionalist intends by use of the term "practicing homosexual" is a gay man or a gay woman in a same-gendered relationship of love and fidelity. Such a one is practicing, or living out, his or her inner feelings and emotions for someone of the same gender. Many traditionalists will embrace the homosexual who is self-loathing, denying his or her emotional/psychological/sexual attraction to members of one's gender, as long as he or she remains in such a condition. But if that individual allows him- or herself to pursue love, pursue someone with whom to share one's life, then he or she is labelled a "practicing homosexual" who is, regretfully, "living in sin."

I ask: Based upon what Scripture? Never mind that the two authors of Scripture who mention some semblance of same-sex sex-acts never address same-gendered love or emotion or psychology. Never mind that Moses mentions honor-shame male gang rape (Gen. 19:1-11; Judges 19:1-30), which maintains no connection whatsoever to homosexuality; or his strange reference to a man who lies with a man "as with" a woman (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). Why the qualification "as with" a woman?

Moreover, why the change in expression? Moses uses the Hebrew euphemism לְגַלֹּ֣ות עֶרְוָ֑ה, "uncovering the nakedness of" someone, when referring to sexual intercourse (cf. Lev. 18:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19); but he does not use that expression when allegedly proscribing some form of homosexual sexual activity at Leviticus 18:22 (and Leviticus 20:13). Why? The author does not even use the Hebrew תִתֵּ֥ן (Lev. 18:20), "to have sexual intercourse with" someone, at Leviticus 18:22. Are we not only permitted but required to ask why he qualified the statement and changed expression?

Never mind that St Paul refers to heterosexual men and women who abandon God, and then, ironically, abandon their own heterosexual nature, in order to engage in same-sex lust and fornication (sexual activity outside of marriage) (cf. Rom. 1:18-28); or his ambiguous references of μαλακοὶ and ἀρσενοκοῖται (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10), two terms that could reference same-sex sex-acts in some manner related to lust, vice, or exploitation. But none of these references commit us to proscribing same-gendered unions based on mutual respect and self-sacrificial love. If so then the homosexual pursuing love should not be badgered as "living in sin" or "practicing homosexuality."


Jimmy Creech, Adam's Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor's Calling to Defy the Church's Persecution of Lesbian and Gays (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 1.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.