Sexual Orientation

This term is now widely understood as reflecting an enduring and innate affectional orientation and attraction - and something that is embraced by progressive and secular voices as central to one’s identity. Although their influence (and conviction) continue to recede, many religious conservatives continue to question both whether sexual orientation is innate and enduring - and whether it is (or should be) central to one’s identity.  

Much of the additional conflict around the meaning of sexual orientation is nested in how it develops, whether it is inherently moral or immoral, and whether it is possible or advisable to attempt to change it or work with it in different ways. While progressives define sexual orientation as an enduring pattern of emotional, physical, and sexual attraction to men, women, or both sexes which is likely due to a combination of genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences, conservatives sometimes believe instead that a same-gendered sexual orientation is the result of brokenness, illness, or rebellion to God.  As a result, some conservatives believe a person should have the freedom to pursue means of aligning and reconciling their sexual experiences and their religious faith.  While progressives argue that what they call “sexual orientation change efforts” have been proven to be largely harmful, unethical, and ineffective - conservatives insist their aim is to support people in simply living in alignment with their values, whether or not the underlying affections themselves change.