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The purpose of this blog is to stimulate thought and discussion about important issues in healthcare. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of CMDA. We encourage you to join the conversation on our website and share your experience, insight and expertise. CMDA has a rigorous and representative process in formulating official positions, which are largely limited to bioethical areas.

Mistaken Identity: There is No Straight or Gay

October 26, 2017

by Andrè Van Mol, MD

So who are we? Products of random mutation and natural selection without meaning or purpose? That explains little, really, and offers even less in directing how we ought to live. Blaise Pascal described man as a mixture of “greatness and wretchedness,” the “glory and the refuse of the universe.” The inferences to sin and goodness are real and beg a few questions worth exploring.

The Judeo-Christian claim that we are created in the imago Dei, the image of God, with a past, present and future is both inspirational and world changing. In Encounters with Jesus, Tim Keller notes secular humanist French philosopher Luc Ferry’s assertion that the philosophy of human rights and dignity come from the concepts of being made in the image of God and that the Logos is a person, without which human rights “would never have established itself.” Europe’s premier philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, stated, “Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity…human rights and democracy, is the direct heir of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love…To this day, there is no alternative to it…Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”

So if we are made in God’s image, why trade it in for a bowl of lentil stew like Esau? That requires failure to appreciate who we are and therefore our birthright. What can draw us away? The first attempt documented in Scripture was this phrase, “Has God indeed said…?” which was offered by the serpent to Eve (Genesis 3:1b, NKJV). And another misdirection came with it, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5, NKJV). But Adam and Eve were already created in God’s image, “like” Him. So the lie was multifaceted, subversive, twisted and even had a theological/religious component. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in Luke 4, Satan was quite religious in approach, accurately quoting a raft of Scriptures to mislead Jesus—quoting accurately, but not in season. Satan attacks identity, striving to separate us from who we are made to be. Mistaken identity is costly.

Enter the false identity of GLBT. “Gay” as revisionist vocabulary meant being uninhibited regarding sexual boundaries, notably heterosexual ones, much like “swinger.” It then became the catchword for men who have sex with men. In either case, “gay” was “carefree,” unhindered by sexual norms. Stanford-trained gay historian David Benkof explained, “…scholars of gay history and anthropology…almost all LGBT themselves…have decisively shown that gayness is a product of Western society originating about 150 years ago…Gay and lesbian historians aren’t just claiming that before the 19th century nobody was called ‘gay.’ They’re saying nobody was gay (or straight)…homosexuality was generally something one could do, not something one could be…In tech-speak, that means being gay is in the software of some people’s lives, but it’s in nobody’s hardware.”

Michael W. Hannon’s insightful essay, “Against Heterosexuality,” described in more detail the falsehood of “orientation essentialism” and its dark past. Hannon begins with Gore Vidal’s once-and-once-again provocative statement, “Actually, there is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person.” Hannon explained that 19th century European aristocrats launched the homosexual/heterosexual terminology to replace the disfavored religious concepts of sin, natural law and the sexual self-control that would reinforce marriage and procreation, thus rendering “homosexuality” as a psychiatric issue and “heterosexuality” (and any immoral practice therein) as normal. He quotes Yale and NYU leftist sexual historian Jonathan Ned Katz’s statement, “Contrary to today’s bio-belief, the heterosexual/homosexual binary is not in nature, but is socially constructed, therefore deconstructable.”

Hannon argues the heterosexual-homosexual distinction misleads in pretending not to be a social construct but an innate natural category; is too neat, tidy and absolute; causes already sexually-preoccupied teens to panic about sexual identity; and is a corrosive to Christian faithfulness. How? “Canonizing” attractions and temptations hinders their proper taming by overstating their importance. “Gayness” increases opportunity for sin by “dramatization of the temptation,” so it “further enslaves the sinner” (“it’s who I am”), intensifies lust by overstating the significance of the desire and fosters self-pity that feeds entitlement. Why obey commandments when you are entitled to sexual gratification because of who you are? To me, this calls back to Proverbs, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25, NKJV). And the apostle Paul warned, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8, NKJV).

Medical and scientific literature prefer clear definitions such as MSM (men having sex with men) and WSW (women having sex with women) as the behaviors are self-explanatory. Behaviors, not identities. Dr. Lisa Diamond, a lead LGBT researcher for the American Psychological Association and co-editor-in-chief of their 2014 Handbook on Sexuality and Psychologywrote, “There is currently no scientific or popular consensus…that definitively ‘qualify’ an individual as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.” In his amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Obergefell vs. Hodges, Johns Hopkins’ famed psychiatrist Paul McHugh wrote, “Sexual orientation is a complex and amorphous phenomenon…There is no scientific consensus on how to define sexual orientation, and the various definitions proposed by experts produce substantially different classes.”

Princeton Professor Robert P. George helpfully offers some guidance: “Do not identify your self with your desires. Letting desires define us is the most abject form of slavery. Self-mastery is true freedom.” He also said, “We can have reasons for wanting to do this or that; but wanting to do something is not a reason for doing it. Desires are not reasons.”

My point is that “gay” and “straight,” along with “heterosexual” and “homosexual,” are ideological terms, and false ones. They don’t exist. There is no straight or gay.
Until a century and a half ago, sexuality was a verb, not a noun; a behavior and not an identity; what you do, not who you are. Self-identified gay artist and writer Brandon Ambrosino offered this concession, “My gayness is not the most fundamental aspect of my identity; it seems to me that someone could ideologically disapprove of my sexual expression while simultaneously loving and affirming my larger identity.” And so we should. But let’s also encourage people in their true identities and not affirm false harmful ones, no matter the spirit of the age.

Andrè Van Mol, MD

Andrè Van Mol, MD

André Van Mol, MD is a board-certified family physician in private practice. He serves on the boards of Bethel Church of Redding and Moral Revolution (, and is the co-chair of the American College of Pediatrician’s Committee on Adolescent Sexuality. He speaks and writes on bioethics and Christian apologetics, and is experienced in short-term medical missions. Dr. Van Mol teaches a course on Bioethics for the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He and his wife Evelyn —both former U.S. Naval officers—have two sons and two daughters, the latter of whom were among their nine foster children.