“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a commonly quoted part of a dialogue in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things “are”.
In Act II, Scene II of the play, the line is said by Juliet in reference to Romeo’s house, Montague, which would imply that his name means nothing and they should be together.
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
[Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man.
O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
retain that dear perfection which he owes
without that title.
Romeo, doff thy name, and for that name
which is no part of thee take all myself.
I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”
I love this play (….except the part where they both die!) and especially love the point that Juliet is making. The principle (that the names of things do not matter, only what things “are”) speaks to our modern debate over the true nature of homosexuality. Of course, in the short run, names matter because people are often deceived when they are surreptitiously redefined, but in the long term, the criterion that will be used by God when He judges the earth will be “what really is”.
Historically speaking, the term “homosexual” was first used to describe sexual behavior with someone of the same sex. Over the past 40-50 years, however, revisionists have expertly manipulated cultural gatekeepers (-e.g., professional guilds, leaders of government, education, etc.) into redefining homosexuality as an innate, immutable, inborn and natural state – a change in definition that runs counter to its original meaning, and reality, as well as the divinely inspired biblical description.
In an article from Touchstone Magazine entitled “The Gay Invention”, R.V. Young states:
“Only in the late nineteenth century, when physicians began discussing sexual perversion as a medical rather than a moral problem in Latin treatises intended only for the learned and required a neutral, clinical term, was there a perceived need to refer to ‘homosexuality.’ Moreover, it is not at all clear that the originators of the term had precisely in mind what is usually meant by ‘homosexuality’ in contemporary parlance……..
……The ancient Greeks did not recognize the existence of the permanent ‘homosexual orientation’ that is nowadays taken as a given……..
……..St. Thomas Aquinas points out that while even simple fornication is ‘against properly human nature, of which the act of generation is ordered to the appropriate education of children,’ sodomy is ‘against the nature of every animal’ because it is not aimed at generation at all. Nevertheless, actions today designated ‘homosexual’ are for Thomas just one manifestation of lust among others; the commission of such sins, even the persistent desire to commit such sins, does not constitute a particular class of persons……….
………So our public language asserts the reality of ‘homosexuality’ as a permanent condition, though there is little if anything in our history (Greek, Roman, and Christian) to justify the idea and even some ‘gay’ theorists do not accept it. The imposition upon an ingenuous public of the terms ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ required a prior bit of linguistic legerdemain, namely, the redefinition of ‘sex’ and the displacement of its principal original function by the term ‘gender.’
Two linguistic developments over the past several decades have thus been effected by academic and media elites: ‘gender’ has been substituted for ‘sex’ as the designation of the distinction between men and women, and ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ have been accepted as legitimate terms for distinguishable classes of persons.
The first development provides an official linguistic approval for the feminist notion that distinctions between men and women are based, not on the intrinsic nature of humankind, but on arbitrary social constructs. The second, conversely, asserts that the compulsion to commit sodomy results not from any disorder, moral, spiritual, or psychological, but from an inherent ‘homosexual’ nature. Apart from the obvious contradiction, further ironies are involved in these verbal manipulations.
……… ‘Homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ can only make even a modicum of sense if ‘sex’ means nothing more than carnal coupling in its myriad ways and is no longer associated with the natural complementary relation of men and women. To have recourse to this definition is, however, to rely on the social-constructivist relativism that drives the sexual revolution, which is an absurd basis for the assertion that ‘homosexuality’ is an innate condition…….
………Given the sinfulness of our nature and the mysterious blend of genetic features and external influences that shapes the specific character of particular human beings, it is probable that some individuals are, in fact, born with erotic proclivities toward persons of the same sex (or, for that matter, towards children or beasts or random promiscuity). Nevertheless, compulsive behavior arising from peculiar inclinations is not an adequate basis for establishing social institutions, much less for threatening those upon which society has long depended.”
After living with homosexual confusion for two decades and subsequently finding significant healing from those things that create the confusion, I among countless thousands of others can testify to the fact that homosexuality is a broken condition primarily, (if not exclusively), brought about by environmental factors that can be reversed and/or healed. All scientific experiments designed to prove otherwise have failed to do so. Additionally, we have a clear and unambiguous biblical witness to the disordered nature of homosexual attractions, plus over a century of serious attempts among psychologists to find a way of healing for those who struggle with it. I say “struggle” because like all other emotion-based disorders (-e.g., alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders and other addictive behaviors), unless the person sees it as a problem and is willing to do whatever it takes to change, they will be unsuccessful in changing.
What it is. . . . . . . . Moving on from terminology, let’s ask the more important question: What is homosexuality?
Biblically, it is one of many disordered conditions that result from a refusal to glorify and be thankful to the Creator God – a form of prideful worshiping and serving of created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18-23). It is also, in part, a blindness that results from God’s judgment of our sinful choices (Romans 1:24-32). No doubt, it can be a consequence of sins of the fathers that are passed down to the third and fourth generation of those who hate God (Ex 20:5; Num 14:18). From a biblical perspective, this could explain why there are those who experience homosexual inclinations from an early age.
In each person, the mix of causes is unique, as are their personalities, experiences and temperamental make-ups. Yet in Christ, all can be forgiven. All can be delivered from family-line curses. All can be healed.
From an “identity” point of view, the non-physical aspect of human sexuality is deposited in every soul in seed form during gestation. The seed, though dormant for the first 10-12 years, is always heterosexual because that is God’s design (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 21-25; Mt 19:4-6). Thus “homosexuals” as a class of people “born that way” do not exist. The very idea is a myth birthed from semantic distortion. What you have are heterosexuals whose natural heterosexuality has not developed properly, whether as a result of damage or neglect.
Every seed, though dormant, needs to be watered and fed proper nutrients during it’s time of dormancy so that it can germinate at the proper time in a healthy manner. For some, the seed of heterosexuality gets damaged by abuse. It’s no coincidence that well over half of all homosexuals are victims of childhood sexual abuse. For lesbians, some studies show abuse rates as high as 85%. And abuse can come in many packages – verbal, sexual, physical, etc. Obviously, a fragile seed that depends on a healthy environment for proper future germination and growth is going to have problems overcoming abuse.
For others, the dormant seed of heterosexuality doesn’t receive the nurture and/or nutrients that are required for healthy germination and growth. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of male homosexuals never had a healthy, emotionally bonded relationship with their father (or father figure). Many were rejected by their dad. Some never had a dad. Others had a civil relationship with dad, but never connected emotionally for one reason or another. They were never mentored by him; never encouraged in their masculinity. Still others have been emotionally smothered by one or more females, some of whom may have had “issues” with men in general, and these young lads were rewarded only when they behaved in feminine ways rather than masculine. And so, for one reason or another, such fellows never got called out of identity with mom (which occurs naturally at birth) and into their true masculine identity – a transition which should happen between the ages of two and five. The corollary of such scenarios can also happen between a girl and her mom.
What we are talking about here is “arrested emotional development” caused by the damage or nutritional neglect of the soul in the area of sexual identity. The creational reality is heterosexual from the beginning, but the perception or “feeling” of that identity and the consequent self-coping behaviors to gain what is missing or repair that which is damaged is where things go wrong.
What God the Father does in the healing process of someone who repents of their sin and yields him or herself to the leading of His Holy Spirit is to re-start their emotional growth. As an intimate relationship is established with Him through Christ, He begins to heal the damaged areas and impart the developmental elements that went missing. And over time, the false homosexual identity slowly dies while the true inner heterosexual self gradually grows healthy and emerges as the predominant and true identity in their life. Any remnant homosexual feelings or memories are exposed as the dark shadows of trauma or neglect that they are and put away – perhaps daily – but put away nonetheless, using the power of the Holy Spirit. The old false identity no longer names or controls them but only serves as a reminder of what God in His mercy, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, has delivered them from. And what He delivers them into is even more exciting – everything they’ve ever needed in a relationship, but this time with God Himself, our Bridegroom!
How complete this transition is during someone’s life depends on numerous factors (a matter for another article). For quite a few, it will only be partial. Yet their obedient commitment to holiness, empowered by the Holy Spirit and born from love for the One who died to rescue them from death, will be just as pleasing to God as that of the one whose transition is total.
For more on a biblical perspective on what healing for the homosexual looks like, go online for my two-part article, Sexual Sin & Bondage: What Does It Look Like To Be Healed?