If I had a dime for every time a young woman questions her sexuality, I could easily pay for my children’s future college tuition. And that would be sending them to a private school, not a community college. You may wonder what is causing this unhealthy trend among teens and young women. When you live in a sex-saturated culture like we do, with sexual images inundating us on TV, in movies and magazines, it is no wonder that sex becomes a constant theme to analyze, ponder and generally obsess over.
The other day, while milling through the masses at the airport, I considered buying a magazine to read on the plane rather than the boring novel I had borrowed from the library. Every magazine geared toward women was either filled with images of seductive, scantily-clad women or boasted articles describing sexual fantasies and avenues to sexual gratification. The cheesy mystery on loan from the library suddenly seemed as deep and nuanced as a Jane Austen novel.
Unless you are willing to completely remove yourself from society and live in a remote Bornean jungle or a cultic commune, you need to learn how to handle the sexual images that bombard your life and to understand the origins of the thoughts and feelings you experience. Defining your sexuality by the random thoughts, dreams and feelings you may have, that are fleeting if left alone, is always a mistake.
Many lesbian-identified women I know, and those who formerly identified as lesbian, experienced several years of same-sex attractions beginning around the ages of 10-12 before they experienced their first lesbian relationship. The teen nowadays who wonders about her sexuality does not usually have a history of same-sex attractions. She is simply the victim of a culture that sexualizes women from a very young age. Just look at dolls like Bratz and Ty Girlz that are geared for elementary-school aged girls, yet the dolls are dressed in skimpy dance-club clothes and caked with make-up. This early sexualization of girls is almost guaranteed to lead to sexual thoughts of various kinds.
Young girls are wondering if they are lesbians for no reason other than they find their pretty friends attractive. One twenty-something newlywed asked me if I thought she was a lesbian because she found a reclining woman on a billboard attractive and couldn’t stop thinking about her. Noticing someone’s physical attractiveness is not unusual and does not qualify you as a homosexual. Several years ago on a Seinfeld episode, Elaine asked Jerry and George if they knew a fellow gym member who she described as handsome. Obviously uncomfortable with the question, they averted their eyes while mumbling negative responses. Elaine said, “Just admitting that a man is attractive does not make you a homosexual.” George replied, “It doesn’t help.”
The fear that George expressed about possibly being a homosexual if he found another man attractive typifies what has occurred in our society over the past decade. The mentality of fear or even of curiosity allows those meaningless, fleeting thoughts and feelings to grow and even fester. Suddenly, something that was as innocuous as a gnat becomes as threatening as a virus-bearing mosquito. The problem is that we perceive simple thoughts or dreams as defining our sexuality. If you think about stealing a magazine at a convenience store, does that make you a thief or a kleptomaniac? If you think about telling your mom you didn’t wash the dishes because you were studying when you were really texting your friend, does that make you a liar?
Thoughts are dangerous only when we dwell on them. If we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” moving beyond the sexual thought and on to more constructive thoughts, the power of the sexual thought is annihilated. Let us try an experiment. If I say, “Whatever you do, do not think about the giant, pink elephant in the room,” what happens in your mind? You start thinking about a giant, pink elephant, right? You can’t help it; neither can I. Telling anyone not to think about the pink elephant in the room will prompt them to think about nothing but the pink elephant. The same thing is going to happen when you are assailed with sexual images and seductive influences.
I can’t say all, but many girls feel the need to question their sexuality in our modern-day culture. It is just what society has taught us to do in an attempt to normalize behaviors like homosexuality. Student groups aimed at promoting homosexuality among youth encourage “questioning” students to join their group and hear about the celebration of homosexuality. Attending a group that pushes you to further question your sexuality will surely influence the way you choose to define your sexuality.
Way back in 1982, the movie Personal Best shook many of my friends who had never before in their lives thought about lesbianism. A track star has a lesbian relationship with one of her chief competitors, while maintaining a relationship with her boyfriend. Lesbian celebrity Chastity Bono sites Personal Best as a movie that allowed her to embrace her same-sex attractions. It left many of my friends afraid of becoming lesbians if they had close girlfriends who were attractive. Never underestimate the impact of cultural influences on our lives.
By the way, you aren’t thinking about the giant, pink elephant in the room anymore are you? Your mind moved on to other things and you weren’t worried that your fleeting pink elephant thoughts would somehow define you.
Throughout our lives, we will have thoughts, dreams and feelings that disturb us. The best course of action is follow the example the apostle Paul gave us in Philippians, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (4:8), and let the unwelcome thoughts fade away.
© Exodus International
Reprint Information: In regards to Exodus resources (Impact newsletter, Freedom Piece, Library Articles on our website [www.exodus.to] and “Real Stories” testimonies) permission to reprint, photocopy and distribute any articles in its entirety is granted to all. For bulk or mass quantity distribution, or reprinting in part, please contact Exodus at (407)599-6872 or visit the contact us page.
Homosexuality is a tough topic. Everyone’s talking about it, but no one’s really saying anything helpful.
You might be giving in to the temptations, or maybe you’re fighting silently and alone with painful questions. But you don’t have to be alone in this.
Exodus Youth is a community of people who are choosing to honor God with their sexuality and looking for real answers to their questions. Not just the quick answers you get from church or culture (just stop it / just do it), but answers that get to the heart of things.