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The devastation that is overtaking Methodism is a bitter pill. What vision Bishops like Judith Craig and Joseph Sprague have for civilization is beyond my comprehension. When the church should be standing as a force for sexual purity, it stands instead for license. And most of our members have hardly a clue.


N O M E N C L A T U R E

by Charles F. Cooley


In attempting to understand the phenomenal strides of a social revolution begun barely thirty years ago it would profit much to examine the importance of word selection or nomenclature. Political “spin doctors” are not the only ones who understand that the choice of words can influence public opinion. Activists seeking to change a time-honored church stance have been so astute in selecting words that they’ve even succeeded in getting those words accepted by their opponents, a partial victory in itself.

The word homosexuality is in the dictionary as a description of male with male, or female with female intimacy. But the word is a contradiction. For an activity to be sexual there has to be both male and female. Sexual intercourse is never “homo,” and something “homo” can’t really be sexual. Call it disoriented, misguided, confused, ersatz; but don’t call it sexual. Another word, heterosexual, is equally flawed for it involves redundancy, in that sexual activity is always “hetero.” But constant repetition of these terms as been used to give the false impression that humans are born either one way or the other, even though there has been no valid scientific proof this is the case.

What we are talking about is same gender sodomy, but because that centuries-old word sounds loathsome it is seldom used by anyone wishing to dispel objection to the practice, and the revolutionaries have succeeded in lulling the general public into using the unwarranted terms “homo” and “hetero.”

We also need to question the word gay. Once it described a light hearted, happy, romantic spirit. It was a compliment to call someone a gay blade. But today we are forced to find other words for the happy of heart, because gay came to be used derisively about males who appeared to be very feminine. Shortly thereafter, the term was used to describe male/male sodomy. And, finally, sodomites started referring to themselves as gay, though they are a long way from that light hearted, happy romantic, eager to squire a lovely lady or ask for her hand in marriage. Sad much better describes the state of affairs into which all too many have fallen.

As part of their strategy, supporters have invoked another misnomer, orientation, seeking to indicate that behavior is locked in, totally discounting or forgetting the capacity for exercising free will that distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We are asked to believe we do what we do because it is the way we have been created. But, in truth, most orientation is chosen, based on our immediate or long term goals. The traveler gains an orientation by consulting maps and reading about the places she will be visiting. Briefing sessions are available for college freshmen who may opt for them prior to registration. The job seeker learns all he can about a company’s requirements in hopes of landing a position. Many young people have looked to their church for guidance about courtship and marriage.

We choose what we are going to do with our bodies as surely as about any other decisions we make. TV’s Geraldine brought gales of laughter when she said “the Devil made me do it.” It is quite as ridiculous to suggest our orientation is determined by God, author and giver of free will.

A fourth word often used is phobia. In this case the problem is not with the word itself but at whom it is directed, for it is used to suggest there is fear or hatred on the part of those opposed to male/male or female/female genital manipulation.

Yet most of the phobia is that of the sodomites themselves. Their women are apprehensive about men, their men folk seem to be afraid of women. Instead of seeing each other as belonging to the marvelous, wondrous plan of God for the human race, they cringe, hold back, act in all sorts of peculiar ways to steer clear of serious alliances. They may unite to make demands, but they are afraid of each other. So men pretend to be women, and women play the role of men. Some say they want to have children--but only by adoption--not as honest-to-goodness fathers and mothers. They have an aversion to that.

For such fear laden individuals to pin the word phobia on their critics is to turn logic up-side-down, all the more so when it is recognized that many who disagree stand ready to help them overcome fear and discover fuller lives.

Two other words are used in seeking public approval, the words coming out. While sodomy was for centuries guardedly practiced in the closet, the new strategy has been to make open declarations. So we are told about this or that person’s supposed bravery and honesty, or moral rectitude, demonstrated by having come out. But a degrading practice, or an enslaved activity is not transformed into something noble merely because it has been confessed. Confessions are worth their salt only when they lead to redemption.

The case can be made that far greater harm is visited upon the society because of this new openness. As increasing numbers accept or approve, more persons will be tempted to give it a try. This means fewer will remain chaste, and more will ruin their chances for loyal, healthy family life at a time when family failures are rocking the nation.

And finally we are given the “magic bullet:” diversity, which asks us to embrace all persons regardless of race, sex, economic status, ethnic background or national origin. For such diversity there ought to be enthusiastic “hallelujahs.”

But what about creedal and religious diversity? No one is calling for Hindu, Confucian, or Muslim believers to be included. Hopefully all are welcome, but not for leadership roles while still clinging to “the faith of their fathers.” Such diversity is inconsistent with the basic aims of the church.

In like manner, using the principle of diversity to include sodomy is asking that the church forego an important conviction and even endorse unwholesome behavior. If chastity in singleness and fidelity of husband and wife are no longer our standard, then the church mirrors a sick society and loses one of its principal reasons for being.

Distinctions must be made between the glorious diversity of who we are, the religious diversity of what we believe, and the ethical diversity of how we behave. Allowance is also needed to differentiate what we have been from what we are becoming.

There is nothing homo about sex, orientation is not a given, the word phobia best describes whatever sodomites are afraid of, coming out may be anything but a blessing for society, and diversity ought not include the approval of immorality. It’s time we look at nomenclature. Let’s find words that more accurately describe the state of affairs into which all too many have fallen, and into which a wishy-washy church encourages others to follow.


Charles F. Cooley is:

  • A retired United Methodist clergyman
  • Served for thirty five years as minister for students at Ohio University,
    Western Michigan University, and Ohio State University.
  • His career also included a community house ministry
  • Pastorates in the East Ohio and West Ohio Annual Conferences.

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