These terms (and many more) seem to be everywhere. We often get asked on forms for information about our sexual orientation or identity or you may get asked at school or college in PSHE lessons or at other times. What does it all mean? Is this what defines us? Must I categorise and view myself this way?
God has created us to need relationships and one kind of relationship is a sexual relationship. God designed a sexual relationship to be part of a lifelong committed relationship between one man and one woman in marriage. Our sexual feelings (or lack of them) do not define who we are, they are only one part of how God created us. (Read more: Who am I?)
Some of the terms people use for “sexual identities” actually just describe the normal feelings most of us have at different times in our lives!
Demisexual is defined like this: “individuals who experience sexual attraction only under specific circumstances, such as after building a romantic or emotional relationship with a person.” While many of us might experience a fleeting feeling of attraction to a good-looking person we don’t know and have never met, usually sexual attraction develops as we get to know someone. Sex is designed by God to be a physical expression of commitment and love; it strengthens the emotional bond between the husband and wife and is intended to be about them giving of themselves to each other.
Asexual is a term used to describe “individuals of any gender or sexual orientation who experience little, or no, sexual attraction.” Not experiencing sexual attraction is perfectly normal before puberty; it is only as the sex hormones are produced during puberty that we begin to experience sexual attraction. Even after puberty the strength of sexual attraction varies between individuals and may be dependent on circumstances or meeting the right person.
Bisexual describes those who are sexually attracted to both male and female (and Pansexual describes “someone who is romantically and/or sexually attracted to others regardless of their gender identity”). Puberty can be a confusing time for many young people and it can be easy to confuse strong, close friendships with sexual attraction. Many young people go through a period of feeling a strong connection to a person of the same sex as them, as well as towards the opposite sex. Some teenagers say they identify as bisexual simply because they feel pressurised into expressing an identity and being asked that question makes them feel unsure. (Read more: Why is it wrong to identify as ‘bi’?)
Can feelings of sexual attraction change?
For the vast majority of people, once they have gone through puberty they will experience sexual attraction only towards people of the opposite sex. Some young people may however experience some sexual attraction to those of the same sex; research shows however that this does not always persist and many adults report a shift in sexual attraction over time.
All human beings are created by God in his image and it is God who determines who we are. As Christians, our identity is firmly rooted in Christ and in who God has created us to be. He chose us before the creation of the world to be his adopted and beloved children. (Read more: Thinking Biblically about identity)
Ephesians 1:3-6 says:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.’
God created us male and female (Genesis 1:27), to be in relationship with him and with each other (Genesis 2:24). This is who we are whether or not we get married or have a sexual relationship. Our feelings and desires do not define who we are. We do not need to feel pressured into expressing some kind of sexual identity by those around us, we can resist and can remain firm in our identity as children of God.