As part of its Armor of God series, the Church of God International has produced a message by Bronson James and Bill Watson entitled "What choice do I have?" (http://cgi.org/armor-of-god) Unfortunately, like many of their brethren within the Christian community, they have confused the difference between a lifestyle and a characteristic. According to Merriam-Webster, a lifestyle is defined as "a particular way of living: the way a person lives or a group of people lives." They also define a characteristic as "a special quality or trait that makes a person, thing or group different from others."
Christianity is a lifestyle. One can choose to be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist. Within the realm of Christianity, one can choose to be a Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Armstrongite, etc. Moreover, the choices that people make in this regard can (and many would argue should) have a profound effect on the way one conducts his/her life.
On the other hand, you possess a great many characteristics that required no choice from you. You had no choice in the color of your skin, hair or eyes. You had no choice in whether you would be tall or short. You had no choice in whether you would be male or female. Likewise, you had no choice in your sexual orientation.
Your attraction to the opposite gender is a natural part of who you are - it is a characteristic of you. Think about it for a moment. Do you remember ever making a decision to be a heterosexual? When you started into puberty, were you torn between same sex attraction and an attraction to the opposite sex? OR Did an awareness of and attraction to the opposite gender come naturally to you? Do you remember a time when you decided that Jill was desirable and Jack wasn't? Do you remember deciding that breasts were more attractive than pecs?
To be sure, one does have lifestyle choices to make in the realm of sexuality. One can choose to be celibate, monogamous, polygamous, promiscuous or faithful. We all make choices in this regard. One can choose to associate or disassociate sex and love. You can decide to live the lifestyle of a playboy or to be the faithful husband of one wife. These are choices.
You do not, however, have much control over whether or not you will lose your hair in the course of your lifetime or whether or not it will turn grey or white. In similar fashion, we don't make conscious choices to develop cancer or Alzheimer's disease (although our lifestyle choices can certainly impact these things).
You can choose to live your life as an omnivore or vegetarian. You may live your life as one of the rich and famous or as one of the poor and anonymous. You can choose to be a Capitalist or a Socialist. You can choose to belong to a political party, be an independent or abstain from participating in any political system. These can all be described as lifestyles, and you have some role to play in deciding on which course to adopt or follow.
Nevertheless, for most of the folks reading this post, I think that it is safe to say that you never made a decision to be a heterosexual. You didn't wake up in college one day and decide "I think I'll like girls." Isn't sexual attraction a natural part of who you are? Oh sure, you had to decide whether Betty was prettier than Jane or Connie; but you never had to decide whether she was prettier than Bill or Henry. It would have gone against your nature to make such a decision - and that, according to the Bible, would have been clearly wrong.
You can choose to live your life in conformance with God's will or not - that is a choice. However, the question immediately arises: who gets to determine what is God's will for your life? Do you as an individual get to interpret God's will for your life as you yield to the Holy Spirit? OR Does some church hierarchy or group of men get to decide what is God's will for your life? What does your conscience tell you?
Do we begin to see the difference between the two terms: lifestyle and characteristic? Do we begin to see just how wrongheaded it is for groups like the Church of God International to associate a choice with a characteristic? I wonder if they've ever heard about the serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Is that your prayer?