More On New Definitions (Updated)

In 2016, Advocate a leading LGBTQ news and commentary magazine published an article in which an author used the phrase “sexual preference” non-ironically and with not hint of shame.

As recently as 19 days ago, this same magazine used the expression in a tweet and in an article that quoted a homosexual film maker saying:

“To come from that history to be able to now, as a director, be telling these stories that aren’t even about coming out — that are about young people who are just comfortable with who they are, no matter what their sexual preference is. It’s just glorious and so satisfying.”

Thus, it would seem as though Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is presently being queried by the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate as part of her confirmation to the United States Supreme Court, was well within her rights to use the expression, “sexual preference” yesterday but that did not stop Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, as you can see, from revising their entry to make its use a crime against political correctness.

You, Dear Reader, have seen me complaining about revisionism in the definition of words just this week but the speed with which this was done beggars belief. Once again, this business seems to bring into doubt the Baptist appeal to the argument: “the meaning of words change.” Indeed, but not in 19 days and not in 3 minutes and not when reasonable people are still using the word or phrase in the accepted sense.


Kevin McGrane has illustrated the Orwellian nature of this gaslighting better than I have.

(HT: Thor Svenson)

© R. Scott Clark 2020. All Rights Reserved.


    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
    Author Image

    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. As a Louisianian, I feel compelled to submit a point of clarification: The Advocate, referenced in the first sentence of this post is not the same as The Advocate Magazine. The Advocate is simply a newspaper, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which covers news mostly for southern Louisiana parishes (“counties” for non-Louisianians). The newspaper was founded in the early 20th century, and citizens of southern Louisiana parishes are as familiar with The Advocate as San Diegans are of their Union-Tribune.

  2. Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large, stated in connection with this: “In this case, we released the update for sexual preference when we noticed that the entries for preference and sexual preference were being consulted in connection with the SCOTUS hearings”.

    Sokolowski thus is overt and makes no attempt to hide the fact that the dictionary revised the entry during the SCOTUS hearings in order to brand Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s usage ‘offensive’. This cannot but be seen as a political act to influence the outcome.

    Questioning Barrett, Senator Mazie Hirono complained that “Sexual preference is an offensive and outdated term”, but her complaint (and a further reflection on this by Sen. Cory Booker) was not supported by the entry in Merriam-Webster. However, with lightning speed the dictionary updated their entry to lend support to the criticisms of Hirono and Booker against Barrett.

    The term ‘sexual preference’ is a term in common currency in the legal, medical and psychiatric professions where it has defined, non offensive, meanings, so critics of a lawyer, Judge Barrett, on this are completely out of order.

    Case Files Psychiatry’, Sixth Edition, September 22, 2020 defines: “SEXUAL PREFERENCE: Whether the individual prefers male of female sexual partners or has no preference.” Note that this particular psychiatric definition cannot be correlated with homosexuality unless one knows the sex of the ‘individual’.

    In the field of biology, LGBT advocates who seek to correlate same-sex behaviour with genetics would be very keen to draw support from a paper from authors with the Max Plank Institute of Evolutionary Biology (published as pre-print in July 2020) ‘The imprinted lncRNA Peg13 regulates sexual preference and the gender-specific brain transcriptome in mice’, which states that ‘Peg13 codes for a fast evolving lncRNA and is part of a complex of imprinted genes on chromosome 15 in the mouse and chromosome 8 in humans. Two knockout constructs were analyzed, one with a full deletion of the gene, the other with a deletion of the 3’-half. The full deletion is semi lethal, while the partial deletion is fully viable, but the mice show distinctive behavioral differences. They lose interest in the opposite sex and show instead a preference for wildtype animals of the same sex.’

    There are many others, for example the following paper published in August 2020: ‘Sexual partner preference in animals and humans’, which ‘reviews available evidence indicating that these different mechanisms play a significant role in the control of sexual partner preference in animals and humans, in other words the homosexual versus heterosexual orientation.’ Here the concept of ‘sexual preference’ is explicitly synonymous with ‘sexual orientation’.

Comments are closed.