Repentance -- what is it?

When a Christian says that a person who is engaged in homosexual activity needs to "repent" of that activity, what is meant? And what ought to be meant?

This question is partly based upon my recent conversation with a fellow Christian who holds different views from me on the issue of allowing ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. (It was a very courteous conversation, BTW, as all such should be).

My friend commented that he had personally been close to a person "who had repented from his homosexual lifestyle and become heterosexual." The ensuing discussion centered on the word "repent."

I asked him if, when my friend had changed to a homosexual lifestyle from one of heterosexuality (she has two fine children, both straight and both close to their mother), would he object to my use of the same word for her (when she changed from heterosexuality). In other words, can I fairly observe that she "repented" of her heterosexual lifestyle).

He said he would have no trouble with that use of the word. I suspect he would not use that terminology himself but it would not be a problem to him if I used it. But my own use of the word would usually include not just a "turning from," but also an apology to God. It is apparent to me, having known many gay / lesbian people, many of them Christian, that they share my belief in the use of that word and see no need to "repent"

Our main point of difference was his stated belief that homosexuality is always a chosen condition, that nature/nurture are not causative factors and my belief, based on both people I have talked to and the scientific evidences I have seen, that nature/nurture are causative factors in most cases. I also, from a careful study of scripture, have concluded that there is no scriptural reason to believe that such activity is a sin, while my friend is otherwise persuaded.

The science/faith issue here is clear. If it is nature or nurture, one's position must be that such people are to be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as "straights." So the question must be -- is nature/nurture at least usually causative or is choice the norm?

On a related issue:

is an article that appeared in the NYT which addresses the cost of marriage for gays/lesbians vs. man/woman marriages.

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