Wrestling with Sexual Orientation

You are counseling a college student in your church who has come to you very privately with ambiguity about his sexual orientation. He doesn’t understand why it is difficult for him to sustain interest in opposite sex relationships, and he thinks he might be gay, but he is not sure. He wants to know what you think about homosexuality – he knows you have religious views on this, and he wants to know what you think.

What would you tell this young man about your views on homosexuality? What does the bible contribute to your view on this issue?

Some people argue that homosexuality is a genetic abnormality, others that it is the result of environment and upbringing, and still others that it is a natural, benign, and amoral lifestyle choice without reason or cause. No matter what its cause or root, it is morally wrong. Homosexuality is a sexual sin in the same category as all other sexual activity that falls outside of heterosexual marriage. These sins would include incest, pedophilia, fornication, adultery, rape, masturbation, pornography, exhibition, prostitution, and bestiality.

Morality is grounded in the goodness and holiness of God, and His standards of morality are expressed in His Word, the Bible. In Scripture, homosexuals are equated with adulterers, idolaters, drunkards, and thieves (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), and with liars, kidnappers, and murderers (1 Timothy 1:9-10). God designed sex to be the deepest form of intimacy and unity in human relations, and that it should be exercised within the confines of biblical marriage. Marriage is described in the Bible as between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:6). Sexual relations are reserved for marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Hebrews 13:4). Sexual relations within biblical marriage are to be encouraged, explored, and enjoyed (Song of Songs). All sexual relations that fall outside of biblical marriage are immoral.

Suppose he ends up deciding that he is gay and holds similar religious views to your own. Is it possible for him to be a Christian and a homosexual at the same time? Why or why not?

I must first distinguish between homosexual desires (being gay) and homosexuality. I may have a desire to kill someone, but until I commit a murder, I am not a murderer. The same could be said of lying and liars or stealing and thieves. Homosexuals, then, are those who practice homosexuality by engaging in homosexual acts. Those who feel they have homosexual tendencies or desires (gay), but do not act on them, are not homosexuals, per se.

Christians have sinful desires, and sometimes even act on them. Christians, however, are regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who convicts them of their sin, and brings them into true repentance. Regeneration, however, does not produce sinless people. Christians continue to sin. A former homosexual (one who has performed homosexual acts in the past, but no longer engages in them), who has been regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit will show evidence of his conversion by truly repenting of his homosexual sin. However, he may not be free of his sinful desires.

Thus, it is possible to be gay (that is, to have homosexual tendencies or desires, but not act on them, or if they are acted upon, truly repent of them) and be a Christian, in the same way it is possible for repentant liars and adulterers to be Christians, even though they may continue to lie or commit adultery on occasion. Conversely, it is not possible to be a practicing homosexual who has not been regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and also be a Christian, since Christians are not defined by their acts, but by their regeneration. To sum up, a regenerated and repentant gay man can be a Christian, even if he sometimes falls, and a non regenerate gay man cannot be a Christian, irrespective of any Christian-like behavior he may exhibit, including church attendance, Bible study, prayer, fellowship with the saints, benevolence toward the poor, etc.

Assume that this person has no interest in any of your religious grounding for your view. How would you articulate your view in a way that is not exclusively dependent on the Bible?

I would still first make the biblical case, because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). A clear presentation of God’s definition of sin, as well as a clear application of God’s Word to the young man’s sin, may be the means by which the Holy Spirit brings him to repentance and faith in Christ. I would also add the following non-biblical arguments.

First, homosexuality is obviously unnatural. Humanity is made up of two genders, male and female. They are complimentary and necessary for the propagation and continuation of the race. The male and female genitals clearly reflect a heterosexual design in the human race. The male organ delivers, and the female organ receives. The only other purpose of the female organ is to deliver children produced through sexual intercourse.

Second, homosexuality is a form of aberrant sexual behavior. It is the exception rather than the rule. If it cannot be said to be immoral, then neither can adultery, bestiality, fornication, or pedophilia. If homosexuality is not immoral, then no aberrant sexual behavior is immoral.

Third, societies have shunned the behavior as immoral throughout recorded history. That some individuals and groups in some societies have declared it to be normative at certain times in history, does not mitigate the fact that the masses have always regarded it as immoral. It is considered a weakness, an embarrassment, degenerate, detestable, and perverted by billions of people throughout history. In stark contrast, no credible person throughout recorded history has ever made the serious claim that heterosexuality is morally wrong. Even homosexuals agree that heterosexuality is not immoral.

Fourth, homosexuality is not about love. It is about unnatural attraction and immoral sexual desire. When homosexuals make the argument that they should be allowed to love anyone their hearts choose they are misapplying the concept of love. Love and sex are different modes of human expression. Love is about the concern for the welfare of another person. Sexual desire is about personal gratification. Love seeks the good of others, while sexual desire seeks the gratification of self. Love wants to give; sexual desire wants to possess. It is possible to love someone of the same sex without having sexual relations with the person. Denouncing homosexuality is not the same thing as denouncing love. All people should love all people. But, all people should not have sexual relations with all people. You can love your dog, but you should not have sex with your dog. Love cannot be equated with sexual desire. It is possible to love without having sexual desire or engaging in sexual intercourse. The reverse is also true.

The weight of these non-biblical arguments, when combined with the weight of the earlier biblical arguments, makes a compelling case for the immorality of homosexuality. Homosexuality is aberrant sexual behavior that, like any other moral human failing, should be denounced and rejected by individuals as well as society.

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