I have met homosexuals who would like not to be. In other words, their homosexuality is not chosen. I recognize the Bible considers homosexual acts as an “abomination”. I accept that in a non-fallen world, homosexuality would not likely have happened. However, even though the Bible is clear on its stance against homosexual activity, we may end up condemning people for something that is how they are. By calling the activity perverse, we are judging what is “normal” for this group of people. They are biologically attracted to the same sex. I am heterosexual, a Christian, and find this aspect of the scripture troubling to say the least. I wonder if the Bible got it right for the time it was written and wrong for our age?
(Editor’s note: Because we have announced that this will be a topic at our 2013 ICEC in San Diego, we are getting a lot of questions on this topic. Apparently, this is a bigger issue for Christians than some of us might have thought)
I believe you raise an important point which tends to be lost on most Christians when they deal with the difficult question of same sex attraction on the part of believers. It is definitely true that the Bible condemns sexual relations between people of the same sex. It also condemns sexual activity with animals and with members of the same sex with whom a person does not have a committed marriage relationship. Romans 1:26-27 describes sexual relationships with the same gender as “unnatural.” Why is same-gender sex “unnatural?” Clearly, God created our bodies specifically for male/female sexual relationship. No clear-headed person would deny the naturalness of the male-female sexual relationship, given the anatomy of human beings. God designed us to be completed in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex.
Having established what is “natural”, the fact is that the Bible does not label any of the three categories above as any more “sinful” than another. Sex outside of “natural” marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. Period. Adultery (one or both are married to another), fornication (which includes adultery, but which also includes when both are unmarried), homosexual relations (which is ruled out entirely because the same sex cannot legitimately marry in Christianity) and bestiality are all equally sinful. No Christian can commit these acts habitually and be saved. End of story.
But this is not what you are asking about. You are asking about those who are tempted and who feel lust toward people of the same sex. You are asking about attraction, not sex acts. What about those whose personal inclination is to be more attracted to the same rather than the opposite sex? Either kind of attraction, when given in to, becomes lust. Those who are more attracted to the same sex will tend to have lust for people of the same sex. This is no more sinful than those who have lust toward people of the opposite sex. We, as Christians, need to train ourselves to overcome lust–whether toward the same or the opposite sex. This is about purity. It is about holiness. It is not about what is natural or unnatural. Unfortunately, the tendency among “Christians” (I am using the term generically) is to demonize a particular kind of sexual attraction. We make same-sex attraction MUCH more sinful than opposite-sex attraction. Why is this? Perhaps it is because it is easier to condemn the sinful behavior of a group we are not part of than it is to repent of sinful behaviors we are involved in. What is the biblical basis for such a demonization of what is clearly a fairly large segment of the human population? I believe all lust is equally sinful because it is unholy and Christians ought not to label one kind of lust as worse than another. However, an attraction which does not turn to lust is not sinful.
Those who are not married must not have sexual relations of any sort. This applies to those with same- or opposite-sex attraction. It also applies to those who feel both kinds of attraction as well. I know from talking to a number of people that those who are more attracted, in their lustful nature, to the same sex, can form a committed, loving relationship with members of the opposite sex and can have a fulfilled married life. Marriage is primarily about friendship and commitment. It is not primarily about sex. Even to the extent it is about sex, it is principally about fulfilling the desires and needs of the marriage partner. A same-sex attracted person can have their sexual needs fulfilled by a spouse of the opposite sex. This is an indisputable fact. The experts I have talked to tell me that it is not necessarily easy to force ourselves to change who we are naturally attracted to sexually. In fact it can be difficult or even impossible to change this. A married person may be tempted more to lust for those they are not married to of the same sex. Whether the desire is for the same or the opposite sex, such desires must be dealt with for the sake of holiness, and because we love our marriage partner. It may not even be emotionally healthy to try to force us to change who we find ourselves naturally attracted to. A significant body of evidence is showing that forcing people to change what they are attracted to may be impossible or harmful. A Christian can, of course pray about this, but God does not always answer our prayers by doing what we ask. Those who are more attracted to the same sex, can also be attracted to members of the opposite sex in a marriage if they are willing to love, protect, serve, and be devoted to that person “till death do us part.” People can use the “that is how I am” argument to justify sex with people they are not married to or as an excuse for lusting after people they are not married to. God will not buy this justification, and neither should we. This applies to all kinds of attraction. People can use “that is how I am” to justify anger, drunkenness and every other kind of sin. Christians ought not to judge a person because that person happens to have a particular sinful desire different from the one doing the judging. “That is how I am” should neither be a reason for us to condemn a particular person, nor should it be a justification for sinful actions by an individual.
Bottom line, we should not ever condemn a person simply for “what they are.” Perhaps even more importantly, we should not condemn ourselves for “what we are.” It is what we do with what we are that counts before God. What we should do is help people to overcome sin. Those who have sexual relationships with people they are not married to need to decide to end these sinful relationships, no matter the gender. Those who struggle with lust toward people they are not married to need help to repent, no matter the gender. They do not need judgment.
I want to refer you to a group and a web site which is trying to help people who are same-sex attracted or people with friends who are same-sex attracted (which is all of us!!!). One of their goals is to help same-sex attracted Christians have a fulfilling, godly life, whether the eventually marry or not. Another goal is to help them learn how to deal with the bad behavior of those who are not well educated on this subject. The organization is Strength in Weakness. Their web site is http://www.strengthinweakness.org. The organization is led by a friend of mine, Guy Hammond. Feel free to look around at their web site and to contact them if you need more information on this difficult question.