When the subject of same-sex attraction comes up, Christians often turn to Romans 1 first. But Genesis 3 goes to the root of the matter: all of us face temptation.
Romans 1 explains that acts of homosexuality and same-sex attraction are often the fruit of a long progression of sinful choices that begins with rejecting God (verses 22, 25). But what about committed believers who already reject homosexuality as sinful, yet still grieve over their own struggles with attraction to those of the same gender? Are they sinning, too?
A Reality for Many Committed Believers
Intense same-sex attraction may be a remnant of past sin, but often believers struggle even without such a history. Sometimes they assume they were just born this way. Other Christians reject that idea, fearing it gives ground to the homosexual advocates.
The truth is, being born with sinful dispositions affirms biblical doctrine. Everyone is a sinner by choice (Romans 1), but since Adam’s Fall in Genesis 3, everyone is also a sinner by birth (Romans 5:12). Those with a proclivity toward violence, theft, fornication, escapism, or homosexuality are not justified in violating God’s law; sin is still sin. Same-sex attraction is not the same thing as homosexual thought patterns and practice. Even though we are born with sinful desires, we still need redemption through Jesus Christ.
Wrong Responses to Same-Sex Attraction
Some believers fight this temptation in a self-denying way that seems noble, but is actually an admission of defeat. They may say, “I am a homosexual Christian, but because practicing homosexuality is sin I will remain celibate.” There are three problems with this statement.
- Defining ourselves by our sin effectively denies the reality of our justification. Christians are not defined by their sin, but by their hope and position in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). A believer would not refer to himself as a pornographic Christian, a violent Christian, or a pedophilic Christian. Christians still struggle with various sins, but the struggle never overshadows gospel hope.
- Resigning ourselves to any sin effectively denies the reality of sanctification. Christians are not resigned to spiritual failure. The statement above leaves no room for hope of being conformed more and more to Christ’s image; instead it views sin as something to be managed, even while we embrace it.
- Celibacy is not a penalty. Many believers tempted by same-sex attraction have gone on to find joy in heterosexual marriage relationships as God intended, but if an individual chooses to remain single, it should not be a necessary evil, but a glorious testimony to the sufficiency of Christ (2 Peter 1:3–4).
Proper Response for Committed Believers
Same-sex attraction should be met with gospel-motivated pursuit of the better, pure, and lovely things our Creator intends. Believers who fail to see the greatness of God and His glory will never see past their own desires. The gospel offers more than sin management; it offers present transformation of our desires and eternal joy (Philippians 2:13). God welcomes strugglers who regard His glory over their own lust, and He arms them to fight joyfully against enslaving temptation inherited from Adam.