Is being gay a sin?

Image: Is being gay a sin?

The difference between attraction, and action

Same sex attraction is when you have sexual feelings for people of the same sex as you. It's a massive issue in our society at the moment. And in the last few months I've spoken to a heap of young people at my church about same sex attraction.

A few weeks ago Dave* told me he has always been attracted to other boys, and if it comes to choosing between Jesus and expressing himself sexually, he might not choose Jesus.

More recently, Daniel* told me how he used to really struggle with his same sex attraction and felt that nobody accepted or loved him. He's said he prayed for many years and now after much help from his church and friends he began finding girls attractive. He recently got married and seems really in love with his wife.

Hannah*, on the other hand, has prayed and prayed for her same sex feelings to go away. She doesn't understand why, but so far God hasn't changed her. She has decided to remain single ... maybe even forever.

As I thought about what to say to each of these people, I decided to go back to what the bible says about sexuality. Here's what I came up with.

1. The practice of homosexuality, like any sex outside marriage, is a sin.

From Genesis to Leviticus to Jesus to Paul, the bible is clear that sex is a great gift from God to be enjoyed within life-long marriage between a man and a woman.

Glenn Davies is a New Testament scholar (and happens to be my friendly local bishop). He has this to say which I found helpful:

The teaching of the New Testament concerning sexual union between humans is consistent with the teaching of the Old Testament. The male-female union within the bond of marriage is the only sexual union sanctioned by God… While homosexual activity is clearly described by the apostle Paul as sin, it is not the only sin, nor the worst sin.”

But while sex outside of marriage is a sin, it's certainly not an unforgivable sin! Like all sin, Jesus died so when we repent we can be forgiven!!!

2. Same sex attraction, however, is not a sin. It is, however, a daily struggle for many Christians. Many Christians struggle with it their whole lives.

Liberty Ministries (www.libertychristianministries.org.au) counsels Christians who struggle with unwanted same sex attraction. Some of the people they work with end up changing their orientation and getting married (we believe in a God who can do miracles, after all!). But other people struggle with it for their whole lives, and therefore choose to be single. You may not be able to choose who you’re attracted to, but you are responsible for who you have sex with.

3. The whole church needs to repent

“We believe that lying is a sin, yet we reach out to liars.
We believe that adultery is a sin and find compassion for the adulterer.
We believe that the practice of homosexuality is a sin and close our doors to both the practising homosexual and the person who is trying hard to obey God”

(Earl Wilson, Counselling and Homosexuality, in What Some of You Were, Matthias Media: 2001, p 27)

Ed Vaughan, in What Some of You Were, says that “we all need to repent, especially of our acts of homophobia. [my church] didn’t create a safe place for people to be honest about their struggles. We allowed a culture of fear, where being honest would have meant almost certain rejection and ridicule...In that church, I think we were guilty of sin. The Bible is not homophobic.” (p 12)

I think Ed is totally right. So at my church I'm pretty keen we don't make jokes about homosexuality or call people "gay". I'm trying, whenever I open my mouth, to assume that at least one person in the room is same sex attracted.

We have a difficult message to deliver, and one we're not always good at delivering: that who you are attracted to does not make you who you are. That's not how the media sees it, and it's not how your friends will probably see it. But we believe that being human is more than having sex. You can be totally human without ever having sex (Jesus was a virgin when he died, and Paul stayed single for the sake of the gospel). Whether you "are gay" or not is not the issue: the important thing is that all of us, whether married or single, same sex or opposite sex attracted, love Jesus. Jesus says that if we love him, we will obey what he says (John 14:23).

So keep praying for my friends Dave, Daniel and Hannah (*not their real names, but God will know who you're talking about!), and for all of us that we can love and encourage each other to obey Jesus ... whoever we're attracted to.

We're all here by grace after all. 

Comments (17)

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  • user

    Laura

    What can you do to help a friend who is experiencing same-sex attraction or is thinking about “coming out”??

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      Andy

      Hi Laura - thanks so much for your question.
      If your friend is someone who is trying to follow Christ, then I think the answer is the same as with anyone who is struggling through something in their Christian walk: keep being their friend, care for them, and don’t be judgmental (after all I might need their help next when as I struggle with anger or gossiping!). A hug might be nice too.
      It may be that caring for them will require you to speak the truth in love. But more often I’ve found listening is a under-practised skill in high demand! Proverbs 18:13 says ‘to answer before listening ... is folly and shame’. So listen lots, and then remind them of God’s word.
      If your friend is not someone who is trying to follow Christ, then you have a tricky job of loving and caring for them as God would want you to, without compromising on the message that God did not intend sexuality in the way they are experimenting. I’ve found my friends struggle to believe me that I can love them even while disagreeing with them on something so fundamental. So you’ve got to work hard, and endure being misunderstood. You might be tempted to retreat because it’s all too hard - but often I think just being there for them speaks volumes.
      It’s hard to give advice on the internet without knowing your situation - so I will also say it’s a good idea to speak to a wise Christian who you can trust. For more information you can contact my friends at http://www.libertychristianministries.org.au/.

  • user

    Caleb

    Im not really sure what you mean by this sentence… “Whether you “are gay” or not is not the issue: the important thing is that all of us, whether married or single, same sex or *opposite sex attracted*, love Jesus. Jesus says that if we love him, we will obey what he says” (*point of focus*) So are you saying that if someone is same sex attracted and are content with being so, they are still able to serve in the church (e.g. Minister) just as long as they love God?? Or do you mean that if they truly love Jesus, they will turn from this ‘feeling’?? :) 

    • user

      Andy

      Hi Caleb, thanks for your question and the opportunity to clarify. In the main body of my article I’m working pretty hard to distinguish same sex attraction from homosexual practice. Those who are same sex attracted can absolutely serve in the church; those who love Jesus will do what he says and actively resist the temptation to act on those feelings. To turn from this feeling is to refuse to act on it; to valiantly fight temptation. Such Christians are worthy of great respect, particularly from those of us who don’t know what it is to be tempted in this way. I don’t think this person would say they are ‘content’ being tempted in this way, but nor have they sinned merely by being tempted. Jesus was tempted ‘in every way’ and still was without sin (Heb 4:15).
      I hope this helps, Caleb.

      • user

        Caleb

        Thanks Andy :) Thats really helps to clarify that the temptation isn’t wrong, but the act is. Which is the same story as any other sin that we can be tempted by. I think same sex attraction is one of the Devils perversion of Gods perfect plan for love and intimacy, but so is lusting after someone of the opposite sex! I think Christians (myself included) have to get out of the wrong mindset that homosexuality is such a bad sin. Im not saying that it’s not a sin, because the Bible says it is, but it is certainly no greater than any other sin, for example lust and hate which Jesus says is the same as adultery and murder.

  • user

    Keyah

    That just answered all my questions and took away my fear of going to hell for being sexually attracted to the same sex, thank you.

  • user

    Ratanan

    This really took away my fear, thank you so much i was really scared of telling people about me or i try to be same one else so thank you so much this help me out alot.

  • user

    Morgan

    This is my favorite article at the moment. It has so many good points and the quote by Earl Wilson is probably the best thing I have ever read. But how can I be supportive of my gay/bisexual friends and avoid saying the wrong thing and/or offend them , but also help them find a relationship with God?

  • user

    Fervr

    Stick by them and be their friend! I think you need to be true to yourself, so don’t compromise what you believe (and don’t say anything you don’t believe), but just be sensitive and caring. And remember that we don’t change people, God does.

  • user

    Jahlea

    I disagree with number two, sexual attraction to the opposite sex definitely is a sin. God didn’t plant within us the attraction to the opposite sex. It goes against God himself’s morals.  It’s a spirit of homosexual attraction, that doesn’t come from God whatsoever. If same sex attraction weren’t a sin, than homosexuality wouldn’t be either. Obviously I’ll pray for any gay or same sex attracted person and treat them with as much love and respect possible, but anything outside of the bible like “same sex attraction” because never once does it ever say that it’s okay. Just because many regular Christians experience it, doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Just like lying. Sooo many Christians have lied at least once, but it Gods eyes, it’s still a sin. But anyway, thanks for this article. GOD BLESS YOU :)

  • user

    Ameze

    I do know same sex “attraction” is indeed a sin. Thinking someone of the same sex is attractive in such a way as to date them or having any romantic feelings for them is not of us as Christians. I don’t believe that was how God programmed us at all. If at all we have such feelings it’s just the devil trying to confuse us. I know because once in my life I wished it was ok but thankfully God showed me light. Romans 1:25-27. The Bible clearly explains it as being wrong. Mark 7:21-22. The things you think in your heart matter a lot to God. I don’t think it’s right to worship God with your heart and still use that same heart to think about someone of the same sex romantically.James 1:14-15. Those thoughts will eventually materialize to sin. There are no gray areas in Christian life. The ‘kind of’ in kind of wrong doesn’t help situations at all. It just worsens.

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    Fervr

    Hi Jahlea and Ameze. Thanks for your thoughts! I think we need to be careful not to condemn people who are same-sex attracted. I would recommend looking at a few of these videos to see how people with same-sex attraction are following Christ. http://www.livingout.org/stories

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    Louis

    It isn’t a sin if you get a thought now and then about liking the same sex. It’s if you act on it or give into that way of thinking and start to give into that sin. We are all tempted but God gives us a way out of sin every time

  • user

    Louis

    It is spiritual warfare.

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    Darrin

    when it comes to sinful thoughts, the pastor of my church always says “you cant stop a bird from landing in your hair, but you can stop it from making a nest and multiplying. as 1 Corinthians 10:13 says
    “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” we shouldn’t hate gays, but we should love them, and try to proclaim Jesus to them as you would any other lost soul.

  • user

    Daniel

    We should be careful on this subject. We should always go with the Word and not man’s opinion. A child of God can never be same-sex attracted. Why? Because he is in the spirit. He/She doesn’t have a homosexual nature because when he became born again he became a partaker of a divine nature( 2 Peter 1:4). Stop describing christians based on the flesh which includes all sorts of vile affections. That is the devil’s strategy, to describe us based on the flesh. Satan will tell you ‘‘You are a hypocrite because you have a homosexual nature’’ Tell him’’ Get out!!! That is the flesh and the flesh(the old man) is not me because I am NOW in the spirit which is created in righteousness and TRUE holiness(Ephesians 4:24). When we have this identity crisis that some of us are homosexual in nature, we begin to struggle with that sin and so therefore dishonouring the blood of Jesus because we are judging the new man(the born again spirit which is the child of God) based on the evil lusts of the flesh. This now makes it harder for us to walk in victory and so we struggle with that sin. But when we look at the perfect law of liberty which says Christ is our Righteousness and because of that we are righteous. Hallelujah!!!

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