I recently did posts on Both Sides of the Arizona “Anti-Gay” Bill SB1062 and a follow up post, How Gay Celibate Bible-Believing Christians are Breaking the Mold of the LGBT vs. Christian Debate. Typically the question brought up (and it’s a good question) when talking about Gay Celibate Christians is why they would keep the term “Gay” if they have chosen not to engage in this lifestyle. The reason I say it’s a good question is because the motive of the question is rooted in Scripture:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
So the question is, why would a someone who used to commit adultery and are now saved and lively purely still call themselves an adulterer (an Adulterer Christian)? And along the same lines: why associate with the sin or the temptation to sin as our title instead of associating with being changed in Christ as our title?
The answer lies in the difference between the noun and the verb of being homosexual. The person and the behavior. The text in 1 Corinthians 6, and all of the Bible’s commands about homosexuality, refer to the verb. The act of homosexual sex, not the attraction. What Christians need to come to the understanding of is that the words temptation and attraction are two different things. I can be attracted to women who aren’t my wife, which is different from being tempted in regards to them (furthermore, temptation is different than sinning). The attraction is simply called being heterosexual (a.k.a. being straight), something that is by no means a sin and something that all heterosexuals use as an identifier. So for a Gay Celibate Christian to keep the term “Gay” or “Homosexual”, they are simply keeping the association of their attraction, something they can’t control, just like they can’t control having blue eyes or being tall. If a Christian argues that they can control their attraction, I strongly advise you to stop this argument because it’s very arrogant (to think you know what someone can and can’t control) and practically it simply isn’t helpful: it only damages bridges to the gospel without ever providing anything helpful. Are there some people who can control their attraction? Sure. And are there many many many who can’t and who have tried over and over again only to be shamed? Yes. And their stories are painful and are many, and most of them involved being rejected by the Christian community, and thus their rejection of God.
It is a simple concession to make in this debate, yet it is crucial: The term homosexual or gay refers to attraction and not behavior. We need to allow people to identify with their attraction, just as we (heterosexuals) are allowed to identify with ours. I hope these words from my Gay Celibate Christian friend Jim Decke (who preached with me on this subject) are helpful:
Labeling myself as a gay Christian is primarily a matter of honesty. Calling myself ex-gay or a former homosexual makes no sense to most people and is confusing and inaccurate–I may be celibate but I am still attracted to other men. The words “homosexual” or “heterosexual” are understood to describe our attractions, not our behavior. For example, a young teenage boy who has never had sex but is only attracted to girls would obviously be called heterosexual. A woman who is only attracted to men may chose to not have sex until she is married. Clearly we would identify this woman as heterosexual. I see this identifier for myself as I do my height, eye color, skin color and German heritage.
I also describe myself as gay because the orientation has been something I have been deeply ashamed of. To be able to identify myself as a gay man, with the understanding that there is no shame in the orientation itself, has been incredibly freeing for me. I am convinced that the Bible does not speak against homosexual attraction or temptation, but that it condemns the behavior. The distinction between attraction and behavior is critical because I have done everything I know of to change the orientation, yet it persists.
Author of Beyond the Battle: A man's guide to his identity in Christ in an oversexualized world
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
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