What does the Bible say about same sex attraction?
Same Sex Attraction / Orientation is Not a Sin
Here’s a few things the Bible says about homosexuality. Keep in mind, it is very important that we don’t add to the Bible or subtract from the Bible.
- The Bible says that homosexual action is a sin.
- The Bible does not say that homosexual attraction (or orientation) is a sin.
- Lust and attraction are two very different things. Lust is a sin, attraction is not.
If you have Scriptural evidence that says otherwise, I humbly and honestly invite you to share it with me.
I have lots of conversations with my Bible-believing brethren about homosexuality since it’s something that I blog about relatively frequently (most recently “A Christian’s Guide to Gay Marriage”). The biggest hurdle / misunderstanding that I’ve found heterosexual Bible-believing Christians have about what I espouse is they think that same sex attraction / orientation is the same thing as lust. They hear me say “The Bible says the action is wrong” and they fill in the rest as “so everything outside of actual sex is okay.” What needs to be understood by all (straight and gay alike) is that lust is an action. By “action” I mean a conscious choice. Let’s break this down in terms that straight Christians like myself can better relate to.
I am straight and I desire to follow Jesus and all of the Bible’s commands that pertain to me as a new covenant Christian. The Bible tells me over and over again not to lust. Lust is the conscious thought / fantasy about having sex with someone who isn’t my wife, as well as any sort of objectification of women that lead down a sexual path. I am married. I am also a recovered addict from pornography. Trust me when I say I do not want to lust.
I am attracted to many women.
Have I just sinned?
Pause and think about it before you answer.
Am I sinning because I find a woman to be pretty? Am I sinning because I find a certain hairstyle, fashion, personality, weight, or body shape more appealing / attractive than a different hairstyle, fashion, personality, weight, or body shape other women?
If you’re married and desire not to lust, do pretty women still exist?
Of course they do. It’d be absurd to say otherwise. To tell a straight Christian he isn’t allowed to think other women besides his wife are pretty would be to set up an impossible weight of legalism and shame that he could never overcome.
Which is exactly what we’ve done to Christians who are attracted to the same sex.
There is a huge difference between me thinking another woman is pretty, something I honestly have almost no control over whatsoever, and me deciding I will lust and fantasize about that woman.
When we tell gay and lesbian folks that their attraction is sinful, it’s no wonder they feel so rejected and stigmatized. How can something they have no choice in be sinful? Isn’t part of the definition of sin that we choose it?
(Side note 1: Yes, some people choose homosexual relationships, the vast majority do not. Do not say that they do when you have no idea what it’s like to struggle with these things.)
(Side note 2: Yes, some gays and lesbians have been able to marry the opposite sex. Some even testify that God has changed their orientation completely. Praise God for this. This does not mean this is the case for all, or even most. The formula that worked for one will not by necessity work for another. Most gays and lesbians have prayed to God countless times and their same sex attraction remains unchanged, just as my attraction to many women is unchanged.)
There is a spectrum when it comes to someone identifying their same sex attraction. One end of the spectrum is pride, the other is shame. What I am writing about right now is that the Church needs to stop shaming gay and lesbians because they are attracted to the same sex. They are not sinning in this so why are we shaming them for it? This incredible amount of shame makes them into leprous outcasts of the Church: many leave it altogether, while those desperate enough to stay do so in hiding, never able to find support or help for their deepest struggle. It also turns the rest of us into self-righteous Pharisees.
The other side of the spectrum is pride. It’s important to understand that just because someone identifies as gay or lesbian, doesn’t mean they are “proud” of this attraction. I am attracted to many women. I am not proud of it. But I also will not feel shame or condemnation about it, because it’s not a sin! It just is.
We all have things that just are. Things that we are drawn to that someone else isn’t. An appetite for gluttony, or alcoholism, or lust, or greed, or television addiction that someone else just simply can’t relate to because they don’t have that appetite. It’s not a matter of if we have the appetite, it’s a matter of if we feed that appetite, or if we feed on Jesus, the Bread of Life and the Living Water, to fulfill all of our longings and quench all of our thirst for sin.
Gay and straight people have different battles to fight, but we are all in the same boat: broken people trying to be made whole in Jesus.
Let’s start acting like it as a Church.
Note added 4/5/21: I asked celibate gay Christian Wesley Hill about my take on this and if he had any tweaks for me. He said he appreciated my desire to help not shame SSA/LBGT individuals and he mostly agreed with my take, but added that it’s important to still mention that his same sex attraction is a part of a fallen world. He gave his depression as an analogy to his same sex attraction. We would not say that depression is a sin (like I wrote about here), but we would also not say it is God’s will. Wesley is a smart dude! Check the podcast out:
- Ep. 92: Ken Wytsma on Chronic Pain, Compassion Fatigue, and a Theology of Suffering - February 5, 2024
- Ep. 91: Control & Hope Beyond Our Circumstances - December 13, 2023
- Ep. 90: Juanita Rasmus on Learning to Live in the Unmerited Love of God - November 10, 2023