I have often struggled with the idea that a man or woman would be born with an attraction to the same sex yet we have clear statements made by God in the Bible that acting on homosexual desire is sinful. How can we as Christians be so confident that a person is not born with a sexual bent towards homosexuality? We often loudly proclaim that a person chooses to have same-sex desires or that it is a product of their environment. While to some extent I believe a person’s environment will definitely shape their sexuality, I cannot be confident enough to take a stand that people are not truly born with homosexual desires.
The problem is not that this could actually be the case, the problem is that we are not then asking the poignant questions that follow if this is true. If people are born with homosexual desires, does it then create a problem for the Christian who believes deeply that the Bible is true and that it condemns homosexuality activity as a sin? There is some tension to be sure, but we do not have to abandon either the idea that homosexuality is sinful nor that people are born with that sinful desire rooted deep inside them. When it is worded in this way, I think you begin to see the point. We are all born with a deep seeded desire to sin from the first breath we take, and yet we do not think it is ok to act of those sins. A person is born selfish and it is often his greatest desire to act on that selfishness, but everyone (Christian or not) knows that being selfish is not a desirable trait and so we suppress it. There are times that anger wells up in us so strong that we want to hurt another person, yet we resist the urge because we know it is wrong to do so. So to say a person is born with a deep seeded desire to express their sexuality in a homosexual manner is not inconsistent with the rest of scripture when it tells us that we are born sinners and are to resist that sin and obey God. Let me be clear in this, man was never intended to be born with sinful desire and this is product of the first sin that Adam and Eve committed, so God has not created us with sin just to see how we will react, rather man chose to sin and so we now live in a fallen and corrupted world.
So what about the person who says they are not attracted to the opposite sex at all and thinks they never will be? Are they to live a celibate life of loneliness devoid of all intimacy? That question is part of the problem and it seems it is not being widely addressed, that we somehow think we have the right to and deserve romantic intimacy. There are quite a few problems with this idea, first being that we have no command to marry and so we are not breaking any biblical mandate by staying single. Sin is defined as disobeying God, so if a person has to remain single due because they are not attracted to the opposite sex they are not disobeying anything God has told them they must do. Singleness will simply be part of the cross they are being called to bear daily, and while some might say this is unfair, the fair judgment is that we be struck dead where we stand because of our sin, which I am sure most people would rather avoid. The fact that we get to wake up, breathe the air, enjoy the sunshine, and have any kind of life at all is a grace that God is giving us and is far more than we deserve.
The second falsehood is the idea that romantic intimacy is what everyone really needs in order to be happy. As if finding that special someone is going to solve all of our problems and make life worth living and that it is unthinkable that the Bible would deny that right to a person. Anyone who has been in a relationship or has been or is currently married knows this is far from the truth. People cannot fulfill us nor give us meaning, only God can do this for us. I love my wife and child and I recognize my life would be very different if they were not a part of it, but it would not be devoid of meaning and empty if they were not with me. That kind of dependence for another person is idolatry and that kind of dependence is meant to be felt for God alone and not any other person, no matter how deeply we love or care for them.
Third, the assumption that a person will be lonely outside of a romantic relationship is also untrue. Romantic relationships are not the only possible relationship that can have meaning and depth. The church is described as a family and a single person can invest heavily in the relationships they have with fellow Christians, neighbors, and family members. Christ never married and yet he had a deep relationship with his disciples that was as close or closer than any marriage we might experience. We can have deep and meaningful relationships with people without those relationships ever being romantic or sexual in nature.
Lastly, the assumption that being attracted to the same sex is sinful in and of itself. I recognize a beautiful woman when I see one and even feel an attraction to other women that are not my wife, this is what temptation looks like. The moment that I allow that attraction to go beyond a simple recognition of beauty and allow my mind to lust is when I have allowed sin into my life. This is no different for a person who has same-sex attractions. The temptation of lust will be there in the same way that it exists for the rest of the world and everyone is called to fight it off through the power of the Holy Spirit every time it tries to take control. Simply feeling an attraction to another person is normal and in no way sinful and so we must be clear that it is only when we allow ourselves to lust that sin has entered into the picture.
One last idea that must be said is that God can heal any sinful desire that a person is struggling with. If you have problems with lust, God can help with that if we would simply ask for him to do so. If you are struggling with homosexuality and desperately want to get married and have children, pray that God would change your attractions, but remember this, a spouse and children are a blessing in the same way that riches or miraculous healing is a blessing. Not everyone is guaranteed to receive every blessing that God has to offer, so pray expectantly that God will answer your prayer but know that if God says no, He still loves you and cares for you.
So how can anyone know one way or another what causes a person to be homosexual or heterosexual? There is no way to prove one side or the other as the correct stance, all we have is God’s mandate on how we are to interact with each other, whether it be in a sexually intimate relationship or in normal everyday interactions with one another. The answer to the question is ultimately irrelevant to what is true, that God created us to first and foremost love Him and find our fulfillment in Him. Nothing else can satisfy us and nothing else can fill the void that only God has the ability to fill. If you are struggling with lust, pray that the Lord would remove that temptation from you.