Is being gay a sin? Is it a sin to be gay?
Question: "Is being gay a sin? Is it a sin to be gay?"
Answer: In order to answer the question “Is being gay a sin?” we need to challenge some assumptions upon which the question is based. Within the past fifty years, the term gay, as applied to homosexuality, has exploded into mainstream culture, and we are told that “being gay” is as much outside one’s control as “being short” or “being black.” So the way the question is worded is already a loaded gun and impossible to adequately answer in that form. Therefore, we need to break this question into pieces and deal with each piece separately, because they have different answers. Rather than ask, “Is being gay a sin?” we need to ask, “Is it sinful to have same-sex attractions? And is it sinful to engage in homosexual activities because of those attractions?”
In answer to the first question, “Is it sinful to have same-sex attractions?” the simple answer is “no.” Same-sex attraction is abnormal and unnatural, and it is the result of humanity being infected with sin. But we can no more control our interests, attractions, or feelings than we can control the weather. Sinful human beings, as we all are (Romans 3:23), can be pelted with a plethora of curiosities, interests, and even perverted thoughts that embarrass us. A happily married man can be suddenly smitten with attraction for his new associate and wrestle with those feelings every day. A sober alcoholic can struggle with the ongoing desire to drink, even years after he becomes clean. Those desires are not wrong in themselves. They are part of being a fallen human being living in a fallen world.
Some people, for a variety of reasons, are not romantically attracted to members of the opposite sex in the way they were designed to respond. Instead, they yearn for intimacy with someone of their own gender. The causes for this same-sex attraction are varied and under discussion, but the fact remains that this temptation is very real. Many who struggle with same-sex attraction report suffering through years of wishing things were different. This attraction is not always a choice, and those who wrestle with it deserve our compassion and understanding.
The second part of this question, however, is where things change. “Being” is not a sin; “behaving” is. Being drawn toward a morally forbidden relationship is not sin; it is temptation. We know that temptation is not sin because Jesus was tempted, yet He never sinned (Matthew 4:1; Hebrews 4:15). We are all tempted in many ways and will be until we take our last breath. A temptation is simply the opportunity and the desire for something God has forbidden. Our world is filled with such forbidden fruits. Same-sex attraction is one more way Satan tries to get his claws into the people God loves. Most temptation starts with a good gift created by God that Satan has hijacked, twisted, and turned into evil. Sin occurs when we dwell upon or act upon a perversion of a God-given desire. That’s why Jesus called lust a sin on spiritual par with adultery (Matthew 5:28). Lust takes the God-given desire for sexual union in marriage and perverts it to include extramarital indulgence.
Sexuality is a sacred thing. When God created male and female (Genesis 1:27), He included sexual organs, physiological differences, and brain functions so that a man and a woman fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Gender is far more than body parts; it is the foundation of our identity. When that identity becomes confused, a person senses a yearning inside that cannot be met in normal ways and sets out to satisfy that yearning. When the yearning is sexualized, the person then believes him/herself to be “gay.” Our culture quickly assures homosexuals that they were born that way and that confused sexuality is to be celebrated, not overcome. Thus we have an entire generation of kids and teens who never knew a time when homosexuality was rightly considered abnormal. In elementary and middle schools, it is now fashionable to call oneself “gay” or “bi” or use any number of other faddish sexual labels without any real understanding of their meanings—or of the moral and eternal implications.
We are all sinners, born with a nature that wants only to please itself. The sinful desires within us vary from person to person, but the root is the same (Romans 3:11). When we realize how broken we are and that we cannot have fellowship with a holy God in such a deplorable condition, we gratefully accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He paid the price that we owe God for committing high treason against our Creator. He also paid for the sin of homosexuality, just as He did for pride, rape, adultery, and theft. Those sins, and a thousand more, are what keep us from God and sentence us to an eternity without Him. We cannot continue to define ourselves by the very sins that crucified Jesus, while also assuming that we are right with God. First Corinthians 6:9–10 lists many of the sins that once defined the Corinthians, including homosexual practice. But verse 11 reminds them, “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.” In other words, some of the Corinthians, before they were saved, lived homosexual lifestyles; but no sin is too great for the cleansing power of Jesus. Once cleansed, we are no longer defined by those sins.
Homosexual behavior won’t damn a person any faster than pride, or greed, or adultery. Without Christ, we are lost whether gay, straight, or non-sexual. But, when we surrender our lives to the lordship of Jesus, He gives us a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). He destroys the power that sin once held over us (Romans 6:1–7). The old nature that once dictated our actions has been conquered in a born-again child of God (John 3:3). Temptation still rages. Weaknesses still torment. But the power of the Holy Spirit helps us to resist our enemy, Satan, and overcome the very sins that nailed Jesus to the cross (Colossians 2:14; James 4:7). When we allow Jesus to define us, old definitions no longer fit (1 John 3:9–10). We can choose new life in Jesus or the old life of sin. But we cannot have both (Matthew 6:24).
Recommended Resource: What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung and 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality by Mike Haley
What does the Bible say about gay marriage / same sex marriage?
What does the New Testament say about homosexuality?
If homosexuality is a sin, why didn’t Jesus ever mention it?
What does the Bible say about pansexuality / omnisexuality?
What does the Bible say about being a lesbian? Does the Bible mention lesbianism?
Questions about Sin
Is being gay a sin? Is it a sin to be gay?