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Question and Answer

Are same-sex attractions sinful?

Question:

I understand the OPC position that homosexual behavior, as well as any sexual behavior outside a monogamous, heterosexual marriage, is sinful. What about homosexual/bisexual "sexual orientation"? Are same-sex attractions, in and of themselves, sinful or is the problem the behavior itself? If one does have a homosexual orientation (or, if you don't believe in that concept, a tendency to find members of the same sex attractive on a regular basis), what is this person supposed to do? Could someone who is celibate (or faithful in heterosexual marriage) but still troubled by same-sex desires end up going to hell for their thoughts?

Answer:

As you recognize is possible, I don't find the category "sexual orientation" particularly helpful. Rather, I think it more helpful for each of us to ask whether our sexual interests and desires are ordered in a godly and biblical way. This perspective fits in with the OPC's position on sexual behavior, found in the explanation of the 7th Commandment in our Larger Catechism. (Questions 137-139; you can find the Larger Catechism, with Scripture proofs, here.) The commandment "You shall not commit adultery" forbids "adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections." Thus, not only homosexual behavior, but desires as well, are sinful.

"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.... For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet." (Rom. 1:24, 26-27)

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt. 5:28)

"Could someone who is celibate (or faithful in heterosexual marriage) but still troubled by same-sex desires end up going to hell for their thoughts?" All people who commit sins are condemned to hell, and, as Romans 1 and Matthew 5 make clear, lust is a sin. The only escape from hell is not a lust-free thought life, but the cross of Christ. Those who lust (whether for men or women, heterosexually or homosexually) should repent and seek forgiveness from God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The Bible tells us that no Christian must go through her or his life stuck in a sin. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Habitual patterns of sin, especially strongly rooted ones such as sexual lust, can be very difficult to break, but the Holy Spirit is strong enough to enable every believer to conquer any sin. I encourage anyone struggling with sin to ask for help from their pastor. Sin can be rooted out and lives made holy. To assert otherwise is to assert Christ's work on the cross didn't do what the Bible says it does. What Christian would want to say that?


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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