Sexuality and Sin: Basic Facts

Sexuality is obvious a huge controversy. Homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexualism, and a host of other words fill blogs, newspapers, and airtime. Naturally, if something is so controversial and such a major part of human life, then consulting God about it is a reasonable decision.  I, of course, believe that the Bible is God’s Word, so I search there for answers.

The problem is that this issue is heated and home to many strong opinions, despite the abundance of ignorance and myths involved. In fact, there is quite a bit to say about it, but I would prefer to start with basics and then draw out implications. So, as humbly as I can, I present these truths from the Bible.

Fact 1: Homosexuality (and the like) is sin.

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

Romans 1:26-27

 The Bible is clear on the issue of homosexuality, and all that is like it. It is wrong. I know there are arguments that homosexuality is not being unequivocally condemned, but I don’t buy it. That’s eisegesis (making the text mean what you want it to mean). That anyone could ever come to that conclusion without intending to seems very unlikely. The very first point we must recognize here is that homosexuality is sin.

Fact 2: God’s plan for sexuality is based on God’s plan for His Son and the Church.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.

For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.

This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:22-32

God’s plan for marriage and sexuality (for in the Biblical literature, the two are assumed the entire time to go together) is based on God’s plan for Jesus and the Church. Now, we know there are not two Jesus’, or two Churches, but one Christ and one Church. In His sovereign design of grace, God instituted marriage and sexuality to typify that relationship, and so to pervert that symbolism is to attack Christ and the Church.

We have to understand as believers that God instituted a particular natural order of things, and this order is meant to be preserved. This order is part of the world God intends to us to live out. Now, this isn’t to say that we cannot do anything that anyone might consider unnatural, but there are certainly important ways in the world with which God intends us to align. The Biblical evidence shows marriage and sexuality this way.

Fact 3: All are born sinners.

Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

Psalm 51:5

When the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.”

Genesis 8:21

We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

Ephesians 2:3

We are born as sinners. Our hearts are corrupt by sin from the beginning. People are born selfish, and opposed to God. These are sins. Some people imagine that we must make a conscious choice to sin. That’s not true. People don’t just suddenly decide, “I’m going to be a selfish blasphemer today.” It’s in us. We’re infected at the start.

The point here is this: we debate all day whether people are born homosexual or if homosexuality is a choice. However, that is irrelevant. If people can be born selfish, and if people can be born in sin at all, then even if people are born homosexual they can still be in sin for that reason.

Fact 4: Your sexuality is a part of you, but does not define you.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,
so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.

Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10

Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

Romans 6:3-5

Obviously, sexuality is a big part of who you are. Attraction, flirting, and passion all make up a huge part of the human experience and the social world. Marriage defines (hopefully) numerous years of life. Sexuality runs deep and moves with power. Still, who we are is much more than who we are attracted to. Remember that Jesus said, “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). I don’t claim to know exactly what role, if any, sexuality will play in the kingdom of God, but I know by the Biblical emphasis that our identity is found in Christ. Being like Jesus, having true union with Him through the Spirit, is what defines us. Where we have been placed in Christ is who we are. Sexuality is an important part of us, but it is certainly not so significant as to say that repenting of homosexuality will end/change who you are.

Fact 5: Maybe you can’t change your sexuality. The Spirit can.

And some of you used to be like this. 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.

1 Corinthians 6:11

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Philippians 2:13

The truth about life is that our sinfulness is too deep for us to change. We don’t have the power to do it. Jeremiah 13:23 tells us that it is no more possible for sinners to change their ways than it is for a leopard to change its spots. That is why we need the power of God. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can change our ways of selfishness, hate, stinginess, dishonesty, lust, and greed. In the same way, He is the only one who can truly free the heart from homosexuality. Also, I can’t promise He will always completely free people from it in this life. Many sins go all life without being completely eradicated. However, He can and does make change. If you don’t believe that, I send you to this link.

This brings me to a related point: many Christians like to say that homosexual orientation is not sin, but acting on it is. In fact, I used to say this. However, my thoughts on this point have changed. Our actions mean nothing more than what they express of our hearts. Sinfulness is when our hearts are out of alignment with God’s truth and grace and will. Homosexuality does not fit there, so even that heart state is broken. Again, I go to the analogy of selfishness. It’s not just when we do selfish things that we sin. We expose our sinfulness every time we want to be selfish, every time our selfish impulses come to the forefront before our loving impulses. 

Conclusion

In the end, this is what I see. We live in a broken world, where people suffer the effects of the Fall before they can even think. All kinds of sin is bound up in us from birth, maybe even homosexuality. That’s horrible, because God has ordained a truly glorious and beautiful plan for sexuality, and homosexuality and its friends demolish it. However, God gives grace. If you trust in Jesus Christ, your identity is in Him, and you are not limited in who you are to your sexuality. And by grace, if you trust in Him, then His Spirit will work in you to set you free. This isn’t to say that you’ll wind up with no struggles or temptations. None of us do. It does mean that repentance is possible, and God’s plan will win for all who love Him more than people or sex.

Excellent further reading from Desiring God:

I'm 22. I'm married with a toddler and a newborn. love Jesus Christ. I grew up a Southern Baptist and now situate myself within Evangelical Calvinism (which isn't TULIP!). I also draw substantially from N. T. Wright, Peter Leithart, and Alastair Roberts. I go to the Baptist College of Florida. I'm also a bit nerdy.