God, Creation, and Homosexual Desire

by Adam McClendon July 21, 2016

Not long ago, I was asked the question, “Does God make people gay?”

I’m unable to relay the entire conversation here, but found the discussion helpful and wanted to share some of the highlights of my response.

At the heart of this question is the issue of genetics, but the problem with the question is that it does not distinguish between attributes and action. For example, if someone is born with brown hair, brown hair is an attribute they inherently have; however, if someone dyes their hair blonde because they have an inherent desire to look a certain way, they commit an action that is predicated upon that desire.

Thus, actions are generally a combination of both genetic predispositions and environment.

This distinction is important because an affirmative answer to the question “Does God make people gay?” is based upon a significant assumption. That is, we assume if an individual is born with a predisposition to same gender relationships, then the attraction that is most natural to them is automatically okay.

 So, a short answer to question of genetics is no, actions are not automatically justified by genetically stimulated desire.

To word it another way, more directly related to the original question, God doesn’t create people such that they have no other choice but to act out homosexual desire. The response I received was essentially that, “If God made someone that way, then it can’t be sin.” I used Scripture to explain the biblical worldview related to this approach and provided the following two points:

1. Our genetic tendency towards any sin is the result of the fall (Genesis 3) and is not part of God’s original design, which was completely good.

2. We cannot blame God for acting on our desires. We are responsible for our actions regardless of the strength of the desires that helped to facilitate them.

So, no, God does not make anyone act on homosexual desire. But I think there are two other questions that are more helpful for the person who truly desires to know God and live in obedience to Him regarding this matter.

Does the Bible consider homosexuality a sin?

This question is critical because it goes to whether or not the Bible is our authority for morality or if culture and desire supercede it.

Great strides have been taken recently to explain how traditional Christianity has misinterpreted or misread the Scriptures regarding the issue of homosexuality, stating that the Bible does not condemn homosexual act. Many of the proponents of this argument seem to genuinely be striving to rightly understand God’s Word, show love towards all, and affirm the good news that Jesus is the Savior.

However, despite their efforts and explanations, the simple truth of the matter is that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments clearly categorize homosexual actions as sinful. One clear text is Romans 1:18-32 where homosexual action is used as an illustration of idolatry along with other sins.  Also, note that in this passage, the “natural relations” are those rooted in the created order of male and female and not those “natural” to personal preference or desire. Paul, in Romans 1, is using homosexuality as one key form of idolatry, and in doing so, he shows that all sin is the indulgence of self over and against the will of God.  All sin at its base is idolatry as Paul reveals.

I will not expand on the evidences here, but will refer to two works that are helpful should confusion exist as to whether or not the Bible considers homosexual acts sinful: Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015); Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001).

As with any sin, we are to submit our desires to God’s Word. Our desires do not excuse disobedience, regardless of how strong or genetically rooted those desires are.

Thus, we have three choices. We can: (a) accept the Bible as authoritative and conform to it, (b) dismiss the Bible in the areas we don’t like, or (c) reject the Bible altogether.

However, let us not reinterpret or re-write the Bible to make it fit our cultural and personal preferences.

Does God cause me to act on homosexual desire?

No, we are responsible for our actions. As a result of the fall in Genesis 3, our environment is full of temptation to pull people towards sin, and people are born with a natural inclination to sin.

Even after coming to faith in Jesus Christ, believers will have “sinful desires” for as long as they live in a fallen world, regardless of how mature they become in the faith.

Two passages are particularly helpful here:

James 1:13–15: "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

Galatians 5:16: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

Notice in Galatians, Paul is speaking to believers, explaining that desires for sin will exist even within someone who believes in Jesus. That desire is not necessarily sin. The believer, through an act of the will, is to submit to the desires of the Spirit of God over and above his or her own natural desires that characterized their lives before coming to Christ.

Thus, we see clearlyin the text that desires do not justify sin of any sort regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

We cannot confuse desires with ethics. Simply desiring something doesn’t make it acceptable, nor does a genetic predisposition to any particular action.

Some people are predisposed to laziness, some to being a workaholic, some to same gender relations outside of marriage, and others to pride, anger, greed, selfishness, etc. Yet, the Bible calls all of these sinful.

Again, desires do not justify sin, regardless of the natural inclinations present.

The real issue at the heart of the matter is the answer to another question altogether: “Which matters most to me, the way I feel or what God says?”