Have you ever heard a church, a pastor, a Christian say, “Being gay is not a sin; only acting on it is.” Sounds reasonable, right? Sounds fair. Sounds balanced. Sounds tolerant. Sounds accommodating and even nice. It’s none of these things. It’s a dreadful error made with the best of intentions.
It is often very hard to understand and apply God’s truth when you’re living in a society in which dissent from socially acceptable “norms” that have been forged in a politically correct furnace is met with hostility and cruelty. Our gut instinct—for the sake of survival, if nothing else—is to look for ways to accommodate without losing our principles. We think, “If I move the line just a little bit, it’ll be okay.”
The hardship of being a Christian in such times is that we aren’t to move the lines, especially when it comes to our identity as God’s creatures and our submission to his authority. We are to stand firm on God’s solid foundation of truth no matter how “mean” that might make us appear, and no matter how much we might lose in remaining true to God’s ways. If we fail in this difficult calling, we end up helping no one. Not ourselves. Not the church. And not those we pretend to help.
Oddly—particularly in this case regarding homosexuality—our effort to be accommodating when it comes to sexual identity results not only in betraying God’s design for humanity, but actually creating more pain for those we think we’re helping.
To understand my point, let’s break this down into three parts that need clarification for us to understand why “being gay” is sinful, whether you act on it (have sexual relations) or not. Those three parts include understanding: 1) Attraction, 2) Lust, and 3) Identity. These three points are often not properly understood, and this confusion has created a great deal of error in the church.
Understanding Sexual Attraction
Being clear on definitions is essential to coming to correct conclusions about an issue. When we talk about sexual attraction, we are referring to those feelings one has that are a response to another person. I call them “the tingles.” Call it chemistry. Call it a sensory emotion. Call it a primary compulsion rooted in sexual desires. Whatever it is, we all know what it is—that initial emotional reaction to another person we find sexually attractive.
I would go further and say it is even more primal than that—it’s a visceral response that taps into our nature to find completion in another person and to “be fruitful and multiply.” These deep waters of attraction are part of our humanity—both as women and men.
Sexual attraction involves a lot of involuntary impulses, both physically and emotionally, and these are tied together as sensory input. A man sees a beautiful woman, and his body tingles in response; he’s “attracted” to her and even consciously affirms that attraction—these are all purely natural responses. The same is true of a woman.
In our fallen state of sin, these natural impulses can take many different turns as we find ourselves sexually attracted in ways that even surprise ourselves. The more sex is thrust into our path, the more chances we have of feeling those organic tingles. In a highly sexualized society like ours, it happens even more often—and in all kinds of ways. In advertising, we’ve even made brushing our teeth a sexual experience—not to mention the plethora of films in which people are having sex every ten minutes. Everything is sexual, and therefore sexual stimuli are flooding our natural response mechanisms—overwhelming us, at times, with sex.
In this mayhem—and even when the mayhem is absent and we live in a sexually demure society like the Victorian Age—attractions still flow. Some of those are natural between men and women, some of them mere responses of the body, and some of them perverted by sin.
These tingles of attraction are not sinful in their infancy—even the ones that are perverted by our sin nature or brokenness in our body chemistry (hormones play a huge role in sexual attraction) or disorders of our neurochemistry. The girl who gets a tingle when she sees another girl undress is an effect of our fallen world but not a sin. A boy who feels tingles when another boy touches him—again, an effect of our fallen world (though it is indeed sin on the initiating boy’s part for violating the other boy)—but it is not sin regarding the emotional response. A married man who finds himself attracted to his beautiful coworker is a natural effect of sexual dynamics between men and women, but not a sin. A woman whose neck heats a little when she sees an attractive man fighting to defend those he loves on the big screen—a natural sexual-sensory response, but not a sin.
I know this might come as a shock to many prim-and-proper Christians who treat any form of sexual attraction as lust that needs to be beaten into submission, but it’s the truth. These seeds of sexual energy—these sensory impressions—are part of God’s design and are only insidiously sinful when entertained. Yet, too many men in particular are living in the bondage of fear because they think every time they’re attracted to a beautiful woman, they’re lusting. This causes them to isolate themselves, or worse, blame the woman and seek ways to cover her or remove her from his presence (Islam is an extreme example of covering women because of their sexuality). It can also cause them to develop perverse habits, such as pornography and adultery, to channel natural feelings that aren’t dealt with in a healthy way.
The church must understand sexual attraction in its proper context—what is an immediate natural response and what is a mediate sinful engagement. This leads me to my next point: Lust.
For those of you who think I’m ignoring Jesus’ clear teaching that sin begins in the heart with lust (just as we can murder in the heart with anger), rest assured—I’m not going to let lust be downplayed. When a fleeting, involuntary thought, image, or feeling passes through our brain, and we don’t invite it in for tea—we have not sinned. We have experienced what it’s like to be human. But, when we stop that thought, image, or feeling, and engage it, roll it around in our imagination and entertain it, then we have entered sin territory. We have lusted.
Most of us know what this feels like, if we’re honest. We’re married, but we know a man at work who makes us feel alive with excitement, and somewhere along the way, we held that feeling close, we felt it fully, we imagined what it would be like to feel him next to us, kiss us, and make love to us. We have now committed adultery in our hearts. It’s not the “fullness of sin,” that comes with actually acting on it. But it’s sin, nonetheless. “He who has lusted has committed adultery in his heart,” Jesus said. It hasn’t given birth to the full fruits of adultery in all its horror, but it is sin. It’s also a dangerous sin because once we open the door to lust, it’s really hard to kick it out of the house. It usually wants to stay as a permanent guest and often takes over the residence, changing everything.
Let’s be honest. In our highly sexualized society in which precious few people have developed the spiritual fruit of self-control, attraction swiftly turns into lust. This is one of the devastating effects of the sexualization of children—all barriers between sexual attraction are torn down, and lust is encouraged like the fictional “sex-play” of children in A Brave New World. This is one reason many Christians buck the notion of attraction not being sinful. They have a hard time imagining what it’s like not to have attraction coincide with lust.
In these times, with sex everywhere all the time and permissiveness about sex ruling the day, it’s no wonder Christians feel this way. But this bastardization of attraction into lust is a corruption of nature—not the state of it. We would be wrong to call all attraction lust—and therefore put many people in fearful bondage—but we would be naive to think most people today aren’t engaged in full-fledged lust of the most depraved order.
If you’re following the case I’m building, I think you can probably already see why the assertion that you can “be gay and not sin, as long as you don’t act on it,” is foolish. If you’re to the point that you’ve so entertained a sexual attraction that you self-identity with it, you’re deep in lust territory—so much so that it has become a state of being even if it’s not an action. Or, you have allowed mere sexual attractions to become your identity—a deception of the highest order.
Understanding Sexual Identity
The question “What does it mean to be gay?” is essentially and fundamentally a question of identity—and God has a lot to say about identity. When you ask someone what it means to be gay, they usually say, “It’s my orientation.” But that isn’t really an answer, especially since essential to the definition of “orientation” is relativity not actuality—an orientation is something “relative” to something else, not the something itself.
Interestingly, when you ask someone what orientation means, they don’t answer, “my sexuality” relative to “actual sexuality.” Usually the response is, “It’s my natural attractions, my desires—it’s who I am.” They’ve leapfrogged from the tingles to identity—though more often than not (especially when dealing with adolescents or adults) a lot of lust lies in between. Some will even go so far as to say, “This is how God made me,” replacing the objective with the subjective—a sure sign of perversion.
“Orientation,” or rather “man-designed sexuality,” is not only about catapulting our subjective feelings over God’s objective design. It involves how we treat others. When we are in the realm of feelings, impressions, and sensual emotions (those tied to the senses of the body), we are treating other people as objects. This is because there is no actual knowledge of another person—the subject. Our attraction and desires are natural—born either of a sensory response that is in accordance with our sexual purpose or a corrupted sensory response that comes from some brokenness in our brains or psychology (an effect of the Fall). But they don’t define us as persons; these are mere feelings and not an identity designed to be in a knowing relationship with another person for a common purpose.
If we’re going to place our identity squarely in the realm of the objectification of others, we need to be aware of the connotations and outcomes of such a state of being. The relational aspect of our sexuality becomes, not a matter of joined purpose of objectively designed sexuality between two subjects, but the use of people as means to our own relative ends.
The only way to understand our true identity is to see it in the context of God’s creative design and his purpose for us as men and as women. The Bible is abundantly clear—and Jesus is abundantly clear—that God created humanity male and female. Man is made for woman, and woman is made for man—to create, to experience companionship, and to reflect the image of God not only as individuals but in relationship with each other as the physical manifestation of the archetypical masculine and feminine joining together in love.
Our sexual identity, therefore, is for a male to have sex with a female and a female to have sex with a male. Our bodies are designed for this purpose. Our minds, our souls, our psychologies, and—yes—our emotions are all designed to join with the opposite sex to carry out God’s purposes in this world.
In erotic relationships—in marriage—this joining is a divine union, one that reflects the intimacy, the deep knowledge of two subjects (aka persons) created by God, and the joy of love. It is not an “orientation.” It is the fundamental actual state of being, handcrafted by God for a specific way of acting. Biology, feelings, or psychology—no matter how they’re twisted by the Fall (or not)—do not determine this identity. It is fixed by God for his purposes.
When a Christian or a church utters the words, “You are gay, but it’s not a sin,” they are denying the truth of God’s created order regarding sexual design and identity. There is no such thing as “gay” or “homosexual” in God’s creation of human identity. “You are....” is a statement of identity. The only sexual identity is male or female—and both are designed for a purpose that involves a sexual relationship only with each other. All else is feeling and sensory emotions—these feelings and emotions are clearly not separate from our sexual identity (our desires are essential to it and precursors of action), but they do not define our sexual identity, especially since they can be so corrupted by brokenness of the body and mind and by sin itself.
Essential to living according to our purpose—and therefore experiencing true joy in life—is knowing our identity. We need to understand our identity as human beings, and we need to properly identify our sexual identity. Neither of these is determined by us. Our sexuality is designed to join exclusively with the opposite sex, just as a clock is designed to tell time, not weld metal.
Understanding the Damage Done
The tragedy of telling people with same-sex attractions that “they are gay, but not sinning as long as they don’t act on it,” is you’re both lying to them about who they are, and you’re putting them in a prison of emotional turmoil and self-denial. Human beings are not made to be alone. Unless you are uniquely called not to marry and to use your passions and gifts outside of a sexual relationship, you are designed to connect with another—and sex is a huge part of that. Why would we deny that to anyone based on a false claim of identity—all because we want to sound tolerant and loving? We’re actually being the opposite. We’re being cruel.
The truly loving message to those with same-sex attraction is, “You are not defined by your feelings, desires, and urges. You are not defined by your hormonal influences that affect sexual passions (any woman who suffers the ups and down of hormonal imbalances can tell you that). You are not defined by your psychology or neurochemistry. You are certainly not defined by any sexual abuse you might have suffered that has confused you regarding your sexuality. You are not defined by the world. You are defined by God—as male or female and all that entails—and that identity is freedom, not a cage.
When we are consumed by our attractions and feelings—especially when they’re reinforced by a sexualized culture, habits of sexual promiscuity, and pornography—we lose ourselves. This is true for people with opposite-sex attraction as well as those with same-sex attraction. Lust is a powerful tyrant, and it doesn’t let its prisoners go easily. To overcome, we must fight it, not feed it with platitudes and delusions of “niceness.”
Our society is particularly difficult because it is so drenched in sexualization. Almost everything we feel has an added sexual component and sensory emotion attached to it, and when those feelings—however fleeting they might be—become ensconced in our minds as our identity, we have truly lost who we really are.
The young girl who thinks her best friend is beautiful and feels excitement about it is told that her feelings are sexual, and therefore, because they’re sexual, she’s gay. The young man who has been fondled by a teacher and responds physically or at least experiences sensory emotions, is told that he’s gay—that this is his identity. He then begins to be unable to imagine anything else.
The boy who is designed by God as an individual to be passionate about art is led by a sexualized culture to confuse his passion with sexual pleasure. He then directs his desires not only toward art but homosexual sex simply because he isn’t attracted to women. Never does he (or anyone else) stop to realize that God has fashioned his heart not to be in an erotic relationship (hence his lack of desire for women), but to use his time, energy, and passions to create art for God’s glory. This calling, however—this individualized purpose—is lost as a sexualized and subversive culture impresses upon him the compulsion to be sexual, if not with a woman then with a man.
The church is doing no one with same-sex attraction any favors by telling them that it’s okay to be gay as long as they spend the rest of their lives alone devoid of sexual intimacy. This might be the calling for a small group of people (consider the apostle Paul who lived a life of celibacy), but it is not the norm. It’s not sex that must be rejected by the person with same-sex attraction—it’s the feelings that have wormed into his or her soul and set themselves up as that person’s self.
Christianity offers a better, more joyful, answer—Nothing is impossible with Christ. God who raises the dead, God who created the entire universe, God who fills darkened souls with light, God who washes our dirty rags white as snow, God who wipes away every tear that falls on our flushed cheeks—he can change our feelings to make them conform with his purposes and the sexual identity he has given us as men and women. He can help us be who we truly are—as we find our identity in him, not in ourselves.
This article was originally published at Romans One, and is reposted with permission from the author, Denise McAllister.
Big Tech censorship has been expanding beyond just Conservatives… Christians are next!
While many of us have been warning about the coming persecution of Christians, I don’t think any of us thought that it would be ramping up so quickly. While we are luckily not facing physical persecution yet, such as beatings or death, we are facing censorship, deplatforming and even jail time in some instances. These are just the birth pangs of what is coming next.
While we still have a voice here at The GateKeepers, we are doing everything that we can to bypass the algorithmic walls put up by Big Tech and the Social Media companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Our videos used to get thousands of views across all of our platforms, while now they are being throttled and hardly getting distributed at all. An added wrinkle is that, while our video content is seeing lower views, traffic to our website has never been higher. Over the past year we’ve seen a 700% increase in traffic, and it’s been amazing to experience this kind of growth. Because of this, we’ll be launching GKTV very soon, hosting all of our shows exclusively on our platform.
While The GateKeepers started out as nothing more than a blog for me to post my articles relating to concerns within Christianity, it has now expanded into a full-fledged Christian podcast network featuring fifteen shows, a publishing company that has published three books over the past year and we are now hosting conferences on a regular basis. We’ve seen the addition of contributors to The GateKeepers such as Denise McAllister, Pastor Cary Gordon, Pastor Ken Peters, Dr Mike Spaulding, Dr Bobby Lopez and many other amazing Christian leaders. Our lineup of shows has expanded, as well, featuring shows such as The Shining Light Podcast, Conversations with Jeff, The Big Brown Gadfly, Battlefront: SouthGate and The Verum Monitae Report with Dr Mike Spaulding, in addition the the several other shows we also carry on The GateKeepers.
Everything that we do is for the purpose of expanding Biblical Christianity through the preaching of the Gospel, the exposition of God's Word and confronting error where it pops its ugly head within the Church. We are mission-focused first, and then we use technology, books, resources and events to accomplish and further the Gospel and Biblical theology.
While we’ve seen some amazing growth and expansion, we are also working hard to make this be a long-term play, and with that comes with how to fund our work here. I’ve intentionally not turned The GateKeepers into a non-profit organization because I don’t want to become beholden to the government, and I also don’t want to be focused on sending out fundraising letters constantly begging for money like most non-profit ministries do.
Instead, we have our online book store, are hosting online conferences and have our Plugged In membership program. Right now we are funded exclusively through these three different avenues. We are especially excited about our Plugged In membership, as this brings so much added value to you as a thank you for supporting our work here at The GateKeepers.
Becoming a Plugged In member provides access to the weekly episode of The GateKeepers Podcast, the monthly episode of Connected, free access to all of our online conferences, the recordings from previous online conferences and 30% off in The GK Store. If you would like to support us by becoming a Plugged In member, click here.
However, we’ve also been getting a lot of requests from supporters asking how they can donate to help support The GateKeepers. We are extremely grateful for these requests, as this will help us to expand even further and provide more quality Biblical content. If you would like to help support to The GateKeepers, you can donate through PayPal here.