The GLBT Movement: Examining the Source of Homosexuality

One of the basic points of contention around homosexuality in our culture has been its cause. Is it something innate and inborn which is unchangeable, or is it a conscious choice of the individual? Most anyone with an opinion on the issue has an immediate answer to this question. While the knee-jerk response may technically be correct, is this answer alone sufficient, and does it accurately reflect the full testimony of the Word of God?

The Sinful Choice of Homosexual Behavior

To begin, let’s be clear that homosexuality, along with all forms of sexual immorality is clearly condemned as sin by the Word of God. Passages such as Leviticus 20, Romans 1, and I Corinthians 6 form a very clear and unified testimony throughout Scripture. This is an inescapable reality for anyone that holds the Bible as authoritative and sufficient. It is only when we inject our own wisdom into the issue that we being to question this fact.

Because God’s Word clearly identifies homosexual behavior as sin, we can then apply Scripture’s teaching about sin and its nature to homosexuality. The Bible’s clear teaching is that each person is personally responsible for their own sin and therefore deserving of judgment (Deut. 24:16; II Cor. 5:10; Prov. 1:22-33, et al). Why? Because we willfully choose sin rather than obedience to God’s commands (Josh. 24:14-15; Isa. 53:6, 65:11-12; Rom. 1:18-23 ff). Therefore, since homosexuality is a sin (and God will judge man for it), then it is clear that it is also a choice.

It is at this point that our reasoning and examination of Scripture in the matter typically ends.

“God says homosexuality is sin and that sin is a choice, so homosexuality is a choice.”

This is our axiom. While this is a truism, I believe that this issue bears a bit more examination. We must remember that we are speaking to an issue that is deeply affecting people created in God’s image, and that our defense should represent not only certain facts of God’s Word, but the character of God Himself.

Homosexual Behavior vs. Homosexual Desire

One important distinction that we need to make concerns our logic. We need to be aware of precisely what our axiom has accomplished. We have identified homosexual behavior as a (sinful) choice. This is not the same as homosexual desire. Understand that when I am using the term “desire” in this context, I am not referring to lust, but to the temptation toward a particular sin. James 1:14-15 makes a clear distinction and tells us that temptation, or the natural inclination of our sin nature to desire what is wrong, is of itself not sin. It is when our lust has “conceived” that it results in sin. The term “conceived” in this passage literally means to “seize” or “capture”. In other words, when we allow our minds to focus on the temptation and let the desire for it capture our hearts, then we have entered into the realm of sin.

If we fail to make this distinction (or communicate this distinction), our ability to understand and accurately articulate the Biblical position is diminished. The unspoken assumption from the other side is not that the homosexual behavior is inborn, but that the desire for it is inborn (akin to natural sexual desire), and that desire therefore naturally and inescapably results in homosexual behavior.

So then we must be ready to answer questions like “Why is it sinful for me to ‘marry’ and act on my desires, but not so for you?” and “How can you say your desires are natural and given by God, but mine are perverted and come from the flesh or Satan?” and “If I ‘chose’ to be a homosexual, then when did you ‘choose’ to be a heterosexual?” In effect, we must clearly articulate from where homosexual desires arise, how and why they arise, and how all of this is different than heterosexual desires.

The Path to Homosexual Desire

God’s Word is sufficient as always, and does not fail to give authoritative information which sheds light on this issue. It is interesting to note that when you see homosexuality spoken of in the Bible, it is usually associated with or found alongside an already immoral culture. In other words, a pattern of homosexual behavior does not occur overnight. It is, in many ways, not so much a problem in and of itself, as it is a telling symptom of an already rampant disease. The familiar passage of Romans 1 describes as much as Paul lays out the “downward spiral” of unrepentant sin. Note the interplay between man’s choices and God’s response to those choices:

First, God’s natural revelation is spurned in Rom. 1:19-21. Sinful man knows of God, but has no interest in submitting to Him, so his heart becomes dark. He is already choosing wickedly. He looks to his own wisdom instead of God’s, and becomes proud and foolish (Rom 1:22). Then, to justify his rebellion, he tries to view God’s glory as no greater than the glory of himself or other earthly things (Rom. 1:23) and engages in idolatrous syncretism (Ex. 32:1-8).

God responds to these evil choices in Rom. 1:24 by allowing man to become impure (the word “uncleanness” literally means “impure”) and lustful toward one another, dishonoring their bodies with each other. This would refer to fornication, adultery, etc. (I Cor. 6:18). At this point, man still has the natural, God-given sexual desires, but is willfully and continually going outside God’s boundaries for fulfilling those desires. It is vital to realize that the extent of sexual sin parallels man’s degraded view of God and His worship.

Man then continues in sin and in order to supplant God as the only object due worship, he begins to openly worship created things instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25), moving from syncretism to outright idolatry. It is at this point in the downward spiral that we find homosexuality enter the picture in Rom. 1:26-27. Because of the continued rebellion in man’s heart, God allows his natural desires to morph into unnatural ones, completely destroying the symbol of the Gospel (Eph. 5:22-32) as he has completely forsaken the worship of God.

Interestingly, however, this is not the final, fatal symptom of an immoral society. Man can go yet farther and choose to completely ignore the fact that God even exists (Rom. 1:28). It is at this point that man passes the threshold of “no return”, as God lets his mind run from Him as he pleases, resulting in the defining character of Rom 1:29-31. Sinful man is yet aware of God’s impending judgement, but acts like Satan and takes pleasure in deadly sins, callously reveling with others in his fatal pursuits (Rom. 1:32).

The Result of an Idolatrous Attitude

By the progression established in Romans 1, we see the practice of homosexuality as a natural result of a culture or environment which is already steeped in rebellion and idolatry. A person with this bent may not realize that their lustful and perverted desires were born out of something that preceded any homosexual tendencies. Indeed, in many cases, the pattern and progression of sin may flow through multiple generations, thus eventually producing children that are easily drawn toward homosexual behavior because of the already engrained idolatry of the fathers (Ex. 20:3-5).

The testimony of Romans 1 clearly establishes that homosexual desires and behavior do not flow from genetics or some unchangeable inborn characteristic any more than any of the other sins named in the chapter. These perverted desires enter the heart of man as a natural outworking of his already depraved ideology that is in rebellion against what God has revealed. As man exchanges the worship of the Creator with the worship of the creation, he also exchanges the natural use of the body for the unnatural use. In so doing, He destroys the symbol of the Gospel (the pure love/serve relationship between husband and wife) and replaces it with a symbol of his own idolatrous gospel (a lustful, contentious form of worship between equals).

The Joy of the Repentant Heart

The hopeful message at the root of all this perversion and despair is that God is able to transform the heart of any sinner, provided he is willing to repent (Acts 3:19-20; II Cor. 5:17; I Cor. 6:9-11).  We must guard ourselves against despising the person caught up in homosexual behavior, lest we be found to be hypocrites (Rom. 2:1). Homosexual desire is no different at the core than any other type of sinful desire – it all changes when the heart submits to God! Psalm 37:4 sums up this principle as we are taught to take delight in the Lord first of all. When we seek first the kingdom of God, He transforms our perverse desires into Godly ones and willingly gives us all that our heart can desire (Matt. 6:33, 7:7-11; Rom. 8:31-32, Eph. 3:14-21)!