Can I Be Gay And A Christian?

Scripture doesn't condemn being gay. It condemns gay sex. Thankfully, there is a difference.

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere on the internet, the Bible does teach that any sexual activity outside of one man - one woman marriage is contrary to God’s good desire for us. It also teaches (thankfully) that being tempted by sexual sin is quite different from actually doing it.  We do not arrest men for feeling an urge to rob banks. We arrest men for robbing them. 

The term 'gay' needs to be qualified. 

Society uses the very unhelpful terminology of 'being gay' which makes no distinction between desire and lifestyle. It implies that if you have a sexual desire, it is your true identity that you then must act on. In any other area of life, this would be considered ridiculous. Many of us have fantasised about punching a boss or co-worker. We would object, however to being arrested as if we actually had done so.  

One may object that homosexuality is different because it is a desire that seems 'natural' to the one who has it. Perhaps. But we also know countless Christian men struggling with pornography who would also describe their lust as both 'natural'. What comes naturally to a broken and sinful human is not necessarily righteous.

Though sexual desire is from God, we have an orientation called sin. Not everything we deeply desire about sex is right and good. Most people have an orientation that may leads them towards heterosexual fornication or adultery. Some people are orientated towards homo-sex. A fair number of university students I have pastored over the years have had SSA (same-sex attraction). Many of these are some of the most outstanding Christian young adults I know. They simply have (or “had”) a sexual attraction to someone else of the same gender - something they can hardly control.

So, 'Can you be Christian and gay?' depends on your use of the term. There are many Christians who have same-sex desires and live godly, celibate lives. Christian authour, Wes Hillis one of them. If you have these feelings, you are not a bad Christian for having them. If you have acted on them, Jesus can and will forgive all sin that is brought to him in sincere repentance. Confess your struggles before fellow brothers and sisters who struggle with other types of sins and make your goal obedience to Christ.

But if we are asking, 'Can someone continually and proudly engage in homo-sex and call themselves "Christian"?' The answer is 'no'. You can't do so with integrity. In that sense, we cannot be a 'gay Christian' any more than we can be a 'gossiping Christian' or a 'thieving Christian'. If and when we do those sins, we repent of them. We must not proudly celebrate them.

God loves all people and that love leads us to change. God has a better way and we submit to Christ in order to find the embrace we are truly looking for.


  1. "It is also clear that being tempted to sin sexually is different from actually sinning. We do not arrest men for wanting to rob banks. We arrest men for robbing them."

    Josh, not trying to be tricky or anything, but what do you do with texts like Matthew 5:28? I know it almost seems to be evangelical orthodoxy that only homosexual acts ("homo-sex" as you call it) and not homosexual desires are sinful, but I just don't see it from Scripture. Maybe this is my pessimism, but really I see scripturally that humans without Christ are utterly ungodly and under the power of sin in their hearts as well as their actions. Homosexual desire, or at least lusting after anyone who is not your (opposite sex) husband/wife, is an expression of sin and a sign of the depravity of the human heart. I don't say this to denigrate homosexuals any more than heterosexuals, but our 'sickness' is more serious than just our actions. Wrong and disordered sexual desires are sinful - not just the acts.

    Anonymous because I genuinely fear for my employment if I use my real name on this post, but we have met a few times IRL.

  2. No, I don't think you're being tricky at all here. You've touched on a nouanced area which is beyond the scope of this short blog post to get into and that is the difference between struggling with sexual temptation and actually accepting lust with no sense of resistance.

    I agree with your description of human depravity; that is what the Bible (one thinks of Romans 2) does teach about mankind apart from God's grace in our lives. I would say that having an evil desire which you are activley resisting is not a sin. The man who is lusting in the Matt 5.28 description is not committing adultery only because he lacks opportunity. On the other hand the man who has complete opportunity to look at porn and not get caught yet who with difficulty exercises self-restraint is not guilty of committing a sin. He has not broken God's law. There is a difference between the two men. Having a sin nature which you resist is not the same thing as actually commiting the sin.

    I appreciate you being anonymous. It is a sensitive subject in our culture.

  3. Of course it is possible to sin sexually without actually engaging in a sex act with one's body. This is the situation that Jesus describes of a person "lusting after" someone else. However, we can't let that example dissolve the distinction between temptation and sin.

    If being tempted were itself sinful we would be in the awkward position of claiming that Jesus had sinned. But, since the Bible is clear that Jesus was tempted and did not sin, we will want to preserve the distinction as Christians.

    In the case of lust, I think Josh had begun to describe what I think Jesus had in mind. There is a difference between experiencing a sexual desire and acting on it. I might act on it mentally or physically and either choice would be sinful, but I might experience a desire and instead choose to resist the temptation to act on it mentally or physically. This is what the Spirit empowers us to do


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