Open Letter to a Young Person Experiencing Same-Sex Attraction
I don’t know what message you have heard from Christians or churches about homosexuality, but I want you to know that we have not always shown the compassion and understanding of Jesus to those who are experiencing same-sex attraction. For young people who struggle with these desires, the church has not always felt like a place of welcome, but rather a place of condemnation. Would you be willing to give just a few minutes of your time, and allow me to present to you the biblical truth on homosexuality, perhaps in a way you have never heard?
You are not automatically going to Hell if you experience same-sex attraction
Perhaps you feel like the very presence of these desires inside of you means you are not loved by God. Perhaps you feel like you could never really live as a follower of Christ because you are not pure enough. The way that churches and Christians have spoken about homosexuality over the years has caused many young people to hide the fact that they experience these desires. When they are finally old enough to move out of the house, they search for a safe community where they can actually tell someone about their feelings. But at the same time, they feel like there is no hope for them living as a Christian because they have been made to feel like the very presence of these desires means they are outside the love of God.
Let’s make something clear right up front: there is a difference between experiencing same-sex attraction and embracing those desires by acting on them. Same-sex attraction is a sinful desire, yes… but we all have sinful desires. Every single one of us. I personally do not experience same-sex attraction, but I have my own sinful desires that I must wrestle with. This leads me to point number two.
We all have desires we must deny for the good of our souls and the good of those around us.
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and sin came into the world, it affected and infected everything. Now, as a result of sin being in the world, all kinds of things are messed up, including our desires. Now, without even trying, as we grow up, we develop sinful desires and tendencies. Some of these plague us from a very early age. Some pop up later in life. Everyone experiences this, although not in the same way. Some of us have to learn to control our anger. Others to deny their urges for heterosexual lust. Whatever they might be for each individual person, we all have sinful desires we must fight against and deny.
Understanding this doctrine is extremely important because so many today argue that if they experience same-sex attraction, homosexuality cannot be a sin because “God made me this way.” But that is absolutely untrue. God did not give us our sinful desires. They are the result of the fall and the entrance of sin into the world. If I have a desire to murder someone who makes me angry, it would be ridiculous for me to plead innocence because, after all, “God made me this way!” Part of becoming a mature adult is learning to say “NO” to many of your natural desires. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
It is possible to deny your sexual desires and experience happiness and love at the same time
You may think that it is impossible to live a happy life while being unfulfilled sexually. However, we have a number of examples showing us this is not the case. First and foremost, take Jesus himself. He never married, never had sex, never even had a romantic relationship, and yet he was the most content, happy, and fulfilled person that ever lived. Sam Allberry is a Christian speaker, author, and pastor, but has remained single his entire life because he experiences same-sex attraction. He has refused to act on those sinful desires, choosing rather to deny himself and take up his cross and follow Christ. His books and articles and talks are some of the most helpful and encouraging on this topic if you would like to learn more.
And he is not simply an extremely rare case that I use an an example to prove my point. I have two very good friends, both men who have experienced same-sex attraction from a very young age. One has consistently denied these desires for Christ and is now happily married to a godly woman. The other is a fifty-seven year old man who has never married and wakes up every day, denying his same-sex attraction, so that he can walk faithfully with the Lord. Both of these men will tell you that it is indeed possible to find true and lasting happiness while denying your sexual desires.
You are not defined by your sexual desires
There is a world of difference between saying “I am gay,” and “I experience same-sex attraction.” The first is a statement of identity. The second is a statement of what you experience as a person who finds their identity in other things. Do not believe the lie in our culture that your sexual desires define who you are. They do not. Believe me, I used to be your age, and sexuality is not as big of a deal in life as it feels to you right now.
God wants you to be defined first and foremost as one of his children—as a Christian. For those of us who have put our faith in Christ and been born again, this is fundamentally who we are above all other definitions. In fact, that’s a big part of what it means to be born again. Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.” In Romans 6:4, Paul talks about how we come up out of the waters of baptism to “newness of life.” Whoever and whatever we were before can be washed away by the blood of Jesus. With God, you don’t just get a fresh start, but a new identity!
In closing, I want to ask you three important questions.
Do you believe that you will stand before the judgment seat of God one day?
God’s word tells us that everyone will stand before God on Judgment Day. Only those who have turned from what God defines as sin, and come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, will enter into eternal life.
Do not be fooled: living a life of unrepentant sin will land you in Hell for all eternity. Not just the sin of homosexuality, but any sin that is embraced and not repented of. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 lists sins like sexual immorality, theft, greed, drunkenness, and adultery, alongside homosexuality. And it tells us that if we do not repent of these sins and turn to Christ, we will not enter Heaven. Are you willing to risk spending eternity in Hell so that you can spend a few decades on this earth living a homosexual lifestyle?
Where do you get your ideas about who God is?
I have heard so many people say things like, “I don’t think God would send a person like me to hell,” or, “I just don’t believe God would condemn me for who I choose to love.” Where did you get those ideas? Did someone tell you that? Did they come from your own feelings and intuitions?
Do you think those sources are more trustworthy than the Bible? Which makes more sense: deciding for yourself who you think God is based on your own feelings, or learning who God is based on the book that is supposed to be His inspired Word? Which makes more sense: deciding for yourself who God is, or letting Him tell you who He is? Think about it.
Do you know what the Bible says about homosexuality?
It is absolutely impossible to make a case that the Bible approves of homosexuality. The Old Testament clearly says homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, and it clearly portrays it as such in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. In the New Testament, homosexuality is described as sinful in Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:9-11, and Jude 1:7. I would encourage you to take some time to read these passages yourself.
But there is hope for every single person who experiences these desires… and all of us who experience sinful desires in other ways. God calls each one of us to turn from our sin and to turn to Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ we can have our sins washed away, and we can be born again, to a new identity. It is possible to live for Christ, even as you experience same-sex attraction. You are not alone. Reach out to the believers around you. Lean on them for help as you take up your cross and follow Jesus. And trust God to supply everything you need along the way (Phil. 4:19).
Is God Anti-Gay (book) - Sam Allberry
Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (book) - Rosaria Butterfield
Homosexuality Was My Identity (video) - Becket Cook
Does God Still Love Me If I'm Gay? (podcast episode) - Sam Allberry