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Homosexuality is not an identity issue

Heal/ Identity
This post on same-sex attraction seeks to provide a loving and hopefully, constructive platform for those who are uncertain about their sexual orientation in light of God’s Word. It is for those who place their faith and hope in the God of the Bible but are unsure how their sexual desires affect their identities in Christ.

 

Numerous people with same-sex attraction have been deeply hurt from rejection by family members, friends and churches, even if they were well-intentioned. This is true in Asia as well as in the West. According to research compiled by the US National Institutes of Health, same-sex attraction “adults often describe their adolescence as a time when they felt isolated, ashamed and afraid of being discovered that they were different – all of which can have an impact on self-esteem and identity formation. Sadly, studies have shown that almost one-half of gay men and one-fifth of lesbians were verbally or physically assaulted in high school because of their orientation, and that they were two to four times more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school. Gay teens can also be harassed at home, and are more likely to be kicked out of their homes...”

Little wonder why the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) movement and push for same-sex marriages have gained momentum globally. Every human being desires and deserves respect and dignity.

These sexual identity movements have pressed followers of Jesus into making a stand on a topic that they have little biblical, scientific and practical knowledge on, such as:

  1. Does having same-sex attraction give someone a gay identity?
  2. Is same-sex attraction genetically inherited (nature) or acquired through learning and observation (nurture)?
  3. Is same-sex attraction simply an issue of the flesh?
  4. Is it possible to turn our sexual orientations around?

Many Christians and churches have made grievous mistakes in their responses to fellow believers with same-sex attraction. As followers of Christ, we must never do anything that will make anyone feel isolated, ashamed and afraid. Jesus came to die for every single person on earth and we are to love others as He has loved us. Let us approach this subject armed with the love of Christ and sound information.

John 15:12 ESV  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Earthly desires do not define our identity

God’s Word says that a heterosexual man commits a sin when he allows his lust for a woman to run wild in his mind. Many people would say that is simply a temptation, not his identity. No heterosexual man would introduce himself as, “Hi, my name is John and I am lustful,” for example.

Matthew 5:28 ESV  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

On the other hand, when that lust is for someone of the same sex, his (or her) identity quickly becomes labelled as gay (or lesbian). We really ought to consider if this is the way it should be?

The Bible lists homosexual practices along with other earthly desires, such as greed, cheating, stealing and idolatry. There is no human being on earth who is not greedy or who does not worship himself or herself.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV  … Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

We live in a messy world that uses many labels to compartmentalise and polarise people; loser, winner, stupid, smart, useless, popular, poor, rich, simple, troublemaker, gay or lesbian. Jesus simply sees all of us as sinners whom He came to redeem.

We have to be careful not to allow worldly labels to define who we are. This world is not our permanent home and homosexuality is a worldly pattern.

Hebrews 13:14 NLT  For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. 

Romans 12:2 NIV  Do not conform to the pattern of this world…

Response to Q1: Our identity is first and foremost as disciples of Jesus Christ, and it is not meaningful to add another other worldly tag to that identity. No believer, regardless of our sexual attractions, should ever be pigeonholed into any (temporary) worldly identity.

Same-sex attraction has much stronger roots in nurture than nature

Studies have shown that not all identical twins, who share the same DNA perfectly, share exactly the same sexual orientation. One may turn out to be homosexual and the other, heterosexual. So, people who have same-sex attraction are not “born this way”.

There may be something however, which is passed down through our parents’ genes that may incline us towards same-sex attraction, though this is not definitive.

report in Science magazine states that, “Recent (epigenetic) studies, however, have shown that some marks are passed on to the next generation. In a 2012 paper, Rice and his colleagues suggested that such unerased epi-marks might lead to homosexuality when they are passed on from father to daughter or from mother to son. Specifically, they argued that inherited marks that influence a fetus’s sensitivity to testosterone in the womb might “masculinize” the brains of girls and “feminize” those of boys, leading to same-sex attraction… Just why identical twins sometimes end up with different methylation patterns isn’t clear.”

There is much stronger statistical research that shows that homosexuality is cultivated (nurture) more than inherited (nature).

A study called Childhood Family Correlates of Heterosexual and Homosexual Marriages: A National Cohort Study of Two Million Danes, examined over 2 million Danes between the ages of 18 and 49 in Denmark, the first country to legalise gay marriage. The authors concluded that “childhood family experiences are important determinants of heterosexual and homosexual marriage decisions in adulthood.” 

Here are more details on the role families play in the development of homosexual choices:

  • Men who marry homosexually are more likely to have been raised in a family with unstable parental relationships—particularly, absent or unknown fathers and divorced parents. 
  • Findings on women who marry homosexually were less pronounced, but were still associated with a childhood marked by a broken family. The rates of same-sex marriage “were elevated among women who experienced maternal death during adolescence, women with short duration of parental marriage, and women with long duration of mother-absent cohabitation with father.”
  • Men and women with “unknown fathers” were significantly less likely to marry a person of the opposite sex than were their peers with known fathers. 
  • Men who experienced parental death during childhood or adolescence “had significantly lower heterosexual marriage rates than peers whose parents were both alive on their 18th birthday. The younger the age of the father’s death, the lower was the likelihood of heterosexual marriage.”
  • “The shorter the duration of parental marriage, the higher was the likelihood of homosexual marriage…homosexual marriage rates were 36% and 26% higher among men and women, respectively, who experienced parental divorce after less than six years of marriage, than among peers whose parents remained married for all 18 years of childhood and adolescence.”
  • “Men whose parents divorced before their 6th birthday were 39% more likely to marry homosexually than peers from intact parental marriages.”
  • “Men whose cohabitation with both parents ended before age 18 years had significantly (55% -76%) higher rates of homosexual marriage than men who cohabited with both parents until 18 years.”
  • The mother’s age was directly linked to the likelihood of homosexual marriage among men—the older the mother, the more likely her son was to marry another man. Also, “only children” were more likely to be homosexual. 
  • Persons born in large cities were significantly more likely to marry a same-sex partner—suggesting that cultural factors might also affect the development of sexual orientation.  

When children are “set adrift” by brokenness and wrong signals about love at home, the search for affirmation, bonding and acceptance can lead us to confusing and dangerous places.

In Asia, the “very busy”, “emotionally absent”, “verbally abusive” or “cold” father figure is an extremely common phenomenon that few people acknowledge is a problem, because at least, they provide financially for the family. Children that grow up with very busy or emotionally crippled fathers can still feel abandoned and unloved. Fathers have greater responsibilities than just putting food on the table.

Here is what the Bible says about the role of fathers:

  • Loves, stays faithful and is understanding to the mother of his children (Ephesians 5:25, 1 Peter 3:7)
  • Makes time to counsel and guide his children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
  • Lovingly disciplines his children (Proverbs 13:24)
  • Welcomes his children after they admit to a mistake (Luke 15:20)
  • Helps (carries) his children during difficult times (Deuteronomy 1:30-31)
  • Has compassion for his children (Psalm 103:13)
  • Prays for and declares blessings over his children (Job 1:4-5)
  • Teaches his children God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
  • Passes on wisdom to his children (Deuteronomy 4:9)
  • Manages his own household well (1 Timothy 3:4)
  • Gives only good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:9-11)
  • Does not frustrate his children or cause them to become angry (Ephesians 6:4)
  • Does not give his children reason to become bitter (Colossians 3:21)
  • Is not a drunkard, not violent, not quarrelsome or not a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:3)
By comparison, mothers play a more secondary role in their children’s development. Here is what the Bible says about the role of mothers:

  • Loves, submits to, helps and is faithful to the father of her children (1 Peter 3:1, Genesis 2:18, Exodus 20:14, Titus 2:4)
  • Tenderly cares for her children (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
  • Comforts her children (Isaiah 66:13)
  • Provides wisdom and loving instruction to her children (Proverbs 31:26-27)
  • Has compassion for and nurtures her children (Isaiah 49:15)
  • Disciplines her children (Proverbs 29:15)

It is natural for all children to yearn for both their biological father’s and mother’s approval and acknowledgement. It is how God designed families and research confirms this.

In an article for National Institutes of Health named “Growing up with gay parents: What is the big deal?” Richard P. Fitzgibbons said that children who do not grow up with both biological parents (who stay married to each other) suffer negative psychological, educational, and social effects. He noted that “The extensive research on the serious psychological, academic, and social problems in youth raised in fatherless families demonstrates the importance of the presence of the father in the home for healthy childhood development.

It appears our desire to compensate for broken relationships with our parents can be so ingrained that we are unaware of their deep-seated influence on our life choices. Take for example, research by the University of Bern, Switzerland, which was published in the Economist magazine. It showed that “gay men and straight women were both twice as likely as chance would predict to have a lover with a similar eye colour to their father’s. Likewise, straight men and gay women were two and a half times as likely as chance to have lovers of a similar eye-colour to their mother’s. Though eye-colour is but one of many features that may attract romantic interest, in its particular case, that attraction seems likely to be imprinted.”

This study implies that a homosexual man’s deep yearning to connect with his biological father will lead him to choose male partners according to subtle cues based on his dad’s physical features. Conversely, a woman who labels herself as homosexual will instinctively want to connect with someone who shares her mother’s physical features.

Thank God that all marriages and parent-child relationships are only temporary constructs of this earth. He is the only One who can be the perfect Parent, and calls all of us to turn to Him as our only true Father. We do not need to rely on worldly relationships for true fulfilment.

Matthew 23:9 ESV  And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.

Matthew 22:30 ESV  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Praise God that He promises us that even if our fathers and mothers abandon us, He will hold us close. When we face temptations, He provides us with a way out. God promises that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Him. We can call God “Abba! Father!” which is Hebrew for “Daddy!” As hard it may be to believe, especially for those who have grown up in broken homes and with harsh, irresponsible or absent parents, it is a promise that God has made to us.

Psalm 27:10 NLT  Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Romans 8:1-2 NLT  So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Romans 8:15 ESV  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

The Bible also talks a lot about a father’s role to bond with and discipline his children (Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 23:13-15, Proverbs 29:17, Ephesians 6:4) – so their lives will not be ruined. Praise God that He will discipline us as His children – so that we may live free in Christ and share in His holiness.

Proverbs 19:18 NLT  Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.

Hebrews 12:7-8,10 ESV  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons… he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

The prerequisite for all this is that we, homosexual or otherwise, must be willing to deny ourselves and die to our old selves / lives so that we can gain new life in Christ. Every single disciple of Jesus has to go through this journey.

Matthew 16:24-25 ESV  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Response to Q2: Same-sex attraction is mostly acquired through a craving for the love from our biological parent of the same sex. The desire for bonding is so deep that it becomes sexualised. In some circumstances, it can become magnified through a sense of rejection by the opposite sex. To heal, we all need to learn about God’s parental love for us and accept Him as our perfect Parent

For believers, same-sex attraction is rooted in a spiritual issue

When God’s people entered the Promised Land after wandering around the desert for 40 years, they made a solemn and binding contract with God. The Israelites promised to put away their sinful patterns and to walk in God’s ways, and God promised to lift them up in praise, fame and honour, high above all other people.

Deuteronomy 26:17-19 ESV  You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”

In this contract, God listed a set of conditions found in the book of Deuteronomy that they had to follow so that all these promised blessings would be abundant and overflowing through thousands of generations.

One of the things God solemnly warned the Israelites against was falling into the trap of pagan rituals around them (Deuteronomy 12:29-30). One of the pagan religious practices that God really detested was the use of male and female temple / cult prostitutes to perform sexual rituals for their demon gods (1 Corinthians 10:20).

The Law stated that offerings from male cult prostitutes were not to be accepted because their money was earned through dog-like sexual acts that the men performed in prostitution i.e. anal sex (Deuteronomy 23:18). God firmly forbade the Israelites from falling for such sexual perversion.

Deuteronomy 12:29-30 ESV  “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’

Deuteronomy 23:17-18 ESV  “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

Yet before long, the Israelites tolerated temple prostitutes and homosexual “dog” acts in the Promised Land (1 Kings 14:24). The Israelites were unaware that by uniting themselves with the temple prostitutes through sexual rituals, they were offering up their bodies to demons as a spiritual act of worship. By Law, God should have immediately destroyed the Israelites as a result of their rebellion but He showed compassion on them year upon year. Unfortunately, the people refused to repent and honour their forefathers’ pledges to Him, and continued in homosexual acts for their own passions.

1 Kings 14:24 ESV  and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:20 ESV  No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

Romans 1:26-27 ESV  …For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

When Jesus came to earth, He quoted from the Law in Deuteronomy when Satan came to tempt Him after he was in the desert for 40 days (Deuteronomy 6:13, 6:16, 8:3). This is not a coincidence. Jesus showed that He was able to keep God’s commandments and fullfil the Law. Unlike the Israelites, Jesus would not bow down to Satan.

Matthew 5:17 ESV  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The new covenant in the New Testament is based on Jesus being the One Sacrifice to pay for all our sins (past, present and future) and the imparting of His Holy Spirit to us. This gift is free to all who have taken part in abortion, murder, idol worship, witchcraft, lying – and unnatural sexual acts etc. when we ask Jesus to be our Saviour. All of us need the power of Jesus in our lives to save us from our broken ways!

John 20:21-22 ESV  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Response to Q3: Same-sex attraction is an earthly temptation that began with ancient temple prostitution in the Promised Land.  It is not something God created but evolved from pagan worship. Over time, it has spread into general society through the brokenness of parent-child relationships.

Renewing our identities in Christ by dying to our old selves

There are no neat formulas for turning our sexual orientations around, because every human being has different experiences and family backgrounds, but first, we need to remember that for God, all things are possible. We cannot be transformed on our own strength.

Matthew 19:26 ESV  But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Men with homosexual tendencies for instance, invariably have broken communications and relationships with their dads, whom they deeply want to connect with. This desire may escalate into sexual encounters with men they feel safe with. For women who deeply miss or desire to connect with their mums, their desires may escalate into sexual encounters with women.

Thankfully, we can surrender any childhood wrongs for God to make right. Only God can carry out the parenting role perfectly, including providing a mother’s compassionate love and being a father to the “fatherless”. (To understand the depth of our Heavenly Father’s love for us, please read Experiencing God’s love)

Isaiah 49:15 ESV  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…

Psalm 68:5 ESV  Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

For us to effectively recover from painful pasts and start to experience God’s love anew, we must first decide to put aside our broken patterns from childhood so we won’t be “tossed and blown about” by any worldly influence. We are to begin to renew our minds based on what God says about us and become mature in our faith.

Ephesians 4:14 NLT  Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

It is amazing that we can hand our broken hearts and lives into the hands of a good Father whom we can trust. Too often, we link God with negative traits because of the broken human role models in our lives, and forget that He is the source of all good things. Everything we used to turn to homosexual passions for in the past is first found in the Father – love, acceptance, connection, redemption, peace, contentment etc.

James 1:16 ESV  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

We also need to learn to recognise and only accept the gifts that come from God – and reject Satan’s packages of lies, by using the Word of God. In the spiritual world, there is power in agreement and ownership. The enemy can tempt us to adopt worldly labels or the idea that we are defeated. If we agree with him, then Satan will start to oppress us. But if we disagree and do not own the idea, he cannot come against us. Praise God that because He is for us, no one can be against us!

Where our own efforts have failed in helping us overcome our worldly passions in the past, God’s Holy Spirit will lovingly guide and train us in all our ways – and even equip us for every good work! Are we ready to leave everything from our past behind so our Heavenly Father can heal and redeem our lives for godliness?

Response to Q4: It is possible to be renewed from any worldly pattern, because with God, all things are possible. God can still, and will, make all things new in our lives! Praise God He is not limited by our human limitations. 

Whatever our position on same-sex attraction, may we all, as followers of Jesus, praise God for what He can and will do for every one of us who turns to Him;

“Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you that Your love is free and available to all. We praise You that You are a kind, gentle and compassionate Father who wants to heal every broken heart. We thank You that You promise to cleanse us and redeem us when we turn to You, so we are able to step into the future and hope You have prepared for us. We are sorry for all the times we set a limit on what You can do in our lives and have leaned on our human understanding. Holy Spirit, please remind us to honour and care for each other well, just as Jesus first loved us, and guide us all into Your truth. Father, we choose to turn away from our broken ways and to follow You and You alone. 
In Jesus name, amen!”

Also, see a testimony on same-sex attraction, Jesus redeems manager’s self-identity

Isaiah 43:19 ESV  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Romans 8:31-34, 37-39 ESV … If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

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