If same-sex attraction is sinful, then what?

By Denny Burk

Recently, there has been much debate about sexuality and human identity. A great deal of it has been related to the upcoming “Revoice” conference in St. Louis. That controversy is ongoing. As I have mentioned previously, evangelicals have not come to a consensus whether same-sex attraction is sinful and whether it is the proper basis for constructing an “identity.”

Heath Lambert and I wrote a book back in 2015 arguing that SSA is sinful as it is a part of our fallen Adamic nature (see Transforming Homosexuality, P&R 2015). Our argument goes against some celibate gay identity proponents who argue that SSA may be a part of the brokenness of creation but is not itself sinful. They would say that SSA is fallen, but it’s fallen like cancer not like pride. Our argument also goes against those like Gregory Coles who suggest that SSA may have roots in God’s good creation design.

In the book, we identify three components of sexual orientation—sexual attraction, emotional attraction, and identity (with sexual attraction being the defining feature). Insofar as same-sex orientation designates the experience of sexual desire for a person of the same sex, yes, it is sinful. Insofar as same-sex orientation indicates emotional/romantic attractions that brim with erotic possibility, yes, those attractions, too, are sinful. Insofar as sexual orientation designates an identity, yes, that identity, too, is a sinful fiction that contradicts God’s purposes for his creation. We should not reduce human identity to fallen sexual desires.

If these observations about sexual orientation are true, there are numerous pastoral implications. I want to mention three of them here.