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Do People Choose their Sexual Orientation?

Do People Choose their Sexual Orientation?

There is a lot of confusion within the church as to how a person comes to be gay or bisexual. What we believe significantly impacts how we engage our gay neighbor and how well we love them. A great many Christians believe that gay people choose their orientation toward the same sex outright, often as some form of rebellion against the status quo. Another theory is that gay people arrive at homosexuality through extreme opposite-sex debauchery. As a man who is attracted to men, who knows many people also attracted to the same sex, I would like to speak into this. I also speak as a man who deeply treasures God’s word.

Some Confusion about Romans 1

I can the debunk the second theory from experience alone. I did not arrive at my desires for the same sex through straightness or debauchery. Rather, I simply seemed to find myself desiring the same sex. From my earliest memories, even before sex had any meaning, I was drawn to and infatuated with the same sex, not the opposite sex. These desires were with me near the start of my life.

Many who hold this belief do so because of a particular interpretation of Romans 1:24-27, where they think Paul is describing a path taken by individuals. The last post spoke to this, but I have a few more thoughts. First, I believe Romans 2-3 makes it quite clear that Romans 1 is explicitly describing every single one of us.

Second, if this interpretation is true, then you would have to also say that envy and disobedience to parents came through being gay since it is mentioned after same-sex attraction and there is no clear separator between that section and the previous text. I think it’s safe to say that none of us believe we have to be gay before we feel envy. I think it’s equally strange to say we have to be straight before we’re gay.

No Conscious Choice

I can also debunk the first theory from experience alone. There was no point in my life when I thought, “You know, I’d really like to be attracted to men instead of women. Yeah, let’s do that.” There was no crossroads. There was no series of choices through which I consciously geared myself toward men. It was that way it was seemingly from the start. There was no conscious choice to be gay.

Further, given the excessive bullying and oppression going on today, who in their right mind would ever choose to be gay? To me, it flies in the face of reason. I spent all the way through high school longing to be attracted to the opposite sex instead of the same sex. Of course, what I really wanted was acceptance, not straightness. But the fact remains that I clearly did not choose same-sex attractions. Neither did any gay person I know.

You Can Relate

I’d like to approach this from a different direction and ask: Did you explicitly choose to be attracted to the opposite sex? Was there ever a crossroads where you chose between being gay or straight? Did you choose to be straight in order to be obedient to God?

I think it’s safe to assume you would say no to all of those questions. Being attracted to the opposite sex was the most natural thing in the world for you. The same is true of me regarding the same sex. While both of us do choose sin, neither of us chose the flavor of it. We simply do what’s natural until we see Jesus with new eyes. I would also say that none of us explicitly set out to envy other people. There are a great many things we don’t explicitly choose.

Uncomfortable Empathy

I recognize that this might make some of you a bit uncomfortable. It sounds like I’m equating same-sex and opposite-sex attractions to some extent. “But homosexuality is a sin, and heterosexuality is not,” you might be thinking. That might be true in itself, but details matter significantly.

Was it your natural opposite-sex desire to remain sexually pure until marriage? If you’re married, is it your natural desire to be emotional, romantically, and physically faithful to your spouse? How about when they hurt you? If you look at the ground level, your natural desires for the opposite sex are actually just as sinful as my natural desires for the same sex.

Righteousness isn’t natural to any of us. We have the same problem, and we need the same rescue.

Posted by Matt Norman with