It seems to be the fashion in our culture among both non-Christians and Christians to say that if we were born in a certain way, that it must be good or okay. This comes up often with the topic of homosexuality. Some people argue, with really good biological data, that people are born with homosexual desires, or at least a very large tendency to develop homosexual desires, based on conditions in the womb or how a brain develops. But then many people make a logical leap. They say, “if I was born with these desires, it is not sinful for me to give in to them.” They believe it makes sense to call something like homosexual behavior sinful if it’s just a lifestyle choice, or if the desires developed from some traumatic childhood experiences. But as soon as we cede that desires were there since birth, then no longer can we say people should not give in to those desires. Even Christians tragically fall into this logical leap. There are many Christians who are against homosexuality because the Bible says it is sinful, but those same Christians are also striving to disprove the biological findings that support people are born with homosexual desires. Those Christians strongly fear that if people are really born with those desires, then we cannot say it is wrong to give in to those desires.
This is a logical leap that really frustrates me. We all have a choice whether to give in to our desires or not. That is part of what makes us human. We have freedom of the will. We have the ability to say “no” to something we want. We can say “no” to going golfing which we really want to do, in order to stay home and make dinner for a sick wife. We can even deny our lives completely and die for others! We have freedom to choose whether to act on the desires within us or not. I have freedom to not give in to my crossdressing desires. Homosexuals have freedom to not give in to homosexual behavior.
All of us have desires which we should not give in to. Since the Fall into sin (Genesis 2-3), starting with Adam and Eve, all of us are born messed up and crooked. We can’t blame God for this. It is because Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, that the world got messed up, and that we are born with so many problems. We all have tendencies and desires to sin in many ways. Some of us are tempted to and have a tendency to anger, or pride, or stealing, and so on. And all of us have a broken sexuality in one way or another, whether we are prone to homosexuality, crossdressing, pornography, incest, bestiality, adultery, severe lust, strong selfishness during sex, etc. But this does not make it okay to give in to these desires. (I think the terms “gay” and “straight” are not accurate, and also harmful. As Christians, we believe that ALL of us are crooked, and in need of God’s forgiveness and transformation).
Even Jesus had temptations, (Luke 4), but he didn’t give in to them. This leads us to an important point. It is not sinful for us to be tempted, only to give in to those temptations. Many Christians would like to judge me or homosexuals and call us sinful just because we have these strange desires. But we did not choose these desires. And it is not sinful to have them. Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15), but he did not sin, he was perfect. It is only sinful for us once we give into the temptations. I am okay with homosexual pastors and church leaders, but only if they are not giving into their desires. I would greatly love to see a homosexual president or a homosexual president of my church denomination or a homosexual pope. But only if the person realized giving in to the desires was sinful and they were not engaging in any homosexual behavior. What an example they would be to everyone. I make a distinction between someone being a homosexual, and someone giving into homosexual behavior, which maybe could be called homosexualism.
I grant that its true people are born with their desires. I have had crossdressing desires and fantasies as far back as I can remember, long before puberty. And I’ve had many homosexual friends, who all tell me their homosexual desires go way back. I did not choose to have my crossdressing desires. They did not choose to have their homosexual desires. Whether these desires developed through biology or nurture, most of us did not choose to have them. But it is still sinful for us to give in to them. (See my post about Deuteronomy 22:5 and I also may write in the future other reasons I think crossdressing is sinful behavior).
We can’t give in to the lies of the culture. Just because it feels good, it doesn’t mean we should do it. Yes, I know that most or all of us crossdressers online have had our desires as far back as we can remember. They feel like a part of who we are. But just as your pastor would tell you that you cannot engage in pornography even though you want to, and you can’t hurt someone else physically even though you want to, and you can’t steal from your parents even though you want to, I am also saying, you can’t engage in crossdressing just because you have desires to do so. We first need to learn self control and obedience to God, even when its hard and goes against our wants. And second, we need to ask God to continually change our desires, so that we do desire the right things. But this is a long process of sanctification (God making us more holy) that will not be complete until Jesus comes again and makes us new. Even if we never get rid of those desires, it doesn’t mean we ever have to give into them, even once.
I feel like I can have strong compassion on homosexuals. I’d even have great compassion on those who desire to molest children – they didn’t choose to feel that way either I’m sure! I know what they are going through because I did not choose my temptations and do not want them. But since I know what homosexuals are going through, I can also hold them accountable. If I can resist crossdressing, they can resist homosexual behavior. Granted, I think their temptation causes more difficulties than mine. But the principles are the same. None of us desire the right things perfectly. All of us have to sacrifice and deny ourselves and our wants to follow Jesus. If you believe in a Gospel that doesn’t radically change your life and make you deny yourself in difficult ways, you are probably believing in a false gospel.
Here are some verses to remind us that the Bible isn’t fuzzy on this point. The real Gospel transforms us and makes us deny ourselves, and fight against our sinful desires.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Titus 2:11-12 – 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age