Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

Is Same Sex Attraction SinfulSome otherwise conservative Christians are beginning to take a compromising stance on homosexuality. They claim that only homosexual behavior is sinful and that same sex attraction (SSA) is a “sign of brokenness” similar to feelings of grief or sadness, or as one proponent put it, that having SSA is being “born in a broken condition… that does not represent flourishing” similar to being born blind. They claim it is a negative result of the Fall, but not inherently sinful. So their advice for Christians who are same sex attracted is to remain celibate and that their SSA is not sinful and doesn’t need to be repented of.

One pastoral candidate was asked if he believed that “his homosexual feelings, attractions, thoughts, and desires are sinful.” To which he answered: “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.” [1]

Anglican minister Sam Allberry describes what same sex attraction is, “I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that, I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex,” [2] but also claims it is a “form of temptation” and that he is “uncomfortable with saying same-sex attraction is sin.” [3]

The following points will demonstrate how unbiblical and dangerous those ideas are.

What is Same Sex Attraction?

“Same sex attraction” is an ambiguous term, what does it mean? This is one fundamental part of the problem with discussions on this topic. Worldly terminology and worldly concepts are often used rather than Biblical ones. Calling it an “attraction” makes it seem no different than how a man could notice the objective beauty of a woman without lusting after her in his heart, however this is inaccurate.

When we ask if same sex attraction is sinful, the question is not whether finding someone objectively beautiful is sinful. A man could be attracted to women and men in this sense and no one would say it is sinful. For example,  David is described as “a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance” (1 Sam. 17:42), mothers can say that their children are handsome or beautiful, etc. This is clearly not the sense of the term when talking about same sex attraction, or else it is a pointless distinction because everyone experiences this.

Same Sex Attraction is not a Temptation

Some [4] have suggested that SSA is a merely temptation and since Jesus was tempted and remained sinless, being attracted to the same sex is not sinful. However, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between temptation and desire.

Temptation is the “solicitation of the passions” [5] or an enticement of a desire (whether that desire is good or bad). “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). One can not be tempted by something one does not desire. Jesus’ desire for food was not sinful (Mat. 4:3), but it is sinful to desire an excess of something good (Col. 3:5), or to desire a particular thing that is not yours to desire (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17).

Additionally, some desires are sinful in and of themselves because there is no particular circumstance wherein it would be lawful to have it. The Bible describes same sex attraction as the habitual desire for “strange flesh” (Jude 7), having “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26), or being “without natural affection” (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3). Temptation for something that is wrong in its very essence (such as sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality, etc.) is an enticement of a desire for that thing, thus the temptation is drawing from an already wicked desire. The desire for sin is itself sinful.

Sexual Attraction is an Affection

Affection is “A bent of mind towards a particular object, holding a middle place between disposition, which is natural, and passion, which is excited by the presence of its exciting object. affection is a permanent bent of the mind, formed by the presence of an object, or by some act of another person, and existing without the presence of its object….Desire; inclination; propensity, good or evil; as, virtuous or vile affections. Romans 1:31. Galatians 5:24.” [6]

Affections can be good or bad in themselves. They are good when they are directed at something good (e.g. 1 Chron. 29:3; Col. 3:2), they are bad when they are excessive (e.g. “inordinate affection,” Col. 3:5) or directed at something sinful (e.g. “vile affections,” Rom. 1:26, or being “without natural affection,” Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3).

Same Sex Attraction is a “Vile Affection

Homosexual desire is not analogous to heterosexual desire. Man desiring woman is not sinful in itself because that is the way God made men (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). Man desiring man is sinful in itself because it is not the way God made men, so Scripture calls it “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26). Heterosexual desire is often sinful because it is misdirected in a particular or excessive way (e.g. toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse), not because it is sinful in essence; but homosexual desire is sinful in its very essence, just as pedophile or bestial desires are. Whether homosexual proclivity is innate in some people or acquired, the proclivity itself is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26) and must be repented of. This is not true of heterosexual proclivity, which is natural and good by God’s design.

The affection for the opposite sex is a natural and good inclination of the human mind, because that is how God made men and women (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). The affection for the same sex is an “unnatural” and “vile affection” (Rom. 1:26) of the human mind because it militates against God’s design for human sexuality. Same sex attraction is sinful in itself while opposite sex attraction is not.

Opposite sex attraction only becomes sinful in two ways: 1) when the passions are aroused in an excessive way, what the Bible calls “inordinate affection” or “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5), or 2) when it is misdirected to an inappropriate particular object, such as toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17). It is not sinful in the abstract, nor when husbands and wives are attracted to each other, but same sex attraction can never be lawful in any circumstance.

Concupiscence is “Lust; unlawful or irregular desire of sexual pleasure. In a more general sense, the coveting of carnal things, or an irregular appetite for worldly good; inclination for unlawful enjoyments…’sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.’ Romans 7:8.” [7]

“There is a difference in saying ‘I have this propensity, but I believe it is wrong’ and saying ‘I have this propensity and I believe it’s alright.'”

Matt Moore on Being Gay and a Christian but Says it’s a Sin

Sin is in the Heart, Not Just the Actions

Sin is not exclusive to the actions. Evil deeds and thoughts proceed from the heart (Mat. 15:18-19; Jer. 17:9; Mat. 7:16-18). Not only are our deeds sinful, the thoughts and desires are sinful as well. “The Law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14), “and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures (Deut. 6:5; Mat. 22:37-39; Mat. 5:27-28, 33-34, 37-39, 43-44)” (WLC Q. 99). The seventh commandment requires “chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior (1 Thess. 4:4; Job 31:1; 1 Cor. 7:34; Col. 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:2)” (WLC Q. 138) and forbids “all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections (Mat. 5:28; Mat. 15:19; Col. 3:5)” (WLC Q. 139), it is not restricted to outward behavior. If someone desires to have sex with children or animals they are still sinning even if they don’t physically act on it. This is true for every other sin as well.

Jesus corrected the false teaching of the Pharisees that sin was only in the actions and not also in the heart. Unrighteous anger is a sin of the 6th commandment and is murder of the heart (Mat. 5:21-22). Lusting after a woman who is not your spouse is a sin of the 7th commandment and is adultery of the heart (Mat. 5:27-28; Job 31:1). “Inordinate affection” and “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5)  are sins of the desires and of the mind. Part of being in Christ is to crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), not just the external actions. All of this is true for the sin of homosexuality as well.

Same Sex Attraction Needs to be Repented of

Having SSA does not necessarily mean that someone is reprobate, but a regenerate heart will be struggling against it, not embracing and identifying oneself by it; crying out to God for repentance from it, not making excuses for it. Christians who are attracted to the same sex must recognize that that attraction is sinful, turn away from it, and strive to mortify it by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

In order to kill our flesh, we need to get to the root, our hearts (Mat. 7:16-20), where sinful sexual desires begin. In the case of homosexuality, sinful desires begin with the sin of same sex attraction. One must believe that his or her sinful desires are in fact sinful and beg God for the grace to repent from them and mortify them. How long that takes and the degree of success is up to God and that individual, it may not happen instantly, and it won’t happen completely in this life until we are perfected in glory (1 Cor. 15:54).

Celibacy, refraining from homosexual acts, is not enough, we must “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14).

Claiming that SSA is merely a temptation or a morally neutral “brokenness” from the Fall is unbiblical, deceptive, and eternally dangerous for the souls who struggle with this particular sin. Soothing same sex attracted people’s consciences by telling them that it’s just a “broken condition” or merely a temptation and not sinful unless they act on it is only going to damn them to Hell. They need to be admonished to cry out to God for repentance!

“From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭6:13-16‬ ‭

[1] What Do You Think? Has the PCA acquiesced to pro-homosexual ideology? by Chuck Williams.

[2] Statement at General Synod (video clip).

[3] Sam Allberry, White Horse Inn, Same-Sex Attraction, Sunday, 27 Sep 2015.

[4] Committee on Judicial Business (CJB) of an unnamed Presbytery in the PCA; What Do You Think? Has the PCA acquiesced to pro-homosexual ideology? by Chuck Williams.

[5] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Temptation.

[6] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Affection.

[7] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Concupiscence.

Further Reading:

Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful? by Denny Burke

Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burke and Heath Lambert

Four Propositions on Homosexuality and Holiness by Rick Phillips

Sin, Salvation, Same-Sex Attraction by Jonathan Williams

Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful? by Denny Burke

Does The Gospel Coalition Believe in the Heinousness of Homosexuality? by Rev. Shawn Mathis


29 thoughts on “Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

  1. Before their conversion, some of the Corinthian Christians had succumbed to the temptation of homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:11) and yet the Apostle says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” (1 Cor. 10:13) So apparently he classified the temptation of homosexuality just like any other common temptation. It is wrong to accuse people who are fighting that temptation of sinning merely because of the fact that they are tempted.


    1. Mr Ellis,

      1 Cor 6:9-11 indicates that some in the Corinthian church were formerly homosexual, not that some “succumbed to the temptation of homosexuality”. So you will find in that passage no countenancing of SSA, and your conclusion fails to obtain.

      You also refer to “people who are fighting that temptation of sinning”. Granting your tendentious wording, what evidence have we that such people are in fact fighting the temptation? Does not experience show–if their words are to be believed–that these people are unrepentant and express no desire to change, as illustrated by the men quoted in the first section of the article?

      I commend the author of the article for his willingness to speak the truth, instead of smooth words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are correct Paul, the biblical term for “attraction” is to be “drawn.”
    This use of such worldly terminology as sexual “attraction” to a person of the same sex is deliberate.

    If humans are drawn toward that which God forbids, it cannot be anything but sin in the heart at work, in need of repentance, for how ever often it occurs.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Q: What is repentance unto life?
    A: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.

    What does it mean for a person who is SSA to repent? … The SSA person out of a true sense of the sinfulness of his SSA, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his attraction, turn from being attracted to the same sex unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, never being attracted to the same sex again.

    I’m not sure if SSA can “be repented of” in the same way as let’s say, lying. Many if not most SSA Christians have endeavored never to be attracted to people of the same sex, and have done everything they possibly could to “put it off” and “turn away from it” including crying out to God in tears for years, but the attraction remains. I wonder how many SSA Christians the author has actually spoken with? Or if he has spoken with the men and women who work at Harvest USA?


  4. One can repent of SSA – just as one could repent of having a desire to have sex with a child. Which desire in and of itself is against nature and against God’s law. Many who thought they were born with this as a natural desire have repented and not only been forgiven but also cleansed from that sinful propensity. God tells us that He will not only forgive us but cleanse us. 1 John 1:9 I have spoken with men of same sex attraction and seen them converted and happily married with one of the opposite sex.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Question: How can lust be a sin of the seventh commandment, seeing it is directly forbidden in the tenth; for in this brief Decalogue there is no needless repetition of anything?

    “Answer: Lust is twofold: either without consent of will; as when unchaste desires come into the mind and heart, and are not entertained of the will, but be speedily checked so soon as they arise; and such lust is forbidden in the tenth commandment; or with consent of will, when a man is willing to entertain and cherish the thoughts that come into his mind, though he never puts them into practice; and these are forbidden in the seventh commandment.”

    —William Perkins, Exposition of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (at Mat. 7:27), Works, vol. 1., p. 290.


  6. wesbrice: your sex with a child comment is totally out of bounds and if you have worked with same sex attracted people you know there is absolutely no parallel between the two. … I’m glad you are seeking to bring people to Christ. Do a follow-up with the “formerly” same sex attracted men who are now married and see if they still have moments of same sex attraction. Then report back to us readers what you discover.
    Paul, attraction is not the same as lust. It can lead to, but is not the same as.


  7. I think we need to distinguish between something’s being sinful in a moral sense and sinful in a consequential sense. Something may be morally sinful if it is a choice one has made to do the wrong thing. However, something may be consequentially sinful if the state in which one may find oneself ontologically is suboptimal and in need of restoration. But the key difference is that the latter kind of sinful consequence is NOT something for which a person should feel morally guilty. But it IS something for which that person should seek healing.

    An analogy: Ezekiel 18 speaks about Israelite children in Exile. The children there seem to think it is hopeless for them, as the state that they are in due to their parents’ sins seems irreversible. But God rebukes that way of thinking. There is a difference between the moral guilt of the nation due to the sin of the fathers, and the consequence for the children being in Exile due to the sin of the fathers. It was a sin for the fathers to worship idols, that led to the judgement of the Exile. But it was a consequence for the children to exist in Exile. The children were not morally guilty for being in Exile. Their being in Exile was merely a consequence of the sins of the fathers.

    Similarly, I would say that same-sex attraction is not sinful in the moral sense. But it is sinful in the consequential sense. A person may subsist in a state of SSA in the same way the children subsisted in a state of Exile. It is a condition in which the children have fallen due to the sins of our father, Adam. But, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, it is also a condition out of which God may heal and deliver us. Just as the children of Israel entered out of Exile and returned to Jerusalem with an emotional mixture of singing, mourning and dancing, so too may the children of the Lord Jesus enter out of SSA rejoicing with holy fear in the Holy Spirit.


  8. This topic is very difficult for everyone involved. It is helpful to remember that it is not our place to judge…..anyone. That responsibility is His alone. When we find someone guilty, and condemn them, we are sinning as well.

    Logic can be used correctly, or not. This appears to be a logical argument, but it is not sound. Logic isolates truth, and and discovers new truth. Right and wrong are not truths. They are opinions, subjective, and are true only for those that hold the same or similar beliefs. Right and wrong are not fact.
    Logic is designed exclusively for facts. The introduction of an opinion or belief to an argument is fallacious and weakens it.

    The scriptures are the best we have regarding His will, but they are representations, not a signed deposition. Interpretations of what He must, or must not have, meant, weaken the argument. This reduces the strength of logic to the level of “because he said so.”

    Using logic, but with the inclusion of opinion and belief, instead of only facts, does not result in discovering truth. You get judgement and prejudice instead. The worlds of fact and opinion cannot be combined in logical thought.


  9. On an different front, consider what it is to sin.

    A sin is not simply doing wrong, or acting contrary to His will. Sin involves being presented with a choice, and then choosing the option that is not His will. if there is not a second viable option to choose, then is it possible to be considered a sin? Sin is a divergence, it requires two paths or roads.

    For the heterosexual without SSA, is it possible for you to choose to feel SSA feelings? Are they the same feelings felt for the opposite sex? Sinning, in the form of acting on SSA feelings, is a virtual non-entity. Because those feelings do not exist. Curiosity, or a fleeting moment, is not SSA.

    The natural bonds we form with others determines the nature of the relationship: friendship, romance, etc. We do not get to choose the traits of these bonds. We cannot be interested romantically in someone unless that quality exists in the natural bonds formed. We can’t choose to romantically love someone, if we don’t.

    People with SSA explain that they do not form deep, meaningful, romantic connections with the opposite sex. Without that type of bond, which we are not in conscious control of, it is not possible to create the emotional environment needed for romance.

    People with SSA do not have another option. Just as most heterosexual identifying individuals do not have he option to choose to be gay. It simply doesn’t exist.

    Interesting to consider, does this mean that those who experience SSA without the possibility of making deep, meaningful, heterosexual connections have been created wrong? Mistakes? Is He perfect in His creation or not?

    Food for thought.


  10. Ok. Question: If I am in a state of constant sin….in just existing with SSA….not acting on it…but merely existing with it….isn’t suicide a better option? I’m serious. Yes..suicide is a great sin but once it’s done….it’s over. Seems like a better choice for some than living out their days in a state of constant sin and evil by being SSA. Just saying…. (PS. I struggle with SSA myself.)


  11. In re-reading what I just wrote I’m realizing I may get responses that are filled with hyper-grace and hyper-mercy. Please don’t waste your time….


  12. I’m a 61 year old man who has spent the last 34 years in every kind of “ex-gay”therapy/ministry imaginable… At one point I lived in a men’s live in program for 2 years. All of it. All of it. All of it a waste. I am a Christian. I trust in the finished work of Christ on the Cross for my Salvation….but right now after reading the above posts…I would love to put a bullet in my head. Perhaps suicide really is an option. Ugh…..


  13. Brad, The article above should be likened to a diagnosis. A good doctor is going to give it to you straight. However, a good doctor also has a remedy. You’re confusing the sickness with the remedy. Christ’s atoning sacrifice and union with Him are sufficient antecedent remedies which lead to our desire to mortify detestable sin and to be enabled to walk by Faith through Grace empowered by the Spirit in obedience and newness of life.
    That cannot happen if one never fully acknowledges, understands, and recognizes the sinfulness of their sin. Those who embrace gay identity and SSA identity are only ever able to be “half cured”. Hope theat hels.


  14. Brad, The article above should be likened to a diagnosis. A good doctor is going to give it to you straight. However, a good doctor also has a remedy. You’re confusing the sickness with the remedy. Christ’s atoning sacrifice and union with Him are sufficient antecedent remedies which lead to our desire to mortify detestable sin and to be enabled to walk by Faith through Grace empowered by the Spirit in obedience and newness of life.
    That cannot happen if one never fully acknowledges, understands, and recognizes the sinfulness of their sin. Those who embrace gay identity and SSA identity are only ever able to be “half cured”. Hope theat helps.


  15. Reblogged this on The End Time and commented:
    After hours of online searching, my Friend Pastor James Bell of Southside Baptist Church of Gallatin TN found this article on same sex attraction written by Paul Barth at Purely Presbyterian. Pr Bell’s comments are at the beginning and then the rest is Barths’ article.

    Pastor Bell introduced it this way:

    IS SAME SEX ATTRACTION (SSA) a sin? What does God’s Word say!? THIS IS A SPECIAL EDITION of the Grow in Grace Newsletter…

    Sam Allberry, (a homosexual priest in the Anglican Church, and greatly sought after by some key Southern Baptist leaders), testifies:

    “I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex. I choose to describe myself this way because sexuality is not a matter of identity for me, and that has become good news.”

    Allberry, a minister in the Anglican church, in conjunction with several other pastors, said: “We are committed to building a church that is genuinely welcoming to all people, irrespective of the pattern of sexual attraction which they experience. We would welcome initiatives to help local churches do so in a way that is affirming of and consistent with Scripture and would hope to support suggestions you might wish to bring to Synod to that effect.”

    Of Sam Allberry, Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptist Ethics Commission, said: “Sam Allberry is a gift to the church. We need his voice!”

    Therefore, we ask the following question… and sadly, after hours of searching online…. I found hundreds of articles by pastors and church leaders, supporting homosexuality… and Same Sex Attraction…. Thankfully, below is a solid, Bible saturated article:


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