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.


See also 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

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9 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.

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    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.

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  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?

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