Yes Christian, Maybe Homosexuality is A ‘Choice’

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Confession time.

To all of my Conservative Christian brothers and sisters who insist that homosexuality is a choice, I need to break down and finally admit something: I agree with you—only not in the way that you may have meant.

But I guess that’s largely the crux of the problem we have here.

I think you use your terms too loosely, without really thinking them through. 

When you say the word homosexuality, I’m not sure you really know in that moment just what you mean.

Do you mean gender identity?
Sexual orientation?
Sexual activity?
Are you referring to gay people?
To lesbians?
To bisexual people?
To those who identify as transgender?

(The same word can’t refer to all of these things, you know?)

When you use the Bible to try and make the blanket statement that “homosexuality is a sin,” what you’re really doing without realizing it is reducing all LGBTQ people down to a sex act, as if that alone defines identity and sexuality.

You’re also denying them any capacity to feel real love or show true affection toward someone else.

In a gross oversimplification, you’re labeling a complex, fully formed human being as merely a performer of intercourse.

That’s something you would never do with cisgender—heterosexuality (and especially not with your own sexuality), because you understand implicitly that your gender identity and sexual orientation are about much more than a physical act.

They’re a much deeper part of who you are than that.

This is about far greater things than just plumbing and gymnastics.

You know that in your own life, the physical act of sex isn’t the totality of your sexuality; that it is also about affection and companionship and the desire to love and be loved; about intimacy and belonging. It’s about who you are drawn to and attracted to and compelled to be close to.

In your own story, you experienced those things firsthand before you ever thought about or experienced the act of intercourse. In those moments when you first began to understand your own sexual identity, it snuck up on you and surprised you. There was likely no internal battle, no great wrestling, no real conscious choice to be made.

It was not a decision that you came to, but a realization.

As a third grader, I remember we used to play tag on the school playground during recess; the boys against the girls. (They, after all had “girl germs”, so you had to avoid them lest you be touched and immediately infected). One sunny afternoon, a girl named Lori chased me across the steaming blacktop. Something hit me as we ran breathlessly through the school yard. I suddenly started to realize that I didn’t want to get away from Lori that much anymore. In fact, I sorta wanted her to catch me!

In that moment, there was no decision (other than the decision to start running a whole lot slower).

After that, the journey of the coming weeks and months and years was about more and more being revealed and uncovered over time—never a bit of it chosen.

Christian, you probably recall this in your own story of sexual identity and self discovery don’t you? You simply felt naturally and quite involuntarily, the impulses you felt.

By following those impulses you were making a choice, too.
You were choosing to be authentic, and true to your heart and mind’s leading.
You were choosing to agree with the truth about how you loved.
The alternative would never have been an option. 

Why is it so hard for you to believe that LGBTQ people are operating any differently?

Many Christians like to say that a gay person is “struggling with their sexuality”, but that is usually incorrect. In most cases, they are only struggling with the way Christians are treating them because of their sexuality. They are struggling to avoid condemnation, struggling to stay hidden and protected from the bullies, struggling to remain in faith communities where they are mistreated and shunned.

Their conflict is usually not with their sexuality or with God, but with the hateful people of God.

It’s rather careless to treat the gay community as if they are choosing their path of orientation, because what you’re implying when you do so—is that they are naturally wired to be straight, but making the conscious decision to act in direct opposition to this. You are charging them with the most profound emotional treason.

Does that line of thinking work at all if you superimpose it onto your own life; that you could just as easily be gay as straight; that you could, with enough cajoling and suggestion and support and prayer—choose to be attracted to, desiring of, and aroused by someone of the same sex.

Do you bristle at that idea? (Especially you super manly heterosexual Christian men) Do you find the concept offensive, even?
Good.
You should.

It makes no sense and it’s an insult to your personal integrity. It simply defies any logic that you, me, or anyone chooses the way their hearts work.

It’s time that Christians who do this dangerous oversimplification of LGBTQ people, ask some very difficult questions about what you really mean when you say that homosexuality is a choice—and that this choice is a sin.

When you use these words in this very limited and narrow way, you’re also assuming that our own inclinations, toward not just sex; but affection, intimacy, companionship, romance, and love, are all within our control and alterable; that they involve decision on any level.

You’re also assuming that anytime you have sexual relations with someone, that it is always an activity disconnected from and devoid of love. If you choose that path, you’re opening up your own expansive sexuality to the prospect of being reduced down to solely the act of intercourse.

Further, you need to look at the Scriptures you so easily throw at the LGBTQ community and ask whether those handful of verses really refer to a person with beautiful inclinations toward love and affection and companionship—or whether they just refer to someone doing something with their body parts, and also ask how we apply those verses to actual flesh-and-blood human beings seeking authentic relationships.

What did the Bible writers reference when they used the words translated as “homosexuality”? (No such word existed when it was written, so this is a crucial question to ask and seek to answer well).

In this very important conversation where words do matter, we also need to jettison useless ones.

There is no such thing as a “heterosexual lifestyle”, just as there is no homosexual lifestyle. These terms have no real meaning or value. They speak no truth about any of us. They serve no purpose but to demean people and insult them and avoid respectful dialogue.

We should throw them in the garbage and dare to ask the much more difficult questions about how love, affection, intimacy, identity, and sexuality are connected—in all of us.

As cis-hetero individuals, you can’t demand to be drawn with great detail and precision, while simultaneously grossly caricaturing the LGBTQ community. Their hearts are as vast as your own, and their stories filled with all the nuance and complexity that you have experienced in yours.

Yes Cisgender-Hetero Christian, I suppose LGBTQ people are in this way, making a choice.

They are choosing to be the most honest, most authentic, healthiest versions of themselves. They are choosing to be led by the unfiltered direction of their hearts, just as you and I are. They are choosing to relent to the things that in all of our lives, never can be chosen.

The only relevant choices for cisgender-heterosexual Christians, are whether or not we will treat the LGBTQ community as fully complex, intelligent, emotionally intricate human beings—and whether or not we will be willing to examine both our personal opinions and our theology accordingly.

The choice, is ours.

 

 

 

 

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468 thoughts on “Yes Christian, Maybe Homosexuality is A ‘Choice’

  1. Thanks so much for this post. I have been chewing on these questions for a while without a good answer for myself. I hear your point about a gay person choosing to live the most authentic version of himself/herself. That makes a lot of sense. But then I don’t know what to do with Leviticus 20:13 (and similar OT passages) or I Corinthians 6:9-10 (and similar NT passages). This is not a “troll”…it’s a serious question, something that I don’t know what to do with as a believer in Jesus who also believes in the authority of the Bible. How do I interpret these verses authentically and at the same time affirm the authenticity of a gay person who is living the most honest version of himself/herself? (Side note: I’m heterosexual but single and decided to obey the Bible in terms of sexual purity when I came to Jesus a long time ago, and also decided not to pursue marriage. So I haven’t had sex in over a decade, but live a full and happy life with deep friendships and love abounding. Like Tim Gunn, who spoke about this a few years ago, I’m impatient with those who believe that sex is necessary for survival.)

  2. You, kind sir, are a very beautiful human being. As a person who’s “struggled” with their sexuality since 16, I also absolutely agree that there is a choice. The choice is not choosing to be homosexual (for what sane human being would ever choose such a hard life path), but choosing to embrace a fully authentic you in the face of adversity and hardship. It always baffled me that as a non-heterosexual virgin I would be considered “more” of a sinner just because of my desires, as opposed to people I knew who were constantly falling to the flesh, and yet would then turn around and demonize homosexuals. Even today as a 25 year old woman, who grow up in the faith, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth toward Christian “religion”, because of the way how I was naturally wired would always be preached as sinful. How could I ever love a God that would hate me until I changed to be what He wanted, but not change me whenever I prayed for change to occur? There are so many things I want to do with my life besides fret about my sexuality and who’s going to persecute me over it. Thanks for this blog post. It truly was inspiring to read. I look forward to reading many more inspiring post in the future.

  3. So, all i have to say is you are completely wrong. I didn’t even read the article except for saying you agree. Its not a choice. You can’t force yourself to be attracted towards the same gender. Im a guy and have always been very girlish, but i can’t help but be attracted to men. I never made this a choice, and some people try to make it a choice, but it never works out. I am also a full Christian, and in my religion, people are supposed to be accepted for who they are, and we completely accept gay people.

  4. I am not sure why straight people are always trying to figure out if its a choice or not.. if you want to know just go to a gay person, ask, and save yourself many hours arguing on sites like these.

  5. They don’t even need to ask anyone other than themselves. When did they make a decision to be attracted to boys or girls? Unless they were bisexual, then then never made a conscious decision…at some point their eyes were just drawn to one gender or the other and nature took over.

  6. Would it not be nice if there was a short and easy answer to everything?

    @Neels

    > I am not sure why straight people are always trying to figure out if its a choice or not

    They really do not.

    > save yourself many hours arguing on sites like these.

    And here we might have _your_ problem: If you spend hours looking at sites (or possibly posts) like these you will of course get a non-representative impression of what straight people do and think.

    As an aside, for the intellectually curious, the discussion it self can be highly rewarding and well worth the trouble: The journey is often more important than the destination.

    > if you want to know just go to a gay person

    It is rarely that easy with any issue:

    What a priori guarantee is there that the answer will the same from everyone asked? (In this specific case, gays and lesbians may have different takes, as could bisexuals, Then there might be individual variation even within these groups.) How do we know that the answer, especially with so sensitive and loaded issue, will be truthful? Will the person asked necessarily know the answer? (I can cite again my own father, who married and had two children hoping that marriage would straighten him out—it did not.) And so on.

    With sufficient previous information, these questions may have satisfactory answers—but if so, this information will likely cover the answer to the original question too.

    In some cases, the additional complication arises that there may be no-one to ask. This is the case with homosexuality: Many will simply not know any openly homosexual people sufficiently well to ask a question that could be seen as so personal as this one. Worse, those who have spent time “on sites lie these” could have run into sufficiently many “aggressive” LGBT people that they are afraid that even asking the question could cause offense and a row. (The discussion above has been fairly civil, but I have seen far worse cases.)

    @Aislynn

    > They don’t even need to ask anyone other than themselves. When did they make a decision to be attracted to boys or girls? Unless they were bisexual, then then never made a conscious decision…at some point their eyes were just drawn to one gender or the other and nature took over

    With most people there is a clear in-born preference. However, even among these there has very often been a period of “sexual confusion”, an attraction to a small minority of the same sex, or one or two same-sex individuals upon which they have had crushes. To boot, this will likely have been at a young age where they could leave with the impression of having made a choice, even should their later “de-confusion” be a matter of biology.

    Further, many people are simply neither straight, homosexual, or what would normally be considered bisexual, but hover around (possibly) 90% straight. Here some degree of choice is still potentially present.

    For that matter, how do you know that the people asking are not bisexuals that chose to remain in straight relationships?

  7. Soon as I saw the authors last name I knew this article was going to be pro-gay. Go stand up for homosexuality in Israel. But you don’t want it there do you?

    • What difference does it make where the OP comes from? What matters is compassion, kindness and the ability to empathize with other people – even ones who are different from you.
      If you can’t understand that because of the religious filter you’ve seen fit to run every person and experience through, then I am sad for you.

  8. Pingback: Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely is A Choice | john pavlovitz | Re-theologizing

  9. Hi John,

    I just wanted to address a paragraph in your post. You wrote a lot of commendable things, and I agree with you when you say that homosexuality is a choice, but more along the lines of one’s realisation, than a decision to think or behave in a certain way. That makes sense.

    The last time I posted a comment here, I was jumped upon by other readers and challenged for daring to speak contrary to the prevailing view here. As your site is about things that need to be said, and since you’ve invited discussion respecting a contrary view, I really do hope you do not receive my words with offense, but as someone who is also trying to get to the truth.

    You wrote: “When we use these words in this very limited and narrow way, we’re also assuming that our own inclinations, toward not just sex; but affection, intimacy, companionship, romance, and love, are all within our control and alterable; that they involve decision on any level.”

    Up on til then, I was following your train of thought. However, this sentence for me is obviously wrong. It seems you are saying that whether gay or straight, we have no control and we make no decisions about who we love and who we show intimacy to…even sexual intimacy. That is illogical. We choose all the time.

    We have self-control, which should prevent someone from sleeping with their spouse’s relative for instance. We set boundaries on the level of affection to show at various stages of our relationship with someone. We choose our friends wisely too! We are not animals that can’t control whether or not we will have sex, whether or not we will entertain a romance, or whether or not we develop a relationship.

    Love is a choice, not simply an emotion. It is a decision you make everyday. And it is a decision we are called to make in OBEDIENCE to God. God is the one who teaches us about love and sets boundaries for its expression. In the same way that God forbids relatives to have sexual relations (incest), He forbids people of the same sex to have sexual relations. It is not a Christian prejudice, it is God’s law. So, when we say we love and obey God, it is important that we heed Him here too. Afterall, He is Love and we should take our cue from Him.

    When we submit our feelings, desires and lusts to God, we can be faithful to one person in a committed marriage, despite temptations and emotions that we may develop for others. We exercise self-control, we submit to God, and we ask Him for His help to obey and to grow in love. If we had no control as you say, then marriage would be impossible. It would seem that you are condoning everything in the name of love, even sex between teenagers experimenting with their feelings.

    The way I see it, whether heterosexual or homosexual, sexual relations outside of marriage, between a man and woman as God established, is wrong. Unfortunately, Christians ignore fornication between heterosexuals while campaigning against homosexuals who fornicate, but both are sin, and both will be judged by God. I do not judge anyone, because I am not without sin. But, I must speak the truth.

    Have a great day and God’s blessings!

    • Thank you, Ufuomaee, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I agree with you 100%! As far as others are concerned, I try to follow Jesus’ admonition recorded at Matthew 7:1, “Sop judging.” But I can see that you and I are in sync on this matter. Check out the 1959 British film, VICTIM, starring Dirk Bogarde. It can be viewed on YouTube. You’ll enjoy it!

  10. GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE AND HE TELLS CHRISTIANS IT IS WRONG DO CERTAIN THINGS. AS CHRISTIANS WE HAVE TO OBEY. EVERYBODY HAS FREE CHOICE. THE CHOICE TO OBEY OR NOT TO OBEY GOD.. PEOPLE THAT CHOOSE TO DO IT THE WAY IT PLEASES THEMSELVES ARE USING THEIR FREE WILL NOT TO OBEY WHAT GOD WANTS. THAT IS GOD’S BUSINESS. A CHRISTIANS JOB IS TO PLEASE THEIR FATHER WHO WANTS US NOT TO HATE BUT TO LOVE THE OTHER PEOPLE ON PLANET EARTH. EXCEPT I AM NOT TOO SURE MOST PEOPLE GET THAT WE ARE NOT TO HAVE ANY MERCY FOR THE EVIL MEN WHO WILLINGLY FOLLOW SATAN AND HIS WAYS. THE GAYS I KNOW ARE JUST LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO LOVE AND LOVE THEM. SOME ARE JUST INTO THE SEX THE SAME WAY SOME STRAIGHTS ARE INTO SEX. BUT GOOD PEOPLE ARE JUST LOOKING FOR LOVE AND A DEAR BEST FRIEND TO ALWAYS BE THERE SO THEY ARE NOT ALONE. GOD WILL SORT IT ALL OUT WHEN HE GETS HERE. OUR JOB IS TO FIGHT EVIL, NOT OTHER GOOD PEOPLE WHO DO NO FOLLOW GOD’S WAY. THERE IS A VERY BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EVIL AND GOOD. IT IS THE CHRISTIANS JOB TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN ALL THINGS. THOSE WHO HAVE NOT CHOSEN TO TRY TO BE GOOD CHRISTIANS ARE NOT UNDER GOD’S LAWS UNTIL HE BRINGS HEAVEN TO EARTH TO TELL TH PEOPLE WHAT HE WANTS AND GIVES THEM THE CHOSE. HE WILL SORT IT OUT.

  11. Pingback: John Pavlovitz: Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely is A Choice | KitoDiaries

  12. Literal interpretations of Sacred Scriptures reveal contradictions that violate the sacred, which is absolute, without contradictions. The most modern of the hermeneutics from which are extracted the most advanced exegesis still do not give light to resolve the apparent contradictions.

    Only the exegesis of Scripture that do not hide contradictions can reach the sacred, the absolute truth. Truth is Christ. Christ is the Absolute Truth.

    Christ is Love and vice versa, Love is Christ. So forcibly “feeling real love” is the Presence of The Lord.

    Where there is no love, God is not there. If God is present between two people of the same sex or different sexes, and sexual intercourse occurs in the Presence of The Love, it is because the All Powerful Love allows. And if He allows, then there is no error.

    Sexual intercourse outside of God’s presence is that it is sin. It is for the couple to recognize the presence of God in the sexual act, and nobody else. And to no one, unless the lovers, He allows judging His absence in the act and to consider it against His will. Otherwise it offends God, The Truth, Christ, the Holy Spirit. It desecrates the sacred.

  13. I was raised in a “Christian” household (Irish Catholic) and I am very accepting and loving towards all humanity and feel people who are living a life in a way as to not hurt others should be allowed to do so without interference by those who disagree with their lifestyle. Live and let live – don’t interfere with someone else’s life.

    That said, I want all readers here to remember that the so-called Christians who cast judgement on, interfere with, and politicize the lifestyles of LGBT folks may be biggots; however, they aren’t the ones throwing LGBT people off rooftops, beheading them, or stoning them in the public square.

    This article is rightfully directed towards those so-called Christians who outwardly oppose the LGBT lifestyle (small but noisy faction of the faith) but should also mention the other religions who are more aggressive in their opposition to any lifestyle that doesn’t fit their own vision of holy.

  14. Everyone is quick to call a Christian that speaks out against homosexuality a judgmental intolerant bigot. What they don’t stop to realize is, that the Christian loves them enough to let them know that God does not accept the LGBT lifestyle and in fact calls it an abomination to him. In these verses below notice the word “reprobate” which means a sinner who is not of the elect (saved) and is predestined to damnation.

    Romans 1:27-28 King James Version (KJV)

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    • It’s that kind of stuff that keeps me from ever being a Christian. Your “god” seems hateful. Why did your “god” create people that he hates? No thanks. I’ll risk your phony “hell.”

  15. I am made perfect through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He came to me and has counted me worthy and sooooooo incredibly loved before I understood or even could use in a sentence the word homosexuality. I know my Abba new what he was getting when He created me and called me His own. No surprise to Him:) I think the biggest decision we need to help people make is to accept Jesus, Gods only son, He sent to save us and have a relationship with us. The few words all of us have been allotted in our short lifetimes need to be used to shed light on Jesus, His LOVE, Grace, and longing for Everyone. I think once an individual finds their way to their savior, whether Jesus uses our serving hearts and life as a witness, or not, Jesus can handle the rest. Let us continue to learn how to love the way Jesus loved and do our best to imitate that with each and every soul precious soul we encounter. Peace to you always dear brother.

    REPLY

    • I am made perfect through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He came to me and has counted me worthy and sooooooo incredibly loved before I understood or even could use in a sentence the word homosexuality. I know my Abba new what he was getting when He created me and called me His own. No surprise to Him:) I think the biggest decision we need to help people make is to accept Jesus, Gods only son, He sent to save us and have a relationship with us. The few words all of us have been allotted in our short lifetimes need to be used to shed light on Jesus, His LOVE, Grace, and longing for Everyone. I think once an individual finds their way to their savior, whether Jesus uses our serving hearts and life as a witness, or not, Jesus can handle the rest. Let us continue to learn how to love the way Jesus loved and do our best to imitate that with each and every soul precious soul we encounter. Peace to you always dear brother.
      And what about this thought I think of often – No disrespect – Must be great that “your sins are all disguised ” and we cannot call you out on them or “help you” by pointing them out and debating about them to you. What sin do you struggle with brother? Maybe we can all discuss it and let you know what the Bible says about it too.

  16. John,

    You seem to be completely ignoring the fact that God said “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” And, because God is an absolutely just and fair God, that verse implies that woman shall not lie with womankind as with mankind. You are also ignoring the fact that Christ Himself defined marriage as between a man and a woman and that the Bible says sex outside of marriage is a sin.

    Does my agreement with God on homosexuality mean I don’t think people practicing homosexuality should not be welcomed in the church? Absolutely not. They should be welcomed just as warmly and genuinely as we would wish to be welcomed; however, that does not mean that we don’t say homosexuality is a sin.

  17. Thank you, John. I always said, the only choice I ever made was to choose to stop living the lie I had lived for the first 30 years of my life.

  18. Thank you for pointing me to this commentary today!

    My problem is and will always be using “a quote from God” as a weapon. While I think God spoke to many prophets, I do not believe God ‘dictated the Bible’ or any other Holy books. Man’s interpretation, editing, translation and understanding has to be considered when the words are used as weapons or to exclude someone from the Kingdom of God. The overall message of love, service, devotion, and faith is not a weapon, it is a gift.

    How do you know the intent was not to discourage promiscuity and sexual activity outside of your orientation and nothing more? How do you know God wants you to use the Bible or God’s love as a weapon? How do you judge sin? Where is it ranked in the Bible? Why is anyone betting their own soul on excluding and even campaigning for laws against the LGBTQ community? Why take that risk? Even if you are right, and I do not believe you are, why single out one sin or one group of sinners with so very little to go on? There are over 30,000 verses in the Bible and you risk your soul on a handful of them you use to judge and condemn? How do you not see the idiocy in that?

    Thank you John Pavlovitz!!

  19. As a gay Christian, I can tell you that resolving the conflict you allege was not a challenge at all, much less an “epic struggle” once I realized that God’s unconditional love is broader by far than the judgment of human beings credits. When once on the verge of suicide in my youth, I heard God say to me, “who told you there was something wrong with the way I made you? It wasn’t me.” Conflict gone. You want to know how strong my faith in God is? I am confidently wagering my eternal soul on the promise of Jesus Christ that believing in him is all the cover I need. A promise made without scriptural fine print rendering it null and void for gay people. I defy you to cite even one verse in the gospels where Jesus himself denounced gayness as damning in the eyes of God. Christ was no quiet wall flower about what offends God. Adultery, neglect of the poor and powerless, the stingy rich, those who worship of wealth, and the money changers all we’re on the receiving end of his blistering commentary. Not one verse damning gay people. Curious if homosexuality is such a deep offense before God, don’t you think? I gladly put my faith in Jesus without hesitation or reservation. I wager all on him. It appears I have more faith in God’s love than you do, mr/ms. anonymous. I know the real presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and my heart. I believe as Psalms 139 says that God knew me before my flesh was knitted in the womb and that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” As is, thank you very much.

  20. Pingback: Homosexuality in the Church | jesusing

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