Why Can’t You Just Be Gay?

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If anyone has a reason to search Scripture for an “out,” a way to be in a gay relationship and yet remain within the bounds of God’s will for sexuality, it’s me — the Christian who experiences ongoing same-sex attraction. Trust me, I’ve heard arguments from Matthew Vines, Justin Lee, and others who try to make a case for gay marriage in the Church. I’ve read books, watched debates, and had long talks with friends who urge me to pursue a sexual relationship with a man. I’ve listened to and reasoned through every attempt to justify gay marriage, but nothing has convinced me — the guy who, in theory, should be the easiest person to convince.

Why?

The simple answer is “Because God said so.” It’s true, only six verses in the Bible explicitly mention homosexual practice. All of them, of course, forbid it. The most quoted are Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1, which, admittedly, come with a fair share of controversy regarding civil and ceremonial laws, cultural context, and so forth. (Although it’s not as if theologians throughout time haven’t already explained why the ban on homosexual practice is different from the ban on shellfish or mixed fabrics.) These verses, complicated though they seem to some, are enough to prove to me that pursuing a gay romance would dishonor God. But let’s say I didn’t have those six verses. I still couldn’t “just be gay,” because there’s still the big picture of marriage in Scripture to consider. Which is good, because I’m a big picture kind of guy.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, marriage is a symbol for God and his people. God is always the bridegroom; his people are the bride. Jeremiah compares Israel to a bride devoted to her husband, the Lord (Jeremiah 2:2). Ezekiel portrays Israel as an unfaithful wife, while God remains the faithful husband (Ezekiel 16). Hosea’s marriage to his adulterous wife parallels the relationship between God and Israel throughout the Book of Hosea. In the New Testament, John the Baptist calls Jesus the bridegroom, whose bride, his followers, delights to hear his voice (John 3:29). Jesus calls himself the bridegroom, while the disciples represent his bride (Matthew 9:15). Clearest of all is Paul, who says the act of man and woman becoming one flesh “refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). God designed marriage between husband and wife, sexual complements, for a very specific purpose: to be a living picture of the gospel. This metaphor matters to God. And it matters to me, too.

If there’d been a huge paradigm shift on marriage and sex, it would’ve happened in early Church history, not the early 21st century. With something as important as sexual purity, Jesus and the New Testament writers would’ve made it 100 percent clear that the ban on homosexual practice had been repealed, the way God did for Peter regarding dietary restrictions, with a vision of formerly unclean animals and a voice from heaven saying “eat” (Acts 10:9-16). We don’t have that with marriage; we only have reconfirmation from Christ that marriage remains as he established it in the garden: a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6). A beautiful picture of the truth of the gospel.

People might ask, “Why can’t two men or two women reflect that same truth?” Well, gender and biological sex are realities created by God, and he uses them in creation and within marriage for his purposes — both for the flourishing of mankind and to tell a story. If you’re looking for a why beyond the why, I can’t help you. To me, that’s like a child asking “Why?” after the parent has already explained— as if additional answers will ever satisfy. (If you’ve spent time with a toddler, you know what I mean.) But there is a WHO beyond the why, and I can tell you he’s good, wise, loving, and he withholds no good thing from those who walk in his ways (Psalm 84:11). This is the God I love, trust, and seek to obey. And I’m OK with the reason he’s given. That’s enough.

At the heart of this question is a plea for me to be happy, which I appreciate. It’s nice to know I have family and friends who desire my happiness. But what I need people to understand is that following Jesus REALLY DOES make me happy! It’s not the kind of happiness a sex-obsessed world expects; it’s the happiness that comes with being given a new heart and new desires. That includes obeying God’s commands for marriage and sexuality — those boundaries set for my joy and sanctification. Violating God’s Word (and my own conscience) actually works AGAINST my ultimate happiness. I have no doubt that a sexual relationship with a man would bring some temporary pleasures, but that’s not the kind of pleasure I’m looking for. I want the kind that lasts forever, which only comes through a relationship with my God (Psalm 16:11).

Yes, I’m still attracted to the same sex, and I imagine I always will be. But I choose to remain celibate and pursue a life of joyful singleness because I believe God and his purpose for marriage. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I really do love that man, and I want to keep his commandments without people telling me I’d be happier if I didn’t.

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26 comments on “Why Can’t You Just Be Gay?

  1. Michael Brocker

    Thanks for always speaking truth! I love this and I, even as I continue to success and fail in obey God, desire the same for myself in my sexuality and more so in my life.

  2. Bruce

    “If you’re looking for a why beyond the why, I can’t help you. But there is a WHO beyond the why…” What a great statement. If one comes to a point in his or her theology where they are asking “Why is grass green and not blue?” they have missed the big picture entirely, namely, the Who. It comes down to authority.

  3. Melinda Geasler

    Oh Bryan! I love your heart! You always speak the truth and you always use the Bible to speak that truth! I absolutely love this article (though, truth be told, I love all your articles). It is what I have said for a long time. Regardless of how we feel and how we want to live we (as believers in Yahweh) we have to abide by what he said…We also do not have to worry that the Bible is lies because God wrote the Bible therefore we know its true and Jesus confirmed that when he said that he was the way, the truth and the life! Your reasons for not pursing the happiness of the world is how all of us should be living everyday…Because God Said So!

  4. Frank

    Well said Bryan! What I love about what you share are the eternal principles that come through so clearly. It doesn’t matter if the issue is same sex attraction or some other area of struggle. The satisfaction of a loving relationship with God is much more rewarding than any satisfaction found in the temporary things of this world. True joy will never be found in these things no matter what the culture tells you. One thing I know is no matter how hard you try you’ll never satisfy the flesh. If this is your life’s pursuit the only thing that you can expect is dismal failure! Thanks for your words of encouragement for all who struggle (and all do struggle)!

  5. Sarah Graham

    I appreciate how you include the good intentions of those who want you to be happy… You are right, there is such a confusion for some who believe to deny one’s sexuality somehow makes life {insert head tilt here} “pitiful.” You are such an encouragement to people like me who don’t live with Same Sex Attraction, but choose singleness and celibacy for other reasons. I didn’t choose singleness but I have to choose celibacy. It’s a struggle to lay down what is temporary for the eternal and for God’s glory but as someone who lives it, it never disappoints to make “the Who” greater than all else.

    Sharing!

  6. Jeff Perkins

    Awesome testimony Bryan. I remember you from a LONG time ago when your dad and I worked together. You were a good kid then, and a fine man now. I’m glad to see how you are blessing so many with your gifts. Keep up the great work brother.

  7. James Stolhand

    While I admire your determination, I cannot help but draw several exceptions. Before I get into that, however, I would like to make the disclaimer that: 1) I am a non-practicing Catholic and a former baptist 2) I am an openly gay man and 3) I will fight just as hard for your rights to worship whatever god you want in whatever way pleases you and I will fight for your right to say whatever you wish, without fear of persecution (but I reserve the right to disagree). With that being said, let’s dig in.

    The first item with which I have contention is, according to my understanding, Jesus’ death and resurrection freed Christianity from the laws of the Old Testament and Mosaic Law, thereby binding the faithful to the new laws. If this is the case (and I welcome correction if I am wrong), then you can only rely on the New Testament. That being said, it is of great note that Jesus did not say one thing about homosexuality. He is curiously silent on it, while St. Paul says very little. Am I to read this as putting St. Paul’s words on the same level as Jesus? I am not arguing that there is assent through silence on the part of Jesus, but it does seem curious that if out gay people pollute the Church so much, why Jesus didn’t say anything about it.

    The second item with which I have contention is your statement that, “If there’d been a huge paradigm shift on marriage and sex, it would’ve happened in early Church history, not the early 21st century.” I’m sure you’re well aware of the Council of Nicaea, which decided, among other things, the divinity of Christ. I’m sure you’re also aware that at the time of the Council, pederasty and homosexuality were widespread, even expected activities. Given the cultural conditions of the time, is it not possible that those in attendance at the Council didn’t even think to bring up homosexuality (pederasty is quite another matter which I do not care to deal with here)? Also, given that the question of Jesus’ divinity was decided by men, as well as what the official Canon of the Church would be, is it really reasonable to make the argument that homosexuality should be repressed with celibacy because a Book, which was put together and written by men, said it was a sin? Small Nation-States of the time had a vested interest in ensuring that their population bred and multiplied as much as possible, so I think it can be reasonably inferred that the historical context of those verses lends themselves to state-craft. Not morality.

    To close, I will reiterate what I have already said. I will defend every Christian, Muslim, and Jew’s right to worship their god in peace in whatever manner they choose, and I will defend every aforementioned faith’s right to say whatever they will, even if I disagree vehemently with it. I am well aware that this is your personal journey and not intended to a be a handbook to some 14 year old who finds it randomly. Notwithstanding, having experienced the venom, vitriol, and self-loathing that accompanies being a gay Christian, I find it necessary to voice my contentions. That being said, I do love you as a friend, and I am not castigating your faith or the faith of any of your readers, but perish the thought of faith going unquestioned. Cheers!

    [Editor’s note: This comment has been abridged with permission]

    1. John

      I’ll be brief here, but happy to elaborate if you have questions.

      Jesus’ death frees us from the law – meaning that we are no longer bound to the law in a covenantal sense and that those who, through faith, receive the atonement of Christ’s sacrifice are not judged according to the Law. However, there is much of both Jesus and Paul citing the Law as instruction in righteous living, with Jesus saying that the Law is summed up in the two great commandments (Matthew 22:34-40) and Paul listing some of the latter six of the Ten Commandments as instructions in loving one’s neighbor (Romans 13:8-10).

      Christians have historically (almost universally until about 200 years ago) recognized some distinctions within the Law of Moses. The Ten Commandments and the various commands elaborating upon them making up a universal “moral law” and distinguishing that from the “ceremonial laws” which include circumcision, everything related to sacrifices and the Temple, and the cleanliness code, as prefiguring Christ’s work and the civil and penal statutes as being given for the governance of the nation through which the Christ would come (though many Christians have held, to varying degrees, that those serve as a good model for governance in general).

      And would like to also answer your question: “Am I to read this as putting St. Paul’s words on the same level as Jesus?”

      Yes, as the authors of the gospels and the New Testament epistles, as well as Moses and the prophets, all wrote under the infallible inspiration of the same Holy Spirit. Hence, there should be no weighing of any part of scripture against another, though the more clear portions do serve to interpret the more difficult portions.

      The most important thing to remember is that God never changes, so while he has interacted with people in different ways throughout history and there are many commands given to serve specific purposes and not to be understood to apply to people outside those contexts, the righteous precepts of God are unchanging.

      Okay maybe that wasn’t so brief, but there is a whole lot more that can be said, so I’ll be happy to elaborate more if you would like.

  8. Richard

    Thanks for this encouraging word, Bryan! I struggle with same sex attraction, also. It can be exhausting sometimes to battle temptations. But, I have lived in both lifestyles, and knowing and following Jesus is a million times better-and, we have the Word of God on it!

  9. Cindy

    It is so uplifting hearing your faith expressed in your words, as well as sharing in the community of faith that is expressed as I read the comments. Thank you for sharing your faith

  10. Sue

    Thanks so much for sharing your well-reasoned, Scriptural convictions on this emotive subject. I know several gay Christians, both male & female, who have convinced themselves that gay relationships aren’t condemned in Scripture. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you, to guard & protect you in your celibacy, and may He bring you much joy in spite of singleness.

  11. Joe

    First-time reader here. Apologies if you’ve answered this before. I totally get and understand (and encourage) your stance, because frankly, if not for a series of kind of insane coincidences (or decisions, depending on how you look at it), I would be in your exact same shoes. So, please understand that I am in no way trying to diminish your words or detract from your courage to stay the path you’re on. But, what do you think it means for those of us trying to sincerely pursue Christ, yet we’ve found ourselves in a profound relationship with someone of the same sex? Do you think then, that it is impossible for the two to coexist? Would really love to hear your opinion. Thanks!

    1. Bryan Post author

      Joe: I think it’s possible to maintain some semblance of, or devotion to, Christian ideals while in a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. But I don’t think it’s possible to pursue Christ himself while also pursuing a relationship that falls outside his will (if by “profound relationship” you mean sexual relationship). Christians in that scenario will feel conflicting desires, a sense of betraying their true Love, and eventually a desire for repentance. I’m happy to talk more if you want to message me via the “Get in Touch” page.

    2. Bryan

      Hi Joe,
      My name is also Bryan, but not the poster. I’ll try to help answer.

      The short answer would be if you are wanting to pursue Christ you will have to deny your flesh (Matthew 16:24).

      A first hand example would be that I really would like to be in a relationship with a woman and unfortunately I turned to porn. I have grown through the process of getting out, because I found and read numerous things about how it is detrimental to your health and perspective of an actual relationship. And how the porn industry itself is abusive in so many ways (emotional, physically, spiritually). I’m currently pursing and confided with some friends about it, to help get me out.

      I have a good friend in my community group who came from the LGBT community and is gay himself. Pretty much all that Bryan shared is what my friend shared with me (Bryan’s article is very through here). My friend loves God/Jesus to the fullest and only wants to pursue Him. So you have to ask yourself what is your highest priority? So by following His commandments, he will have to deny his fleshly desires. As my friend see this as being good. My friend is currently in the process of talking with some of his friend and other people in the LGBT community whenever he gets the right opportunity to talk about it.

      I hope this helps!

  12. Joel

    A wonderful, well written, article. The sentence “But there is a WHO beyond the why, and I can tell you he’s good, wise, loving, and he withholds no good thing from those who walk in his ways (Psalm 84:11). This is the God I love, trust, and seek to obey. And I’m OK with the reason he’s given. That’s enough.” is VERY powerful. Thank you

  13. Katrina Hadland

    I’m confused. You use a metaphorical image of the bride and bridegroom to explain a literal concept. Using your own logic, wouldn’t God have to embody the nature of homosexuality in as much as he’s neither male nor female if He is the Groom and the men in the church seen as part of the Bride?

    In my view Jesus didn’t correct the stance on homosexuality as he did with eating pork or mixing with Gentiles as in the OT it is things like gang rape that is forbidden rather than consensual relationships. Therefore there wasn’t anything to correct.

    I don’t think we should be formulating a theology based on what Jesus didn’t say about homosexuality.
    As a Christian woman in a stable long term same sex relationship with a Christian woman who loves God I can testify that I have experienced more love, grace, healing and joy in the last 3 years since I came out than in the 40yrs prior to that whilst I felt condemned and rejected by the church.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Katrina,
      Just to be clear, in scripture, physical, human marriage is the metaphor for a literal concept: the union between God and his people. It’s not the other way around. The union between God and his people is a more real, longer-lasting relationship than any physical human marriage. I agree with you that God is neither male nor female, and his Church is made up of men and women. However, in the image of marriage of God with his people, scripture ALWAYS refers to God as the groom and his people (no, not individual men, it’s collective) as the bride. Also, it is precisely because God embodies both masculine AND feminine in his being that the “one-fleshness” of marriage must be between a man and a woman so that it can reflect the masculinity and femininity of God. This is the design of marriage throughout scripture. There is much more I could say on this, but I’ll stop here.

      Also, I assume that you believe that Jesus is God because you are a Christian, and Jesus claimed to be God. If that is the case, and the Bible is God’s inspired word, then the entire Bible is made up of the words of Jesus. (This is why I don’t like red-letter editions). Therefore, not only did Jesus affirm the Old Testament writings in his earthly ministry, but he was the mastermind behind them. This means that the entire scriptural teachings on marriage and sexuality are actually Jesus’ teachings. In other words, Jesus was not silent on homosexuality.

      Now, if you believe that the Biblical teachings on sexuality and gender are simply products of the culture that the Bible came from, then we are not actually debating about the issue of sexuality and gender. We are debating about the inerrancy of Scripture under the guise of a discussion about sexuality. If that is the case, then there is no point in discussing sexuality any further until we come into agreement on the inerrancy issue. But of course, this isn’t the place for that.

  14. sandi

    Bryan…I’m sorry, I didn’t read all of your comments, but you wrote well. To add just one thing..don’t forget about ! Corinthians 6:11 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” With God, all things are possible

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