I was just wondering if you had any biblical defense for someone saying they are born gay. I think it's a choice and I was wondering if any scriptures helped support this. I recently heard of a friend who had only been a Christian for a year and has now pretty much renounced her faith because she can't see God condemning some of her homosexual friends. She says that they are great people, which probably is true, and doesn't think they are doing anything wrong. I want to be able to have a defense for the argument I already know will come up. "Well, they can't help it. They were born that way."
It has been popular for many years to attribute homosexual behavior as something that cannot be helped. As your friend noted if a person is born a homosexual, how can a just God condemn the behavior? What has not been done is a careful analysis of the proof given whether homosexuality is genetic. Most people simply assume that because they heard something repeatedly, then it must be true. Few people examine the research to see if the evidence exists. In an article titled, "Is Sexual Orientation Fixed at Birth?" a number of prominent researchers into homosexuality are quoted. A quote from Dr. Clinton Anderson perhaps summarizes it best: "To date, no researcher has claimed that genes can determine sexual orientation. At best, researchers believe there may be a genetic component. No human behavior, let alone sexual behavior, had been connected to genetic markers to date ... sexuality, like every other behavior, is undoubtedly influenced by both biological and societal factors."
Consider this quote from an article titled, "A Change in Thinking (Homosexuals are Made, not Born)" by Linda Bowles. "Many Americans believe homosexuals are born that way and can't do anything about it. For most of his professional life as a practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Spitzer helped promote that belief. He has changed his mind. He now believes that some practicing homosexuals can change their sexual orientation and become practicing heterosexuals. He believes they can fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, have children, and successfully reorient their sexual mindset and transform their lives." That statement is significant. A behavior that is genetically based would not be alterable without altering the genes. The fact that many people have successfully changed their sexual orientation strongly indicates that there isn't a genetic cause for homosexuality.
Is "born that way" a defense?
Let us assume for just a moment that the strongest belief, that homosexuals have a genetic trait that predisposes them toward same-sex relationships, is true. Does such a predisposition permit homosexual acts? Suppose we substituted some other characteristic. Murderers tend to be more easily enraged than non-murderers. Does the tendency toward anger then excuse them when they act on that anger? Some claim to have a tendency to pocket things that don't belong to them. If such a tendency exist, does this mean we should not call stealing a sin or a crime? We do not excuse such behaviors because we recognize that those behaviors are harmful to society. Any seeking such excuses are simply trying to avoid the consequences of their wrongful behavior.
In reality, this is what has been happening in our society. Homosexuality does have negative consequences and people want to avoid those consequences. In seeking a way to say that homosexuality cannot be helped, they hope to avoid facing the consequences of their choice.
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon. It has been around for many thousands of years. In the Old Testament law given to the Israelites, we can read, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). An "abomination" refers to something extremely disgusting. Just a few chapters later we find this statement, "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13). Notice where the blame for the consequence of homosexuality lies. God states that their death is their own fault. In other words, their homosexual behavior was by their own choice and the consequence of that choice is theirs to bear.
When we move to the New Testament, we find that God hasn't changed His law regarding homosexuality. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Just as a thief cannot be in the kingdom, a homosexual cannot either. But notice the significant statement, "and such were some of you." There were members of the church in Corinth who at one time were homosexuals. But they were no longer homosexuals. They were able to change their orientation by the blood of Jesus. A thief can stop stealing, an adulterer can stop his fooling around, and a homosexual can become a heterosexual. Is there a stronger statement that homosexuality is not genetic? It is clear that the Bible teaches it is a choice on the part of a sinner.
Paul explains in detail where homosexuality comes from in Romans chapter 1. God has always left evidence of His existence in the world (Romans 1:18-20). Yet men have chosen to ignore the evidence and they replace the true God with gods of their own imaginations (Romans 1:21-23). Now, what happens when men stop answering to a higher authority and begin making up their own standards of ethics? It generally doesn't take men long to decide that sex shouldn't be restricted to marriage. "After all," they will argue, "if two people are consenting, then no one is being harmed." (Romans 1:24-25) Yet it doesn't take long before the novelty of this sin wears off. One generation is shocked by the unrestraint behavior of the next generation, so what willing the following generation do to shock their parents? What follows is degrading passions -- corrupted forms of sex -- including homosexuality. "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:26-27). Of course, it doesn't stop there, people seek novel ways to sin and soon society breaks down (Romans 1:28-32).
If you stop and think a moment, you will realize that the United States has been following this pattern. In the 1950's it was popular to declare that "God is dead!" By the late 1960s and into the 1970s we had the hippy movement and the preaching "free love." By the late 1970s homosexuality began to be discussed and by the 1990's it became a tolerated practice. Now our country is seeking various means to legitimize homosexuality. However, in recent years we have been seeing symptoms of a decaying society. Violence is on the increase. Think about the school shootings and ask yourself why it didn't happen a hundred years ago when guns were more prevalent. Ethical barriers are falling. Just today I heard a national radio show seriously discussing why incest should be legal. I fear we will see more and more of this in the coming years.
While your friend may not be participating in homosexuality, the Bible does warn about her attitude. "Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32). You cannot excuse yourself from the sins of others if you give such sins approval.