I'm going to be blunt with my question seeing that there is no way to sugar coat it: Is being gay a sin or is the act of having relations with the same sex a sin? I'm just curious because I've read a lot of verses on homosexuality and it sounds like another form of fornication.
There are many word games being played with the active promotion of homosexuality in today's society. As a result, people end up talking at cross purposes. To illustrate this, let me ask, "Is being a thief a sin, or is the act of stealing a sin?" "Wait a minute," you may say, "there is no difference!" And that is exactly the point.
One of the games being played is to claim that "being gay" merely means being sexually aroused by members of the same gender. The result is numerous young people who are confused about their sexuality because in the early days of adolescence everything and anything triggers sexual arousal because the body is interested in sex and not necessarily how or with whom that sex takes place.
God presents a different view of sin. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15).
- Desires: Everyone has natural desires that are a part of being in the physical world. By themselves desires are neither right nor wrong; instead, those desires can be used for righteous or unrighteous purposes.
- Temptation: Satan uses those natural desires to make what is sinful to look appealing. It appears that to get what the body desires, you have to go against a law of God.
- Lust: ("when desire has conceived") When a person considers the temptation and starts justifying breaking God's law, then he moves into lust. Lust is a really strong desire, usually for something that is unlawful. It isn't the strength of the desire that makes it wrong, it is the mental gymnastics a person conducts to decide that, at least in some cases, it is all right to do something wrong.
- Sin: This is the actual act that is wrong, the actual breaking of a law of God.
- Licentiousness: ("when it is full-grown") Sin rarely is done just once, a person does it repeatedly and each repetition makes it easier to do it again. Eventually, the person shifts from feeling guilty for sinning to having an attitude that he has a right to sin. That is what "licentiousness" means, someone who thinks they have a license to sin. It is sometimes also translated as "lewdness" or "sensuality" because these people act more like animals than human beings, their instinct or senses control their decisions.
- Death: When a person no longer cares what anyone thinks about their actions, then they die spiritually.
As an example, hunger is a desire -- it is neither right nor wrong. Temptation is when you are in the convenience store and see a candy bar, but realize you don't have enough money to pay for it. Lust is when you tell yourself that the store can afford to lose some items and that they are expecting some loss, or telling yourself that you could pocket it now and pay for it later and you accept that these are adequate justification to steal. Sin is when you walk out with the candy bar without paying for it. Licentiousness is when you think it is fun to take things off the shelf, even though you have adequate money to pay for it. And from there it is a short step to spiritual death.
But justifying sin is itself a type of sin. "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). Jesus pointed out that it isn't just the act of adultery that is sinful. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Adultery and lust are not the same sin, but they are both equally wrong. From God's view there is little difference between doing a sin and justify doing it in your head.
The act of having sex with someone of the same gender is a sin. "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). It doesn't matter if he is the one doing the act or the one willing to allow the act to be done to him, both are wrong. "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" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Paul used two different words for homosexuality in I Corinthians 6:9. One referred to the one actively committing the homosexual act and the other who is passively receiving the homosexual act.
It isn't just the physical act that is wrong. Supporting or justifying sin is also sinful (Romans 1:32). Therefore, those arguing that homosexuality should be allowed have also sinned. Those who daydream of having homosexual sin and believe that in at least some circumstances it is acceptable are guilty of the sin of lust, even though they have not committed the actual act of homosexuality.
However, to find that your body gets sexually aroused is not a sin. To be confronted with the thought that you could have homosexual sex and realize that your body finds it appealing is not a sin either -- it is a temptation. This is Satan trying to draw you into sin. But once you start justifying homosexuality, then you've crossed over into lust, which is a sin.
If you notice, this definition doesn't change for any sin. To find your body gets turned on by a member of the opposite sex is not a sin. To be confronted with the thought that you could commit fornication and realize that your body finds it appealing is not a sin either -- it is a temptation. But once you start justifying having sex even though you are not married, then you crossed over into lust, which is a sin.