Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?

This blog post examines the question "Is same-sex attraction sin?" from a biblical perspective, challenging contemporary views by exploring scriptural teachings on desires and sinfulness, and emphasizing the transformative power of confession and redemption through Christ. It calls for a return to scriptural faithfulness, highlighting the harm of redefining sin and the hope offered by the gospel to all sinners.


Justin Hoke

12/6/202310 min read

a cross - country road with a cross on the side of a road
a cross - country road with a cross on the side of a road


In a world increasingly embracing diverse perspectives on sexuality, the question of same-sex attraction and its moral implications remains a significant topic within Christian discourse. As followers of Christ, our understanding and approach to such complex issues must be rooted in the unchanging truth of God's Word. This blog post seeks to explore, from a scriptural standpoint, the question: "Is same-sex attraction sin?"

The rapid societal shifts in attitudes towards homosexual marriage and transgender identity present not only a cultural but a spiritual challenge. These changes prompt us to revisit and re-examine what the Bible consistently teaches about human desires and their alignment with God's will. While the subject is often approached with various personal and cultural biases, it is the unerring Scripture that must be our ultimate guide and authority.

This exploration is not embarked upon with a spirit of judgment or condemnation. Rather, it is undertaken with a commitment to truth and a heartfelt desire to understand God's design for our lives. By examining what the Bible teaches about desire, sin, and grace, we aim to bring clarity to a topic often shrouded in confusion and misinterpretation. The goal is to foster a deeper understanding of the Bible's teachings, leading to a life more fully aligned with the will of God, marked by His redemptive love and transformative power.

The Current Challenge

In today's society, we are witnessing a significant shift in attitudes towards homosexuality and transgender issues. This shift is not only evident in the broader cultural and political landscape but has also made its way into various Christian circles. A particularly concerning development is the stance taken by some pastors and Christian leaders who assert that same-sex attraction, in and of itself, is not sinful unless it manifests in physical actions. This perspective, while likely rooted in a well-meaning attempt to be compassionate and understanding, raises serious biblical concerns.

The primary issue with this viewpoint is that it seems to diverge from the clear teachings of Scripture. The Bible, across both Old and New Testaments, consistently addresses human sexuality and its alignment with God’s design. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 speak directly to God’s intentions for sexual relationships. In the New Testament, passages like Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 further elaborate on this, not only condemning the physical acts of homosexuality but also indicating a broader disapproval of such desires that deviate from the created order.

It is crucial to understand that the Bible does not merely address the external actions but delves deeper into the heart's intentions and desires. Jesus Christ Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, explicitly teaches that sin is not only a matter of external actions but also of the heart's intentions (Matthew 5:27-28). This principle can be applied to all forms of desires that go against God’s commandments, including but not limited to same-sex attraction.

By suggesting that same-sex attraction is not sinful unless acted upon, these teachings inadvertently minimize the comprehensive nature of sin as described in the Bible. Sin, according to Scripture, is not just a matter of deeds but also of desires and thoughts that contravene God’s law. To overlook this aspect is to risk a superficial understanding of sin and its profound impact on our relationship with God.

Furthermore, this viewpoint could potentially mislead individuals struggling with same-sex attraction by implying that their desires, as long as they remain unacted, do not warrant repentance and seeking God’s grace. Such a notion not only contradicts the biblical call to continual repentance and transformation but also deprives individuals of the full scope of God’s redeeming love and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

In summary, the current challenge within the Christian community is to remain faithful to the entirety of the Bible's teachings on human sexuality and sin. While it is imperative to approach this issue with love, compassion, and understanding, it is equally essential to uphold the truth of Scripture, which calls for a holistic understanding of sin that includes desires, thoughts, and actions. The Bible, as our ultimate authority, provides clear guidance on these matters, and it is by this divine standard that we should measure our beliefs and teachings.

Biblical Foundations

In discussing the nature of same-sex attraction from a biblical standpoint, it is crucial to delve into the Scripture, which serves as the ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. Here, we examine key passages that shed light on how desires, irrespective of action, are viewed in the light of God's word.

Romans 1:26-27: This passage is often cited in discussions about homosexuality. Apostle Paul describes not only the physical acts but also the passions as contrary to nature and a clear departure from God's design. This scripture points to a deeper issue than behavior alone; it highlights a fundamental misalignment of human desires with God's original intent for human relationships.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Here, Paul lists various behaviors, including homosexuality, that are inconsistent with the kingdom of God. The focus is not merely on the physical acts but on the underlying orientation that leads to such actions. This passage emphasizes that our inclinations, as much as our actions, need to align with God's standards.

Matthew 5:27-28 (Sermon on the Mount): Jesus expands the understanding of sin beyond physical actions to the realm of desires and thoughts. He teaches that even looking at someone lustfully is akin to committing adultery in one's heart. This principle underscores that sin is not only about what we do but also about what we harbor in our hearts and minds. If lustful thoughts can be sinful, it follows that harboring desires contrary to God’s design, including same-sex attraction, is also sinful.

These scriptures collectively illustrate that sin encompasses not just actions but also the condition of the heart and mind. It is a departure from God’s design, both in what we do and in what we desire. The biblical narrative consistently calls for a transformation of the heart, aligning our desires with God’s will.

In conclusion, the Bible teaches that our entire being, including our desires and attractions, must be subject to God's will. Same-sex attraction, when understood in this light, is seen not merely as a personal preference or orientation, but as part of the broader human condition of sinfulness that requires repentance and transformation by God’s grace. This perspective is firmly rooted in the teachings of Scripture, affirming the necessity to hold every aspect of our lives, including our deepest inclinations, up to the light of God's truth.

The Logical and Theological Flaws

When examining the claim that same-sex attraction is not sinful unless acted upon, it's crucial to apply both logical reasoning and theological understanding rooted in Scripture.

First, let’s consider the logic. If we claim that same-sex attraction is not inherently sinful, we set a precedent that desires in themselves are neutral until acted upon. This reasoning, however, conflicts with the broader scriptural teaching on the nature of sin. For instance, coveting is condemned in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17). Covetousness, a form of desire, is sinful in itself, irrespective of any resulting action. Similarly, Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount illustrate that sinful desires, such as lust and anger, are morally culpable even if they never manifest in physical acts (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28).

Theologically, this perspective is not just about sexual ethics but about the fundamental nature of sin. The Bible teaches that sin is not merely a matter of external actions but a condition that affects the heart and mind (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19). When we desire something that God has declared to be sinful or out of the bounds of His moral will, we are already in a state of rebellion against Him. This principle applies universally to all forms of sinful desires, including same-sex attraction.

Furthermore, to suggest that same-sex attraction is not sinful unless acted upon undermines the call to holiness and sanctification throughout Scripture. Believers are urged to renew their minds (Romans 12:2) and set their hearts on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). This transformation is not just about changing behaviors but also about changing desires and aligning them with God’s will.

Neglecting to recognize same-sex attraction as sinful also diminishes the power and scope of the Gospel. The good news of Christ is that He saves us not only from the penalty of sin but also from its power, including the power of sinful desires (Romans 6:6-7, 14). By recognizing our sinful desires, confessing them, and turning from them, we experience the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, a key aspect of the Christian life.

In conclusion, the idea that same-sex attraction is not sinful unless acted upon is inconsistent with the biblical understanding of sin and the Christian's call to holiness. By relying on Scripture as our ultimate authority, we see that all forms of sinful desires, including same-sex attraction, are contrary to God's will and require confession and repentance. The beauty of the Gospel lies in its power not only to forgive but also to transform us, reshaping our hearts and minds to reflect the holiness and righteousness of Christ.

The Harm of Misinterpreting Sin

In today's discussions about same-sex attraction, there is a growing tendency to redefine what is considered sin according to Scripture. This shift is not just a matter of theological debate; it has profound implications for individuals, the church, and society at large.

1. Deviation from Scriptural Truth

The Bible, our ultimate authority, is clear in its teachings on sin and righteousness. In passages like Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Scripture explicitly identifies behaviors and desires contrary to God's design as sinful. When we start to reinterpret these clear teachings, we risk moving away from the truth God has revealed in His Word. This misinterpretation can lead people away from a true understanding of sin and repentance, which are central to the Christian faith.

2. Failing to Call for Repentance

One of the fundamental roles of the church is to call believers to repentance and a life transformed by Christ (Acts 3:19). When we fail to recognize certain desires or inclinations as sinful, we deprive individuals of the opportunity to repent and seek God’s transforming power. The Gospel message is one of redemption and change, but if we do not acknowledge our sinfulness, how can we embrace the need for Christ's saving grace?

3. Confusion Within the Church

The church is to be a pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). When there is ambiguity or outright error concerning what constitutes sin, it creates confusion among believers. This confusion can weaken the church's moral and spiritual foundation, making it difficult for believers to discern right from wrong according to the standards of Scripture.

4. Impact on Families and Society

The family is an institution ordained by God, and the societal values we embrace influence its health and stability. When sin is redefined or dismissed, it affects how we form relationships, raise children, and interact within our communities. Misinterpreting sin leads to a breakdown in moral values, impacting not just individual lives but the fabric of society as a whole.

In summary, redefining sin to exclude certain desires or inclinations, such as same-sex attraction, causes significant harm. It leads us away from the truth of Scripture, hinders genuine repentance, creates confusion in the church, and negatively impacts families and society. As believers, we must diligently uphold the teachings of Scripture, recognizing its authority in defining sin and guiding us towards righteousness.

The Hope of the Gospel

In addressing the challenging topic of same-sex attraction, it is paramount to remember that the heart of Christianity is not condemnation, but redemption and transformation through Jesus Christ. The gospel offers hope and renewal to all, irrespective of the nature of their struggles or sins.

The Bible, in its profound wisdom, does not shy away from calling sin what it is. This clarity, however, is not intended to push us into despair but to guide us towards repentance and the embrace of God's grace. In 1 John 1:9, we find a powerful promise: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This scripture underscores that no sin, be it in thought, desire, or deed, is beyond the reach of God's forgiving grace.

In Christ, we find the hope of transformation. The message of the gospel is not merely about avoiding sin but about experiencing a profound change in our hearts and lives. This transformation is vividly described in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Through Christ, we are not just forgiven; we are remade.

For those wrestling with same-sex attraction or any sin, the gospel offers not only forgiveness but also comfort in the struggle. God's presence and strength are promised to us in our weaknesses. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." This assurance invites us to lean on God's strength, not our own, in our journey towards holiness.

This hope is not exclusive; it extends to every individual, regardless of their past or present struggles. The gospel of Christ is an invitation to all to experience the life-changing love of God. It calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light, out of bondage into freedom, from despair into everlasting hope.

In this era, where the lines of morality are often blurred, the clear, transformative message of the gospel stands as a beacon of hope. It is a reminder that in Christ, there is redemption, there is a new beginning, and there is a loving Father waiting to restore and heal all who come to Him in humility and faith.


In addressing the question, "Is same-sex attraction sin?" we have explored the biblical perspective, steering clear of current societal trends and opinions. Our primary concern is faithfulness to the teachings of Scripture. The Bible, the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and life, does not distinguish between desire and action in the realm of sin. As Jesus emphasized in the Sermon on the Mount, sin begins in the heart. It's not just the physical acts that are sinful, but also the desires contrary to God's will (Matthew 5:27-28).

This understanding calls us to a holistic view of sin and righteousness, where our thoughts, desires, and actions are all subject to God's holy standard. Redefining sin to exclude certain desires or thoughts, such as same-sex attraction, not only contradicts scriptural teaching but also hinders individuals from recognizing their need for repentance and God's gracious redemption. It is a disservice to the message of the gospel, which offers hope, forgiveness, and transformation to all who acknowledge their sinfulness and turn to Christ.

Our goal is not to condemn, but to point to the truth of Scripture that leads to life. In this truth, there is hope for all sinners, as 1 John 1:9 assures us: if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This promise is available to everyone, regardless of the nature of their sin. Let us, therefore, encourage one another to seek the truth in God's Word, to confess our sins, and to embrace the transformative power of the gospel.