Thoughts from a Bisexual Christian
This is my story. Since I was about 8 years old I have had homosexual thoughts and desires. I strictly remember fantasizing about both men and women, curious about sex for both men and woman, and thought both men and women equally attractive. But, I grew up in a conservative southern Baptist home where homosexuality was made fun of and looked upon with disgust. I grew up being told how homosexuality is perverted, disgusting, immoral—that every homosexual is going to hell. My family taught me this, my church taught me this. If homosexuality was ever mentioned it was accompanied by a joke and comment of disgust. I have always been told that my desires and thoughts were immoral and that if I continued thinking as I did, I would go to hell. My entire childhood consisted of an internal battle—me against God. I would ask myself, why did God make me this way? Why can’t I be normal? What would happen if anyone found out? I prayed daily for God to take away my “disease”. I lived in constant fear that if anyone found out I would be persecuted, made fun of, and shunned from the church and my family. I have psycho-analyzed myself, trying to find psychological reason for my “disorder”. I have tried to make excuses, blaming my “perversion” on other people and events in my life. But it was all for naught—never could I find a cause of my “sickness”. I fought with God, I fought against my beliefs. I begged God to “cure” me. No “cure” came to me. But after years of prayer and study, God has shown some light on what I live with. This is what God has revealed to me:
The Way You Are Made Is Not A Sin
Sin, by definition, is willful disobedience against God’s laws and will. So how can something that is 100% out of my control be a sin? I am not WILLFULLY, by my own choice, disobeying God’s commandments—I am doing what my body is telling me to do. I fully agree that pornography, lust, one night stands, prostitution, rape, etc. are sins because they are done by one’s own will. But homosexual desires and actions (done within the same boundaries established for heterosexual relationships) are not willful acts. To love someone of your own sex is not willful. I do not choose to love who I love. Anyone heterosexual who is in love will tell you the exact same thing. No one ever says out of the blue, “I think I am going to love this person for the rest of my life”. Those in love meet someone and become attracted to them. They seek to further their relationship, fall deeper into love, and get married (when their love is fully realized). Love is never (initially) a choice—it is an uncontrollable desire. These same feeling a heterosexual feels, a homosexual feels, the only difference is that that their love is for someone of the same sex. How is this sin? Sin is willful, love is outside of our will.
Another thought to consider is this—if homosexuality is out of our control, and God promised to never tempt us beyond what we can bear, than how is homosexuality a sin? If homosexuality is a sin, then God would have stopped my temptations a long time ago because I have absolutely no control over it, it is too much to bear.
“God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” 1 Corinthians 10:13
So the million dollar question is—why would God “curse” me with a “sin” which I have absolutely no control over?
I have struggled with this question for my entire life, and I have come to the answer that he wouldn’t. I honestly believe that I was born this way.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together…” Psalm 139:13-15
I know that “I was born this way” is the most stated comment made by homosexuals who are trying to defend themselves from their persecutors, but it is true. I know from experience, those with homosexual attractions never decide one day “I think I’m gay” just as no heterosexual woke up one morning saying “I choose think I will be straight”. Our sexual orientations are NEVER by choice, they are who we are and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Trust me, if I could change my sexual orientation I would (to save myself from persecution from my family, peers, and church—only until recently have I come to accept my sexual orientation). Who you love and your sexuality is not something which you have control over. I have had homosexual feelings since I first began having sexual attractions to people, how is this in my control? My feelings and my sexuality were never in my control. I might get a lot of criticism for this, and I know many people will disagree, but I believe that God made me this way. And if God didn’t make me this way from the womb, then he allowed different event in my life (which are completely out of my control) which led to me being the way I am. The point is, I had absolutely no control over who I am or who I’m attracted to. It was never my choice, and why should I be punished for that?
Response to Biblical References to Homosexuality
Disclaimer: Please understand that I am not a biblical scholar. But God has left us his word to interpret for ourselves. I’m sure there are holes in my logic and knowledge in this section. I would gladly sit down and have an educated discussion about my knowledge and any flaws found. I am not a trained scholar, and what I have mentioned here is found from past reading, research, and courses at my university.
One peculiar thing you should notice is how often homosexuality is mentioned in the bible, and the context in which it is mentioned. Here are the verses which homosexuality is mentioned:
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22 NRSV
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. Leviticus 20:13 NRSV
Genesis 19:1-29- The Sodom and Gomorra Narrative
For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. Romans 1:26-27 NRSV
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 NRSV
These verses listed are the only times in the entire bible which homosexuality is mentioned. When you initially read it, the bible clearly bans homosexual behavior. But in what context is this written?
The Sodom and Gomorrah passage condemns not the act of homosexuality, but rape. The men who came seeking to have sex with the visitors weren’t seeking natural love, but they wanted to rape the men. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of rape among other sins such as pride, arrogance, immorality, murder, etc.
The passage in 1 Timothy mentions homosexuality as “sodomites”, as in those who acted like those in Sodom, or rapists.
The passages in Leviticus outlaw homosexual sex, as in “lying as you would with a women” or to put it bluntly, anal sex. But this is the only thing which is forbidden. But homosexual attraction isn’t forbidden. Scholars have done a lot of research into the Jewish culture during the Mosaic period. Being penetrated was shameful and degrading for men, lowing them to the status of a woman (which in biblical times, women were below men socially). Scholars believe that this commandment was written so that Jewish men would not degrade themselves to the lower status of women. So let us say that God forbids homosexual anal sex, he also forbids other types of heterosexual sex such as having sex during a woman’s period. But just because one type of homosexual sex if forbidden does not forbid homosexuality as a whole. Another practice that scholars believe these Levitical laws refer to is the popular practice of temple prostitution (many of the prostitutes being me) which was very popular during biblical times. Forbidding prostitution lies within popular Christian moral beliefs and is clearly forbidden in the bible. But again, this interpretation does not forbid homosexuality as a whole.
The only verse which forbids homosexuality as a whole is Romans 1:26-27. This has been misinterpreted in many ways, but in my eyes, I see this passage as an explanation as to why homosexuality became popular in Roman culture. The verses which surround this verse also mention other immoral acts popular in Roman culture. Many scholars believe this is not the explicit condemnation of homosexuality, but the over indulgence of sexual behavior, which was rampant in Roman culture. Paul is not condemning homosexuality, but the over-indulgence of sex, which again, falls under common Christian moral boundaries and beliefs.
When read in their true context, these verses do not condemn homosexuality as a whole, but sexual immorality and overindulgence. Nowhere, in any of these passages, are homosexual attractions and relationships forbidden. Nowhere is it forbidden to love someone of your same sex and show your attraction toward them. If anything, only one type of homosexual sex is forbidden.
So I’ve covered the few passages that cover homosexuality, but what is even more noteworthy is the absence of references to homosexuality. Homosexuality was extremely prevalent in Pre-Biblical, Palestinian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman culture. Kings in other cultures during biblical times were notorious for practicing homosexuality. Homosexuality was found in temples, courts, palaces, and common households. Yet homosexuality is mentioned only a few times in the entire bible. Another interesting thing is that Christ himself has absolutely nothing to say about homosexuality, and he was God himself living in a culture with a fairly large homosexual culture. If homosexuality is such a big deal, wouldn’t Christ himself at least mention it once? Christ focuses instead on helping the poor, being humble servants, having the right motive in your actions and worship, and furthering the kingdom of God. I just find it interesting that homosexuality is persecuted the most by the church, yet it is one of the least mentioned sins in the bible. How I see it, homosexuality as a whole is never forbidden in the bible—only sexual immorality and one specific type of homosexual sex.
Thoughts on the Christian Boundaries of a Homosexual Relationship
So what if a homosexual relationship fell under the same boundaries as a Christian heterosexual relationship? What if a homosexual found the love of their life, but they abstained from sex until they were married, did not lust after others, were not sexually immoral (in the sense of adultery, pornography, prostitution, debauchery, etc)? What if they lived Godly lives, being humble, helping the poor, being honest in the behavior and speech, sharing Christ’s love to everyone around them and living as Christ instructed us to?
Every one of God’s commandments can fall under these two main laws:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
As I see it, God has called us to do good to God, and do good to those around us. If anything we do is harmful to God or harmful to those around us, then it is a sin. Loving another human is neither harmful to God nor is it harmful to those around us. We are made to love each other, that is our highest call.
The above-mentioned verses which seem to forbid homosexuality, when put in the context of these two commandments, can be seen for what they really are.
The verses forbidding rape are given because rape is degrading and harmful to others—you are not treating you neighbor as you would want to be treated.
The verses forbidding temple prostitution and sexual over-indulgence are given because prostitution is degrading to yourself. God gave us our bodies, and by not respecting our own bodies and by disrespecting others is not giving God the respect deserved for creating our bodies in his image. Degrading our bodies can be seen as a huge slap in the face of God.
But loving another person, regardless of their sex, is neither degrading to our bodies nor harmful to another person. Choosing to love one person for the rest of their life, regardless of their sex, is neither disrespecting God nor harming another person. It falls under the two greatest commandments in Mark 12:30-31.
I don’t see a problem with showing love to someone else as long as it falls under the boundaries that have already been given to heterosexual relationships. If a Christian is homosexual, they need to live Godly lives and have God-centered relationships. A homosexual, just a heterosexual would, should not lust, should not have sex before marriage, should be kind and respectful to their partner, should not commit adultery, and should have Christ at the center of their relationship.
A problem which is even greater and more harmful than the question of homosexuality is how the church treats homosexuality. Homosexuals are constantly persecuted by the church. We are criticized, persecuted, and shunned by the church. If a homosexual reveals their sexuality to a Christian, we feel immediate judgment. If you believe homosexual attractions are a sin, you should never judge us for our sins because you have other sins yourself—you just have the pleasure of having sins that are more socially acceptable that ours. God has called us to love thy neighbor as yourself, not “love thy neighbor who has relatively the same, if not less, number of problem as you do and shun those who deal with issues what are not socially acceptable among your peers.” All sin is equal in the eyes of God, and what’s even more amazing is that Christ has forgiven us of our sins and has reconciled us with God! Shouldn’t you be so happy that we have come to accept Christ’s sacrifice and have repented of our sins? How the church treats homosexuality is driving us away from the church. I have gone to church my entire life and I have almost left the church so many times. But I am reminded that it is not the church who forgives me, but Christ. The church is not a place for the holy to get together and celebrate their holiness, but a place for the broken to meet and worship the God who has redeemed them.
The church has gotten so caught up in legalism that they have exploded the issue of homosexuality far beyond its bounds. Yes, these are my beliefs, and I am not trying to impress them on others, and if someone would like to sit down and have an educated conversation about my theology, I would gladly do so. We are all entitled to our own beliefs as long as they are neither blasphemous nor harmful to others. But everyone would agree that the issue of homosexuality has gotten far out of hand. I hope that this essay will help shine some light on what the LGBT Christian community feels about this subject.
A Student at Baylor University
December 4, 2013