Sexuality and Gender

Clarifying Biblical and Secular Reasons for Same-Sex Attraction

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 05/26/2015

I recently posted a video answering a challenge: When did you choose your heterosexuality? Someone asked a follow-up question, and I thought I’d share my response.

Here’s the question:

I listened to Alan’s challenge about not choosing to be heterosexual. What my question is. Romans 1 says that people who reject God will burn in their lust for the same sex. I don’t understand Alan’s response. He said that same sex attraction comes from early experiences from age 1 to 5. Children at that age can’t reject God because they haven’t reached the age of accountability.

So my question is, does same sex attraction come from a bad experience in early childhood, or does it come as punishment for rejecting God as Paul says in Romans?

Below was my response:

Your question is a good one. I agree with you that my answer sounds confusing in light of Romans 1. That’s my fault. Let me clarify.

In my attempt to explain the causes of same-sex attraction, I did not intend to negate the impact of sin in the world or our sin nature. The world is fallen, we are sinful, and that contributes to a huge amount of the sin we commit. Furthermore, Romans 1 tells us that homosexuality is evidence of man’s deep-seated rebellion against God and how he ordered creation (specifically humans) to function.

Now, I wouldn’t say as you have that “people who reject God will burn in their lust for the same sex,” since not every person who rejects God is a homosexual. Rather, sexual desire for the same sex is one possible symptom of rebellion towards God. But you are otherwise correct about the importance of Romans 1 in our understanding of homosexual activity that Paul observed.

Let me add an additional qualification to the video. I often answer the question of what causes same-sex attraction from both a biblical (special revelation) and scientific (general revelation) perspective. Usually, in a teaching environment, I have more time to address the challenge, but these videos are intended to be under five minutes. That’s why I left out the biblical answer. Plus, I was answering the question with the non-Christian skeptic in mind. Since such a person would not consider biblical information as authoritative, I only gave an answer based on secular research.

The secular explanation that I offered, by the way, is only one known pathway towards same-sex attraction. I believe it’s the most common, but it’s certainly not the only one. If you want more detail about developmental pathway in childhood that can contribute to same-sex attraction, I encourage you to check out my short book The Ambassador’s Guide to Understanding Homosexuality that explains it. Or, for an abridged (and free) explanation, check out my article “Nature or Nurture” (that I co-wrote with Greg Koukl) discussing one cause of same-sex attraction.

Anyway, thanks for asking your question and allowing me to clarify and explain myself.