Sexuality and Gender

Does God Punish Gay People for Being Who They Are?

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 02/02/2012

Here's today's challenge: "If God made people gay and they don’t have a choice in the matter because they were born with that orientation, then isn’t it unfair that He punishes them for just being who they are?"

I have to agree with pro-gay advocates on this one. Homosexuals are born with an orientation. And it is genetic. This leads to desires that not only feel natural, but are considered sinful by God when acted upon.

But it’s not a sexual orientation. It’s a sinful orientation. The Bible calls it a sin nature. And everyone is born with it—not just homosexuals.

I was born with that orientation too. As early as I can remember, I always felt that way. It felt natural for me to lie to get myself out of trouble. It seemed normal for me to fantasize about having promiscuous sex with girls. It was easy to think of myself first and others later.

So homosexuals aren’t unique. They’re not the only ones who get to complain they have a proclivity towards behaviors that God deems immoral. It will never be right for me to lie, sleep around, or act selfish. And alcoholics, some of whom are born with a genetic predisposition towards heavy drinking, don’t get off the hook either. Every person on the planet is faced with the choice to act morally despite being born with an orientation to do wrong.

Although we’re born that way, it’s not because of God. It’s a genetic problem that we inherited from our ancestors. So God is the wrong person to blame.

But even though we’re all born that way, God doesn’t punish us for being who we are. We’re punished for our behavior—for acting on our natural orientation. The Bible doesn’t condemn people for experiencing same-sex attractions. It prohibits homosexual behavior. It’s irrelevant whether you feel you’re born that way, you experiment with homosexual sex, or you’re stuck in a prison with no heterosexual outlet. It’s your conduct that matters.

So homosexuals aren’t faced with a unique situation that’s unfair. Everyone is born with an orientation to sin. And it’s a deep, ingrained tendency that’s impossible to resist. It doesn’t go away with therapy or medication. You can’t pray away the orientation.

But God doesn’t leave us helpless. Although He punishes sinful acts—even ones we’re born with a proclivity to commit—He also helps us in two ways. He grants us a pardon and gives us power.

The first is a pardon for our bad behavior. He offers someone else to pay the penalty for our moral crimes. We can accept the pardon and go free or pay the penalty ourselves. It’s our choice. That means a man can live a lifetime of homosexual behavior and still be acquitted. That’s a great offer given God isn’t even responsible for our sinful desires.

The second is power to overcome our proclivity to sin. He does this by replacing our old orientation with a new one. It doesn’t guarantee we’ll have perfect desires (we’ll still experience external temptations and have internal patterns of thought that we’ve habituated), but it does give us the strength to resist them. Many people who have experienced same-sex attractions have also experienced this new power.

These two offers are great, but we have to agree with the stipulations. Since God’s laws have been violated, He decides the terms of the contract. Although the pardon and power are free, they require action on our part. In exchange for our acquittal and a new orientation, God asks for a lifetime of allegiance.

Like living under a monarchy, we become subjects of the King. Except unlike previous kings, Jesus of Nazareth doesn’t just sit on a throne and rule. He also takes our place when the guilty verdict is rendered and the penalty is served. That’s why He deserves our allegiance.

Granted, it’s no small commitment. But given the alternative, it’s understandable why billions of people throughout history have taken God up on His offer of grace. That offer is good for anyone with any orientation.

This post is part of a series responding to common challenges on the topic of homosexuality. You can read the first two posts here and here.