Is homosexuality the act or the desire?

Last updated on September 17, 2020


Please define “homosexuality” as a sin. Personally I don’t believe that homosexuality is genetic. Nobody is born knowing what a male or a female looks like. However, I don’t believe that sexual orientation is a choice either. It’s the same way that liking chocolate is not in your control, but whether you eat it or not is. I think sexual orientation may be developed because of environmental and social stigma. However, is the homosexual orientation the sin? Or is it the homosexual acts that are sinful? Take note that the former is not my choice. I have three close friends who are closet gays and they hate being such.


Homosexuality is when a person engages in sex with another person of the same gender. It refers to the act of sex and not attraction or lust. Therefore we are referring to sexually lewd touching, mutual masturbation, oral sex, or anal sex people of the same gender.

One of the sad things that have happened in our world is that it has become popular to declare that the mere attraction means a person is homosexual.

James details the process of sin in this fashion: “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). The steps are:

  1. Desires: Each of us is born with a normal, natural set of desires. The physical desires are the consequence of the operation of our bodies. We also have spiritual desires, such as not wanting to be alone, wanting to be liked by others, or wanting something pretty.
  2. Temptation: Satan tries to place us in situations where it appears that the satisfaction of a desire will require the breaking of a law of God. Temptation is the forcing of a choice to be made: either to break a law of God and satisfy a desire or to forgo satisfaction in order to keep God’s law.
  3. Lust (desire conceived): When a person mentally consents that breaking a law of God is worth satisfying the desire, then the person has moved into the realm of lust. This is when the person justifies to himself that breaking God’s law can be excused, at least in some situations.
  4. Sin: This is when a person seizes an opportunity and actually breaks God’s law.
  5. Licentiousness (sin full-grown): Sin is rarely done just once. The excuses to sin come fast, such as “I’ve done it once, doing it again isn’t going to make much difference.” Eventually, the person becomes calloused to sin and no longer feels guilty about what he is doing. He doesn’t care what other people think. He may even convince himself that he has the right to sin. (Licentiousness means thinking you have a license to sin.)
  6. Death: A person fully convinced that he ought to sin and doesn’t care what even God thinks about his actions won’t be persuaded out of his sin. Since he won’t leave his sin, he will die in his sin.

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 this is 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.

To map to this to homosexuality, everyone has a desire for sex — it is neither right nor wrong. Temptation is when you get sexually aroused and the thought crosses your mind that you really want to drop your pants. Lust is when you start justifying it in your head that doing it in this particular situation wouldn’t be so bad, such as telling yourself that the other guy wants it or that won’t cause any harm because there is no chance of pregnancy. Sin is when you actually strip down and have sex. Licentiousness is when you think that it is your right to have sex with guys. And from there it is a short step to spiritual death.

Finding the male body or a particular male sexy is temptation. It is what you see as attractive and it can come from a variety of sources and for a variety of reasons. People are convinced that because they get erect from seeing another male or when they are around males that this means they have to have sex with males, but the very notion is false. I’ve known guys who get aroused by certain smells or by certain objects. It is really a matter of what concept that a particular person has connected to sex.

Temptation is not a sin. Let me prove my point:

  • Jesus was without sin. “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (I John 3:5).
  • Jesus was tempted. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
  • Therefore, being tempted is not sinful.

Just because a guy finds some other guy sexy or sexually attractive, it doesn’t follow that he should have sex with a guy. In the same way, just because a guy finds some girl sexually attractive, it doesn’t follow that he needs to get naked with her in bed. One always has the option to refuse temptation. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).

A second false notion is that just because one concept gets you sexually excited that this is the only way you can have sex. The human body is not built that way. Anyone with the knowledge of the arousal points on a male body can get you aroused, cause you to orgasm, and make you ejaculate. The gender of the person doesn’t make a difference. Technically, your cooperation is not needed, though it makes it easier to accomplish. That is because the sexual response of the human body is fixed by design. Who you have sex with and when you have sex is your personal choice. Some of those options are sinful, such as doing it with someone of the same gender or doing it outside of marriage.