The Myth of Sexual Orientation

We should not uncritically accept and embrace an anti-biblical and secular concept of sexual orientation.

Why would a child of God who has been justified by the blood and righteousness of Christ alone, adopted into God’s family, and freed from slavery to sin by the powerful regenerating work of God in their life fight to apply such an abominable label, homosexual, to themselves? Our Lord bled and died not only to forgive people of the sin of homosexuality but also to liberate them from its enslaving power.

 

In an excellent lecture on homosexuality still available from Ligonier Ministries from long ago, the late Dr. R. C. Sproul said:

First of all, to deal with the homosexual is one of the most difficult problems we have to deal with. It would be so much easier for all concerned to just ignore the problem and say to people and to the world and to the homosexual, “Look, it’s ok. It’s alright. You’re just left-handed. It’s fine.” For me to do that is to commit perjury to the Word of God. … The problem is that so many have bought the myth that they are intrinsically homosexuals … and they have no hope of changing. They’ve been listening to a society that tells them they are sick and there is no cure for their disease. … That is telling them, in effect, “there is no hope.” There is no transforming power available to change my nature. … What we must do in order to help them is begin with this fundamental thesis: Biologically, essentially, and intrinsically, there is no such thing as a homosexual. Let me say that again. Biologically, essentially, and intrinsically, there is no such thing as a homosexual.

The surest way to guarantee you will lose a debate is to allow your opponent to define the terms, parameters, and worldview that will lie beneath your conversation. If we let them do this, our opponents will have won the argument before it even starts. While they pretend to be neutral, they are not. While they tell us to be open-minded, they are not.

In what TE Greg Johnson is calling a “war,” a thoroughly anti-biblical and secular concept has been snuck into the debate under the radar. If left unchallenged this concept will render the debate unwinnable for those who love God’s Word and the gospel and who long to see people liberated from homosexuality.

This secular concept is assumed, never argued for. It is taken for granted, never demonstrated. This anti-biblical and secular concept is sexual orientation. Until this is understood by both sides of the debate, we will continue to talk past one another.

What is sexual orientation? Sexual Orientation is a concept that was invented by the American Psychological Association in 1975. It means: “An enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to men, women or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions.”[1]

Sexual Orientation is part of what Nate Collins in his book All But Invisible calls our “First Creation” which is not sinful.[2] Being a fixed an unchangeable part of our persons, this concept of sexual orientation implies that there are gender and sexual “minorities” who are identified by non-straight sexual orientations and/or transgender identities. Repentance is not possible from non-straight sexual orientations and transgender identities nor is repentance necessary since neither are sinful. There ought to be no shame associated with non-straight orientations and transgender identity because both are part of one’s “first creation.” One simply discovers or becomes aware of their orientation or gender identity: straight, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, cisgender, etc.

This leads to a second thoroughly anti-biblical and secular concept, that of “coming out.” If sexual orientation and gender identity are fixed parts of one’s person, then at the point one discovers such, one might be inclined to make known to the world around them what their sexual orientation or gender identity is. Coming out is making one’s sexual orientation and gender identity known publicly. This is what TE Greg Johnson did in Christianity Today, from his pulpit, and on the floor of the General Assembly of the PCA.

Oscar Martinez from The Office. Ross’s ex-wife from Friends. The show Will and Grace. The movie Brokeback Mountain. This list could be multiplied for pages and pages. Every form of media in our culture for the past many decades has assumed the validity of the concept of sexual orientation as a fixed category of personhood. The news assumes it. Entertainment assumes it. Movies assume it. Documentaries assume it. Everyone assumes it. Therein is the problem. It is assumed, never substantiated. It is taken for granted, never argued for. The media blitz has been relentless. Even ministers of the gospel have uncritically adopted the concept of sexual orientation as defined by secularists.

TE Johnson betrays how deeply he himself has imbibed from the secular conception of sexual orientation when, on the floor of the General Assembly, he made the following comments: “When I read article 7 of the Nashville Statement, it hurts. Because article 7 says that it is a sin to adopt a homosexual self-conception. And we don’t do that for any other people. … We don’t tell paraplegics that they should conceive of themselves as able-bodied because that is God’s ideal.”

It is remarkable that we have to pause here to point out there is no parallel of any kind between a physical handicap and homosexual perversion. We don’t tell people to repent of being blind or deaf or crippled because none of those things are sins. We do and we must tell people to repent of homosexuality because it is a sin. If we do not, we are committing perjury against God and are not being faithful ministers of the gospel.

TE Johnson then says, “We don’t tell an infertile woman that she needs to conceive of herself as fertile and she’s unbelieving to conceive of herself as infertile because that’s not God’s design.” Physical maladies, conditions, and handicaps are not sinful. What could be more obvious? But for TE Johnson, having thoroughly embraced the secular concept of sexual orientation, he puts it in the same category as being born with a physical handicap. Do you see how powerful this concept is and why it must be challenged biblically?

TE Johnson does not like article 7 of the Nashville Statement. It reads as follows:

We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

TE Johnson says adopting this “hurts him.” He wants to adopt the self-conception of “homosexual.” Having an ongoing struggle with same sex attraction or gender dysphoria is nothing close to adopting the self-conception as a homosexual. What a strange thing to fight for. Why would a child of God who has been justified by the blood and righteousness of Christ alone, adopted into God’s family, and freed from slavery to sin by the powerful regenerating work of God in their life fight to apply such an abominable label, homosexual, to themselves? Our Lord bled and died not only to forgive people of the sin of homosexuality but also to liberate them from its enslaving power. For example:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  (Romans 6:1-2).

For sin shall not have dominion over you… (Romans 6:14).

And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18).

Why would a Christian, a minister of the gospel no less, fight to protect his supposed right to adopt a self-conception as a homosexual when according to Scripture that abominable sin is something he no longer lives in, it does not have dominion over him, and it is a vice from which he has been set free by the grace of God? For the many former homosexuals in Corinth such would surely have made no sense (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

God’s Word knows nothing of the secular concept of sexual orientation. Dr. Sproul saw this clearly many decades ago. This is why he was so emphatic in stating “The problem is that so many have bought the myth that they are intrinsically homosexuals … and they have no hope of changing. They’ve been listening to a society that tells them they are sick and there is no cure for their disease. … What we must do in order to help them is begin with this fundamental thesis: Biologically, essentially, and intrinsically, there is no such thing as a homosexual. Let me say that again. Biologically, essentially, and intrinsically, there is no such thing as a homosexual.” If we have a heart to help individuals for whom unwanted homosexual desires are an ongoing problem, we must take them to Scripture and protect them from such destructive anti-biblical concepts as sexual orientation.

In the debates over homosexuality, the Bible, the church, and the Christian faith, those in favor of same-sex marriage and of affirming God’s blessing upon homosexuality in general speak quite frequently of “the gay community,” or “the LGBTQ community.” This is a subtle and often undetected Trojan horse which enters into these discussions. Christians must object to the use of such terminology. There is no “gay community.” Human beings cannot be defined by a particular sin. How are we to handle the person who says, as Matthew Vines does, “same-sex attraction is completely natural to me,” and further tells us that this sexual orientation is something he was born with and which cannot be changed? We stand upon the authority of the text of God’s Word. We say to such people: There is no “gay community.” There are no “gay people.” Your same-sex attraction is sinful and must be stopped. God creates males and females. The genders (and there are only 2 of them) are designed as compliments to one another. Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” The word translated “comparable” is the Hebrew word: negeth. It refers to an opposite of correspondence. When it comes to sexuality, the Biblical worldview is clear: Men are created to be married to one woman and to have sexual intercourse with one woman, and vice-versa. The fact that individuals sometimes experience same-sex attraction is due to the same cause of the desire to commit adultery, idolatry, theft, envy, coveting, and murder. There is no concept of sexual orientation in Scripture. That which is out of accord with God’s creation order design of the two genders is sinful and must be fought against.

TE Johnson was interviewed on a podcast called “Crosspolitic,” which can be viewed in its entirety here. I do not approve of the way the hosts treated TE Johnson. It was rude and embarrassing. However, if you go to the timestamp 50:40, TE Johnson says the following:

What I’m hearing is you judging brothers for not repenting of something that can’t be repented of. You can resist it. But you’re assuming it’s volitional. … You can’t repent of an attraction. You can repent of a lust because that’s a choice.

This is perfectly consistent with TE Johnson’s most recent comments on the floor of the General Assembly of the PCA. His sexual orientation is likened to physical handicaps and infertility. He believes he can no more repent of being a homosexual than an infertile woman can repent of being infertile. What’s behind all of this? An uncritical embracing and using of the anti-biblical and secular concept of sexual orientation. There is no such thing as sexual orientation as a category of personhood. If the church does not understand this all important concept, the debate is already lost. In fact, I fear that the damage is already done as the concept is almost never challenged at all.

Patrick Hines is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Bridwell Heights PCA in Kingsport, Tenn.

[1] https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf, 1.

[2] “As we’ve already seen, it isn’t sin merely to experience an internal pull to someone of the same gender, so it would be an overly simplistic response to say, ‘No, I won’t be gay in heaven because there is no sin in heaven.’ One of my main arguments in this book is that being gay (understood as an aesthetic orientation) is not sinful in itself, so it might seem that a correct response would be, ‘Yes, I will still be gay in heaven.’ But I don’t think this is an adequate answer, because the gay identity is a first-creation identity.”  Collins, Nate. All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality (p. 313). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.