If Homosexuality is Genetic Then How Can it be Sin?

by Max Andrews

There are primarily six passages in the Bible that concern the issue of homosexuality.  In Leviticus 18.22 it says that it is an  abomination for a man to lie with another man as with a woman. In Lev. 20.13 the death penalty is prescribed in  Israel for such an act, along with adultery, incest, and bestiality. In Gen. 19 Sodom is destroyed for their homosexuality and wickedness.

In I Cor. 6.9-10 Paul writes, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice  homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.”  The words in the list translated “men who practice homosexuality” refer in Greek literature to the passive and  the active partners in male homosexual intercourse.  In I Tim. 1.10 along with fornicators, slave  traders, liars, and murderers as “contrary to the sound teaching of the Gospel.” In Rom. 1.24-28 Paul states,

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the  dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth  about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the  Creator, who is blessed forever!  Amen.

For this reason God gave them up  to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged natural relations for those  that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with  women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless  acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

These are all commandments against homosexuality.  However, I think the strongest passage concerning sexual practice is Jesus’ commands concerning marriage.  Mark 10.6-8 says,

“From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason  a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh. Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

απο δε αρχης κτισεως αρσεν και θηλυ εποιησεν αυτους 7 ενεκεν τουτου καταλειψει ανθρωπος τον πατερα αυτου και την μητερα [και προσκολληθησεται προς την γυναικα αυτου] 8 και εσονται οι δυο εις σαρκα μιαν ωστε ουκετι εισιν δυο αλλα μια σαρξ

This is a positive command for man to be with woman. The whole narrative of the creation of man and woman [and marriage] in Genesis 1-2 depict God’s plan for marriage.  For man and man to be one flesh would be contrary to God’s command.  These are by no means exegeses of these passages. (For more on Old Testament law and how to understand it please see my exegesis of Lev. 19.26-28.)  I think it’s quite clear the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin.  One must distort the text and perform fallacious exegetical gymnastics to get around this.

The question/problem is raised when this becomes a genetic trait. If God allowed for the homosexual gene to pass to any one person how said person can be responsible for their own genetics? It’s like me being held in condemnation because I have blond hair and blue eyes.  How is that my fault? I haven’t been following biology and chemistry as much as I should. I’ve been focusing on cosmology and physics.  I hear both sides: there is a gay gene and there isn’t a gay gene.  I would tend to believe that there is not a gay gene but I will not base my position on whether or not there is.  It could be a byproduct of genetic variation and evolution.  (Let’s be honest, I have no idea how anyone can say that homosexuality is evolutionarily advantageous… Think about it.) For the sake of continuation let’s assume that there is a gay gene.

Where does sin come from? It comes from our choices and Adam.  Our relationship to Adam is by imputed sin since he was our federal head–the representative of humanity before God. (There’s also a doctrine of inherited sin.  I haven’t seen a convincing model for how exactly inherited sin would function but that’s still a consideration.)  The argument for non-liability because of genetic homosexuality is similar to the argument for genetic alcoholism.  Sure, there are genetic predispositions to alcoholism. I think that’s pretty well established.  However, you’re not born with vodka in your hand.  It’s still one’s choice to drink.  By that choice of consuming alcohol you activate those genes to incline your need.  According to my understanding, it’s similar to the biochemical function of addiction.  What starts addiction? The choice to start the first dose of the substance.  Yes, children are unfortunately born addicted to heroin and other drugs due to the mothers’ constant use of the substance.  In that situation the child is, of course, not responsible for the addiction.  But this is different.  This is a temporary effect of the drugs and over time the biochemical need for the substance will deplete.  (Drugs and pharmaceuticals will certainly ease the transition.)  So, to compare homosexuality to this would be fallacious.  It’s a false analogy.  If one wants to say that homosexuality is a season and depletes after abstaining from the practice then I don’t see how this is an argument against liability for the sin.

Is homosexuality like race?  No.  Let’s think about this.  Can one abstain from being white?  No. Can one abstain from practicing homosexuality? Yes.  Can there be a predisposition to homosexuality? Sure.  However, what sin are we not predisposed to committing?  I believe one can be a Christian and have a homosexual orientation or attraction but I think the Bible is clear that it’s the practice of homosexuality (both mentally and physically).  Can a Christian have an orientation towards anger, jealousy, greed, or pride? Sure.  It’s the practice in the heart, mind, and body that is sin. For a good popular level paper on this please see William Lane Craig’s paper, “A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality.”

We did not choose to have imputed sin, but we have it.  Is it Adam’s fault? Well, it’s your fault.  You would have chosen to go contrary to God’s commands had you been in Adam’s place. If you deny that you’re exalting yourself. Think about it.

So, if homosexuality is genetic how can it be a sin?  We’re all born sinners whether that’s by physical action, of the heart, or of the mind.  We are held accountable for every means of sin and every means of sin breaks God’s law and are contrary to his holiness.  I believe it’s a category error to argue that genetic predispositions towards sin are not actually sinful.

13 Comments to “If Homosexuality is Genetic Then How Can it be Sin?”

  1. Nobody thinks that being a homosexual is a sin, especially if it’s genetic. And how could it not be genetic? Who chooses the types of people they’re attracted to? I know I don’t; I don’t choose to be a straight male; I just *am* a straight male. I’m sure the same goes for homosexuals.

    So, it can’t be a sin to be a homosexual. What *is* sinful, is homosexual activity. But that should be unsurprising, since *all* sin is active. We shouldn’t, as Christians, tell folks they shouldn’t be homosexuals. What we should do, instead, is help those who are homosexuals to flee from acting on their temptations. Because it’s in their so acting that they sin.

  2. The ‘genetic question’ is interesting to ponder in the perspective of the latter half of Romans 1. It has been too many years since I have studied that passage at a deep level — but your post invites me to wrestle with that progression from knowledge to ‘the practice of such things’ (which clearly involves some form of distortion of τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν). Thanks for the post.

  3. If it is genetic (which I do not think it is), one can still be held responsible for the sin. I am heterosexual, and if I act on this inappropriately it is sin. With homosexuality, just because one might have a genetic proclivity does not mean one has to act on that proclivity. I know many Christians who have homosexual urges, but remain celibate.

    It should be noted that no “gay gene” has been isolated, and the entire genome has been mapped. If it were genetic homosexuality would be on the decline due to the fact that homosexuals do not produce as many offspring as heterosexuals, but it is in fact in the increase.

    • Hey Josh,

      Your latter point is what I was referring to when I said that homosexuality is not evolutionary advantageous.

      I think your first point is precisely what I mean. I think you put it in a nice clear way.

  4. In Mark 10 Jesus says that from the begining God ordained marriage. God never ordained divorce. Moses allowed it but Jesus forbids divorce. One flesh cannot be made two. Two can become one. Divorce is sin. Remarriage is adultery.

    Divorced persons are all sinners. However loveless a marriage, or abusive, divorce is forbidden by God.

    Nobody has to choose marriage. Heterosexuals may choose chastity or marriage. Homosexuals must choose chastity. A Christian who chooses marriage must live with that choice, for better or for worse.

    Sex outside marriage is sin. Divorce is sin. Marriage is for life between one man and one woman.

    This is the Christian instruction of the bible.

  5. I have a general thought on this subject. It seems to me that most acts of evil are misdirected fundamentally good affections arising out of confusion. The homosexual or the adulterer at the root of it is probably looking for some gap in love and intimacy and therefore they search for that love and intimacy in the wrong place and in the wrong way. The reason God commands against such things is probably not because God is an arbitrary overlord, but rather because God loves humanity, and knows what is best fr us. God knows that searching out intimacy in the wrong place and the wrong way will not only harm us in this world, but it will also harm our relationship with him. Love, sex and intimacy are so complex and sacred that to trifle with them may lead a person to great destruction and death. But the Christian says, “Live!” And so does the LORD (Eze. 18:23, 32, 33:11).

  6. But, let’s give full context for Matthew, Jesus was being asked a specific question about divorce by a Pharisee. His reference to Genesis 2 does emphasize a male/ female dichotomy for marriage. But why would he mention same sex marriage or homosexuality? They simply did not exist during these times. We did not begin to understand homosexuality as an orientation or as a biological reality until the middle of the 1800’s. Before this we simply assumed that same sex urges and actions as deviancies and moral failings. In fact there were many men in ancient times where the only wrong was to be on the receiving end of male on male sexual activity, not because it was gay, but because it lowered you to the status of a woman. I have always believed that homophobia to have its deepest roots in mysogeny, or the flight from the feminen.

    Simply put, I have no problem with same sex marriage because of the seven forms of marriage the Bible references, it is closest to Genesis 2. In fact you will never find the word homosexual in a bible written Pre 1946(ish

  7. Homosexuality could be a mental illness rather than a genetic illness.

  8. homosexual is foolishness

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