Who Am I . . . When I Am Same-Sex Attracted?

Who Am I . . . When I Am Same-Sex Attracted?

Psalm 139:13-18; Genesis 2:4-25

For the sake of clarity, what I mean by “Same-sex Attracted” is anyone who identifies in the LGBTQ community.  LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning.  What I do not include in the category of “Same-sex Attracted” are the 1in1500 humans born every year with intersex conditions that include both the anatomy of a male and a female in varying degrees. 

This sermon is probably one of the more difficult that I have ever prepared as a pastor, and it is not because I am unsure of what the Bible says about the subject, but because of the pain many in the LGBTQ community have experienced or are currently experiencing primarily do to being dehumanized by other communities… particularly by those who belong to the Christian Church.  Let me share with you some statistics that I have learned so far about how the LGBTQ community is suffering:

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 10 to 24; same-sex attracted youth are three times more likely to contemplate suicide then heterosexual youth.
  • Same-sex attracted youth who felt rejected by their family because of their perceived sexual orientation are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide then those who felt accepted by their family members.
  • 83% of the LBGTQ community were raised in the Church.
  • 51% have left the Church
  • And only 3% of those who left the church, left for theological reasons.

Same-sex attraction, or gender identity, is something that has caused youth and adults more pain and trauma then it has created a sense of well-being and wholeness, and instead of the Church helping, it has contributed to the pain and trauma.  There is a genuine sense of loss and suffering that many same-sex attracted people have experienced and/or continue to experience because of the Church. 

I also want to be transparent regarding where I am on the debate between the view that those in the LGBTQ community are born same-sex attracted and those who believe that the culture, circumstances, and/or past trauma shapes a person’s same-sex attraction.  I am not sure a person is born same-sex attracted or not; some call this nature vs nurture.  In fact, I think the whole nature vs nurture argument is not all that relevant in answering the question of what it means to be a human being.  The fact is that there is no real consensus among scientists and doctors for why some people are heterosexual and fewer identify as being LGBTQ.  In fact, the official statement of the American Psychological Association is the following:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.[1]

In preparing for this sermon, I have listened to eight different stories of individuals who were fully engaged in sexually active same-sex relationships; five are no longer sexually active, two are now married to a person of a different gender, and one still remains sexually active in same-sex relationships.  As far as interacting and learning from those who are same sex attracted, I still have much to learn and I certainly need to do a better job loving and listening to those in the LGBTQ community.  

To answer the question: “Who am I when I am same sex attracted?” We have to answer three questions: (1) What is marriage, (2) What does it mean to be a human being, and (3) how can human beings flourish? I will answer the first question today with some concluding thoughts then answer the two remaining questions in the next two weeks.

What is Marriage?

There are a number of passages that we can spend our time in this morning, passages that some have labeled the “prohibition passages” regarding same-sex relationships that are sexual in nature.  The scripture passage I want us to spend most of our time on is not necessarily a prohibition statement against same-sex relationships as it is on the purpose and design of marriage that human sexuality was intended to be experienced and flourish within.  I am convinced that how you answer the question of what marriage is will shape your understanding of same-sex relationships and those who are same sex attracted or suffer from gender dysphoria.[2]

We are told in Genesis 1 of how God created all things.  There are three explanations for how it is that we all came to be; the first is a generic statement, the second is a more detailed explanation, and the third is a more detailed look at the creation of man and woman:

  1. In Genesis 1:1-2, we are told that God created the heavens and the earth.
  2. In Genesis 1:3-2:3, we are told in what order God created all things.
  3. In Genesis 2:4-25, we are given the details of the creation of man and woman.

When we read Genesis 1, we are informed that God created the day to separate the darkness and that there was morning and night on the first day.  Then we are told that God separated heaven and the earth on the second day.  And on the third day, God separated the land from the sea.  After God created the plants, trees, vegetation, and the rest of the creatures on the fourth and fifth days, he created both male and female on the sixth day as the climax of his creation: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).   Do not miss the significance of the complementarian nature of creation: morning complements evening, the earth complements the heavens, and the land complements the sea.  There is order and unity in a diverse creation that includes male and female who are the same but also uniquely different. 

We are told that what sets the man and woman apart from the rest of creation is their role to do two things: To create and fill the earth with people like themselves and to manage creation as the only creature who bears the image of the Creator.  I have said this in previous sermons and spend at least an hour and a half unpacking Genesis 1-2 in my The Missio Dei course that I teach  every year: The purpose of Adam and Eve on Earth was three-fold: Worship God, fill the earth with worshipers of Yahweh, and manage creation on behalf of God.  Understanding the purpose of mankind in light of Genesis 1 is so important in answering the question of the place same-sex attraction has in human flourishing and purpose. 

The second and what I believe to be an unavoidable statement on the design of marriage and human flourishing is found Genesis 2:18-25, which states the following:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Notice what God says of man in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  The word that is used to describe a helper like the one God provided to Adam through Eve is the word that the ESV translates “fit” and the NIV translates “suitable.”  It is the Hebrew word kenegdo.  It is a Hebrew compound word made up of ke, which means “like” or “as” and neged means “opposite” or “against.”  The Hebrew word, kenegdo, is only used twice in the whole Bible, and the two places it is used is in Genesis 2:18 and 2:20.  In other words, the helper God made from Adam’s side, who would help him fill and manage the earth as his wife, was one who was “like” him but sexually opposite of him.”  Their differentness has to do with Adam’s maleness and Eve’s femaleness that together allows them to become, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…” (v. 23).

Preston Sprinkle, who is a biblical scholar, a professor at Eternity Bible College, and the president of The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, wrote the following observation about Genesis 2:18,

If it were simply Eve’s humanness that made her a helper, then the word ke (“like”) would have been just fine.  The verse would then read: “I will make a helper like (ke) him.”  But to make the point that Adam needed not just another human, but a different sort of human—a female—God used the word kenegdo.  This word potentially conveys both similarity (ke) and dissimilarity (neged).  Eve is a human and not an animal, which is why she is ke (“like”) Adam.  But she’s also female and not a male, which is why she is different than Adam, or neged (“opposite him”).[3]

There are three things, by design, that are necessary for marriage according to Genesis 2:18-25 observed by Sprinkle that I believe is near impossible to explain away: (1) Both partners must be human, (2) both partners come from different families (v. 24), and (3) both partners display sexual difference.[4]  David White, in his book, God, You, and Sex, also notes from the deliberate use of the Hebrew word kenegdo the following: “God’s intention at creation was complementary partners, uniquely crafted to be fitted to one other.  Although this applies to physical, sexual differentiation… this ‘fittedness’ transcends our physicality.  The unique complementarity of male and female is further expressed through the emotional and spiritual oneness fostered in marriage.”[5]

When it comes to the nature and institution of marriage, Genesis 2:24 is, according to Sprinkle, “the John 3:16 of marriage verses” for it is the “go to” scripture passage as the standard of marriage in both the Old and New Testaments.  When Jesus was asked about the legitimacy of divorce, he quoted Genesis 2 as the standard and that the only legitimate reason for divorce was that if the spouse broke covenant by committing adultery.  This is also one of the fundamental reasons why every any form of sexual expression outside of the context of a marriage between a man and a woman is sin and prohibited.  Every time the Bible talks about same-sex sexual relations, it always prohibits them (see Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-10). 

One other important thing I want to point out regarding marriage is: All of the different expressions of the Christian/Judeo world view that includes Protestant, Catholic, Easter Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Christians all around the world have been in agreement for more than 2000 years that Genesis 2:18-25 is describing the institution of marriage as a covenantal union between two human beings who are alike, but different in that they are sex-different as male and female.  The only way we will be able to answer the question: “Who am I when I am same sex attracted?” Is to first answer what is marriage.  That is what I have tried to do with our time this morning. 

What I do not want to do, is leave those of you who are same sex attracted or those who know someone who is in the LGBTQ community, without any hope or help. 

Conclusion

Now here is what I want to say to set up the next two weeks where I promise that I will do everything I can to answer what questions you may have, provide you with help to navigate through the complexity of the LGBTQ conversation as a follower of Jesus, and to provide a pathway for how we as the Church can become a safe place where anyone in the LGBTQ community can come to be heard, loved, and helped. 

The immediate context of Genesis 2 is a story about the first husband and wife relationship, but it is not just a story about marriage, it is a story about our need for community where God is worshiped, we can love one another, and we can steward creation together.  Human flourishing is not predicated on a sexual experience or intimacy; human flourishing is experienced through loving God and loving others in community.

Listen, what makes you: “you,” is not who you are attracted to—regardless if it is with someone of the opposite or same sex.  There is no other person on planet earth who will ever complete you regardless of what some sappy line says in a certain movie!  What makes you, “you” is that you were formed, knitted, and crafted by the God of the universe while in the womb of your mother.  What that means is that nothing was hidden from God regarding your DNA and the uniqueness that is you.  Everything about your person was intricately woven together by a God who loves you regardless of your past or present circumstances. 

The world will tell you that your worth is in who you identify as, but God shouts from Genesis 2, John 3:16, and ever page from the Bible that your worth is not in who you think you identify as, but in your identity as one “fearfully and wonderfully” made in the image of your Creator.  Listen carefully; I promise you that in the next several weeks, we are going to unpack what I am about to say.  Your identity is not found in your heterosexuality nor is your identity found in the LGBTQ+ community or your same sex attraction.  Your identity can only be found in what it means to be a human made in the image of God and designed to thrive in and through a relationship with that God.  Genetically, you are a male or female who bears the image of God as a unique human being with purpose. 

Finally, and this is what I want you to hear loud and clear regardless of where you stand on the issues related to sexual identity,  you are a person—nothing less and nothing more.  I want you to know that if you have felt dehumanized because of what or who you think you are, I am so sorry for the way you have been treated.  I want you to hear the voice of a God who loves you more than you can ever imagine.  I want you to hear what he says about you and I want your heart to soar as you leave Meadowbrooke this morning: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11).


[1] “Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality,” American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation

[2] The distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.

[3] Preston Sprinkle, People to Be Loved (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), p. 32.

[4] Ibid, p. 33.

[5] David White, God, You, & Sex (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2019), pp. 16-17.