A podcast listener named Matthew writes in to ask about same-sex attraction. He asks, “If so-called same-sex marriage is unbiblical — a truth which I, as a man struggling with same-sex desires, affirm — what am I to do with 1 Corinthians 7:8–9 when I burn with homosexual passion? Am I misunderstanding that ‘passion’? I find these lusts even more difficult to battle in light of this passage because I feel stuck.”
I am deeply thankful that Matthew is honest about his same-sex attraction, and I am thankful that he embraces the biblical truth that acting out that attraction in homosexual practices would be sinful. Therefore, as he says, he is struggling to be faithful to that conviction. That is a great and noble and God-pleasing thing, that struggle.
Not the Solution
He asks about 1 Corinthians 7:9, where Paul says, “If they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” That is true. Marriage is one possible means of governing our sexual passions. But there are two things to remember that are relevant for people who are heterosexual and people who struggle with homosexual desires.
First, marriage is not a foolproof solution to a man’s passions. We know this because of how much adultery and how much pornography use there is among married men. So, if marriage is not an option for you — heterosexual or homosexual — you are not being denied the solution to your passions. Marriage is not the solution.
You Were Washed
Here is the other thing to remember: Paul explicitly addresses men who have same-sex attractions and how they are to manage their passions. That is found in chapter 6. We often read it just to establish that homosexual behavior is sin, and we fail to see the glory of a help that is in this text. So, let me read 1 Corinthians 6:9–10: “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.” In other words, if you say, “I am a greedy person and that is the way I was born, and I will embrace greediness as a good thing,” you will perish. Don’t think that any particular sin is being picked on here. These are sins which, if you love them, cherish them, pursue them, live in them, they will destroy you — not just homosexuality or fornication.
Now, here is the next verse. This is the crucial one: “And such were some of you” — you who practiced homosexuality, such were some of you — “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Those words are massively important for those who struggle with same-sex attraction and aim to be pure and holy in their lives. You practiced homosexuality. You were that, and you are no longer. What happened? You embraced the name of Jesus as the banner over your life. You submitted to him and put your faith in him, and his blood cleansed you from all sins. You are washed. You are declared righteous. You are sanctified. And then, Paul specifically says that this sanctifying, powerful influence was by the Spirit of our God. So, there is the practical, daily key. The power is the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit Power
First, you know you are accepted, declared forgiven, cleansed, righteous, and clean. Then, day by day, you trust God’s promise to help you. By this promise, the Holy Spirit comes in power and helps you resist temptation. You put to death the deeds of the body, as it says in Romans 8:13, by the Spirit — relying upon the Spirit, calling upon the Spirit, living in the Spirit. It is not in you. It is in him. God supplies the Spirit to you, as it says in Galatians 3:5. God supplies the Spirit to work these miracles by hearing with faith. You hear the promise. You hear the gospel promise and you believe it, and you bank on it, and in and through that promise and that faith, the Holy Spirit comes. He comes by making the promise of God’s person and God’s help and God’s reward more precious to you than the power of the temptation you are facing, and thus you are able to kill it.
Don’t assume marriage couldn’t be God’s call on your life. I am talking to a person with same-sex attraction. Until marriage to the opposite sex is your calling, bank on the precious work of Christ to secure every promise for you and to supply the mighty Holy Spirit to help you live a pure and useful life without sexual sin.