“Why is homosexuality a sin?” This question was posed to Pastor John Piper back in 2010.
Every sin offends God on multiple levels. We should avoid sin for reasons corresponding to those levels. The simplest reason sin is wrong is because the Bible says so. We should always start there and go deeper if we can. Romans 1:24–29 clearly pronounces homosexual behavior wrong. In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Paul lists homosexuality along with greed and covetousness and other sins. It is not unique in itself. Those who do such things will not enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, if you know it is wrong and you say, “I don’t care that it is wrong. I don’t care what God says. I am going to do that thing,” then your attitude indicates that you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
That is the first answer. The authority of the Bible lets us say, “That is wrong, because the Bible says so. Don’t do it.” But the question “Why would the Bible say that?” is also multilayered.
First, from the beginning the Bible presents a man and a woman becoming one flesh. God created us to express sexuality that way. Sexuality is God’s idea, so we should learn about it from God. God tells us he created men and women in beautifully complementary ways so that they form one flesh. Second, trying to do it another way distorts God’s creation. It corrupts. It abuses the way God made sex.
“When you exchange the glory of God for idols, your main idol is yourself.”
Third, as I reflect on Romans 1 and the way Paul unpacks the problem with homosexuality, it appears Paul is saying something like this: “When you exchange the glory of God for idols, your main idol is yourself” (see Romans 1:23). You are your own idol.
What sex are you? Your sex is your “sex self.” I am male. If you are a woman watching this, you are female. Paul seems to say that when we exchange God for our most cherished idol (usually self), we are prone to fall in love with the same sex. So, same-sex attraction is a form of idolatry. Now, other kinds exist. Don’t hear me saying that homosexual temptations are the only way self-idolatry emerges. But go to Romans 1:24–29 and think through it yourself. Ask how verse 23 (exchanging God for created things) relates to verse 26 (exchanging the natural for the unnatural). Paul uses the same word, exchange, right through that passage.
The deepest reason I have ever hit upon for why God disapproves of this is not that the Bible says don’t do it, not that God created male and female, but that, deep down, same-sex relationships involve a very profound kind of idolatry. I am sure there are other reasons why it is bad for us. God calls us not to do it because he loves us.
Before I turn away from that question, let me say to those of you who struggle with this that this is not hard for me to empathize with or imagine. I don’t want those of you wrestling with this to feel it is the worst thing imaginable. I don’t feel that way. If you say, “My heart is broken and I weep, because for reasons I don’t understand I am broken in my sexuality,” then know that there is hope for your future.
“It isn’t sin to be broken. It is the result of sin to be broken.”
You can choose to turn your brokenness into sin. It isn’t sin to be broken. It is the result of sin to be broken. But just to be that way, to feel that way, is no more sin than my feeling heterosexual. I have the choice to make my heterosexuality sin or to make it holy. A person who wrestles with homosexual temptations has the same choice. They may sin with them or be chaste and seek to overcome them and move toward something more God-appointed.
Don’t hear me isolating homosexuality as the worst of all sins. It is part of a brokenness that I share. I think John Piper’s personality is broken. I could give you specifics: they have to do with anger. They have to do with self-pity. I am just wired to like certain sins a lot. I think it is partly genetic. I saw it in my grandmother and my mother. I think it is partly family-based, but it is also just me. I am broken. I can choose to let that brokenness govern me and become sins, or I can choose to say, “I will deal with the brokenness I have. I will try to steer my way through my brokenness to do as much good for others and avoid as much sin as I can.”