Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Why is homosexuality a sin? This question was posed to Pastor John Piper back in 2010. This is what he had to say:

With every sin there are multiple levels of why it is offensive to God and to be avoided. The simplest is clearly to say the Bible says it is. And we should start there and if we can go deeper, that is good. I think it is implied clearly, spoken clearly in Romans 1:24 to 29 that it is wrong and to be avoided. And I think Paul in 1 Corinthians six verses nine to 10 lists a very unusual phrase about homosexuality where he says those who do such things—and he lists it along with greed and covetousness and other sins. It is not unique by itself in itself. Those who do such things will not enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words if you know that 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. That is an indication that you are not going into the kingdom of heaven.

Now, that is just it is wrong, don’t do it authority answer. The question—why would the Bible say that?—is also multi layered.

Number one, the Bible sets up at the beginning a man and a woman become one flesh. And that is God’s way of doing sexuality. Sexuality is God’s idea. And we should learn from God what it is. And it is a man and a woman created in beautifully complementary ways so that they form one flesh. And to try to do it another way is a distortion. It is a corruption. It is a dysfunction of the way God made it. That is number two. Number three and this is probably the only other one I will give is that as I reflect on Romans one and the way Paul unpacks the problem with homosexuality, it appears to me that Paul is saying something like this. When you exchange the glory of God for idols the main one that you exchange the glory of God for is yourself. The idol that you have is yourself.

Well, what sex is yourself? Your sex is your sex self. My self is male. If you are a woman watching this, your sex is female. And he seems to draw out the fact that in exchanging God for our most cherished idol which is usually self, we are prone to fall in love with the same sex. So, implication, same sex attraction is a dysfunctional form of idolatry. Now there are other kinds. Don’t hear me saying that homosexual temptations are the only way that kind of self idolatry emerges, but I think if you go to Romans 1:24 to 29 and just think that through yourself. Ask how verse 23, the exchange of God for created things, relates to the exchange. They exchange the nature for the unnatural. These same words exchange are used right through that passage. And so the deepest thing I have ever hit upon for why God would disapprove of this is not just that the Bible says don’t do it, not just that God created male and female, but deep down there is a kind of idolatry involved in same sex relationships that is very profound. And I am sure there are other reasons why it is bad for us. And God loves us and so he calls us not to do it.

So before I turn away from that question, let me say to those of you who struggle with this, this is not hard for me to empathize with or imagine. I just ... I don’t want those of you who are wrestling with this to feel like, oh, this is just the worst possible thing imaginable. I don’t feel that way. What I feel is if you set your face to say: My heart is broken and I am weeping, that for reasons I don’t understand I am broken in my sexuality. I am broken. I wish I weren’t. I can choose to turn my brokenness into sin. So I don’t think it is sin to be broken. It is the result of sin to be broken, but to just be that way, to feel this way, I don’t think is any more sin than my feeling heterosexual. It is unnatural. It is broken, but now I have the choice with my heterosexuality to make it sin or to make it holy. A person who wrestles with homosexual temptations, desires has the same choice, to sin with it or to be chaste and to seek to overcome and to move into something more God appointed.

So don’t hear me isolating it as the worst of all sins. It is part of a brokenness that I share. I think John Piper’s personality is broken. I can give you specifics, but they would have to do with anger. They would 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 and it is just me. I am broken. So I can choose to let that brokenness govern me and turn it into sins or I can choose to say: I am going to deal with what the brokenness I have and try to steer my way through my brokenness to do as much good for others and to avoid as much sin as I can.

That was Pastor John Piper speaking back in 2010. Thank you for listening to the podcast. Pastor John is back home from the Middle East and we will be back shortly with all new episodes, so please continue emailing your questions to us at askpastorjohn AT desiringgod DOT org. … I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening.