Can Gay and Lesbian people change their orientation?

I think all of us agree that we are to love people no matter what their sexual orientation, and that all people have value before God.  At the same time, all or most of us would say that God detests homosexual acts, and that homosexual practice is the sign of a society "given over" or being abandoned by God (Romans 1:24-28).

So when a homosexual man or woman comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ, do we seek to lead them into God's will by either (1) acknowledging their same sex attraction, but leading them to celibacy or guarding the thought life, or (2) do we seek to direct them for help in changing their sexual orientation toward heterosexuality?  

Does I Corinthians 6:9-11 teach that former homosexuals had become straight or just celibate?  We have former thieves, former idolaters, but what did Paul mean by former homosexuals?

 

Or 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. And 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.

 

A few notable Southern Baptists have held the line when it comes to gay marriage and sex outside of marriage, but they have gone on record saying that sexual orientation cannot change.  Yet, an Si link linked to an organization made up of ex-gays: http://www.pfox.org/

In my own pastoral counseling experience  (limited compared to a professional counselor -- involving just 2 or 3 guys) and talking to others I know, I have not seen gay men go straight long-term, but I have found that women can become lesbians and then successful return to becoming heterosexual.  But I believe some of both genders, do, indeed change.  I certainly do not believe that anyone is born gay/lesbian.  It might be easier for some to go that way, but there is much more to it than genetics.  

What do you think?   Practice caution that you do not over-state your views and -- in an age when opposing gay marriage or saying the practice of homosexuality is sin is misinterpreted as "hate"-- be careful that you represent yourself well.

Yes, I believe repentant gays and lesbians can change their orientation about like alcoholics
34% (11 votes)
Yes, I believe they can change, but women do so much more successfully
3% (1 vote)
Yes, I believe it is possible in some cases, but unlikely; abstinence is a more realistic target
38% (12 votes)
No, it is not generally possible; exceptions are very, very rare
6% (2 votes)
No, never; those who say they have changed are lying
0% (0 votes)
I believe there are some/many on the border line; they can change easily
0% (0 votes)
Other
19% (6 votes)
Total votes: 32
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There are 20 Comments

josh p's picture

I voted other because I am not sure that "orientation" is a biblical concept. It assumes an inherent disposition that goes beyond SSA. It is clear that some people struggle with Same Sex Attraction while others do not but I think it goes a little too far to call it an orientation.

That discussion aside I believe the grace of God can overcome even the most gripping of sins (1 Cor. 6:11). One of our dearest friends is a person that battled SSA before coming to Christ. She is now delivered from that temptation and is dating a guy.

Mike Harding's picture

1 Cor 6:9 "malakoi" = "effeminate"  and "arsenokoitai" = "homosexuals".  These are two different terms, both of which Paul condemns.

Such were some of you. Once converted we no longer are what we once were. Sounds like regeneration.

Pastor Mike Harding

pvawter's picture

It does seem interesting to me that Paul includes several different things in this list from 1 Cor. 6. In the case of those who had once been thieves, for instance, Ephesians 4:28 instructs them to replace stealing with hard work, and in the case of those who were swindlers, Eph. 4:25 says they are to speak truth to their neighbors. The former drunkard is to be instead filled with the Spirit, according to Eph. 5:18, and in 2 Tim. 2:22 we are told to flee fornication and follow after a pure heart. 
In the area of SSA, just as with any other sinful practice, believers must seek to walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus. Thankfully, God's grace can transform our fleshly appetites and make us desire him above all else.

Ed Vasicek's picture

I have known a few men who were seemingly converted, turned from their homosexual practice, shared their struggles with their girlfriend before marriage and wife after, remained married for a few years and then left the wife for a man.

Since we do not usually hear about those who struggle but remain faithfully married, it is hard to gage a statistic. But I do think it is clear that this does sometimes happen, even if we cannot put a scientific percentage to it.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

dgszweda's picture

I don't like the first choice, because alcoholism cannot be cured.  Even if you have fully abandon it, the urge and ability to slip back can still happen.  Some in the medical community even believe it might be genetic.  Why can one person drink casually and others need the alcohol.  It is not just their unregentive state.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

David,

Do you believe it is genetic? What about other sins? A sex gene? A kleptomaniac gene? An arson gene? We are dangerously close to the position staked out by modern psychology that nothing is the fault of the individual. Ezekiel 18 seems to point in a different direction. I agree drunkenness is more than just the unregenerate state, since professing believers can and have had to also deal with drunkenness. It is the craving that we have indulged and fanned into consuming passions, not biology. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Joel Shaffer's picture

One of the young ladies in our church that my wife has discipled was involved in an 18 month lesbian relationship before she became a Christian. She was molested by her uncle over a long period of time, she was raped as a 14 year old, and ended up having an abortion.  So she wanted nothing to do with men, until Jesus transformed her heart and reoriented her desires.  She ended up marrying her best friend, who was a former drug dealer/gang member.  It hasn't been easy.  There have been times where temptation has arisen, but her husband has really been intentional about sacrificially loving her as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27).  She is now beginning to speak up and even share her story about her old life, including her time as a lesbian.  Her identity is not defined by her sexuality as it was before she was a Christian, but rather that she is now in Christ.      

Greg Long's picture

Amen, Joel! We have seen similar stories.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

dgszweda's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

David,

Do you believe it is genetic? What about other sins? A sex gene? A kleptomaniac gene? An arson gene? We are dangerously close to the position staked out by modern psychology that nothing is the fault of the individual. Ezekiel 18 seems to point in a different direction. I agree drunkenness is more than just the unregenerate state, since professing believers can and have had to also deal with drunkenness. It is the craving that we have indulged and fanned into consuming passions, not biology. 

Chip I see two things here.  First is the act of drunkeness.  This is something anyone can do.  You just physically pick up some alcohol and you begin to consume it.  After some period of time you will become drunk.  Second is the desire for the alcohol or drunkeness.  This is possessed by those who have an innate desire for this activity.  I personally have no desire for alcohol.  It is not a temptation nor a sin for me.  I cannot fathom myself ever having any form of temptation around drunkeness, yet Scripture indicates for us to stay away from this temptation.  I know others who struggle with alcohol consumption.  The fact that one struggles and one doesn't, doesn't say that this individual is not at fault.  It just means that they have an innate desire for this temptation.  I somehow feel that there is some biology working here.  Why does it have no affect on me.  Am I just a better Christian?  No!  I just have no innate desire for this whatsoever.  I don't think biology gives way to a lack of responsibility.  We have men's conferences where we say that all men must be careful because of sexual lusts.  That every man has the potential to suffer from this, yet I know some men who have no issues around this.  They have a condition called ASexual.  They have no desire or temptation for those lusts.  Are they better Christians?  No, they just don't have that physical desire.  Every single one of us have temptations that we are more susceptible to.  It may not seem fair that one person struggles with impure thoughts and another one doesn't.  Or that one person struggles daily with alcohol and another doesn't.  I just think that some people are born from birth with certain struggles, just like some people are born with different strengths, qualities....

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

David,

Do you know anyone who struggles with a temptation to drunkenness who has not previously been a drinker? I mean, do you know anyone who craves drink without every having tasted alcohol and/or who is immediately drawn to drunkenness the very first time they consume alcohol? Or is it more accurate to say that those who struggle with drunkenness have imbibed for some time becoming susceptible to that particular temptation over time as they drank? 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

dgszweda's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

David,

Do you know anyone who struggles with a temptation to drunkenness who has not previously been a drinker? I mean, do you know anyone who craves drink without every having tasted alcohol and/or who is immediately drawn to drunkenness the very first time they consume alcohol? Or is it more accurate to say that those who struggle with drunkenness have imbibed for some time becoming susceptible to that particular temptation over time as they drank? 

What I would say that I have seen are those individuals who have a more addictive personality, tend to drift toward this.  I agree that they can't become an alcoholic without drinking.  But their personalities tend to swing them in those directions.  Same with being overweight, addictive to coffee......

Kevin Miller's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

David,

Do you know anyone who struggles with a temptation to drunkenness who has not previously been a drinker? I mean, do you know anyone who craves drink without every having tasted alcohol and/or who is immediately drawn to drunkenness the very first time they consume alcohol? Or is it more accurate to say that those who struggle with drunkenness have imbibed for some time becoming susceptible to that particular temptation over time as they drank? 

Chip, your question here is one of the reasons I hesitate to compare homosexuality to drunkenness. Yes, you do have to drink first to develop the temptations to drink more, but young people do not have to engage in sexual activity first to start having attractions to someone. Teenagers start to have the experience of sweaty palms or faster heart rates when they are around people they are attracted to. What my son experienced growing up is that he had those reactions to guys, and he didn't want those reactions. He even dated a girl for several years hoping he would develop an attraction to her, but it didn't happen. He felt disgusted with himself for having feelings towards guys that he didn't want to have. He didn't "imbibe" in homosexuality and thus become more susceptible to it over time. He fought against it and the temptations kept coming anyway.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Kevin,

I believe a person does get involved in some "gateway" sexual sin that opens the door to same-sex attraction. That may be abuse that is done to them but dominates their thinking following the act or it may be an activity the person willingly engaged in such as soft-core porn. Either way, humans are not wired to be sexually attracted to members of the same gender; there is no evidence in scripture or science to support that notion that same-sex attraction is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Greg Long's picture

Chip, I'm sorry, but this is just not the case with some men. For a variety of reasons and due to a variety of factors, most if not all beyond their control (sexual abuse, personality, rejection by peers, absentee or domineering father, unintentional exposure to pornography, etc., etc.*), they find themselves initially attracted to other men and are very surprised and disturbed by this initial attraction.

Of course, this is true of only a small percentage of men, because the percentage of men who are SSA is small. And as I've acknowledged many times, there are others who cultivate these kinds of desires because it is cool, or to get attention, or to rebel against parents and the "system," etc., etc.

But it simply cannot be denied that it does happen. Again, please watch the ERLC videos and read some of the resources I suggested.

*And of course I would add, perhaps a propensity or proclivity to certain forms of temptation inherent in the sin nature--but even if you absolutely reject this notion, the other factors cannot be denied.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Kevin Miller's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Kevin,

I believe a person does get involved in some "gateway" sexual sin that opens the door to same-sex attraction. That may be abuse that is done to them but dominates their thinking following the act or it may be an activity the person willingly engaged in such as soft-core porn. Either way, humans are not wired to be sexually attracted to members of the same gender; there is no evidence in scripture or science to support that notion that same-sex attraction is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

And I have wracked my brain trying to figure out what, if anything, may have been a "gateway," if homosexuality is only developed through having a "gateway" sin. My son was never abused, so he never had that to dominate his thinking. We didn't have porn around the house, though porn could potentially be found in other places than our house. Still, I think if one ever starts looking at porn, they look at the porn that excites an attraction they already have. I do know that from the age of about six, my child's personality and mannerisms reminded me of a friend I had in college who later came out as gay. Now, having an emotional and expressive personality is not a sin, but maybe that type of personality can make one inclined to same-sex attraction. Or maybe a person has that type of personality from a young age because they already have a set of traits from birth that are also going to manifest in adolescence as same sex attraction. I think homosexual behavior is wrong no matter what has caused the same sex attraction, but I'm not going to dismiss the possibility that traits which later cause same sex attraction could exist from birth. The existence of sin in the world has tainted even the chemicals that wash over the brain during gestation. Since things like deafness can happen from birth, as well as happening later due to environmental factors, then certainly other aspects of our lives could go wrong from birth as well.

dgszweda's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Kevin,

I believe a person does get involved in some "gateway" sexual sin that opens the door to same-sex attraction. That may be abuse that is done to them but dominates their thinking following the act or it may be an activity the person willingly engaged in such as soft-core porn. Either way, humans are not wired to be sexually attracted to members of the same gender; there is no evidence in scripture or science to support that notion that same-sex attraction is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Chip, I don't buy this.  I believe that when God first created Adam and Eve that was the case, but sin has now perverted all areas of nature.  God did not create people that were both male and female, yet they are created.  Granted in very small numbers, but there are still defects that take place that create this scenario.

Kevin Miller's picture

Greg Long wrote:

Of course, this is true of only a small percentage of men, because the percentage of men who are SSA is small. And as I've acknowledged many times, there are others who cultivate these kinds of desires because it is cool, or to get attention, or to rebel against parents and the "system," etc., etc.

From the homosexuals I have known, I'd say the percentages are switched. The vast majority find themselves initially attracted to men and are surprised. I suppose there could be instances where people get into same sex relationships just to get attention or to rebel, but the attention one usually gets in those situations is bullying and other negative attention. If a heterosexual boy wants to rebel against his parents, he is going to date the "biker chick," not ruin his chances with any other girl by dating a guy.

Greg Long's picture

That may very well be true Kevin. I was simply referring to the fact that from what I understand, the percentage of the population that is actually homosexual has been overblown, and is small to begin with. Therefore, the scenario I presented does not refer to a large number of people because it is a certain percentage of what is already a small percentage, if that makes sense. I was not necessarily comparing the two scenarios to say which applied to the larger number of people.

Again, all we can say with any certainty is that SSA is based on a number of complex factors, different in each case. These may include factors that are outside the person's control and some that are within his control.

But of course, the ultimate question is what one does with those temptations.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University