“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” – James 1:14-15
Notice the distinction: it’s possible to be tempted by your own desires, but it’s only when those desires have “conceived”—have been birthed, have been carried out—that sin is produced. And that sin, fueled by desire, if not killed, will kill you.
This distinction is especially important to understand when contemplating the issue of same-sex attraction. Certain folks will tell you (and have recently been saying) that the desire of same-sex attraction, the temptation itself, is sin. This is not the least bit biblical. Faithful men and women of God who experience same-sex attraction but are committed to a biblical sexual ethic, meaning they repress those distorted desires and pursue holiness by denying their carnal instincts, are not sinning by merely experiencing a rogue desire. It’s when they entertain and concede to those desires that sin enters the picture.
Countless men and women fight a measureless battle to resist sin, intentionally choosing the harder path, and all to the glory of the Lord, trusting that His glory is a more worthy pursuit than their own desires. That’s biblical manhood and womanhood and, dare I say it, Christlikeness, at its pinnacle.
And let’s not forget Hebrews 4:15 which tells us of the Lord Christ Jesus “who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” The Scripture is clear: temptation is not sin. It feels strange to even have to write this.
To make the point a little more clear, let’s entertain the idea that temptation is sin. What then becomes of 1 Corinthians 10:13? Every instance of the word “temptation” has been replaced with “sin”:
“No [sin] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you [sin] beyond what you can bear. But when you [sin], he will also provide a way out so that you can endure [sin].”
This clearly shows that this idea holds no weight and should be repudiated and denounced. Those who experience same-sex attraction but fight against it are involved in the same fight as me: a man who experiences anger and has to fight to keep his temper in check, a man who is tempted with pride and constantly has to remind himself that God will actively oppose all of my efforts if I don’t humble myself, a man who is tempted with selfish ambition and often-times wants to put his family on the back burner to spend more time in his study but must constantly preach Philippians 2:3-4 to himself.
I can express my struggle with these sins on social media, or even from a pulpit, and people will applaud my honesty and transparency, but we will not afford the same-sex attracted the same courtesy. What a shame.
We can do better than this. We must do better than this.