The word “gay” is often confusing and unhelpful in discussing the issue of homosexuality. So this question is best examined as three questions:
1. Is it a sin to have gay sex?
2. Is it a sin to desire gay sex?
3. Is it a sin to define yourself by your desire for (and/or practice of having) gay sex?
While we may not ever kill our sinful desires completely (whether the desire in question is lust, covetousness, or anything else), it is imperative that we never make peace with the desire. If we find in ourselves a desire for something sinful (in this case, gay sex), we are to fight and resist that desire. Ideally, someone who struggles with same-sex attraction will be able to be freed from that desire, and can partake in a healthy, godly marriage. If not, then Christian faithfulness is unending war on same-sex desires. A Christian understands the gospel to the point of hating both sin and sinful desires, crying out to God for deliverance.
At this point, the answer to the third question is very straightforward: because gay sex is a sinful act, and a desire for gay sex is a sinful desire, then defining yourself by your sin and your sinful desires is certainly sinful. I see no need to belabor this point. To call yourself “gay” is to say that you as a person define and express yourself in terms of things that God hates.
Quite literally, to identify yourself as “gay” is to reveal that you see yourself not as a new creation in Christ, but as someone who is defined by what you do and what you desire. To identify yourself as “gay” is to reveal that you’ve missed the entire point of the Gospel.
Before we go anywhere, I wish to stress that struggling with same-sex attraction does not necessarily indicate that you haven’t been saved. In fact, struggling with same sex attraction often signifies that you have been converted. Why? Because you are struggling with same-sex attraction. You are not giving in to it, reveling in it, defining yourself by it, or otherwise making peace with same-sex attraction. You’re fighting it. You’re making war against sin. In other words, you’re responding to sin like a child of God.
For the purpose of this article, “gay” and “homosexual” signify someone who openly, proudly, and unrepentantly lives a homosexual lifestyle or defines homosexual desires as an integral part of who they are. With that in mind, we move to the question:
Are there gay Christians? Certainly not. There is no such thing as a gay Christian.
The first reason is very straightforward: as we discussed above, homosexual sex is an abomination against God, and it should be discussed as an abomination against God. Honestly, it is troubling on its own that Christian people have to be told that someone who proudly, consistently commits abominations is not saved (yet. Hopefully soon). It comes down to what you believe about conversion. The Bible says that when you are converted, God gives you a new heart. This new heart signifies that you hate the sins you once loved, and you love the God you once hated. If you still love your sin, and you still rebel against God in homosexuality, you have not been converted.
Second, there’s an underlying question beneath “are there gay Christians?”
…and that question is the most significant spiritual question of our age. To say that a Christian can live in unrepentant sin is to mar the doctrine of salvation beyond recognition. The Bible clearly teaches that repentance is part of salvation:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15 ESV)
See also the Great Commission. How do we make disciples?
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
You become a disciple by repentance and faith, and you are a disciple if you learn to obey all that Christ has commanded you. Both of these passages destroy any possibility of a gay Christian. When someone asks “Can you be gay and a Christian?” what they are really asking is “can you be a Christian without repentance?” The simple answer is that such a thing cannot happen, because turning away from sin and turning to Christ are the same action. C.S. Lewis said it best:
Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. (Mere Christianity, page 26)
So we see that there are no gay Christians because living a homosexual lifestyle demonstrates that you have not been changed and you have not repented. And if you think someone can be saved without repenting and without being changed, you’ve missed the entire point of the Gospel:
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. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
“Such were some of you.” Salvation is not sprinkling Jesus on top of your sin. Salvation is when Jesus enters your life in such a powerful way that He destroys the power of sin. As powerfully as any verse in the Bible, this verse teaches us that, for Christians, “gay” is who you used to be. “Gay” is the person you were before you were transformed by the Gospel, before you repented of your sin, and before the Lord of all creation lived inside of you. As Christians, we are no longer slaves to sin, because the Son has set us free. As Christians, we can claim the promises of God: “For sin will have no dominion over you” (Romans 6). As Christians, we understand that Christ has not only taken the penalty of sin; He has defeated the power of sin!
Such were some of you. But not anymore.