There’s a disturbing trend in the church today – the notion that after conversion it is helpful or even necessary to define myself by the sin with which I struggle. The trend is all the more concerning because there’s really only one sin for which that claim is made – homosexuality. And because homosexuality is being used by the Enemy to undermine the church more than any other issue in our day we need to be cautious about giving it a status not shared by every other sin.
So, why should Christians not take their identity from their sin? First of all, there is no support in scripture for doing so. The New Testament speaks again and again about our new life in Christ (Romans 6:4), our freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1), that we’re no longer a slave to our old master – sin (Galatians 4:7). Why would someone set free from their old, cruel slave-master want to continue to be called by his name? The Apostle Paul makes it clear when writing to the Corinthian church that our old life is a thing of the past:
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. – I Corinthians 6:9-11 (emphasis mine).
To be washed, sanctified and justified is to no longer be a an idolater or adulterer or a homosexual.
Secondly, it is a capitulation to the culture. To say that I was created “gay” and that’s still who I remain after conversion equates being “gay” with innate traits like race and gender. While that is certainly the claim of our culture, it should not be the claim of followers of Jesus Christ. To say that “gay” is who I am, even if I believe it is wrong to act on that identity, is to buy into the culture’s belief system.
Then there’s the word “gay” itself. The reason we use euphemisms for sin is always to soften the impact of the biblical word in order to downplay the seriousness of the behavior. A married man sleeping with his secretary is not “having an affair” or a “fling,” he is committing adultery. A person who drinks up his paycheck every week rather than feed his children is not suffering from a disease, he is a drunkard. By the same token, the Bible nowhere speaks of an identity based on sexual attraction – only of a sinful practice called homosexuality. The term “gay” was coined by the culture to remove the stigma from this sin and give it an identity akin to race or gender in an attempt to normalize it. That is not something Christians should encourage.
Bottom line is homosexuality is a sin, but so are a lot of other things. If those who deal with this sin want it to be treated like any other they need to treat it that way too. There is no need for a special hyphenated status in the church for those tempted by homosexuality any more than there is for those struggling with pornography or gossip. No sin is so difficult that the ordinary means of grace as ministered by the local church are insufficient. The homosexual like any other sinner needs to repent of his sin, identify with a local church, read the scriptures, pray, take the Lord’s Supper, fellowship with believers (of all stripes) – in short, live the Christian life and pursue holiness like everyone else who is a new creature in Christ.