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Is homosexuality inherited or chosen?

August 2015 | by John Thornbury

‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The Supreme Court of the United States has taken up the matter of ‘gay marriage’ and by a small margin has overturned all marriage protection laws in the United States. This means that the marriage law of Kentucky, my home state, will be struck down. But we must remember there is a difference between legality and morality. There are many sins, such as adultery, which are not outlawed but are morally wrong.


The big question, debated in many circles high and low, is this: is homosexuality inherited at birth, or is it chosen?

Let us accept, for the sake of argument, that there are men and women who have an impulse with which they are born for attraction to those of the same sex. If this is the case (I am not saying it is or isn’t), then I want to affirm that this proves, or at least illustrates, the biblical doctrine of original sin.

Original sin is the teaching that all people inherit a sinful nature as the result of the fall of the first man, Adam. For example, David said that he was brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5), and Paul said that even the converted were ‘by nature’ children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

I think it entirely consistent with Scripture to believe our inherited depravity of human nature can take different forms. For example, thieves have a strong attraction or propensity toward taking what belongs to others. We know too, from the news and court proceedings, that there are people who have a strong inclination, a strong attraction, toward violence. They have a kind of ‘natural impulse’ for preying on people. There are also, doubtless, heterosexual people driven by their nature toward a promiscuous lifestyle. And I can believe that there are people who crave a sexual relationship with people of the same sex.


In all the above situations and others that could be given, personal choice and responsibility are not removed because of a wicked, though inherent, drive or inclination.

The thief chooses to rob the bank, the murderer chooses to kill someone, the adulterer chooses to bed hop. And the homosexual chooses to do what God condemns in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (see above) asserts that persistent evil actions are inconsistent with being in the kingdom of God. Inherited depravity does not cancel responsibility before God. We do not expect the judge in court to dismiss the criminal, should he plead that ‘he just had to do this’, or that he was born with a disposition to steal, murder or rape. 

As Christians, we need to be aware that some of the believers at Corinth before their conversion practised some of the vices Paul mentions: ‘and such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified’ (1 Corinthians 6:11). But, after their conversion, they were ‘washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus’. 

Clearly the biblical record is that, prior to faith in Christ, they chose to practise the wicked acts mentioned in the text, including homosexuality. It is also clear that, after getting to know the Lord, they chose to abandon these practices. Such Scriptures and many more make it clear that, whatever inherited tendencies to evil human beings have, though they be ‘irresistible urges’ they are responsible for their actions, and will fall under God’s judgement if they do not repent and turn from such practices. 

The author has served for many years as a pastor in Baptist churches in Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

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