It’s a suspicion married folk often have of singles:

“Are you gay?”

Even amongst Christians, probably even in your church, adults living solo can’t avoid the question. Especially the longer we stay single.

And especially now that we know gay Christians can and do exist. After all, sex is like food and money: none are bad in and of themselves. But our desire for them can be perverted for various reasons, resulting in such sins as gluttony, greed, and homosexuality. The only thing different about homosexuality has been the church’s refusal to acknowledge it for what it really is: just one of many expressions of sin.

An expression of sin that has nothing to do with marital status, and everything to do with understanding how God wants us to live.

Sin in Perspective

Ricky Chelette, director of Living Hope Ministries, calls homosexuality “same gender attraction,” or SGA. If that sounds like an attempt to re-interpret the sin behavior of homosexuality, you’re right. Advocates for ministry to people struggling with SGA hope a more accurate definition of the condition can help people of faith recognize that although gay Christians do exist, homosexuality doesn’t need to be a lifestyle.

Because how we view sexual awareness also helps frame our definition of grace. And vice versa.

If we consider homosexuality to be a pattern for living, being gay becomes a prism for an identity that does not honor Christ. If, however, we view homosexuality as a sinful behavior, like heterosexual adultery, we can also see how God’s grace can provide freedom from enslavement to what makes us crave a sinful behavior in the first place.

The Apostle Paul says as much in Galatians 5:19-26, where he lumps sexual immorality and impurity, hatred, jealousy, selfishness, and inebriation together as sin patterns exhibited by people who do not follow Christ. 

“Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (NIV, emphasis added)

Instead, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

Moving Past the Stereotypes

As a Southern Baptist minister, Chelette has heard all the stereotypes evangelicals hype concerning homosexuality. Particularly since SGA continues to gain prominence in North America’s sociopolitical narrative. Unfortunately, none of it makes for effective outreach to and discipleship of people seeking release from SGA. 

Instead, he thinks we believers need a reality check. “The church must see the sin of homosexuality as simply another sin among the many sins for which all of humanity is guilty,” Chelette explains. “Sin is prevalent and destructive in everyone’s life and must be addressed by the gospel. I don’t believe a single sin defines the identity of a person.” 

And, speaking of erroneous thinking, don’t assume SGA is exclusive to singles. Chelette estimates that of the people coming to Living Hope for care, 40 percent are married. 

Indeed, marriage isn’t a cure for anything, as the evangelical church itself has proven. Consider our vanishing influence in our society’s dialog regarding homosexual marriage.

“We have done a very poor job of educating people about the sanctity and permanency of heterosexual marriage,” Chelette admits. “With those in the church having the same rate of divorce as those outside the church, it is no wonder the church has lost her moral authority in speaking on marriage.”

Marital status aside, perhaps the biggest misconception Chelette works to dispel involves the popular notion that homosexuality is all about sex.