© Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2016

Both of these terms ‘sexual preference’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are used to refer to the sexual gender to whom one is attracted and/or with whom one has sex.

The term ‘sexual preference’ helps people to fool themselves that heterosexual, bi-sexual and homosexual relationships are simply a matter of personal preference, with none either more right or more wrong than another, if one still wants to talk in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It is a way of excusing one’s choice of a sexual partner. However to some involved in homosexual activities it is a derogatory expression, as it does make one’s gender preference a matter of personal choice rather than being something that one is ‘born with’.

The term ‘sexual orientation’ is preferred by the homosexual community as it takes one’s ‘choice’ of sexual partners out of the area of personal preference and sees it as a ‘choice’ that issues from an orientation one was born with. In other words, it is not really a personal choice at all, but something that is pre-determined by one’s genetic make-up.

This ‘born that way’ explanation of sexual orientation is popular in the media and among laymen, yet scientists do not explain sexual orientation this way. The consensus of scientific research is that sexual orientation is the result of a complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors. There is no such thing as a ‘homosexual gene’. [We could just as easily say that personal violence is the result of ‘a complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors’ - perhaps a combination of an inherited aggressive nature, emotional issues resulting from inappropriate parenting and present frustration with a disintegrating marriage. Yet we do not excuse the murderer and say ‘he was born that way’ and let him keep on murdering people.]

Thus contemporary society categorizes people as:

heterosexual – preferring sex with the opposite gender
bisexual – no preference – same or opposite gender is equally acceptable
homosexual – preferring sex with the same gender.

Note that these adjectives refer to the person. This again gives the impression that the sexual orientation/preference is something that is part of the person, something that the person is. We need to be careful here that we do not equate the person and the action. A murderer is a person who has committed a murder. He was not a murderer in himself before he did it, he is a murderer because he has committed the murder. Similarly, a liar is a person who has told lies. If we apply this to the homosexual question, we must decide on one of two options: is a person a ‘homosexual’ because he has engaged in, or has desires to engage in [lusts for] homosexual activities? Or, does he engage in or lust for homosexual actions because he is a ‘homosexual’ person? The Bible would answer ‘the former – a person is a ‘homosexual’ because he does these things.’ It is an action resulting from a personal choice, not an identity being expressed in an action.

There is another level of ‘sexual orientation’/’preference’ that is not yet commonly understood as ‘sexual orientation’/’preference’.

Some people prefer sex with children – either male or female children. We call this paedophilia and we call people who engage in it paedophiles.

Some people prefer sex with close relatives. We call this incest.

Some people prefer the sexual stimulation of pornography.

Some people prefer sexual behaviour that is painful or humiliating, or that inflicts pain or humiliation. We call this sadomasochism.

Some people prefer sex with animals. We call this bestiality or zoophilia.

We need to seriously ask the question here: if homosexuality can be excused by calling it ‘sexual orientation’ and by saying ‘I was born this way’, will our society soon be making the same excuses for paedophiles? Or for people engaging in pornography? Or for bestiality? And will we then start making excuses for people who prefer sex with their family members, and so excuse incest?

The core issue here is whose word do we trust? Do we trust God, who is both holy and omniscient, who created us, who knows what he made us for, who has our ultimate good at heart, and who has clearly identified homosexual actions, along with a long list of other sexual actions, as sin? Or do we trust the word of human beings, who, whether Christian or non-Christian, are sinners, with imperfect knowledge, and with sin-stained understanding and inclinations?

To study further:
[1] John Piper sermons on homosexuality; and .

[2]  presents both the conservative Christian and liberal ‘Christian’ viewpoints. Demonstrates how people will reinterpret the Bible to suit their personal perspective and agenda. Be careful!

1 Homosexuality and the Bible
We have seen in Study Four that homosexual unions and all lust are prohibited by biblical commands. Apart from these prohibitions, which the homosexual lobby tries to explain away, there are also the following biblical perspectives:

From the Creation Factor:

The Creation Factor teaches that God created a woman as the partner for Adam, not another man. The woman is the counterpart of the man. This is true not only in non-physical aspects but in the physical construction of the reproductive organs. Other body orifices have their own specific functions and purposes, and these other orifices are identical in man and woman. It is only the reproductive organs that have this in-built complementarity. Thus is it against the natural construction of our bodies to engage in homosexual acts.

The Creation Factor also teaches that procreation is the reason for the existence of the sexual organs and the sexual act. This does not mean that God did not intend sex to be also enjoyable, but that the enjoyment is not the creative purpose. [Just as our eating is enjoyable, but the enjoyment of eating is not the purpose of eating.]

At creation [Genesis 1:28], and repeatedly in the scripture, having children is referred to as a ‘blessing’ from God, a blessing that can never come naturally as the result of homosexual union. Thus it is against this potential for blessedness built into us by God’s creative purpose and word, to engage in homosexual behaviour from which this blessing from God cannot result.

From the Sin Factor:

Forbidden heterosexual relationships [adultery, promiscuity, sexual immorality, prostitution] are used by God as an analogy to depict the sin of idolatry in which God [pictured as a ‘husband’] is forsaken by his people [pictured as a ‘wife’] who have gone off after idols [pictured as ‘lovers’]. This analogy assumes the male/female relationship as the norm.

According to John Piper [see web pages referred to above], homosexual relationships are an expression of another spiritual sin: man/man or woman/woman relationships are expressions of man’s substitution of himself in the place of God. Piper argues this from Romans 1:18-32 where he sees a progression of exchanges, the final one the exchange of natural man/woman relationships for same sex relationships.

From the Redemption Factor:

All sin, including homosexual sin, is dealt with by the cross of Jesus Christ. God’s grace is available to all, irrespective of the kinds of sin they commit.

To refuse to acknowledge a sin as a sin and oneself as a sinner is to refuse the forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal offered by our loving God.

The believing person who has engaged in homosexual actions or faces homosexual temptations, is no less covered by the blood of Christ and no less guaranteed salvation than any sinner; nor has he/she any less expectation of the renewing, transforming work of the indwelling Spirit than any sinner.

Christians are commanded not only to relate to others with the same compassion that God extends to them – a compassion that loves the sinner while rejecting and condemning the sin, but also to ‘bring forth fruits worthy of repentance’, that is, to live changed lives under the Lordship of Christ.  

2 How can we maintain a genuine Christian perspective on homosexual acts/relationships?

There are two things that Christians must do:

[1] We must firstly separate the person from the act. It is the act that is homosexual, not the person. When Christians individually, or corporately as a church or denomination, reject homosexual acts, it should be the act which is being rejected, not the person. God created the person. God loves the person. Christ died for the person. Christ commands the person to repent and believe. We are commanded to love the person, to be kind and compassionate towards the person. We are commanded to preach the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to the person, just as we are commanded to do so to all the world. We are to challenge the person to turn from their sin and return to the Lordship of God.

[2] We must secondly stop isolating homosexual actions from other sins. According to the Bible homosexual actions and homosexual lusts are sins. But so also are all sexual actions and lusts forbidden by the Scripture. So also is most divorce. So also is lying, killing and stealing, etc, etc, etc. Contemporary society attempts to remove homosexual actions from the category of ‘sin’. Much Christian opinion tries to isolate and magnify homosexual sins into a category of their own with a unique abhorrence. But there is nothing in scripture that authorizes us to remove homosexual sins into a category of their own. According to the Bible:

All sin, including homosexual sins, can be repented of.

All sin, including homosexual sins, can be forgiven.

Reconciliation with God and renewal can follow all repented/forgiven sin, including homosexual sins [Read Matthew 11:20-24]                        


3 Should people who engage in homosexual sins be leaders/pastors in the church?
In relation to the issue of whether or not people involved in homosexual activity should be appointed to positions of ministry or service in the church, the Bible lists a wide variety of sins as excluding people from involvement in serving God in official positions.

Those who served the Lord as High Priests were to be so committed to sexual purity that they were permitted to marry only virgins, and those who served as priests, were permitted to marry only virgins or widows [Leviticus 21:7-15].

According to 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9  the following sins excluded people from being appointed as elders or deacons: polygamy, drunkenness and gluttony, violence, aggression, greed, lack of self-control, being inhospitable, inappropriate parenting, gossip, maliciousness, untrustworthiness, dishonesty in financial matters, heresy, anything that generates a bad reputation in the community, being overbearing, being quick tempered, lack of self-discipline.

Although homosexual actions are not mentioned in any of these exclusions the boundaries placed around marriage presuppose a standard of sexual purity that automatically excludes homosexual relationships, since homosexual relationships are listed among sexual actions forbidden to everyone.

Rather than being challenged or sued for excluding ‘homosexuals’ from ministry, churches should be suspending the employment of, and refusing to employ, people who are disqualified from serving because of a wide range of sinful behaviours, including sexual sins.  

Putting things in perspective:

Would we judge a church wrong for refusing to employ the town drunk as a pastor?
Would we judge a church wrong for refusing to employ an embezzler as a pastor?
Would we expect a church to stand down a person guilty of robbing a bank or of murder?
Would we applaud a church that terminated the employment of a pastor found guilty of rape?
Would we applaud a church that refused to employ a man guilty of incest?

Then why are churches being criticized and taken to court for refusing to employ or for dismissing people involved in homosexual actions when it is listed along with these others as prohibited by God?

[Note the success of propaganda to remove homosexual actions from the category of ‘sin’.]

3.1 Why is a higher standard expected of those in Christian ministry/service?
Apart from the command that the High Priest was not to marry widows, none of the scriptures above expects a higher standard from church ‘officials’ than is expected from ordinary believers. God has equally high standards for everyone.

3.1A The nature of their role and responsibility
However, because of their particular leadership and public role within the church, God excludes from ministry those who evidence little or no submission to his commands and principles. The reasons given in the Bible for this exclusion are:

The holiness of the God they are serving [Leviticus 21:6]
They are consecrated, set apart by God, for his service [Leviticus 21:8,15]
They are to be ‘above reproach’ [1Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6]
They are to be able to lead people in disciplined, godly living [1Timothy 3:4-5]
Maturity in the faith is a prerequisite of Christian leadership [1Timothy 3:6]
Reputation in the community is important [1Timothy 3:7]
One does not automatically assume a person’s faith is genuine [1Timothy 3:10]
They are entrusted with God’s work [Titus 1:7]
They must be able to encourage others with sound doctrine [Titus 1:9]
They must be able to refute and silence those who oppose sound doctrine [Titus 1:9,11.]  

The rationale for this is:

God requires purity of doctrine. How can a pastor who has rejected pure doctrine teach a congregation the pure doctrine that God commands to be taught? [Titus 2:1]

God requires purity of sexual thought, word and action. How can a pastor who is engaged in sexual actions and thoughts that God calls impure, teach his congregation to live with sexually pure thoughts, words and actions?

God commands obedience. How can a pastor lead his congregation in obedience if he himself has chosen a life-path that involves persistence in disobedience?

God commands that we glorify him before men by the choices we make. How can a pastor either glorify God before men, or lead his congregation to glorify God before men, if he lives and, by virtue of either his words or his actions or both, affirms a lifestyle that God has designated ‘shameful’, ‘impure’, ‘indecent’ and ‘unnatural’? [Romans 1:24-27]

3.1B The question of the genuineness of their faith and repentance
As part of the above reason, is this secondary reason. Pastors and other church officials have the responsibility of leading the congregation in the knowledge of the Lord and in obedience to the Lord. To do so they must themselves be genuine believers. The Bible repeatedly identifies obedience as the essential evidence of genuine faith and genuine repentance. A person who persistently refuses to submit to biblical commands and standards demonstrates by that refusal that he or she does not really believe [Matthew 7:16a; James 2:17]. Similarly, a person who evidences no change of lifestyle, no improvement in morality, no growth in obedience, demonstrates by that lack of change the clear probability that he or she has not been regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit of God, whose inner work is to gradually transform the believer [2Corinthians 3:18] producing in him/her the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ which are quite the opposite of the actions generated by our own human nature [Galatians 5:19-25].

The termination of, or refusal to employ, unchanged sinners is thus not simply about their observable sins, but a question about the genuineness of the faith they claim. Note that Paul, having listed the criteria for appointing elders and deacons, then explains why he gave the list by referring to a group of rebellious people who were creating havoc in the church [Titus 1:10ff]; and similarly, in 1 Timothy 4:1-16, he refers to those who have ‘abandoned the faith’.  

Having studied the Bible passages referred to above, write out your personal belief statement about ‘homosexuality’. Support your statement with Biblical principles.









4 Other questions of ‘sexual preference’
Each Christian has a God-given responsibility to be sexually pure. As we have seen in the previous study, sexual impurity of thought, word and action is prohibited and incurs God’s judgment. It is essential therefore that each Christian is clear on the Biblical standard regarding every sexual activity or attitude.

Using the information, commands and principles presented in this module so far, identify the Bible’s perspective on the following sexual ‘preference’ [= sexual choice] areas:





Polygamy [multiple wives or partners]

Perverted sexual acts & practices