This is the first of two chapters I wrote for boys on the topic of homosexuality for my book The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book: Not-so-stupid questions about your body. The book was written for boys heading toward and through puberty and their parents. The two chapters I submitted were not printed in the book, as the publisher felt the material was a bit “too mature” for young boys. See if you agree or disagree.
The second of the two unpublished chapters is, in essence, a Bible study on the topic (What The Bible Says About Homosexuality) will appear in my blog this afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll blog on How I wish the homosexuality debate would go and the Christian Medical Association’s Statement on Homosexuality. Tuesday, I’ll tell you a story: How I addressed homosexuality with a dying patient one Christmas day. But, for now, here’s the first of the two previously unpublished chapters: Am I Gay?
I’ve had the opportunity to have a number of young male patients, who during their teen years, have felt attracted to other guys and have begun to wonder if they might be homosexual.
I think it’s very important to point out that it’s completely normal and extremely common to be attracted to other guys when you are a teen. In fact, most young men feel closer to other guys than they do girls.
This is not to be viewed as homosexuality—and throughout history it never has been. I meet young men who mistakenly think (or are told) they are homosexual just because they are not yet interested in the opposite sex!—or because their closest friends are other guys. As a result, I believe that many young men are very confused early on because the world quickly tells them that such feelings indicate that they are homosexual.
When I was your age, I didn’t have any girl friends. All of my good friends were guys. I enjoyed being around guys and was uncomfortable with girls. Feeling closer to my best friends did not mean that I was a homosexual. Feeling closer to your best guy friends does not mean that you are homosexual. Actually, it just means we are normal.
There are a number of examples of young men in the Bible who were very, very close friends to other young men. None were homosexual. Perhaps the best example is that of Jonathan and David. First Samuel 18:1 tells us that Jonathan loved David, while 2 Samuel 1:26 records David’s grief after Jonathan’s death, where David said, “Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”
Does that mean these two young men were homosexuals? Not at all!
First of all, the Hebrew word for love that David used is not the word used for romantic love or sexual love. It is a word for love that reflects deep friendship and has clear political and diplomatic meanings (see 1 Samuel 16:21 and 1 Kings 5:1).
Second, when David compares Jonathan’s love to that of a woman, he is probably referring to one of King Saul’s daughters that he was promised after he killed Goliath. However, Saul added condition after condition upon the marriage with the motive of having David killed in battle (see 1 Samuel 18:17 and 1 Samuel 18:25). Therefore, the love and friendship David had with Jonathan exceeded what was possible from Saul’s daughter.
Thirdly, the friendship between David and Jonathan was described as a covenant relationship (see 1 Samuel 18:1-5). So, David and Jonathan demonstrated what it means for two young men to be the very best of friends:
- They sacrificed for one another. First Samuel 18:4 tells us that although Jonathan was the heir apparent to the throne of Israel, he took off his own royal regalia and placed it on David in recognition of David’s divine election to be king. Rather than being envious, Jonathan submitted to God’s will and sacrificed his own right to the throne to his best friend.
- They were loyal to each other. In 1 Samuel 19:1-3 we learn that King Saul told his followers to kill David. Jonathan disagreed with his father and reminded him of David’s faithfulness to him in killing Goliath. In other words, he stood up for his friend and his friend’s reputation.
- They protected one another. In 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan devised a strategy to let David know of King Saul’s wicked plan. While Jonathan practiced his archery, he told his servant that if he shot arrows to the side of the target, then David was safe. However, if he shot the arrows beyond the target, David was to leave immediately and not return.
- Finally, they were able to express their emotions toward each another. After Jonathan shot the arrows beyond the target, he sent his servant back to town, greeted David, and the two men wept together.
In another Biblical example, we are told that the relationship between Jesus and his young disciple John was very, very close. John is described several times in the Bible as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (see John 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20). At one point, John is even pictured as reclining next to Jesus at dinner (John 13:23). And, when Jesus was being crucified on the cross, he “saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple (John), ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-26).
The stories of David and Jonathan and Jesus and John are examples of true Biblical friendships between young men—friendships involving loyalty, sacrifice, protection, and yes, even deep affection.
The idea that the only person in the Bible described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) was a homosexual (or bisexual) is silly. The idea that Jesus and John had a homosexual relationship is both ridiculous and sacrilegious.
There are some people who will try to tell you that homosexuals are born that way. Let me be very clear—there is no legitimate scientific evidence anywhere to support this delusion.
However, I’ve talked to some young men who in their heart of hearts have wondered if, no matter what the science says, they were ‘born’ homosexual.
I’m grateful that they’ve been willing to share this very personal information with me. My approach, rather than launching into the science, has been to say something like this:
Just as someone may be born with a tendency bent towards alcoholism or anger or lust or lying or pride—or pedophilia or sexual activity with a person other than your wife—it does not change the fact that the Bible tells us all of these things are sins. They are wrong. They run counter to God’s best for you.
Being born with a bent to do something that is wrong doesn’t make it okay. And, it doesn’t mean that the power of the Holy Spirit can’t help you have victory over temptation and your (and my) sinful nature.
So, I don’t see an inclination toward same-sex attraction as being any different than a bent towards lying or gossiping. But, the Bible gives us the hope and the way that we can be set free from the penalty and power of our sinful nature when we turn our lives over to God.
According to the Bible we are all born with a sin nature. We may be tempted to lie or steal or be sexual with a man or woman outside of marriage. But, the Bible tells us clearly:
- Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).
- Flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18).
- But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11)/
The Bible doesn’t find fault with us for the temptation, but rather for either lusting about the sinful desire or acting out on the sinful desire. If you are tempted to deviate from God’s instructions to you about sexual activity, then you are expected to resist that the temptation.
For whatever reason, some people are attracted sexually to others of the same sex. But God has called it a sin to act on it and tells us to not hurt our selves or others by doing it. If we act on it and feed the flesh, it only continues to become an even stronger problem. But, if we resist the temptation, it will gradually diminish over time, especially if replaced with appropriate sexual behaviors with a spouse.
David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever’” (1 Samuel 20:40-41).
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:25-27).
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8).