Why Romans 1:18-32 doesn’t apply to everyone

Once the ministry of a church told me that eroticized same-sex attractions were a “sin attraction” and were the result of “replacing a desire for God with man.”  I asked for scripture on this, and they sent Romans 1:20-32.  How wrong can someone get when quoting the Bible, let me count the ways:


1) Their quote ignored the antecedent of “them”

Verse 18 contains the antecedent of the pronoun “them”.  It is “men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  Verse 22-23 further narrows the set of men about whom this verse applies to men who have engaged in idol worship.  It bothers me greatly that you expect this verse to explain equally the origin of same-sex attractions in men who have never accepted Christ as Lord, and in those who accepted Christ at age 8, and developed same-sex attractions at age 14, since it would appear not to describe their actions.


2) This passage does not report the origin of the “Desires”

Supposing my previous point is incorrect, and this verse does apply to everyone, it does not indicate the creation of new “sinful” desires in these men, rather that God is not protecting them from these desires anymore.  Thus, it does not explain the origin of same-sex attractions, but the aside-from-God’s-intervention-unbreakable hold of sin in their lives, similar to Romans 6:20.  The origin of these precise desires lies elsewhere, not mentioned in this scripture.

I specifically consulted with theologian & researcher Robert Gagnon, author of “The Bible and Homosexual Practice:…”, on this point.  He replied, “Romans 1:18-32 does not explain how sinful impulses originate but rather how in the Gentile world they become overriding controlling influences particularly among those who don’t honor God as God. When impulses to do what God expressly forbids overtake us to a point where we act on them, it is because we do not find fellowship with God sufficient for our happiness and so seek God substitutes. In 1:29 the offender list continues with such things as greed and envy. We wouldn’t say that greed and envy as sinful impulses originate with a turning from God but rather becoming controlling and enslaving impulses when there is a rupture in our relationship with God and we seek gratification from God-substitutes. Scripture does not explain how homosexual impulses originate. Sin in general is viewed as an innate impulse passed on by an ancestor. But no explanation is given in Scripture as to why some experience homosexual attraction while others do not.”

While I do not agree with everything he writes in that book, or even his perception of scripture, on this one point, I agree.  What he does do in that text, however, is blow the “gay-lobby’s” arguments for Biblically-compatible same-sex erotic activities out of the water using the most liberal possible interpretation of scripture.  The response I quoted above, is in personal response to my question, not a quote from the book.  He gave a very good plenary lecture about how a Christian led by the Holy Spirit would never be led into the “gay lifestyle” at the Restored Hope Network Conference in June.  The video, or at least the audio, should be available online, somewhere. If you can’t find it, let me know, the videographer is a friend of mine.  His comments are in stark contrast to Alan Chambers, who led Exodus into a ditch the day before, about whom your pastor seemed to agree whole heartedly in his blog post a few days later.


3) The passage does not claim to be all-encompassing

Supposing that this passage does imply the creation of new same-sex lusts which were not pre-existent, this scripture does not claim to provide an all-encompassing origin for what you call “sin attractions”.  Instead it claims to document how some sins became widely practiced.  In other words, it says “If A then B”, where A is “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and B is “gay sex & other stuff”.  It does not follow that “If B then A”.  Your argument, “same-sex attractions are a sin-attraction caused by the individual suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” is “if B then A”.  You would need other supporting scripture for that.  After spending 11 years looking for such a passage, I discovered there isn’t any.


4) You presume same-sex attractions are inherently lust

You presume that same-sex attractions are a lust.  In reality, lust obscures the underlying emotional wounds, but it’s the underlying wounds which percolate to same-sex attractions as a symptom.  This is why overcoming same-sex attractions is so difficult – because it is a confusion of your very perception of yourself and the “other”.  I suppose I should really stop using the phrase “same-sex attractions”, since there isn’t any such thing.  There is no feeling, no emotion, no desire which is in itself an erotic desire for the same sex.  God created us male and female, not male, female, gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual.  This may seem like a far too minute detail since the end result is men with SSA see other men as “hot”, “sexy”, or “cute”.  But, it’s actually critical in understanding how to help these men.  The desires which have become mixed up are not a need God placed in us for Himself being replaced by a man, but instead a desire God placed in us for a sense of belonging with members of our own sex getting bound to the erotic desire (not lust) God placed in us for our complement.  That’s why “pray-away-the-gay” is so statistically ineffective at removing same-sex attractions – there isn’t anything to remove.  Instead there’s something to fill and two things to untwist, and God has commanded us that parts of it are to be filled by our fathers, brothers and other same-sex peers, as I will demonstrate throughout the rest of this letter:  (oh, yeah, and I know enough to know that lesbianism is somewhat different, so please don’t mistake my statements as having applicability to that.)


5) There are other Biblically-valid causal factors for wounds than the sin of the individual

Ultimately, mankind’s original sin was trusting himself more than God.  That sin, and God’s punishment for it, negatively affected everyone.  But that’s not all.  Ephesians 6:11-12 indicates the devil actively schemes against us.  Sin’s influence frequently reaches beyond the person who commits it.  So although attempted usurping God’s place in our lives would be bad for us, it could also lead to bad for other people – people who didn’t commit the sin.  If that weren’t the case, I submit Romans 12:19 doesn’t have full context in which to function.  To assert that “If B then A” – for each individual – above ignores this path for damage.  Colossians 3:21 supports this notion, that a father can sin in a way which negatively affects his child emotionally.

Why I never say “childish” needs.

I’ve referenced on this website over and over again that eroticized same-sex attractions are caused by needs for love that haven’t been met.  Specifically, for pre-Oedipal disorder, these needs are those which arrive in early childhood.  Others have criticized our belief that meeting these needs as children have them met in healthy ways is inappropriate.  Thought not everyone uses the term “childish” needs, this is a similar implication.  Or rather, the implication is that you don’t need to get your childhood needs met.  And certainly, the fact that a man is full-grown complicates matters physically, but not psychologically.  Childhood needs can’t be skipped over, they are not silly: they are more fundamental.  That’s why God has us need them first.  It is on top of meeting our childhood needs that we build the rest of our lives.  When people haven’t had their childhood needs filled, they aren’t able to begin the next step in their psychological growth, at least not in a healthy way.


I’ve heard many well-meaning Christians offer terrible advice when someone with SSA reveals their troubles in life.  They hear unhelpful messages like “man up”, “grow up”, or the infuriating reference to completely inappropriate 1 Corinthians 13:11.  Little do they realize it’s through meeting our childhood needs – our more fundamental needs – that our ability to “man up” comes.

Why we don’t call ourselves “ex-gay”, or Why we call ourselves “recently straight”.

Our culture wants to stick this label on us; even the Federal courts have actually used the “ex-gay” label when enumerating the kinds of sexual orientation to which non-discrimination laws apply.  But for many of us, “ex-gay” may be true, it doesn’t feel like who we are.


Positive self statements

“Ex-” is a negative label.  When we do our emotional work, one thing we learn is that emotions don’t really understand “not”.  We learn that one core need of any man is to be affirmed by other men.  This involves making value statements.  Frequently, we’ve believed statements like “I’m stupid.” or “I’m not good enough.”, or “I’m fat”, or “My muscles are too small to be a man” or other shaming statements.  Because the wounds we have are at the core of who we are, “not” statements can’t provide something we can hang on to and say “ah, that’s me”.  The limbic system does not function as a complex web of logical statements, as the pre-frontal cortex does, it works on general association.  I.e. one thing is kind of like another, they are associated.  So when we are looking for something that “feels like it fits”, we need positive statements.  Instead of encouraging us with negatives, like “You’re not fat.”, what we need to know is something worded in a positive way, such as “You’re fit” or as the case may be, “your body is masculine in appearance”, which is actually far more applicable to what’s going on inside than the actual body-fat percentage.

For some of us, “ex-gay” isn’t even true, because we believe gay is a socio-political label, not a “way to be”, we never applied that label to ourselves, but many did.  For the ones who have decided not to continue in the gay lifestyle, “gay” itself becomes a negative label.  Bottom line, identifying ourselves as something we are not, and as something we have chosen not to be is not psychologically-healthy.  We need our identity to be positive.

Asa result, even though our culture wants to tag us with it, “ex-gay” is an undesirable label for most men in that category.


Why we need labels

There are tons of men who don’t like boxing themselves in with labels.  I personally don’t have any problem with labels: without them, we couldn’t communicate; words are labels.  Some men don’t like that as a label, deciding to only take on the label “child of God”.  That’s their choice.  When I label a project such as this, I want to be clear and effective at getting the message out. Labels need to be both accurate and precise.  Accurate means true, precise means communicating only what we intend, not over-stating or understating the meaning.  As an engineer, my primary problem with spoken and written English is its huge imprecision.  Scientists and engineers have an agreed-upon method of specifying precision, while psychologists do have very precise statements of conditions, causes, effects and therapies for eroticized same-sex attractions, just look at that phrase, it literally doesn’t fit in a google ad-words title line.  We need something short, sweet, precise, accurate, and as a website address memorable.


A Little History

I would love to say that my initial thought was to take “ex-gay”, reverse both words, and come up with “recently straight”, but that’s not how it happened.  It actually stemmed from Nicolosi’s term “ever-straight”.  I supposed that if I couldn’t claim to be “ever-straight”, I might as well put up the next best thing, maybe not “ever”, but “recently”.  It stuck; pretty well, it seems.  I was quite shocked no one had ever used the term.  I loved that it turned out to be a rephrasing of “ex-gay” into two positive terms.  It’s a cogent label, means what we intend.

“Is it possible for anyone to change?”

I believe yes, but it is not easy, nor guaranteed.  It won’t come on it’s own, it must be guided and nurtured.  There is much talk about the definition of “change”, and much speculation as to what factors make it easier / more difficult.  We never graduate from the Holy Spirit sanctifying us in this life, anyway.  Everyone I know who has “tried everything” and “it didn’t work” are actually people who have flatly and continually refused to try what worked best for me.


“Isn’t this just a psychological issue, not a religious one?”

There is no standard of healthy/unhealthy or good/bad outside of religion, so one must consult religion to determine whether SSA is unhealthy in the first place.  Furthermore, the kind of “all acceptance” that is critical in successful counseling for SSA seems to me to come truly from one place only: salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells us that “there is now no condemnation” for someone who has trusted Jesus, who says “Blessed are the broken-hearted, for they will be comforted.” And let me tell you, these are some broken-hearted men.  That’s why we promote love, grace, healing and comfort for them.


“What is this about higher suicide rates amongst married gays in The Netherlands?”

That’s just science.  Bottom line is The Netherlands have a very “accepting” culture, and same-sex marriage has been legal there since 1996.  Not only are suicide rates higher amongst the gay population, but it’s even higher amongst the married gay population.  I don’t believe that gay marriage leads to suicide: I believe the same emotional wounds which lead to same-sex attractions can also lead to suicide.  It’s when those wounded people realize that the gay marriage isn’t what they really want, they tend to give up completely.  The Church can share what they truly need, what will truly fulfill them; it’s incumbent on us to share that.

Read about it here.

“How does changing orientation relate to salvation?”

Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the #1 issue facing any human.  Changing any particular emotional wounds or behavioral patterns, though possibly beneficial for others, is ultimately moot when contrasted with the consequences of eternal judgement.  Jesus reiterated God’s top priorities for man: first love God with everything you are, and secondly love your neighbor as yourself; ALL the law and the prophets hang on these.  My experience is that pursuing a change in sexual orientation lead me to be able to empathize with others and thus love them more truly.

Part of this comes from a better understanding of the 4 meanings in Greek of what we label “love” in English.  And more comes from an understanding of our how people express love to each other.  The Bible teaches us we forgive because we’ve been forgiven, we lend because we’ve been lent, and we love because we’ve been loved.  When our love needs have not been satiated, we won’t be able to share healthy love, though we may reach out for it in ways which aren’t ultimately healthy.  It’s our goal at Recently Straight to train the Church to help meet unmet love needs which lead to eroticized same-sex attractions.

“Should we let homosexuals into our church?”

#1 This is a complex question which first assumes there are such people as “homosexual” people and “heterosexual” people; that is not evidenced in the research.  Instead, as Nicolosi states, there is only one kind of sexual person, people with naturally opposite-attracted erotic desires.  Some have had emotional wounds which result in their perceptions of themselves and their perceptions of others to be filtered to the extent that their God-given erotic desires mix with their God-given same-sex needs, i.e. “people with a homosexual problem”.  If the Church intends to reach out to the afflicted, these are people they need to be reaching.

#2 There is a difference between people who experience same-sex attraction and those who practice prohibited homosexual acts.  The Bible is clear that homosexual erotic acts are prohibited; it is also clear that anyone can be justified and sanctified by the redemption offered through Jesus.  It’s not up to you who gets into the Church, it’s up to Jesus, and He prayed for us not to be divided.

In general, I suggest anyone asking or wanting to answer these questions read The only 3 things I wish my straight Christian friends knew about homosexuality.

“Aren’t you just blaming parents?”

Commonly, in childhood our parents have the most influence on how we see ourselves, others & God for good & bad.  In some men’s lives, other custodian/authority figures have a more significant impact.  But emotional wounds come not just from people who love us, but also from others we seek to love.  Our peers can have as much of an impact on us as our parents.  God has set up specific responsibilities for parents, and it’s easy for parents with very good intentions to go very wrong in our corrupted culture.  Far in contrast to ‘blaming’ our parents, we seek to help men find the true root of their wounds, and seek reconciliation when it is possible & beneficial, whether that is with parents, other childhood authority figures, peers, etc…  Reconciling a relationship with a parent is always God-honoring, though not always humanly possible.  Pretending problems didn’t happen does not lead to a Biblical model for reconciliation.

“Doesn’t telling men they need to be ‘repaired’ just traumatize them?”

My experience is that the men have been traumatized already, yet taught, usually implicitly, that their wound was not a wound; that their feelings of sadness or anger were not acceptable; or that they should have appreciated the wound as ‘love’.  Worse yet, a world ignorant of the details of our lives tells us that everything’s the same as for straight men.  These lessons filter how we see everything, and the result is many of these men earnestly believe nothing traumatic has happened to them – yet that belief is just a mask for the trauma, and the emotional pain WILL come out, sideways if it has to. Besides, the origin of the word “reparative” in association with “Reparative Therapy” (which is contrasted to reparative therapy) is not that the therapy repairs, but that the same-sex attractions are themselves a “reparative drive”.  In other words eSSA is a subconscious attempt to “repair”, and therefore, we treat it as an indicator of an underlying situation, not our primary focus.