I am not Homosexual . . . or Heterosexual or Bisexual or Any-Other-Kind-Of-Sexual

I’m often asked why I don’t use the terms “gay” or “homosexual” to describe myself—or even “bisexual” now that I’ve begun to dip my toes in the “heterosexual” dating world. If throwing quotations around these terms doesn’t insinuate strongly enough my distaste for them, let me say it plainly: I am not a fan of the prevalent language used in our society to think and talk about human sexuality. I believe it is pregnant with faulty ideas that skew a person’s self-perspective and hinder Christian growth. I refuse to submit myself to it by identifying as homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual or asexual or any-other-kind-of-sexual.

Many of my Christian brothers and sisters don’t understand this. They see no harm in using self-descriptors like gay and homosexual to convey that one is attracted to the same gender or self-descriptors like straight and heterosexual to convey that one is attracted to the opposite gender. They don’t understand why I opt to use lengthier descriptions to narrate my experience when I could simply say, “I am gay.” Sure, it takes a lot less time to say, “I am gay,” than it does to say, “I am a fallen human being who is riddled with sin and who experiences all kinds of inclinations that seek to entice me away from God’s good design, including a sinful sexual attraction toward the same gender.” The latter is a mouthful! However, I find it to be a necessary mouthful—for a couple of significant reasons.

First, I believe the sexuality language of our day flows from an ideology that gives sexuality a higher seat at the “identity table” than I think it should. These labels are not just words used to describe a person’s inclinations, preferences, or behaviors—these labels are loaded with ideas about who a person is. In our current context, someone’s sexuality largely dictates who their friends are, the bars they frequent, the country clubs they join, the bumper stickers they put on their cars, and the kind of flag they wave. Before I converted to Christianity, my attraction to men was the chief informer of my self-perspective. I didn’t see Matt Moore as just a man; I saw Matt Moore as a gay man. Every person I knew in the LGBT community viewed and described themselves in the same way. Above so many other things, we were gay.

 I feel like if I were to again label myself as “gay”, I would be embracing the idea that my [broken] sexuality is a defining mark of who I am as a person. And I don’t want to operate in a mentality in which my sexual desires have identity-shaping power in my life. I don’t want the way I perceive and put language to my experiences to be an open door through which a false identity marker can slip in and begin to overshadow my truest identity marker: my position in Jesus. I am primarily the righteousness of God in Christ—not my jacked up sexuality. When God causes an imperishable body to swallow up this sin-corrupted flesh I presently dwell in, my attraction to men will be no more. I will not carry my broken sexuality with me into glory. Therefore, I refuse to view or name it as a part of who I am today.

Additionally, I’m uncomfortable with the relatively young concept of “sexual orientation.” I don’t believe the content or implications of the Scriptures support the idea that each person has a fixed, immutable set of sexual desires that they are born with. The Bible speaks about homosexual and heterosexual behavior and the desires that drive those activities, but it never implies that some people are heterosexual and some people are homosexual. Rather, I believe the Bible teaches that 1) we all possess a sexuality, and 2) that sexuality has been distorted by sin. If we are going to claim any sexual orientation, it needs to be our orientation to sin. We are all inclined to dishonor God by abusing our bodies in unlawful activities. Whether the object of our desire is a male or a female or an inflatable pool raft (saw that one on the news!), we are all fallen people with broken sexualities.

And there are a number of factors that influence our broken sexualities. Is an innate inclination toward one or more forms of sexual expression sometimes one of those factors? I believe so. But I also believe that the sins of others against us (like sexual abuse), relational/familial dysfunction, and even our own sinful indulgences are also factors. I have heard of people who once thought themselves “straight” go on to date members of the same gender after they began experimenting with homosexual porn. I have also seen Christians repent of habitual homosexual porn use and discover that, as they continue to distance themselves from it, their general attraction to the same gender lessens in its intensity—this has been my experience. Some have developed a slight or even strong attraction to a person of the opposite gender! No Christian will ever totally escape the presence of distorted sexual desires. But shifting is possible. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but it does happen for a lot of people. Human sexuality is fluid, and this is another reason I don’t like to throw an “orientation” label on myself. I don’t see myself as heterosexual or homosexual but as a human person with a broken sexuality that is influenced by a number of factors and must be submitted to the will of God.

I understand that my perspective and approach to all this sexuality terminology stuff doesn’t fit nicely into a box. I understand that, to the world and even to some Christians, it sounds crazy. But as aliens in this world (1 Peter 2:11), shouldn’t our perspectives be a bit alienish? As people who embrace a worldview that is almost totally contrary to the normative cultural worldview, shouldn’t the way we talk about things like this sound a bit otherworldly? Shouldn’t our perspectives and language be informed primarily by the content of God’s written word and not secular theories? I tend to think so.

  • David M

    Amen brother! I am a redeemed sinner who has been forgiven through Christ’s death and resurrection and a beloved child of my Heavenly Father! My remaining indwelling sin is a circumstance of who I am but it is not my ultimate identity. Yes, I struggle with SSA. But I can also be selfish, greedy, thankless, angry, and petty. I am not angry-Christian, or thankless-Christian or any other hyphenated sin-redeemed identity. The penalty for my sin has been paid, the power of reigning sin has been broken, I am slowly being weaned away from the habit of sin and one day the very presence of sin will be removed! Until then I define myself by who God says I am not what my fallenness does.

  • Hannah Wegner

    Very helpful! Appreciate your insight

  • Caleb B.

    Thank you so much Matt for your perspective! I also have this prospective but didn’t know how to put it into words. It makes me angry to see everyone try to put themselves in boxes and thus miss out on taking on the full identity of Jesus. I just wish more people understood this and shared this perspective

  • William Okc

    I agree completely with what you say in this post Matt. I think it actually makes more rational sense than the cultural norm. I have listened to interviews of Rosaria Butterfield and she said some similar things which I liked very much. We Christians need a robust way of understanding sexuality so that we can avoid falling into the flawed thinking of the world and your writing is very helpful in that regard. There are a few websites which put out a message regarding (for lack of a better way to describe it) “Christian Homosexuality”, but I think you and Dr Butterfield are the two who are making the most sense and seem to understand the problem at a deeper level than most. I have been following you for a few years and am really impressed with how you have been deepening your message. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!

    • Kelly Lyle

      Butterfield is a good read, and Keller has a great sermon delivered to the New Canaan Society on identity that goes right along with what Matt has written.

    • NeverTrump

      Rosaria Butterfield is a crock who relies on misleading rhetoric for her platform.

      • Joseph

        Prove it.

  • Kelly Lyle

    Nicely written and articulated. Of course, the world will not understand your use of the term “broken sexuality”…and I am sure you will take flack for using the term and inferring that we, as humans, are not perfect and live in a sinful world with all of its trappings and effects on the human soul, but I for one do believe, as you do, that we must be careful that our identity is not found and centered on the sin that indwells, but on the glory we are promised. Keep up the good work.

  • Lyle Nelson

    I have just plain gotten tired of thinking about it. For me, focusing on it seems to make the sinful attraction stronger. So why would I want to make myself more miserable? I’m not going to lie and pretend my SSA does not exist, but there are many other things to think about that are more positive and uplifting. The Bible tells us to focus on such things in our thinking, and God has a good reason for that!

    • William Okc

      Reminds me of Philippians 4:8 – focus on good and, with some practice, you can often times overcome evil with good.

    • S_O_T_A

      It’s so pleasant to read this kind of embracing of truth in a world filled with lies. Thank you for your fight and honesty. God Bless.

    • Kyler Phoenix

      The Bible is a book of stolen myths that ends in a blood sacrifice. There is nothing wrong with your sexual orientation but theere is something wrong with the lifestyle choice of Christianity.

    • Kyler Phoenix

      There is nothing wrong with your sexual orientation. There is something wrong with belief in a vile sky fairy.

  • Dave

    Hi Matt, your perspective is interesting. I find labels both helpful and unhelpful. When I identify as gay it’s more for others to have understanding – even though it often brings a lot of unhelpful stereotypes along with it. And to me, being gay doesn’t begin to define my whole being – my other labels include; Dad, son, partner, Northerner, follower, etc 🙂 Just pointing out that I don’t have an agenda by self identifying in any number of ways. I do agree that taking time to have conversation that explains and opens ourselves up to others is the better path. Jesus did that – reaching across all sorts of labels to engage with what the religious liked to label “unclean” and “sinners”. Blessings.

  • Hi Matt! Once again you hit the nail on the head. Someone who responded to a previous post suggested that I no longer refer to myself as a gay man but a same sex attracted man, and they’re right. But again I don’t like the label. I don’t want to call myself gay, as the label insinuates all kinds of false identities about myself, which are no longer a part of my life and haven’t been in nearly twelve years. Like you said I am broken and not until the Father calls me Home will be fully free of this sinning body.

  • Thanks for this Matt.

    I found great liberation in dropping labels and moving on from them. I realised that describing myself as “gay” was actually stopping my personal development and limiting my expectations for the future. These labels are incredibly powerful and do come packed with assumptions about how your life should be shaped. By just thinking of one self sexually as “a man in Christ” and nothing else suddenly everything becomes possible (even if not at the moment). Sexual identity is a powerful thing and it can be both liberating and restricting.

    The interesting thing is that having liberated myself of the constraints caused by such labels (“gay”) one can then return to them after a passage of time and view them in a different, less controlling, manner. If someone wants to call me “gay” that’s no skin off my nose. What do they know? My life is now completely different to two decades ago and one can challenge the presumptions people make in their use of language.

  • As usual, there’s certainly a lot here that I can get behind. Surely the way our society currently views sexuality is flawed. And I definitely don’t have any interest in forcing any labels on someone who doesn’t want them. And it’s fair enough that you would write an article explaining why you dislike them.

    What I find really unfortunate is that every time you or Rosaria Butterfield (someone I also respect and have learned from) warn against the use of words like “gay”, so many straight – er, Christians who experience opposite-sex attractions – read it and soak it up and feel like they’ve got the answer for the gay people in their lives who are wrestling with their sexuality. And that’s a real shame, because the squabble over words is such a colossal missing of the point.

    I’ve chosen for the past few years to use the term “gay” as a descriptor for myself. It also happens that in that time, my same-sex attraction has had the least power over my life that it’s ever had. Sometime around 2013, I was having a real faith crisis, and a lot of it centered around my sexuality. At that time, when my same-sex attraction was such a bigger, scarier thing, when it was affecting my faith, my relationships with friends, and my marriage to my wife, the last thing I needed was someone to come along and police my language.

    I think you’d be surprised to find that most of us traditional Christians who don’t shy away from the language of sexual orientation actually view human sexuality the same way that you do. That’s not where the breakdown is occurring. I think that where we really start to branch off from each other is how we choose to engage the culture.

    Paul encountered many extra-biblical ideas when he interacted with the Greeks. But he didn’t refuse to use their terms. Instead, he used the language and the concepts they knew and understood, but he put them in proper perspective in light of the gospel. That’s what people like me are trying to do.

    We are saying “yes I’m gay, but that is *not* the most important thing about me. Yes I’m gay, but it doesn’t dictate my life choices. Yes I’m gay, but following Jesus is more important to me than romantic or sexual fulfillment with someone of the same sex.” We are telling people, as you are, that faith in Christ is better than this thing that their culture tells them is essential to human flourishing. In the modern world, it doesn’t get much more otherworldly or alien than that.

    I hope you’ll consider what I wrote and hear me out and that maybe a conversation can get going. I’m not trying to convince you to change anything about how you describe yourself. But I do hope to shed a little more light on where people like me are coming from and that you’ll come around to the idea that arguments about terminology are a distraction and a waste of resources. We’re on the same team, and we’re ultimately saying the same thing.

    • What Mike said ^^^

    • Kevin Browne

      Totally what Mike said ^^^

    • Kevin

      I just feel like the phrase “I’m gay” is dangerous. Because it seems as a sort of forfeit or acceptance of what is ungodly and not God’s will for you. And that’s for any sin. I feel once being washed by the blood and regenerated by the Holy Spirit…the only identification we have is what has been determined by God. And that’s being his righteousness, his hands and feet, a royal priesthood, a chosen generation, his child, his bride, his church etc.

      I’m a homosexual. I’m a liar. I’m a bigot. Or I’m a whatever….either way, there is power in the tongue, so lets declare things that God says you are.

      • Hi Kevin,

        I get where you are coming from. No one should define himself by sin. I suppose the difference I see in saying “I’m gay” and “I’m a liar” or “I’m a bigot” is that you can’t be a liar without lying, and you can’t be a bigot without having a sinful attitude toward someone. It’s a necessary component of what it is to be those things. But it certainly is possible to be gay and not have gay sex, or even to be particularly lustful over people of the same sex.

        When I say that I’m gay, I’m essentially saying the same thing that Matt is when he says “I experience same sex attractions.” Because that’s what the word means.

        Here’s a post I recently wrote, prompted by some recent conversations as well as reading Matt’s article. It addresses some of the identity stuff that you bring up.

        (And if you give it a read, please be sure to click over and follow the links to the two articles I mention. I think they do a good job of explaining where I’m coming from.)

        https://sidebstoriesblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/gay-why-i-keep-saying-it/

  • Spot on Matt. I love your perspective on this touchy subject. Whenever I’m talking with someone who struggles with same-sex attraction, the first thing I try to help them understand is that their deepest, truest identity is found in Christ, not their sexuality. Once that foundation is established, everything else seems to fall into place. I’ll be sharing this post around for sure.

  • Dropofclearwqter

    The fact that porn of any kind, be it gay or otherwise, distorts, is enough to speak to why we should stay away from its influence. It is a form of advertising, and we know that advertising works. It shapes us and tells us how we should see ourselves.

    • Kyler Phoenix

      Distorts what?

  • David Baker

    Great article – thank you.
    I am told this talk from last week’s Keswick Convention by a Christian psychiatrist on the subject is very good – I didn’t get there but my wife couldn’t stop talking about it.
    http://www.clayton.tv/find/explore/0/0i0/2505/

  • Sarah Aguirre Graham

    This totally reminds me of a post my dear friend wrote at the The Two Cities…If you haven’t read Bryan Magaña’s post on being “Kinda-Sorta-Yeah-Not-Really-Gay” you should be familiar with it.

    (http://www.thetwocities.com/practical-theology/testimony-practical-theology/im-kinda-sorta-yeah-not-really-gay/)

    Thank you so much for your honest and relatable (is that a word?) writing and thank you for always staying true to the Gospel. I become more and more of a fan with every post and ESPECIALLY with every tweet. 🙂

  • American Apostate

    I honestly don’t think there is anything wrong with you at all, Matt. The reason why you are having do much trouble with all of this is because you have trapped yourself in a very repressive religion, and let’s be honest. I was a Christian for over 25 years and I will be the first to tell you: your brothers and sisters in Christ are NEVER going to accept you for who you are, and will ALWAYS judge you as unworthy of the love of God. There is hope, and unconditional love and acceptance for you in this world, Matt… And it exists outside of the Church. I hope that you can escape one day and see for yourself.

    PS. There is nothing “broken” about you or your sexuality. Just your religion.

    • Ben

      Might I ask, which of us have responded to Matt as you claim? This article has been met honestly and respectfully, because we all know that we share the same nature with him, whether we be homosexual or heterosexual. We all need Jesus, and the fact of Jesus’ immediate willingness to share in our struggles and save us from them flies in the face of your claim of repression. Matt is destined for Glory, a true son of the living God.

      • JP

        Well said, Ben!

        • Ben

          Thank you, though God really does deserve the glory. He’s transformed me in ways I could never fully express here, as He does with all of us. Nevertheless, thank you 🙂

          • JP

            You are right about that! God has transformed me as well. He transforms all of us who are willing to surrender to Him. To God be the glory indeed!

      • American Apostate

        I honestly wasn’t talking about you, or any of the commenters. I just think that sexuality isn’t something people should be struggling with so hard. Reading some of his work, his struggle with self hate is overwhelmingly apparent. You can literally feel his struggle. In my opinion, it shouldn’t be like that. If your deity is so benevolent, as you claim, then he will accept you unconditionally….meaning you don’t have to change who you are to gain his acceptance. My point is, do what makes you happy. Be gay, be straight, be bisexual, be christian, be atheist, whatever it is that makes you happy. If being openly gay makes you happy, then just come out already. If your religion doesn’t allow you to do this, leave your religion, or find a sect of your religion that understands that there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

        • Ben

          I’m curious why you call his struggle “self hate,” as though his sexuality is his identity and to deny it is to deny himself. This flies in the face of everything your view claims to be. How do you resolve this inconsistency?

          I am also curious why you expect that benevolence requires full support of any action. Should a father rejoice when his son steals a car, because it’s the exact model he (the son) wants and having it makes him happy? Should a mother sing her daughter’s praises as she leaves her child to starve? My point is this. There are times when benevolence requires rebuke and discipline, towards the end that the recipient becomes a better person. In essence, you have decided to play god, determining right and wrong, and you are not alone. At some point in our lives we have all done this, which is further proof that we all have the same nature.

          Can happiness really be the standard for what is right? I know I need not make a list of all the possibilities here that are actually quite heinous.

          Finally, have you noticed how our religion is accused of repressing those like Matt, and yet you have yourself moved to repress him in his decision? If the goal is to be whatever you want to be, on what grounds do you say he ought to do one thing or another?

          • American Apostate

            Fascinating. It is very curious how you managed to spin my statements as if i am the one “moving to repress him in his decision”….especially since my very first sentence was, “I HONESTLY DON’T THINK THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH YOU AT ALL, MATT.” He is a gay christian, who has repeatedly blogged about how he’s prayed for his god to make him “normal” and his god has seemingly ignored his plea. If his god was indeed benevolent, he wouldn’t create someone to be a specific way and punish his creation for being that specific way.

            It’s obvious the guy is struggling with self hate, just read two or three of his blogs. one does not have to say the words “I hate myself” in order to convey that he hates himself. I can see through his religious phrases, and him saying all the “right” things so that the rest of his tribe, ie YOU, will accept him. I know this because I WAS him. He needs to know that the ideas of love that his religion presents is not love. Love doesn’t command unmitigated, blind obedience. Love doesn’t withhold goodness based on arbitrary conditions. Love doesn’t sentence other sentient beings to a place of merciless, unrelenting torture and agony for eternity for finite crimes. That is why I made the statements I did. If Matt is truly happy with his life at this moment, then great. He can just ignore me. That’s totally cool with me. But if I am correct, and he is exactly like me, then I am here to offer him some secular support, since he clearly isn’t getting adequate support from those in his particular religion. I can offer him substantial resources and tools that can potentially make his life happier, and actually help him through his struggle.

            …or he can just keep believing that an ancient war god of bronze age Palestine is going to burn him forever because he “loves” him.

  • Daniel

    Matt, this post is entirely spot on. It is said that whoever controls the language controls the argument, and I think too often as Christians we set ourselves up for failure by using the language of secularists. “Sexual Orientation” (so called) is an entirely new concept and it was until the 20th century that sex transformed from something you did (and action) to something you were (identity). As Christians our identity is hidden in Christ Jesus–and nothing (sexuality, profession, performance) can lay claim to that identity.
    Thank you for your testimony and your blog. Blessed to read it!

  • mike

    Sexual orientation today is all about identity. Identity is important for us and it is as part of the Gospel so that with a new identity we are now in the world but not of the world becoming pilgrims — just passing through seeking a home in God’s kingdom.
    Men who have sex with men are homosexuals or are gay in today’s culture. But 1 Corinth. 6 says “such were some of you”. We now are not homosexual nor drunkards or thieves. We discard those identities. We have a new identity as children of God who are being changed with new hearts and renewed minds. We are as Matt describes aliens in this world because of our new identity we no longer fit in with the world’s many identities. We are not even Jews or Gentiles but members of a new Kingdom.

    • Kevin

      Yeah! You get it! Thank you for reading your bible!!

  • Sejanus

    That is a remarkably sane and thoughtful article, Matt. Thank you for your unusual prescience.

  • Ben Mann

    Straight and want to relate. I do not mean to demean or belittle, just want to know and understand this viewpoint. Is sexual desire an emotion or an appetite? (borrowing from C.S. Lewis). Whether emotion or desire, do we make personal self-references related to identity based on any other personal human emotion or desire? All the examples I could use sound trite and undignified, so I will not type them out. You are all intelligent enough to come up with examples.

  • Melissa D

    Good job on describing this!

  • Kyler Phoenix

    Matt…Please seek help from a reputable counselor.

  • Ben

    This is an eye opener, and yet I’ve been on the precipice for some time. Scripturally, I’ve come to see “homosexuality” as being in the same boat as heterosexual struggles I face, both being exactly what the author has stated. What really changes the game is the willingness to admit it is a broken sexual drive, one we are responsible to fight where we can fully relying on Jesus for our salvation. Truth be told, such labels, while they do have their purpose same as any descriptor (tree, dog, house ect.), do tend to betray the complex as overly simple. I agree with the author, and thank God for his insight.

  • Mykell Wilson

    I’m very much the same. I used totally close myself off from facing my obstacles to prevent action but it limited the internal growth I needed on the inside. I’ve managed to last years with very little sexual experiences, with the exception of a few slip ups, and be single for years… Most of my life. Recently however I met someone. Someone who I love and early on I revealed my view on same sex attraction, how I believe sex is for marriage and marriage is between man and woman. With that, he felt we were meant to interact and we did. We have kept the restrictions but it makes it hard for me to understand what the relationship is. I believe love is love, there is no difference in one love or another just the purpose of the relationship. With that being said, in praying in the spirit, fasting and holding restrictions I can’t figure out if it’s right or wrong to be with him. Is it ok if I keep restrictions and allow it not to be perverted or is it deceived compromise ? I don’t know. Even scarier is I feel I’m supposed to have this experience, but not cross boundaries. My number one fear in life is to be deceived in ANYthing and to let God down. I live sold out for Christ and I’m always transparent in all it takes to live for Him above all.

  • I appreciate this. I heard it once said that there were no heterosexuals until the term homosexuality was coined. Orientation tends to be fluid, not static.

  • Andrew Carter

    Hi Matt. As always I appreciate what you have to say, regardless of which parts I agree with and which parts I don’t. I love Jesus and know I need Him. I’m not one hundred percent certain on which interpretation I agree with, as both sides seem to make solid points and writers on both sides seem to love God. I’m not sure what God is calling me to do. I can say for certain that God is calling me to love Him. On one hand I want a boyfriend and eventually a husband, just like most Heterosexual Christians my age. I have heard that I must marry a woman (and that makes me feel bad) and I have also heard I must be celibate. Both of the latter two options break my heart and make me dread living the rest of my expected 60 years of my life. I’m not a hundred percent certain that this is the abundant life God wants me to live. In another blog, you said that when you were, “in the gay lifestyle”, that you were dating someone and you felt it tore you part from God. I certainly don’t want that for you or for me, but was that person a believer in Christ? I don’t intend to be with a non-believer, and it seems so strange that

  • Andrew Carter

    (Continued) so strange that God would have included monogamous Christ centered loving committed relationships in with men who preyed on boys and violent male on male rape (which happens in prisons, but is not the same as a loving relationship) and temple prostitution. At the same time I will continue to seek the answers as I don’t have them and this probably isn’t something I am going to come to a conclusion with magically by tomorrow. It will take time as I seek Christ. In the meantime I will continue to read your blogs and listen to testimonies from both sides and search scripture to determine which interpretation of scripture i believe to be correct. Thank you for sharing your interpretations and I appreciate the love and kindness you exhibit in your writings to gay Christians like myself. Christ be with you, Andrew

  • Sexuality arises as an identity because people are singled out for their sexuality. People are discriminated against, excommunicated and condemned for that element of their personality, and as such are categorized for that trait. The concept of gay pride arose in response and defense from those attacks. Turn around and look at the oppressors for the source of and need for this self-identification.

  • Art Vandàly

    Soooooo….do you like dudes or chicks?

  • Maureen Coulson

    you’re gay, just admit that your religion doesn’t like that and you haven’t accepted that yet

  • Tanor

    Get over yourself Matt. You think you’re being smart and witty. All you’re being is annoying. “I’m not gay. I’m broken.” Of course you are!

    And of course the Bible isn’t going to say anything about “sexual orientation.” It doesn’t address a lot of things that we encounter. Euthanasia for instance. Intersexual people.

    The world is far more gray and God is far bigger and more mysterious than we think.

  • This is so well written and so right on. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Kelley Lorencin

    “I am primarily the righteousness of God in Christ—not my jacked up sexuality.” I laughed right out loud when I read this. I love it, and I love you and your writing, Matt! I hope we get to meet sometime this side of heaven. Blessings.