Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?
[Purely Presbyterian] Some otherwise conservative Christians are beginning to take a compromising stance on homosexuality. They claim that only homosexual behavior is sinful and that same sex attraction (SSA) is a “sign of brokenness” similar to feelings of grief or sadness, or as one proponent put it, that having SSA is being “born in a broken condition… that does not represent flourishing” similar to being born blind. They claim it is a negative result of the Fall, but not inherently sinful. So their advice for Christians who are same sex attracted is to remain celibate and that their SSA is not sinful and doesn’t need to be repented of.
One pastoral candidate was asked if he believed that “his homosexual feelings, attractions, thoughts, and desires are sinful.” To which he answered: “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.” 
Anglican minister Sam Allberry describes what same sex attraction is, “I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that, I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex,”  but also claims it is a “form of temptation” and that he is “uncomfortable with saying same-sex attraction is sin.” 
The following points will demonstrate how unbiblical and dangerous those ideas are.
What is Same Sex Attraction?
“Same sex attraction” is an ambiguous term, what does it mean? This is one fundamental part of the problem with discussions on this topic. Worldly terminology and worldly concepts are often used rather than Biblical ones. Calling it an “attraction” makes it seem no different than how a man could notice the objective beauty of a woman without lusting after her in his heart, however this is inaccurate.
When we ask if same sex attraction is sinful, the question is not whether finding someone objectively beautiful is sinful. A man could be attracted to women and men in this sense and no one would say it is sinful. For example, David is described as “a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance” (1 Sam. 17:42), mothers can say that their children are handsome or beautiful, etc. This is clearly not the sense of the term when talking about same sex attraction, or else it is a pointless distinction because everyone experiences this.
Same Sex Attraction is not a Temptation
Some  have suggested that SSA is a merely temptation and since Jesus was tempted and remained sinless, being attracted to the same sex is not sinful. However, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between temptation and desire.
Temptation is the “solicitation of the passions”  or an enticement of a desire (whether that desire is good or bad). “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). One can not be tempted by something one does not desire. Jesus’ desire for food was not sinful (Mat. 4:3), but it is sinful to desire an excess of something good (Col. 3:5), or to desire a particular thing that is not yours to desire (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17).
Additionally, some desires are sinful in and of themselves because there is no particular circumstance wherein it would be lawful to have it. The Bible describes same sex attraction as the habitual desire for “strange flesh” (Jude 7), having “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26), or being “without natural affection” (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3). Temptation for something that is wrong in its very essence (such as sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality, etc.) is an enticement of a desire for that thing, thus the temptation is drawing from an already wicked desire. The desire for sin is itself sinful.
Sexual Attraction is an Affection
Affection is “A bent of mind towards a particular object, holding a middle place between disposition, which is natural, and passion, which is excited by the presence of its exciting object. affection is a permanent bent of the mind, formed by the presence of an object, or by some act of another person, and existing without the presence of its object….Desire; inclination; propensity, good or evil; as, virtuous or vile affections. Romans 1:31. Galatians 5:24.” 
Affections can be good or bad in themselves. They are good when they are directed at something good (e.g. 1 Chron. 29:3; Col. 3:2), they are bad when they are excessive (e.g. “inordinate affection,” Col. 3:5) or directed at something sinful (e.g. “vile affections,” Rom. 1:26, or being “without natural affection,” Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3).
Same Sex Attraction is a “Vile Affection“
Homosexual desire is not analogous to heterosexual desire. Man desiring woman is not sinful in itself because that is the way God made men (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). Man desiring man is sinful in itself because it is not the way God made men, so Scripture calls it “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26). Heterosexual desire is often sinful because it is misdirected in a particular or excessive way (e.g. toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse), not because it is sinful in essence; but homosexual desire is sinful in its very essence, just as pedophile or bestial desires are. Whether homosexual proclivity is innate in some people or acquired, the proclivity itself is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26) and must be repented of. This is not true of heterosexual proclivity, which is natural and good by God’s design.
The affection for the opposite sex is a natural and good inclination of the human mind, because that is how God made men and women (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). The affection for the same sex is an “unnatural” and “vile affection” (Rom. 1:26) of the human mind because it militates against God’s design for human sexuality. Same sex attraction is sinful in itself while opposite sex attraction is not.
Opposite sex attraction only becomes sinful in two ways: 1) when the passions are aroused in an excessive way, what the Bible calls “inordinate affection” or “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5), or 2) when it is misdirected to an inappropriate particular object, such as toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17). It is not sinful in the abstract, nor when husbands and wives are attracted to each other, but same sex attraction can never be lawful in any circumstance.
Concupiscence is “Lust; unlawful or irregular desire of sexual pleasure. In a more general sense, the coveting of carnal things, or an irregular appetite for worldly good; inclination for unlawful enjoyments…’sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.’ Romans 7:8.” 
“There is a difference in saying ‘I have this propensity, but I believe it is wrong’ and saying ‘I have this propensity and I believe it’s alright.’”
Sin is in the Heart, Not Just the Actions
Sin is not exclusive to the actions. Evil deeds and thoughts proceed from the heart (Mat. 15:18-19; Jer. 17:9; Mat. 7:16-18). Not only are our deeds sinful, the thoughts and desires are sinful as well. “The Law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14), “and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures (Deut. 6:5; Mat. 22:37-39; Mat. 5:27-28, 33-34, 37-39, 43-44)” (WLC Q. 99). The seventh commandment requires “chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior (1 Thess. 4:4; Job 31:1; 1 Cor. 7:34; Col. 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:2)” (WLC Q. 138) and forbids “all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections (Mat. 5:28; Mat. 15:19; Col. 3:5)” (WLC Q. 139), it is not restricted to outward behavior. If someone desires to have sex with children or animals they are still sinning even if they don’t physically act on it. This is true for every other sin as well.
Jesus corrected the false teaching of the Pharisees that sin was only in the actions and not also in the heart. Unrighteous anger is a sin of the 6th commandment and is murder of the heart (Mat. 5:21-22). Lusting after a woman who is not your spouse is a sin of the 7th commandment and is adultery of the heart (Mat. 5:27-28; Job 31:1). “Inordinate affection” and “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5) are sins of the desires and of the mind. Part of being in Christ is to crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), not just the external actions. All of this is true for the sin of homosexuality as well.
Same Sex Attraction Needs to be Repented of
Having SSA does not necessarily mean that someone is reprobate, but a regenerate heart will be struggling against it, not embracing and identifying oneself by it; crying out to God for repentance from it, not making excuses for it. Christians who are attracted to the same sex must recognize that that attraction is sinful, turn away from it, and strive to mortify it by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13).
In order to kill our flesh, we need to get to the root, our hearts (Mat. 7:16-20), where sinful sexual desires begin. In the case of homosexuality, sinful desires begin with the sin of same sex attraction. One must believe that his or her sinful desires are in fact sinful and beg God for the grace to repent from them and mortify them. How long that takes and the degree of success is up to God and that individual, it may not happen instantly, and it won’t happen completely in this life until we are perfected in glory (1 Cor. 15:54).
Celibacy, refraining from homosexual acts, is not enough, we must “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
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