John Pavlovitz: Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely is A Choice

John Pavlovitz: Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely is A Choice

Originally published on

Confession time!

To all of my Christian brothers and sisters who insist that homosexuality is a choice, I need to break down and finally admit something: I agree with you.

I believe that it absolutely is a choice too, only not in the way that you may have meant.

But I guess that’s largely the crux of the problem we have here. I think you use your terms too loosely without really thinking them through. When you say the word homosexuality, I’m not sure you really know in that moment, just what you mean.

Christian, when you make the blanket statement that homosexuality is a sin, what you’re really doing without realizing it is reducing all LGBT people down to a sex act; as if that alone defines sexuality.

You’re denying any emotional component in their lives; any capacity to feel real love or show genuine affection toward someone else.

In a gross oversimplification, you’re labeling a complex, fully formed human being as merely a performer of intercourse.

That’s something you would never do with heterosexuality and especially not with your own sexuality, because you understand implicitly that your gender identity and sexual orientation are about much more than a physical act. They’re a much deeper part of who you are than that.

This is about far greater things than just plumbing and gymnastics.

You know that in your own life, the physical act of sex isn’t the totality of your sexuality; that it is also about affection and companionship and the desire to love and be loved. It’s about who you are drawn to and attracted to and compelled to be close to.

In your own story, you experienced those things firsthand before you ever thought about or experienced the act of intercourse. In those moments when you first began to understand your own sexual identity, it snuck up on you and surprised you. There was likely no internal battle, no great wrestling, no real conscious choice to be made.

It was not a decision that you came to, but a realization.

As a third grader, I remember we used to play tag on the school playground during recess; the boys against the girls. (They, after all had “girl germs”, so you had to avoid them lest you be touched and immediately infected). One sunny afternoon, a girl named Lori chased me across the steaming blacktop. Something hit me as we ran breathlessly through the school yard. I suddenly started to realize that I didn’t want to get away from Lori that much anymore. In fact, I sorta wanted her to catch me!

In that moment, there was no decision (other than the decision to start running a whole lot slower).

After that, the journey of the coming weeks and months and years was about more and more being revealed and uncovered over time—never a bit of it chosen.

Christian, you probably recall this in your own story of sexual identity and self discovery, don’t you? You simply felt naturally and quite involuntarily, the impulses you felt. By following those impulses you were making a choice, too. You were choosing to be authentic and true to your heart and mind’s leading. You were choosing to agree with the truth about how you loved. The alternative would never have been an option.

Why is it so hard for you to believe that LGBT people are operating any differently?

Many Christians like to say that a gay person is “struggling with their sexuality”, but that is usually incorrect. In most cases, they are only struggling with the way Christians are treating them because of their sexuality. They are struggling to avoid condemnation, struggling to stay hidden and protected from the bullies, struggling to remain in faith communities where they are mistreated and shunned.

Their conflict is usually not with their sexuality or with God, but with the hateful people of God.

It’s rather careless to treat the gay community as if they are choosing their path of orientation, because what you’re implying when you do so is that they are naturally wired to be straight but are making the conscious decision to act in direct opposition to this. You are charging them with the most profound emotional treason.

Does that line of thinking work at all if you superimpose it onto your own life? That would mean that you could just as easily be gay as straight; that you could, with enough cajoling and suggestion and support and prayer—choose to be attracted to, desiring of, and aroused by someone of the same sex.

Do you bristle at that idea? (Especially you super manly heterosexual Christian men) Do you find the concept offensive, even?

Good. You should.

It makes no sense and it’s an insult to your personal integrity. It simply defies any logic that you, me, or anyone chooses the way their hearts work.

I know that some of you are champing at the bit to ask the hypothetical, (because you ask me every day), “Well, what if someone says that they are naturally a pedophile; is that OK too?”

If you really want to compare two consenting adults finding mutual affection, companionship, and love in relationship with one another; to one adult preying upon a child purely for sexual satisfaction, that’s up to you, but I find the comparison frankly ridiculous; one that shows a worrisome disregard for the greater humanity of LGBT adults.

The same goes for religious folk’s habit of equating the LGBT community with those who feel compelled to murder or steal or abuse drugs, and the reason is quite simple: Those things bring destruction and violence and damage. They are about one person desiring something inherently harmful. (And simply replying, “They damage themselves in God’s eyes” doesn’t quite cut it, I’m afraid).

Regardless of many Christians’ attempts to claim otherwise, two LGBT human beings involved in a committed loving relationship are not damaged by one another. They are, as with loving heterosexual relationships; encouraged, challenged, enriched, and supported by one another. (If you don’t want to take my word for it, ask them).

We can no longer ignore this critical distinction when we toss around our blanket statements about the gay community. It’s time that we who claim both Christianity and heterosexuality, ask some very difficult questions about what we really mean when we say that homosexuality is a choice, and that this choice is a sin.

When we use these words in this very limited and narrow way, we’re also assuming that our own inclinations toward – not just sex but – affection, intimacy, companionship, romance, and love, are all within our control and alterable; that they involve decision on any level.

We’re also assuming that anytime we have sexual relations with someone, that it is always an activity disconnected from and devoid of love. If we choose that path, we’re opening up our own expansive sexuality up to the prospect of being reduced down to solely the act of intercourse.

Further, we need to look at the Scriptures we so easily throw at the LGBT community and ask whether those handful of verses really refer to a person with beautiful inclinations toward love and affection and companionship, or whether they just refer to someone doing something with their body parts, and also ask how we apply those verses to actual flesh-and-blood human beings seeking authentic relationships.

What did the writers of the Bible reference when they used the words translated as “homosexuality”? (No such word existed when it was written, so this is a crucial question to ask and seek to answer well).

In this very important conversation where words do matter, we also need to jettison useless ones.

There is no such thing as a “heterosexual lifestyle”, just as there is no homosexual lifestyle. These terms have no real meaning or value. They speak no truth about any of us. They serve no purpose but to demean people and insult them and avoid respectful dialogue.

We should throw them in the garbage and dare to ask the much more difficult questions about how love and affection and intimacy and sex are connected—in all of us.

As straight individuals, we can’t demand to be drawn with great detail and precision, while simultaneously grossly caricaturing the LGBT community. Their hearts are as vast as our own, and their stories filled with all the nuance and complexity that we have experienced in ours.

Yes, LGBT people are absolutely making a choice.

They are choosing to be the most honest, authentic versions of themselves. They are choosing to be led by the unfiltered direction of their hearts, just as you and I are. They are choosing to relent to the things that, in all of our lives, never can be chosen.

The only relevant choices for straight Christians are whether or not we will treat the LGBT community as fully complex, intelligent, emotionally intricate human beings, and whether or not we will be willing to examine both our personal opinions and our theology accordingly.

The choice is ours.

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  1. pete
    April 10, 07:40 Reply

    “They are choosing to be the most honest, authentic versions of themselves.”

    That’s all. Wish everyone can understand this even KDians. Good morning.

    • ambivalentone
      April 10, 08:07 Reply

      “I am a cheat and greedy and cannot but not have these feelings of wanting to have some on the side. I wanna wife dem all if I can because I’m naturally polygamous” Nice and honest

  2. ambivalentone
    April 10, 07:44 Reply

    Now, how do we simplify this for that senile bishop of Maiduguri diocese and the teeming Nigerians whose minds are being poisoned daily (not that they had much of anything to be poisoned b4 sef)

  3. Mandy
    April 10, 08:14 Reply

    To those even here who think homosexuality is a lifestyle, a game, let this piece enlighten you on how disrespectful you’re being to your community. Homosexuality is our life, not a lifestyle.

  4. Eggsy
    April 10, 08:35 Reply

    It’s not just heterosexual Christians that are this senile, although they make up the majority. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been asked this question:

    “So how long have you been in the game?”

    It saddens me that people think their sexuality is a game. It infuriates me that people think MY sexuality is a game or something I “do” to rebel or spite God. Fuck God! Fuck society! Fuck those idiot closeted homophobes!

  5. chuck
    April 10, 08:58 Reply

    Why are we still trying to understand Christians? They believe in a sky god

  6. Geeluv
    April 10, 09:24 Reply

    Lolz…. @ “they believe in a sky god”. But some of us are Christians too. Ain’t we???

  7. keredim
    April 10, 10:50 Reply

    To those of us, homosexual or otherwise that get epileptic fits at the mention of “Gay Christian”, I am gonna leave this right here….

    “Their conflict is usually not with their sexuality or with God, but with the hateful people of God.


    • Truth
      April 10, 11:15 Reply

      It’s because of their fictitious belief in god which makes then think that god doesn’t hate them, it makes them believe that the hatred is coming from humans and not god. Its actually a deluded way of thinking; that the god who inspired humans to write the bible which you as a “gay” christian think is infallible, somehow loves you in all your gayness. And because God is nowhere to be found and never have been, anyone could say anything about him and it’ll be true, for example:” god doesn’t hate gay people”. Who are we to ask when God is nowhere to be found?

      Any truly well meaning human being would never belong to a cult which decries the very core of your existence.

      • keredim
        April 10, 17:29 Reply

        The epileptic fits (and frothing at the mouth) have begun…..???

        Thanks for your astute and relentlessly rehashed observation. We are happy in our “delusion”.

        What I don’t understand though is if you (& your backing vocalist) are so happy with your belief system (or lack of), why are you so interested in the cult of a God that doesn’t exist in the physical, or as someone mentioned a while back, why the lions did not eat the pigs on Noah’s ark? (Colossus ndo).

        Haven’t you got enough to do in whatever you believe in (or not)? Or have you finished the syllabus?

        Surely “any truly well meaning human being” would be content with what they have and not worry about another person’s deluded religious cult? As in stay in your lane, let me stay in mine.

        I mean does whatever you believe in (or not) not suggest “live and let live” and don’t ridicule other people’s beliefs that work for them, the same way yours works for you??

        • chuck
          April 10, 20:45 Reply

          Clearly Nigerians living in Christian communities are affected by Christianity.The religion prescribes mores and social norms, which are applied when its adherents are strong enough to influence public opinion.

          How do you not realize this? If you live amongst people who are conservative, and they get to apply their conservatism to laws etc, clearly their conservatism affects you.

          I don’t insult people online. So i’ll ignore your references to epilepsy. Let that speak for you when it is time to judge your ability to process arguments.

          • keredim
            April 11, 15:53 Reply

            You don’t insult people online and yet you pen a piece that called Bisexuals/MGMs disease carrying vermin.

            Or was that piece inspired but the Christian conservatism you so abhor?

            • chuck
              April 11, 16:20 Reply

              You’re distorting the piece. I specifically said that men who were cheating on their wives with other men were guilty of disrespect. that is why some ofus on the blog did not think it was OK, and in fact thought that specific situation should be avoided. I also brought up the risk of STD infection.

              Do you see any point that shows a failing as an insult?

        • Truth
          April 10, 23:40 Reply

          @Keredim, take your own advice and stick your ageing self out of people’s business.


          • keredim
            April 11, 15:48 Reply

            You age everyday . That dear boy, is the TRUTH

        • Dimkpa
          April 11, 00:20 Reply

          Oga Keredim permit me to just add a bit to this conversation.

          It is all fine and good to say ‘stay in your lane and let me stay in mine’, however the people that flout this are usually the religious and I will illustrate with examples.

          In the tragic story of Akin, what I understand is that his privacy was invaded by his neighbour because who wanted to prove he was gay. He was in his lane but spurred on by their Christian values they entered his and eventually brought about his death. I would ask how many in that mob felt justified in participating in the lynching of that young man because of the biblical injunction in Leviticus 18:22 but your guess would be as good as mine.

          In passing the antigay bill in Nigeria it can be argued that one of the main arguments in support of it was religious. I still remember the rage and disappointment when, to discuss that matter a radio station I liked listening to felt it appropriate to get a pastor to discuss the law and you can imagine the type of things he said. They couldn’t even think to bring a lawyer to discuss it in light of blatant violation of human rights. Again I ask ‘who entered whose Lane?’

          Look at what is happening in America now where in response to gay marriage, state legislators are passing laws that make racial discrimination of long ago look like child’s play under the guise of… you guessed it… religious freedom.

          When ISIS hurl gay men from the tops of buildings, is it in the spirit of staying in their Lane?

          I don’t think it is right to imagine religion as a benign influence especially as regards homosexuality. It is due to its influence that parents have rejected and disowned their own LGBT kids thereby making them vulnerable to all manner of ills and even leading some to suicide.

          I don’t think it is right also to blame religious people and absolve God from any blame. He may not exist in the physical but the claim is that he made it and controls it. How long before he decides enough is enough and uses just an infinitesimal amount of his supposedly omnipotent powers to bring about a change? Abi na sleep im dey sleep?

          When some of us throw epileptic fits about religion and the religious it is just an attempt to push back at something which ultimately wants to see us treated as unworthy people. It is because we feel that it is not the benign influence it masquerades as. It is partly in the hope that showing it up for what it is will reduce the number of potential Akins.

          Now permit me once again to return to my Lane… 🙂

          • keredim
            April 11, 17:57 Reply

            Dimpka, firstly thank you for acknowledging in your examples that Christianity is not the only religion on KD.

            Secondly, thanks for the tragic examples and I agree with you that religion had a role to play in them, but I feel tradition or culture have a major role to play too. (But I will leave that discussion for another day)

            But I feel, in your haste to exercise your intellectual prowess, you have answered the wrong questions.

            If you noticed, my comment was about being a gay Christian (on KD), not about the atrocities caused by bad people in the name of Christianity or Islam , and I used a paragraph on the post to buttress that point in my own way.

            As a gay Christian I am well aware of the atrocities you mentioned in your comment. I am also aware of the few Bible verses, which you relentless rehash) and Quran verses that condemn homosexuality.

            I am also well aware of the verses in both Holy Books, that proclaim kindness and love. These are the verses in the Bible, I have chosen to dwell on.

            Like DM said two rants ago, in this difficult life of ours, (not just gay life) most of us need solace and something to believe in and hope for to get us through life or we will go mad. I appreciate that you may not be in this category. Some of us have chosen God, some of us have other avenues to find this solace. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way, it is whatever works for you , so long as you find peace and you do good by others.

            I have no issue with negative or positive posts about Christianity being published on this forum after all it is a reflection of life and KD is what it is; but what gets me is when someone, like myself, say they are gay and Christian – you , Chuck, the recently KD departed Max and heaven knows who else get their daggers out and derided our faith.

            I think it is wrong.

            Maybe it is because, I have family and close friends who are Muslims, Christians, Agnostic, Atheists and everything in between and we all get along and are respectful of each other’s beliefs. We don’t go around deriding one religion. We are bonded by our humanity. And I don’t see why we as Human beings with added advantage of being special, cannot do the same. Hence my “Stay in your lane; I stay in mine” line

            Your constant sneering at gay Christians does not set you apart from the Christians you say were driven by Leviticus 18:22 to lynch Akin. It just doesn’t.

              • chuck
                April 13, 03:26 Reply

                It’s interesting how often you distort arguments you dislike. I’ll repeat my assertion: cheating on your wife is wrong, even if it is with another man. Here’s another one: homosexuality is inconsistent with the precepts in the Bible.

  8. Delle
    April 10, 13:22 Reply

    A straight guy wrote all of these? A straight man, dare I say, has more knowledge of what it means to be gay than many gay men? (Ray and the likes should save this message in their mobiles). I’m perplexed to say the least. This post is all that there is.
    Wonderful entry. Beauty at its best!

  9. Brown
    April 11, 10:47 Reply

    Wish I could post this on Facebook… then again, no be all naija people sabi English. Nice piece!

  10. Deborah
    April 11, 11:39 Reply

    Well I am straight- although I did have a period in high school thinking I might be at least bi-curious- and I applaud this article.

  11. Marc Francis of Chelsea
    April 12, 11:16 Reply


    I’ve made this argument many times over. At what point did you choose to be straight? Does it mean you fancied the same sex as well then chose to be straight? An abstinent gay person is just as gay as a a merry-go-round gay person. It is beyond sex.

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