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Can sexual orientation be changed?

Some people with same-sex attraction would like their sexual orientation to change. But is being 'straight' a godly goal? For the Christian, exchanging one set of sexual temptations for another set is not really progress towards living a life that gives glory to God. Rather, God calls every Christian to behave within the sexual boundaries set out in the Bible. And God does not promise to take away our struggles - in the Bible, Paul's experience was that God gave him the grace to endure his "thorn in the side" (2 Cor 12:8-9).

Why some people want to change their orientation

Here is a list of some reasons why people want to change their sexual orientation. Each point is followed by our thoughts on it:

  • A desire to get married to someone of the opposite sex and perhaps to have children. We would cautiously encourage someone who personally desires marriage, even when same-sex feelings persist, as long as there is a good measure of attraction (in its broadest sense) towards a possible spouse. There are many within TFT who can testify to faithful and loving marriage commitments towards their spouses (including satisfying sexual relations) without the need for a general sexual attraction to the opposite sex. This article contains more detailed advice for anyone considering marriage.
  • A desire to be 'normal' and avoid discrimination/judgement. We would challenge the desire to conform to what is 'normal' and would want to reassure the person that same-sex temptations in themselves are not sinful (Jesus was tempted in every way - Heb 4:15 - but it was his resistance of temptation that mattered).
  • Negative views about singleness and celibacy. We aim to promote singleness as equally valuable as marriage (1 Cor 7:32). If a person is committed to singleness, then to whom a person's is sexually attracted is not really very important - what matters is that the person resists acting upon these attractions and rather seeks healthy intimacy in non-sexual ways.

Our view on change

Sometimes, the pattern of people's sexual attractions do change during their lives. But having an undue preoccupation with one's change of sexual orientation can become just another idol ("Only when I get this thing sorted in my life can I be truly happy..."). We need to encourage one another to find contentment in our current circumstances (Phil 4:11-13). Only in the life to come will we experience complete change (1 Cor 15:51-52) and our struggles will be over (Rev 21:4).

TFT offers pastoral support and does not provide any form of counselling or therapy. We do not engage in nor endorse conversion therapy. Instead, we encourage Christians to expect transformation (often gradual) through their relationship with Christ. Indeed, change is inevitable for a disciple of Christ. The biblical transformation experience, however, is not primarily about a change of sexual orientation (the Bible does not discuss sexual orientation). Biblical transformation is about:

  1. Change of heart (Ezek 36:26, Psalm 51:10, 2 Cor 5:17)
  2. Change in behaviour (Rom 6:17-18, and the rest of Romans 6; 1 John 2:1, 1 John 3:6)
  3. Change of mind (2 Cor 10:5; 1 Cor 2:16; Rom 12:2)

TFT is a community that helps us as Christians to explore together how biblical transformation impacts our whole lives.

Resources for further study

Please note that any external resources below are intended to complement the main answer given above and may not entirely match TFT's position.

TFT article:'Do you want to change your sexual orientation?' '

Stefan reflects on what change really means for the Christian.

TFT article:'Are same-sex attractions sinful?' '

Jonathan explores whether same-sex attractions are in themselves wrong.

Living Out article: 'Can your sexuality change?' '

Peter Ould looks into the scientific evidence around change in sexual orientation.

ERLC video: 'Dr. Moore on Reparative Therapy'

Dr Russell Moore helpfully unpacks the term "Reparative Therapy".

Book: 'Homosexuality and the Christian'

This book (click link above) by Mark Yarhouse, an American Professor of Psychology, has a helpful chapter 'Can someone change sexual orientation?'