Are You Defining Yourself by Your Sexuality?

What if I asked, Who are you?, how would you respond?

If you’re like most people, you would tell me your age, current job, or even a list of hobbies you enjoy. If you’re a parent, you would surely tell me about your kids. And if you got more comfortable with me, you might even share that you’re gay, straight, transgender, or bisexual. After all, there does seem to be a growing pressure in our society to define yourself by your sexual preferences.

But what if your sexuality isn’t the best way to define yourself?

When we think of sexuality, it’s tempting to view it as a collection of different boxes. For example, look at the following image:

LGBTQ Sexuality

Most people can place themselves in whichever box they identify with. To do so, however, can lead you to become attached to that particular box. In other words, you can allow the box you’re in to define your identity.

For example, let’s say you identify yourself as a lesbian. By making that a defining characteristic of who you are, much of your life will be interpreted from within that box. If you hear someone claim God’s plan for marriage is for one man and one woman (a paradigm that doesn’t fit within your box) it will feel like a personal attack.

Or, what if you identify as a gay man, but find yourself drawn towards a woman? You might question those feelings based on the understanding that you’re supposed to be attracted to men and write the desire off as an anomaly. You may reject it based on how you understand your box, not on what your heart is telling you.

By defining yourself based on your sexual attractions, you’re allowing something that is designed to be only one part of you to become the driving force in your life. Rather than asking how your sexuality fits in with who you are, you may be trying to fit who you are into your sexuality.

Sexuality and Identity

Photo by Mario Mancuso | Flickr CC

A Better Way to Define Yourself

Your sexual attractions certainly do help describe you, but it’s important to never let them define you. In order to figure out what does define you—your true identity—you first need to understand who God says you are. After all, He’s the one who made you, so He is the only one with the authority to tell you who you truly are.

Thankfully, all throughout Scripture, there are dozens of examples of God telling you His definition of you. Any time you see the phrase “in Him,” or “in Christ,” it’s a description of how God sees you from the first moment you trust Jesus. For example:

The best part is this identity is available to everyone who puts his or her trust in Jesus. On top of that, it’s not a box you have to earn the right to enter, because He already paid the admission for anyone who accepts it.

It should be noted, however, that receiving this new identity doesn’t mean your sexuality will change instantly. Transformation is a life-long process, and God may or may not decide that your sexuality is His first priority. Odds are good though, that He will change the lens through which you interpret it.

Interpreting Your Sexuality from Your True Identity

Rather than identifying yourself by your sexuality, I’d encourage you to first define yourself as a child of God, and then ask which of the following categories your sexuality fits into: Pistis, or Porneia?

  • Pistis is the greek word used throughout the Bible for faithfulness (and in this case, the purity that results from it). Now, this isn’t the white-knuckle, resist-temptation-through-sheer-willpower external purity many of us grew up chasing, but the internal purity that only comes from trusting Jesus to transform the deepest desires of your heart.
  • Porneia, however, is any sexual activity outside of God’s established boundaries. There has been much debate on what exactly that entails, but I trust if you’re truly seeking to be pistis, anything that falls under porneia will become clear to you.

The important thing to realize about these categories, however, is they aren’t boxes—they’re trajectories: opposite ends of a line you can move between with varying levels of speed and velocity.

For example, imagine a pastor of a growing church with a loving wife and a couple of kids at home. He’s very outspoken about his conservative political views on marriage, and has preached multiple times on the evils of lust and sexual sin. Recently, however, he’s discovered a strong draw towards pornography, but he’s ignoring it hoping that it will go away. In reality, he knows it’s pulling him further away from his wife and causing him to feel increasingly distant from God. He may seem closer to pistis at the moment, but he’s quickly moving towards porneia.

On the other hand, imagine two women in a committed relationship who hear the message of God’s love for them and wholeheartedly receive it. They both recognize their need for a Savior and choose to trust Jesus, yet they decide to remain together as they pursue a deeper understanding of what it means to be disciples of Christ. Many would place them near porneia, but they’re moving towards pistis quickly.

These examples illustrate how, when it comes to being either pistis or porneia, the direction in which you are moving is more important than where you (or others) would place yourself currently.

Furthermore, no matter which direction you’re headed, it will never change your truest, deepest identity as a forgiven, accepted, unconditionally loved child of God. Once you’re in that box, you’re there for eternity.

So, instead of defining yourself as gay, what if you defined yourself as a child of God who happens to be attracted to other men?

Instead of identifying first as bisexual, what if you grounded your identity in the fact that God loves you unconditionally?

After all, God sees you as so much more than your sexuality. What would happen if you did the same?

Stephen KuhnStephen Kuhn is the author multiple books, including 10 Lies Men Believe about Porn, and DONE. 52 Amazing Things That Became True of You the Moment You Trusted Christ.

You can find out more about his ministry and read his story here.

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  • timminer

    I love the way this article attacks the relevant issues with the truths of God found in his word. You clearly gave the battles that are being fought in this world, making divisions between people, and gave it over to God, rather than making it yours to state. And in the process of sidestepping the sinkholes of argument, you hit the main issue directly on the head. Bravo, this is a great piece, I will share with many folks around me! Thanks for being faithful to your ministry!