What is the origin of aberrant sexual desire and gender confusion?

Due to recent litigation in our nation as well as celebrity news, there is an increased interest in human gender and sexuality. What is the origin of aberrant sexual desire and gender confusion? To put it another way: Are people born with sexual desires and ideas about gender that are different from the Biblical model for human behavior?

First, let us present the Bible model for human gender and sexuality. Jesus Christ said, "He Who created at the beginning made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh" (Mt 19:4-5). According to Jesus, the Author of our faith, and we believe the Creator of the universe, gender is a matter of divine design and determined biologically. Furthermore, sexuality is governed by biology. Contrary to modern opinion, Jesus in the aforementioned text defined marriage as between one man and one woman and condemned all other sexual relationships as perversions of sexuality. However, we are aware of many historic and modern departures from this model.

At the forefront of our attention today is homosexuality and what is called transgenderism – wherein persons identify with a gender different from what they are biologically. Beyond these there are dozens of other ways in which men and women can "exchange the natural use for what is against nature" as Paul says in Romans 1:26.

It should be noted that the Bible makes a distinction between the sin of homosexuality and the temptation of same-sex-attraction. See passages like Leviticus 20:18 and James 1:15. This is true of all sin – sexual and otherwise – but the desire itself in this case is curious, for only a small portion of the human race ever feels sexual attraction to the same gender, and even a smaller number identifies with a different gender than that which they are by birth. So for those who struggle with this confusion and those who want to help the struggling, the question is often raised: From whence do these attractions and ideas come? Are people born with these issues? Do they consciously choose to have them? Or, do they come by some other means? I believe the Bible gives us the answer.

Human beings are composed of three faculties according to scripture: the body (our physical self), the mind (our psychological self), and the spirit (our moral self) (1 Thes 5:23). These three faculties, while closely related, are distinct. The body and mind, inasmuch as they are connected to the organ of the brain, are brought about by procreation and related to the rest of the human family. Because of this, our bodies and minds are susceptible to the corruption suffered by humanity because of sin (Rom 5:12).

However, the spirit does not come from our parents nor from Adam and Eve, but directly from God (Zech 12:1) and is as flawless and pure as God Who gave it (Ecc 12:7). Think how this impacts the issue at hand. There are people born with physical abnormalities and corruptions that affect gender and sexuality. Jesus said in Matthew 19:12, "There are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb", and we know of rare cases in which a baby has ambiguous sexual features. It should be noted that scientifically this is very different from homosexuality and transgenderism.  There is no medical connection between those issues. This issue is sometimes called hermaphroditism or intersexuality and is medical – not moral.

Then, there are those who are born with emotional and mental problems, and sometimes those problems lead to aberrant sexual behavior or a lack of personal awareness on matters like gender, but these are medical and not moral issues. However, the spirit (the moral seat of a person) can have no birth defects. Every infant child is born pure and free from sin or vile affections (Ezekiel 28:12-15). This should be evident from observation. Babies are not sexually aware. They have no sexual attractions – righteous or unrighteous – and they certainly are not sexually active. The idea of a person being born with same-sex attraction or an infant thinking they have been assigned the wrong gender is ludicrous simply because a baby doesn't have the intellectual capacity for such thoughts nor the moral corruption to lend to them.

Sexual identity and impulse does not fully develop until puberty. Prior to that time the Bible teaches that a person is in a state of moral, intellectual, and physical development that equals innocence and unaccountability. However, that youthful period of our lives is also a time of foolishness according to Proverbs 22:15 – a time when understanding is undeveloped, and it is the role of parents to ensure that children during this stage of life are educated in the right way. A little boy might foolishly act like a little girl or vice versa. It is the responsibility of the child’s parents to give discipline, correction, and instruction.

Some children do not receive this. I have seen little boys who wanted to carry a purse or wear girl’s shoes and their parents encouraged it and thought it was cute. It should not be surprising, if that behavior was never corrected, that the child would grow into a confused adult. Sometimes little children are abused and improperly educated about sexuality. When this happens, if there is no loving correction, which sometimes involves counseling, the child often grows into a confused adult.

Christians should be cautious about using the word “choice” to describe same-sex attraction or gender confusion. For many people this confusion reaches back to childhood, and as an adult they do not remember making a choice to feel this way – in fact, they likely never did make such a conscious choice. The choice is in how, as an adult you’re going to deal with your desires. Thus, aberrant sexual desires and gender confusion, like all worldly lusts, do not come by way of our birth, nor are they necessarily the result of a willful choice to feel a certain way. They’re picked up along the way – acquired and learned – often in early childhood. If they linger with us into our adult years, they become our struggles in our effort to abstain from sin and practice righteousness. Our pure spirits do not long remain in that spotless condition because of the influences of this wicked and cursed world, but thanks be to God Who offers us clarity in our confusion and promises us forgiveness of sin and transformation by the renewing of our minds thru the gospel of Jesus Christ.