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There is a script some follow, a way of thinking about sexual identity, that goes like this:  "Hey, I am attracted to the same sex (or both sexes, or ________). That’s just who I am."

Is it really that simple? Attractions or feelings determine identity?

In his book Identity Matters, Terry Wardle warns against building our identity around anything that is not eternal. For example, to build our identity around our career, kids or hobbies sets us up for disillusionment. Who are we when we no longer work, our kids reject us, or our sagging bodies can’t keep up with our hobbies?

So how does this relate to sexual identity?

Just to be clear, there’s a difference between sexual identity and gender identity. Identifying sexually is a matter of deciding if we are gay, bisexual or heterosexual. But the question with gender identity is “Am I male or female, despite the tag placed on my crib at the hospital?”

So for sexual identity, are we born gay, bi or hetero? Is it fixed at birth? And is part of our journey in self-discovery a matter of sifting through our attractions to find the right label?

I don’t believe so. Not for a minute. And here are the reasons.

Despite what you have been told, scientists have not discovered the cause of homosexuality or bisexuality. Neither nature nor nurture have been pegged as causative. Genetics can contribute, but not cause. Parenting styles and sexual trauma can contribute, but not cause.

All of the studies done on nature and nurture point to one conclusion: It seems to be a complex combination of both.

And attractions themselves are not set in stone. For most, there is some fluidity.

Psychologist Mark Yarhouse has studied sexual and gender identity his entire career. In his book Homosexuality and the Christian, he highlights this fluidity. About 6% of men and 2% of women have experienced some degree of same-sex attraction. For many of them it was just a season. It didn’t last. Such fluidity is especially true for women.

He goes on to say that some do in fact have an orientation to the same sex. In other words, they can never remember being heterosexually attracted. Some have even tried to change their attractions without any success. Those with this firm orientation are about 2% of men and 1% of women.

But that brings us back to the question of identity. Do attractions determine who we are—even if firmly fixed?

Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry illustrates this by considering deafness. Those of us without hearing impairment consider deafness an unfortunate disability—something to be remedied if at all possible.

However, within the deaf community there are some who have made it their identity. They see themselves as a people group with their own language, community and worldview. To suggest that they consider getting a cochlear implant to “normalize” them is actually offensive to them. Deafness is part of who they are and how they experience life.

And so it is with sexual attraction. Whether it is fluid and fleeting, or a firmly fixed orientation, each person has a choice: "Is this central to who I am? Does this determine where I belong? Is this my worldview and identity?"

Some say yes to all three of those questions. Instead of viewing themselves as a person who experiences attraction to the same sex, they announce to the world that they are Gay or Bi.

But for we who are Christians, there is a different choice. Central to our identity is who we are in Christ and who God says that we are.

In my book Into the Light, I admit to some of my own brokenness. Instead of going through the “girls are yucky” stage as a little boy, I had crushes on girls dating back to toddlerhood. Seriously. And beginning with kindergarten, there was a different heartthrob for every grade.

That followed me into adulthood as well. But I have not made that a part of my identity. I have not announced to my wife, “Hey, I’m a polygamist. Either we make room for another wife or I’m going to have a mistress. That’s just who I am!”

Now please don’t misunderstand. My temptations have nowhere near the intensity that some experience who day after day are drawn to the same sex. And I didn’t grow up with the feeling that something must be wrong with me or that I was an abomination. I did not have to carry that crushing load.

But despite what feelings and attractions I have experienced, I have remained fixed on the notion that I am a child of God and he wants me to be faithful to my wife, no matter who catches my eye.

We are children of God and our sexual struggles are confined to our brief time here on earth.

Though some may wince at the notion, there is no sex in heaven. Nope. Jesus made that plain (Mt. 22:30). In fact, both Jesus and Paul stated that if you can remain single for the sake of the kingdom, go for it!

Sexual attractions, whether they seem temporary or fixed, are confined to this life. They are temporal, not eternal. And when we wrap our identity around sexual impulses, we set ourselves up for something less than what God desires.

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