Let’s get down to practical matters. If you are struggling or know friends who struggle with same-sex attraction then this post is for you. Here are five ways I’ve seen this handled in the Christian world and I’ll give you my convictions:
- Embrace homosexuality – Rejecting biblical norms and accepting homosexuality as normal and approved by God. The biblical condemnations against homosexuality are cultural and contextual to its time. They do not apply any more. “you gotta go with the flow” they would say.If this argument were true, why then is homosexuality condemned consistently throughout both the Old Testament and New Testament (from Genesis all the way down to Revelation)? Why is there not one verse our of the Bible’s 31,000+ where God gives his personal stamp of approval toward homosexual activity? If we are to accept homosexuality as norm, then why not all the other “vices” listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9? Why not say prohibitions on idol worship, adultery, drunkenness, thievery, and prostitution are cultural as well? In this verse, why be selective on some and not others?
- “On the fence” mentality – These Christians are unsure whether or not homosexuality is wrong. These are the “maybes” crowd. They refuse to give a clear answer, let alone talk about the issue. However reality dictates that they cannot live like a “maybe”, and must live in a way whether they agree or disagree. Usually, they live like 1. even though they want to fit into all crowds and might verbally claim anything 3. and below.James 1:7-8 states that these type of people “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” and that they are “double-minded and unstable”.
If you want to be stable, you have to set you put your mark in the sand and stand up for what you believe. Either you approve of homosexuality or you don’t. There is no maybe.Jesus rejects those who live a “maybe” lifestyle. See Revelation 3:16
- Repression and denial – Believe that same-sex attraction is wrong, but the person struggling is too ashamed to admit their sins and hides any traces of it, while pretending to be straight. They will likely marry to a spouse of the opposite sex out of peer pressure and to cope with their own loneliness. Their family has no clue of their struggles, let alone even their pastor.There’s nothing worse than living in darkness. That is, hiding our sins from one another out of fear. King David was quite the opposite, and when he committed adultery with Bathsheba he wrote a Psalm 51 to confess to the world what he had done. Confess perhaps is the wrong word, declare is more like it. The “man after God’s own heart” refused to keep his sin hidden from the world but rather showed it to all the world to see how great God’s forgiveness is. For those who struggle with homosexuality, you need to come out of the dark and share it with someone you trust. It starts with the Lord, but you also need to leave your baggage with your brothers and sisters in Christ so that they can help carry the load.
Ann Mobley shares about how her son confessed over the dinner table his struggles with homosexuality. She would later spend 20 years of her life speaking about the matter. If you’re struggling with coming out of the dark I’d give this one a read and I pray the Holy Spirit would give you the courage to confess to those you trust. If they really do care for you, they would embrace you in the same way this book does.
On a side note, the globe and mail did an interesting article (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/facts-and-arguments/after-50-years-in-the-closet-i-talked-to-my-wife-and-im-finally-who-i-really-am/article25040687/) recently about a family man in his 50’s who came out of the closet with his sexuality. He later divorced his wife and hooked up with another man. He claims that his marriage with his wife was “good” and that he still has “excellent” relationships with his wife and children. While I think a lot of this is subjective (afterall, which supporter in the LGBT community would personally claim a poor marriage), it certainly gives you a personal viewpoint of what this type of lifestyle is like.
- Conversion therapy (or reparative therapy) – Believe that same-sex attraction is wrong, and seeks any treatment aimed at converting one’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. A heterosexual marriage is highly promoted and sought after. Sometimes this becomes a private matter, other times it becomes public. This can include but not be limited to:
- Counselling and rehabilitation “12-step” programs
- Psychiatric isolation
- Electro-shock therapy
- Exposure to heterosexual pornography
I had once been an advocate of the counselling side of this but my views have changed. Statistically, conversion therapy has only been around 10-20% successful while those who have gone through such programs have expressed disappointment, frustration, and relapse. Is it simply a flaw in execution or a flaw in principle? I would argue the latter.Exodus International is an example of a Christian network that used conversion therapy but also wrought with controversy and disbanded in 2013. It’s success rate had been very poor.I believe that putting our faith in psychology and methodology to solve our problems is ultimately futile if it is not rooted in the Bible. The reality is that the Bible never guarantees that we will have complete freedom from all our sins while we are on this earth. The reality is that we live within sinful bodies that want to rebel against God every second of our lives. The reality is that Jesus is always there to help us cope with our trials, not to avoid them altogether. This principle applies to all other vices such as alcohol or lust – God may grant you freedom from homosexuality but he might not. Why? So that you would depend on his strength on not your own. See 2 Corinthians 12:9
- Confession and celibacy – Believe that same-sex attraction is wrong, confess one’s struggles within a trusted setting, and live a celibate life committed to Christ.
I’ve wrestled with this one a lot and I still think this is the best option for those who cannot overcome same-sex attraction. If so, then it seems that God has “doomed” gays to become celibates from the get-go. That’s a very good argument and its a hard one for me to answer. After all, I’m straight and looking outward in. I wish there was a better solution, but I don’t see it. Here’s what I want to say after praying an entire week about it.
Modern society has placed a huge premium on the stage of marriage. You see it within the news, in movies, family and your own social network. But the reality is that marriage is a temporary measure given to us by God. The ultimate reality is that in heaven there will be no marriage (Matthew 22:30). Our meaning in life is not primarily sex (as the world would have it) or having a fancy ceremony or someone saying to your face “I love you”. As wonderful as all of these are, they are only shadows of what is greater. The greatest measure in life is to worship God and enjoy him. Everything we do in life is know our creator deeper. Marriage, even in a heterosexual context can lead to utter disaster if its pursuits are selfish and not Christ-centered. So then, the Christian ideal is not that a person must be married, but that they have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Marriage is a blessing for us to achieve such a goal. Also for that reason, singleness and celibacy is not a doomsday card because it facilitates the primary goal of life even easier than being married. It would do us great good if we remind ourselves of this.
I’ve been living 31 years cold-turkey waiting for the suitable companion and being straight doesn’t make it any different. If you’re struggling, I want to say that I sympathize with you and understand a bit about the loneliness that you face. The desire to be accepted by somebody, loved for who you are, taken care of, or just given a listening ear is all too familiar. It hurts, and even God himself said, “it is not good for a man to be alone”. So then, our human nature is to be in companionship. But Jesus suffered far greater and understands your pain, even if we don’t want to believe it. He was the greatest bachelor who ever lived, yet also the most loneliest . I can only wonder if the human side of Jesus desired for a female mate. But to this I know, he can relate to us in every way: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15
We need to look at the root cause and not at the symptoms. The root cause is our dissatisfaction with God and the need for companionship. Marriage cannot solve the first problem, and it can only temporarily cope with the second. May you go to the Lord in prayer and a deeper sense of his love for you today.