It’s not easy living the life of a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction. Especially in an environment that focuses on relationships, marriage, and children. While I don’t struggle in this area, I have known many who do. And most struggle in the darkness of loneliness and shame. Even when you’ve been redeemed by Christ, the Church is not always receptive to those that stand out. But there is always hope. Below is an interview with my friend Josh who shares of his experiences with same-sex attraction.
Derek: Thanks Josh for opening up on the topic. Let’s start with the word ‘gay’ as it’s a loaded word. Can you explain to us what it means and doesn’t mean to you?
Josh: When someone tells me they’re gay, I understand it to mean they experience an exclusive, enduring attraction to the same sex and identify themselves accordingly. I can’t identify as gay even if I wanted to, because I experience some attraction to the opposite sex. As a Christian, my primary identity, which is my only relevant identity, is found in Christ alone. I know some Christians who experience same-sex attraction (SSA) exclusively, and some of them choose to identify as gay. I don’t identify as gay or bisexual because I see no need to label my sexuality, but I understand the rationale of my friends. They are basically letting people know that their exclusive attraction is a struggle that is more than just a phase. Because they are Christians, it is a statement that is qualified by their Christian testimonies, so it’s not just thrown around without context.
D: When did you first discover you were attracted to the same sex? How long did you wait before telling people about it?
J: The first time I discovered that I was attracted to men, I only experienced homosexuality as sexual attraction. I was about ten years old when I was able to put my experience into words (that I kept to myself) and I knew my desires were not considered normal. I remember crying in a literal closet that day. It was the only kind of attraction I experienced for several years. I waited ten years before I told anyone about what I experienced. Thankfully, my sexuality wasn’t a major struggle for most of those years. I came out of the closet when I was 20 years old. The first person I shared with was my mentor at the time, a man I knew would not shun me. He was able to provide guidance, and he helped me open up to the people in my life.
D: Did you ever try to “cure” your homosexuality, whether through prayer or some type of program? Are there any Christian programs you can recommend now?
J: I’ve tried to “pray the gay away” more than a few times to no avail. While I believe that prayer is effective, there are probably better ways to pray. I’ll share a brief story as an example: I really benefited from attending a group for guys with SSA not too long ago. It wasn’t an ex-gay ministry, but rather a place to experience authentic Christian community through sharing burdens and receiving encouragement. After I shared my testimony with the guys, they prayed for me and I experienced victory in my life. ‘Victory’ doesn’t mean all of my attractions dissipated. For me, it meant freedom from pornography. I’ve never really struggled with falling for other men or checking out guys, I struggled with pornography. God knew my burden and he answered our prayers that night. In the same way, I believe God will provide in some sort of way for all of us if we call out to Him. If SSA is something you’re going through, it’s an experience that endures for most, but God is able to either deliver you in some way or give you the grace to endure.
If you want to be a part of the program I was a part of, let Derek know and I will personally connect you with the people leading it.
D: When you realized you were attracted to those of the same sex, what verses in the Bible did you struggle with the most? And how did you reconcile them in order to find peace?
J: I realized my sexuality for what it was at a time when I wanted nothing to do with God. When I came to know Christ, I struggled with the passage Romans 1:18-32. I still struggle don’t fully understand Romans 1 to this day, but I’ve understood it to be more about general truth suppression. I think when people suppress the truth God has given us, it leads to going our own way: not only sinning, but taking pride in it. There are many sins in our culture that people take pride in, and homosexuality is just one of them. I’ve seen pride of any kind to be destructive in my own life. I find peace in knowing that I can accept God’s truth about Himself and who I am in Him, which humbles me and is more liberating than living any kind of hedonistic life.
D: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you’ve heard about gay/same-sex attracted people?
J: There are many, but I will list a few of them and go in-depth with one particular myth. Some people think gay people are promiscuous, attracted to everyone of the same sex, excessively effeminate/butch, etc. Some are actually attracted to very few people, live quiet lives, and pretty much blend in with everyone else.
A misconception that has more consequences is that gay/same-sex attracted people are damaged goods and automatically condemned. God offers the free gift of salvation to everyone who accepts it. Some Christians look at homosexuality as a social matter instead of a people matter. People shouldn’t be viewed with dirty looks, but as humans made by God and in need of God. The gay community doesn’t need God because they’re queer; they need God in the same way we all do.
D: If same-sex activity in the church is not permissible, what’s the alternative?
J: Same-sex relationships have no place in the Church because Christians are to abide by Scripture, which is the unchanging word of God. I know liberal theologians would disagree, but some things simply cannot be reconciled. God’s will for every Christian is to follow Christ. There is no alternative to that. Some guys with SSA get married and some don’t, but living a life for God is fulfilling either way. Even God’s will for those who are heterosexual isn’t always marriage. Sometimes God’s will for us is singleness, regardless of our sexual predisposition.
D: What’s your take on the current atmosphere of the LGBTQ community? Do you agree or disagree with what they believe in?
J: I think our society shifted from rampant homophobia to institutionalized gay pride in an extremely short period of time. I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I think a lot of LGBTQ+ people have chosen pride because shame is too hard to deal with. Gay pride is a stance I don’t share with them. I couldn’t deal with my shame either, so I took it to God.
As you can already tell, there’s not a lot I agree with. However, I do have to admit that the de-stigmatization of homosexuality, which the gay community is largely responsible for, helped a lot of people to finally come out of the closet, myself included. I am, however, glad I didn’t receive acceptance from the secular world as a licence to act on my sexuality in any way I see fit. While I do think acceptance is important, God offers a better kind of acceptance. He accepts us as we are, hopeless and broken, and renews us from the inside out.
In short, I think Christians should extend grace to the LGBTQ+ community. In return, what is needed from the community is not gay pride, but gay humility.
D: Do you have any final comments to add?
J: I’m not claiming to be an expert on anything, but I can say a lot about the good that has happened in my own life. I just want to say that even though I’m sharing this semi-anonymously, I’m not hiding anymore. I’ve shared my story with the people I was led to share with for now. I don’t have brothers, but I’m blessed to have brothers in Christ who love me, something I pray all Christian guys with SSA can have. I pray that God would be glorified in what I have shared and that you are able to benefit in some way from this testimony.
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