Alex* wore the pain and shame of same-sex attraction on his face as he shared with me how many years he had cried out for God to simply takes those desires away. Aware of the stigma, it wasn’t something he felt he could talk about in the church, and ultimately, it became easier for Alex to embrace the acceptance of the homosexual community and the lifestyle that came along with it.
He ventured back into the Church a few years later, isolated from the Body of Christ but desiring reconciliation with Jesus more than ever. His own study of the Bible caused him to conclude that engaging in homosexual behavior ran counter to God’s wisdom. And yet the blurring of lines between same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior left him in a very lonely, very confusing place.
Alex is far from alone. As a Church, we historically have been quick to associate same-sex attraction (the predisposition to engage in homosexual behavior) with homosexuality itself. Thus, for every Christian who is open about their temptation to engage in homosexual behavior, there are many more who remain silent. And the challenges for men and women in the Church who experience same-sex attraction are significant.The challenges for men & women in the Church who experience same-sex attraction are significant. - Amber Riggs Click To Tweet
As Israel Steinmetz noted in Same Sex Attraction: 5 Things Christians Need to Know, “Recent tectonic shifts in our culture regarding homosexuality and marriage have brought the issue of same-sex attraction to the fore in American society. Christians are faced with difficult questions and the challenge of ministering in a rapidly changing environment.”
Javier Ramos knows these challenges well. In response to the above article, he shared, “Thanks for highlighting that this aspect of a person’s life is not what defines them. There have been times where people have made unpleasant comments, but they were mostly made by those that were not working closely with me and as a result, did not know the progress I was making. It’s weird because as much as I don’t want it to define me, I bring it up as much as I can. Some might see it as a contradiction, but I see it as a way to encourage others to try making that change in their life or to invite others in the same boat as me to join me in this journey. Of course, living a celibate life might seem like a recipe for loneliness and depression, but it is what one makes it. This is why it is important to surround ourselves with God’s love, increasing faith in His plan for us, a church family to help us stay preoccupied and accountable, and family that supports and loves us.”As much as I don't want it to define me, I bring it up as much as I can. - Javier Ramos Click To Tweet
Do you experience same-sex attraction or want to know how you can better support same-sex attracted Christians? Fortunately, many Christians who experience same-sex attraction are bravely speaking out.
Be a Friend
In Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman, Bekah Mason gives five suggestions for how to be a faithful friend to Christians who are same-sex attracted and support a scriptural view of marriage. Here is her first piece of advice:
1. You don’t have to understand the struggle to be supportive.
One of the most helpful things my best friend told me when I began sorting through my faith and sexuality was, “I don’t understand at all what you’re going through, but I’m here and I love you.” If the discussion of human sexuality is new to you, that’s okay. Don’t try to be an expert who always offers advice. Sometimes we just need a sounding board and faithful prayer warrior. Understand, too, that sexual identity extends beyond our physical nature. “Sexuality isn’t about what we do in bed,” Butterfield says. “Sexuality encompasses a whole range of needs, demands, and desires. Sexuality is more a symptom of our life’s condition than a cause, more a consequence than an origin.” Read more at christianitytoday.com
Truth and Love
Nikki Quaranta was a wife and mother when she left her husband to pursue a relationship with another woman. In Two ways the church is failing the LGBTQ community, she writes,
We need the lens of the gospel to see beyond the surface, first in our own hearts, and then as we relate with others.
Truth without love
When you approach someone who identifies as gay and your main focus is to show them how wrong they are, you aren’t representing Christ well. Yes, we are called to confront sin in certain contexts, but our primary role is to point each other to the beauty and goodness of Christ.
If you aren’t willing to take the time to show someone who God is and what makes his story of redemption the best news ever, then you have no business addressing their lifestyle.
When you look at someone else with disdain, no matter who they are, or what their issue is, do you realize you are more like them than different? Maybe you appear to look good, but as a Christian you should know this- you’re a mess just like the rest of us (Romans 3:10, 24-25). Your human tendency is to turn from God and worship/believe/seek after anything besides him (2 Kings 17:41, Hebrews 3:12-14). That’s why you need our merciful Savior!
The unbelief that causes people to seek comfort in homosexuality is the same unbelief that causes others to gossip or anxiously try to control everything. To understand this is to be more compassionate and humble.
Love without truth
When you, a servant of Christ, affirm and celebrate homosexuality in others, you are spreading a false gospel. Even though you seem to be caring and accepting, this doesn’t actually demonstrate God’s love.
“Love is love” sounds beautiful and warm, and if I didn’t grasp the whole Bible narrative, I might still say it as well. But really it’s just sentimentality. GOD is love. Therefore we must define love based on HIS characteristics.
And as we know, all the characteristics of God culminate at that cross.
God is holy, and no imperfection can be in his presence (1 Samuel 2:2, Habakkuk 1:13a). God is just, therefore he is right to hate and punish sin (Nahum 1:2-3). We live in a broken world; things aren’t as they should be (Genesis 3:5, 23). We ALL have sin and therefore deserve wrath (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). But God is so merciful (Psalm 86:5, Titus 3:4-5). In his infinite compassion he made a way to bring us to him through Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 3:16). If only we repent and believe (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3).
But that’s not a popular thing to say, is it? Our culture is becoming more and more hostile to the full message of the cross. And with it, the pressure to affirm certain sins is growing.
Livingout.org is a ministry coordinated by three Christian leaders who experience same-sex attraction and want the world to recognize that there is “more than just one viable script for those who are same-sex attracted.” Their website is a wealth of information for both Christians who experience same-sex attraction and those who want to support them.
Living Out founder, Pastor Sam Allberry, shares a special message for friends and family here:
Do you experience same-sex attraction? We hope that you will feel comfortable privately sharing this article with a trusted Christian mentor. Has someone confided same-sex attraction to you? We hope that you will follow-up with them and affirm your support.
Meanwhile, as the reality of same-sex attraction and homosexuality become more prevalent in our communities and culture, you can become better equipped in your daily influence for Christ by taking advantage of the following resources:
- Read What Everyday Christians Need to Understand About the Kingdom of God
- Read Why Jesus-Followers Should See Themselves as Leaders
- Get Artios Christian College’s free download of Discovering Your Leadership Strengths
- Enroll in Artios Christian College’s introductory course: Essentials of Vibrant Leadership
*name has been changed