Is there any hope for someone experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions? Absolutely 100% yes!
From a Christian perspective, all of our struggles with desires that run counter to God’s intentions for us are simply reflections of our fallen, imperfect condition. It is not a sin to experience same-sex thoughts or attractions. It is only when we act on our desires (lustful thoughts and actual sexual behavior) that we become morally responsible for our behaviors.
God gives us grace and opportunities to face our difficulties. To reach out to Him (and His people) for help and to work through our difficulties. We all need to reach beyond our fears and pride.
If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light. – Matthew 11:28 – 30 (Contemporary English Version)
But he replied, “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 (Contemporary English Version)
Surely you know that the people who do wrong will not inherit God’s kingdom. Do not be fooled. Those who sin sexually, worship idols, take part in adultery, those who are male prostitutes, or men who have sexual relations with other men, those who steal, are greedy, get drunk, lie about others, or rob—these people will not inherit God’s kingdom. In the past, some of you were like that, but you were washed clean. You were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 11 (New Century Version)
We must have a passion for Christ. We must be proactive in our obedience to Him. Yes, there will be roadblocks along the way. The stress and frustration we experience is unbearable at times. And I have no doubt that many of you reading this have fought this battle for years.
Can Homosexuality Be Changed?
In our relationship with God, we ought to expect changes in our lives well beyond our sexuality. A definitive “yes” or “no” answer in regards to a homosexual orientation is unrealistic, simplistic and irresponsible.
Some people experience a degree of meaningful change or modest gains. But not everyone who wishes or attempts to change will. Although change can occur along a continuum, moving from “completely gay” to “completely straight” is rare. And it does not appear to be intrinsically harmful to try to change one’s sexual orientation, especially if a person has realistic expectations.
I think if you are attempting to change, you should be supported in your efforts. But don’t go through the process in isolation and in shame with high expectations that you will become “completely heterosexual”. I hope and pray that your self-worth, the love of other people have for you and their assumptions about your faith (spiritual maturity) is not dependent on the desired outcome.
Have people to support you, strengthen you and comfort you. Let them sit with you in your pain, your questions, your doubts, your fears, your setbacks and your successes.
In regards to 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 11 (above), it is unclear if the apostle Paul meant that some of the congregants at the Corinthian church became heterosexual or simply stopped engaging in same-sex sexual behavior. But one point is clear: these Christians had hope and were forgiven because of who they were in Christ (regardless of their background or disposition).
They were . . .
- washed clean: being freed from sin and its power (by being baptized)
- sanctified: being made holy (set apart) by and for God
- justified: being right with God (when He imparts His righteousness upon them)
We inherit the kingdom of God through these three simple steps in faith. As we continue to live for Christ we are continuously forgiven, washed, sanctified and justified.
Rather than exclusively focusing on changing my sexual orientation or disposition, I have found another line of thinking to be more helpful. (Again, by interpreting 1 Corinthians 6 in the context of the entirety of the letter in which it is found.)
You have the right to be your own person in Christ. The Lord is with you in your journey of faith. We each have to stand on our own in faith with God. The Lord does desire to transform us with His grace and truth. But instead of asking, “can homosexuality be changed”, it could be more freeing and enlightening to ask and answer questions like:
- “Where do you think God wants to move you on your own personal spectrum of change?”
- “What do you think is changing in your life as a result of where you are in relation to God?”
Our religious communities are not the only ones who shun and condemn us.
Unfortunately, there are also those who will tell us if we have a homosexual thought, desire or sexual experience we must label ourselves as being gay. We are told that we are self-hating and repressed if we wish to resolve any attractions or anxieties regarding homosexuality. And that it is illegal and unethical for counseling professionals to help us exercise our right of self-determination.
These same individuals will often make us feel that we should not be troubled or worried about sinning against God, the church, our loved ones or ourselves. I urge you to maintain your resolve and your identity in Christ – especially when both the culture and the church mocks and marginalizes us.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
– Romans 12:1, 2 (The Message)
I refuse to be frustrated, defeated or consumed by my experiences of same-sex attraction. Shame and guilt does not have to control our lives.
Your life (and my life) is not over because we have same-gender attractions. As Christians we are sons and daughters of the King – no matter what. Neither past actions nor current temptations define us. What we struggle with does not define who we will always be. Our journey with God is hard, but in the end it will be worth it. Your sexuality did not catch God off guard, nor does it stop Him from loving you.
Our goal –
- is not to become straight
- is not to pursue personal fulfillment
- is not to elevate our “rights”, needs and desires above all other priorities
- is not to seek to find ourselves apart from our Creator
Our goal is to become more like Christ. Our hope is focused on God’s glorious future.
To be a fulfilled and complete Christian – as a single man with a homosexual orientation who affirms a traditional (or more precisely, a prophetic) Christian sexual ethic – can be a powerful witness to the complete sufficiency of Christ.
That is to say, I can celebrate, honor, glorify and please God as a single man who happens to be sexually and emotionally attracted to other men. I don’t (shouldn’t) have to act like or feel like a second-class misfit or less valuable than anyone else. This also mean I can’t use fear, self-pity, self-righteousness, an inferiority complex or a same-gender attraction as an excuse to hold myself back in a self-imposed prison.
I must grab the opportunities I am given and live my life with the grace, strength and love the Lord gifts to me. As Christians we are called to be faithful stewards. An active (proactive) faith, the support of fellow Christians, spiritual disciplines (service, prayer, worship, study of the Scripture, fasting, etc.) and the work/empowerment of the Holy Spirit are all essential to the journey.
You want to diminish your same-sex attractions. You don’t want orientation or sexuality to define who you are. What factors do you see (or realistically expect to see) in the lives of those who are successful? A strong commitment to healthy relationships (with honest, open and strong accountability) is one. What are some others?
Your comments are welcomed below.
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2012.
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