from My Recommended Reading List (Part 9b of 12)
“I am a Christian. I love God. I want my life, my discipleship, my stewardship to glorify and please the Lord. I am beginning to understand (maybe even accept?) that my homosexual desires and inclinations will remain a part of my life. How do I live with same-sex attractions?”
One of my goals for this blog in 2013 is to spotlight my “Recommended Reading List”. “Sexual Identity: A Guide to Living in the Time Between the Times” by Dr. Mark Yarhouse and Dr. Lori Burkett is the selection for September. To read Part One – click here. To view the complete list of my favorite books on the subject of same-sex attractions, click this link: My List of Recommended Books
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t agree with every single idea, concept or thesis discussed in every book on my list. But each selection contributes insight and understanding to the subject.
In Part One I highlighted the authors’ goals in writing this book, their target audiences and a brief overview of the first three chapters. The focus of this post is the remainder of book: practical ways to manage our sexual identity and what it means for our families and churches to “serve the image of God in all persons“ (the emphasis here is mine). And when I say “our”, I’m referring to individuals (such as myself) who (1) experience an ongoing degree of same-sex attraction, (2) want to live faithfully before God and (3) embrace the traditional Christian doctrine about sexuality and sexual behavior i. e. that full sexual expression is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.
Summary of Content
As I noted before, each chapter includes practical questions and exercises that engage the reader. The material in Section Two (chapters 4 – 7) has been among the most difficult for me to reflect on, process, implement and internalize (over the course of many, many months). It was painful but necessary. It is ongoing. Finding my internal strength, drawing on the strength of spiritually intimate friends and the gentle empowerment from the Lord sustains me. Difficulties and discouragement will continue to assault me – but I am sustained. And I will prevail.
Chapter 4: Recognizing Patterns
“. . . most people who are distressed by their experiences of same-sex physical and emotional attraction or sexual behavior often know little about their own daily and weekly routine and how different experiences increases the intensity, frequency, or duration of same-sex attraction.” – page 50
In this chapter, a guide and worksheet to record and track one’s habit areas are provided (physical sensations, thoughts, feelings and behavior). Attention is also given to brief, here-and-now patterns and self-talk, daily routines, weekly and monthly patterns and generational patterns.
Chapter 5: Environment Planning
The focus of this chapter is
- the challenge to shift one’s thinking away from why he or she experiences same-sex attraction (behaviors) to what keeps him or her from achieving specific goals or becoming the kind of person he or she is striving to become and
- the challenge to deliberately contemplate and act upon the relationships, places and things that are counterproductive to our personal goals
Note: In most cases, the authors do not advocate cutting off relationships and support systems.
Chapter 6: An Exchange – Old Scripts for New (the heart of sexual identity management)
The following questions (among others) are considered: How do you identify yourself to others in public and to yourself in private? How do you think about your experiences of same-sex attraction? How do you view your identity? This chapter also includes a special section for survivors of sexual abuse.
Chapter 7: Living a Practical Theology of Sanctification
What does it mean to live faithfully before God in light of ongoing experiences of same-sex attraction? Echoing the sentiments of C. S. Lewis and Wesley Hill, Yarhouse and Burkett point out . . .
“. . . all that we do in this lifetime as discipleship – which includes obedience to the Christian sexual ethic as best we are able by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit – is a part of what we continue to enjoy in its full consummation in heaven” – page 109
Dallas Willard’s “curriculum of Christ-likeness” is also considered. Several exercises that help us to develop “a spiritual foundation and sensitivity to developing a practical theology of sanctification” are presented (fidelity, covetousness, prayer and forgiveness). The concluding section on love, shame and shalom had an especially liberating effect on my understanding.
Chapter 8: A Word to Families
Among the insights offered to parents (and siblings) of the individual contending with homosexual attractions and/or behavior:
- listen to your son or daughter
- be honest about what your find particularly challenging
- serve the image of God in your child
- be realistic in your expectations
- educate yourself to understand your child’s struggle
- commit your child to prayer
For spouses in a mixed-orientation marriage, the following scenarios are briefly explored:
- individuals who thought their same-sex attraction was a “quirk” that would go away
- individuals who married for “treatment”
- individuals who thought they were “cured”
A look at the characteristics of “resilient couples” round out this chapter.
Chapter 9: A Word to the Church
- listen as a follower of Christ
- share the truth as a follower of Christ (tact, mutual respect, love, discernment, ongoing relationship and earning the right to be heard are VERY important)
- serve the image of God in the individual
- respond to the person and not the behavior
- embrace truth over stereotypes and labels
- act in a manner that is consistent with the virtues of faith, hope and love
- (church leadership) intentionally develop pastoral vision, transparency and integrity
- (church family) intentionally develop interdependence among ALL members and develop an authentic spirit of humility throughout the body
Chapter 10: A Final Word to Strugglers
Included are insights on consolidating gains, anticipating challenges, responding to challenges in ways that are consistent with your life goals and identifying your signature patterns of relapse. A reminder that what is outlined in this book is not a plan but a process. Also four principles to consider as you relate to friends, family and your church community. . .
- Be patient – while rejection is a reality of life, not everyone is going to reject you. Seek out the good and positive in others while developing your own character and sense of self.
- Within your abilities, temperament and sphere of influence – discover ways to become a part of the solution; educate and encourage others about the subjects of homosexuality and SSA.
- Know when to share your struggles with others. The authors recommend the book “Safe People” (by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend) for insights on healthy self-disclosure and healthy boundaries.
- Submit yourself to accountability. Accountability is a gift and an integral aspect of the sanctification process.
Links and Resources
(1) This is the Amazon.com link for this book:
(2) The link to Dr. Yarhouse’s website and blog:
(3) The Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity:
- conducts research
- provides clinical services/consultation and
- offers training for professional counselors and lay counselors in the community
At their website you will also find
- an introduction to Sexual Identity Therapy
- a nationwide referral directory
- a comprehensive selection of very informative academic papers authored (or co-authored) by ISSI members
- sexual identity resources for youth, parents, youth pastors, spouses and student life staff at universities and colleges
Here’s the link:
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2013.
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