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Home > Issues > 2013 > Fall > 'Help, I'm Gay'

It's one of today's most difficult conversations, but one increasingly impossible to avoid. The spiritual, political, and emotional implications make this topic explosive. How can pastors talk realistically and redemptively with those seeking pastoral guidance about same sex attraction? We asked Stan Jones, who has academic, professional, and personal experience in helping those sorting out their homosexual orientation, to let us listen in on one of his conversations with "Todd," a composite drawn from many of Stan's interactions.

Jones: Thanks for getting together. Tell me your story.

Todd: I am 20 years old, and since an early age, I sensed that I was different from other boys. I just wasn't into stereotypical boy stuff. In middle school I began to experience occasional attraction to other boys. It was in high school when I felt like I was in love with an older boy—a guy I knew was completely straight. I knew I was in trouble.

I couldn't talk to my parents or anyone at church about this. My church only brings up gays and lesbians as the enemy in the culture wars, and while my parents have never been hateful about gay people, I get the sense this would totally freak them out.

I shared my struggles with one woman who has been a good friend, but she is not a Christian, and she just tells me to come out and "be who I am." I also shared it with my closest Christian friend, and while he has kept my secret and initially promised to be there for me, he has since found ways to pull away. I feel terribly alone, and it's rather terrifying to talk about it all.

Jones: How can I help?

Todd: I am totally confused. On Christian radio and certain sites on the Internet, I hear that homosexual attractions can be changed. But professional psychological organizations and pro-gay groups are emphatic that change is impossible, and I should just embrace my gay identity. I hear the stories of ex-gay leaders who go back to the lifestyle.

Some friends say that the Bible condemns homosexuality, and others say it does not. I hear some evangelicals accept monogamous gay marriage, based on the argument that the Bible simply does not address monogamous same-sex relationships, but I hear most evangelical churches insisting that marriage is only between a man and woman.

Christian maturity is not about solving things, even sexual longings and erotic desires. It is about faithfulness.

I've come to the painful conclusion that I am gay, but what do I do now? How do I sort this out?

Jones: Many of our churches have not done a great job of making a space where people can open their hearts to one another regarding this issue and transparently seek God. We need to do a better job of approaching this issue humbly and gently, recognizing that we are all broken creatures, including experiencing various kinds of sexual brokenness.

Fortunately, we worship a God who speaks into the dark areas of our lives with enough moral clarity that we can understand the rough outlines of how he wants us to seek him, in purity and holiness. The Bible has much more to say about heterosexual sin in all its crazy varieties than it does about homosexual sin, but in every place where homosexual conduct is mentioned, most clearly in Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9, it is clearly condemned.

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Related Topics:BrokennessConfessionCounselingLustPastoral CareSex
From Issue:Sexual Tensions, Fall 2013 | Posted: October 14, 2013

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Displaying 1–5 of 42 comments

Justin Davis

November 26, 2013  4:14pm

While well intentioned, this article falls flat and relies on tired tropes and false information masquerading as sound pastoral advice. I am a Christian. I am gay. My identity is in Christ, not in my sexuality. To claim that gay and lesbian persons place their sexual orientation as the locus of their identity is wrong, harmful, and hurtful. These are very serious issues that deserve more than an us vs. them mentality, which the church has all to often fostered. I think it is important to consider why there are no licensed, trained, professionals who are a resource for changing sexual orientation. I also think it is problematic to assert that those who are gay or lesbian are less emotionally healthy than those who are straight. Stan speaks from one perspective, but does not invite the possibility of others. I highly recommend Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate by Justin Lee. It is a fair, honest, and graceful approach to these issues for people on all sides.

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Jeff Milrod

November 02, 2013  12:39pm

Awesome to read about Church leaders who care more about the person and their struggles with holiness, than about the politics and knee-jerk Christian 'political correctness'. Clearly, homosexual acts are a sin. But so is adultery and fornication, etc... yet while the Church pursues and embraces adulterers and fornicators, it often condemns and rejects homosexuals. We all have 'abominable' and sinful sexual desires and temptations. We must all fight them equally, whether hetro or homo-sexual in order to pursue holiness. Similarly, we all sin when we yield to them. One is not made sinful by their desires, nor does one have to eliminate the sinful desires of their heart to be a faithful believer or Church Leader - thanks be to God!

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Max Dawson

October 27, 2013  11:34pm

As complex as HS is, it is only one part of the sexual anarchy that is gathering steam throughout much of the world now, a vital point made most perceptively by Andy Crouch in "Sex Without Bodies" http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/july-august/sex-without-bodies.htm l. It is disingenuous to speak of interpreting the Bible to accommodate HS practices without interpreting it to embrace all of the many types of broken sexuality represented in the LGBTQIA coalition. But one of the greatest needs in the church today is for sexually secure heterosexuals who have the humility to confess their own sexual brokenness, and the love and courage to openly befriend HS strugglers (and any other LGBTQIA strugglers) who desire to follow Jesus at all cost (Luke 14:25-33). That is what Barnabas did for Saul, when the other believers were afraid of him after his conversion (Acts 9:26-27). Thank God, I have had such friends, who model the love of Jesus. We need an army of them.

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Max Dawson

October 27, 2013  11:32pm

In earlier years I fell into HS sin several times, but have been blessed by Christian friends in whom I could confide about my struggles, and a church now in which I can be open about them. Those of us in this situation need a church which embraces us without embracing the sin we struggle against. It is a lie from Satan that we cannot hate sin and love the sinner at the same time. The best doctors and nurses are those who hate disease with a passion and love their sick patients with an equal passion. The church is a spiritual hospital with Jesus as the great Physician, but even he cannot help those who think they are righteous (Mark 2:17). And ALL believers are sin-sick patients there in various stages of recovery (sanctification), even if some of us are also junior physicians or nurses as well. If heterosexual believers see and confess their own sexual brokenness resulting from the fall, they will be vastly more able to identify with and help those who struggle with HS.

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Max Dawson

October 27, 2013  11:29pm

I have struggled against same-sex attraction in order to honor God's word for many decades. I have enormous empathy for fellow strugglers, but my loving Lord and Savior condemned any human traditions or concepts which make void the word of God (Mark 7:1-13). I once attended a seminar on gay theology, hoping there was a way to reconcile HS practices with the Bible. The lesbian professors who taught it stated upfront that such reconciliation was impossible unless one began by making several assumptions which effectively reduced the Bible to little more than another book by men--something far less than the inspired word of God. I respected the truth of God's word more than I craved HS fulfillment, so I rejected that option as neither intellectually honest nor spiritually safe. We must let the word judge us rather than us judging the word (Heb. 4:12-13). So I agree with Dr. Jones in many ways, but pray that he will take some of the criticisms to heart.

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