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 ...