When I began sharing my story, I had no idea how many people like me would come running for help. I am a married man, and a pastor, who experiences same-sex attraction.
Since the first time I wrote about my journey and struggle, I have received hundreds of emails from men and women from all over the world asking essentially the same question: How? How do I practically live as a follower of Jesus Christ who experiences homosexual longings for intimacy? How do I deal with the nearly crippling loneliness and hopelessness I feel every day surrounding my sexuality?
As I considered whether to say more, afraid of another wave of messages, my wife, seeing the fear on my face, looked over at me from across the living room, and in a beautiful moment of togetherness, we rehearsed a verse we had remembered for moments like these:
I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
So, if you are a Christian experiencing same-sex attractions, here are four truths I believe will help you fight well and flourish in your faith in Jesus.
1. The Earth Is Flat
When it comes to sexuality, everyone has fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Or you could say, none is truly “straight,” no not one (Romans 3:10). The enemy loves to tell Christians who experience SSA that they are uniquely depraved. That God, being cruel, has placed you in a sin struggle that is more difficult than those around you.
As hard as your predicament may seem, you must know that Christ is not calling you to give up or sacrifice any more than anyone else. Sam Allberry reminds us,
Ever since I have been open about my own experiences with homosexuality, a number of Christians have said something like this: “The gospel must be harder for you than it is for me,” as though I have more to give up than they do. But the fact is that the gospel demands everything out of all of us. If someone thinks the gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started following Jesus at all. (Is God Anti-Gay? 10)
As a pastor, I have a front-row view into the sexual brokenness of everyone. Daily, I am reminded that loneliness is not solved by marriage, intimacy is not fulfilled by intercourse, and desire is not satisfied in the arms of another.
Whether gay or straight, married or unmarried, single or dating, everyone lives in some state of sexual and emotional dissatisfaction and unfulfillment. We all are sexually broken. When it comes to sexuality, the earth is flat.
2. It Takes a Village
If you are going to put your SSA to death (Colossians 3:5), then you must know it’s going to take a life-giving, truth-speaking, Christ-seeking community. As Paul Tripp says, “Your walk with God is a community project.”
God has made no lasting provision for your fight against homosexual desires outside of, or apart from, the local church. We reorient our lives around the gospel by gathering regularly with Christian brothers and sisters (Hebrews 10:23–25). The bullets of grace you need to put same-sex attractions to death will come to you through Christ-centered community.
One of the primary ways God will provide the grace you need will be through exercising your gifts (1 Peter 4:10). Personally, I am most prone to fall into sin when I’m bored and have too much energy to pursue lesser things. My temptations are most powerless when I am enlisted and energetically engaged in what God has called me to do.
As you lay your head on the pillow every night as one who has been wrung out in service to Christ, your affections will begin to be transformed until you find life, peace, and identity apart from SSA (Romans 8:5–6). When it comes to putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13), it takes a village.
3. Call in the Cavalry
If you really want to launch an all-out assault on your SSA, call in the cavalry. God’s most potent weapons are harbored in the hearts of those around you. Confess your sins to trusted believers (James 5:16). Confession is like picking up the radio and telling those around you the precise location that needs to be bombed with grace.
Sure, some people may not respond well to your vulnerable confession, but as Spurgeon said, “If any man think low of you, take heart; he does not think low enough.” It’s better to reveal yourself to some, and not be fully embraced by everyone, than to never reveal yourself fully to anyone, and thus never be truly embraced at all.
I suggest you begin by telling a trusted, gospel-soaked friend. If you are too afraid to do it in person, then write a letter. But loved one, we often are much weaker than we suspect. You may be only five minutes away from falling. It’s time to call in the cavalry.
4. Finally Fulfill Your Desires
Fighting your SSA desires is only the beginning. The true work of the Christian is fulfilling them, ultimately and completely.
Our longings, by nature, will not give us peace until after they are fulfilled, and so it’s our duty and delight to see them fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Psalm 107:9). Give yourself completely to satisfying your longings for intimacy, but not in mortal men (for any practicing homosexual can testify their relationship is not ultimately satisfying), but in the immortal man: Christ himself.
John Piper has said, “Theology can conquer biology.” Therefore, roll out of bed for one main purpose: to fall madly in love with Jesus Christ. Read such bright, beautiful, brilliant books on God that your same-sex attractions fade into a shadow of boring irrelevance. Listen to sermons that open your eyes to such grace and gravity that you see God (Matthew 5:8) and the thought of looking anywhere else would be like staring at your shoelaces when you’re at the summit of Everest. Be a grace hound, always hot on a fresh scent of God.
If you are a Christian experiencing same-sex attractions, continually remind yourself that loneliness is solved only in God (Psalm 63:1–2), intimacy is fulfilled only in God (Psalm 63:3–5), and desire is, indeed, satisfied only in the arms of Another (Psalm 63:6–8).
Step Out and Share
Still, you may be thinking, I can never share my struggles with anyone. I am far too familiar with that feeling. It took me twenty years to finally begin sharing my struggle with other believers.
Jesus told us to count the cost before following him (Luke 14:28–33), and opening up about your same-sex attractions may come at a significant cost to you. Bringing your SSA to light will affect you in a thousand different ways, and some of those will be incredibly painful.
But it’s worth it. Christ will be most powerfully displayed in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Christian walk hits its stride when we actively seek to be seen as less in order that Christ may be seen as more (John 3:30).
To the Christian who experiences same-sex attractions, it is my eager expectation and hope that, as you invite others into this struggle, you will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in your body, whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:20).