The Idol Behind Same-Sex Desires

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I don’t speak as an outsider when I say same-sex attraction is often tightly bound up with idolatry.

Contrary to heterosexual desires (a desire for what we are not, and cannot become), same-sex desires are cravings for what we want to see in ourselves, but lack. Often a powerful emotional over-dependency, and a profound need to be around someone to gain their approval and affirmation, arise in the heart as a result.

The allurement toward this idol is far more than sexual attraction alone. And it is hugely destructive. Among other things, it creates yearnings that cannot (or should not) be fulfilled, and terribly burdens friendships.

Bread and Life

In my own battle against the idolatrous impulses of same-sex attraction, these words of Jesus have grown very precious to me:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

“No single earthly friend can ever satisfy me at the level that Christ can.”

Bread is not my worry. Within a few hundred yards of my office, I can walk to three supermarkets and a dozen sandwich shops. I don’t wonder if I’ll be able to get my hands on bread. My challenge is options — deciding what kind of bread to buy.

If we can put aside our New Year’s resolutions against processed carbs for a moment, in many parts of the world today, this is not the case; nor was it so in the time of Jesus. Bread was a staple; it was a life essential.

The Bread of Life

So, we can see what Jesus is claiming here. He is no optional side dressing. He is the staple of life. He is what we need in order to truly live. Bread feeds our bodies, but Jesus feeds our souls. Without Christ we’re spiritually dead. He alone is our essential. He alone can truly satisfy. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Whatever my feelings say, no single earthly friend can ever satisfy me at this level — no friend was intended to satisfy me at this level. Jesus alone is sufficient soul-bread.

As someone who battles with same-sex attraction, this truth is liberating. The more I live in the light of it, the more I know it to be true. For as long as I am tempted to find that ultimate satisfaction in anyone else, this verse is ballast to my heart and soul. I can test him on it, certain he will always prove himself true and every man a liar. Life is far, far better when Jesus is at the center, and far, far worse when anyone else is.

Eternal Joy

“Life is far, far better when Jesus is at the center, and far, far worse when anyone else is.”

Jesus offers what no same-sex partnership ever will. The greatest gift Jesus gives us . . . is Jesus. He is not the means to some other, separate end. The Bread of Life is not something else, with Jesus being the one who dispenses it for us. He is the prize.

The focus for Christians with same-sex attraction is not primarily healing. I, for one, would love to be a husband to a wife and a father to a child. But there is a far greater longing — a more urgent priority — to know more of Christ.

A “win” for me is not that my attractions shift from same-sex attractions to opposite-sex attractions. For although such a change would be from unnatural desires to natural ones, the struggle with temptation would remain. The theater of battle would have moved, but the fighting would remain as fierce.

No, the “win” for me, and for everyone who struggles with same-sex desires, is a greater love for Christ, and to have a deeper knowledge of the all-sufficiency of his grace. There is a prize greater than heterosexuality — a greater Bread — in the holy One who is what we are not or cannot be, in whom is found our ultimate and eternal satisfaction.

(@SamAllberry) is an apologist and writer for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and a consulting editor for The Gospel Coalition, and is based in Maidenhead, UK. He is the author of 7 Myths about Singleness. He is also a founding editor of Living Out, a resource to help the church faithfully navigate issues of human sexuality.