I was thirteen when the confusion and fear began. It was obvious that something about me was different than other guys. As they were experiencing and expressing a desire for getting close to girls, I was inwardly desiring the closeness of a guy. This was the start of my struggle with same-sex attraction.
I say “struggle” because I never wanted to embrace it. Instead, I was on a desperate pursuit for answers. I wanted to know what was going on with me. I wanted to know where these feeling were coming from, but more importantly, I wanted to know how to rid them from my heart. The church in which I was raised was in the process of embracing and celebrating gay-identified people, while some churches were preaching condemnation and damnation, and still other churches just remained silent. Nowhere I looked (and believe me, I looked!) provided any answers, hope, healing or freedom.
At eighteen, the Lord led me to the ministry of Portland Fellowship. It was here that the Lord taught and corrected me with His truth that brought about healing and transformation. Thirty-five years later, I rejoice in genuine and ongoing freedom from same-sex confusion.
As I reflect back on my thirteen-year-old self, I wonder what my teen years would have been like if I’d known what led me to have those struggles, and how I was trying to meet real relational needs in counterfeit ways. Instead of isolation, confusion, and suicidal ideation, I could have been filled with truth, hope and purpose, with a clear path toward God’s design for healthy relationships.
All these years later, the church continues to struggle with this issue. Sadly, the message of hope, healing, and transformation still remains elusive because many pastoral caregivers don’t understand the relational wounds and deficits that contribute to homosexuality, nor how to respond relationally and redemptively. Biblically-based pastors generally communicate effectively on our sin nature, spiritual influences to sexual struggles, and our need to die to the flesh, but what tends to be missing is how the original Fall affected our relationship with one another, and still contributes to the lies, confusion and relational dysfunction that we experience.
When I was thirteen, I needed to hear several things that the Church simply failed to communicate to me. I needed to know that God loved me in the midst of this particular struggle. I needed to know that others struggle with these issues, and that I was not alone. I needed the Church to let me know that I had genuine relational needs that God could meet through healthy relationships. I needed to know that I could trust God and His Word, and that His design for me was not for me to embrace a gay label, but rather to find my identity in Him. I needed to know there was real hope for a renewed mind and heart. I needed to know that God could and would put things in the right order, and that I could live a victorious life, free from the hunger and deception of desires for the counterfeit. And finally, I needed to know that He actually changes those desires.
Can we change the course of the Church’s response to this issue?I believe we can.No more condemnation, no more making compromising space for sin and deception, and no more ignoring those in need of truth and hope.Instead, let us offer the life-giving truth that God still transforms and heals people who struggle with same-sex attraction, and then let us live out this amazing truth.
Contributor: Jason T. (Executive Director of Portland Fellowship)