By Laurel Boyd LPC, LMFT
An Open Letter to Those with Same-Sex Attraction
Yes, first and foremost you are a person, and while God made us with lots of different aspects and one of those is sexuality, there is so much more to you. I’m sorry that once it is known that you have same-sex attraction (SSA), we can stop seeing the other aspects of you.
I want to begin by telling you that I believe you did not choose SSA—at least this is true for most of you that I have talked to. I know it is in vogue and highly celebrated to just be who you feel like you are. Our society has done such a good job of getting that message out that some people who would not have thought about SSA might entertain this idea.
But these are not the majority of you I have sat with. I hear your story over and over that somewhere around 7th or 8th grade you felt a stirring towards the same sex. For those I have talked to, so often this came with shame and a striving to change and be attracted to the opposite sex. In fact, so many of you have said this exact same thing—you prayed daily that God would change you and make you heterosexual.
I live in the South, so most of you I have talked to have deep Southern roots and principles. Most of you I have talked to have a Christian background, understand and have accepted the gospel, and have heard and seen from the Bible that homosexuality is wrong. Therefore when you have prayed for this to change—and it didn’t—you did not know what to do. How does this make sense? Why would God not answer this prayer?
I have heard you talk about this internal conflict that you have tried to communicate. I also hear that thrown into the mix of your conflict is the mainstream view that you need to just be who you are and be proud of it—to embrace it. Even though I hear all this and try to understand what it must be like to be you, I know I fall short of really getting it.
I know that it is easy for me—someone who does not feel these same things—to totally understand it. And that it is easy for me to throw Bible verses at you and tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.
I want you to know that I’m sorry for how we have gotten this wrong so often and as a result of not really knowing how to handle this, we do nothing, ignore you or actually shun you. This is intolerable because you are a person—you are made in the image of God.
I’m sorry that many of us think that even just the temptation of being attracted to the same sex is a sin. Most Christians know that temptation is a part of the Christian life and that everyone is tempted to various sins. Some of us are tempted to gossip, some of us are tempted to lie or cheat, so many of us are tempted toward heterosexual sin like viewing pornography, having affairs, etc. But when WE have a temptation but don’t actually give into it we call that success and praise how the Lord gave us victory over that temptation. But because your temptation is different than ours then some of us view even your temptation as a sin.
I’m sorry that we can lose sight that the main goal for all of us as Christians is to pursue Godliness. We can forget that just because my temptation and yours are different, both of us are godly when we deny ourselves that temptation and don’t sin.
I’m sorry that so often the church has missed an opportunity to minister to you. I know that you don’t feel welcomed into so many churches, I know there are very few Sunday school classes or small groups for people that find themselves with SSA but are trying to pursue godliness and that you don’t feel comfortable in the singles or couples classes.
As I said, I know I don’t totally get what it is like to be you, but I have given a lot of thought and prayer to this conflict that so many have talked about. To me it seems like you are asked to a higher calling and a hard calling—much harder than many of us. Since the Bible is clear that the practice of homosexuality it wrong, you are asked to deny yourself in a way many of us are not asked to do. You are asked to get your relational needs met through friends and family.
I know that so often those of us who do not get it think that the answer is for you to become straight—to just stop that attraction and date and/or get married to the opposite sex. But I have heard many of you say that would be abhorrent to you and unfair to the spouse.
I also know that this whole letter is offensive to some of you because you are not living in the conflict. You have decided it is too hard or too much to ask of you to deny that part of you forever. Or maybe you were never in the conflict, you believed the worldview of embracing who you are and that there is no absolute truth.
I’m sorry because it might be because of some of us Christians that you think this way. You might want nothing to do with a God who would have you deny yourself so much. But let me be clear, ALL Christians are asked to deny our selves and not give in to sinful temptations. Your temptation is not sin—even Jesus was tempted. Giving in to the temptation is the sin. That self- denial is what we as Christians are called to do.
People have asked me how I counsel someone who comes to see me who deals with SSA. My counsel to them is the same as it is to anyone. Pursue godliness while you cling to God’s grace. That can look different because we have different temptations. We can back up and put all temptations into categories since we are all human: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life. But when we get down into our lives where the rubber meets the road there will be differences.
So for all of us, what happens as we pursue godliness and our relationship with God deepens? We do not become perfect because that doesn’t happen until heaven. It does however seem like sometimes our temptations lessen or change. The closer we are to godly thoughts the less earthly thoughts seem to entice us.
So to you fellow person, I know that my sins are so bad that Jesus had to die to reconcile me to God. I believe that the cross was, and is still, enough to cover my sins. If you believe the same about your sins—whatever they are—join me in this life quest. Let’s pursue godliness while we seek the grace Christ offers at the cross that is free to all who ask.
Laurel Boyd, LPC, LMFT, counsels both couples and individuals and can be reached at lboyd@FBCJ.org. Boyd is in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi.