Can Christians Eliminate Same-Sex Attraction Feelings?

Do we as the church have anything to offer people who wrestle with same-sex attraction?

Can Christians Eliminate Same-Sex Attraction Feelings?

I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had in the last year with Christians that have told me they’re attracted to the same-sex.

Sometimes I think people feel comfortable sharing their struggles with me because I’ve set the bar pretty low. Know me very long and I’ll give you an inside glimpse into my own sins, struggles, habits and hang-ups. I’ve always thought that’s what good pastors should do—be role models—but in reverse. But mainly I think people open up to me because they know I get paid to keep secrets for a living.

The conversations I’ve had all went something like this:

“Can I share something with you? I know what the Bible teaches and all, but I’m gay.”

Slight pause.

“OK.”

“Well, I’m wondering whether or not you think God can take these feelings away if I ask him?”

[Insert 15-minute story about when they first experienced same-sex attraction, how they’ve tried to change, how they’ve prayed, etc.]

“So?”

Deep sigh.

Longer pause.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? You’re a pastor!” they usually shot back.

“What I mean is I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve asked a Christian this question. Knowing the hackneyed advice people in church world have given me to help me with my own struggles, I can only imagine the responses you’ve received. Undoubtedly they’ve ranged from uninformed compassion to sheer idiocy. I really feel for you.”

“Well, I don’t want you to feel for me,” my straight-to-the-point East Coast friends usually said in response. “I want to know what you think. Can I change these feelings or not?”

In all of these situations, I responded by saying: “Behavior, yes. Feelings, I just don’t know.”

Can You Eliminate Same-Sex Attraction Feelings?

What I mean is I believe someone who is heterosexual can stop having sex with the opposite sex, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop being attracted to the opposite sex. If that’s the case with heterosexuality, is it any different with homosexuality?

Does anyone know if there is some combination of therapy + spiritual growth regimen + pharmacological remedy out there that can reverse same-sex attraction?

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder, and in the last 41 years “reparative therapy” (de-gaying gays) has gone by the wayside—going from being widely practiced to being outlawed in some states.

The question I’m NOT asking is whether or not homosexuality is a sin. You can hear about that here.

The question I’m asking is this: Do we as the church have anything to offer people who wrestle with same-sex attraction other than the same advice we all keep parroting: “Be celibate. Know that everyone suffers in life. This is just your cross to bear. God will help you. We will help you.”

What do you think?

This article originally appeared here.

Brian Jones
Brian Jones loves helping Christians live thoughtful, courageous lives. Brian is founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley, a church of 2,000+ amazing people in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Cincinnati Christian University (B.A.). He blogs at www.brianjones.com, but if you’re a Senior Pastor you might want to check out his website, Senior Pastor Central.
  • Jeremy Schossau

    Hey – I appreciate the love and openness in which you are trying to minister. And as a pastor of a large church I am well aware of the very discussions you’ve had. I have had the same discussion way more times then I can count. I actually spent almost two years directly ministering to the gay community by going to gay bars and party scene (don’t worry— no temptation for me and the team I was with.) But I feel that the answer, “I don’t know,” cheapens the redemptive power of the gospel. God can and will take the desire to steal away from a theif. God can and will take the desire for adultey away from a repented adulterer. To think that God gives these feelings through nature and creation is to think God tempts people with evil. It also dismisses, or at least makes light of the incredible destructive powers of socialization and sin filled world in which we reside. I can tell you that of the hundreds, if not thousands, of gays I have meant and befriended over the years, almost all have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused. Sexual abuse was the norm or at least early childhood exposure to sexual content usually through porn. Poor or completelyIy dysfunctional families was by far the norm. I simply cannot recall meeting gay/lesbians that came from a loving, nurturing, godly home with strong and loving male and female role models (mom and dad). Not saying it’s not possible but I just haven’t seen it.

    • Bamidele Oni

      Awesome reply, jeremy schossau. God bless you. Men of God need to know more about the incomparable and limitless power of the Almighty God. If we ‘have no clue’ then we are denying what Jesus said in John 14: 12 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…” Demons are behind those inordinate ‘feelings’, and they need to be cast out. A good salesman knows and believes in his product. Stay blessed.

    • Cheryl Balmas

      You must not really know gays at all. Come to my home town and I’ll introduce you to a half dozen 2 parent upper middle income church going families with a gay child. Not poor. Not abused. Not from single parent homes. Not controlling mothers or distant fathers. Father’s who were little league coaches and scout leaders. Stop making it sound like being gay is caused by bad parenting. Ridiculous.

  • Sa Adebolu-ololade

    I believe the Lord has endowed the church with all that is necessary to help people in all kinds of situations. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to help us live the kind of life that honors and pleases God. If we lack the counseling skills required to help those in such situations we should not hesitate to refer them to fellow minsters who have recorded some success in handling such or similar challengs.

  • Natasha Haskins

    What does the Word of God say? Has anyone stopped to ask that question? Being saved means repenting and being baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins AND receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to those who believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Acts 2:38, Matthew 3:11 – furthermore once we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; the Word of God goes on to describe what they looks like – The Holy Spirit dwells within us forever 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20; The spirit of truth guides us in all truth John 16:13; the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin John 6:8; The Holy Spirit teaches us John 14:26; the Holy Spirit comforts, equips, fills empowers (John 16:7, 1 Cor 12: 4 – 7; Eph 5:18 and Acts 1:8) – its like you have this gift on the inside of you that provides every answer to everything that you face but you never opened it… people perish from a lack of knowledge; go back to basics and discover the truth which is given to us in His Word.

  • Charles Stelding

    When Christians talk about welcoming celibate gays and lesbians into their churches, but refuse to accept their same-sex erotic feelings, they are saying that homosexuals have a disordered desire. Thus, the message is, “we want you, but your inward feelings are suspect.” How welcoming is that?

    Didn’t Jesus say in His sermon on the mount that wrong erotic desire is the same as living out that desire? If the act is sinful, all inclinations to such acts are to be understood as manifestations of the sinful nature, and are to be resisted as such. In other words, the distinction between impulse and action is a wrong perception according to Jesus. Anger is the same as murder, lust the same as adultery.

    So it’s untenable for a church to focus only on the behavior as a sin, and accept the person who has a homosexual orientation. Scripture does not sanction a sharp split between sinful acts and the inclination toward sinful acts.

    Maybe churches need to re-study their basic premise that homosexual feelings and behavior are inherently wrong. You just can’t accept one and deny the other.

  • graham

    The American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision was not due to their analysis of the problem but response to badgering of homosexual lobbying since about 1968. Inordinate affection as it is termed in the scriptures is deemed detestable to God in Old Testament references and does little better in Paul’s letter to the Romans. I personally believe that these feelings and whatever is behind them Can be done away with. If the desire is there to please God and be free of that which does not, there is a starting point. To feel you Should change but can’t is a cycle of torment. We can ask to truly desire to change. Then we can become focused and determined to succeed. Then we can move toward our total freedom from anything, be it addiction or affection. We can be transformed by being renewed in the spirit of our mind.