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.”
“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.]
“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.