On My Struggle With Homosexuality
The corrupting effects of sin on this world are far reaching. Everything is corrupted especially in humans. The adding of the holy Law of God only increased our knowledge of how far reaching that corruption goes and increased the trespasses themselves. This corruption is widespread. This corruption can go as deep as the DNA. It can go as far back as the womb. The corruption of God’s beautiful creation begins even in the womb, as David testifies in the Psalms. It is for this reason that I believe that someone can be born with an attraction to the same sex. I believe someone can be born with a sexual disposition toward homosexuality.
Now, I don’t think that is how it goes down in every case. I bear in my body the thorn of same-sex attraction (SSA), but I have not always borne it. Many Christians today think of being gay, or having homosexual inclinations as a choice. I can attest that that is false. It is not a choice for me. I did not choose to be attracted to men. Though I do not think I was born with that attraction, my earliest realization of this attraction was at age eleven.
I had no control over it. The reason I bring this up is because this is the most common response from the majority of Christians to homosexuals. This idea can lead to the thinking that if a homosexual becomes a Christian, that the switch can be flipped and they will be “normal.” This kind of thinking that is commonly held in the American church, most notably in the “Bible Belt.” It is faith killing. The church, the vast majority being heterosexual, needs to recognize the depths of sin at large and within them. Perhaps this is a starting place for interaction with homosexuals, both Christian and non-Christian. The church also must be able to empathize with homosexuals. Compassion for a struggle that is not our own can strengthen our weakened brother or sister. The church must look, listen, and understand.
Definitions and Imaginations
I realize people use the term “gay Christian” different then I will define it, sometimes using it to refer to what I will define as a “homosexual Christian.” I’d always ask people to define their terms.
To me, there is no such thing as a “gay Christian.” There is such a thing as a Christian who is homosexual.
When someone says that they are gay and a Christian, I typically understand it to mean that they believe in God, know about Jesus, and have come to find the words of Scripture concerning homosexuality with the attraction that they feel as being compatible. This is why a “gay Christian” cannot exist. Someone who rejects the words of Scripture that condemn homosexual relationships and sexual activity or any of the commands of God’s Law unrepentantly rejects the gift of grace that Christ offers.
But the one who is a Christian and homosexual and knows their lusts are wrong, the one who knows they must control their desires and inclinations, the one who recognizes just how much God’s Law condemns them (as it does all people), the one who, in spite of all of this knowledge acts on their feelings and desires and ultimately runs in repentance to the mercy of God in Christ Jesus…yes, this Christian homosexual exists.
Some in the body of Christ would say that all homosexual desires and inclinations should stop when an individual becomes a Christian. They suggest that when someone confesses Christ, those desires should have been purged. They suggest these desires should have been fixed. Can you imagine it?
Can you imagine if youtold someone in your church that you trusted that you battled lust daily or that you gave in and had sex with someone and they told you, “Well, that’s not normal.”? Or imagine they told you that never should have happened because that’s not how a Christian thinks? Or that they rather you had a drug problem because that can be fixed? Or imagine they asked you why you are experiencing those feelings, or how you could even consider those actions when you are a Christian?
Would that person in your church tell you these things? Doubtful.
Instead, they would probably do as God’s Word says, call you to the carpet for your sin, and tell you to repent and trust in Christ’s forgiveness. They say you need an accountability partner of some kind and that we have to walk this out together as family in Christ.
But for me, one who is attracted to the same sex, I have heard all of those things. Until two years ago, no one offered to walk alongside me and my thorn. Until two years ago, I was told to suppress how I felt about others of my gender and not admit it. I was told to get rid of my struggle. And when it wasn’t going away, I was told I wasn’t truly surrendering to God.
It bottled up inside me. It tore away at my soul. It did damage to my body. Lust danced in my heart and mind and eyes until it worked up enough strength to break through to my flesh.
I doubted God. I doubted I was His child. I doubted that the grace of God in Jesus was for me.
And I was ready to turn my back on Him, the church, and everything I had ever known. All because I could not be transparent. All because I could not say that I am a guy who is a Christian who also likes guys.
I want you to think about that. I want to you to imagine the terror that you would experience if you could not confess the sins that tormented you. I want you to imagine that the reasons for that are your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and your fear of their perceived repulsion. And I want you to imagine the cold, terrible feeling of being so alone in a room of your Baptized Kin because you were thinking, “If they knew, they would not want me. I would have no place here.”
Because the awful truth is that is what quite a few of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are homosexuals think and feel every single day.
The Church and Celibacy
I have already mentioned that I think many Christians have misconceptions about homosexuals. Many Christians interact through this lens. They work off slogans such as, “You choose to be gay,” “Gay guys just want to have sex with every guy,” or “If you’re a Christian, those struggles should stop. They’re supposed to stop.”
The topic of sex is too often brushed under the rug by the church. I have said before that I think the church’s teaching on sex, or lack thereof, is the reason that many individuals my age have messed up sexual ethics. Including and specifically Christians my age. In the absence of a church teaching, dare I say doctrine; people are free to learn from somewhere else. Worse, they may make up their own doctrine. And boy, have we made up our own sexual ethics.
Sex is a good thing. It was made by God to be enjoyed by a man and woman in marriage. Sex is meant to feel good. That is something that people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about in the church in its proper context. Selfless giving to ones’ spouse is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The ability to procreate is beautiful. We as Christians should remember that sex isn’t dirty in and of itself. When used as God ordained, it is good, wholesome, and yes, holy.
If you are heterosexual and thinking of becoming married, then sex is a pleasure that you will enjoy in that covenant. Now imagine you can’t get married. Imagine that you can never have sex at all or again.
This desire for sex that was designed by God and corrupted by sin is in all of us — including homosexuals.
With that in mind, what do we say to our homosexual brothers and sisters? When we interact with homosexuals, do we just go off preconceived ideas? Or do we actually treat them as real humans, who have thoughts, emotions, and desires? How do we respond to them on this issue of sex?
God’s Word, this we know, forbids sexual activity between people of the same sex. But do we then dismiss this issue? Do we even talk about this issue?
I have never heard it talked about. I have found that more often than not, people never think to engage with Christian homosexuals on this issue, no matter that it is a vital issue, because it’s too “taboo.” We’re not supposed to talk about it
God’s Word gives two options for homosexuals. The first is to deny the flesh and enter into a marriage with someone of the opposite sex — which is possible. There are those who have been freed from this curse or those who have been able, with God’s help, to bring the voice of that craving to a mere whisper. Both of these are able to marry someone of the opposite sex.
But for those who are never delivered from this curse in any way while in this life, God’s Word requires the second option — celibacy. Paul says it is the best option for everyone, but if someone burns with lust, they should marry so that they do not sin (1 Corinthians 7:6-9).
For some Christian homosexuals, they sometimes burn with lust and cannot fulfill it in any way. Can we understand this? Can we empathize with this? Instead of turning up our noses, can we have a conversation about this?
Yes, God knows best and His Law is good, but can’t we just tell our struggling brothers and sisters, realizing that they cannot participate in this action that is meant to bring pleasure, “You know what, that really sucks. I’m so sorry.” Empathy over disdain. (See Romans 12:15)
You know, sometimes I write about this subject in an abstract way. Then I remember I’m writing about me.
This sexual desire is just a manifestation of what is really craved. For me and many, many others, the sexual component is truly but a fraction of what we crave. We crave intimacy. I want a guy to hold me tight and tell me everything is going to be okay. I want to walk down the street holding my guy’s hand. I want to be able to wake up next to the man who takes my breath away. But as much as I want to, I can’t have a man in my arms. God’s Law forbids it
Could I have a woman in my arms? Yes. I have the ability to — I am still attracted to women. But I am nowhere near ready. I don’t know that I will ever be.
The possibility exists that I will never get the intimacy I crave. From men, because God’s Law forbids it. From women, because if I cannot commit myself faithfully, I sin against God and woman. I am caught in this tension. I feel like I am being torn in two.
I think about this constantly. I think about how I might never get married. It’s possible I won’t ever have the emotional and sexual intimacy that I crave. I might never have the children I long for. I might never see the family that I have imagined myself having since I was eleven years old.
Loneliness is a constant companion of mine. I think about the relationship I had with a girl that was wonderful and so sweet to me that I had to end because I was unfaithful. I think about the time I spent with guys who made such an impression on me with just a smile that I was forced to cut short by the weight of my guilt and the power of the Holy Spirit driving me to repentance. And I think about the hurt I’ve caused these people in my fight with homosexuality. I have sinned against those whom God loves, in leading them against God’s Law. And that thought that I pointed people away from Jesus still haunts me. And, yet, I long with all my might for any of them. I can hear my heart beat louder, like a drum reaching a crescendo, as I consider what I had, what I held, and that I no longer have, and will never hold again.
Christ Hold Fast
If I am honest, I have thought about leaving the Christian faith. This was quite recently. I let my mind wander for a bit. I imagined what life would be like if I left the faith. I would be free to follow my feelings. I would be free from my responsibilities. I would be free to have a boyfriend.
This idea is appealing.
And, while I’m admitting stuff, I did step away from the faith for a few days. I hardened my heart and followed where my feet took me. I felt free. I felt liberated from oppression. I felt no weight on my shoulders or in my heart. It felt like a whole new world opened up to me, like I was a European explorer breathing the air on the North American continent for the first time.
That feeling was short lived. God, being merciful, reminded my loud, rebellious heart of the opinion of the Law on this matter. And He did it with a quiet voice. The walls of my heart tumbled to the ground by the still, small voice of the Word of God that carried with it the force of one thousand battering rams.
I don’t think I could ever leave the Christian faith. Not because I didn’t want to, or because of my devotion to God, but because of His goodness and love to me. Christ does hold fast to me.
If I live a lifetime with a broken heart, a heart that is pining after my own sin that would be nothing compared to how my heart would be torn asunder if I turned my back on Christ. As much as I could love my sin, as much as I could love a boy, it is incomparable to the love of God in Christ Jesus for me.
But every day I am forced to fight. Every day I beg for a different cross to bear. Every day I wish that today were the day where Christ returns, that He might deliver me from this curse once and for all.
I wish I could leave you with a happy ending. I wish I could tell you that I am almost over this struggle of mine and it’s getting better. I can’t tell you that. That would be a lie. As much as I hate to admit it, I am still in the same place in my struggle with homosexuality as I was two years ago. I don’t feel like I‘ve made any progress. No, in fact, I feel like I’m made of glass and at any moment, at the slightest movement, I might shatter and all hell might break loose. I feel as though I am in rehab, detoxing from the addictive points of my sin. Relapses are common. I don’t quite see the end of this cycle. I often feel despair, like the cycle, will never end.
And it hurts me that I am still afraid to talk about it, sometimes. Which, incidentally, is part of the reason I agreed to write this post.
I’m writing so that I can be as transparent with people as possible. I’m writing so that there are no secrets of mine that are not readily available. I’m writing so that if there are those like me who are afraid of what might happen if they confess their sin, they can know that there are Christians out there who will lovingly and truthfully respond. I’m writing, also, so that Christians who aren’t like me will know a little of what it’s like, and perhaps will be able to empathize with their brothers and sisters who are homosexuals.
I’m writing so that you can know that my identity is not in my sexuality.
My identity is not in my sin or my preference of sin.
Neither is yours, dear brothers and sisters. Our identity is in Christ Jesus. We are one in Him. Comfort one another.
My identity and hope is in Jesus. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps me fighting the good fight, by His grace. He keeps me in the faith by His grace, and the means by which He gives grace. He promises that even when I don’t see it, He is working in me. Even when I look at myself and see the wretchedness in my body and the thorn of homosexuality, I remember that the God-man promised that just as He was raised from the dead with a perfect body, I will be too and His work in me will finally be complete.
And every time I read His Word or hear it preached, every time I remember the benefits God gave me in Holy Baptism, every time I eat and drink Christ’s true body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, another arrow flies into the already bleeding heart of my Old Adam. His days are numbered. He will die once and for all on the Last Day.
So I am not hopeless. One day all things will be made new. But until that day I live as one who is sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
So pray for me and others like me, and for all Christians because we still duel sin in this broken world. But fear not. The Lamb is on His throne.
And we won’t always be torn in two.
[Editor's Note: you can now read a defense of why post like this must remain part of the public discussion on same-sex attraction, Michael's mom detail her struggle with her son's struggle, and a discussion on gender stereotyping]