A Plea to Pastors to Talk about Same-sex Attraction, From One Who was Loved Into Light
I had never been more scared in my life, and I have never been as scared since. It was a Sunday morning; the second service had just ended. I knew I needed to talk with the pastor, though I didn’t want to. People always line up to talk to him after the service, so I had to wait for a while to get to him, testing my resolve to follow through with the conversation. I caved at least once, turning to leave and making it out of the building before being drawn back inside by what I assume was the Holy Spirit. Feeling short of breath and a little nauseous, I hung around near the back of the auditorium as it slowly emptied. Finally, the pastor was free, and I asked him if we could talk. We sat down. I slowly, haltingly, told him my secret.
“For awhile now, I have struggled with . . . . same-sex attraction. And I want help fighting it.”
Now, there’s a lot more to that story. The next hours, days, and months held healing, pain, difficult conversations, and more grace than I knew what to do with. But right now, I’m writing mainly to you, pastors, and in that small piece of my story, my aim is to communicate how I felt about confessing that struggle for the first time: terrified. And that was after I had heard the issue addressed in a loving, truthful, gracious way at my church. Before then, getting help really wasn’t an option in my mind. I thought that if I confessed this struggle, shedding light on this hidden part of my life, then I would eventually have to tell the whole church, and everyone in my life would end up knowing. Then, I would never be able to have any genuine friendships because guys would feel uncomfortable around me while girls would think of me as their “gay friend.” I imagined men being afraid to make physical or eye contact, afraid of how I might interpret it. I was very familiar with the feeling of being different than everyone else, being on the outside and wishing I could get in. And that feeling hurts. A lot. If I told anyone my secret, I thought he would forever see me the way I saw myself: different.
I’ll be the first to admit that my paralyzing fear of man made my imagination run away with me. Some of my fears were legitimate, though, and I didn’t have a whole lot of evidence from the Church that things would be different than I pictured. For a long time, all I received on the topic from the Church was either silence or a stern declaration of being against homosexuality. Both the church and mainstream media seemed to communicate an “us versus them” mentality. So where did I, someone who loves Jesus and is often attracted to men, fit?
Thanks be to God, I know now. I heard from the pulpit that all sin springs out of the heart. That we are all broken and have tendencies, biological or otherwise, toward certain sins. That what I feel is not who I am. That my sin runs so deep that my heart can be drawn to worship other things in a split second while I remain completely unaware. That my Savior is so powerful that He can transform me down to my very core. That I am holy and dearly loved, welcomed gladly into God’s family.
This was all said with kindness, compassion, and understanding. Sin was called sin, but no one was villainized or shunned. God’s truth was shined into my heart, exposing my jealousy and selfishness. Instead of pushing me away, though, it drew me closer to God and His people through the offer of acceptance and forgiveness in Jesus. Through those messages, God changed me. Gently but very firmly, He told me that I couldn’t deal with this on my own, and He gave me hope that I wouldn’t be rejected if I asked for help. Exposing lies I had believed for far too long, God began to heal my heart of deeply rooted insecurities, a work which continues to this day.
Pastors, I am writing this for the sake of people like me who are under your care. The truth is that if you aren’t aware of anyone who regularly deals with same-sex attraction, then it is very likely that there are people in your congregation who are in the same place that I was in a few years ago: holding their secret in, trying to fight alone but failing time and again, growing more and more discouraged as time goes by. Please, please talk about same-sex attraction. Take a stand on Truth and embody the open, welcoming arms of Christ. Teach your people that those who are attracted to the same gender are to be neither laughed at nor avoided, but welcomed in to bask in the righteousness of Jesus. There are many who do not understand how the gospel applies to this group of people. Please show them. Now more than ever, everyone needs to know.
– Nathan H.
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