Table for One Ministries reached out to friends who had mentioned their accountability group included men who struggle with homosexuality. Intrigued by that situation, we set-up a meeting with two such men to find out more about what it meant to struggle with homosexuality and why they felt comfortable in their current church to speak about that struggle. Their names have been changed to respect their privacy.
Jim grew up in a “normal” Christian home with a loving family and support from both his parents. At a young age, Jim remembered being touched inappropriately by a male close to the family. While this abuse has gone unreported for decades, from that young age, Jim was curious about same-sex relations. As Jim grew older he knew those feelings were deviant and suppressed them, pretending on the outside to be just like any other male adult. He never once took physical action towards homosexuality; it was a struggle in his thoughts and visually in the world around him. Jim has a deep commitment to the Lord and through the years tried to stop having these deviant thoughts. One day in a church-sponsored accountability group he revealed his secret to the group. Immediately he felt a wave of relief that others knew his struggle and could support him as he continued to walk away from thoughts he knew were wrong. Through this group, Jim was empowered to end this struggle and has since gone on to have healthy heterosexual relationships. The church provided Jim a place to be accountable to God’s Word, and His Word finally changed Jim’s sexuality.
Sam’s story is different than Jim’s. Sam was raised by his mother, absent of a father, and for years struggled with feminine behaviors. To combat this, Sam continuously would do “macho” activities and sports to try and fool the world to who he truly desired to be. While thoughts of the same-sex were prevalent for Sam, he too was in church every Sunday like Jim and no one would have suspected he struggled with those thoughts. Sam came to the same accountability group as Jim and would confess his deviant thoughts to the group. Since then, Sam has actually become more feminine in his behavior. Yet, his desire to act out as a homosexual has lessened. He described this as becoming who God created him to be, while being what God desires him to be. Sam does not foresee a time when he will be attracted to the opposite sex, nor does he ever intend to let homosexual behaviors drive his attraction. Sam is what Jesus talks about in Matthew 10:12 “those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.” He is choosing not to act on any sexual behavior for the sake of the Kingdom and God is glorified.
Both of these stories point out something that is troubling in our churches today. The church may think there are no homosexuals within its walls, but it must assume there could be a few sitting in the pews every Sunday. It is troubling to think churches do not consider this an issue in their church. One study shows that while the perception is there are an overwhelming amount of homosexuals in America, there is actually only 4% of the total population in the LGBTQ community. The same study also shows that 11% of the population (25 million) acknowledges some same-sex attraction. This information leads this writer to conclude that while the perception is same-sex attraction is a rapidly growing demographic, statistics reveal more people struggle with the idea of same-sex attraction than thought.
Therefore, it is the role of the church to education both these segments, but particularly those considering same-sex attraction a way out of that feeling. That way out is through knowledge of God’s Word, accountability to another Christian, and most of all the power of the Holy Spirit though the regenerated life of a believer to accomplish anything for the Kingdom. Targeting those who struggle with same-sex attraction but have not chosen the life of homosexuality will make a more fruitful ministry as these seekers are open to walking away from those feelings. While the 4% in the LGBT community have made a choice to act on those feelings and can change, a more challenging road of change awaits them due to their actions and current lifestyle.
So do you agree in such a thing as non-practicing homosexual? Is it possible to love God, honor God, struggle against same-sex attraction feelings, and be a Christ follower?
. The Williams Institute, How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?, http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf (accessed October 3, 2012).