Ask A Pastor: Struggling with Same Sex Attraction?
I’m just wondering what’s the best way to fight against tempting and lustful thoughts against the same sex? Whether it’s memories of pictures, hanging out with friends, or just thoughts in general how can I fight this with the Holy Spirit’s power and God’s word?
Exciting day for you all! Two pastors decided to try and answer this one! And we’ve put both answers here for you to read. The first answer comes from Rev. Eric Moerdyk, and the second answer from myself, the editor.
Thank you so much for your honest question. It takes a lot of courage to ask this kind of question. This may well be the sin in our church culture for which it is the hardest to ask for help. So often it gets buried until the pressure becomes too much and people wander into temptation or into the false gospel of thinking living a gay lifestyle is compatible with being a Christian. I am so grateful that you want to fight against these thoughts. The church needs to be a safe place for people who want help fighting such temptations.
I have known cases where same sex desires arose because of pornography. Since porn is a drug, in order to get the same high, new lows have to be sought out. In such cases, radical distance from all porn usually removes the same sex desires in time.
The good news is that the Bible doesn’t just call such desires or acts sin, but it is just as thorough in giving gospel hope and help to those struggling with such sin. There is a helpful book called “Transforming Homosexuality”, by Heath Lambert and Denny Burk (Reformed Book Services—Canada; Reformation Heritage Books—USA). This beautifully demonstrates that you are not alone in your struggle, for God has provided gospel power, truth, and grace that are utterly sufficient.
I know this might well be the hardest step of all for you, but I would really encourage you to reach out to your pastor for confidential help. Sometimes godly counsel from your pastor or a good biblical counsellor like the author of the book I just mentioned can be such a great help. I trust that I speak for all my colleagues when I say that it would be my privilege to provide gospel encouragement and accountability to anyone battling such desires. You can even begin by setting up an anonymous email address and don’t have to reveal who you are right away if this makes it easier for you to ask for help. Best of all, Christ is touched with the very feelings of our infirmities and was tempted in all points like we are, except without sin (Heb 4:14-16). There is no temptation that He cannot understand, including this one.
Rev. Eric Moerdyk is a pastor in the FRC.
Thanks for the question! This answer is not popular in our wider culture, but it is popular in the Bible. Here is a way to fight same sex attraction (and many other temptations to sin): Practice self-denial. Embrace self-denial. Delight in denying self. (This is definitely not what our culture says about sex does it? Deny??!!)
You ask about using God’s Word? Here is a verse that can help: Luke 9:23. Jesus Himself says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Taking up our “cross” does not mean what many often think it means: “I have to bear the burden of being a Christian in a non-Christian society, like ridicule of others, etc. Or, I have bear the burden (cross) of trials.” No, it means: Put self to death. Daily.
If there is no daily denying of one’s self, if there is no daily cross carrying—if there is no crucifixion of my sinful nature—then I am not following Christ that day.
See it as a privilege
And see it as a privilege. I know we talk about the “struggle” of “fighting” sin. And it is often a struggle, and a fight. The Bible does talk about the armor of God—and the need for armor implies danger! I’m not naive to the inherent difficulty of self-denial. But there is also a great privilege to it. And an honor. Jesus says, “You want to follow Me? Then deny yourself. Take up your cross.” And we ought to reply, “For You? For sure! I’ll do that.” And because you know your feelings of same sex attraction: Then you don’t just have a vague idea of some general “sin”, but you know exactly what He is asking you to do.
No request of self-denial by Jesus should be portrayed as Him asking too much of us. Turn that around in your mind. Whenever you hang out with friends the Lord Jesus is looking at you and saying, “Follow Me,” and you have the opportunity to follow Him!
Self-denial is positive as well as negative: Your, “no,” to yourself, is also a “yes,” to Christ. Tell yourself that again and again. It makes the “no” easier. An, “I get to follow my Savior!” attitude is something that should help a lot.
Remember that Jesus came and He ate and drank with sinners and tax-collectors. In other words: Jesus embraces us, not because we are good, but precisely because we are broken. Count it joy that you can see your brokenness and need for Jesus, and embrace Him in return as One who came for sinners like you.
And remember that His grace is greater than all our sin. When I walk through the snow, and my little boy follows me, he falls again and again. I expect it, as his father. I’ll never say, “You’re too slow, I’m leaving.” So too does our heavenly Father expect us to fall again and again as we follow Christ. Live as a child of your heavenly Father: Confess your sin, but also continually look to Him and ask for His help. “Take my hand. Help me. Carry me. Wait for me. Stay with me.” These are prayers Christians pray.
I’m not saying that everyone who experiences same sex attraction can not, or will not one day have a biblical, heterosexual marriage. But many won’t. And if that turns out to be you, that’s not just okay: That’s something that can be positive.
As Sam Allberry—a Christian who struggles with homosexual desires—has pointed out: “The most fully human and complete person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He never married, he was never in a romantic relationship, and never had sex. If we say these things are intrinsic to human fulfillment, we are calling our Savior subhuman.”
“Jesus says that those who can accept singleness for the kingdom should (Matthew 19:12), and Paul speaks shockingly highly of singleness in 1 Corinthians 7:8. Indeed, singleness can be a wonderful thing that mirrors our relationship with Jesus in a way that marriage cannot.” (Nick Roen)
And finally, remember as you deny self day-by-day: If we persevere, one day we will be able to put our crosses down. God will take away our sinful flesh, and make us like His Son. That’s how Christ endured His cross—“who for the joy that was set before Him, endured His cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2). May hoping for that joy make your cross lighter.
You might have this to deny daily, but we all have something. I might not have the same struggles you have, but I have my own. I too need to take up my cross daily.
Practicing the privilege of self-denial with you,
Rev. Tim Bergsma is a pastor in the FRC.