The Contemporary Journal for Youth Ministry
Sexuality
Youthworker, January/February 1998


"I'm a 17-year-old Christian guy, and I think I'm gay."


I know it’s a sin, but as hard as I try, it never seems to go away. I try to like girls, but I can’t. I’m almost positive that I was born with this. I know that according to the Bible you aren’t born gay, but why else would I be feeling this way? I would never wish this upon myself, and I don’t want to be gay. I think it’s in my genes. My aunt is a lesbian, and I know of other relatives who are homosexuals.

Don’t think that I’m not a Christian, because I am. I was saved last year, and I believe that I’m going to heaven. God loves everyone, right? And forgives sins? Well, if someone can commit murders and have his slate wiped clean, they why can’t I—as a person who strongly believes in God—be gay and still go to heaven? I attend church, pray, go to youth group and FCA, and surround myself with Christian friends. I’m a 4.0 student and participate in many school activities. But I know that I’m gay.

I guess all I’m asking is WHY? Why me? What did I do? I don’t want any part of this. I end up crying when I wonder how I’m going to tell my family and friends. Why are gay people so bad? I don’t understand. Maybe I’m just not old enough to understand the whole sex part of it, but I do know that I’m experiencing the mental and psychological part of it. I’m 17, and I know for sure that I’m homosexual and this isn’t just a phase of puberty.

Why exactly are gays so bad, according to the Bible? Well, just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on God. I believe he loves me FOR me—sexuality and all—and I know that I’m going to heaven. I hope that you can understand, as hard as it may be for you to do so.

See you in heaven!

The anonymous letter above was sent to the Youth Ministry Message Boards, which are part of the Youth Specialties Web site. We invited youth workers to respond to this boy. Their answers follow.

I know first-hand how difficult it can be just to admit to homosexual feelings. I had intense homosexual feelings since about 12 or 13 and kept them inside until I finally shared my struggle with a friend when I was 17. When I became a Christian at 18, God intervened in my life at a point where I was about to throw myself wholeheartedly into an actively gay lifestyle. But after coming to Christ, I thought my homosexual feelings would take care of themselves. They didn’t.

After a few years of suffering in silence, I began to open up to some friends. Real healing didn’t start until I received pastoral counseling, and God began to reveal the roots of homosexuality in my life. That was 12 years ago—and though God has done a great deal of healing in my life since then, it hasn’t been easy.

You say you believe you were born gay. That’s a very commonly held belief for many with strong homosexual feelings. I would have said the same thing before God started to heal me. I’ve learned that often the roots of homosexuality go deep into early childhood, and as a result, many say they’ve "always felt different." A lot of Christians don’t understand this and assume homosexuality is a simple choice.

People who work in "ex-gay" ministries (Christian ministries which help people overcome homosexuality) have identified some common roots of same-sex attraction. They include (but aren’t limited to) a lack of or unhealthy bonding with parents, peer rejection or feelings of not measuring up as a boy or girl, sexual abuse, and generational sin. It varies from person to person, and there may be other factors in your case. But make no mistake—God did not create you gay. It only feels that way.

There are really two sides to the struggle. One is with sin. You seem pretty sure that Scripture teaches that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong. You’re correct! There are many who would love to tell you that living a gay lifestyle and being a Christian is okay. It’s not. Half of the battle (maybe more than half) is saying no to Satan who wants you to give in to the lust of your flesh. Though resisting can be harder for those struggling with homosexuality because of isolation and alienation, it’s no different for Christian males struggling with lust toward women (or vice versa)—or any other sin we’re called to give up when we follow Jesus.

The other side is what you call the "mental and psychological part of it." I want to tell you emphatically that Jesus loves you and can heal you! Whether it’s a lack in your relationship with your father or sexual abuse or something else, God can restore your sexuality to one that reflects his image. I know of many "ex-gays" now happily married (though marriage is a result of healing—not a way to be healed).

You ask why gays are "so bad" according to the Bible. I don’t see it that way. The Bible says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Homosexuality is just one aspect of sexual sin. It’s listed along with adultery and fornication (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), sexual sins much more widespread in our culture. The real reason behind some Christians’ hostility toward gays is merely their own prejudice and insecurity.

God can heal you, but you also need support. If possible find a mature Christian friend in whom you can trust and share your struggle. Most people I know who’ve found healing have been involved on some level with an ex-gay ministry. Not only will you find support and caring in these safe places, but also the expertise in dealing with issues the church isn’t as well-equipped to handle. You may want to contact Exodus (206/784-7799) and find out if there’s a ministry in your area. You can check their Web site (http://exodus.base.org) as well. There are also many good books that can help, too—Leanne Payne’s The Broken Image and Andrew Comiskey’s Pursuing Sexual Wholeness: How Jesus Heals the Homosexual are two of my favorites.

God bless you, brother—and don’t give up!

—a youth worker in Pennsylvania

I’m a 39-year-old, single, Christian male who desires marriage—to be intimate with a woman physically. I ask questions, too: Why is God keeping me single when it’s my desire to marry? Why has God given me these strong sexual desires he knows I cannot fulfill? I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with submitting to his will and learning to be like him. Either way, I do know the Bible says sex is for marriage, and so I choose to abstain from sex until I’m married. As much as I often dislike that choice, I know it’s best because God says so.

Let me share something about my singleness that may help you get a handle on your situation: I used to think that being single was a curse because it was costing me one of the greatest joys a man can have—being totally intimate with a woman. But I came to realize that in heaven husbands will probably be more intimate with the strangers next to them than they are with their wives while on earth!

So I’m merely missing (for the time being) a reflection of true intimacy for a relatively short time. I’ll get to experience greater intimacy for all eternity in heaven with others and with God.

You may struggle with homosexual feelings all your life and never be able to have an intimate relationship with a woman—but you will experience true intimacy for all eternity in heaven.

And remember, homosexual feelings aren’t sinful—the practice of homosexuality is. So give your feelings to God, day by day, moment by moment. And I pray that as I abstain from sex with women outside of marriage, you will abstain from sex with men—and that your healthy relationships will lead you to new places in your walk with God.

—Ed Reese, youthman@dm.org

Does it matter whether one is "born gay" or "becomes gay" when it comes to living the Christian life? All of us are born in sin—and yet we have no excuse for our behavior, according to the Bible.

In fact sinful and righteous natures are always waging battle in the lives of Christians—yet we’re no longer obliged to sin. In fact we, through the Holy Spirit, are able to resist sin.

So whether you’re born gay or become gay, your requirement as a Christian is to stand against your homosexual tendencies—including "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like." (Galatians 5:19,21) So just because you have sexual desires for men doesn’t mean you’re allowed to give in to them—just as heterosexual Christians who are tempted to disobey God aren’t supposed to sin, either.

On the other hand, heterosexual Christians need to stop hating people burdened with the sin of homosexuality —especially when they tend to more easily accept sins such as laziness, lying, speeding, and drinking too much. The attitude of many Christians in this area is incredibly unloving and very, very hypocritical. We all sin and struggle with sin—in fact, I’m sure there’s sin all of us do nothing about. You know: "It’s no big deal."

Many of us offer no compassion or acceptance or forgiveness to people who are gay, yet each of us do things we know full well are against God’s will. Do you deny it? Then you’re a liar.

—Brendan Daly, bjd@dot.net.au, http://www.dot.net.au/~bjd

I believe the Bible isn’t as clear as Christians typically believe it to be regarding the sinful status of homosexuality. Reading the English translations, it appears clear that homosexuality is sinful. But if you do in-depth work with Greek analytical tools, you may develop a different perspective—as I and many mainline scholars have.

It’s easy for conservatives to conclude (as I once did) that those taking this stance are waffling on the Gospel, on Jesus as the only way to God, on the integrity of Scripture, et cetera. But this isn’t the case. Rather it’s a return to the integrity of Scripture—to a hard analysis of the Greek. It’s an attempt to make sure that our interpretations of Scripture are based on scholarship and prayer—not merely upon unchallenged traditions. (Many pre-Civil War Christians advocated slavery, for example, so reexaminations of this sort can be very useful.)

If God has given us free will, and we as humans know we’re often in error, then I encourage you to consider that the traditional evangelical position on homosexuality may be wrong. I have a more in-depth analysis of this view on my Web site: http://php.iupui.edu/~jtownsle/gay.html

—Jeramy Townsley, Indiana University, jtownsle@iupui.edu

You ask whether or not God loves you and forgives you. Let me assure and reassure you—he does! Regardless of your sin. Nothing you or anyone else can do will change that.

You say you’re gay and you "know it’s a sin," then you ask, "Why are gay people so bad according to the Bible?" Being gay isn’t a sin anymore than being left-handed or color-blind is, in my book. After all, Paul warns against all sexual immorality. In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus puts fornication, adultery, and licentiousness on equal footing with envy, slander, and pride (which are all in line with murder and theft). So this idea that gays should somehow be singled out for special condemnation by the church or by Christians would, I think, be puzzling to early Christians (themselves outcasts largely) and appalling to Jesus.

You ask, "Why? Why me? What did I do?" These questions could well be put into the mouths of Job, Elijah, Paul, or Augustine of Hippo. We don’t always get to figure out the whys in this life. When my firstborn lay in intensive care shortly after her birth, I asked the same questions—followed by, "Please, God...I’ll be good." Not very sophisticated theology, yet very real. I felt helpless. I sense you do, too. But you aren’t! In time I pray you’ll see that.

If you are sexually active, you must know that the activity isn’t restricted to your body: One reason the Bible teaches restraint in this area is because of the mental and emotional "self-giving" that comes with sexual expression—a lot for any 17-year-old to handle. But you don’t allude to any sexual activity—if that’s the case, you do well. There’s no "need" to be sexually active, despite what’s broadcast in popular culture. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into it.

In the meantime I urge you to seek the counsel of a pastor who is mature and gentle—someone you trust. And you must pray. Be assured you’ll be in mine!

—Rev. Kempton Baldridge, Episcopal Student Ministry,
University of Delaware, kbaldridge@aol.com

I understand what you’re going through. When I was a teenager, I had same-sex thoughts. I’d heard from experts on sexuality that they were normal—just a phase. But I didn’t feel any better. I knew they were wrong and that I was wrong. Now I’m married and have two teenage sons.

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Tell your youth pastor. Explain everything to him or her.
  2. After prayer and counsel, you may want to tell your parent(s) with your youth pastor by your side.
  3. Plug into an "ex-gay" Christian organization. Many members of these organizations went through the same thing you’re now going through and can help.
But always remember: You can’t be a Christian and live a gay lifestyle. It’s like saying to a friend, "Yeah, I’m married—but I have a girlfriend, too."

And know that no matter what happens, God is with you. Place your trust and confidence in him alone. See you in heaven!

—Ruben Soto, Jr., RSOTO@tnrcc.state.tx.us

Being homosexual is not, in itself, a sin. It sounds like if given the opportunity, you would chose heterosexuality. God understands your struggle and the intentions of your heart. But whether you believe you were born with homosexual desires or not, it doesn’t change the fact that God gives us the ability, through his power and grace, to choose the right way. You can say no to homosexual tendencies—just as all Christians must deny our rage or resist addiction.

Be assured that God does love you for who you are but deeply desires that you trust in his plan. The choice is yours. You have the ability, with God’s help, to resist inappropriate sexual acts. Yes it may be hard sometimes, but God will honor your faith and give you the strength to follow his will. Finally remember that God’s love is always available to you, and he’s waiting with open arms for you to accept it.

Peace.

—Phil Webster, STBRGDUTH@compuserve.com


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