Dialogue With A Pastor’s ‘Gay’ Son – #4: Surveying The Territory

(This is the 4th dialogue in this series. It’s an edited and reconstructed version of the actual talk, but it accurately represents the essence of what was said. This is done with his permission, provided all personal references are omitted. I pick it up after the opening formalities.)

Me: You ended our last talk with a question. You asked why God made us this way. Remember?

Him: Yes, I remember. I didn’t mean that I thought God created people gay. I meant why did he allow this attraction to happen? Why is it even there? I’ve always been like this. I’ve been reading what a lot of different people say about it, and I really feel more in tune with the ones who say it’s inborn. I never asked for it or chose it. It’s just there.

Me: Well, you called kind of late today, so I don’t have a lot of time to respond. So we need to move fast.

Him: Then I’ll just get to it. I’ll just ask the questions that are on my mind and you can tell me what you think about it. So do you think people are born gay?

Me: I think there are original constitutional factors that some people come from the womb with that incline them to a same-sex attraction. In that sense I think it’s inborn. I don’t know if there are genetic factors involved, because there’s no conclusive evidence to support the claim that there are. But there is a sense in which some of us are ‘born that way.’

Him: Some? There are other kinds of gay people?

Me: I think so. Not all same-sex attraction is the same. Some develop it through things that happen to them or through how they’re nurtured. Some have it along with opposite-sex attraction, a kind of bisexuality. Not all same-sex attracted people are gay.

Him: What? How do you define gay?

Me: ‘Gay’ to me refers to a person who has always been attracted to their own sex exclusively and naturally. I mean by that it wasn’t something they developed. It’s how they always were. It’s the inward inclination they experience, whether or not it ever results in actual practice.

Him: OK. I get that. And that’s how I definitely would describe myself. But it’s not what God desires, so it can’t be right. So why doesn’t he take it away from me?

Me: I don’t know. I’ve dealt with that question personally for many years now. But I can tell you that obedience is not predicated on the absence of all desires to the contrary. In other words, same-sex attraction doesn’t have to be eradicated before we start doing what God requires of us.

Him: But isn’t the attraction itself wrong? If it is, why doesn’t God change it?

Me: Yes, it’s an attraction for what God forbids, so it is wrong in itself. I can’t tell you why he doesn’t change it. He does what he wants with us. But no one knows eradication of sinful inclinations in this life. That won’t happen until we are changed and glorified. Right now we are in a process of sanctification, and that takes time and often goes slow.

Him: So I’ll always be feeling this way?

Me: Probably. We are in these bodies of sin until we die.

Him: So what do you think about marriage? For gay guys I mean?

Me: Whoa! That’s a switch in mid-stream. HA! Do you mean gay marriage or marriage to a woman?

Him: No, not gay marriage! I know that’s not right. I mean, how can a gay guy like me ever marry a woman, since I have no attraction to females? Is a single life all I can expect?

Me: Boy, there’s a lot there to deal with. And there’s not much time left. Standard Christian counselling will tell you that you need to redirect sexual desire in an opposite-sex direction. But that’s unrealistic and in many cases cruel advice. You can’t just change attractions, like turning a switch on and off. The church needs to do a better job of presenting other options than marriage for gay people.

Him: But you got married.

Me: Yes, I did. It’s certainly an alternative. I have never regretted it. But it may not be for everyone. And the church has done a lot of harm by saying it is. Any woman who marries a man with same-sex attraction is going to have to deal with a lot of junk. There’s a lot to consider before doing it.

Him: So let me see if I got his. You would say that some of us are born gay, and even if we are converted the gay won’t go away, but will be with us till we die. So life for a gay guy could include marriage to a woman, but doesn’t have to. There are other alternatives to consider.

Me: That’s pretty good. In general that’s what I’m saying, though I would qualify it with several exceptions. My object isn’t to discourage you, but to get you to the point of reality where you can start dealing with your attraction biblically.

Him: Reality is hard.

Me: Yes, that’s true. But it is what it is, and we have to start there. We can’t deal with problems if we are unrealistic about what’s going on. I have a friend in his mid-20’s who was converted from a gay life over a year ago and got married to a nice woman shortly after that. He still has intense struggles with same-sex attraction, but he’s been dealing with it quite admirably. I think it would be good for you to talk with him. I think he’d love the opportunity. Would you be interested?

Him: Yes, I think so. Sounds very interesting.

Me: Good. My time’s gone, but I’ll talk to him and see what he says. I’ll let you know.

Him: Thanks again for talking. It does help a lot.

Me: My pleasure. Take care. We’ll talk again.

Him: OK. Bye.

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