Dialogue With A Pastor’s ‘Gay’ Son – #8: The Tyranny Of Feelings

(This is the 8th 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 chit-chat.)

Me: You did it again. Every time I think you’re done talking with me, you suddenly call again. I think it’s been close to a month since we talked last time. So what’s up?

Him: I’m all messed up, that’s what’s up. And I really don’t have anyone to talk to about things except you. I hope I’m not bothering you.

Me: Not at all! I’ve told you before to never think like that. So tell me what’s going on.

Him: I’ll just get right to it. I tried going back home to live for the summer, but after a week there I knew it wasn’t going to work. My dad is acting like such a jerk that I couldn’t stay there. So I’m staying with some guys here and working for the summer teaching piano lessons.

Me: So why is that such a problem? It’s the estrangement from your dad that’s troubling you?

Him: Well, yeah, a little. But I’m dealing with that. What started it all was when one of those gay Christian guys I know gave me a couple of books to read. They were ‘Torn’ by Justin Lee and ‘God And The Gay Christian’ by Matthew Vines. I read them and found myself really identifying with what they were saying, especially Justin.

Me: OK. So what are you telling me?

Him: That I feel exactly how they describe themselves and what they’ve gone through as gay Christians. So I’m really struggling inside with how I feel and what the Bible says and the things you’ve said to me. I mean I know what it’s like to try to suppress my same-sex feelings and try to act like a good Christian boy, only to never ever find them going away. I tried like them to ‘go straight’ and never could feel any attraction to girls. So I’m not sure what’s right or who’s right. So I thought I’d call and talk again.

Me: Well, let me say first of all that I’ve also read both books and can very much empathize with their self-conscious perspectives and the struggles they generated. So I’m with you in that respect. But there’s a fundamental problem with the way they approach the same-sex issue. And that very simply is that they are analyzing themselves and drawing conclusions about themselves from the wrong starting point. And so are you.

Him: So what are you saying? What’s their starting point? And if theirs is wrong, what’s the right one?

Me: Great questions! I’ll answer briefly because of time. They are starting from their feelings…from the place of self-consciousness as sinners. And that is always a defective starting point. The correct place to start…for anything in life…is not from ourselves and how we feel about ourselves, but from the scripture and what it says about us…including what we feel. We and our feelings and our self-awareness are distorted by sin. Things can feel very natural that are quite unnatural and wrong when assessed biblically.

Him: Yeah, and the Bible says same-sex attraction is sinful. Period. But it never goes away for me. So life is not a very happy affair, is it?

Me: Well, it’s the same for every Christian, no matter what the sin they have to battle. Just because you have to battle attraction to guys doesn’t give you an out from the reality of the Christian life. Let me use another of my sinful tendencies to help with this. From as long as I can remember, I have experienced an angry tendency to blow up if things don’t go my way. When I was a boy I would express this by stomping my feet and throwing things and yelling and then getting sullen and pouty. It was how I felt. And through the years it’s been more restrained, but it still expresses itself if I let my guard down. And after I became a Christian it didn’t suddenly go away. And sometimes it still can get bad. It’s something I have to fight and subdue.

Him: So what’s that got to do with being attracted to the same sex?

Me: In itself, nothing. But as a sinful tendency, everything. I could have said to myself that I’ve always reacted in anger to certain life situations, so it must be normal and natural for me. It’s how I was born. And psychology recently claimed it has identified a ‘violent gene’ that causes anger and aggression in some people and these people need special therapy to alter their violent behavior. But I could just as easily follow the gay angle and say that it’s inborn and genetic, should be celebrated in ‘Anger Pride’ parades, should be accepted by society, and no one should expect me to change.

Him: Well, that’s crazy. And I do see where you’re going. And it does make sense to me. It just doesn’t make things easier.

Me: But it gets you thinking more biblically, which is the only way you’ll be able to combat your same-sex attraction.

Him: I don’t know if I can even think about having to live with this until I die. Some days the temptation is so strong that I think I just want to go ahead and do it to stop the intensity of the desire.

Me: But every Christian experiences this in different ways. And it’s not all there is to the Christian life. It has its joys and pleasures along with the hard battles we fight. We need to talk about this more. But I have to get back in now. Call me this weekend and we can talk.

Him: I’ll think about it. Thanks for getting my thinking back on track.

Me: No problem. We’ll talk again.

Him: OK. Bye.

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