(This is the 9th 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 as usual after the opening chit-chat.)
Me: So what’s on your mind today?
Him: Oh, just trying to reconcile my same-sex attraction with my being a Christian. After I talked to you last time I realized that there’s no way I can identify with the gay Christians. What you said made a lot of sense.
Me: That’s good. Glad you see the problem with the gay Christian perspective.
Him: But it doesn’t take away the fact that I am a Christian that feels very gay. And when I talk to other Christians about it, they either don’t say much of anything or else say things that hurt deeply. Except for you. But hardly anyone thinks about this like you do. So I get very confused and then start to doubt if I’m really saved. So that’s kind of what’s on my mind.
Me: Boy, that’s a lot! The gay christian approach to this issue is an easy way out of the struggle, but it’s not the biblical way. The fact of the matter is that same-sex attraction is so embedded in our self-awareness that it seems like an integral part of us. So that’s why you ‘feel very gay.’ But as difficult as that makes reality for us, it’s the place we have to start if we are going to address it correctly. And I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I’m just the only one you’ve met who does.
Him: Well, I’m glad I did. But what really troubles me is the way it all can affect my sense of assurance that I’m really a child of God.
Me: How’s that?
Him: A guy I recently talked to actually told me that if God has converted me, then my same-sex attraction should go away completely. But it hasn’t. And some days it seems stronger than ever, especially if some guy is around that I really find attractive. It’s not like I make myself feel that way. It just happens automatically.
Me: I really can get upset with people who say what that guy said to you. It’s really hypocritical. I mean, next time someone tells you the same-sex attraction should go away when you become a Christian, ask him if his sexual lust for the opposite sex went away when he became a Christian, or if he still has to fight sexual thoughts and fantasies and wanting to have sex with someone other than a wife. Every hetero Christian male I know has to deal with sexual lust. That didn’t go away at conversion!
Him: But he would say even though his sexual lust can be wrong when directed at the wrong object, at least it’s a normal desire. Sexual desire for the same sex isn’t normal and should be changed to a normal one when you get saved.
Me: Well, the trouble with that idea is that it’s partly right and partly wrong. Yes, there is a basic moral change that takes place in our hearts at conversion that reorients us in a Godward direction. But that’s also only the beginning of a moral transformation that proceeds incrementally throughout the Christian life and won’t be completed until we’re glorified.
Him: That’s how I’ve been taught, but it seems kind of abstract. How does all that work out in real life when you’re struggling with lust?
Me: Well, let me use myself as an example that might help. As you know, I was exclusively attracted to guys from my earliest sexual awareness, and from the time I was 15 until I turned about 30 I lived a gay life, coming out openly when I was 19. I was a total queer boy for all those years. Then when I was around 30 years old, God converted me. At that time there was a definite change in my life. I immediately stopped having gay sex and left the gay world behind and started to live like a Christian. So there was an obvious change in my behavior and also in the way I thought and felt about sexuality. But even though this was all true, the same-sex attraction that I had always known and indulged did not go away completely. I was no longer enslaved by it to serve it willingly and readily, but it was still there. And it could still be very intense.
Him: I know all about intense!
Me: But there were a lot of differences before and after my conversion. Before I lived to satisfy my sexual cravings, but after my conversion I fought them and no longer lived for them. Before it made me happy to indulge them, but afterward they caused me great grief in my heart because they were not pleasing to God. Before I was proud of my gay identity, but afterward I renounced it and identified as a follower of Jesus Christ who had called me to sexual purity, not sexual indulgence.
Him: But did it ever go away completely?
Me: No, but the frequency and intensity of the desire decreased over time. And I was even able to get married to a sweet woman. The movement from complete homosexuality to complete heterosexuality is on a sliding scale with varying degrees of success. The Christian life is all about self-denial and taking up your cross daily. There’s no once-for-all end to the battle with sin in this life.
Him: Sometimes all I can do is evaluate myself by what I don’t do because I want to please the Lord.
Me: Exactly! I’ve never heard anyone but me say that before. But that’s huge in this battle. A big part of assurance is seeing what our love for God keeps us from doing. We have to ask ourselves why we don’t give into sin, and the answer is it’s because we want to please God because of what he’s done for us in Christ.
Him: That really is the truth. If it wasn’t because of my love for Jesus, I would definitely be living a gay life.
Me: Same here. And that’s a big source of assurance that we are the children of God!
Him: Thanks for this talk. It really helped.
Me: It helped me too. I’m really prone to discouragement in this battle, so I need encouragement too. I need to go in now, but call any time you need to talk.
Him: Definitely. Thanks again.