(This is the 10th 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 been going on since we last talked?
Him: Well, I went home last weekend to see my family.
Me: So how’d that go?
Him: That’s why I called. I just don’t get my dad. He was always so physically affectionate before. But now he won’t even give me a welcome hug. He just shakes my hand and stays distant. I grew up knowing a lot of love from my parents. My mom still kisses me and hugs me when I’m home, but my dad acts like I have some kind of disease. It really hurts. I mean if I had come home and told them I was in a gay relationship or was having gay sex, then I could see my dad acting this way. But I just opened up to them about these same-sex desires I’ve always had. And this is what I get.
Me: Your dad probably doesn’t know how to think about this issue. Most people don’t. When you told him about your attraction, he most likely thought ‘gay,’ which he associated with all kinds of things you didn’t mean.
Him: Exactly! I never used the word ‘gay’ when I opened up to my family about my same-sex attraction. But when my dad told the church what I had said, he said I told him I was gay. That’s what he heard, but it’s not what I said.
Me: And in the minds of most people when they hear the word ‘gay’ they equate it with ‘having gay sex.’
Him: But I’ve never done that. I’ve been a Christian since I was about 12 and was raised in a Christian home and an evangelical church. I love the Lord and His Word and have always tried to live by it. I know sex outside of marriage is wrong and that marriage is for one man and one woman. All I was admitting to my parents was that I had always been attracted to guys and wanted them to know my struggles as a Christian. I never expected what I got.
Me: And how did the people in your church respond to you?
Him: When I admitted, sometimes with tears, that I was attracted to guys instead of girls, I found myself getting lecture after lecture about how being gay was a sin just like adultery or premarital sex. But I wasn’t having any kind of sex at all. I was telling them how I felt inside, not what I was doing. Even if I never have gay sex, I’m still attracted to guys. I wanted help in dealing with it as a Christian. But I didn’t get any help…until I started talking to you.
Me: You sound a lot like Justin Lee.
Him: That’s probably because I just read his book. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I sure identify with his struggle with his sexuality.
Me: That’s because it’s a real struggle. I know. And I have no problem with his description of ‘being gay’ as primarily a condition we experience rather than a lifestyle we live. There is a gay lifestyle that very often results from one’s gay existential self-awareness. I lived it for years. But it’s not essential to ‘being gay.’ But your family and your church doesn’t get that. Most people don’t.
Him: It sure makes life tough. They act like this is something I chose, like I got up one day and decided to be gay. I can choose who I date or who I marry or who I have sex with, but I can’t choose who I’m attracted to. It’s just there. It always has been. I wish it wasn’t, but I can’t just choose to make it go away.
Me: But you can choose to do what pleases the Lord.
Him: Yes, I agree with that. But I know he isn’t pleased with my attraction to guys. And I don’t know how to change it. And on top of that I have all the sexual urges of any 20 year old guy, but I find myself thinking of guys instead of girls. And that’s out of the question for a Christian. I read that article you sent me about same-sex attracted men who were able to have good marriages with a woman, but I just couldn’t identify with it. I have no sexual desire for women. So what do I do?
Me: I see we have a lot of things to talk about. You’re struggling with some very deep and complex questions, and I assure you there are no cut-and-dried answers. We need to talk about the reality of sinful predispositions, of the multi-faceted nature of homosexuality, of the biblical teaching on sanctification and change, and on the available biblical options for a same-sex attracted person. But we can’t do that all today. HA!
Him: But I’d like to. You’ve been able to live as a Christian while battling this attraction, so your example has a lot of credibility with me.
Me: Oh, my example isn’t all that good. But I can empathize. And remember, your only real help comes from the Lord.
Him: I know that. But why won’t he take this attraction away?
Me: I don’t know. I’ve dealt with that question for years. He does what he wants with us for our good. But even if he doesn’t take it away, he can help you deal with it. Just like he helps every believer deal with their particular sin.
Him: I wish I felt more encouraged about that. But I know you need to go. And I do want to talk more about this.
Me: I’m here. Call anytime.
Him: I will.