Understanding Same-Sex Attractions

Dr. Mike Rosebush

Perhaps you have heard it said, ‘Counseling the homosexual sinner is no different than how you handle the heterosexual sinner ‘ sin is sin.’ In many ways, this is true ‘ and false.

Engaging in same-gender sexual activity is a sin (Lev 18:22; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9), as is every form of sexual activity — other than with one’s spouse. The homosexual sin is no more wrong or right than the heterosexual sin — and in that regard, there is no difference in the sins. Similarly, the forgiveness of homosexual sins is obtained identically as that of heterosexual sin ‘ through the redemptive work of Christ, and one’s trust in that. No heterosexual sinner was ever ‘saved’ in any way different than anyone who committed a homosexual sin. Additionally, God views the person who struggles with same-sex attractions in the exact same way He views the person struggling with opposite-sex attractions ‘ no greater (or less!) love and regard. Finally, the Godly methods of abstaining from sexual sin (i.e., purity of eyes and mind; confession; reduction of shame) are equally applicable, regardless of what type of sexual desire exists.

So, homosexual addictive behaviors can be treated in just the same way as heterosexual addiction, right? Nope.

Many of the elements are the same: the need to be real and safely disclose; the elimination of personal shame; accountability; ‘bouncing your eyes’; determining your triggers; developing an enjoyable relationship with God; nurturing vibrant relationships; pursuing life-giving activities; improving one’s self-esteem; etc. Can both the same-sex attracted and opposite-sex attracted man gain from attending an ‘Every Man’s Battle‘ workshop? Absolutely! Can both men co-exist in a men’s ministry? Certainly.

Well, then, ‘what’s the diff?’

Sexual identity. The heterosexual man is usually not frightened by his sexual attractions. He views that phenomenon as a ‘given’ ‘ how it (of course!) should be. He does not wonder ‘What’s wrong with me ‘ I keep noticing attractive men?’ He does not become increasingly panicked over the inability to become stimulated by the sight of women (like his buddies are able to do). He does not have to hope that ‘maybe these attractions will just go away ‘ please!’

No, instead, the male who experiences sexual attractions to certain men is guaranteed to be confused, ashamed, fearful, envious, and grief-filled. Men struggling with homosexual desires know that they are odd (since only about 5% of men ever experience such desires). And every man who has ever experienced ongoing same-sex attractions has wished that that were not the case (at least initially). Unlike the heterosexual, the man with same-sex attractions does not know how to ‘label’ himself: gay? ex-gay? homosexual? bisexual? He must actually choose to make meaning of his attractions, whereas the man with opposite-sex attractions automatically knows why he is that way ‘ ‘because that’s how it’s supposed to be’.

Thus, the man struggling with homosexual sins or addiction has two wars to fight:

1) learning to abstain from the sexual sin (and possibly also overcoming a sexual addiction), and
2) figuring out the meaning of his sexuality ‘ and what he plans to do with the reality of his attractions.

Most Christian counselors have opposite-sex attractions, and therefore they provide the only therapy they know how ‘ a ‘stop the sexual sinning’ approach. They set-out to treat only the client’s sexual behaviors, but not his sexual identity issues. These counselors are not negligent out of harmful prejudice. Nonetheless, they still end up doing a disservice to the man struggling with same-sex attractions — if the counselor is not familiar (and skilled!) in dealing with sexual identity issues. The under-informed counselors apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach to helping the client’s homosexuality, assuming that ‘homosexuality is just another form of sexual sin ‘ no different than fornication or adultery’.

Well, now you, too, know the difference.

For help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

More Tools In The Battle: Part 2 of 4: Encourage EACH OTHER

David S. Mackey

In review , we are working on the premise that a large part of the Battle is to leave the false intimacy of sexual acting out and pursue the true intimacy of loving God and others with our whole being. It is a pursuit of loving with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This experienced, is True Intimacy.

Many tools/facets of True Intimacy with God and others are found in the ‘Each Other’ passages of the New Testament. ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Pursuing the ‘Each Other’ principles will enhance our relationship with God and others. In so doing, we will find more victory in the Battle.

We have already looked at ‘Love Each Other’ or in some translations, ‘Love One Another’. One of Jesus’ primary message was to Love Each Other in a kingdom way right now.

Loving others will be a powerful, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy. The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions of love, and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battles are WON!!!

ENCOURAGE and BUILD UP EACH OTHER

The exhortation to encourage or build up one another is mentioned a number of times in the NT. Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:25 tell us to build up or encourage each other. This repetition makes me think that encouragement is pretty important. Repeated 4 times, do we have to wonder why?

Think about those times in which you have been discouraged or beat down. Sometimes those times can get so dark that we don’t even want to keep going. Not necessarily thinking about actual suicide but just wanting to give up on life. When we stop trying and or stop working toward goals we of course become pretty vulnerable in the Battle. Ever been there?

Now think about those times when you have been encouraged. What kind of strength does it give you?

Encouragement heals, it does build up. It makes us stronger. Being encouraged and built up is a wonderful tool in the Battle.

But the call is not only to be encouraged; we are also invited to encourage others. You will find healing and strength if within your life focus is a habit of encouraging others. You will in turn be encouraged and built up by others in response to you being an encourager.

Encouragement is part of intimacy. Encouragement does involve looking more deeply into people and seeing the struggles of their heart, their behavioral struggles, and the situations in which others find themselves; their emotional, spiritual and relational struggles. It is in knowing another’s struggle that we can know how and when to encourage. And of course, knowing another’s struggle and addressing it through encouragement is a piece of True Intimacy. When we are discouraged, we most often want to isolate. But we need to come out–to be authentic about our discouragement so that others can see in us (In-to-me-see) and know how to encourage and build up.

How will you find encouragement? It will be difficult for others to encourage you if you are not living an authentic, open, and honest life. Our past behavior, most often, was to take our pain, our struggles, our failures, our hurts and hide them. We tried to take care of them ourselves. We pretended to others that we were ‘okay’.

If we are living lives that are authentic, if we are open about our struggles, if we are honest about our shortcomings and needs, there will be OTHERS who will encourage us, who will build us up. It is in those encouragements that we will find growth and strength. It is in encouragement that we will find healing.

Encourage others and be encouraged.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

More Tools In The Battle: Part 1 of 4: Love Each Other

David S. Mackey

In my previous articles, I have written about what I believe is ultimately the key to all healing, the key to becoming all God created us to be. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and others with your whole being, with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. My premise was and is that a large part of the Battle is to leave the false intimacy of sexual acting out and pursue the true intimacy of loving God and others with our whole being.

In the pursuit of True Intimacy, there are many tools God has given us which are useful in this Battle. Most of the ‘tools’ found in Scripture are tools which can help us in all facets of our life, with many different struggles in our life.

In the New Testament, there are found a series of ‘Each Other’ messages which, when practiced move us in the direction of intimacy. These ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Remember, 1 John says that we cannot love God without also loving others. Naturally, it is also true, that when we love others we are also loving God. The ‘love’ we are ultimately talking about is that Agape (Greek) love, unconditional love, which includes our whole being.

In this series of four articles we will look briefly at many of these ‘Each Other’ messages. I believe if we put these into practice it will help build toward Truly Intimate relationships. They will enhance our relationship with God and others. In so doing, we will find more victory in the Battle.

In this series of 4 articles we will identify and look at several of the ‘Each Other’ passages with the goal of moving away from false intimacy and moving towards true intimacy with God and each other.

LOVE EACH OTHER

The very first ‘Each Other’ statement covers them all. ‘Love Each Other’ or in some translations, ‘Love One Another’ is found 17 times in the New Testament. Jesus stressed love in many ways throughout his teachings and, of course, even more so in His actions. Peter, John and Paul reinforced this message in their letters to the church. Loving others will be a powerful tool, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy.

Love is many faceted. Love is huge. Love is a noun. Love is a verb. Love is an adverb. Love is a feeling. Love is an action. Love is God. Love can’t be exhausted. If God truly is Love then it has the attributes of God. That’s big, Love is huge.

What would our lives look like if they were all about love? How much more would we win the Battle? If we could live a life characterized by love, we could remain in Victory always even in the smallest of Battles.

So loving others and loving God needs to be our goal. The goal of having our life characterized by love. A pretty big undertaking for the biggest of attributes and if it wasn’t for God in our lives it would be impossible. God, however, does desire to be in our lives and he has given us a whole list of actions and attitudes that together will characterize our life in love.

WWJD? Easy answer- ‘love’. It is pretty silly (maybe futile is a better word) to try and figure out what Jesus would do in every specific situation. Especially in this culture, in this post industrialized nation, in this information society which is so different from that of the New Testament times.

We DO know, that in whatever ‘He would do’, it would be done in love. Maybe the bracelet we should wear is not WWJD? but HWJL?. ‘How would Jesus love?’ is probably the question we should be asking. Because loving each other is what we should be about.

I ask again; In your days of acting out, what would have been different if loving each other had been on your mind? What choices would be different if you had been in the habit of thinking ‘How Would Jesus Love?’

How would your relationships be different if right now, this very day you set out to love unconditionally the people God has put in your life? God has put your wife, your children, your mother, your father, your siblings, your work peers, your church friends and many more in your life. How would today be different if you set out to love them?

Imagine how much victory you would have in your battle if loving others were the main goal of your day! LOVE will bring us victory in our battle…guaranteed!

The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions and attitudes of love–and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battle is WON!!!

For help with the battle for sexual purity, please see Every Man’s Battle.