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.

Rebuilding Trust in Friendships

Clint Thomas

Friendships can be an incredible source of stability, encouragement and strength. God said in Genesis 2:18, ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ thus the friendship between Adam and Eve began. Also in Hebrews 10:24-25 we are exhorted to, ‘spur one another on toward love and good deeds as well as maintain meeting together for the purposes of encouragement.” In other passages (Eph. 4, 1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12) Paul talks of Christians working together as a body in interdependence. All throughout scripture we see examples of the importance of friendships.

A good friendship requires maintenance and care, time and attention. Something we guys don’t think much about this part of friendship, expecting that it won’t require any effort. In effect we sometimes treat friendships as if they have very little value. In large part we have not been taught how to maintain or value these relationships. An unfortunate fact about our culture today is that most men have very few friends compared to women. As a result this has negative effects on our emotional and physical health.

Friendships are primarily about intimacy; knowing another person and being known. The phrases ‘see into me’ or ‘into me see’ describe it well.

Maintenance within a friendship is allowing yourself to be fully known and showing interest in knowing the other person. When this happens a deep connection can be experienced. However, what happens when we are caught up in sin that we are ashamed to share with our friends? Can we be intimate and hide simultaneously?

This is the ultimate struggle in friendships and marriage for that matter; allowing our sin to be known as well as our positive qualities. I hear from wives who are broken by their husband’s sexual sin say, ‘I thought I knew him but I guess I didn’t. I feel so hurt, I don’t know if I can ever trust him again’.

They feel betrayed, foolish and vulnerable. While wives are our closest friends, our other friends will sometimes feel similar.

Friendships are like taking a walk with someone. The further you travel the closer you become. However, at the point you begin to lie, or deceive, you are no longer walking with that person even though they think you are. You have chosen a separate fork in the road.

Rebuilding the friendship is much like walking back to the fork in the road where you separated from your friend and starting from that point forward. Your friend will know that you are trustworthy by your willingness to do this without defensiveness. They will see they are important to you by your willingness to put this kind of effort forward to restore trust with them.

A trustworthy person will have words and deeds that match. What they say and what they do will be the same. They will also acknowledge when they have hurt someone. Taking responsibility for their actions, they will apologize. Their non-verbal communication such as body posture and facial expressions will match this as well. When this repentant stance is taken over a period of time trust will begin to build.

A repentant heart leads to rebuilding trust and reconciliation can be the end result. You don’t have any guarantees that your friend will respond to your efforts but you will never know unless you put the effort forward. When your friend knows that you mean what you say he can trust that it will be safe to get close to you and reconcile an intimate relationship.

The Greek term for reconcile is to bring back to a former state of harmony. This harmony can only be gained when there is true repentance on the offender’s part and therefore safety in the relationship.

For more help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle and The New Life Weekend.

Sexual Purity And The Gospel

Lance David

I have a confession to make. I don’t understand the gospel. That’s not to say I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it. However, I’m embarrassed to say, the gospel rarely captures my heart. Let me explain.

The other day, my wife made a confession to me. Our three-year-old daughter had slammed the front door on the fingers of our one-year-old daughter (and this slamming thing has been a problem without a good solution for a while now). In frustration and fear my wife shouted, ‘You stupid kid.’ Of course she wasn’t proud of this and had hoped it would blow over, thinking it was probably the first time that the little squirt had heard that word. However, the next day, the question came, ‘Mommy, what does stupid mean?’

Have you ever wished you could take something back? My wife never wanted anyone in the world to call our precious daughter stupid- and she had done it! To solidify that this was not merely going to blow over, the next day my wife and I both heard our three-year-old say to our one-year-old, ‘You stupid baby.’

It was after this that my wife told me what had happened.

Now, I love my wife. She is such a good gift to me. She is not perfect, but is my perfect match. And, I love my daughter- the coolest three-year old in the whole world. And my wife felt really bad for what she had said. But I was struggling. My head said, ‘It’s not the end of the world for your daughter. She knows her mother loves her. This is a really good thing that your wife told you and she’s hurting.’ But I was starting to feel the anger well up inside me. Things like, ‘I’m a counselor, for crying out loud! People come see me because their parents said emotionally abusive things like this to them! How dare she say that to MY daughter!’

Now, my wife can read me very well and needless to say, my judgmental attitude did not go over well with her. The whole thing was rapidly going somewhere in a hand basket when God stepped in. Somewhere deep inside my wife’s heart she knew God was saying, ‘I’ve taken your punishment for you. And I’ve taken your judgmental husband’s punishment too. Neither of you need to suffer for your sin because I already have.’ And then my wife spoke to me, ‘It’s ok if you judge me, Jesus took my penalty. And he’s taken yours as well.’

The truly amazing thing is that she said this without any hint of defensiveness. It wasn’t one of those Christianized versions of ‘sticks and stones can break my bones.’ Instead she related a calming, strengthening, life-giving reality. The effect on me was marvelous. Instantly I knew she was right and that I could let go of my desire to get justice by being angry at and demanding punishment of my wife.

The truth of the matter is that I did not readily offer my wife grace because I so rarely accept God’s grace. Again, I am trusting Christ alone to save me from my SIN. It’s just that so often I don’t accept God’s grace to save me from my individual, practical, all-too-often-occurring sins. You know the ones like my judgmental heart, my arrogant spirit, my lustful eyes.

If I get convicted of those kind of things I usually think, ‘Okay. I slipped up again. That was bad, though not as bad as some people I know. I won’t do it again. I’ll try harder from now on. It won’t happen again.’ Or if the situation fits I try to handle my sin is by shifting the blame to someone else. ‘It did that because she deserved it.’

But Jesus’ offer is that I shift the blame to him. The really good news of the gospel is that God doesn’t whitewash my sin. He sees it for the filth that it is and he says, ‘You don’t have to suffer for it because I already have. Go ahead, walk in freedom.’

I think that for many of us on the path to sexual purity we forget our desperate need for the gospel to impact us in the rubber-meets-the-road ordinary arenas of life. What do you suppose would be the fruit in terms of sexual purity if our hearts were more and more captivated by the gospel? I pray that would be more and more of a reality for both you and me.

For more help in the battle for purity see Every Man’s Battle.