I am a husband, a father, and a pastor. And for as long as I can remember, I have experienced same-sex attractions (SSA). Although I have always been physically and romantically attracted to women, I also have never been without deep emotional and sexual attractions to men.
Many in our culture would like to label people like me “bisexual,” but I believe Jesus has spoken a better word.
“I Feel SSA, Therefore . . . ”
The overarching sexual ethic of our day is “I feel, therefore I am.” We see this clearly in the ongoing conversations around “gender identity.” Proponents of nonbinary “gender categories” suggest that if someone feels contrary to their biological sex, they belong in the category that correlates best with their feelings. In the same way, many in our culture would have people like me think that if you feel homosexual desires, then you are homosexual.
We commonly hear statements like, “You can’t choose whom you love; just be true to yourself.” Or, “Stop hiding your feelings and embrace who you really are.” Such statements mean your sexual desires actually define you. Your desires determine your definition. Your sexual attractions are who you really are at the core of your being.
The Bible, however, does not teach, “I feel, therefore I am,” but rather, “I feel, therefore I need.” As a result of the fall, our hearts are out of order and dark (Romans 1:21). Instead of loving light and hating darkness, we love darkness and hate light (John 3:19). And as we fall more in love with darkness, we sin and choose the way of death (James 1:14–15; Proverbs 14:12).
In short, being human in a fallen world means being attracted to things that are contrary to human flourishing in God, things that oppose God’s good plan for us and lead to death. I feel these attractions to sin, and therefore I need a Savior.
As I have daily battled against same-sex attraction, four particular promises have been bullets of grace in my fight for joy.
Freedom from the Punishment of SSA
Christians struggling with SSA often feel especially ashamed and embarrassed by these attractions. We sense the perversion of our contorted wants and desires, and as a result, we often feel too dirty to be in community with others, or to be in communion with God.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Christian, God will never use your SSA against you. Because Christ drank the full cup of God’s wrath on your behalf (Romans 5:8–9; 1 Peter 3:18), you will never experience even a moment of judgment from God over your homosexual desires, or over anything else.
Freedom from the Power of SSA
Often Christians experiencing SSA feel hopeless and helpless to its power. As attractions intensify, temptations deepen, and fantasies — like a mirage of cold water in a desert — look more and more appealing, the desire for a same-sex relationship can be so potent that it seems nearly impossible to overcome.
Christian, because of the accomplished work of Christ on the cross, your same-sex attractions do not have any dominion over you (Romans 6:14); Christ has dominion over you (Romans 6:22; Ephesians 6:6). Because you were crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), you are no longer enslaved by your attractions, but fully free to reject them and render them powerless in your life (Romans 6:6–7).
Even in your moments of greatest temptation, consider yourself dead to SSA and alive to God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:11).
Freedom from the Pleasure of SSA
The most foundational lie SSA tells us is that a homosexual experience will be more pleasurable and more satisfying than what you are experiencing here and now. But God promises that Christ himself is infinitely more pleasurable and satisfying than anything this world has to offer (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 107:9), especially the sad counterfeit savior of a same-sex experience.
Christian, don’t believe the lies SSA tells. Our homosexual attractions may stem from good desires for intimacy and love, but sin has contorted them in a deadly direction. As a carnival mirror reshapes reality and convinces the eye that things appear different than they really are, so sin reshapes our wants and desires, and convinces the heart that lies are actually true. Don’t believe the funny mirror of SSA.
Freedom from the Presence of SSA
Maybe the hardest thing for Christians experiencing SSA is the fact that the feelings don’t go away overnight, or over months, or, for many, even over a lifetime. While God has given us powerful weapons to fight sin with — such as prayer and fasting — we still must live in our fallen bodies with our wicked wants and desires as our ever-present reality. But these wants and desires have an expiration date.
Believer, your body, including its attractions and longings for sin, will one day be finally and fully redeemed (Romans 8:23). When that redemption happens, in a flash, you will never have a misplaced attraction again, because all your desires for intimacy and love will be completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
If you’re a Christian struggling with same-sex attractions, know that you are not defined by your sin. Your identity is not determined by your temptations. “Embrace who you really are” by embracing Jesus Christ and your new life found in him (2 Corinthians 5:17). “Be true to yourself” by clinging to Truth himself (John 14:6) and enjoying the freedoms Christ purchased for you with his blood.