What happens when a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction desires freedom, accountability, and godliness? This person doesn’t know who to turn to in the Church: it’s such a sensitive subject and most people are deathly afraid of it. Along with abuse, it’s one of the most secretive heart issues walking around in the Church. Yet, it is an ancient temptation over which the Holy Spirit most assuredly offers freedom.
But to whom can a person turn? This particular temptation is tricky because a man or a woman who is intentionally turning away from homosexuality and pursuing integrity must choose someone of the same sex to confide in and walk with. Yet, they probably won’t choose someone who seems confident in their gender-role/heterosexuality for fear that they might not understand the struggle or know how to offer direction. Nor will they choose someone who seems as if he has struggled with the same thing for fear that he might be tempted if approached for accountability purposes. Furthermore, the last thing this person would want is for the other person to listen to the confession and the desire for help while wondering, “So, is he attracted to me?!” This is probably why so many Christians who face this particular temptation stay silent until the world and their flesh offer deathly comfort and companionship. It seems as if the devil has this person’s hands tied when it comes to walking in freedom.
But he doesn’t. Scripture teaches us that “God is faithful, who will not suffer [us] to be tempted above that [we] are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).
This way to escape is through our Savior Jesus – our Wonderful Counselor – and through the Holy Spirit – who is an amazing accountability partner when we listen to His promptings, warnings, and encouragements.
The way of escape is also provided through people in the Church, who simply must enter each other’s lives to encourage, bolster, redirect, and reconcile each other.
Perhaps problematic temptations like same-sex attraction inspired Paul to teach in his letter to the the Galations, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekenss; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ… as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Perhaps temptations like this inspired James to write, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
There is an appropriate time when we must go after each other; we need not always require others to figure out who would be a safe, strong, humble, restorative friend.
I used to think that Paul’s and James’ instructions about restoring each other lent themselves to witch-hunting and misjudgment. But after today’s reflection, I can see that when led by the Holy Spirit, these teachings lend themselves to graciousness and rescue.