Are there different levels of being gay?

I worded this title awkwardly on purpose as a way of drawing interest, but it points to a question I think needs to be looked at in the homosexuality conversation within the Church.  The reason is because Christians often assume that every gay person’s circumstances are the same, so should be approached the same.  Whereas in reality, people’s homosexual tendencies seem to come from many different sets of circumstances.  This is also an important question for homosexuals because they need to realize that not everyone’s situation is like theirs.  This is especially important for Christian homosexuals (and those who consider themselves ex-homosexuals) who may be giving advice to other Christian homosexuals (or homosexuals who want to be Christians).  A Christian homosexual may have had an experience of healing, change, (whatever they want to call it), where they are now straight, married, with children, etc. and they then tell other homosexuals they can experience the same thing if they will follow the formula that this person followed.  What we all need to realize is that God seldom works in formulas and no matter what the issue is, people seldom come to the table with identical sets of circumstances.

The thoughts from this post are coming from the second half of a comment given on the Gay Christian sermon post.  In the sermon, Jim talks about his life as a gay Christian, discovering he was gay at the age of 7, trying everything under the sun to be “cured” or changed from this, nothing working, and ending up feeling only shame as a result.  The comment brought up Shellie Warren‘s book Pure Heart where Shellie talks about how before she was into porn she never entertained the thoughts of homosexuality.  It wasn’t until after becoming desensitized to the actions she watched on screen that same-sex attraction began in her.

I will use false names here and change some details, though at some point hope to get permission from these folks to use their names (I haven’t asked them yet) as a part of their testimonies in helping others.  But I thought it would be helpful to show different ways different people I have encountered have came across same-sex attraction.  This is helpful for Jim to know that not all stories are like his, so he can know that not all outcomes will be like his.  It’s also helpful for those who are currently wrestling with same-sex attraction and considering Christianity, as they will hopefully find hope and practical next steps for stories like theirs.  And lastly, it’s important for heterosexual Christians to know that not all stories are like the one or two they read about, so we don’t try to offer the same “formula” to everyone.  These are still only a small sample size (the stories and variety are endless), but I think they represent a diverse enough field that they will be helpful here:

Shellie‘s story represents those whose porn addiction does lead them to same-sex attraction.  To get the same pornography rush, greater stimulus is neededAbstinence from porn and learning how to be reprogrammed to God’s design for sex are what are needed here.  (Jan‘s story is similar to Shellie’s, except that instead of turning to homosexual porn for greater thrills, she turned to actual homosexual and bisexual escapades as her heterosexual promiscuity no longer satisfied the thrills she was seeking)

Jim’s story has been documented well on my blog, thanks to his transparency and vulnerability in the sermon he and I did together.  Jim discovered he was gay when he was 7 years old.  Jim’s story of this early detection, as well as inability to change no matter what efforts he makes, represent (from my vantage point) the predominant voices of those who make up the GLBT community and those who want to be married in gay marriages.  While I think each of our stories with sin are a mix of both of these, in the Nature vs. Nurture conversation, it seems Jim’s story leans much heavier on “Nature” (though he does share some “Nurture” elements that may have contributed; by the time he was 7, these things were set in place), whereas Shellie’s story leans heavier on “Nurture”.

Connie didn’t have same sex attraction until she was 18 years old.  She was very close with her best friend and their closeness as friends eventually turned into homosexual attraction.  Connie is a Christian and God provided a mentor in her life who had gone through a similar scenario and had discovered the root of the issue was emotional dependency.  She was counseled to read the small pamphlet entitled Emotional Dependency, which shows a handful of real life stories where emotional dependency becomes an issue.  One of them is a homosexual relationship similar to hers.  The root of each story is that someone began emotionally depending on one single person more than is healthy for any type of relationship.  As a Christian, we are to depend on Jesus as our emotional anchor, not any person.  Connie was able to grab a hold of this truth and through further counseling and accountability, was able to stop her homosexual attraction to this person and regain heterosexual attraction.

Spencer discovered homosexual attraction as a teenager, as well as heterosexual attraction.  Through prayer and counseling from his youth pastor, he was able to “work through” his homosexual attraction and eventually find a satisfying, healthy heterosexual relationship girlfriend, who has now become his wife.

Susan never received much attention from boys.  She was always a little heavier and very athletic.  Her self-image was really low through her teenage years.  In college on the softball team, she found a teammate who shared similar experiences as her.  This friend showed her attention she had never received from boys.  After the hurt of so much rejection, the fact that it was same-sex attention didn’t phase her.  It attracted her sexually because of the deep emotional need that it met in her, that had been unmet for so long.

Jose was in a homosexual relationship for many years.  He accepted Jesus as his Savior.  He was taught to pray and ask God to change his sexual orientation and make him attracted to females.  He had faith that the Holy Spirit could do this, and he now testifies of this change.  He is now married to a woman and has several children.

As you can see, this handful of stories shows that not all homosexuals are the same (some like Spencer would never have even identified themselves as “homosexual”), so we should not expect action plans and outcomes to be the same when it comes to those who are interested in entering a relationship with Christ.  Some, like Jan, outright choose it.  Others, like Jim, try everything they can to not choose it, but to no avail.  We cannot judge Jim for saying he will always identify as being gay, as his situation is very different than Shellie’s, who seemed to develop the homosexual attraction she had via her own doing.  So it’s natural that the way Jim is going to come to a Christ-like understanding of his same sex attraction is going to be very different than the way Shellie or Connie is going to.

My hope is that more Christians who have same sex attraction (whether they call themselves “gay” or not), or who have moved on from same sex attraction, will be courageous and bold enough in their faith, like Jim was, to share their story so that others struggling with these same issues will hopefully relate to the type of story they have found themselves in, and can find hope.

The danger is for those like Jose who, in their words, have received complete healing from the Holy Spirit due to the type of faith they have and prayer they prayed.  I do not doubt this change and answer to prayer from the Holy Spirit (and neither should Jim and those like him).  But Jose and those like him need to be careful to not judge those like Jim whom God has not chosen to answer the same prayer in the same way–nor should the Church.

All of the posts in this “Gay Christian” series:

Related Posts by Noah:

2 responses to Are there different levels of being gay?

  1. This was quite insightful. Thanks for highlighting different backgrounds and perspectives on this issue. Thanks for opening my eyes on the different circumstances. The more people share and are willing to give their insight and background to this issue, the more chance that it can really help bring understanding, empathy, compassion, and love for people struggling on both sides with this.

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