So it would be easy to stop at the last post and be done with the issue. However, the subject is not so simple because we are dealing with people and people are never simple. The simple Christian response to a person who is attracted to the same sex is to tell them that the Bible says homosexuality is sin (something they probably already know) and then walk away. A deeper approach is needed.
It is easy for Christians to roll homosexuality and its related issues into one monolith of sin and depravity. We need, however, to be able to see the differences with in it. Teenagers often try various identities on like costumes in an attempt to discover “who they are.” The current generation of teenagers have a myriad of sexual identities to choose from that weren’t available to previous generations. We need to be able to approach with understanding those teens who have turned to homosexuality or bisexuality in their search for an identity. We may find a Christian who is genuinely attracted to the same-sex and is trying to understand why God would allow them to have these desires. There are also differences between polyamorous and monogamous homosexuality. Besides this, Christians must be able to recognize the cultural aspects of homosexuality. Gays and lesbians have created their own sub-culture. A sub-culture of acceptance, tolerance, and freedom of expression is very attractive to some people, separate from the sexual orientation. Christians must recognize that the stigma surrounding homosexuality is still strong. The majority of gays and lesbians genuinely believe that they were born that way and endure hardship because of this belief. Sincerity, of course, is no guarantee of truth. It does mean that we can’t sweep it away with a single Bible verse or argument.
Approaching people with compassion means dealing with people as individuals, being slow to put them into categories, and always allowing them to break our molds. A person who is gay or lesbian is like any other human being: made in the image of God yet marred by the Fall. I see no reason to approach them as different from other human beings. All humans desire relationship with other beings, being made in the image of the triune God. A person’s primary need is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Being free from sin is not a requirement of becoming a Christian, in fact it is only through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that we can be free from sin. Homosexuality should be no exception to this.
With my lack of person experience I can’t give a recommendation. Take this rather as my thoughts on what I will do when I find myself in a position to have a relationship with someone who is gay or lesbian. Relationship is the key word because I think that change seldom comes outside of personal relationship. Forming a relationship will require getting to know the person, their hurts, joys, and desires. It means getting “dirty.” Discernment will be needed to determine where the person is in their relationship with God and the nature of their same sex attraction. I think the number one priority for any person is to move him or her towards wholeness in Christ. Major in the majors and not in the minors, those can be dealt with in the future. Bringing a personal towards wholeness does not consist in getting them to adopt your particular theological or thinly disguised political views. If a person is an atheist nudge them towards God. If they admit the existence of God, move them towards Christ. If they are a Christian and homosexual, move them towards a right understanding of God’s design for sexuality. If their understanding of God or Christ is incorrect, provide healing there too. Always remember that it is a partnership with the Holy Spirit and that ultimately it is He who does the moving.
All the practices we use to deal with sin like confession, accountability, sharing, and prayer are important here. However, sexuality reaches down to the very root of our being. Healing in this area is going to be more complex. Furthermore, sexual sins like masturbation or pornography can usually be hidden and compartmentalized, but being gay carries with it a lifestyle and identity. In addition, I would not be surprised by the discovery of a biological or genetic predisposition for same sex attractions. Now a genetic disposition is not the same as healthy permission. Depression can have genetic causes. However, we would never encourage a person who developed depression because of a genetic predisposition to embrace their distorted thoughts and feelings.
At this point I should probably mention conversion or reparative therapy. This therapy sees homosexuality as the result of abuse in early childhood and/or a trouble relationship with ones father. It seeks to “cure” homosexuality by revisiting a person’s childhood to repair the damage that took place. This therapy has caused a lot of controversy within the psychological and Christian communities. Research on the effectiveness of conversion therapy has been unclear as the subject is extremely charged. My first thought on conversion therapy is that is sounds a lot like Freudian psychoanalysis. For this reason, I can’t help but view the therapy with suspicion, even if the assumed causes are correct in many cases. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is by far a better form of therapy. I also find suspicious the idea that it can cure a person of homosexuality. Things like a cold can be cured, but a recovered alcoholic is likely always going to struggle with alcohol. Likewise, there are no cures for certain forms of depression. A lifetime reliance on medication and coping skills is the only “cure” in these cases.
As I said in the last post, I have no friendships with someone who is gay or lesbian. Critique and respond as you wish. My major purpose, besides sorting out my own thoughts, is to prompt the Christian community to make their thinking about homosexuality less flat and more “thick.” We are actually going to have to do some hard thinking and allow our theology to swim or sink in the murky water of real life.