This semester I took a class called “Apologetics and Worldview” and we had to write a paper applying the Biblical worldview to a specific subject. Since my major is Biblical Counseling and I am extremely passionate about witnessing to the LGBTQ+ community and discipling same sex attracted Christians, I decided to do my paper on counseling Christians who struggle with SSA. I think this sensitive subject isn’t addressed nearly as much as it should be in the church today. So here is my highly researched paper on the subject:
Same sex attraction is one of those topics that is sensitive to address, especially in the 21st century. The LGBTQ+ community pushes for us to accept being attracted to the same sex as normal. We as Christians know however, that it is the product of sin and abnormal compared to how God originally created us to be. Today you are bound to frequently run into people who struggle with same sex attraction, or SSA. This scenario is true in the church and biblical counseling which spurs several questions. How should we approach a Christian coming to us struggling with SSA? What is the proper way to help such a person? How does God call us to think about this situation? These questions and more are answered in the Bible, the basis for our approach to SSA and other issues in life.
The apostle Paul states “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV). God’s word is sufficient for our purpose in counseling: edifying fellow Christians and helping them become more like Christ. When counseling, we should always base our work on Scripture as it is our basis for life— to not do so would be unwise and hurtful to those we counsel. The writer of Hebrews tells us “for the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, KJV). We address the heart, the center of our counselee’s lives, and to do this we need a way to discern what is going on. This discerner is the word of God. We need Scripture to properly counsel anyone, including those struggling with SSA. Therefore, we must start our counseling by seeing what God says about the topic at hand.
The Bible does not say much explicitly about homosexuality. Homosexuality is mentioned in several situations within the Old Testament, as well as in several general lists of sins in the New Testament, but that is the extent to which the Bible addresses the topic. God does make it clear, however, that homosexuality is a sin. The only sexual relations sanctioned by God are in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. We should start with this in counseling and make sure the counselee realizes her sin. Once the counselee knows that she is sinning against her Savior, then the counselor can lead her in the way of overcoming that sin and the temptation to sin.
One thing we need to remember, however, before moving on is the universality of sin. Every human, with the exception of Jesus, was and is a sinner. We cannot let this leave the forefront of our thinking anymore than the fact that our counselee is a sinner. If we do not admit that we are as much a sinner as the people we counsel, how can we help them properly? Not coming into the situation with a sense of humility can harm the counselee. Paul gave us an example of how to think of ourselves when he said “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, KJV). We should not think ourselves better than the counselee struggling with SSA just because we do not struggle with that same issue. We are all sinners that need Christ’s sanctification in our lives. Heath Lambert, in his book Transforming Homosexuality, said “sin is not merely what we do. It is also what we are” (Burke and Lambert). Therefore, we do not have permission to think of any human lower than us because we are all sinners and filled with sin. Thinking of one’s sin as worse than yours can push the counselee away from Christ rather than towards Him. This mistake should be something we strive not to make in counseling. We are all sinners saved by grace and we cannot forget that.
This focus on sin and sin nature is completely opposite to how secular therapists and psychologists would address SSA. Secular professionals would never suggest the influence of sin in their work; sin simply does not fit their worldview. To these people, homosexuality is simply who someone is, not a sin that they must fight not to commit. These secular professionals say that SSA is not something against which one struggles, but that SSA is something one must accept as part of herself. However, this has not always been the case in psychiatry. If you look at the history of the DSM, you will see the sudden change in the secular view of homosexuality. Though not recognized as sin, homosexuality was originally categorized as a mental illness. That all changed when homosexuality began to become more widely accepted. By the time the DSM III was published in 1980, homosexuality was no longer seen as something deviant. The LGBTQ+ movement has worked to redefine homosexuality as something much more ordinary, outside of the Christian worldview. Knowing this should bring sadness to the Christian when thinking of those who think they are not living in sin, yet are. We should fight to reach those who are struggling with SSA before they are enticed into a worldview that says they are not living in disobedience to God. Knowledge of the secular worldview of homosexuality should spur us to help those who are attracted to the same sex live a life in accordance with God and a biblical worldview.
The ultimate goal that biblical counselors have is to assist people in becoming more like Christ. This is commonly misinterpreted to mean that we want our counselees struggling with SSA to go from gay to straight, however, this is not to be our goal. We cannot expect our counselees to go from desiring a partner of the same sex to the opposite sex. Expecting that is simply unrealistic and is not to be our goal in this endeavor. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul says “for this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, KJV). Our goal in counseling those struggling with SSA should be to guide them into a life of purity. A life of purity looks different for each counselee. For some that life may be one of celibacy. For others, they may find a godly spouse and be able to live as part of a God-honoring marriage. We must stress purity and its importance to our counselee. Often, those struggling with SSA think they must be straight to be a good Christian. The following statement should be included in the first counseling session to give the counselee some relief and hope: God does not call you to be straight, but to be pure in Him.
After addressing the points listed prior, there are two main things that we should cover with the counselee. The first topic is identity, specifically our identity in Christ. Once we are saved, our identity is in Christ and who we are in Him. The LGBTQ+ community would say that the counselee’s identity is in her sexuality. She is bisexual, gay, or queer, whichever label she chooses to place upon herself, and that is the core of her identity. As biblical counselors, we cannot promote this idea. The counselee needs to realize that her feelings do not define her; new life in Christ does. Jackie Hill Perry, in her book Gay Girl, Good God, says “I don’t believe it is wise or truthful to the power of the gospel to identify oneself by the sins of one’s past or the temptations of one’s present but rather to only be defined by the Christ who’s overcome both for those He calls His own” (Perry). It is extremely important that we combat the lies of the world in this area. Our sin struggles should never define us. Christ has wiped those sins away through His blood. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul says “therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV). Our counselee is a new creature in Christ and this is what defines her ;not her sexual attraction. If we do not help to shape the counselee’s view of herself to be aligned with what the Bible says about her identity, it can cause trouble as she works to overcome SSA. There is no point to overcoming same sex attraction if it is part of who you are. If your identity is in Christ, however, you will want to work to overcome the sin that He has washed you clean of.
The second main thing we need to cover with our counselee is the concept of temptation; a crucial aspect in overcoming sin struggles like SSA. Temptation is something all Christians must face every day. For some, they may be tempted to cheat on a test. For others, they may be tempted to lust after another person. Whenever we give in to those temptations, we are committing sin. This means that the way to overcome sin is simply to not give in to temptation. Though it may sound simple, doing so is often actually quite difficult, but worth it nonetheless. We must encourage the counselee with the fact that Christ has struggled too and can empathize with their temptation. The writer of Hebrews gives this reminder when he says “for we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV). Christ is able to empathize with us because He has already fought with the worst of temptations and won. We must point the counselee to the strength Christ gives when we rely on Him in order to help us not to give into temptation. Overcoming the temptation to act on same sex attraction, either through lust or sexual activity, is the key to the counselee finding freedom from her struggle.
Same sex attraction is becoming a much more common struggle for people and we need to know how to address it in counseling. This topic is particularly sensitive in the world we live in today. The world, most especially the LGBTQ+ community, says that SSA is perfectly normal and okay. Scripture says that giving in to those attractions and temptations is a sin. We must keep what God’s Word says our focus whenever a Christian that is struggling with SSA comes to us for help. The Bible is the basis of our worldview and must always be our foundation in counseling, especially with something as controversial and serious as SSA. We cannot let our brothers and sisters fall into the trap of homosexuality. We must point them to Christ and the freedom He gives from things like same sex attraction, and this can only be done through a worldview based on God’s word.
Burk, Denny, and Heath Lambert. Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change. P & R Publishing, 2015.
Dr. Cruice, Steven. Personal Interview. 9 Sept 2020.
Dr. Johnson, Pearson. Personal Interview. 8 Sept 2020.
Hubbard, Peter Lloyd. Love into Light: the Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church. Westminster Theological Seminary, 2015.
Perry, Jackie Hill. Gay Girl, Good God: the Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been. B&H Publishing Group, 2018.
Ps. Please feel welcome to read another, previous post I made on the subject of homosexuality: A Christian Response to LGBTQ+