Same-Sex Sexuality & Christianity, part 4: Pastoral Care

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3. Action Points for Support[5]

1. Make it easy to talk about.

a. Watch your language – rude, abusive, mocking language is out of place and will not help.

b. Don’t be reticent about difficulties in your own faith.

c. Don’t make this the only thing to talk about with people who face this… treat them normal.

Timothy Keller has a metaphor for church in this regard. Church should be likened more to a waiting room for a doctor rather than a job interview. A job interview makes us put on our best face, while a doctor’s visit encourages instead us to put on an honest face – because ailments would not be something to hide.

2. Honour Singleness.[6] Churches seem not to be good at this. A strong emphasis on marriage and families has been made with good reason, but this has also made singleness something of a second-class status. Single people are treated as being in a temporary state that they should be looking to get out of. We can’t ‘consign’ SSA people to celebicy without giving the status of singleness more dignity. A romantic relationship is great, but not the ultimate goal of human life. Humanity was made for the Lord, not for sex (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:13). Jesus and Paul were single, and we do not think less of them for that.

3. Church as Family. Christian communities should be places where broader and intergenerational relationships can flourish and be mutually beneficial. Is your church community like this? For some, yes. For others, not as much. Cf. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 – older men are to be treated as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters. This is something to work towards.

4. Take Care not to Reinforce merely cultural gender stereotypes. This can reinforce the isolation people can face. For example, not all men have to be into motorsports and rugby!

5. Make Good Pastoral Support Available. Do people know who the people are they can talk to, and how they can contact them, and how they can initiate a conversation? This doesn’t have to be the official pastor or elders, but everyone who is part of a church community should know who they can talk to about anything if they need to. This is another reason why strong intergenerational relationships are important.

A helpful post on Helping Strugglers go the Long Haul in their faith: click here.

Beliefs to Challenge and Truths to Uphold.[7]

These are helpful points to keep in mind while mentoring.

Beliefs to Challenge

  • “If I experience same-sex attraction, it means I must be gay or lesbian or bisexual.” (i.e. the idea that attraction defines identity)
  • “God made some people to be straight, others to be gay.”
  • “Same-sex feelings come from the core of who I am, and will never change.”
  • “If I have these desires I should act on them because they are core to who I am.”
  • “To deny my feelings is to negate who I am and leads to unhappiness.”
  • “A person’s greatest joy or need is sexual fulfilment.”
  • “I will never be happy as a same-sex attracted person if I do not have a same sex romantic/sexual relationship.”
  • “Wholeness is an absence of struggle or tension.”

Truths to Uphold

  • “The most important thing is to be in relationship with Jesus and live with him, rather than having our unwanted feelings or issues removed.”
  • “I am more than my struggle. My identity is built on and in Christ and not on my sexual feelings.”
  • “I don’t have to be ashamed or afraid of my struggle.”
  • “My struggle can be seen as a gift because it helps me to be aware of and appreciate my need of God and it motivates me to deepen my relationship with God.”
  • “God’s creative intention for sexuality is that it be an expression of love between a man and a woman in life-long marriage.”