Written By Jemima*, Singapore
I write this letter and share my experience anonymously because I honestly don’t know what the reactions will be. I fear that you will be afraid to know me if I were to identify myself. I worry that parents will cast dark looks at me and pull their kids away from me. I fear being hurt in the same way that many people have already hurt me: by insisting that same-sex attraction (SSA) was something I chose and I could definitely turn away from it if I tried hard enough.
I have heard and seen awful things, unloving and unkind. I have been told to repent when I wasn’t sure if SSA was a sin. I have been told to repent when I understood that SSA in itself wasn’t a sin. I have been hurt when Christians said that gays and lesbians should all go to hell. I fear that I will be stuck under the same label, when we are really all sinners who need God’s grace.
Brothers and sisters, this is my struggle. It is a journey of ups and downs, a narrow and difficult path. Perhaps it is no more difficult than facing any other temptation, except that we are more divided and unsure about this issue.
If reading about my experiences has touched you, please prayerfully consider how you might encourage your fellow Christians with SSA.
How Can You Help?
If your brother or sister confides in you about SSA, may I offer the following suggestions:
1. Give Them the Gift of Being Unsurprised
In testimonies and my own personal experience, the main barrier to sharing is the fear of how friends will react. We fear condemnation for what we feel, because many people do not differentiate between being SSA and embracing the gay lifestyle. They curse both, and feel absolutely justified in doing so.
When I first started sharing about my SSA, I was so apprehensive that I did not even dare to look my friends in the eye. Much to my surprise, several of my good friends reacted as though I was commenting on the weather. That matter-of-fact response meant so much to me then, as it does now. In a time when I am uncertain of where I stand in terms of sexuality and identity, they make me feel confident that my standing with them as friends and my standing with God will not be affected, and that is one of the greatest gifts they have offered me.
2. Spend Time with Them
Loneliness has been a constant struggle for me. While I understand how singleness can be glorifying to God, it can feel very isolating in a society that celebrates romantic love, marriage, and children.
This can’t be said often enough: those of us who are single would love to share in the lives of families around us. If you know single people, please do make an effort to spend time with them and include them in your activities. Find out about their lives. Walk with them in their walk with Christ and let them walk with you. It would mean so much to them, for we then fulfill what Jesus said in Mark 10:29–31. We gain brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children in this present age, and in the time to come we will all share eternal life.
3. Remind Them Who They Are in Christ
I continuously struggle to accept that I am precious to God. My sexual orientation still brings me great shame despite many reminders to the contrary. Sometimes I feel like I cannot claim to be a believer until I have “solved” this problem.
So I’m thankful to friends who have reminded me of God’s goodness. They reinforce my knowledge that my desires are born of a sinful world, and they may stay because the world is still sinful. However, there is no sin too large for God, and my worth in His eyes is fixed in Christ. In His mercy, He has granted me a place at His table, and I am blessed to know Him.
Our Encouragement in Christ
My purpose in sharing my story and writing this letter is twofold. For the majority of my heterosexual brothers and sisters, this is a plea. Same-sex attracted individuals exist in the church. We long to be a part of your lives and to be involved with the church and the body of Christ. This is a difficult topic for many of us to broach, but that doesn’t mean it should be pushed under the carpet.
If you do have a friend with SSA and you know about it, please talk with them about their struggles and find out how you can help them more. If you don’t know anyone with SSA, perhaps they are nearby but not ready. Thoughtful words and loving, inclusive language will go a long way towards encouraging them to open up to you.
We have some way to go in terms of acceptance and understanding, because the world and the church are far from perfect. But may our actions and our love stem from this eternal hope: when we finish this race, each of us will stand beside Christ in glory—confident not in our identity and relationships, but in His identity and His relationship with us.
*Not the author’s real name.