When Our Covenant Children Experience Same-Sex Attraction
We’re at a cultural moment in the American Church where we have staunchly conservative Christians at loggerheads with a highly adolescent Gay Christian movement. That conflict extends to conservative criticism of the way in which even a subset of self-described celibate gay Christians (who claim they hold to traditional biblical sexual ethics) are advised or allowed to express themselves and have a cultural conversation.
How did we get here?
Our sad history of callousness along with its fearful and presumptive “project management” approach (if not outright disgust and dismissal) on the part of conservative Christians is much of the driving force behind the dynamics and conversation being where they are now on this subject and phenomenon.
Real individuals — sons and daughters of the Faith who’ve been baptized and raised to love Jesus — did and still do enter their adolescence only to discover dark and confusing things about themselves in a Christian climate and context that doesn’t take our own teachings about the sinful corruption of our human nature seriously or consistently. We ended up signaling to these teenagers in no uncertain terms that they’re the embodiment of shame and had better keep silent about their particular patterns of perverse desire.
Conservative Christians have fostered a climate that tells their own children they have more solidarity with those who bear the weight of their particular sexual brokenness and disorientation than they do with those who bear the weight of the same confession of faith and manner of life set apart from this present world.
Conservative Christians have offered a new life hidden in the closet, empty promises of conversion therapy, deliverance ministry, and other quick fixes amounting to a prosperity gospel of dramatic sexual transformation. We’ve failed to develop and promote a vision for a plausible life of slow and steady obedience on a long hard road of uneven, incomplete, yet real sanctification.
Conservative Christians have failed to create an internal platform where this conversation could’ve happened under our own communal roof with our own participation as the whole body of believers with all members contributing. Instead, our children resort to conferences just to know they’re not alone.
All the eyes gather together and think that only eyes can understand and help each other. They say to the rest of the body, “We have no need of you, because you made it clear that you have no need of me.” This is profoundly unhealthy for the severed members of the body and pathetically negligent on the part of the scarred and calloused body that remains.
Conservative Christians have failed to provide a climate that says, “You’re one of ours, and we won’t give up on providing you with all of the encouragement, compassion, nurture, exhortation, and admonition you need.” We’ve failed to create an atmosphere where anyone would actually want to ask us for help.
Or so all of this was in recent prior generations. With our culture being where it is now, these things can no longer easily be ignored. And a new generation of conservative Christians are facing this reality as the culture has forced us to face a whole host of challenging and troubling new issues.
Thankfully, the negligence of the past isn’t the case among all Conservative Christians. But it’s a pervasive reality. And I know from experience. There’s been great help to be had. And there’s been great neglect and injury as well. But by and large, it’s been a lot of them or rather a lot of us — Christians who experience same-sex attraction and submit ourselves obediently to the Faith — on our own, figuring much of this stuff out for ourselves and teaching our helpers how to help us.
Conservative Christian community is absolutely where I call home and where I want to be for a lot of good reasons. But this community has certainly made it difficult at times to feel welcome or even simply understood well.