Take time to understand, not condemn
The topic of homosexuality is always a sensitive one, especially among Christians. Many Christians have difficulty treating homosexuals in loving and caring ways. Many parents often do more psychological and emotional harm than good towards growing children they perceive or know to have a sexual orientation different from their own. And there is too much lambasting of homosexuals by Christians and some pastors from the pulpits, pushing homosexuals into a pit of condemnation and hell. And far too many parents and other people do not know how they can hold on to their beliefs that homosexual behavior is wrong and still love and accept them unconditionally.
To address these concerns I will be doing a presentation entitled “Homosexuality and You” on Saturday, May 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church, Prince Charles Drive, just east of Doris Johnson High School. People can hear what the Bible and science says about homosexuality, what should be the Christian’s response, and the latest on reparative therapy.
Many Christians they feel it is their duty to make someone with homosexual orientation heterosexual (straight). We cannot actually change them. It is the Holy Spirit who changes people’s lives. Too many Christians want people to change unacceptable habits, or habits the Christians believe are wrong, before they can be treated with respect. This is totally wrong. Many homosexuals, for whatever reason (nature or nurture, genetics and/or environment) have been dealing with their homosexual desires from childhood and need great support and understanding from friends and relatives to overcome, or to feel like a worthwhile citizen no matter their orientation.
I am not suggesting that a hormonal imbalance is an excuse to support homosexuality. Neither am I suggesting that all homosexuals began that lifestyle under hormonal influences and not by choice. I am suggesting that this helps us to better understand homosexuals. If you want to make a homosexual straight, you better get your own act together first. And who says that they want to become “straight.” I now know that some homosexuals find it impossible to change their orientation, however, they can choose not to have sexual or romantic relationships.
I also know that reparative therapy has not worked for many homosexuals. Some homosexuals have lived their lives in the closet for decades, covering up their feelings with heterosexual marriages, children, grandchildren. Then after decades of marriage they cannot stand it anymore. They leave their heterosexual marriages to start a homosexual relationship which they say makes them happier. These are really complex issues.
I have also made some changes about my views. I have not changed my principle that homosexuality is not God’s design, but certainly I have a clearer understanding of why they are that way and how difficult or impossible it is for many to change.
There are some homosexuals who do express a desire to change from a homosexual to a heterosexual lifestyle. Unfortunately, the response by most Christians is a list of things that this person must do to “prove” his or her spiritual transformation — meaning he or she is no longer a homosexual. The list might look like this: start having a romantic friendship with a person of the opposite sex; stop talking with a lisp; stop the effeminate walk; get married; have children. This is totally wrong.
The sad truth is if the homosexual is not able to fulfill these demands they become discouraged, depressed, disillusioned with Christianity, and in some cases, even suicidal. They are not necessarily depressed because they are homosexuals. Instead, they are depressed or suicidal because nobody understands and nobody cares. Perhaps, the demands are too great and unreasonable. We make them believe that outwardly, change of behavior is proof of victory in Jesus, or the only way they will be loved and accepted.
The truth is that these are not proof of spiritual transformation. The proof of spiritual transformation on this earth is how God is helping the former practicing homosexual to live a daily victorious life. He may never walk the way we want him to walk, get married, or have a desire for another person of the opposite sex. God did not say that he would automatically recover from the past lifestyle as a proof of his relationship with him. God gives the power to immediately cease the habit and then asks us to trust him each step of the way. Most Christians believe that if the homosexual still has the desire, then he is sinning. The desire may take a longer time to diminish. The desires are not usually the problem. The problem is our accepting and cherishing the desires.
When we accept homosexuals for whom they are and support them in their spiritual journey, then they will find the strength to remain straight or to be happy as they are. Depression and suicide are high among homosexuals, especially those who are seeking change. I also say that if we learn how to accept and support homosexuals who are Christians and who are living Christ-like lives, as homosexuals, they need not have sleepless nights over changing, but glorious days of victorious living.
I need us to understand that yes, some can and want to change, but many of them do not want to change, or find it impossible to do so. Some say there is a genetic component to homosexuality (not yet scientifically proven). Why can’t we understand and appreciate more the one who is a homosexual. Babies are born with no arms or limbs or even blind. Despite these deformities we would still love them unconditionally. We do not require the baby to grow legs and arms to be human and to be loved. Why can’t we do the same with homosexual?
At the same time, as Christians, we can still maintain our beliefs that a sexual and romantic relationship with someone of the same sex is wrong, and encourage the homosexual to believe the same.
I am not addressing the topic that some social scientist says that sex is on a continuum, thus orientation of any kind is natural. My emphasis is that it is factual —that some do feel naturally attracted to someone of the same sex, and our duty is to show love and understanding.
Psychologist Cris Fox of Loma Linda said that “so-called reparative therapy assumes that sexual orientation for every individual is exclusively a matter of choice that can be reversed through the exercise of willpower in a supportive, Christian environment. While some people say they have found personal transformation through such therapy, others report no change in same-sex attraction, and in many cases, exacerbated psychological and emotional trauma.”
Let us take the time to understand rather than condemn.
- Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit: www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980.