Understanding and Addressing Female Same-Sex Attraction: Things to Keep In Mind

I am under no allusion that everyone is going to agree with everything I write in this blog. My husband and I spent several hours last night talking about the difficulties that come with writing about homosexuality, particularly in a blog format. We came to the conclusion that I cannot assume people will know the basic assumptions and context I am writing from. So, in this post I am going to talk about 4 basic assumptions that I want you all to keep in mind and remember as you read my other writings concerning this topic. I hope this will help alleviate misunderstandings, particularly with my more conservative friends. For my friends who may disagree with the assumptions themselves I would love to dialogue with you about those disagreements but in the end we may have to simply agree to disagree. I pray God would help me communicate my beliefs in a gracious and loving way.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

My belief in the sinfulness of homosexuality was established in my last post. I am not going to belabor the point here since debating the right or wrongness of homosexuality is not the main goal of this blog. I will simply say that the reason I believe homosexuality is a sin is because I believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, that it makes clear that homosexuality is not part of God’s divine design for sexuality, and it is therefore sinful. (For those of you who would like to read more about what I believe the Bible says about Homosexuality I would recommend a book by Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?) Below is a link to a review of DeYoung’s book.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2015/04/23/an-interview-with-kevin-deyoung-on-what-the-bible-really-teaches-about-homosexuality/

The Need for Both Grace and Truth

In Ephesians 4:15 Paul tells the Ephesian church that they are to speak the truth in love for the purpose of growing and maturing believers in Christ. Earlier in the same chapter Paul instructs the church to “walk in a manner worthy” of their calling, which includes walking with “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” and they are to do this with an eagerness “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). Passages like this are full of tension that Christians must wrestle with and live with every day; the tension between standing by and speaking truth but doing it in a loving, patient, humble, longsuffering way.

The circles and churches I come from tend to have the truth side of this tension down. We are zealous for truth, we know what we believe, and we know why, and we are convinced of the importance of sharing this truth with others. Truth is important; it is good to know what you believe and why you believe it and it is imperative to let people know what God thinks and says regarding all sin as well as the mercy and grace offered to all who repent and believe. However, in this blog I am going to focus on the grace, side of things; how we can bear with others in love, humility, and patience. This is what many conservative churches need to develop and learn how to do practically; not just in word but deed.

Love and Acceptance

Loving, accepting, creating a safe place for, not judging. These are words that mean many things to many people, and can vary by context. Over the course of my writing I anticipate these concepts will be fleshed out further. When I use them, I am not suggesting we should condone or celebrate someone’s lifestyle. I am saying it is possible to genuinely love and accept someone’s dignity, value, and relationship, even if they have no intention or plan to change.

The Ultimate Problem and The Ultimate Answer I believe that sin is the ultimate problem in all our lives and Christ is the ultimate answer for all our sin problems. However, I do not believe this means other considerations aren’t helpful in the process of healing and change. Part of learning to love practically is being able to say more than just, “this is sin, repent and change!” It is also learning and acknowledging that there are other influences, experiences, and biological tendencies that can lead a person, many of them from childhood, to homosexual feelings and behaviors. We need to be able to compassionately and patiently help men and women work through and find healing from those influences and experiences. In my own life I have found that identifying those influences, experiences and biological tendencies that led me to same-sex attractions has helped me identify more specific sins and lies in my life than just the broader category of homosexual feelings and behaviors. While the statement “this is sin, you need to repent and change!” may be true, it is not very helpful.

I am training to be a biblical counselor; learning to skillfully unpack biblical truths and apply them to people’s lives is extremely important. However, we will not be able to skillfully apply the Word to people’s lives until we become familiar with those lives. I can attest to the damage that can be done when we assume we know people and what they need before we spend time with them, get to know them as complete people and more than just a sexual problem, humbly and respectfully ask to be let into their lives, and truly seek to understand where they are coming from.

Conclusion Like I said above, I anticipate that many will disagree with some of what I write even with the above assumptions made clear. I know some of you may disagree with the assumptions I am working from. That is ok. Feel free to voice those disagreements but please do so in a respectful way that promotes loving, humble, open discussion and I will address and answer what I can. I pray especially for my fellow believers that you would lavish me with grace as I attempt to share about this difficult but relevant topic.

The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction

Heart of female same sex attractionOver the past week I have read many posts, blogs, and articles that have discussed the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Most of these writings have discussed the political, theological, and sociological reasons for or against gay marriage, and while I am certainly not against these types of articles, I have noticed that there has been a lack of articles that have aided in helping us (particularly Christians) understand the homosexual psyche and struggle. This is my burden for the church.

While there is a place for the church to continue to resist the normalizing of homosexuality and gay marriage in our culture, and especially in our churches, I think it is just as important for the church to prepare itself to reach out with love and real understanding. We must do this for both those in our churches who struggle with same-sex attractions and those not a part of the church who are actively living the homosexual lifestyle. Just to make it clear, I believe homosexuality is not part of God’s divine design and that living a homosexual lifestyle is sinful. However, God has redeemed into His church sinners of ALL kinds and I have great hope that God will draw to himself, redeem, and begin to change many gay and lesbian men and women, and we the church need to be preparing ourselves to be tools that God can use to this end.

With this in mind, for the next several months I will be sharing from a book I have been reading, The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction by Janelle Hallman, and to a lesser extent from my personal struggles in this area. My purpose and hope for doing this is to help those who may happen to read my posts develop and deepen their compassion and understanding for women in and outside the church who live with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) and in a very small way help equip both myself and others to love, understand, and help.

For those who would like to know more about the author Janelle Hallman and her preparation for writing this book, she is a licensed professional counselor who has spent 25 years counseling, befriending or formally interviewing, “hundreds of women with SSA and emotional dependency.” In addition, she has “interviewed over fifty mothers of self-identified lesbian daughters” (Hallman, 2008, p.18). Janelle has mainly worked with women who are “part of a faith tradition” and are “conflicted about or desire to change or manage their same-sex feelings and behaviors in a way that is congruent with their religious beliefs,” (Hallman, 2008, p.19) and are therefore seeking counsel and help. Hallman has also “interviewed many seasoned psychotherapists who specialize in helping women in conflict with SSA and reviewed most of the research and academic literature focusing on etiology, demographics, mental health and clinical consideration of female homosexuality” (Hallman, 2008, p.19). In short, Hallman is well informed and experienced…she knows what she is talking about ☺.

For those of you interested, even if it is just a few, my prayer is that some of what I share will be useful to you and your ministry and will even motivate some to pick this book up for yourselves and study further. As believers, the recent events in our country should concern us, but rather than allowing this concern to lead us to fear, compromise, hatred, or isolation it should motivate us more than ever to equip ourselves to speak the truth in love to those struggling in our churches and to a world confused, lost, and hurting.

Hallman, Janelle. (2008). The heart of female same-sex attraction: A comprehensive counseling resource. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.