Finding Gender Security: Understanding and Addressing Female Same-Sex Attraction


“For years I was a gender-identity itinerant, migrating somewhere between the masculine, feminine and neuter.

This meandering did not immediately cease upon my conversion. But a major turning point came when I was two years old in the Lord.

‘Jeanette, stand in front of the mirror every morning and thank God that he’s made you a woman.’ This challenge came from a teacher at the Bible School I attended as a young Christian.

What a ridiculous task! I thought, but reluctantly agreed. The next morning I got up and struggled to look at myself in the mirror. Try as I would, I could not acknowledge myself as truly female.

Day after day I persevered. For the first week I fought merely to hold my gaze at the mirror, unable to utter a word. After about ten days, I was able to look at myself full face. But when it came to saying anything, I could not speak. I just cried, too frightened to acknowledge who I was.

Only after several weeks could I stand in front of the mirror and say, ‘Thank you, Father, for making me a woman.’ No sentence had ever been as hard to say as that one. Yet it was a key step for me to take in the process of changing my gender identification. By accepting my God-given physical gender, I was bringing my thoughts into alignment with God.” (Howard, 2001, pp. 177-178).

“All women lie somewhere on the spectrum between acceptance and rejection of their gender and feminine identity.

On the one hand you may have encountered those lesbians who personify all that is feminine and have no problems seeing themselves as such. On the other hand, you may have come across women who have denied their gender identity and femininity so much that, except for the obvious physiological differences, they could be mistaken for a male. But, the majority of those struggling with lesbianism fall in the murky middle ground” (Howard, 2001, p. 186-7).

Gender Security:

It is difficult to find a concise, full definition in the Bible for what true femininity is. The Bible provides us with plenty of guidance as to the role of women and how women are to relate to men both in the context of marriage and the church, however, simply performing these roles is not what makes a woman a woman. While studying and understanding these roles are important they are not where a woman finds her feminine identity. A woman’s feminine identity is found in acknowledgement and acceptance of the fact that God, when he was forming her, chose to make her a woman. Trust becomes the key. Trust ultimately that is rooted in the character of God. (Genesis 1, Psalm 139:13-18)

The first step towards acceptance of ones gender comes in choosing to believe in God’s goodness and sovereignty in his assignment of gender and giving thanks to him for it (Romans 8:28, Isaiah 46:8-10, Daniel 4:35, Genesis 1:31, Psalm 34:8, Psalm 107:1). It can be very tempting for a woman to become extremely inward focused in an attempt to change ones identity, however the key in successfully coming to a place of trust and thanksgiving is not to obsess over changing feelings about ones gender but to turn ones focus and belief to the character of God. When the mind is renewed by thinking on the eternal wisdom and knowledge of God in his creation and design, as well as his goodness to us ultimately displayed on the cross, feelings about gender begin to take a backseat to what we know to be true.

Jeanette Howard offers great practical advice in how to go about working this out in one’s life.

A good starting point in achieving gender security is to ask yourself pertinent questions. What is my self-talk? Who do I say that I am? Compare your thoughts of yourself with God’s thoughts of you. Consciously reject all thoughts that do not measure up with the truth. This will take time. But change will take place if you combat your misbeliefs and replace them with God’s truth” (2001, p. 193).

When a woman begins to become secure in her gender based on the fact that God has carefully and lovingly designed her to be a woman “she automatically opens the door to femininity” (Howard, 2001, p. 192).

As I (the author) began to believe in God’s goodness as it related to his creation of me as a woman I began to emotionally understand that my femininity was not found in a list of do’s and don’t or in a certain stereotypical picture of how a woman was supposed to look or the kinds of activities that a woman was supposed to enjoy. Rather, I found freedom to continue in many of my enjoyed activities and styles of dressing and yet remain confident in my femininity since the presence or absence of these activities no longer defined or formed the basis for my femininity. On the other hand, as the Lord continued to make me secure in my gender, I felt a conviction to slowly pursue some activities and dressing styles that were more culturally feminine than I had previously pursued. This was both as an outward expression of the work God had done in my heart and a help in continuing to align my emotions about my gender with what I now believed in my mind to be true.

Jeanette shares a similar story of her friend’s journey into femininity:

“Recently, my friend Carol visited me for dinner. After the meal, we spent time perusing the photograph album she had brought. Struck by the obvious change in Carol’s appearance over the past five years, I questioned her regarding the transformation.

    ‘It wasn’t as easy as grabbing a credit card and waltzing off to the shops,’ she laughed. ‘Actually, at times, it’s been a pretty traumatic process.’

    I nodded, reflected for a moment on my own journey, and then commented. ‘I remember the sickening feeling when I realized that the next step in embracing my true femininity was to outwardly walk in the healing God had done in my life.’

    ‘Yes,’ agreed Carol. ‘Part of me was content to stay in jeans and sweatshirt for the rest of my life. But I knew that my wardrobe choices could hold me back, almost locking me into an androgynous mindset…I found that as I began putting on dresses and experimenting with make-up, I created a framework from which God could work. He could bring my emotions in line with my outward appearance.’

    ‘But this transformation didn’t happen overnight, did it?’ I asked.

    ‘Oh, no!’ Carol reflected for a moment. ‘It all began three years ago. The leader in my small group had arranged for a cosmetologist to come to an evening meeting. She arrived, armed with “war paint” and a selection of mirrors.

    ‘How did you feel as you were going through the whole make-up process?’ I queried, recalling my first encounter with a bottle of foundation.

    ‘Like a performing monkey. I detached emotionally. It was all too weird for me to fully comprehend in one sitting. When I finally looked in the mirror, I was horrified at the reflection. Not because the make-up looked bad—it didn’t—but the person looking back at me was not me.

    ‘I looked different—radically different—but I felt the same. Make-up didn’t magically change my feelings; it merely highlighted the detachment I had always felt from everything feminine and soft.’

    Carol paused, gathered herself, and continued. ‘I allowed my eyes to focus steadily on this woman in the mirror. For the first time in my life I saw an outward reflection of my hidden self, the woman within. This feminine person had been suppressed for twenty-five years, and now I was looking at her. I questioned the face staring back at me. Who are you? What do you want from me? What are you thinking?—What am I thinking?’

    ‘Immediately, I ran to the bathroom and wiped all the make-up off,’ she continued. ‘Later that night the four of us in the small group prayed to God to bring each one of us comfort and a sense of completion as we got in touch with this feminine part of ourselves.

    ‘Over the subsequent weeks, I dabbled with make-up. I just began with a touch of mascara and blush. Nothing too drastic. With every step I began to feel more comfortable’ (Howard, 2001, pp.193-195).

Jeanette also shares some of her own healing process:

“I (Jeanette) pointed to a photograph taken at a friend’s wedding. ‘But look at this picture. Look at the dress you’re wearing. You seem to be really comfortable. Were you?

    ‘Yes, but that photograph was taken last year. I can show you some really awkward looking older photographs if you want.’

    ‘No thanks,’ I smiled. ‘I’ve got plenty of my own.’

    Carol looked quizzingly. ‘I didn’t know that you had difficulty wearing dresses.’

    I looked at her incredulously. ‘Who do you think I am—Elizabeth Taylor?’ We laughed.

‘Nothing in my healing process has come naturally to me…I still prefer to wear trousers rather than a dress, and that’s okay. It’s not essential that other people think I’m feminine. I feel my attitude towards—and acceptance of— myself, speaks for itself. I’m happy to be who I am.”

    ‘Amen to that!’ Carol agreed enthusiastically. ‘But tell me more about your dress problems.’

    ‘Well it wasn’t a big problem,’ I continued. ‘I just felt uncomfortable…I knew that I had to feel comfortable wearing a dress if I was to ever look comfortable in one. So I began by wearing a dress around the house. I would select certain days where I knew I would be alone, and I would spend it as a “woman”.’ I burst out laughing and added, ‘Sort of like a female impersonator! Often I would be taken by surprise if I caught my reflection in the mirror, but, over a period of time, I grew used to seeing this new person. The next step was to present myself to the outside world… It wasn’t too difficult in places like the shopping mall. No one knew me to care if I was wearing a dress or not. Interestingly, I found that shop assistants treated me differently.’ I paused for a moment. ‘Actually, maybe I treated them differently. Who knows?’

    ‘What happened when you went to church?’ Carol interrupted.

    ‘That’s where I encountered my first real difficulty. Putting on the dress and make-up was easy in comparison to receiving compliments regarding my actions. Compliments like, “Oh, you look so pretty,” were really hard to swallow. Friends were not stating the fact, like, “You are wearing a dress.” They were commenting on the effect of my actions. Internally, my reaction was to disagree with their assessment. Words like pretty, attractive, and delightful were not adjectives I administered to myself.’

    ‘But I hear you responding very graciously now when someone compliments you.’

    ‘Yes, The breakthrough occurred when I was able to receive God’s name for me, “Woman”. Since that point, I’ve made a conscious effort to embrace their compliments. There are still hurdles to cross in this whole area of gender identity and femininity. But the main barrier has been crossed. Realizing that femininity wasn’t a question of behavior, but more a question of who God says I am, allowed me my quirks and idiosyncrasies without questioning my identity” (Howard, 2001 p. 195-196).

Biblical Femininity:

As a woman begins to trust and obey God concerning her feminine identity this will open a door to a desire to learn and obey the roles that God assigns to women specifically, as well as the character qualities that he desires women to embrace and develop.

There are plenty of articles dealing with biblical gender roles so I will not get into that here. I will simply say that as you are working with women with SSA, it will be important to teach these roles, however, do not equate the “essence of femaleness” with a simple adherence to these roles.

This foundational trust in God will also lay the foundation to begin to allow feminine qualities to emerge and develop that may be lacking or have been shunned. Some of these qualities may include a quiet and gentle heart and spirit that is approachable, vulnerable, comforting, welcoming, nurturing, helping, and inclusive (I Peter 3:4, Genesis 2:20).

There is so much more that could be said about each of these qualities, however, I will leave that to the experts. For those who would like to read more about biblical femininity I recommend reading The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design by Courtney Reissig.


Every woman who is willing to seek and trust God for her gender identity and security has the hope of experiencing change. This change may look different for every woman. Some will reach a place where she has very little struggle, others may experience feelings that vacillate throughout their life, and some may remain in a place of intense struggle. However, for these women, there is much hope, peace, and joy to be found as they continue to turn their minds towards God, believe in the goodness of his design and plan for them, and rest in the value God has assigned them as women, image-bearers and daughters of Himself. No matter where a woman may find herself in this spectrum of struggle she can find hope in the fact that her God is pleased, that despite hardship, she continues to struggle towards trust and holiness. She can also be greatly encouraged to know that because she is a child of God the good work that He has started in her He will one day complete (Philippians 1:6).

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

(I John 3:1a-3)(NIV)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

(Romans 8:22-25)(NIV)

Howard, Jeanette. (2001). Out of Egypt: One woman’s journey out of lesbianism. Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books.

Identity Crisis: Understanding Female Same-Sex Attraction

An Imaginary Self

In a previous post I listed 4 categories that were often found to be extremely conflicted in women with SSA

  • attachment
  • formation of self
  • gender identity
  • socialization

This post is going to begin to deal with the topics of the formation of self and gender identity. Identity is an extremely important topic for everyone. We all have a certain way we view or think about ourselves that affects the way we interact and relate with God and other people.

Many women, due to lack of attachment developed with her parents, failed to develop a strong sense of identity. In order to make up for this lack of identity and “in lieu of having an affirmed and loved core self,” many of these women, created and latched onto “an imaginary self or role from which to draw even the most meager sense of identity” (p. 74).

The following three testimonies provide examples of the created selves/worlds that women with SSA develop and use in order to give themselves “a sense of grounding for their existence…a sense of relief from inner pain…a sense of attachment…” or to supply for themselves a method of self-protection (p. 74).

By age 10 I just kind of lived in a fantasy world. I used to listen to all those heroes on the radio, like the Lone Ranger and the Shadows. I used to think I was the hero and would rescue everybody. I took care of my brother and my mom, who was sick a lot. I never felt fear though. I didn’t really feel anything. I just went along with whatever was happening” (p. 75).

 “At age 6, one of my clients entertained fantasies of her parents dying. She methodically mapped out a way to single handedly care for her younger siblings. The fantasy provided her with a sense of power and security” (p. 74).

 I remember as young as 8 years old, as I would fall asleep, I would stroke my arm or hair and pretend that it was another older motherly woman. I found great comfort in this and continued this practice regularly into college. I would often wish or pretend I was in the hospital very sick or dying so that the nurses would take care of me and in the process, touch me affectionately. I would also pretend that I had close friendships with certain girls and women whom I admired and found comfort in those pretend friendships. The real friendships I did have, I would often improve in my mind adding a depth of emotional intimacy to them that was not in reality there. This was a way of coping with the emptiness and loneliness I felt as well as my craving for intimacy and affection. My pretending eventually consumed my life to the point where I felt like nothing in my life was real. I lived in a world of make-believe and I did not know how to function any other way. It took years of taking my thoughts captive and thinking on truth to change my pretending habit. I also had to learn to give my loneliness and pain to Jesus instead of coping through my fantasy world.

These sorts of fantasy worlds left these girls with little formational energy to develop an authentic self and to form a sense of identity (p. 76).

Gender Non-Conformity

 In addition to the struggle of developing an authentic sense of self, many women with SSA also faced another “dimension to their mounting relational and identity issues” (p. 75). As children many of these women also, “displayed what are stereotypically defined as masculine or gender nonconforming behaviors and interests (Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, 1981)” (p. 75). Many also showed a dis-interest in stereotypically feminine activities. The gender non-conforming traits that many of these women possessed often led them as adults “into hobbies and careers more culturally identified as masculine (p. 76).

How Does Gender Confusion Often Arise?

There are two questions that gender identity formation arises from: “Who am I as a girl and is it a good thing?”

Women with SSA, as children, knew that they were biological females and usually “appropriately applied sex labels to others and themselves” (p. 77). The next step of gender identification development involves a girl becoming aware of and distinguishing “between the cultural sex roles that discriminate between girls and boys” (p. 77). At this stage in development the problem is not a lack of recognition of stereotypes but rather a lack of interest or even disgust “for the discriminating characteristics and social roles unique to females as portrayed within their families, schools, churches or broader culture” (p. 77).

In order “to become ultimately secure in their girlhood or feminine identity, these girls at least needed to… identify with some desirable…characteristics…within some women or social images of females…and if she receives ongoing acceptance, respect and affirmation as a girl,” (despite her gender nonconforming interests,) “all may be well” (p. 77). Unfortunately many of these girls did not receive this affirmation of their womanhood but rather found themselves in “environments that insisted they mold themselves into a rigid definition of femaleness or were shamed into believing that their interests and abilities made them less of a girl or unacceptably different” (p. 78).

In sixth grade I went to the music teacher and told him I wanted to play the drums. He just laughed at me and said girls don’t play the drums. I didn’t understand why girls couldn’t do the same things boys could. I was very innocent. It wasn’t like I was this feminist at 12 years old. (p. 78)

 If a young girl, (who may already carry negative feelings towards female sex roles caused by other events or relationships in her life) experiences rejection due to her unique non-gender conforming interests, she may begin to wonder whether being a girl is a good thing. “These questions and doubts around whether she is acceptable and valued as a female—not the nonconforming interests themselves—are what may create difficulty in her gender identity formation” (p. 78).

 Let me share a personal note that may help to illustrate the above points:

I grew up in a culture that expected women to act and dress in a very particular way. I did not fit into that mold of what a girl was supposed to look like. I can remember many times being asked if I was a tomboy (or in that culture, a lesbian). I enjoyed wearing my hair short and wearing boy clothes and was often mistaken for a boy. Even though I desired to be a boy I was nevertheless embarrassed and upset each time I was mistaken for a boy or asked if I was a lesbian. These questions, combined with a natural disinterest I had in most feminine things lodged a deep insecurity within my mind concerning whether or not I would make a better boy than a girl. I remember at times making an effort to dress nicely or put on makeup but would quickly become overwhelmed with the pressure of having to try to look as good or as feminine as the other girls around me. It mostly just felt awkward and uncomfortable.

 It wasn’t until college that I began to unpack how the culture I grew up in had affected my view of what it meant to be a female. As a young girl, in my mind, being a woman had everything to do with outward appearance and behavior. Being a real “lady” meant wearing dresses and literally walking a certain way as well as avoiding a list of things that real ladies never did. As I got older I knew there was more to being a woman than what one wears etc. but was nevertheless unable to kick the feeling that I would never really be a “true” feminine woman. The year after college the Lord led me to pick up a book that unpacked for me what true biblical femininity looked like. In my next post I will attempt to share a bit of what I learned and how it began to change the way I viewed myself and what being a female meant. For now hopefully the above example helps bring the more technical points of gender identity to life.


Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at

(Unless otherwise indicated, all of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

Bell, A. P., Weinberg, M.S. & Hammersmith, S. K. (1981). Sexual preference: Its development in men and women. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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

Daddies and Daughters: Understanding Female Same-Sex Attraction

“Susan’s eyes filled with tears as she related to me an incident that occurred many years ago. It was the night of her first school dance and she was excited. She even felt good in the dress she was wearing. It wasn’t as comfortable as the usual jeans and tee-shirt, but, for once, that didn’t matter. Susan looked like a woman, and, more importantly, she felt like one.

Not owning any make-up herself, Susan borrowed her mother’s for the night. Application was difficult. How on earth do women manage to do this every day? She wondered as she fought courageously with the eyeliner pencil. However, her persistence paid off, and she felt transformed into a ‘real’ woman. Checking that no one was watching, Susan twirled like a regular beauty queen in front of the full-length mirror.

Timidly, Susan proceeded down the stairs. ‘Dad,’ she petitioned, ‘how do I look?’

Her father glanced up from the evening newspaper, briefly scanned her, then smirked, ‘Who hit you in the eyes?’

Her dad may have been teasing, but his words sent her reeling—her budding femininity left in tatters.

Susan remembers running to the bathroom, tears streaming down her cheeks. Once inside, she locked the door and scrubbed her face until it was raw. ‘I’ll never do that again,’ she vowed, knowing that her days of trying to be a woman were over.

Fifteen years later, Susan had still not worn any make-up.” (Howard, 2001, p. 107)

The father daughter relationship plays an important role in the life of a young girl and her development. Ideally a girl’s, “father is to move into her world (and the world of the mother), protecting their special mother-daughter relationship by supporting his wife and affirming and calling forth his daughter’s unique self and feminine identity” (Hallman, 2008, p. 67).

Jeanette Howard (2001), in her book, Out of Egypt, writes

“Beside fostering a sense of security, one of the father’s main roles is to affirm his daughter in her femininity. As a representative of the opposite sex, his opinion of his daughter provides affirmation or disapproval in a way that a mother cannot. As the first man a little girl falls in love with, he has the opportunity to nurture her into someone who enjoys her own sexuality. He can allow her to flirt in a safe environment without fear of being rebuffed or taken advantage of” (p. 106).

Two Extremes

Similar to their relationships with mom, the same description of extreme closeness and distance in the father-daughter relationship is reported.


Many women report their dad’s being “warm, kind and fun” and often described themselves as dad’s “special pal.” However, this closeness was only brought about as the girls moved into the world of their father’s “engaging in his interests and activities.” Even when the girls may have genuinely enjoyed these activities, the interactions were “often more about dad than daughter” (p. 68). “Rarely did one of these women experience dad’s devoted attunement to her inner thoughts and feelings or her special interests that fell outside his world. In extreme cases, many of these women knowingly shifted aspects of their identity or became like their dad in order to maintain a sense of closeness” (p. 68).

In some cases daughters felt that their dads were trying to mold them towards self-sufficiency, toughness or scholastic ability, etc. Whatever the goals they felt their fathers had for them, they perceived pressure to please in order to maintain the relationship to the point of giving up their own goals, dreams, opinions and sense of self etc. (p. 68).


While many women report that their fathers were a “lifeline and closest ally,” most also reported “an equally strong sense that their fathers were emotionally absent or unpredictably angry.” Many of these fathers were not necessarily more angry than others fathers, but rather these “relational traits, as perceived by their daughters left an indelible impact” (p. 68). Two seemingly opposite reactions often occur. First, a deep fear is cultivated leading to the belief that “men are not safe.” Second, many align themselves with dad, attempting to “identify and associate with his apparent power and strength” (p. 69).

One woman reports:

Once my dad became really angry with my youngest sister. His face was bright red. I know at that moment I made a vow that I was never going to be like my sister. I was going to be strong like him. And I would never do anything that would make him that mad at me” (p. 69).


The actual or perceived emotional absence of these fathers left their daughters in a place where they were never able to experience a healthy “emotional connecting or interacting with a man.” Rather, men were viewed as undesirable or unknown. Other related perceptions of men that were often developed by these daughters due to their fathers emotional absence were that men were “weak, irrelevant and useless: and consequently ignored.” Many of these women also “developed the belief that they, as females in relationship to a man, didn’t matter” (p. 69).

A dysfunctional relationship with dad has the potential for inhibiting their daughters from relating to a man in an effective way. It can also affect how that woman views and relates to God as her Heavenly Father. “If we have not received from out earthly Dad a sense of specialness and acceptance for who we are, we can find numerous problems in opening ourselves up to our Heavenly Daddy” (Howard, 2001, p. 108).


As these last two posts have illustrated, each parent plays an extremely important role in the development of their daughters. For some, the breakdown of either of these relationships (or the perception of breakdown) can have deep lasting effects in a girl’s perception of herself, her sexuality, and how she relates to each gender. My prayer is that these last several posts will be helpful not just to counselors but to parents like myself who are truly striving to show love and care.

For parents my hope is that these posts do not lead to anxiety that one insensitive comment will doom your daughter to a life of lesbianism. My husband, after reading the opening story, commented on how extreme Susan’s reaction was to her father’s one insensitive comment. If you had the same reaction it would be helpful to keep in mind that these stories are most likely not the whole story. In other words, there are always going to be other factors playing their part in a girl’s life than just one isolated incident or comment.

As parents I hope this post will remind and encourage you to work to be aware of what makes each of your children tick and to seek to know how your children are internally responding to the interactions you have with them and how they perceive their relationship with you. Does your child get your sarcastic sense of humor or are they taking what you say to heart? Do you know how your child best receives and feels love? Is your discipline style working well for one kid while it’s crushing another? How does your child view themselves? Do you know their insecurities? Their fears? Their desires for their life? Work to know these sorts of things and adjust your parenting appropriately.

Finally, when you as a parent do blurt out insensitive comments or become harsh with your children, as every parent on the planet is bound to do at some point no matter how amazing you may be, have the humility to apologize to your kids and reassure them of your love for them and their value to you and God. Doing this kind of damage control will go a long way to keeping your relationship with your kids in good repair.

(Unless otherwise indicated, all of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

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

Howard, Jeanette. (2001). Out of Egypt: One woman’s journey out of lesbianism. Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books.

Moms and Daughters: Understanding Female Same-Sex Attraction

I am a mom of two children: a beautiful girl who will be two in September and a handsome little man who is almost three months old. Becoming a mom is by far one of the best, most fulfilling things I have ever done with my life. I had no idea how intense a mother’s love could be until I had children of my own.

Motherhood is also one of the hardest things I have ever done and I realize I am just beginning this journey; the hardest parts are most likely still ahead. So as I write this post I would like to offer thanksgiving for God’s grace; the grace I know he will give me for the ways I will fail, and the grace that will be responsible for any success I may have as a parent. I am thankful for the grace God offers that restores relationships—our relationship with God and then with others. In this truth I find much hope.

My prayer is that this post would help equip some to skillfully shine truth and pour grace into many broken relationships.

 The Two Extremes

Women with SSA often describe their relationships with their mother in extremes of either connectedness or separateness (p. 61).


In cases of extreme connectedness women with SSA “describe the mother-daughter bond as more of a mutual absorption than a healthy attachment. They were undifferentiated from and emotionally enmeshed with their moms, often feeling what their mothers felt” (p. 62).

One woman shares about becoming her mother’s confidant at the tender age of 10 after her parents split up.

[my mother] would creep into my bedroom at night, and pour out her heart to   me…” (Howard, 1991, p. 84).

 She recalls other similar incidents,

“My friends arrived at the house to take me roller skating. As I kissed my     mother ‘goodbye’ she leaned back on the sofa and moaned softly, ‘Don’t go, dear,’ she whispered. ‘Mummy needs you here.’ I glanced at my friends, who were impatiently waiting by the front door. ‘But, Mum,’ I began, trying to loosen her grip of my arm. It was no good. She looked at me with those mournful eyes and I knew there would be no roller skating that afternoon…the birthday party I had to excuse myself from; the disappointment at missing summer camp; the cocktail party I had to attend as a twelve-year-old; comforting Mum several times when I found her sobbing in the bathroom. My childhood disappeared with her divorce. I lost all my friends because of her. Where was she when I needed her? I wanted a mother, not a friend!”

(Howard, 1991, p. 84-85)

Other women report their excessively close relationships with their mothers, included excessive worry about mother’s sadness and difficulty differentiating between their own feelings and their mothers feelings often leading to a dismissal or denial of their own feelings. These women perceive their mothers as being “dependent, weak, needy or childlike” (p. 62).


In cases of actual or perceived maternal detachment women describe their relationships with their mothers in one or more of the following ways:

  • “Total absence of warm emotional connection” (McDougall, 1970)
  • They perceived their mothers as being “dutiful but detached”; there but never truly “present”
  • They questioned their mother’s engagement with their inner thoughts and feelings
  • They perceived their mother as “a shell of a woman” and emotionally unavailable
  • Many women reported that their mother’s depression made it emotionally difficult for her to connect with their daughters (p. 63).
  • Some women report feeling “that they were a burden” to their mothers (pp. 62-63)

The Possible Affects:

“Regardless of how or why a girl’s attachment with mom is threatened or malformed, her future development will be affected” (p. 63).

Developmental Affects:

“A mother…is a little girl’s primal enduring home. It is through this warm, secure, ongoing attachment with mother…that a girl will form her basic sense of self; mirror, model and identify with mother; understand herself as a female; differentiate and discover her unique and individual identity; and learn how to do relationship. A girl’s primal attachment with her mother will act as a model for all future emotional relationships (Chodorow, 1978)” (p. 64).

Due to the insecurity and anxiety women with SSA felt in their relationships with their mothers, many developed a sense of mistrust and disrespect for their mothers and essentially “did not internalize a sense of mother as the home base from which they could develop an autonomous self” (pp. 64-65).

One woman recounts the lack of nurture she felt from her mother and how it affected how she related to other woman.

            “Through tears, I continued. ‘I forgive you, Mum, for not being the mother I wanted you to be. I forgive you that alcohol consumed your life and you weren’t able to see much beyond that. I forgive you for…for never holding me in love.’

 I was startled at the words that had just come out of my mouth. I sat silently while the reality sank in. Then came more tears. That’s it, isn’t it Jesus? That’s why I’m grieving. My mother never held me.

 No, she’d never nurtured me—at least, that’s the way I’d seen it. Now it made sense! That’s why I eventually turned to lesbianism. I was always looking to other women to satisfy my need for my mother’s love.

 A new reality struck me. I had withdrawn from any affection Mum may actually have tried to show me because I feared subsequent rejection. She may have tried, but I wouldn’t receive because I was in rebellion. No wonder lesbianism was a frustratingly hopeless lifestyle, I thought. It was built on rejection and rebellion.” (Howard, 1991, p. 87)

Two Responses:

In order to deal with the feelings of insecurity and abandonment and to avoid the pain of disappointment when their desire for affection or nurturing went unmet, many women with SSA consciously or unconsciously withdrew emotionally and/or refused to “emotionally connect” with their same-sex parent. Often this decision also included the “refusal to ever reconnect (Moberly, 1983)” (p. 65). This response is called defensive detachment.

            “I remember when I was 5 or so my parents had gotten into a fight. My          mother got into the car and just drove off. I was crying, asking, “Where is she going?   What’s going on?” My dad seemed helpless. I think that was when I checked out   with mom. I was devastated and remembered the feeling was just unbearable. So I checked out….I had this deep feeling of pain, realizing I can’t control this. Mom would leave and I don’t matter. It doesn’t matter. She will leave me. So it was sort of my way of making a resolve, Yes, mother will leave—she’s gone, she didn’t want you—now get over it. I had to detach to stop that feeling of abandonment.” (pp. 65-66)

Similar to attachment, defensive detachment is not a single event but rather “it is a progressive, patterned response within a girl to her ongoing dissatisfaction in her relationship with her mom” (p. 66). Sustaining this defensive detachment often required these girls to actively “detach from their natural longing and need for connection to and intimacy from mother (and others)” (p. 66). Unfortunately this defensive detachment further hindered possible opportunity for “a loving or warm exchange” and often resulted in “profound deficits in their own relational capacities” (p. 66).

In addition to defensive detachment many women with SSA did not identify with their mothers, feeling very dissimilar from them and reported a lack of desire to be like them (more so than other girls did). This behavior is called disidentification. The following is a list of ways in which disidentification can manifest itself:

  • Rejecting “behaviors, physical appearance, or fashion styles” that are similar to their mothers (p. 67).
  • Making a vow against appearing weak or needy or dependent on a man.
  • Showing “disgust toward anything even closely resembling femininity or female roles” (p. 67).
  • Rejecting “their own personhood associated with femaleness, including their female body parts and their tender and sensitive attributes (McDougall, 1980) (p. 67).


Helping a woman speak about, understand, and biblically handle her relationship with her mother is going to be an important step towards repentance, healing, forgiveness, and if possible reconciliation. I pray that some of this information will come in handy as you walk with women through this important part of their lives.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at otherwise indicated, all of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

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

Howard, Jeanette. (1991). Out of Egypt: One woman’s journey out of lesbianism. Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books.

McDougall, J. (1970). Homosexuality in women. In Chasseguet-Smirgel (Ed.), Female sexuality: New psychoanalytic views (pp. 171-212). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

McDougall, J. (1980). Plea for a measure of abnormality. New York: International Universities Press.

Moberly, E. (1983). Homosexuality: A new Christian ethic. Greenwood, SC: Attic Press.

Homosexuality and the Parents

Family is important. The family environment and relationships play a huge part in shaping who a person becomes. For this reason I have found that looking into the real and/or perceived dynamics and relationships of ones family sheds light on what makes a person tick and can help a woman begin to understand the source of some of her feelings, desires, and behaviors.

This was the case with me. As a junior in college I began reading articles and books that significantly helped me take a look at my relationships and significant experiences throughout my childhood and young adult life that affected how I saw myself, my desire for connection with and affection from other women, and how I understood masculinity and femininity. As I began to pinpoint aspects of my relationships and experiences (and how I had perceived, processed, and internalized those things) through the help and power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to more specifically face and deal with both the hurt I felt and the sinful responses I had towards those things. I began to understand the dynamics of my SSA, why I felt and acted the way I did, and with this knowledge I was able to face it, fight it, and change it, instead of simply suppressing it or denying it.

While there certainly is a possibility that women will use the dysfunction and hurt of their past to excuse their sinful responses, I believe that is a risk worth taking in order to help those women who truly do want to change. Those looking for an excuse to remain in their sin are going to find one, one way or another.

These next influences and environments that will be discussed are not unique to women with SSA, however “they seem significant in that they consistently arise as these women tell their stories” (p. 56).

“I cannot emphasize enough that it is more important to consider how an individual woman (with a certain biological blueprint) perceives and processes the effects of her environment or relational experiences than the actual qualities of the environment or relationships themselves. This is not to dismiss the significant impact that abusive or traumatic experiences may have on a little girl’s development but rather to gain an understanding of a girl’s internalized subjective experience. It is this inner perspective that may offer clues as to why some girls struggle with SSA and some do not” (p. 56).

In general, these experiences combined with the particular way these girls processed their experiences often lead to four categories of development that are “extremely conflicted”

  • attachment
  • formation of self
  • gender identity
  • socialization

Each of these categories and how they are affected will be discussed in conjunction with the common environmental themes in the lives of women with SSA.

Attachment: What is it? How can it go wrong?

Hallman observes that women with SSA typically experience perceived or actual “interferences, stressors or failures in their most primal attachment” which, for a girl is ideally the mother (p. 57). “Attachment is defined as an “emotional relationship that develops gradually, after weeks and months of daily contact, conversation, care giving, and cuddling” (Brodzinskey, Schecter & Henig, 1992, p. 32). A secure attachment is developed, maintained, and repaired over the span of a girl’s development rather than a single event (p. 57).

Interferences in a girl’s primal attachment often arise at birth and continue throughout childhood and are usually rooted in the following (p. 57).

  • Prenatal, birth and postnatal difficulties or complications
  • Accidental or uncontrollable separations from the mother due to maternal death, adoption, major illness, divorce or other extenuating circumstances
  • Maternal deficits or weakness arising out of the mother’s own personal attachment history and developmental difficulties
  • Actual maternal abuse or abandonment
  • Defensive detachment on the daughter’s part due to the daughter’s perceptions, sensitivities or negative conclusions and beliefs about her mother and the nature of their relationship. (p. 58)

The Parents:

It is common that one or both parents of women with SSA have themselves experienced “insecure attachment, relational deprivation or actual abandonment” as children (p. 61), creating relational and attachment weaknesses in their own lives which in turn can deeply and unknowingly affect their own interactions with their children. Women with SSA often fixate on these weakness in their parents and “are often not able to see their parents’ underlying care and loving sentiments because of their felt sense of relational deprivation” (p. 61).


Before we move on to discuss the maternal and paternal relationships in greater detail (which I will, Lord willing, do in my next two posts), I would like to end this post by stressing the fact that most parents of women with SSA never meant any harm to their children and that the purpose of discussing these parental relationships is not to lay the blame for a woman’s SSA at their parent’s feet. Rather it is to help a woman deal with a variety of issues which may include identifying and biblically dealing with hurt, whether caused by real or perceived failures, extending and receiving forgiveness for wrongs done, and understanding how their relationship with their parents have affected how they go about relating to others.

(Unless otherwise indicated, all of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at

Brodzinsky, D. M., Schechter, M. D., & Henig, R. M. (1992). Being adopted: The lifelong search for self. New York: Anchor Books.

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

Is Homosexuality Genetic?

I grew up with four amazing sisters and great parents who loved each other and loved and took care of us. In college, especially during my last two years as I found the courage to fully admit my SSA to myself and God, I began asking myself and God “why me?” Although at times this question was tinged with bitterness and anger, it was mostly an honest heartfelt question. “Why did I struggle with this and not any of my other sisters?”

Hallman asked this same question as she points out that many women with SSA come from fairly stable families with parents who loved and took care of them. There are also women with SSA who had parents or family members who neglected or abused them. On the other hand, there are many women who come from abusive families who did not develop or struggle with SSA. How are such variations in background explained? (p. 51)

Since female homosexuality is multidimensional and complex it therefore cannot be explained by any one single factor. Instead a combination of factors and how each of those factors affects and relates to all the other factors needs to be examined. “All that is human, including sexuality, involves a mysterious weaving of our biological blueprint with our experiences, perceptions, cognitions, emotions, reactions and choices” (p. 51). Janelle goes on to say that “female homosexuality is a multi-dimensional infrastructure, intricately linked to a woman’s biology, experiences, cognitions, emotionality, relational networks, concept of self and inherent design as a female made for relationship and meaning” (p. 52).

With that being said, there are also several “common themes” that Janelle has observed while working with these women. She says, “By presenting the common traits and experiences of women with SSA, I will be suggesting how each factor may have an influence within a context of many other factors and processes; I do not believe that any single factor individually determines or directly causes female SSA” (p. 54).

Over the next several posts we are going to explore these themes; the first of these being “biological components.”

Biological Components:

 I want to start off by speaking to those of you who are a bit wary, and rightly so, of articles that speak about biological causes of sin issues. The fear is that if we allow for biology to play a part in why certain people struggle with certain issues then we have now given them an excuse to sin and have taken the responsibility for their sin off of them and onto their genetic makeup. I get that fear. I agree that the ultimate responsibility for sin lies with the individual and the sinful choices they make. However, most of us would agree that we all have a physical body that has been deeply and thoroughly affected by the fall and the sin nature that we were born with. To completely ignore the possibility of biological influence on the sin struggles of individuals would be, in my humble opinion, irresponsible and unbiblical. This topic could be hashed out further but since this is not the point of my blog I will ask those wary readers to, at the very least, keep an open discerning mind and hear me out.

For those interested in reading further about a biblical perspective of the dynamics between biology and sin issues I would recommend reading Blame It on the Brain? : Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience. By Edward T. Welch.

Moving on…


Our biological traits affect how we see our environment and interpret our experiences. “Who we are directly affects how we perceive and process our worlds” which “in turn affects who we become” (p. 51).

In a recent study “Bailey, Dunne and Martin (2000)—pioneers in the research on causal factors of homosexuality…failed to find a significant genetic influence on homosexual orientation” (Jones & Kwee, 2005). This does not mean that genetics do not play some role in sexual orientation; it means that the exact role is inconclusive, is most likely small, is ill defined in terms of “underlying mechanisms,” and is one of many other psychobiological and psychosocial factors (Zucker, 2001, p.11)” (Hallman, 2008, p. 53).

Hallman’s Observations

Hallman lists seven characteristics and personality traits, most likely inherited, that she frequently observes in the women she works with:

  • They have above average intelligence.
  • They are profoundly sensitive and attuned to other people and relational dynamics.
  • They are observant and curious (Stevens, 1992), with a propensity to ponder, analyze and reflect.
  • They exhibit gender nonconforming abilities and interests (e.g., tomboyishness).
  • They have an innate sense of justice.
  • They are gifted and talented; their creativity is far reaching.
  • They have a high level of energy and are adventurous and often athletic. (p. 55)

It is not uncommon for the parents of these women to report that “their daughters exhibited special abilities and sensitivities and a passion for humanitarian concerns at a very young age” (p. 55). These women also often “hold postgraduate degrees, have received endless honors and awards, and have achieved national recognition in their field of expertise or athleticism” (p. 55).

The Role These Personality Characteristics Can Play

These characteristics of intelligence, sensitivity, curiosity and reflectiveness can cause a young girl to be “gravely affected by subtleties in parental influences or her broader environment,” in many cases causing hurt that was unintended and not a “matter for blaming anyone (Moberly, 1983, p. 3)” (Hallman, 2008, p. 56).

These characteristics can cause a child to feel burdened due to their hyper-awareness “of painful and difficult aspects of her family’s environment, including her parents’ personal and relational needs, weaknesses and imperfections” (p. 55).

In one example Hallman used, Pamela, who grew up in a generally stable and loving home was nevertheless “attuned to what she perceived to be an inequity between the men and women in her family” (p. 55). These perceived inequities created in her a deep resentment towards men.

Obviously there are women who do not struggle with SSA who have some of these same characteristics as well as women who do struggle with SSA who do not have these characteristics. These are simply characteristics that Hallman has observed are commonly shared in women with SSA and that often play a part in how they have perceived and processed their worlds, leading them to struggle with SSA.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

(Unless otherwise noted, all of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

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

Moberly, E. (1983). Homosexuality: A new Christian ethic. Greenwood, SC: Attic Press.

What Exactly is Female Same-Sex Attraction?

“Danielle, 45, lived with one lesbian lover for over a decade, She believes God called her out of lesbian relationships but has little hope she can ever relate to a man.

 Cathy is 37 years old, married with two children. She has had three nonsexual emotionally dependent relationships with women. Although she longs for a woman’s touch and comfort, she does not identify herself as homosexual.

Rebecca was surprised to find herself in the arms of one of her female friends three years ago, at the age of 22. Although the closeness and affection felt great, she does not want to further explore or pursue a same-sex relationship. She has always wanted to marry and have a family.

 Lisa, who is 55 years old, has tried to have same-sex relationships but struggles with knowing how to build any kind of relationship, with either a man or a woman. She doubts anyone really wants to be with her (p. 21).”

The above sketches illustrate the reality that every woman who experiences SSA, does so uniquely. However, the following four descriptions, lay out the feelings each woman with SSA admits to having on some level (p. 22).

Same-Sex Attraction: “Same-sex attraction includes any desire toward another woman, in reality or fantasy, that may involve erotic feelings, sexually charged sensations or a strong preoccupation with nonsexual physical affection such as being held, hugged, casually touched or cuddled” (p.22). It is important to note that this only refers to the desire, and not any actual behavior.

Same-Sex Sexual Behavior: This includes any actual sexual behaviors with other women. Woman can and do engage in same sex sexual behavior without having same sex attraction (a phenomenon I may discuss later), or it may be accompanied by same sex attraction. Likewise, same sex attraction does not necessarily mean there is any same sexual behavior (p. 22).

Same-Sex Emotional Dependency: “The state of a same-sex relationship wherein one or both of the women become intensely emotionally and psychologically dependent on the other for a sense of self, attachment, identity, purpose, security or well-being” (p.22).

Sexual Orientation: “Sexual orientation is typically assessed by evaluating one’s sexual arousal patterns, attractions, fantasies, yearnings, behaviors and identity. If a woman reports most of these factors as being predominantly associated with other women, especially across her life span, she would be said to have predominant homosexual or same-sex orientation” (p.23).

Many women who experience same-sex attraction, emotional dependency, behavior, and/or orientation do not necessarily assume those things as their “fundamental identity” (p.23). A woman can experience just one or all of the above. So as you counsel women with SSA it will be important to not assume what they identify as or that they are using these terms in the same way you do. As my last post stressed, you will need to listen and ask questions to understand how each woman has/does experience her SSA. I found that thinking through these different categories and experiences of same-sex attraction beforehand was helpful in this process.

Janelle, throughout her book, has chosen to “rely on the acronym “SSA” to encapsulate all of these broader definitions and possible struggles and identities within a woman’s life” (p.24). I will be doing the same.

(All of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

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

Understanding and Addressing Female Same-Sex Attraction: Safe Relationships Part II

Creating A Safe Place

Practically what does creating a safe place for women with same-sex attraction look like?

Listen: Sounds simple, obvious, and easy but it will take a lot of time and patience. It may take time for a woman to “find her own language to unfold her experiences, beliefs, identities and…goals” (p. 24). For many it will be an emotional and painstaking process that will most likely take more than one meeting. However, don’t underestimate how valuable a listening ear can be. For some, simply the process of talking things out and sharing their pain and struggle with someone who they know will not be wagging fingers can be extremely healing. In our busy world time is a valuable commodity and patience is a virtue not often exercised but it can be one of the best gifts you can give to a woman who is in conflict with her SSA.

For me one of the most healing times in my life was when I was able to share my past and present struggle with a friend through e-mail and received her gracious response of understanding.

Ask Questions: Actively seek to understand her. The best way to do this is to ask questions. As I post more about some common experiences thought patterns etc. of women with SSA you will be helped in knowing what questions to ask. For now I will say that just the fact that you are taking the time to ask thoughtful genuine questions will communicate that you want to understand her thoughts, feelings, relationships, and decisions that she has made in life, regardless of how you may agree or disagree with them.

If you are unsure whether your friend or counselee would welcome your questions about this very personal issue in her life simply ask her permission to ask questions. Tell her your desire to understand her and where she is coming from and more likely than not, especially if you have been a good listener up to that point, she will welcome your questions.

Listen and Ask Questions Before Your Try Anything Else

In most circumstances what will be the most effective first step to helping a woman with SSA is to compassionately and humbly listen and ask questions before you try to help. Honestly, this is what most of us want from the people we seek help from regardless of the issue we are struggling with. It is a huge part of creating a safe place for a woman who has most likely taken great risk in making herself vulnerable to you.

The following quote sums it up nicely.

“It will probably require a tremendous amount of courage for a woman to make the initial phone call to, let alone show up in, a counselor’s office. She comes scared, tentative and unsure of her goals for therapy yet possibly is unable to continue life on her own without support and outside help. Most women with SSA enter therapy believing they are bad people—dangerous, malformed and even repulsive to God. Shame often shades every aspect of their being. It seems to me that the last thing they need is for their new therapist to focus on perhaps the most shameful issue in their life in an effort to affirm or disaffirm. I have observed that as I offer my respect by first getting to know my client and understanding all aspects of her life, bolstering her sense of dignity and value, she is then able to expose and explore these deep and perhaps shameful aspects of her life” (p. 33-34).

Hallman shares 4 things she does with each new client she counsels.

1. She communicates that her client has value.

2. She works to know her client as an individual.

3. She commits to her client “as a person, not to a particular therapeutic outcome.

4. She works to “support growth and development” in all aspects of her clients life, “promoting her overall welfare and well-being.” (p. 34)

As a biblical counselor in training I feel great tension concerning Hallman’s last two points and I am still wrestling with what, as believers who have been entrusted with the truth, our response should practically look like to counselees who choose to embrace their same-sex attractions. I realize that we must take into consideration biblical passages that speak of church discipline and the difference between those who claim Christ but without a care embrace sinful lifestyles and those who are unsaved and are simply living as unsaved people live. These are questions I will consider attempting to address in future posts but for now my hope is that this post will help you understand the value that the relationship itself can have in someone’s life and how creating a safe place for a woman with SSA is the first step towards creating an opportunity to speak truth into her life. Truth certainly needs to be shared, for our love would be incomplete without the sharing of truth, but let us first work to love and understand so that the truth we hope to share can be shared skillfully and without the atmosphere of coercion or threat of rejection as a person.

(All of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

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

Understanding and Addressing Female Same-Sex Attraction: Safe Relationships Part I

safe place

The Importance of the Relationship

Hallman shares a story of a woman who, after the breakup of a three-year relationship with her female partner, entered therapy and over the next several years experienced incredible significant changes in her “core negative beliefs about herself and God,” her defensive behaviors, her paths of emotional escape and her dependent and sexualized friendships with women. When this woman was asked, “what helped her stabilize and make such incredible changes,” she replied,

“My therapist! She was focused on me, She cared about all of my life. She showed respect. But even more than that she was always the same, even when I was wrung out with anxiety and thoughts of hurting myself. She was consistent, attentive and patient. Her calming voice, her strong boundaries, her availability, her listening ears, her gentleness and her femininity all somehow changed me! She never gave up on me. She gave me hope” (p. 18).

Hallman posed this same question to over 20 women who fought with unwanted SSA; “what affected them most about psychotherapy or lay counseling?” She received the same answer from all of them: “the relationship” (p.20).

Most of us would agree that there is a biblical precedent for the importance of relationships in our sanctification*. Many of us can testify to a time when our lives intersected with another and were forever changed for the better because of it. These relationships, characterized by love, patience, humility, perseverance, and stability are in and of themselves curative and invaluable to helping a woman with SSA (Hallman, 2008).

Safety and Trust  

Most women with SSA need to feel safe first, before they can feel loved and begin to trust (p. 20).

Hallman explains that safety is a particularly difficult thing for women with SSA to find. The debates and controversy that surround homosexuality particularly in regards to the topic of “change” can leave a woman overwhelmed and exhausted. She goes on to say, “These women long for a safe, quiet place to simply be…They want to be known as a person, not just a woman with SSA…They are so much more than the sum of their sexual expression, yet—like all women—need a place to explore and ask personal heartfelt questions about life, love, sexuality, gender and God without being rejected or worrying about political correctness. They need a safe place” (p. 21).

Hallman goes on to say that one of the first goals a counselor should have when meeting with any woman with SSA is to offer this safe place. She suggests that what provides this safe place is “unconditional love, acceptance and genuine desire to understand a woman’s choices with respect to her life” (p. 33). Our relationships should reflect “God’s undying faithfulness and enduring presence to these women.”

Hallman concludes by stating that she “therefore remains committed to a woman regardless of her current decisions” (p. 33). Tomorrow I will be posting a bit more on what creating a safe place practically looks like. Enjoy your Saturday evening and have a blessed, restful and worshipful Sunday.

Note: While I may not agree with everything Hallman says in regard to this particular topic of what a counseling/therapeutic relationship should look like, I greatly appreciate her general approach and have learned much from her. While Hallman may be speaking from the perspective of a professional therapist much of what she says can be applied to less formal discipleship relationships as well as friendships etc.

(All of the page references are from Hallman, 2008)

*(Ephesians 4:11-16; Galatians 6:1-2; I Peter 4:10; James 5:16; Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25; I Thess. 4:18, 5:11, Colossians 3:16)

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

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.

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.