The church has a poor history when it comes to same-sex attractions. I will never deny this. I have seen many men and women hurt by the church simply for asking the “wrong” questions or by expressing personal opinions.
It’s become generally accepted that the church is the last place for any SSA person to go to for refuge.
God has blessed me, though. I have always been able to find comfort from my church when facing my struggles.
The first church I attended as an adult embraced me when I came out to them. The leadership prayed with me, encouraged me, and actually asked me for advice when wanting to tackle the topic of homosexuality for sermons. When I began serving on staff as an intern, there wasn’t even a discussion about my past. They were already deeply involved in my walk with Christ. They knew where I was in life.
When I moved to my next church, I shared my past with my immediate supervisor during the interview process. His response?
“Everyone struggles with something. That doesn’t change any of my thoughts about you.”
I was hired and it was never brought up again.
At my current church, I did keep my past hidden until after I was hired. Garth encouraged me to share with the leadership when I opened up to him, and that did eventually involve a tough conversation. I was concerned, perhaps, I’d finally face a church that wouldn’t give me grace.
But the senior pastor at my current church, though disappointed I’d kept this hidden for so long, did show me grace. He said almost exactly the same thing as my previous supervisor: “Everyone struggles. And interviews don’t involve listing out your worst sins, no matter what your sins may be.”
The leadership where I work now wants to be sure I am continuing to struggle with success. They have even invested in some of my personal costs for counseling. They’ve taken steps to care for me.
My church has accepted me for who I am and who God is making me into. And they are willing to walk with me down this road, whatever it looks like.
I share this hoping it will encourage you to know that not all churches make the mistakes. Not all churches are mishandling the topic of homosexuality. Not all churches are hurting every SSA individual who comes through their doors.
At least three churches are doing it right. And I praise God I have been able to attend each one.
Have you experienced acceptance of your attractions and sexual struggles in the church? Talk about a positive experience when you were well received in the church.
* Photo courtesy mrdubya, Creative Commons.