When they hear I’m attracted to men but married to a woman, straight people — particularly Christians — sometimes ask if I expect my attractions to “change” in this life.

I usually respond, “What do you mean by change?”

For the longest time, I prayed for God to change my same-sex attractions. To make me straight. I do still pray about my sexuality, but I no longer pray that God would change my attractions to heterosexual.

Regarding testimonials to change of attractions, I am somewhat cautious as false testimonies have been given; at the same time, though, everyone has his or her own story to tell. I do caution and remind those who point me to stories of “change” that even if they are true they are descriptive, not prescriptive.

Can change happen? Absolutely. God can do anything.

Will change happen? For most, even those who develop an attraction to the opposite sex, same-sex attraction (SSA) remains (see Yarhouse’s Ex-Gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation; or click here for a PDF summary).

From my own research and experience as well as interacting with many other believers who have prayed for change in churches that say, “Change is possible — if you just pray and believe,” I am cautious of anything that looks like a “name it and claim it” mentality.

God can and does heal. But not always completely in this life. And not always how we expect. Some things don’t get fulfilled until later.

Paul, an apostle, prayed for a friend’s healing from sickness, yet it didn’t seem to be a guarantee. Sometimes God’s answer is “no” or “not yet” or “not in this life.”

Says Paul in Philippians 2:25-27 (ESV):

“I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy [emphasis mine] on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

I’ve been married to my wife for over eleven years. I am attracted to my wife; however, she’s the exception. Otherwise, my attractions are exclusively same-sex.

My attraction to my wife has grown. And my attraction to the same sex remains present. I don’t feel this SSA has lessened significantly. What has perhaps changed is my ability to walk with this attraction in healthy ways.

If God chooses not to heal, not to have mercy with my SSA completely in this life, I don’t view it as sinful to acknowledge the reality of what is. I believe God gives the strength and grace to walk well in it.

The person claiming, “I do not have cancer because by His stripes I am healed” still has cancer. I can deny that I still experience same-sex desires, as can others.

But if those desires are still there, it becomes a false testimony.

Depending how “change” is presented, it can be made into an idol and lead to pain and frustration when change doesn’t happen.

Some might say, “But you are married! Shouldn’t all SSA people pray for that?!”

I am married to a woman. That is also descriptive, not prescriptive. A mixed-orientation marriage (MOM) is not for everyone. Of those in Yarhouse’s longitudinal study, those few who developed attraction to the opposite sex by the 4-year mark still reported attraction to the same sex.

Please don’t misunderstand: being in an MOM can be wonderful, but going into such a marriage blindly and without realistic expectations can be a recipe for disaster. Ask good questions and count the cost.

I still experience attraction to other men. Is that an assumption of identity or an acknowledgment of present reality? Ultimately, I feel better equipped than when I first got married to walk well in my marriage and in my sexuality.

My wife, Marie, and I are happy. Even thriving. We’ve learned and grown, and God has taught us both a lot. Ideally, I think that’s how the Christian life is supposed to go as we walk with God and each other.

And we will always have more areas in which to grow.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV):

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

While some healing and good happen in this life, I am also reminded that we only get pieces of that now. We are in the Kingdom of God now, but our world is broken by sin.

We are in the Kingdom of God now, and we are also in the “not yet.” The full consummation of what will be in Christ is yet to come.

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV):

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

And yet we are redeemed. I am washed, and I am waiting.

I would like to live in holiness with my sexuality, as in all areas of life. And holiness does not necessarily equal changed attractions.

How do you feel about the “change is possible” narrative? Do you presently feel more at peace with your sexuality than you did previously? For what things, if anything, do you pray regarding your sexuality?

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  • Thanks Ben, for writing about something that can be rather charged!
    (Note: when I say gay and SSA, I mean largely the same thing).
    When I think about marriage, I think, “My wife will want to marry ME and not some fake version of me, so might as well learn how to accept myself and maybe even learn how my attractions can be used for good. I know many in mixed orientation marriages where the straight spouse accepts the gay spouse and wouldn’t change much at all.
    I know I struggle with the “change” narrative because although I know I am somewhat fluid…what if I just don’t want my sexuality to change??? What does that mean? Is that an unrighteous desire? Heck, I don’t even know all the reasons why I feel this way. But God knows how I feel and He seems to be ok.
    Accepting the gay part of myself is almost like letting God into my life again. I strongly believe in a traditional sexual ethic, but I also believe Gods me to use my sexuality for goodness and in ways that are in harmony with His laws, like deep, passionate brotherhood and love. So I suppose that’s why I struggle with the change narrative. Why would I want to separate from something that has brought so much light and love into my life?

  • For me, I never saw a need to ‘pray the gay away’, I just asked (and still do) for grace to grow in healing and freedom because I already know my identity is in Christ and in who He has made me to be as a person. People like Jackie Hill have an amazing testimony! Full freedom is possible. But why, why those of us who have not experienced that? I believe the answer can also be found in 2 Corinthians 1,
    “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.”
    There is a deeper meaning God has allowed in these crosses, one that has an eternal weight. And it’s meant to be a consolation to others.

    • I appreciate the reference. It reminds me of a song that has really spoken to me recently.
      Another In The Fire
      Hillsong UNITED
      There’s a grace when the heart is under fire
      Another way when the walls are closing in
      And when I look at the space between
      Where I used to be and this reckoning
      I know I will never be alone
      There was another in the fire
      Standing next to me
      There was another in the waters
      Holding back the seas
      And should I ever need reminding
      Of how I’ve been set free
      There is a cross that bears the burden
      Where another died for me

      We go through these trials. We have our crosses and our thorns in the flesh, but they are not meant to be carried alone. And we get to share with others how God works and moves in us.

  • I love it Ben! While I’ve never gone straight into the “pray the gay away” thing I did blog before about how I used to have side X views on things. Wanted to be straight but for all the wrong reasons. I’m glad your marriage has worked out so well for you. We need better understandings about these things.

  • Ben, I see “change” much like I approach addiction. Will I always crave wine or heroin? Will I always crave glances and stares at guys?
    The secular APA lingo isn’t useful and in fact deleterious to the Spirit’s work. The APA words of sexual orientation and no change are a *trap* that denies the Good News of the Gospel. The Bible knows nothing of ‘sexual orientations’! Its message is Jesus came to set us free. As we follow Him we are transformed with power over old habits and gain new desires that supercede old ones. Either that is true or it is not.
    Like Tom and I both attest we now get high on life which is the “life to the full” that Jesus promised.
    So, do I still crave wine or heroin. Yes, if I go there. Do I still crave glances and stares at good looking guys. Sure, if I let myself and go there, *especially* without Jesus! But that has nothing to do with ‘sexual orientation’ only old addiction habits that I childishly resurrect!

  • I just stumbled across this site yesterday and normally lurk for a long time before commenting so I can get the feel of what’s going on, rather than trampling haphazardly through someone else’s community. I hope I don’t trample too badly.
    Ben, your story prompts me to respond because you’ve learned what I’m learning: Be honest with yourself and (trusted) others.
    I’m SSA, was a member of a “change is possible” group back in the 1980’s. I’m very grateful for that time in my life and for that ministry as it was the first time that I saw I wasn’t the only Christian who struggled with SSA. It allowed the opportunity to marry a great woman nearly 35 years ago. Unfortunately, I believed the simplistic “truth” that I was healed rather than seeing the far more complex, frustrating, and beautiful truth that I’m being sanctified. I spent most of the first 30 years of marriage trying to ignore or deny my same-sex feelings even though the attractions and fantasies continued. I’d cry out to God periodically for him to change me, but God seemed silent.
    We moved and I blended well into our evangelical church–married, 3 kids–so never needed to tell anyone about this side of me. I was protecting myself and my family from others’ judgment. Denial also protected me from dealing with the emptiness of ignored prayer and from the messiness of my sexuality. But such “protection” also sheltered me from the grace and strength that God provides through his church.
    When I hit a crisis point in life–and we all do–I finally reached out to a close friend and pastors, and was surprised to find love and acceptance. Not because I’d become straight, but because we are brothers loved by the same Father.
    God loves all of me, even the messy gay part of me. I don’t need to pretend.

    • Michael,
      Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you got to a place of trust with others. Isolation might feel safer, but being known, loved, and walked with helps us have the support we need to not carry this alone. My wife is my biggest supporter and confidant.
      I’m so glad you were able to find that with your wife and your church.

  • So much I could say but I think I’ll just sum it up as this:
    Samesies… 🙂
    Awesome post, brother. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • “…I don’t view it as sinful to acknowledge the reality of what is. I believe God gives the strength and grace to walk well in it.” Thank you, Ben, for this. Loved so much about what you wrote here. Being free of attraction to my own sex is not the goal; rather, it’s to become more like Christ! Anything that I pursue more than Him is an idol. I, too, believe that God can do – and does – the impossible every day. But my hope must be in Christ alone! Not in my own sense of perfection or healing. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. My own depravity and incompleteness is a daily reminder that I have no hope of salvation except through faith in Christ and His perfect sacrifice — and that’s actually a good thing!

  • Ben, thanks for your words, your testimony and vulnerability. Can God change me? God can do anything! Will I ever stop noticing attractive guys? I don’t think so, and I have an unusual peace about that. I think I’m ok with dying with this? My greatest regret, though, is that I stayed secreted for so long. For 38 years happily and sexually fulfilled in my marriage to (what I have always described her as) a “goddess”. I wish I had told her long before so I could start finding some answers to how I got here and hearing victories from other men like me. That’s a long time to carry such a burden alone. Little did I know there was help on the other side of that confession.
    I do pray for my sexuality. I pray God will help me with my “public eye”, so that when I see that attractive man I then look into the eyes of Jesus. But, I don’t pray anymore that God would “remove” this thorn. Maybe I’m resigned to the fact that I’m just SSA?

      • Ben, thanks for asking and thanks for caring. On September 15 last year God told me very clearly, “You need to tell your wife your secret”. Of course, I said “No, I cannot, it will hurt her too much.” But, He said I needed to and in that confession I will bring healing to your mind. So, that next day I did obey and, as I suspected, it hurt her deeply. She cried, I cried, for over an hour. But, she recovered quickly and has been helping me in my healing process. I actually am doing very well at this point. I just got off a 30 minute call with an SSA counselor from TX and he is full of Scripture and great help in getting my thinking straightened out. We meet every Monday, and he has hooked me into an SSA men’s group that meets every Wed online. I am not a unicorn, I am not a pervert—there are other men that struggle with this. What a relief! God is so good and He realizes my mind needed healing even when I didn’t. I thought I would just die with this secret, but thanks to Him, He knows what’s I need. Thanks for asking!

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