“Brenna, do you still struggle with same-sex attraction?”
I get this question a lot. Via email, in interviews, on ministry phone calls. As I was answering such an email earlier this week, I thought it would be great material for Freedom Friday. You can read more about my struggle with same-sex attraction here.
In March of 2000 when my last girlfriend ended our relationship, I surrendered my sexuality to God and chose to walk in obedience to what the Bible says about human sexuality.
I also asked God to remove my same-sex attraction from me, and in many ways He did. I did not feel the same draw and pull I had felt toward women for as long as I could remember. I felt as if, in many ways, God had “delivered” me from my same-sex attraction.
And then 2005 happened. I began to experience the feelings of same-sex attraction again.
I didn’t do anything with those feelings, meaning I didn’t act out in any way. I didn’t fantasize, look at pornography or try and connect with another woman inappropriately. I initially just hid my feelings because I was ashamed. I felt as if I couldn’t tell anyone, lest everyone think I was a fraud.
I did eventually tell my husband and then one of my accountability partners. But it was way more difficult than it needed to be.
What happened back in 2005 to bring on this struggle again? I believe it was a number of things.
There were several ministry-related things that happened at that time. My testimony was printed that summer in the Exodus newsletter. I became the director of Alive in Christ a year earlier, and we were about to become an Exodus member ministry. Love Won Out was coming to town, and there was to be a protest with over 1,000 people, AND my story was in the Boston Globe.
I wholeheartedly believe that God allowed that period of temptation. It made me come face to face with some questions I needed to examine:
Or was it built on God’s goodness, faithfulness, and sustaining power whether I actively experienced same-sex attraction or not?
I realized that my fear of people knowing was due to the fact that I had centered my story of healing around the absence of same-sex attraction in my life. I needed to go through this period of intense struggle to be reminded that struggles will come. Same-sex attraction is a form of temptation; the attraction itself is not a sin. For instance, simply having a thought or feeling of attraction pass through your head, even if it’s toward the same gender, is not sin. Pursuing that thought by turning it into a fantasy is sin.
I’ve come to a place where if I struggle, so be it. If not, that’s okay, too. Those things I do struggle with (whether it be same-sex attraction or something else) do not define me, nor do they define my relationship with God. They also do not make or break my experience of His freedom.
“Freedom is not the absence of something; it’s the presence of someone.” Bob Hamp
Too often we define true freedom as the absence of temptation. We need to face up to the fact that that’s a completely unrealistic goal. That doesn’t mean some people won’t experience complete removal of their same-sex attraction. Some certainly claim to, and I’m not going to argue with their experience.
However, if we measure our freedom based on whether or not we still struggle with a particular temptation, that means we expect to be more free than Jesus.
Same-sex attraction is just temptation. Say it with me again 🙂 Temptation is not sin.
**Updated March, 2014
I think Spider-Man has said it best: No matter what happens, no what battles we have raging inside us we ALWAYS have a choice. It’s the choices we make that determine who we are, and we always have the ability to do what’s right.
This is a totally awesome thing to tell the world, Brenna! Even the best among us battles with whatever hidden desire they may have, and it doesn’t make them any less of a person or any less good to have it. It just IS.
great stuff. thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing Brenna.
Love this quote, “However, if we measure our freedom based on whether or not we still struggle with a particular temptation, that means we expect to be more free than Jesus.”
Thanks for the comments and support, folks!
Thanks for sharing. I think everyone needs to hear, about whatever it is for them, that “____ is just temptation. Say it with me again 🙂 Temptation is not sin.”
Thanks for sharing. Did your husband ever write anything regarding your struggles and how he positions himself to support you. It seems that there is no husband writings or support anywhere about how they loved there wives through same sex struggles. It is very difficult.
Lori Ann, you are very right.
Anonymous, my husband has not written anything like that, but it would be a super helpful resource. It would actually be a fantastic thing for a husband and wife to write together. It’s buzzing around in my brain now 🙂
There is this resource:
But that is aimed at a marriage in crisis.
Any tips on how a husband should position himself to support a wife who struggles? I am in the thick of it and could use any help.
Anonymous, I haven’t forgotten your request. I’m writing it down and hope to work on it in the future.
I’m glad I read this. I’m also glad that the comments afterwards were so kind. It has been difficult to express to my liberal (and lesbian) friends who are so adamant about supporting the gay/lesbian movement, the fact that even if God asked me to be celibate my whole life, I would do it. By my belief in God’s definition of sexuality, I am not suggesting that God is condemning “who they are” as people. God sometimes asks hard things, but its not who we are that He is condemning, only the action. He wants us to be happier, and He knows better than we do how to help us get there. I wish everyone could have the faith you have.
Jesse, thanks so much for reading & for your comment.
And Anonymous, I’d check out the book by Mike & Stephanie Goeke called “Triage”. It’s available at Exodus Books.
Thanks for transparency. How else will folks see Jesus in us unless they can see through us to Him?
Just finding your blog. I rarely follow blogs but the posts that I have read are SO encouraging to me. It’s like a weight off of my shoulders anytime I find someone leading in this area who simply stands on Christ and his goodness, sacrifice, and power. The quote about desiring to be more free than Jesus is SO HELPFUL for me. I’ve been trying to understand all of these things and what defines freedom and is it ok if the temptations remain (even for the rest of my life) and what would that mean. I totally agree with Jesse about being willing for celibacy, but this is even more clarifying in who to move forward in life and in the Lord – even while working out all of these things. Thank you for this post and your witness. Grateful to the Lord for what he is doing in your life.
Rebecca, thanks so much for your comment! When I chose to be obedient to God in the area of sexuality, I did not know what that would mean. I was definitely prepared for celibacy, even though that’s not what I wanted.
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Thank you for your transparency in this arena. This usually surprises, shames, and then threatens to silence me when those struggles resurface for me as a woman. I usually find them discouraging so thank you for sharing your insight and take on this. Keep going!
You are welcome! Praying for you!
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