Freedom Friday: Do I Still Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction?

Brenna Simonds

“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:

Was my testimony and ministry built on how *I* overcame same-sex attraction?

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.

One of the things we need to be set free from is unrealistic expectations. If you define freedom as the absence of temptation, you are setting yourself up to fail. But if you define freedom (as I do) as living in the fullness of all God created you to be, despite and in the midst of your struggles, then freedom becomes much more attainable.So……….do I still experience same-sex attraction? Sometimes! But the big picture answer is it doesn’t matter so much to me anymore. Notice I changed the word “struggle” to “experience.” That’s because it’s not a struggle. I don’t allow whether or not I experience same-sex attraction to define me. And when I do experience it, I don’t have to respond by choosing to sin. I can pray about it & turn it over to God. If the temptation persists, or it is really bothering me, I tell my accountability folks about it and ask them to pray as well. I ask God to reveal any unmet needs in my life that may be contributing to it. I practice the tools for the journey, such as HALT. And I get on with my life.

Are you allowing temptation to define your freedom today?

**Updated March, 2014

22 thoughts on “Freedom Friday: Do I Still Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.”

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Pingback: Freedom Friday: Avoiding Moral Failure | Living Unveiled

  9. 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!

  10. Pingback: Welcome to Living Unveiled, the blog of Brenna Kate Simonds, Author of “Learning to Walk in Freedom” | Living Unveiled

  11. Thank you for your honesty sharing, but I have a question.
    So, what exactly are you promoting here? If you are still struggling with attractions, it implies that there is no change, so what now? Do you believe that God’s call in your life is to struggle indefinitely? Is this fair? Is this reflective of God’s love? And why?
    Is this the same calling for all other LGBT+ individuals? Does this represent a one-size-fits-all calling for all these people? Doesn’t this remove the ‘personal’ aspect from the ‘calling,’ when what we’ve been taught in church is that the calling is unique to each individual? Do all homosexuals really have only one calling, while heterosexuals each have their distinct calling in their love life and family? Is this fair? Is this reflective of God’s love?

    I am genuinely asking because I struggle too, but I am not sure that this eternal punishment is fair or really from a loving god!

    • Pthabet, you ask some really great questions – perhaps more than I can answer in a blog reply.

      First, today I use different language when I speak of my same-sex attraction (SSA). After almost 24 years of walking in obedience to Jesus in the area of my sexuality, I very rarely experience SSA, and when I do, I say I experience same-sex attraction because it’s no longer a struggle. I just surrender that momentary feelings to Jesus and move on. Also, my SSA has completely changed. Whereas I was previously primarily same-sex attracted, now I am married to a man for 21 years. That said, the point of this blog post is missed if the focus is on whether or not I experience SSA or not. The point is are we willing to submit our whole selves, everything we feel and experience and know to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, even in the midst of intense struggle and temptation?

      I think I need to answer in pieces 🙂 Feel free to reach out via email if you’d like to chat:

Leave a Reply