A reader of my essay at First Things posted a well meaning and well intentioned comment on the subject of changing and healing of one’s same sex attractions. Though I appreciated his desire to offer people like me and others who live with same sex attraction his notion of hope, I think his comments are misguided, for the reasons I outline in my response. I’m curious to know what others think about this.
I’ve attached his comment, and my response.
8.24.2012 | 12:32amScott says:
Daniel M, thank you for your honesty and insights. allow me to point out that in your description of yourself you use the example of the man born blind. But in this instance in the scriptures the man did not remain blind but received his sight. Daniel, you too as you come into the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the one who has paid the price for all sin, for all of man, for all time ( Hebrews 10), can be completely healed of this desire in your flesh. It is by the grace of God that you can only receive by faith which will allow you to resist the devil so that he will flee. For if you are truely born again ( John 3) then you are a new creation in Christ (1Cor 5:17). And it is your spirit that is new, not your body or your soul (emotions, thoughts, etc.) learn to follow the leading of this new spirit and be baptized in the Holy Spirit to walk in victory. Learn the truth an it will set you free! God Bless you
Here is my response:
8.31.2012 | 12:47pmDaniel M says:
Thanks to all for the comments to my piece. Though I’ve not commented in response to any as of yet, I feel the need to respond to Scott’s, briefly.I think it is problematic to link any sort of change of a dramatic nature such as a change of sexual attractions to whether or not someone has “come into the knowledge of Jesus Christ,” as Scott seems to suggest. This sort of thinking has damaged a lot of people with same sex attraction by placing unrealistic hopes and expectations on their life of faith. If change doesn’t happen, it’s because they haven’t grown in their knowledge of Christ? It’s clear to me that the man born blind in John 9 really had no “knowledge of Jesus Christ” other than hearsay, until after he was healed. It was the love and will of God that caused the man’s sight to be restored. It wasn’t some sort of gauge of the depth of his relationship with Christ.I think of St. Paul, whose “thorn in the flesh” wasn’t healed, (which many scholars believe was related to poor eyesight.) Surely if having a “knowledge of Jesus Christ” is the reason someone finds healing of his woundedness, St. Paul would have qualified!If I live with SSA, it is for my good and for my sanctification. If God somehow decides to heal this disorder within me, it too will be for my good and for my sanctification. That would be the reason–not because I had suddenly “come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ” more than I had the day before. I know that whatever He allows in my life is for my good, and indeed is what will actually cause me to grow in my knowledge of Jesus Christ.I think well meaning people should avoid suggesting to people like me that the greatest sign of God’s love and power in our lives will be evidenced when we see our attractions change. I simply don’t believe that’s what God is concerned about, as much as He is our sanctification and trusting all to his Divine Providence.I have no doubt that God has the power to change such things in my life. I just don’t think He finds it that important that my attractions change, nor do I. I trust in His will for my life, and I’ve now come to see my SSA as a “severe mercy,” and wouldn’t rewrite it out of my life. If God wills it otherwise in the future, I say “Thy will be done.” If it stays in my life until I’m dead, I’ll thank God He allowed it in my life, and say again, “Thy will be done.”It is as unwise and imprudent to tell people with SSA that God will change them when they “come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ” as it is to tell a cancer patient, or a deaf person, or a man without a limb that they will receive physical healing when they “come into a knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Certainly God has the power to heal and change, but He so often doesn’t do this–because He, and only He–knows what is good for our soulsSo I live in trust, and caution against Christians proclaiming what Scott proclaimed to me, while still believing that it is possible to hope for change, for those who desire it. However, it should never be linked with the supposed depth of relationship with God, but only related to God’s benevolent Providence. We can only find peace in this life when we trust that God’s will is always being done in our lives, and this, I think, is truly what we must strive for if we desire to “come into a knowledge of Christ.”Thank you Scott, but I would caution you and others against saying things such as this to people with same sex attraction. I think it is misguided, and reflects a confused theology (at least in terms of Catholic teaching) about theodicy.