Facing Homosexual Attractions within Your Marriage
Pastor Ed Buch shares counsel to Christian men who wrestle with homosexual attraction within their heterosexual marriage.
Pastor Ed, how common is it for married men to struggle with same-sex attraction?
Well, I don't think that I would necessarily say it is a common problem, but it certainly wouldn't be considered uncommon either. If I had to peg a percentage, I would say probably less than ten percent of those that we see in counseling are married men who have a homosexual orientation. But there is a larger group of men out there who maybe don't have that orientation but who have certainly crossed boundaries in viewing pornography or even engaging in sexual activity with other men. But they still wouldn't describe that as their primary orientation. Across the board, married men are engaging more and more in homosexual activities and pornography, for sure.
So you've seen that a man could start looking for porn and end up drawn toward homosexuality unintentionally?
Absolutely. That's kind of true of sin in general, but sexual sin, specifically, will take anyone—man or woman—across lines that they imagined they would never cross and even told themselves they would never cross. More and more, with homosexuality becoming so commonplace in our culture, we see that it's very common for men to at least have enough curiosity to cross those lines.
Just to get this out of the way, can we say that any sexual activity outside marriage is sexual sin and a violation of Scripture?
Certainly, yes, we can say that. We probably need to say that more and more, because obviously our culture is redefining sin—especially sexual sin. So yeah, it probably pays to just say it up front: sexual activity outside of marriage is scripturally forbidden. Obviously, for Christians, our definition of sin is going to come right out of the pages of the Bible. Christianity cannot take its definition of sin from what our culture decides is acceptable and normal. Christianity depends on the Word of God, and the Bible gives us God's standards amazingly clearly in some ways that our culture has managed to somehow blur in the minds of people. But let me hasten to add that those boundaries in Scripture are really not intended to deny us some pleasure or good in our lives. They're there for our protection, and they keep us within the boundaries where God can reach us and bless us and lead us into eternal life with him.
How do you counsel a married man who has committed homosexual sin? Is it different from counseling a man in heterosexual sin?
There really isn't much difference in our counsel. The answer for sexual sin is the same, regardless of whether it's heterosexual or homosexual sin that we're dealing with. All sin is rooted in the heart. Like every other sin, sexual sin flows out of a person's love of self, his love of pleasure, his love of his life in this world. Sexual sin is simply the fruit of a very self-centered lifestyle, so, in general, our counsel will focus on the issues of pride and selfishness that are dominating this man's life.
Individually, counseling men in sexual sin may mean dealing with one man's self-protective pride or another man's spiritual pride or perfectionism. With another guy, maybe it's his know-it-all pride. We may need to address other manifestations of that "self-life," like bitterness or unforgiveness or anger. Maybe there are things like hopelessness or unbelief mixed right in there as well. When it comes to the counseling we provide, we deal almost exclusively with the underlying heart issues, and the sexual sin—that thing on the surface level—will actually need very little attention in the counseling process
But if a man is married while he's committing homosexual sin, isn't that situation more complicated?
It depends on what you mean by the word "situation." His sin problem is not any more complicated. I wouldn't say that helping him overcome the sexual sin is more complicated because of marriage and children. But obviously, with a wife and possibly children involved, there are almost certainly more ripple effects from his sin—more damage, more heartache, more spiritual and emotional wreckage across his life. So from the perspective of dealing with consequences and the work of reconciliation, the situation is going to be a little more complicated, for sure.
And for a married man dealing with homosexual activity or even a homosexual orientation, there's that added aspect of building a godly marriage with his wife. That is almost certainly going to be the most complicated of all of his issues. Our experience is that when both the husband and wife come into counseling at Pure Life, they both tend to come in with the belief that somehow, if the husband goes through some counseling, his homosexual attraction will change and become a heterosexual orientation. I could say, maybe, that in a small number of rare cases that happens. The Lord may actually deliver someone out of a homosexual orientation and into a heterosexual orientation. But that's very uncommon at best. What almost always happens is that the man is still dealing with that same-sex attraction at some level but has got to learn how to allow the Lord to teach him to love his wife and remain faithful to her in every way—including emotionally and sexually.
What hope would you offer the married man who struggles with same-sex attraction? Can he have freedom, forgiveness and a fulfilling marriage?
The best hope I have to offer is to say that there really is freedom from sin through Jesus Christ. We have literally hundreds of people completing our counseling programs every year who would give that same testimony—that Jesus came into their lives in a very real way and forgave them, transformed them and led them into freedom from sexual sin and all sorts of other underlying issues. With the love of Christ at work in our lives, we discover that we truly can enjoy a faithful and fulfilling marriage with our wife. Even if we still have a homosexual orientation, there is so much more to marriage than the sexual aspect. So we learn to develop and accent those other things, especially the emotional connection, for example. And honestly, that's my personal testimony. The Lord gave my wife and I new marriage, and believe me, we're both very fulfilled in our relationship.
This excerpt is from our podcast episode, “Pastors: Love Sinners While Standing Against Homosexuality, Episode #343”
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