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How can I support a Christian who experiences same-sex temptations?

God knits each of us together in a unique and individual way. Praise God, we are each ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ by our perfect Creator! (Psalm 139:13-14). In a fallen world, this means of course that a person’s experience of same-sex temptations will be – at least to some degree – unique to them. Inevitably, then, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting people.

A great starting place is to ask the person to share their story with you. Be sensitive here, as not everyone feels comfortable talking about their sexuality. But if they are looking for support, you could ask them to explain how their temptations tend to manifest themselves. For some, it might be a battle with pornography or with online apps and dating sites. Others may struggle more with emotional interdependency (e.g. developing overly intense and unhealthy bonds with same-sex friends). Still others might feel lonely and be desperate for godly intimacy. And some might be unclear on the biblical teaching on same-sex practice, wondering if perhaps it would be ok to be in a loving same-sex relationship.

Begin, then, with gently asking questions and listening attentively to the answers. Try to resist the temptation to rush in too quickly with Bible verses or to offer quick-fix solutions. Listening is a much-neglected skill in pastoral care! When someone has opened their heart to you and shared something of their story, do take a moment to thank them for their honesty. They may also need some immediate reassurance of God’s love for them and acceptance of them in Christ, particularly if they are currently caught in a cycle of sinful thoughts and behaviour (Romans 5:8 and 15:7).

As Christians, we grow into maturity when other believers speak biblical truths into our lives in love (Ephesians 4:15). In telling their story, did the person reveal thinking or patterns of behaviour, to which you can lovingly respond with biblical truth? Do take care here. Sadly, many Christians who face same-sex temptations have heard lots of truth from fellow Christians, but not always spoken in love! So, before you speak, do pray and ask the Lord that by his Holy Spirit he will enable you to imitate him by being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Ask for wisdom too (James 1:5) so that you will only say what is helpful for building this person up in their faith.

One obvious (but often neglected) question to ask is this: “What can I do to best support you in your battle against same-sex temptations?”

Resources for further study

Please note that any external resources below are intended to complement the main answer given above and may not entirely match TFT's position.

IVP book: 'Walking with Gay Friends'

Using real-life stories and biblical teaching in this book, Alex Tylee shows Christians how to love their gay friends with informed compassion.

IVP book: 'Satisfaction Guaranteed'

This book includes in appendix 10 dos and don’ts for supporting people with same-sex temptations.

ERLC video: 'How Can Christians Minister To A Same-Sex Attracted Member Who Is Experiencing Loneliness?'

Sam Allberry shows us how to encourage those with same-sex attractions.