When I was a teenager, I didn’t have any trustworthy pastors I can talk to about my attraction to the same sex. I didn’t talk to my parents, and I didn’t talk to my pastors. I went to a Hispanic church, which barely has good Biblical education, and I knew they wouldn’t know how to handle my struggle.
Because of the grace of God, I was able to understand who I was as a young teenager and I had enough grace on myself to know I was a sinner like anyone else. But I had a lot of fear in me that if I told someone they would treat me differently and feel uncomfortable around me. Whether people knew I struggled with Homosexuality or not, knowing I didn’t tell anyone gave me comfort in my world. Not until I was 17 did I tell someone about my struggle, and it wasn't a pastor.
But that isn’t how most teenagers live now.
Especially when the gay community is more vocal about accepting that attraction to be in relationships with the same sex as something that you should pursue.
Teenagers can be a little confused or caught in this tension.
Should they accept this belief or should they “fight it” for the rest of their life?
So what should Youth Pastor’s do when students share this part of their life with them?
Well, here are a couple of pointers.
1. Give them a hug!
What they just told you is a really big deal and it took bravery on their end. This is a great time to draw close to them. Don’t buy into the idea becoming closer to your students as they express this to you can cause them to stumble. They need a good long hug where they can find a shoulder to cry on or just feel some safety in this chaotic world.
2. Right away, get it out of your head they are always lusting after the same sex.
Being attracted to the same sex is not the same as what heterosexuals deal with. Instead, tell yourself that your student is looking for healthy intimacy and that you and others can give that to them. If they confess this to you, that means they have been longing for an affirmed known intimacy between them and others. When they keep this hidden, they are hiding their hearts from truly being loved as a sinner and child of God in need of HIS grace. Now they can be fully loved in all areas of their life since someone knows more about their fallen nature.
3. Understand that being attracted to the same sex is different than lusting.
We are always going to be attracted to beautiful things. It is not wrong to find males and females attractive. It is wrong however to start fantasizing about who you want to have sex with and so forth, especially if they are not your spouse. This is were the Church can do some real harm. We can’t change what we are attracted to, especially if it is good. We need to embrace our attraction and understand what it means and how we can glorify God with it. Since I am attracted to most of my guy buddies, I have learned to pursue deep friendships with them and point them to Christ. Teach your students the same thing. Yes, they might be attracted to their friends, but if they believe that pursing homosexual relationships is ungodly, then they need to know that pursuing Friendships is godly, and they will need help doing that. This is where the 4T's come in.
4. Understand they need TOUCH, Transparency, TIME, and TEAMWORK (all forms of intimacy)
These 4 Ts are what every human needs. They are more heightened in the life of someone who struggles with homosexuality because they most likely havn’t given themselves the space to be loved in these deep, profound, healthy, Godly, ways. They are starving and they need food. But don’t give it all at once to them. Process with them what it means to experience healthy intimacy with friends. Just like a starving person can’t eat a bunch of food right away, a person in need of friendship needs to take it slow. They can shatter their friendships if they don’t handle it well. Remember, they are male and female, they are allowed to be in settings of their peers. Just because they deal with attraction towards the same sex doesn't mean they are going to start hitting on everyone. Remember, they have been dealing with this for years before you came into the picture, they can still deal with it now and they can still keep boundaries in their life.
5. Don’t ever be afraid of them and be Confident that you can love them.
You are a Pastor. There is a reason you are in their life. They have shared this with you. Don’t break their trust. They will cling to you, want to talk to you a lot, cry, feel pain, go up and down emotionally. You need to be consistent in their life and help them learn how to walk in the Spirit. Draw close to them and remind them that what they are longing for (deep intimacy with their same sex friends) is healthy, godly, and the CHURCH is the BEST place to receive that.
Honestly, helping someone and loving someone who struggles with Homosexuality, isn’t that difficult.
The Gay community and the world and even Satan are making this difficult.
Satan wants us to think this is extremely complex. When really it is just different.
You can do this Pastor! I have faith in you! You are part of the Body of Jesus.
Next time a student tells you they are gay or whatever language they use,
give them a hug, look into their eyes, and say,
“Don’t worry bud. We are going to walk through this together. We will take care of you."